When President Raymond E. Crossman, Ph.D., first met Joy MacPhail in 2012, the stars aligned. “Joy got us right away,” Crossman said at a Vancouver reception in April, where he introduced MacPhail as the new Chair of Adler University’s Board of Trustees. “She was incredulous and delighted that an institution such as ours existed. She immediately said, ‘I’m in.’”
MacPhail joined the University’s Board of Trustees in 2013 after a long career as a politician who advanced social justice as a member of the British Columbia New Democratic Party (NDP), serving as a member of the Legislative Assembly and as a Minister of the Crown.
Born in Hamilton, Ontario, MacPhail received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Western Ontario and then earned a diploma in trade union and industrial relations studies from the London School of Economics in England.
For the first 13 years of her career, she worked as an economist and negotiator in the union movement in Ontario and British Columbia. In 1991, she made a splash in the world of politics by winning her first run as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Vancouver-Hastings in British Columbia. Winning re-election twice before retiring in 2005, MacPhail held appointments as Deputy Premier, Minister of Health, Minister of Education, and Leader of the Opposition.
“The quality of [MacPhail’s] loud, effective opposition helped keep the NDP’s profile alive at a time when many speculated it might disappear as a credible party in the province,” said a 2005 Globe and Mail story about her retirement, describing MacPhail as “a red-haired firebrand often in the fashion pages as much as in the news section.”
“When I retired from politics, the first thing I wanted to do was give back to the community,” MacPhail said at the event in April. “When I found Adler, it made perfect sense. The work that I championed for years in social justice as a politician was now an institution training the very people that organizations need to make the most difference in our communities and in areas of social justice.”
MacPhail has served on the boards of Delta Hotels Ltd., Silverbirch Hotels and Resorts Ltd., and the B.C. Cancer Foundation. Currently, she chairs the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia and also co-owns (with her husband, James Shavick) OutTV, the world’s longest-airing gay and lesbian TV network.
As one of three Vancouver-based trustees for Adler University, MacPhail has served as Vice Chair for the past four years.
In her remarks, MacPhail outlined her goals for her term as Chair, including more-aggressive fundraising for scholarship opportunities, facilitating the new partnership between Adler University and Vancouver Community College, and increasing overall awareness of the University. “It’s true, we’re the best kept secret in Vancouver,” MacPhail said. “It will be my job to champion the greatness of this university, demonstrating what we can do for the community. I want to make sure that our students continue to be empowered in this way and they continue to be change makers.”
MacPhail succeeds David Sinski, a Chicago nonprofit executive who recently completed his successful five-year term as Chair and remains on the Board as a Trustee. Sinski, who brought his experience with programs like After School Matters, Alternatives Inc., and Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, led the board’s stewardship of such milestones as a new strategic plan, the University’s expansion into online education, its move to a new Vancouver Campus facility, and divestment of fossil fuels from its portfolio.
“I will forever be grateful for David’s strong, thoughtful, and transformational leadership,” Crossman said.