Désirée McGraw

Former President, Executive Director
Jeanne Sauvé Foundation
Sauvé Scholars Foundation

Desiree McGrawAs President of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation from 2008 to 2015, Désirée was responsible for the overall mission and management of the Foundation as well as its flagship Sauvé Scholars Program, which equipped and empowered a new generation of public leaders and social entrepreneurs to lead new initiatives, NGOs, businesses and governments.

In her prior capacity as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister and Director of Policy to Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation (2003-2006), Désirée coordinated all key ministerial files in the areas of sustainable development, stakeholder relations and multilateral organizations (such as the OECD, the UN and the World Bank). With twenty plus years of experience as an advisor, advocate, researcher, reporter and spokesperson in the field of sustainable development, Désirée has been described by the national media as “one of Canada’s ten most influential people on environmental issues”. Désirée has also been active in a range of community causes and organizations, including the Montreal West Environmental Action Committee, the Westmount Family Coop, the Queen Elizabeth Health Complex, Head & Hands in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, the Montreal English-Speaking Catholic Council, and the Montreal Millennium Summit.

Désirée first became involved in international organizations at age 18 when she was appointed by the Governor General of Canada (the Right Honorable Jeanne Sauvé) to serve as a youth advisor to the Canadian Delegation to the UN’s Third Special Session on Disarmament. Since that time, she has served on a number of other Canadian delegations to UN conferences, including the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol (Montreal, 2005), the Biodiversity Convention (Nairobi, 2000, and on Environment and Development (Rio, 1992) or “Earth Summit” where she served as one of two Global Youth Ambassadors appointed by UN Under-Secretary-General Maurice Strong. At age 16, Désirée embarked on a national speaking tour promoting global peace and security issues during the Cold War era. The eight-month cross-country tour reached a quarter of all Canadian secondary schools and was followed by special invitations to the UN, the US and the former USSR.

Désirée is a graduate of l’École secondaire classique Villa Maria, Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, School of Community and Public Affairs (graduating in Economics with Distinction and as class valedictorian in Arts & Science), the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award Program, and the Forum for Young Canadians. The recipient of numerous national and international scholarships for academic excellence and public service awards, Désirée pursued her graduate studies in International Relations as a Commonwealth Scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

In November 2014, Désirée was named one of Canada’s most powerful women. She currently serves as President of Pearson College in Victoria, British Columbia.

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