Jo-Anne Poirier

Jo-Anne Poirier

Lifetime Contribution

Known for her leadership, commitment to excellence, unwavering passion for community service and gentle ability to lead organizations through challenging times, Jo-Anne Poirier is a familiar face at boardroom tables and community events both in and outside of Ottawa. She is energized and inspired by collaboration with smart people who share her vision of healthy and humane communities, as evidenced in the professional and volunteer choices she has made throughout her impressive 30 plus-year career, which shows no signs of slowing down. For Ms. Poirier, serving the community is more than a career, it is her raison d’être.

Whether undertaking a staff role or as a volunteer, Jo-Anne Poirier sets out to understand the social mission of the organization. Then, she seeks to find ways to personally add value to it — to make it the best it can be so it can provide better service to more people. Her business education and her passion for life-long learning serve her well in this approach. In an era characterized by increasing demand and scarce resources, the aspiration to do good, and to do it well, demands a progressive approach to problem-solving and a capacity for innovation. These are hallmarks of Jo-Anne Poirier’s professionalism.

Jo-Anne Poirier is  President and CEO of VON Canada (2014-present), leading more than 6400 employees and 6200 volunteers in delivering vital home and community care across Ontario and Nova Scotia. She led VON through a challenging financial restructuring, succeeding where very few other charities have in moving through creditor protection to financial sustainability. Ms. Poirier’s focus on excellence and continuous improvement makes her a champion of Lean, a methodology whose application has yielded a 20% improvement in productivity. Under her leadership, VON has led growth and innovation while improving business efficiencies and productivity. For a charity, this kind of improvement results in an ability to serve more people, to respond to greater need and to reinvest in the employees who deliver care.

Ms. Poirier also actively promotes the exchange of knowledge in the community service sector. In 2010, she co-founded the Public Sector Leaders Forum for senior leaders in educational, social services and health organizations in Ottawa. This invitational group is a place to share experiences, knowledge and problems with thoughtful peers, all in support of excellence. Cross-generational knowledge exchange is also important to Ms. Poirier. She mentors a roster of people building careers in community services. This work is an investment in the future strength of our community.

Ms. Poirier’s early studies prepared her for a career in business, but she has always been captivated by community service. She spent the first few years of her career in the private sector, and then moved to the Regional Municipality of Ottawa Carleton (1982-93) in finance and administration, waste management, project management and oversight roles in various functions and departments.

At the City of Gloucester (1993-2000) her roles included Commissioner, Client Services Department (1993-96); Deputy City Manager, Corporate Services Department (1996-2000); and Acting City Manager (2000), where in this capacity she supported the Mayor and Council in completing the transition to city amalgamation.

As First Vice President, Business Development at MBNA Canada (2000-2003), Jo-Anne Poirier led 440+ multi-sectoral partnerships and strengthened the organization’s co-branded card portfolio and customer base. Her concurrent volunteer role on United Way Ottawa’s Campaign Cabinet led to a permanent position as VP Resource Development and CEO of the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (2003-08). Under her leadership, the campaign grew from $20M to $30M annually, ultimately achieving $142M in total pledges in Ottawa and $67M Canada-wide.

Her move to Ottawa Community Housing as CEO (2008-14) brought her even closer to the community, affecting the lives of 32,000 residents in 15,000 social housing units in Ottawa. She led the development of a long-range financial strategy to address extensive capital repair requirements and secured $55M in new funding from government to maintain facilities. Challenged to find ways to stretch available funding to meet growing demand for affordable housing, Jo-Anne Poirier developed new approaches to resource development. She created a program for corporate sponsors interested in team-building opportunities for their employees to contribute days of caring by pitching in on maintenance or small construction projects at OCH properties. She established the Ottawa Community Housing Foundation as a means of ensuring sustainable funding for educational, employment and recreational projects for the OCH community. Both initiatives augmented the resources, drew the wider community more actively into its work and helped to significantly de-stigmatize social housing. These initiatives also helped to fulfil her personal mission to empower tenants and give them more control over their futures.

Jo-Anne Poirier is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors with ICD.C designation (2017). She has a graduate diploma in Public Management from Carleton (2014), a certificate in business administration (1985) and BA (1978) from the University of Ottawa.

Ms. Poirier’s current Board roles include Chair of the Board, Shaw Centre; Chair of the Board, Change Foundation; Board Member, TVO; Board Member, Calian Group; Vice-Chair, CHEO; and Founding Co-Chair, Public Service Leaders Forum. Her past Board roles include Director and Vice-Chair, City of Ottawa Board of Health (2014-18); Board Member, Crime Prevention Ottawa (2009-13); Founding Co-Chair, Housing Partnership Canada (2013); Director and Co-Chair, Champlain Local Health Integrated Network (2005-2010); Advisor, Ottawa Chapter of Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (2003-07); and Trustee, Ottawa Community Agencies’ Pension Fund (2006-07).

For her outstanding contributions, Jo-Anne Poirier has received a number of awards, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012); The Canadian Over 50s Housing Award (2012); Dirigeante de l’année from the Regroupement des gens d’affaires (2012); Chamber of Commerce Business Awards Not-for-Profit of the Year (Bronze, 2011); Leading Women Building Communities Provincial Award (2011); United Way Community Builder Award (2011); Ontario Not for Profit Housing Association Award for Organizational Excellence (2010); and the Association of Fundraising Professionals Fundraising Executive of the Year (2007).