POWERING THROUGH CHANCE
In 1998, we said this Toronto born female powerhouse would “shape the future of the world’s largest car company, as the first woman to climb to the upper management echelons of the North American auto industry.” Ten years later, at a Women of Influence Luncheon, Maureen shared not only how she conquered GM Canada but also how she dominated the automotive market in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Her success spans borders and continents – and her influence ranges from Women’s College Hospital fundraising to seats on the CN Rail and Brookfield Asset Management boards – she is the epitome of power and influence.
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Maureen Kempston Darkes was appointed GM group vice president and president, GM Latin America, Africa and Middle East (LAAM) and a member of the General Motors Automotive Strategy Board, effective January 1, 2002. Prior to this appointment, she was president and general manager of General Motors of Canada Limited (GMCL) and vice president of General Motors Corporation, from 1994 to 2001.
After joining the General Motors of Canada Limited Legal Staff in 1975, she became assistant counsel in 1979. She served on the General Motors Corporation Legal Staff in Detroit in 1979-1980 and headed the GM of Canada Tax Staff from 1980 to1984. From 1985 to 1987, she worked in the GM Treasurer’s Office in New York and subsequently held the position of acting treasurer for GM of Canada until her appointment as general director, public affairs, for GMCL in April 1987. She was appointed GMCL vice president of corporate affairs in 1991 and elected to the GMCL Board of Directors. In addition to her corporate affairs responsibilities, she was appointed general counsel and secretary of GMCL in July 1992.
Kempston Darkes serves on the boards of CN Rail and Brookfield Asset Management. During her tenure as president of GM of Canada, she was a board member of the Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association; the Ontario Government Education, Quality and Accountability Board; and the Ontario Minister of Health’s Women’s Health Council. Kempston Darkes was appointed by the federal government to the Free Trade Agreement Automotive Select Panel in 1989 and, in 1994, to the Transportation Equipment Sectoral Advisory Group on International Trade.
Kempston Darkes was born and raised in the Toronto area. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in history and political science from Victoria College, University of Toronto. She also holds a bachelor of laws degree from the University of Toronto Law School and is called to the Bar of Ontario. She has received honorary doctor of law degrees from the University of Toronto, University of Victoria, McMaster University, Dalhousie University, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the Law Society of Upper Canada, an honorary doctorate of business administration from Laurentian University and an honorary doctor of commerce degree from Saint Mary’s University.