Leaders make a difference

Their enthusiasm is contagious and their deep commitment to helping York University reach its $190,000 campaign goal admirable. For Eileen Fischer and Naguib Gouda, there is a very special satisfaction in co-chairing York’s University’s United Way Leadership Campaign.

Leadership giving offers people an opportunity to be a part of something much greater than they can achieve alone. York University’s United Way Leadership Campaign members contribute at least $1,000 annually (about $1.43 a day). They are the base of a strong network of support for the communities and organizations that benefit from York’s annual United Way Campaign. Their continuing leadership ensures that the essential social services provided by the United Way of Greater Toronto reach the community. York’s leadership donors send a powerful message of support to the thousands of families that receive benefit from the United Way’s Campaign.

Above: From left, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, United Way Keynote speaker Kirby Chown, York United Way Leadership Campaign Co-Chairs Naguib Gouda and Eileen Fischer

As campaign co-chairs, both Gouda and Fischer understand the United Way’s critical role in building a healthier, happier and safer community. This is Gouda’s first year as a campaign co-chair and Fischer is returning for her fifth year as co-chair.

Fischer is a professor of marketing at the Schulich School of Business at York University. One of the best lessons a teacher can offer in the classroom is to lead by doing. As the 2007 campaign co-chair, Fischer is setting quite an example for her students about generosity and leadership. At Schulich, she is holder of the Max and Anne Tanebaum Chair in Entrepreneurship & Family Enterprise. "I am a huge supporter of the United Way and believe strongly in the services it offers," says Fischer.

Gouda is president of the York University Alumni Association and executive director, Alumni & Advancement Services, as well as an MBA graduate of Schulich. Prior to his appointment at York, he held senior executive positions in marketing and project management at Manulife Financial Corporation and the Bank of Montreal, where he worked from 1989 to 2001.

He is a highly skilled, multilingual communicator with extensive corporate experience and a lifelong commitment to volunteering for community organizations. Gouda is no stranger to volunteerism and has served on numerous boards and committees, and worked as a volunteer fundraiser for organizations such as the Learning Partnership, Sheena’s Place, The Toronto Distress Centre, SafeHaven, Bereaved Families of Ontario and the Orpheus Choir of Toronto.

"Having worked with the Toronto Distress Centre for years – doing everything from being a front line telephone volunteer to a board member – I understand and appreciate the assistance the United Way provides. There are so many people in the GTA for whom the Distress Center is a lifeline, a voice of comfort and friendship or a resource. Without United Way funding, this service would not be possible," said Gouda. "We are blessed with so much, and we (the York community) can give back a little through our generosity and commitment to this campaign. I am honoured to have been asked to co-chair this year’s University United Way Campaign."

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, York kicked off its leadership campaign with a well-attended event which featured a passionate speech by York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, who is a big supporter of the United Way Campaign. The event featured a keynote address by Kirby Chown, a member of the United Way Campaign Cabinet, and remarks by Fischer and Gouda.

In his speech, Shoukri highlighted that over 65 per cent of York’s annual United Way fundraising achievement comes from leadership donations. In 2006, those who gave at the leadership level were responsible for $126,848 of the $190,139 raised in the campaign. "I challenge you to not only meet our current campaign goal of $190,000 but to exceed it," he said.

Chown, a member of the United Way Campaign Cabinet representing the professionals sector and a volunteer leadership speaker, is also the Ontario Regional Managing Partner of McCarthy Tétrault. 

"Only 14 per cent of funds raised for charity in Canada are directed towards the social services," said Chown. "That means 86 per cent of charitable funds raised support medical research, education, religion and other causes."

Right: Kirby Chown

Fischer reminded the leaders assembled to show a friend the way, and noted the tremendous generosity of the D’Alessandro Family Leadership Grant. The grant will offer, during the 2007 campaign, an unprecedented opportunity for many in the York community to become leadership donors. The grant will match all new leadership donations dollar for dollar and match all increases to past leadership donations above 10 per cent.

In his remarks, Gouda shared his heart-felt experiences as a volunteer working at the Distress Centre, a United Way funded agency. He recalled the importance of the support offered by the centre to many who had no where else to turn. Gouda emphasized that the need in the City of Toronto had never been greater and urged those in attendance to take the extra step and to show a friend the way to leadership giving.

Those interested in making a difference should contact Fischer at ext. 77957, or Gouda at ext. 20886. Visit the United Way of Greater Toronto Web site to find out more about how each donation works to assist social service agencies in the Greater Toronto Area.

Contributions submitted by the campaign deadline of Nov. 30 will be entered into a draw for a number of great prizes. For more information on the 2007 York University Campaign, visit the University Events & Community Relations Web site.