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The members of the Community Forward Fund board and its committees bring a strong commitment to the charitable and nonprofit sector as well as expertise and experience to support us in fulfilling our mission through their governance role.

Their energy and dedication form the foundation for the Community Forward Fund’s initial growth and success.

Monica Patten

As former President and Chief Executive Officer of Community Foundations of Canada, Monica Patten presided over a period of unprecedented growth in Canada’s community foundation movement.

By the end of 2010, Canada’s community foundations held $3 billion in combined assets and contributed over $150 million to a vast array of charities – making the network one of the country’s largest grantmakers.

Under Monica’s leadership, Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) earned a national and international reputation for innovation and generosity. Monica personally assisted in the development of community philanthropy around the world, including in Brazil, Mexico, Central and Eastern Europe, Australia, the Philippines, Thailand and Russia.

Monica is well known for her leadership in Canada’s voluntary sector. In May 2005, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lawson Foundation in recognition of her “extraordinary accomplishments and leadership.” Monica was also honoured by the Public Policy Forum in April 2002 for her contribution to public policy and Canada’s voluntary sector.

Monica is a Synergos Senior Fellow. She is a member of the first Board of the Global Fund for Community Foundations, a Fund she helped create five years ago as part of WINGS, which is now an independent grantmaker.

She is a former member of the Board of Directors of CIVICUS, an international alliance that nurtures citizen action throughout the world, especially in areas where democracy is threatened, and the International Committee of the Washington-based Council on Foundations.

Monica now serves as the Canadian representative on the Community Foundation Leadership Team, a committee of the Council on Foundations.

Monica serves as an advisor to many Canadian non-profit and philanthropic programs. In 2007 Monica was appointed a Mentor within the prestigious Trudeau Foundation, formally supporting a PhD candidate exploring issues around poverty, and engaging with other students undertaking similar work.

Monica has served on the Board of Equitas: The Centre for Human Rights Training and Education and currently services as a Director on The Lawson Foundation Board as well as The Rio Tinto Alcan Trust Fund. She also chairs the Philanthropy Committee of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Graysanne Bedell

Graysanne Bedell, J.D., a native Torontonian, is a lawyer with significant professional expertise and an extensive volunteer background.

Graysanne has been involved in developing legal strategies for corporations and securities, as well as fund documentation legal work. Graysanne has practiced corporate-commercial law since 1981, spending seven years in a private law firm, three years with Scott’s Hospitality (a public Canadian conglomerate), six years with Scott’s Food Services and 13 years with Lumira Capital/MDS. She has served as VP/in-house general counsel for both private and public venture capital investment funds.

In addition to her volunteer advisory services on the board of the Community Forward Fund, Graysanne volunteers on the board of Street Haven at the Crossroads, a charity that serves Toronto women who face great challenges to self-sufficiency, including homelessness. In six years as its President, Graysanne experienced first-hand the governance function of a non-profit and the importance of such organizations for the community.

Elizabeth Duff

CFO, Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union

For the past 24 years, Elizabeth Duff has steadily taken on progressive roles at the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union (NLCU, the largest credit union in Atlantic Canada with 12 branches operating province-wide. Today, she is the corporation’s Chief Financial Officer, a position she has occupied since 2002. This role involves the oversight of the credit function for NLCU.

She has spoken at national conferences on a Credit Union national initiative for the Canadian Business Owner Strategy, and she has published articles on finance and volunteerism in national magazines and local publications.

In addition to building a successful career in finance, Duff shares her leadership skills and financial know-how with the voluntary non-profit sector. For more than 15 years, she has been giving her time and expertise to several non-profit groups, volunteering in various roles, including Chair of the Canadian Lung Association , Treasurer and Chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Lung Association, Treasurer of the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union Charitable Foundation, Treasurer of the Peter Barry Duff Memorial Park Commission and Advisor for the Community Forward Fund.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, she has advocated against the use of harmful lawn chemicals and lobbied for the implementation of a paid home oxygen program for persons with lung diseases and conditions. For Duff, being a volunteer is not only a gratifying experience personally, but a demonstrable, tangible way to give back. Or in her words, “to pay it forward.”

A Certified General Accountant, she has a B.A. from Memorial University and a Diploma in Administration for Non-profit Organizations from Concordia University.

Cristobal (Chris) Dobrzanski

President and CEO, Citizens Bank of Canada
Senior Vice President, Risk Management and Operations, Vancity

A seasoned and enthusiastic observer of the North American financial scene and community impact, Chris Dobrzanski, Citizens Bank of Canada (CB) CEO is also senior vice president of Risk Management and Operations at CB’s parent, Vancity Credit Union. He is responsible for managing interest rate, credit lending, and operations risks.

Chris joined Vancity in 1984 and has built a risk management system that combines local member behaviour with international economic trends. He has adapted innovative financial strategies to improve service, advance employees, maintain capital adequacy and regulatory compliance, and contribute to community prosperity.

In 2009, he served as the interim senior vice president of Vancity’s new Social Finance division (now Community Investment), which aims to create a greater community impact through the credit union’s lending and treasury activities. In addition to setting up the division and its strategy, Chris also ensured a greater fiduciary accountability in these activities.

Prior to joining Vancity, Chris was a founding director of the University Community Credit Union, which became a branch of the B.C. Teachers Credit Union and later merged with Vancity. He also worked for the Credit Union Reserve Board. Chris served on the board of the self-governing Stabilization Central Credit Union in British Columbia for six years ending in 2007. He spent more than four years with the Bank of British Columbia in international lending in the mid 1980s.

Chris’s international work has taken him to Argentina, China, Mexico, Poland, and most recently Russia. In 2002 he completed the co-op studies program at the University of Bologna in Italy.

Chris holds investment management certification, a MA in Economics and a MBA in Finance from the University of British Columbia. He is fluent in four languages.