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 Chief Executive Officer 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.