Canadian Women’s Foundation Leadership Institute

The Canadian Women’s Foundation Leadership Institute is a multi-year pilot project undertaken in partnership with the Coady Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

The Leadership Institute builds the leadership capacity of emerging and mid-career women leaders working on community economic development (CED) issues in the women’s charitable and non-profit sectors across the country.

The program is delivered using the Coady Institute’s innovative and blended approach to asset-based leadership development. Educational methods incorporate a participant-focused, flexible learning agenda underpinned by strong adult education principles, technical expertise, and technological support. The program draws on personal insight, theory, and practical application.

This intense one-year program focuses on women-centered leadership and addresses:

  • personal leadership skills development
  • organizational development to strengthen and lead effective organizations and
  • community development and policy/advocacy skills to create or contribute to social change.

This is an excellent opportunity to develop leadership skills. The program is a wonderfully intense learning experience but it is demanding in nature, both in terms of time commitments and expectation to participate in all aspects of the program. In addition to taking part in the residential learning and distance learning components, participants are expected to demonstrate increased leadership potential within their organizations and apply their learning on the job. Participants are also required to assess their participation and reflect on their learning experience. It is why we are able to offer a parchment certificate from Coady Institute at St. Francis Xavier University to all participants who successfully complete the program requirements.

While recognizing and exploring the rapidly changing environment, key topics at the first on-site residential learning session will set the stage for the learning throughout the year and include:

  • individual leadership skill recognition and development
  • the development and articulation of leadership action plans
  • an overview of the state of women’s involvement in community economic development in Canada
  • an overview of organizational and community development and change
  • increased understanding and examination of power with a focus on gender analysis
  • principles and the practice of organizationally-driven and citizen-driven community economic development
  • accountability, diversity and inclusion and
  • strategic alliances and partnerships.

About the Canadian Women’s Foundation

The Canadian Women’s Foundation is Canada’s national public foundation for women and girls. Founded in 1991, the Foundation empowers women and girls in Canada to move out of violence, out of poverty and into confidence. Specifically, the Foundation’s work focuses on three key areas:

  • transitioning women out of poverty
  • ending violence against women and
  • building strong resilient girls.

This is accomplished by:

  • directly funding projects which are selected within national program strategies
  • building the capacity of women’s organizations and leaders
  • researching, evaluating, and disseminating program learnings and best practices and
  • building philanthropic support for women’s and girls’ programs in Canada.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation is ideally positioned to understand and address the leadership needs of women working for social and economic change in Canada. For more information on the Foundation, go to

The Need for a Women’s Leadership Institute

The Foundation established the Canadian Women Foundation’s Leadership Institute in 2012 because:

  • leaders in the women’s and community economic development sectors are aging and there is a need to build the leadership capacity of the next generation of women leaders in Canada
  • the funding environment for women’s services has changed dramatically and leaders need new skills to work successfully
  • women’s organizations have identified a critical need for women centered leadership training related to managing change, building the case for women’s economic development, collaboration and partnership development, succession planning, and becoming a force for change for women in Canada
  • the demographic and social context in Canada has changed significantly and there is a need for organizations to increase their adaptive capacity and inclusiveness

The Foundation knows that if it invests in strong leaders, these women will mobilize and lead strong organizations and communities, resulting in transformational and systemic change for women across the country.

The ultimate goal of the Leadership Institute is to support women and their organizations and communities to participate collectively in developing solutions to the challenges they face.

About Coady International Institute

Established by St. Francis Xavier University in 1959, Coady International Institute is a world-renowned centre of excellence in community-based development and leadership education. Coady International Institute works with innovative people and organizations to create effective, practical, and sustainable solutions to reduce global poverty and injustice.

In recognition of its firm commitment to and strategic focus on advancing women’s social, political and economic empowerment, Coady Institute launched the International Centre for Women’s Leadership in 2011. The Centre is a unique focal point for dedicated and quality education, partnership and network building and action-oriented research on women’s leadership and empowerment both in Canada and around the world.

Coady’s partnership with Canadian Women’s Foundation builds on its long and distinguished history of quality education, productive partnerships, and research in the field of development leadership.