Goodbye to a visionary leader: Susan Lewis to step down as United Way Winnipeg President & CEO

After over four decades of dedicated service to our community, United Way Winnipeg’s President and CEO Susan Lewis recently announced that she will be stepping down later this year

Susan Lewis, United Way of Winnipeg President & CEO.

Susan first joined this United Way in 1973 as a Campaign Division Director, and in 1974 became the first female Campaign Director in Canada.

In 1986 Susan became President & CEO, again breaking ground as the country’s first female United Way President. 

Throughout her entire career Susan has been a visionary leader. She focused on building a strong, thriving and safe Winnipeg.

As a CEO, she challenged the status quo and in the mid-1990s launched a transformational change process. It led to a new vision and new operating model, and restructured every functional area of United Way Winnipeg.

A critical step in the change process was a community involvement process called Journey Forward. It focused on engaging the public in identifying Winnipeg’s most pressing social issues, and mobilizing the community in a collective effort to work toward solutions.

A focus on the root causes of poverty

In 2006, Susan led the formation of the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council (WPRC). It included leadership from all sectors working together to address—in real and measurable way—some of Winnipeg’s toughest issues. The work of WPRC has led to a community-wide focus on critical issues such as homelessness and early childhood development.

A new space for community

Always seeking ways to build community and foster relationships, when the time had come to move offices after 20 years in the same space, Susan was determined to use the opportunity to benefit the community.

This was accomplished by becoming part of the revitalization of Winnipeg’s downtown and creating a community asset in the form of a Learning and Innovation Centre. The building ultimately saved money over leasing similar space. In addition, she ensured no donor dollars were used to fund the construction or ongoing operations.

In May 2011 Susan received the Order of Manitoba, which recognizes individuals whose work has benefited the social, cultural or economic well-being of Manitoba and its residents. She is also a recipient of United Way Centraide Canada’s Excellence Award, United Way’s highest honour. (Note: in 2015 Susan Lewis received the Order of Canada, and in 2016 the University of Manitoba bestowed a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa).

Thank you for all you have given us and our community Susan!