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Dr Dev Sainani, Former Chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation

Each year, over 13 million Canadians volunteer over two billion hours of their time and effort for others. Most tend to focus on a cause close to their hearts.

Not so Dr Dev Sainani, who has dedicated over 30 years of service and volunteerism to the continued development and evolution of the not-for-profit sector and works with a great number of ethno-cultural communities to create culturally appropriate and sensitive policies, programs, services and events across Ontario. He is committed to supporting young people from immigrant families and leads two youth groups for the South Asian community, helping them unlock their full potential and open new doors for their future. He serves on the boards of numerous organizations and has also led several corporate governance, policy and fund-granting committees, including his recent role as chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation with an annual budget of $120 million. With a degree in human genetics and a PhD in biomedical engineering, Dr Sainani is also known for his multisector experience in strategy, organizational design and change, capacity building and technology visioning. And yet he finds time to volunteer.

His parents, both engineers, moved to Canada in 1959. His mother, Usha Nanjee, was the first female engineer in India, and on landing a job with Quebec Hydro, had to learn conversational as well as technical French.

“I grew up listening to my father say that you make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give,” he says. “It’s a philosophy I try to live by.”

Dr Sainani encourages newcomers to volunteer.

“If you have the ability, the talent, if you have the bandwidth, make the time. It’s immensely rewarding. In the life of a consultant, one comes in at the front end, shares expertise and moves on. As a volunteer, I am able to see the implementation.”

Posted: Apr 30, 2017

April 2019

Centennial College

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