Friday, December 25, 2015

Farah Mohamed

A Woman of Influence, of Inspiration, of Leadership and Integrity...
who forged new paths for others and herself.
Her parents, Aba and Dilshad (Dilu) Mohamed are personal friends. Dilu, I met through a business networking organization several years ago...having maintained a special friendship to this day. So, it is with great pride and pleasure, I introduce you to Farah, one of their two daughters.

Awards: Canadian Diversity Champion, 2012
Top 25 Most Influential Women in Canada, Women of Influence, 2012
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2013
RBC Top Canadian Immigrant of the Year, 2014

Early Years: Of Indian heritage, Farah was born and raised in Uganda until 1972 when Idi Amin ordered the expulsion of 80,000 Asian them 90 days to leave Uganda. She states, “Many people in our community were initially optimistic...certain the tide would turn and they could stay in their homes, raise their children and run their businesses. Instead, horrific stories of cannibalism, murder and rape motivated most to flee their homes, businesses and the life they knew. Mine was one of the lucky families ~ thanks to the friendship of two world leaders, my father, mother and sister sought refuge in Canada...where my parents rebuilt our family lives.”

With two little girls, Aba and Dilu first settled in St. Catharines where Farah's father obtained a job and her mother developed her 'haute couture' fashion design business. Later moving to Burlington, Farah and Amina attended a local public school. When Farah graduated from Central High School, she enrolled at Queen's University in Kingston, graduating with a degree in Political Science; at Western University in London, Ontario, she earned her Master's Degree in this specialized field.

My 'Sense of Community' Led to My Progress
From a very young age, my parents taught me the meaning of giving back...
being part of a community; and the importance of education
as a way to ensure having choices in life.

Climbing the Ladder to Success: With this education background, she became assistant to The Honourable Paddy Torsney, Burlington's Member of Parliament in 1995.
For 10 years in Ottawa, she worked closely with some of Canada's most senior politicians. She served as the Director of Communications for The Honourable Anne McLellan in her role as Minister of Justice, Minister of Health and Deputy Prime Minister of Canada.

Post politics, Farah served as Vice President, Public Affairs and Community Engagement for VON Canada. At VON, she was successful in building government and private sector partnerships, as well as strengthening the brand of Canada's largest, national, non-profit, charitable home and community-care organization.

Career Highlights: My proudest achievement is the creation of G(irls)20...a non-profit that works to put women at the center of economic decision-making processes globally. Consistent with what my childhood hardships taught me, the organization is built on three things you cannot take away once acquired: education, entrepreneurial spirit and experiences. G(irls)20 places the voices of girls and women at the heart of what is the most preeminent political platform to discuss economic issues. It chooses strategic investments in individuals over charity. It instills the belief that it is only with economic and political prowess that communities are protected. It teaches that strong communities lead to strong countries. G(irls)20 is also the driving force behind Fathers Empowering Daughters.
Farah now serves as CEO of G(irls)20
as it galvanizes the world's greatest resource...girls and women...
and cultivates a new generation of female leaders
through entrepreneurship and education.

Inaugural President of The Belinda Stronach Founadtion (TBSF). Under Farah's leadership TBSF created and launched the Foundation's flagship programs. She also oversaw the Foundation's work in Liberia with President Johnson Sirlear and a $1 M humanitarian relief effort in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
From a very young age, my parents taught me the meaning of giving back,
being part of a community. They didn't talk much about our exodus, but I understand that life would have been very different if we were not thrown out of our country. The combination of my parents' gratitude to Canada, hard work and optimism was highly influential in shaping me to become a social entrepreneur and a political strategist.

International Volunteer Endeavours: Cherie Blair Mentor for Women in Business 2013, International Election Observer, International Democratic Institute (2012 Egyptian elections, Jordan, 2013), Co-anchor, the Clinton Global Initiative's Network on 'Investing in Girls and Women', Advisor, Virgin Unite Canada (Richard Branson's Foundation), 2011.

Domestic Volunteer Endeavours: Vice President, Board of Directors, Canadian Club of Toronto. Board Member, The Harbour Front Centre and Hope Live. Appointed by the Premier of Ontario to serve as a Board Member of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Ontario Science Centre (term served). Member of the Brazilian Ball 2010 and Maharaja Ball 2010.

Just as my parents invested in me, I invested in others.
Just as volunteerism was part of my upbringing, I encourage the recipients of our programs to help others. And just as the entrepreneurial gene seems to be part of my DNA, I hope that the young women involved in G(irls)20 will build socially conscious enterprises. 

 I used to think I came by my progress because I was in the right the right time...with my skills. I now know that it was the events of 42 years ago that shaped my path and led me to my progress.

The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation encourages research, reflection and action in four areas important to Canadians: human rights and dignity...responsible citizenship...Canada's role in the world...people and their natural environment. Working through the four programs, the Foundation grants doctoral scholarships...awards fellowships to distinguished academics...appoints mentors and holds public conferences. Founded in 2001, The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation is an independent and non-partisan Canadian charity. It is governed by an independent and pan-Canadian Board Directors of up to 18 who oversee the approximately $150M endowment and an annual operating budget of $6M.
I am really proud to be joining this Board.
I have always felt that it was because of Pierre Elliott Trudeau
that our family was lucky to come to Canada...
and now I have the opportunity to contribute to his legacy.

Information compiled by Merle Baird-Kerr...April 2, 2015
Comments to:

Postscript:  Farah does more than 'talk the talk'; she also walks the walk ~ right up the 19,300 foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro...raising $21,000 for the Canadian Liver Foundation and the VON Canada Foundation.


  1. MEG COMMENTS: "I am so glad you wrote this, although
    I wish you could publish this in the newspapers who keep printing all the problems of welcoming immigrants.
    She is a daughter to be proud of...and I believe the beginning of the next generations who will help this world heal."

  2. Farah has been featured in the Huffington Post (Toronto division) has had publicity there.
    She is an ambitious and worthwhile citizen of our country...and I was pleased to recognize her as an
    Outstanding Canadian resident.

  3. FARAH RESPONDS: "Dear Mrs. Baird-Kerr: Thank you so very much for your blog on me. I was blushing by the time I got to the end. Your kind words and support are much appreciated...and I hope to see you in person to thank you properly.
    Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2016."

  4. Dear Farah: You are a woman of integrity and one to be honoured...perhaps one year you will make it to Canada's Walk of Fame!!! That would be great!
    I commend you also...that you are the only person about whom I've written who has taken the time to show his/her appreciation. Read the comments as posted following this article.

  5. ABA & DILU WRITE: "Thank you ever so much for posting Farah's achievements on your blog...very considerate and thoughtful.
    Happy New Year to You and Your Family. May 2016 ring in with lots of happiness and may there be peace on this earth. Amen!

  6. Dilu & was my pleasure to write about her and as Meg commented above, this should be placed in all local municipal area newspapers, showing the benefits that immigrants can achieve in their service(s) to the public!