A conversation with Sharon Pel and Jacquelyn Wright

A conversation with Sharon Pel and Jacquelyn Wright

We asked our new Board Chair, Sharon Pel, and our new CEO, Jacquelyn Wright, to answer a few questions to introduce this year’s Annual Report

Sharon Pel and Jacquelyn Wright

Sharon Pel (L) became Chair of CFTC’s Board of Directors in June 2018 and Jacquelyn Wright (R) joined as President and CEO in July.


Q:  Sharon, you bring an extensive background in board governance to your role as chair. What would you like people to know about how CFTC is governed?

SP: CFTC is very focused on governance. We were among the first 45 non-profits to be accredited under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program and were re-accredited in 2018. Queen’s University Centre for Governance and CPA Ontario awarded us Exemplar status for our financial reporting. And The Financial Post has named us one of Canada’s top charities for the past two years.

These results are based on our approach to governance and financial strength. Good governance and oversight give confidence to donors, including government funders and foundations. They are essential to our ability to deliver our mission and we are truly grateful for all of our donors’ support.

Q:  Jackie, welcome to your first year at CFTC! You bring a long and successful track record in international development from CARE Canada and the Canadian Red Cross. What strengths can CFTC best use to grow?

JW: Thank you!

CFTC has been ahead of the curve on alignment with the Government of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP). Throughout our work, we focus on supporting women’s and girls’ equal rights and opportunities. Women and girls pay the greatest price for inequality and are the most vulnerable. When allowed to thrive, women and girls are also the greatest force for positive change for families and communities. I see our focus on women and girls as a tremendous strength.

CFTC is also strongly aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including their mandate to address poverty both domestically and internationally. CFTC occupies a unique space as a Canadian international development agency that also partners with Indigenous communities in Canada. We aim to improve food security and food sovereignty in Canada, as well as internationally. This is a great strength and a differentiator for CFTC.

Since joining, I’ve been impressed with the competence, dedication and commitment of staff and local partners to our mission. Our people are among CFTC’s greatest assets. I’m thrilled to be part of what I see as our ever-increasing ability to achieve results.


Q: What do you see as the key challenges ahead and how do you see CFTC positioned to overcome them?

JW: We want to continue to strengthen and deepen our approach to working innovatively with funders and donors, with NGO and sector partners, and most importantly with the communities themselves. This is imperative to deliver our mission and to ensure that we can fund long-term, sustainable change.

SP: Agreed. CFTC’s great strength is its ability to be nimble and innovative, responsive and responsible in its approach to programming and funding.

We have a remarkable long-term base of committed private donors. We have a growing profile with government funders based on successfully delivering two Global Affairs Canada-funded projects: the $7.6-million MILEAR project in Ethiopia and the $19-million RESULT project in Ghana.


Q: Speaking of MILEAR and RESULT, what has the organization achieved with this funding and what aspects of these projects do you hope to see continue and expand?

JW: Through RESULT and MILEAR, close to 200,000 people have participated directly or benefitted indirectly. Both projects have allowed small-scale farmers (67% women) to increase their production and their incomes. In our Ethiopia project, for example, two-thirds of households are or will very soon no longer be reliant on the government’s safety net program. The greatest impact has been in female-headed households, a result that is directly attributable to MILEAR’s gender equality work.

These projects show that gender equality and market-led agriculture combine to produce economic and community resilience, particularly in areas of the world impacted by climate change.

We have a number of follow-on projects for which we are seeking funding. One of these is a women’s livelihoods strategy in Ghana that builds on RESULT. We always use what we learn from our projects to create greater impact for children, women and families.

We’re expanding our innovative programming with Indigenous communities. Thanks to The Slaight Family Foundation, we have been able to escalate our funding for Indigenous partners. There are already tangible results in terms of how much food is available, nutrition in general, and the connections between food and culture. Indigenous Peoples’ in Canada are reclaiming their traditions and culture through food. CFTC is supporting this by supporting a unique Indigenous Theory of Change, co-developed with the communities themselves. We aim to open relationships between these communities and donors in order to advance the calls-to-action of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

We build all of our work on community ownership and local capacity. This is necessary for sustainable results. Gender equality cuts across all of our programs. Our goal is to:

  • continue and grow our commitment to community-led development
  • integrate local food systems and food security with alternative income and livelihoods activities
  • improve sexual and reproductive health, and
  • enable better educational and life skills for children and youth.

Check out CFTC’s 2017-2018 Annual Report, Generating Change: Partnering for Impact, for more facts, figures and stories about what CFTC’s donors, partners and community members have accomplished in the past year. Thank you to all for the generosity, compassion and commitment that brings our mission to life and makes such a remarkable impact on the lives of children, youth, women and men in the communities we support around the world!