From the Head of College

From the Head of College

THURSDAY, 23 APRIL 2015 9:54 AM

Pearson College Appoints Désirée McGraw as New President

Internationally recognized advocate becomes first woman to lead College

Désirée McGraw, one of Canada’s most influential advocates for youth engagement, international cooperation and sustainable development, has been appointed President of Pearson College, the first woman ever to hold this post in the school’s 40-year history.

See the April 20, 2015 announcement and speech. (Read McGraw's opening remarks.)

“We were looking for a very special candidate who reflects and respects the extraordinary role Pearson College has played, and will play, in Canada and the world,” said Tony Macoun, Chair of the College’s Board of Directors. “We are thrilled that someone with Ms. McGraw’s principled commitment to educating and engaging the next generation of leaders, is going to guide the College into a new era of growth and achievement.”

McGraw brings to Pearson more than 25 years of experience as an educator, advocate and advisor who has worked to engage young people in global issues ranging from nuclear disarmament to climate change. She has earned accolades for her leadership of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation, as well as in her previous roles as a senior advisor to the Prime Minister, Director of Policy to the Minister of International Cooperation and co-founder of Al Gore’s Climate Project in Canada. Since 2002, McGraw has also lectured on International Development at McGill University. In 2010, McGraw was designated a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and was recently named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Financial Post and Quebec’s “huit femmes incontournables” in Première en Affaires.

“Pearson College is more important than ever before, and I’m excited to work with students, alumni, staff, faculty, volunteers and partners in fulfilling its mission,” said McGraw. “The world needs a new generation of change agents, undaunted by complexity, to tackle national and global issues. There is an unparalleled sense of commitment, community, empathy and intellectual curiosity here at Pearson. It’s a great place to learn together, and to learn to lead in uncertain times.”

Rooted in the global vision of former Prime Minister and Nobel Laureate Lester B. Pearson, Pearson College has earned international acclaim for the accomplishments of its graduates. For forty years, the College has consistently produced graduating classes of inspired young leaders eager to tackle the challenges of this world and bring about positive change.

“Désirée McGraw has absolute integrity and a deep commitment to the development of a more peaceful and sustainable society in Canada and internationally. She has a rare capacity to exercise leadership and influence while ensuring the confidence and respect of those with whom she works,” said former Prime Minister the Right Honourable Paul Martin. “I know of no one at her stage of life who has done more in practical terms to give effect to her values and aspirations.”

She first came to Canadians’ attention in 1986, when she was only 16 years old. Concerned with the Cold War and young people’s anxieties about nuclear arms, McGraw spent eight months travelling across Canada with three other teens speaking to high school students about global peace and disarmament. One of the last stops on her tour was Pearson College, where she recalls being struck by the engagement and idealism of the students—traits still reflected on today’s campus. The National Film Board captured her experience in the documentary Mile Zero: The SAGE Tour.
On August 1, the Pearson College community will welcome McGraw to campus, and she will start her new role as President and Head of College.

Since the announcement, the story has drawn media attention from across the country (list updated as articles are published).

Read the piece in the Toronto Star.
Watch the interview on Global TV.
Listen to the report on CBC Radio One.
Read the article on CBC News.
See the televised feature from CTV.
Watch a clip on CHEK TV.
Hear McGraw speak to CBC radio
Listen to the live interview on CFAX.
Read the interview with the Times Colonist.
See the report from Black Press.
See the French release.

About Pearson College:

Pearson College, located just outside Victoria, B.C., is one of 14 prestigious United World Colleges around the globe. The College is a two-year, pre-university school for up to 160 students from over 100 countries who live, study and learn together pursuing the International Baccalaureate. A group of visionaries founded the College in 1974 with the goal of creating a national memorial to Nobel Prize winner and former Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson, in the form of a school that aligns with the United World College mission: to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. Forty years on, this mission continues. Today, more than 3,900 students have graduated from Pearson College. Its alumni are determined to make a difference in the lives of others. For more information, visit



Andrew Kavchak - MAY. 25, 2015 07:26 AM
Dear Pearson College, I notice that the press release announcing your new school president makes reference to her previous participation in a peace initiative that was documented in the movie Mile Zero: The SAGE Tour. I notice that you also posted a trailer of the movie on your college YouTube channel. May I suggest that you may wish to consider as an exercise for the students at the college that they read the following review of the movie and ask them to write their own critique. The essay is available online at: The review is titled: A Critique of the National Film Board 1988 Documentary Mile Zero: The SAGE Tour - How Western Peaceniks Promoted Soviet Interests The issues raised in the movie and the review clearly identify a number of important issues and cover important historical events which seem to be rapidly fading from public memory as time goes by. I hope you will consider this proposal as a good exercise in your peace studies cla


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