Martha Hall Findlay will leave the Canada West Foundation at the end of this month to take a position as senior vice-president and chief sustainability officer at Suncor.
The foundation announced Findlay’s departure Monday, noting vice-president Colleen Collins will act as interim CEO while a search takes place for another candidate.
Hall Findlay said while she’s excited about the new role, she’s “certainly sad to leave this family behind.”
“I’ve had a fantastic time here and I do leave with a heavy heart in some ways,” she said. She noted the public policy think-tank was started nearly 50 years ago “by a group of people frustrated that decisions were being made in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto that were affecting the West.”
Hall Findlay said the West is in a “particularly challenging but fascinating time,” citing factors including the politics of alienation.
“The recent federal election didn’t cause that sense of alienation and frustration; the election results were a symptom of that frustration,” she said.
She highlighted Canada West Foundation work including its trade and investment centre, human capital centre and natural resources centre.
“The team here (is) firing on all cylinders, whether it’s trade investment or human capital or what we’re doing in terms of ag and Asia and the opportunities . . . there’s just so much going on,” she said.
“There are projects that we’re working on, some really great plans all the way through 2020 in terms of some of the challenges that we and they will continue to address. I don’t feel so bad leaving knowing that it’s such a strong team of people here to look after some of these issues.”
Board of directors chair Oryssia Lennie said Hall Findlay’s leadership at the foundation “ensured that issues of great importance to the West and all of Canada have captured the attention of decision-makers across the country at a time when that perspective is needed more than ever.”
Findlay became president and CEO of the Canada West Foundation in September 2016. She was a Liberal member of Parliament from 2008 to 2011, twice running for the leadership of the federal party. She is described in her bio as a corporate lawyer, senior business executive and successful entrepreneur with more than 25 years of domestic and international experience. Findlay is also a former national ski racer.