Clare Beckton and Karen Wilson

Clare Beckton and Karen Wilson

At last week’s WineDown event, president Karen Wilson introduced Clare Beckton to the audience. We are delighted to have Clare as this year’s Honorary Chair for the Businesswoman of the Year Awards. Join us as we welcome Clare.


Clare Beckton is currently Founding Executive Director of the Carleton University Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership and author of Own It, Your Success, Your Life, Your Future. The Centre that she created promotes and leads research to advance women’s leadership through working with a variety of partners, to develop and deliver advancement of women leaders training, and to create partnerships and awareness. It has produced a number of leading edge research reports including a benchmark study of women’s leadership in Canada, Creating Gender Inclusive Leadership in Mining and guidelines for women running for office.

Clare is a leading edge thinker and experienced former executive. She is recognized for her ability and willingness to connect people to advance their careers and interests.

She has extensive experience in a broad range of areas including leading and building large organizations, strategic planning, governance, leadership to change systems, risk management, gender, diversity, inclusion, Charter and human rights Aboriginal policy issues, and advancement of women’s leadership. She has strong interpersonal and communication skills and is known for her ability to strengthen organizations to make them work more effectively.

From April 2007 to July 2009, Clare Beckton served as the Deputy Head of Status of Women Canada, leading the departmental agency at a time following difficult cuts. She led in the development of public policy for the advancement of women and assisted a number of non-profits to seek funding to benefit women. She played a key supporting role in the creation of the Canadian Board Diversity Council and We Connect Canada. She led delegations for Canada to international meetings, presenting and representing Canada’s positions on women’s rights and interests including at the UN and the women’s leadership networks of APEX and the Committee of Women for the OAS.

From July 2005 to April 2007 Clare co-led, with the Aboriginal Leadership Institute (now Indigenous Leadership Development Institute) and other partners, a multi-sectoral Aboriginal Leadership Initiative to find new and innovative ways of addressing the complex challenges facing Aboriginal communities in Canada.

In 2005, as a Fulbright Scholar, she obtained an MPA, with a focus on leadership, from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In recognition of academic excellence and her exceptional contribution to public service and leadership, Clare was awarded the Littauer Fellowship.

She led the Aboriginal Affairs Portfolio of Justice Canada, as Assistant Deputy Attorney General, from 1998 until June 2004 managing an 80 million dollar budget and multi-billion dollar contingent liabilities, providing advice on treaty and land claim rights, positions in litigation, as well as residential school claims. All of the issues were complex, multi-dimensional and politically and emotionally charged.

In 1996, Clare became Senior General Counsel with Human Resources Development Legal Services, and served there until her appointment in 1998 as Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Aboriginal Affairs, Justice Canada.

In 1984, Clare joined the Human Rights Law Section of Justice Canada to coordinate the review of federal legislation to ensure compliance with section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 1988, she assumed the position of General Counsel with DOJ’s RCMP Legal Services, and in 1992, subsequently took on the role of General Counsel, Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Clare received her LLB and her BA from the University of Saskatchewan and spent an LLM year at the University of Illinois. She taught law at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from 1974 to 1984, and, in that capacity, published a number of articles on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms some of which were cited by the Supreme Court of Canada, and wrote several books including The Media and the Law in Canada.

Clare has served on a number of volunteer boards including as chair of the Board of Directors and of the Executive Committee of the Queensway-Carleton Hospital in Ottawa from 2013 to 2015, and past chair of the Governance Committee, and Nominating committees from 2010 to 2013. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Canadian Board Diversity Council and of the Canadian Task Force for Women’s Business Growth.

Clare has a strong commitment to mentoring the next generations. She is a mentor in the WXN program, in the Canadian Women in Communications and Technology program, the International Women’s Forum Elite Athlete program, and mentors and coaches many other women and men.

She has now joined UNICEF’s 25th team – a group of 60 leading women across Canada united in philanthropy and commitment to promote maternal and newborn health in developing countries.

She leads workshops on Owning Your Success for women, creating a diverse workplace, leads a one week development program to advance women’s leadership.

In 2008, Clare was appointed to the Women’s Leadership Board of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and received the Woman of the Year Award from the Federated Press for “exceptional achievement and outstanding leadership by a Canadian woman.”

Clare was selected by the Women’s Executive Network for Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award in both 2008 and again in 2012. She is also the recipient of a Canada 125 Medal. She has been recognized by Women of Influence as a Canadian diversity champion. In 2015 she was honoured with a leadership award for advocacy by Canadian Women in Communications and Technology.

She is a blog contributor to the Huffington Post writing on issues that impact women and Canadian society.