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BFL founder donates $500K towards women leadership centre

May 27, 2021   by David Gambrill

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BFL Canada’s founder, Barry F. Lorenzetti, is giving $500,000 to establish the Barry F. Lorenzetti Centre for Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership at Concordia University in Montreal and to endow research grants and scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students.

“Entrepreneurship involving women is fundamental for creating new jobs and contributing to the social and economic growth of our society,” Lorenzetti said in an announcement about his donation. “Women promote social growth worldwide.”

Concordia president Graham Carr said the university was “immensely grateful” to Lorenzetti for his “generous gift to our Campaign for Concordia.” He added the new centre will “further our mission to build a more equitable and inclusive society.”

The Barry F. Lorenzetti Centre for Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership will be led by Ingrid Chadwick, co-director of Concordia’s academic department, and Louise Champoux-Paillé, co-director of practice.

The new centre’s mandate is to create a sustainable hub of expertise and research on women in entrepreneurship and leadership. The university said this will involve:

  • developing gender-related collaborative projects pertaining to entrepreneurship, leadership, governance, and family-business practice;
  • developing proposals to advance women in entrepreneurship and leadership; and
  • promoting partnerships between the business community and academia to bridge research and practice.

“This first-of-its-kind centre in Canada consolidates our strengths as a business school,” Anne-Marie Croteau, dean of Concordia’s John Molson School of Business, said in a statement. “The centre will help us attract exceptional research talent focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion in business — a key pillar of our school’s strategic plan.”

Lisa Giannone is a Concordia business school alumna and BFL Canada’s regional vice-president for eastern Canada. She says the new centre will bring together “diverse female leaders and entrepreneurs in the business community with academic leaders. This is so important, because empowering women helps fuel economic development.”

In a short video endorsing Lorenzetti’s donation, Giannone credited Lorenzetti’s support in advancing her career in the senior ranks of the brokerage. “One of the reasons why I joined BFL was for its model of entrepreneurship, the ability to build,” she said in the video.

“I really felt that [Concordia] brought an element of innovating and bringing the best ideas forward. And the fact that I occupy the position that I do [at BFL Canada] was really because of Barry’s belief in my potential and my capabilities. I can say that is basically extended to all women at the BFL.

“Barry’s vision absolutely allowed me to voice my opinions and bring forward new ideas and the culture made it so that I can actually excel.”

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