By: Zeynep Güler Tuck, April 01 2022
Promotion Signals Continued Emphasis on Unlocking Opportunities for Women and Underrepresented Communities
Elevate, Canada’s not-for-profit organization at the intersection of technology, arts, and social innovation, is proud to announce that Cofounder and General Manager Lisa Zarzeczny has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer effective immediately.
Zarzeczny has long been a passionate advocate of Canada’s innovation economy and was instrumental in launching the Elevate Festival, growing it from 5,000 attendees to more than 20,000 in three short years. In that time, the festival has become recognized as an important catalyst for innovation in this country while also highlighting Canada’s innovation sector on the world stage. As the new CEO, her first order of business is bringing the hugely successful festival back as an in-person event in the fall of 2022, after going digital for two-years due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Zarzeczny notes that her priority will continue to be shattering long-held stereotypes about who can participate in the tech industry. Under her leadership, Elevate joined the Government of Canada’s 50/30 pledge, committing that every program has minimum representation of 50% women-identified participants and 30% from underrepresented communities.
“It’s critical that innovative solutions are designed to reflect the values, needs, and beliefs of our diverse communities,” says Zarzeczny. “I want to make sure that in every single program we run, that we are unlocking opportunities for people who haven’t had them,” she adds.
“I’ve been fortunate to watch Lisa’s vision come to life at Elevate,” says Claudette McGowan, Elevate Board Member and Global Executive Officer – Cybersecurity, TD. “Her mission to make the tech space more inclusive is poised to reshape the industry and a more diverse pool of innovators will ultimately have a long-lasting impact across all sectors in Canada,” she adds.
Under Zarzeczny’s leadership as General Manager, Elevate launched an innovation arm and flagship accelerator program as well as several new programs including Think 2030, an online forum for industry leaders to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and explore how innovation can solve society’s greatest challenges.
A New Chapter
As part of the restructuring, Kevin Barton moves from Senior Vice President to General Manager and Randy Lennox steps down from his position as Executive Chair.
“When I took on the role as Executive Chair at Elevate in 2021, it was always with the purpose of evaluating Elevate as a business and providing strategic direction to propel the organization forward,” says Randy Lennox. “Having worked closely with Lisa these last several months, I believe she is the right leader to drive growth and success for the organization. As I step back from my role, I’m excited for all that will come under her leadership.”
Zarzeczny will continue to oversee the direction of the organization as well as the execution of Elevate’s core programs:
- Elevate Talent: a comprehensive job success program for underrepresented communities that matches training to meaningful employment opportunities in the tech sector
- eCommerce North: Canada’s first ecommerce accelerator to support purpose-driven companies as they grow and scale their business
“Lisa intimately understands the vision and mission of Elevate,” says Razor Suleman, Cofounder and Chair of Elevate. “I’ve witnessed her growth as a leader over the past several years, and couldn’t be more confident in her ability to lead the next generation of Elevate.”
Prior to helping launch Elevate, Zarzeczny worked at MaRS Discovery District, one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs. She graduated from McGill University with a B.A. Honours in History & Political Science and completed her Executive Mini-MBA at the McGill Executive Institute.
This article was originally published on Cision.