Did you feel a sense of calling to become president of World Vision Canada? Yes. In some ways, my vocational journey started when I was very young. My parents were amazing role models of putting Christian faith into action. That became part of my DNA. Those life experiences from childhood, combined with the gifts God has given me, have been critical in my sense of calling to this work, coming alongside children and families who suffer poverty and injustice. I’m humbled, but incredibly excited to take on this role.
What’s it like to be the next president after Dave Toycen? Dave has an incredible legacy of leadership that I want to build on. As I’ve thought and prayed about my role, I’ve asked, “What can my unique gifts bring that will have a lasting impact on kids’ lives?” I definitely won’t be deciding that by myself. I want to hear from many people, including the children we work with, our donors and our staff about how best to approach the future together.
Who inspires you? I’m inspired by so many people. Jesus modelled care for children so well. He dropped what he was doing to sit down and talk with children. What a great reminder never to let my own agenda get in the way of what’s truly important. Our World Vision field staff who work directly with sponsored children inspire me with their generous and joyful lives. The children we work with are so thirsty for change. They inspire because they’re resilient and passionate and ready to seize life with both hands if they just get a chance. My family sponsors 10 children, and it’s wonderful to play a role in giving them the chance to dream bigger dreams. Closer to home, my wife, Yvonne, is an inspiration. She’s a literacy specialist in our school board and her work, especially when she’s helping at-risk kids, is literally changing their lives. I learn from her every day.
Michael with Rona (left) and Virgie in the Philippines in 2013 after Typhoon Haiyan.
What amazes you most about children? Their incredible potential and their resilience. I visited the Philippines 18 months ago, right after Typhoon Haiyan tore up huge parts of the country. It wiped out nearly a decade of development work from a physical perspective. But I came across one of World Vision’s child-friendly spaces, where kids came together to play and just be kids. They were singing, playing and laughing. It reminded me that development work through child sponsorship is not just about buildings—it’s about building and transforming communities. On that trip, some teenagers said to me, “Don’t worry. We haven’t given up hope. We can rebuild because we have a community around us. We’ve survived, and we’ll keep surviving.”
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Born Moncton, N.B.
Family Michael and his wife, Yvonne, have two high school-aged children, Aidan and Annie. They live in Oakville, Ont.
School Undergraduate degree in economics from Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., and a law degree from the University of Toronto.
Reading The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman and Love Does by Bob Goff.
Watching The Amazing Race, The Good Wife and a “secret fan” of The Walking Dead.
Baking Fruit pie, especially strawberry rhubarb. “If there’s pie in the house, I’ll have it for breakfast—when you add ice cream, it pretty much covers all the food groups!”
INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSED AND EDITED.
A version of this article appears in the Summer 2015 issue of Childview.