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Rosemary McCarney

Photography by Jeremy Kohm


President and CEO, Plan Canada, an arm of Plan International


Rosemary is responsible for all operations, including international development pro­grams, fundraising, and advocacy initiatives

A key leader in an international organize­ation that stewards $818 million a year for development and humanitan projects in 69 countries


Lynne Hudson, Executive Vice-President, Plan International Canada

From Lynne Hudson

As told to Kate Daley

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Rose­mary can get off a plane in Toronto from a community in Sierra Leone, give a speech to law students, come back to the office to hold a budget meeting, help draft a policy for the Canadian government and host a party at her home for 30 guests all in one day. Then she’ll do the same thing again the next morning at 7 a.m. What sets her apart is the variety of what she can accomplish and the seamless way she does it. People underestimate non-profit work, but you’re running a business and an advocacy and making everyone feel enthusiastic about it is a gift that Rosemary has.

I met her in 1999 when she hired me and my first impression stands. She was optimistic, enthusiastic, creative and passionate. Beginning in 2009, Rosemary, along with the Plan team andother NGOs, academics, and the government, created the Canadian Network for Maternal, New­born and Child Health. During the 2010, Canada-hosted G8/G20 summit, her work continued when the issue of child and maternal health was brought forward by Plan, in partnership with others. This brought in pledges from participating countries of $7.3 billion dollars.

Rosemary is a lawyer and was trained to think critically and logically; it’s a part of ev­erything she does. She loves spending time in the field and has worked in over 100 countries. She’s often on humanitarian missions focused on complex situations, including the West Africa food crisis in 2012, or more immediate emergencies, like the Horn of Africa drought crisis in 2011 and 2012. She also went to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake to support plan humanitarian efforts on the ground. She always comes back motivated to do more. It fuels her energy and her compassion.

She spearheaded the Because I Am A Girl project. Originally it was a research paper that Plan published about girls’ rights in the develop­ing world. Rosemary felt it would bring global recognition to girls’ rights issues. She worked with the Canadian government and partners for 18 months and took the concept of the Interna­tional Day of the Girl to the UN for resolution. The UN agreed to it as led by Canada and, really, as led by Rosemary. We celebrated the inaugural International Day of the Girl last year.

Rosemary has an infectious warmth. She hosted one meeting where she asked me to bring my three children. I said, ‘Really, you want me to bring my children to your meeting?’ And she said, ‘Yes we’re a child rights orga­nization.’ She has a drum in her living room that she picked up on one of her country visits and at the end of the night she had 30 people dancing. I’ve never seen anything quite like that. As a leader she’s a great role model.”