President & CEO
Thomas S. Axworthy has had a distinguished career in government, academia, and philanthropy. Early in his career, he served as Senior Policy Advisor and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, before leaving politics to teach. In 1984, Dr. Axworthy went to Harvard University as a Fellow of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government. He was subsequently appointed visiting Mackenzie King Chair of Canadian Studies. In 1999, Dr. Axworthy helped to create the Historica Foundation to improve teaching and learning of Canadian history, becoming its Executive Director until 2005. To recognize his achievements in heritage education (he initiated the Heritage Minutes), civics, and citizenship, Dr. Axworthy was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada (2002). In 2003, he became Chair of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, pursuing the themes of expanded human rights and responsibilities, democratic reform, Canadian-American relations, and modern liberalism that characterized his research, teaching and advocacy career. He is a distinguished senior fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and a senior fellow at Massey College. Dr. Axworthy was recently appointed Secretary General of the InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government.
Dr. Axworthy has had a long association with the Gordon family and the Walter & Duncan Gordon Foundation prior to becoming its CEO in 2009. He began his career as a Research Assistant to Walter L. Gordon, then President of the Privy Council Office in the government of Lester Pearson. In the 1980s, Dr. Axworthy helped the second generation of the Gordon family define their interests, which included, for the first time, Canada’s North. In 1976 he helped organize the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, held in Vancouver, which initiated his interest in water and sanitation issues, a priority in his current work with the Gordon Foundation.
Dr. Axworthy has edited several publications, with the most recent being Bridging the Divide – papers for the Interaction Council (June 2008). He was awarded an honorary LLD from Wilfrid Laurier University (2003) and the Public Affairs Association Award of Distinction on November 26th, 2008 by the Public Affairs Association of Canada.
Dr. Axworthy can be reached at the Foundation office at (416) 601-4776 or taxworthy(at)gordonfn.org