Donna Kennedy Glans

Over the course of her 35-year career, Donna has served in leadership roles in the private, non-profit & public sectors. Crossing sectoral boundaries is her ‘thing’, geographic boundaries too. Donna has worked on projects in over 35 countries…35 in 35.

Donna was raised on a farm in rural southwestern Ontario where her siblings and extended family continue to farm today. She graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981 and earned her Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario in 1984.

Donna is curious about all things energy, leadership, citizen voice, creativity and integrity. Currently, she sits on the board of governors at the Banff Centre and is a member of the Alberta government’s Fair Deal Panel, mentors young leaders and shares Alberta’s stories via mainstream and social media in written, audio and television mediums. 

Listen to her interview with Nature Labs

Critical Thinking Questions

  • Though Beyond Polarity has elicited strong reactions and even hate mail, there is no question that Donna is fearless in asking bold questions on the minds of many Albertans. Is it journalism?
  • Is it meaningful citizen engagement?
  • Is Donna moving the discourse beyond polarity or just reinforcing polarization?
  • How much of your perspective is based on the narrative or perspective reinforced by where you live?
  • Is it even possible to ask certain hard questions – especially in our social media era – without creating controversy or deepening divides? And if the answer is no, what does that mean for nature?

More on Donna

As an elected politician, Donna was the Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Calgary-Varsity in 2012 and served in that role until April 2015. During her tenure as MLA, she championed citizen voice in provincial decision-making and acted in several capacities, including: Associate Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy; Chair of the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship; Member of Treasury Board; Chair of the government’s Results Based Budgeting review of all economic diversification programs; Government founder of First Nations and Métis Women’s Councils; Member of the government’s Ministerial Working Group on Natural Resources and Environment; and Member of Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future.

In the private sector, Donna has hands-on experience solving integrity dilemmas across the globe, largely in the energy sector, including as:

  • A lawyer and negotiator with TransCanada Pipelines’ exploration and production company during the deregulation of energy markets in the 1980s; 
  • A corporate executive and first female Vice-President with Nexen Inc., an upstream oil and gas company, where she was responsible for managing above ground risks in domestic and international projects from 1991-2001; and 
  • An independent consultant, advising global energy operators on how to manage non-technical risks in resource projects over the past decade from 2002-2012.
In the non-profit sector, Donna founded Bridges Social Development ( in 2002 as a voluntary organization training female leaders in the country of Yemen. In 2009, a youth social entrepreneurship initiative was launched, in partnership with young leaders in Alberta (including youth from Diaspora, First Nations and Métis communities) and continues to operate in the province.

In 2015, Donna founded a citizen engagement initiative, ViewpointsAB, to directly engage with Albertans on emerging energy and climate change choices.  Over a four month period, 500,000 Albertans were engaged and these voices from Alberta were shared in Paris at the COP21 meetings.

In 2007, Donna was awarded a Global Woman of Vision award; was named a ‘Compelling Calgarian’ by the Calgary Herald in 2010; received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; was named one of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People, 2014 by Alberta Venture; and one of Canada’s 50 Most Powerful Business People in 2014 by Canadian Business.

Watch her TEDxCalgary Talks: Volunteering: The Next Generation, Wield Hope like an Axe

Read her books: Corporate Integrity: A Toolkit for Managing beyond Compliance (Wiley), Unveiling the Breath: One woman’s journey into understanding Islam and gender equality (Pari), presently, Donna is co-authoring a book on the leadership principles of Premier Peter Lougheed in Alberta.