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Conversations with Leaders

Humanitarians Stephen Lewis and Dr. James Orbinski inspire crowd at Conversations with Leaders event 

Stephen Lewis and Dr. James Orbinski, two of Canada’s leading humanitarians, shared their unique views on leadership at Laurier's Conversations with Leaders event Tuesday night.

Held at St. Andrew’s Club and Conference Centre in Toronto, the event featured a conversation between Lewis and Orbinski, which was moderated by Avis Favaro, CTV’s long-serving medical correspondent.

Orbinski and Lewis highlighted conviction, principle, humility and trust as core components of leadership.

“A great leader should be possessed by passion and driven by energy,” said Lewis. “I have learned that I should not be afraid of my own passion and my pursuit of my convictions.”

Laurier began Conversations With Leaders in 2012. The speaker series brings together influential individuals to discuss what leadership means to them. The inaugural event featured renowned businessman, philanthropist and Laurier Chancellor Michael Lee-Chin in conversation with CBC business correspondent Amanda Lang.

This most recent event built on that first conversation and provided a memorable discussion for attendees.

“Inspiring lives of leadership and purpose is at the core of what we do at Laurier,” said university President Max Blouw. “Through these conversations, we hope to investigate the various facets of leadership and inspire people to their own lives of leadership and purpose.”

Lewis served as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa and is a former Canadian ambassador to the UN. Now as board chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation and a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University, he continues to be an unflagging advocate in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Orbinski led Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, ultimately accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of MSF. In 2012, he was named Laurier’s CIGI Chair in Global Health at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. In this role, he continues to work to advance the health of people around the globe.

Lewis and Orbinski drew on their decades of international development work to share the essence of what leadership means to them. The discussion was wide-ranging, touching on politics, environment, health and humanitarianism.

Orbinski provided the following advice for students and other aspiring leaders: “You have to believe in what you are going to pursue. You have to take advantage of opportunities. Be tenacious and believe in something that’s greater than yourself.”


Stephen Lewis is the board chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which is dedicated to turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa, a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson Univesity and co-founder and co-director of AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy organization. His work with the United Nations spanned more than two decades, acting in roles such as Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Canada's Ambassador to the UN. He is also the author of best-selling book, Race Against Time.

(Farhang Ghajar/CBC)

To read Stephen's full bio click here>

James Orbinski is a Laurier professor and leading scholar in global health, as well as a globally recognized humanitarian practitioner and advocate. From 1998 to 2001 Orbinski acted as the international president of Doctors Without Borders. In 1999 he launched the Access to Essential Medicines Campaign and accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Doctors Without Borders.
To read James' full bio click here>


Avis Favaro, CTV medical correspondent, will moderate the conversation between these two inspiring individuals. Avis is Canada's longest serving television medical/health correspondent having started for CTV News in 1992.

To read Avis' full bio click here>

Conversations with Leaders


   McCarthy Tetrault      



If you have any questions please contact Development & Alumni Relations at 519.884.0710 x3180


March 26, 2014

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