The Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons’ King Clancy Awards are presented annually in recognition of outstanding personal achievement and important contributions in support of Canadians who live with disability. This year’s award recipients are Laura Dottori-Attanasio and Penny Hartin.
In the not-for-profit sector, fundraising is essential to securing the vital financial resources needed by organizations to carry out their important work. Laura Dottori-Attanasio is an example of an extraordinary volunteer fundraiser whose efforts on behalf of multiple charitable groups have contributed meaningfully to the lives of countless disadvantaged Canadians.
In her role as Co-Chair of the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada’s National Campaign for Child Welfare, she has helped raise more than $68 million toward the campaign’s $100 million goal in support of vulnerable children and youth.
As Senior Executive Vice-President and Chief Risk Officer at CIBC, Dottori-Attanasio leveraged her high profile and influential connections to open the door for a number of million dollar plus transformational partnerships with CIBC Children’s Foundation, Element Fleet Management and TELUS – thereby significantly widening the foundation’s reach and improving the lives of even more children and youth involved in the child welfare system.
Dottori-Attanasio also played a key role in the launch of a successful $10 million capital campaign for the Centennial Infant and Child Centre Foundation. Her contributions were critical both to developing a new case for support and for launching an early fundraising event. From this event alone, Dottori-Attanasio personally raised more than $80,000 and established positive connections with a number of attendees who are now ongoing supporters of the organization.
As Major Individual Giving (MIG) Chair in 2018 and 2019, she led and inspired a cabinet of more than 100 senior leaders in the community and helped United Way Greater Toronto raise more than $60 million – representing some 30% of the organization’s annual fundraising dollars.
In 2019, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Toronto Chapter recognized her remarkable fundraising accomplishments by naming her Outstanding Volunteer at its annual AFP Philanthropy Awards.
Dottori-Attanasio, who is also an inductee in the WXN’s “Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada” Hall of Fame, said her commitment to giving back to society through volunteering has its roots in her small-town upbringing.“In a big city, it can be easy for people to walk past somebody lying on a side-walk because there’s no personal connection,” she said.
“But when you’re in a small town, you pretty much know everyone. So if you see somebody in need, you don’t turn away, expecting somebody else will look after them. You do something about it,” she explained.
Dottori-Attanasio also said she’s motivated by a sense of responsibility to help those who are less fortunate to live life to their full potential.
“I’m just thankful that I’m in a position to be able to help people, to bring about positive change for folks having tough times. What’s been important for me is to try to level the playing field and create more accessibility so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute,” she said.
In her fundraising, her focus on children and youth is in part about ensuring disadvantaged young people can afford an education to help them get ahead. At CIBC, similarly, she’s a strong advocate of hiring people from underrepresented groups, including people with disabilities, to give them the chance to contribute and be independent.
Dottori-Attanasio is also a member of the selection board for the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Per-son’s A Space at the Table initiative, aimed at increasing the representation of people with disabilities on corporate boards.
Recently, she co-founded, together with Tim Rose, Senior Manager, Inclusion Partnerships at CIBC, and Felipe Montoya, a professor at York University, a new initiative called Disability Positive that seeks to improve opportunities for people with disabilities through innovative changes in the areas of policy, employment and leadership.
Dottori-Attanasio is a board director at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. She resides in Toronto with her husband and four children.
If you like to read books but require accessible versions of your favourite authors’ works, Penny Hartin is one of the people you should thank for the re-cent expansion in the number of books from around the world that are available in accessible formats.
As chief executive officer of World Blind Union (WBU) from 2006 until her retirement in 2018, Hartin was a driving force behind the Marrakesh Treaty,adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2013 to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled.
“A great amount of my time at the World Blind Union was spent in helping to advocate for that treaty,” she said. “And once we got it, then it was a matter of getting the different countries to come onboard. Cause it’s one thing to have a treaty,but if countries don’t ratify it and agree to implement it, then it’s just paper.
”The efforts that Hartin and so many others put into the ratification part of the equation were clearly well directed.
According to the treaty’s administrator, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), there are now close to 90 signatory nations, including the United States, and the European Union countries.
Hartin was particularly pleased when Canada acceded to the treaty on June 30,2016, becoming the 20th nation to do so.Canada’s accession triggered a clause tha to fficially brought the treaty into force on September 30, 2016, she said.
During her tenure at the WBU, which represents the views and needs of some 253 million blind and partially sighted persons, Hartin worked on a range of other high-profile initiatives, including advocating for and supporting the implementation of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was adopted in 2016.
She also served for six years on the first UN Panel of Experts to monitor the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
Previously, Hartin spent more than a quarter-century at CNIB. Her first work experience with the organization came in1976 as a summer-camp employee. In 1979, she joined full time as a trainee in a Northern Ontario field office and went onto serve as executive director of the New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario divisions from 1988 until 2004.
During her last few years at CNIB, Hartin set up and ran its international arm, Blindness International, which was focused on sharing CNIB’s expertise around the world, especially in developing countries.
At the international level over the years, she has been particularly active in the area of advancing the rights of blind and partially sighted women, as well as for persons with low vision.
Though officially retired, Hartin continues to advocate for the rights of Canadians with disabilities. Currently, she is a national board member at CNIB, a director of the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization (a Governor in Council Appointment) and treasurer of the Blind Sailing Association of Canada.
Hartin grew up and attended school in Haliburton Ontario. Born with con-genital cataracts, she has severe low vision and makes use of speech and screen magnification access technology. To help her navigate, she relies on her cherished guide dog, Chicory.
Stepping back to consider some of the key life lessons she’s learned over the years, Hartin says “I think it’s important to set goals and to try to achieve as much as you can within those goals.”“I also think it’s really important not to let other people put limitations on you.
Try to move beyond what others might expect of you. Create your own expectations,” she said