August 1, 2023 – Toronto-based executive recruitment firm Griffith Group has been called in to find the next president and chief executive officer for Universities Canada, a national advocacy organization that represents Canadian universities. Jane Griffith, managing partner and founder, and Sam Walton, partner, are spearheading the assignment.
Paul Davidson announced earlier this year that he would be leaving the role at the end of June, after leading the non-profit for 14 years. Philip Landon, chief operating officer since 2020, serves as interim president and CEO.
Reporting to a 13-member board of directors, the president and CEO provides the strategic and visionary leadership of the organization, said Griffith Group. Acting as the main spokesperson, this leader ensures the organization’s short- and long-term sustainability through the development of strong government advocacy strategies that represent the interests of Canadian universities to federal ministers, departments of the federal government, parliamentary committees, and task forces concerned with higher education, talent development, research, innovation, and other topics of importance to universities.
The president and CEO is charged with hosting a number of annual events for members, forging strategic alliances with like-minded organizations in Canada and internationally, facilitating cohesion with respect to federal government programs and initiatives that affect all of its member universities’ operations and administration, and representing Canadian universities to domestic and foreign governments, institutions, and media.
This individual plays a key role in supporting the executive heads by offering training and leadership development opportunities, and by providing sound guidance for the diverse 97 member universities who can hold similar or different views, perspectives, and priorities, said the search firm. Universities Canada’s president and CEO leads an established and professional team and works closely with the senior management committee to ensure that the organization respects the highest standards in its relations with indigenous peoples, accessibility, and in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion.
A university degree at the master’s level or higher from a recognized university is required for this position. Oral bilingualism in both of Canada’s official languages (English/French) is a must-have requirement, and full proficiency in both languages is a desirable asset. This role requires candidates to be based in Ottawa, Ontario and includes a heavy domestic, and global, travel commitment.
The ideal candidate will be an accomplished, bilingual, results-oriented, and forward-looking executive, said Griffith Group. “Your deep commitment to higher education provides you with an understanding, and appreciation of its complexities and of its importance to individuals, communities and Canadian society; knowledge of the global context of higher education is considered an asset,” said the search firm. “Your career includes progressive roles in senior leadership from a similarly large and complex organization, ideally from the university, government or NGO sector. You bring significant senior administration experience with financial management, human resources, governance policies and procedures, and with government relations.”
Universities Canada, based in Ottawa, Ontario, is “the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians.” Established in 1911, the organization’s mandate is to facilitate the development of public policy on higher education and to encourage cooperation among universities and governments, industry, communities, and institutions in other countries.
Founded by Ms. Griffith in 2021, Griffith Group is a retained executive search firm focused on senior-level recruitment for academic, not-for-profit, and broader public organizations across Canada. The firm is committed to supporting, championing, and advancing equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. Griffith Group is 100 percent owned by Ms. Griffith, who identifies in two equity-seeking categories, and is a certified diverse supplier company, through WBE Canada. WBE Canada certifies Canadian B2B businesses that are at least 51 percent owned, managed, and controlled by women. Griffith Group is also a member of the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and a signatory of the BlackNorth Initiative, and of the federal government’s 50-30 Challenge.
Ms. Griffith, a veteran search leader, is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer on hiring practices, with a specific focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives. She has spoken at conferences across Canada and at the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto. Prior to founding Griffith Group, she was a partner and national diversity leader with three national and global search firms. She also founded Griffith Research, with clients in Australia, Dubai, Canada, and the U.S.
Ms. Walton draws on her deep executive search experience and diverse sector expertise to execute complex search assignments and recruit talented leaders across a broad range of functions. Ms. Walton holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a focus in photography from Ryerson University and is currently completing the Award of Achievement in Diversity and Inclusion program at the University of British Columbia and the Gender Analytics Specialization: Gender Equity Through Inclusive Design by the Institute for Gender and the Economy (GATE) at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. She has successfully completed the LGBTQI2S inclusion training from Egale Canada Human Rights Trust and recently concluded the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) training course from AODA.ca.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media