Principled, effective and accountable stewardship

The Atkinson Foundation’s board, staff members, associates and interns are among the diverse voices advocating for social and economic justice today in academe, journalism, labour, business, government and the wider community. They work collaboratively with leading thinkers and activists who help advance the Foundation’s agenda over the term of their appointment.


Paul Clifford

Paul Clifford has recently retired as the elected President of UNITE HERE Local 75, a position he has held since 1996. Born and raised in Toronto, Paul started organizing with HERE (the Hotel Employees Restaurant Employees union) in the 1980s. He was part of an organizing team that successfully unionized 2,600 clerical and technical workers at Yale, and helped workers in Chicago hotels, airports and riverboat casinos join the union. Paul has also served on the Board of Directors of Tourism Toronto and the Board of Governors of George Brown College.

Fay Faraday

Fay Faraday is a social justice lawyer who has represented unions, community organizations and coalitions in many leading constitutional and human rights cases at the Supreme Court of Canada and Ontario Court of Appeal. She is currently a visiting professor at Osgoode Hall where she teaches ethical lawyering and Charter/human rights law. She is the Packer Visiting Chair in Social Justice at York.

Irene Gentle

Irene Gentle is Managing Editor at the Toronto Star. She has held the position of City Editor and Business Editor during her time at the Star. Previously Irene was at the the Hamilton Spectator, as news editor. She also worked as City Editor, Business Editor, and Saturday Editor in her six years there.

Alex Himelfarb

Alex held a succession of senior positions with the federal government over 28 years, including Executive Director of the National Parole Board, Associate Secretary of the Treasury Board, and Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage, culminating in his appointment as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet — the most senior public servant in the federal government. He served as Clerk for three Prime Ministers from 2002 until 2006 when he was appointed Canada’s Ambassador to Italy with concurrent accreditation to Albania, San Marino, and as High Commissioner to Malta. Before entering the public service, Alex taught at the University of New Brunswick for nearly a decade, and more recently served as Director of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs at York University, where he continues to serve as Director Emeritus.

John Honderich

John Honderich is the Chair of the Board of Torstar Corporation and the Torstar Voting Trust. He joined the Toronto Star in 1976 as a reporter and eventually was appointed Publisher of the Star in 1994, a position he held for almost 10 years. Until his retirement in 2004, John was Chairman of Canadian Press, Canadian Director for the World Association of Newspapers, and a director on the boards of the Canadian Newspaper Association, the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and Most recently, he has been Special Ambassador for the Mayor of Toronto and then Special Advisor to the Premier of Ontario. A Member of the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario and the News Hall of Fame, John serves on the boards of Torstar Corporation, Seneca College, CAMH, the Michener Fellowship, the Mowat Institute, and the Martin Goodman Fellowship.

Kofi Hope

Kofi Hope is a Rhodes Scholar with a Doctor of Philosophy in Politics, a community activist, and a youth advocate. He has over 10 years of experience in designing, managing, and implementing community-based programs and is an accomplished public speaker. In 2005 he founded the Black Youth Coalition Against Violence, work which led to him being named one of the Top 10 People to Watch in Toronto by the Toronto Star. Kofi is currently the Managing Director of Community Empowering Enterprises (CEE). CCE increases economic opportunities for Black youth living in Toronto’s priority neighborhoods, by supporting them in the areas of employment, social enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Erik Mathiesen, President and Chair

Erik Mathiesen is the Chief Financial Officer for the national arm of The United Church of Canada. In this capacity, Erik supports the work of almost 3,000 congregations across Canada and works with many volunteers to maintain a large pension plan, national operating and grant budgets and significant investment holdings. Prior to his move to the nonprofit sector in 2008, he worked in the financial services industry for over 25 years where he specialized in operations management and business reengineering. Erik has been active in the nonprofit sector for over 30 years, particularly in the area of affordable housing. Other current volunteer roles include serving on the Finance Committees for Woodgreen Community Services, and the Toronto Christian Resource Centre.

Emily Mathieu

Emily Mathieu is the great-great-granddaughter of Joseph E. Atkinson and a journalist at the Toronto Star. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Arts in Journalism degree from the University of Western Ontario. She was hired to work at the Toronto Star in 2007 and now belongs to the paper’s Investigative Unit, where she works to expose problems, or loopholes, with publicly funded tribunals and the waste of taxpayer dollars. In 2015, she received a William Southam Journalism Fellowship and will spend the next year studying at the University of Toronto (Massey College) as the St. Clair Balfour Fellow.

Gail Misra

Gail Misra is a labour mediator and arbitrator, and a Vice Chair of the Ontario Grievance Settlement Board. She was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1991 and practiced labour and employment law, most recently as a Partner at CaleyWray. Her experience also includes two appointments as a Vice Chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Gail has been actively involved in her community as a volunteer for over thirty years, and has most recently served on the Boards of Directors of the Working Women Community Centre, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, and the Harbord Village Residents’ Association.

Amy Tong, Treasurer

Amy Tong is the recently retired Vice President of Finance and Administration at Seneca College. Prior to her Seneca appointment, she was Chief Operating Officer at United Way Toronto. Amy has been responsible for significant innovations in the areas of finance, information technology, human resources, major capital projects, strategic planning, and risk management. She has a BBA from the University of Wisconsin and is a Chartered Professional Accountant.  Amy has served on the boards of Women’s College Hospital, Invest in Kids Foundation, Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care, and United Way Toronto.

Colette Murphy, Executive Director and Secretary to the Board


Colette Murphy

For Colette Murphy, philanthropy has always been more about the  power of people than the power of money to change the world.

A Canadian who was raised in the US, Colette cut her teeth as an activist working alongside refugees who found their way to Toronto in the 90s. Since then, she’s earned a North American reputation as a reliable ally, a tenacious advocate for social and economic justice, and a creative collaborator across traditional lines. Best known as an organizational capacity builder at United Way Toronto and a champion for inclusive local economies at the Metcalf Foundation, she has also worked behind-the-scenes on innovative poverty reduction, anti-racism and leadership development initiatives over the course of her career.

As the Executive Director of the 75-year old Atkinson Foundation, Colette focuses on strengthening movements for decent work, shared prosperity and democratic renewal.  These efforts are inspired by the example set by Joseph Atkinson who knew poverty before he knew wealth as the publisher of Canada’s largest daily newspaper, the Toronto Star.  To this day, the foundation’s public policy agenda and investment strategies reflect Mr. Atkinson’s deep personal concern for the lives and livelihoods of working people, and his pragmatic vision of a just society.

Colette and her partner David have two children, Celeste and Malachy. They live in a Toronto neighbourhood that has perfected the art of the street party.


Ausma Malik, Director of Social Engagement

Ausma Malik joined Atkinson as Director of Social Engagement in May 2016.  She brings a background in policy, community organizing and communication to the team, having worked at Queen’s Park and as the Director of Campaigns and Community Outreach at the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Ausma was elected to the Toronto District School Board as the Trustee for Ward 10 (Trinity-Spadina) in 2014. She is a lifelong human rights and social justice activist who has taken on a variety of leadership roles within the community over the years.

Farah Malik, Manager of Finance

Farah Malik is Atkinson’s Finance Manager. Farah joined the Foundation in the fall of 2015 after four years as the Accounts Manager for the Centre for Social Innovation. Her educational background is in commerce, accounting and human resources administration.  A human rights activist at heart, Farah works with organizations that raise our collective voice for justice and peace here in Canada and in the Global South.

Jenn Miller, Director of Social Investment

Jenn Miller was named Director of Social Investment in the summer of 2015. Jenn comes to Atkinson from the City of Toronto where she was a manager with the Social Development, Finance and Administration division, responsible for the investment of close to $20M annually in community-based initiatives. Over two decades, she has worked for the Ontario Trillium Foundation and as a consultant providing program development, facilitation and strategic planning support to a wide range of nonprofit clients.

Phillip Roh, Administrative Coordinator

Phillip Roh works directly with Colette Murphy as her executive assistant, and collaboratively with board members, staff, grant recipients and partners. Before joining the Foundation in 2014, Phillip worked for Newspapers Canada and the City of Toronto. He brings a passion for journalism, public policy and social justice to our work.

Patricia Thompson, Director of Social Impact

Pat Thompson is Atkinson’s Director of Social Impact. Until joining the Foundation in January 2014, Pat was a leadership consultant. She worked with mature nonprofits on their organizational renewal challenges. She began her career on Parliament Hill in 1981 where she worked first for her hometown MP and later two cabinet ministers. From 1988 to 2000, she served YMCA Canada and the YMCA of Greater Vancouver in senior management roles. Currently, Pat is the Vice-Chair of the Broadbent Institute’s Board of Directors.


Jennifer Hollett, Atkinson Associate on Civic Technology (2014 – 2016)

An award winning broadcast journalist, Jenn uses social media to increase participation and mobilization in politics and social issues. She recently gave a TEDxTalk on “How To Hate Politics” that outlined how technology is offering new ways to see and create social change.

As a television host and reporter, Jenn has worked for the CBC, CTV, and is a former MuchMusic VJ. In 2002, Jenn travelled to Kabul to host A MuchMusic Special: Afghanistan, a Gemini nominated documentary. She hosted the CBC’s G20 Street Level blog during the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto which won a Canadian Online Publishing Award, and was recognized by Amnesty International Canada with a 2009 Media Award for her CBC radio reporting from Israel/Palestine. It was her work in the media that inspired her recent leap into politics, looking to move from asking questions to finding answers.

A leading digital expert and visionary, Jenn developed the critically acclaimed Super PAC App at the MIT Media Lab, which helped make television campaign ads more transparent to viewers during the 2012 U.S. election. Technologically savvy, Jenn has worked in digital communications since the late ’90s, when she became the youngest manager ever at Sony Music Canada, and developed new media strategies for the label’s top artists.

Human rights and social justice have been a consistent focus in Jenn’s work. She previously managed e­communications for Plan Canada, worked with Journalists for Human Rights to train journalists in Sierra Leone, and volunteered to create YouthCARE, a youth engagement program with CARE Canada. She is a strong advocate for women’s and girls’ rights, and has been proud to moderate the G(irls)20 Summit in Toronto (2010), Paris (2011), Mexico City (2012), and Moscow (2013).

Jenn has a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Journalism and Communications from Concordia University in Montreal, and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University. As an NDP candidate in the the 2015 federal election in University-Rosedale, Jenn believes politics is what we make it. In her capacity as an Atkinson Associate, she wrote this primer on civic tech

Jenn is now the Head of News and Government at Twitter Canada. You can follow her at @jenniferhollett.


Kerry McCuaig, Atkinson Economic Justice Fellow in Early Childhood Policy

Kerry McCuaig has been the Atkinson Economic Justice Fellow in Early Childhood Policy, working with the Atkinson Centre at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), since 2011. She is co-author of Early Years Study 3: Making DecisionsTaking Action with Margaret McCain and Fraser Mustard. Kerry has had a long involvement in early childhood policy development including as communications manager for Toronto First Duty, a pioneer in the integrated delivery of early childhood programming and supports similar integrated ECE service models in Atlantic Canada. Kerry was an advisor on With Our Best Future in Mind, a policy blueprint on full day learning in Ontario. She is a sessional teacher in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) degree program at George Brown College in Toronto.

Atkinson Economic Justice Fellows are appointed by the Board of Directors for up to three years based on their track record of achievement and a proposed workplan. Previous fellowship recipients include:

2009 Cindy Blackstock
2008 Uzma Shakir
2004 Cathy Crowe
2003 Roy Romanow
2002 Armine Yalnizyan


Nil Sendil

In March 2014, Nil came to Atkinson after completing a Masters degree in Political Science at the University of Toronto. Her research focused on online engagement strategies. During her internship, Nil worked on several communications projects – here’s her story about the experience. When her internship ended in December 2014, she coordinated our digital engagement activities for six months. Nil is now organizer with the Workers’ Action Centre. You can follow her on Twitter at @SendilNil.

From time to time, Atkinson offers a paid internship in the field of social justice philanthropy to a recent post-secondary graduate. We’re not accepting applications at this time.