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by Tina Edan, Maytree
From Jamaica to Durham to Scarborough, Mitzie Hunter’s journey has held many experiences that have shaped her into the thoughtfully optimistic leader she is today.
Transforming obstacles to opportunity
Graduating from the University of Toronto in the midst of a recession, Mitzie was not discouraged by the scarcity of jobs. She started a model and talent agency which eventually grew into a marketing and communications company. That was her introduction to the corporate sector.
Seeking experience within a larger company, Mitzie moved on to Bell Canada where she quickly progressed from the direct marketing centre up to a management role in the government relations and economic development department. She served as an ambassador for Bell in the GTA and in that role became engaged in the community by serving on numerous boards and committees related to communications technologies.
Introducing new thinking
Quickly recognized as a person who brings new thinking to a situation, Mitzie was offered an opportunity to be president of an IT industry association. Jumping at the challenge to promote the GTA as a leader in IT both nationally and internationally, she took on exciting projects which confirmed her passion for the GTA. This included writing the technology chapter for Toronto’s bid for the 2008 Olympics, a project which remains among her most inspiring opportunities.
Networking for change
The people she worked with on the Olympic bid are among the closest in her network.
They were aspirational about the city region and what they could achieve together. Recognizing the power of multi-stakeholder networks made Mitzie’s transition to Goodwill followed by Toronto Community Housing, logical next steps in her leadership journey. She complemented this with an MBA from the Schulich School of Business.
Mentoring to success
The first time Mitzie heard David Pecaut talk about his love for Toronto was in 2002 at the Toronto City Summit. She was hooked on his message and put it to action by first co-chairing the Emerging Leaders Network and now as CEO of CivicAction. To this day, she cites David as one of her most significant mentors.
Taking the pulse on the GTA
In her current role as CEO of CivicAction, Mitzie is taking the pulse on the GTA. She is passionate about city building and economic prosperity and believes that we have the opportunity to rank high on a global scale. For her, critical to realizing this potential is making every obstacle an opportunity and creating pathways to education as well as opening doors to employment.
Unlocking the potential of leadership
‘Unlocking potential’ is a key phrase in Mitzie’s leadership. She has always worked collaboratively to achieve results that are bigger than one individual. She also understands that how you live your life influences others and she is grateful for having benefited from being both mentee and mentor.
Her advice to young leaders? “Say yes to opportunities. Show up when invited. Write down your goals and ask for help to achieve them. People are happy to help you along the way.”