Thomas Axworthy, O.C. is Secretary-General of the InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government, distinguished Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Senior Fellow at Massey College, where he is also Chair of Public Policy. He has served as Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; Chair of Queen’s University Centre for the Study of Democracy; Harvard University’s Fellow of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School and Mackenzie King Chair of Canadian Studies; and CEO of The Gordon Foundation.
Gaston Bellemare, C.M., O.Q. is an internationally-recognized poet, editor and publisher emeritus who has played a transformative role in shaping Quebec’s literary and cultural landscape. He is the co-founder and former president of publishing house Les Écrits des Forges (the largest publisher of French poetry in Canada), the founder and president of the Trois Rivières International Poetry Festival, and the founder of the Fédération des festivals internationaux de poésie.
Helen Burstyn, C.M. is the Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Social Venture Zone at Ryerson University, co-host of Toronto Files, and Chair of Evergreen Canada. For many years she served as the Province of Ontario’s Special Advisor, Social Enterprise and Chair of the Partnership Forum. She is co-founder of the Pecaut Centre for Social Impact (now LEAP), and is a founding member of Equal Voice.
George F. Dark, FCSLA FASLA OALA is an internationally-renowned urban designer and landscape architect, Mr. Dark is a Fellow of both the American and Canadian Societies of Landscape Architects. Throughout his career, he has led complex projects through from design to completion, and has directed numerous Master Plans across Canada and the United States. Of note, he is the author of the University of Ottawa’s recently-released Master Plan which guides the evolution and development of an area adjacent to Prime Ministers’ Row.
A. J. Diamond, O.C. is an internationally-renowned architect recognized for such projects as the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. His firm, Diamond Schmitt Architects, led the revitalization of Ottawa’s National Arts Centre (NAC) and is currently leading the creation of the National Capital Region's new Central Library.
Esi Edugyan is an internationally-celebrated writer based in Victoria. A New York Times bestselling author and a Canada Reads Finalist, Esi has twice won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, for her novels Half-Blood Blues and Washington Black, both of which have also received shortlist honours for such awards as the Man Booker Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Governor General's Awards. Washington Black is currently under adaptation by 20th Century Fox for a limited TV Series.
The Honourable Landon Pearson, O.C. is a children’s advocate, author and former Senator, currently Chair of the Landon Pearson Resource Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children's Rights at Carleton University. She co-founded and Chaired the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children, and has served as the personal representative of Prime Minister Jean Chretien to the 2002 UN Special Session on Children and as President and Chair of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth.
Natalie Stern is the former Artistic Director of the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, which she founded in 1988 in association with the National Arts Centre. A graduate of the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London, England) and the Owner/Director of Powerspeech, she is a globally recognized expert in teaching theatre, voice and communication. Natalie serves as a senior advisor to cultural organizations across Canada.
Mary Walsh, C.M. is a Newfoundland-based, nationally-recognized actor, author, advocate, writer, comedian, producer and political satirist whose long-running television series This Hour Has 22 Minutes has garnered numerous Gemini awards. Amongst other accolades, her contributions to broadcasting and performing arts in Canada have been recognized with a Governor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Outside of the film, TV and theatre world, she serves as an outspoken advocate for mental health and addiction awareness.
John Wright is an Ottawa-based landscape architect with 35 years of experience in designing public places. He served as the University of Ottawa's "resident" landscape architect for 25 years and was responsible for the pedestrian streets, gateways and landscapes of seven new buildings. He also holds extensive experience with streetscapes, having designed Bank Street, King Edward Avenue and Sparks Street (Lyon to Kent) in Ottawa, as well as Princess Street in Kingston and King Street in Brockville. He currently serves as the Senior Practice Leader for urban design and landscape architecture with WSP Canada.