Alison Lawton Founder
Alison Lawton is a Canadian business executive and social venture philanthropist who has championed high-level advocacy initiatives for global humanitarian issues. Lawton began her business career in private equity sales in the areas of syndicated software, film, television, real estate and tax shelter offerings and was also one of three founding partners of ideaPARK, a leading technology business incubator listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Lawton turned her passion for investing and her interest in social development into founding Mindset Social Innovation Foundation (Mindset). Since 2006, Mindset has supported educational institutions, governments, UN organizations, policy makers and artists. Past accomplishments include a major awareness campaign surrounding the 20-year civil war raging in Northern Uganda. The campaign included: a United Nations press conference; a policy forum; a media lobbying effort; and the production of a feature-length documentary titled Uganda Rising, which has been screened at film festivals around the world and was the recipient of several ‘Best Documentary’ awards.
Under Lawton’s leadership, Mindset has launched a major global health initiative around access to drugs. The project is researching difficulties in the drug discovery, development and delivery pipeline, and developing an online collaborative platform to share ideas around possible solutions for change so that life-saving medicines reach those most in need. Lawton has also committed to funding a 10-year International Reporting course at UBC’s Graduate School of Journalism – the first course of its kind in Canada. Students involved in the inaugural year of the International Reporting course won an Emmy for their documentary Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground, beating out seasoned news competitors and teams from established US networks CBS and ABC.
Lawton currently sits on the advisory council for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite Canada Foundation, as well as the BC Advisory Council for Social Entrepreneurship. She is Co-Chair of a Clinton Global Initiative Action Network focused on assisting the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Formerly, Lawton was Chair of the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign for UNICEF Canada. Under her fundraising mandate, she produced UNICEF’s first Canadian art tour and auction Unite With Art, as well as a World AIDS Day Concert in Montreal which featured notable artists John Mayer, Avril Lavigne & Sarah McLachlan.
Lawton has an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from Concordia University and a Masters of Arts in Applied Science from Simon Fraser University. She has been a keynote speaker for numerous organizations such as the International Leadership Association and Association of Fundraising Professionals, speaking on social innovation, philanthropy, social justice communications and the media’s influence on grassroots movements.
To further develop the well-rounded political and economic understanding necessary to advance her work and that of affiliated organizations, Lawton continues to conduct research in the areas of technology and globalization and its impact on political and economic landscapes. Her focus is on building academic research into functional models that can be actively applied to positive effect through entrepreneurial solutions. Lawton has written the following documents available for download:
Thesis Paper: ‘The Money Industry’ As An Extension of ‘The Culture Industry’
An Analysis of Mass Media’s Stake in Financial Consumerism
Abstract: The Diffusion of Cyberspace
Free Market Regulation: Help or hindrance in the rate of adoption of Cyberspace?
Abstract: Open Source Model versus Patent for the Pharmaceutical Industry
Can changing the type of intellectual property protection for pharmaceuticals foster more innovation and greater economical distribution of drugs worldwide?
Appointments and Memberships
Co-Chair, Clinton Global Initiative Action Network focused on the DRC.
Board Member, BC Advisory Council for Social Entrepreneurship
Honorary Chair of Advisory Board, International Reporting Program, Graduate School of Journalism at UBC
Advisory Committee Member, Virgin Unite Canada
National Chair, UNICEF Canada’s Unite for Children Unite against AIDS
John F. Kennedy School of Government Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University
Senior Fellow, Centre for Sustainability and Social Innovation, Sauder School of Business at UBC