Pearson College Appoints Désirée McGraw as New President

Internationally recognized advocate becomes first woman to lead College

VICTORIA, April 21, 2015 /CNW/ - Désirée McGraw, one of Canada's most influential advocates for youth engagement, international cooperation and sustainable development, was today appointed President of Pearson College, the first woman ever to hold this post in the school's 40-year history.

"We were looking for a very special candidate who reflects and respects the extraordinary role Pearson College has played, and will play, in Canada and the world," said Tony Macoun, Chair of the College's Board of Directors. "We are thrilled that someone with Ms. McGraw's principled commitment to educating and engaging the next generation of leaders, is going to guide the College into a new era of growth and achievement."

McGraw brings to Pearson more than 25 years of experience as an educator, advocate and advisor who has worked to engage young people in global issues ranging from nuclear disarmament to climate change. She has earned accolades for her leadership of the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation, as well as in her previous roles as a senior advisor to the Prime Minister, Director of Policy to the Minister of International Cooperation and co-founder of Al Gore's Climate Project in Canada.  Since 2002, McGraw has also lectured on International Development at McGill University.  In 2010, McGraw was designated a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and was recently named one of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Financial Post and Quebec's "huit femmes incontournables" in Première en Affaires.

"Pearson College is more important than ever before, and I'm excited to work with students, alumni, staff, faculty, volunteers and partners in fulfilling its mission," said McGraw. "The world needs a new generation of change agents, undaunted by complexity, to tackle national and global issues. There is an unparalleled sense of commitment, community, empathy and intellectual curiosity here at Pearson. It's a great place to learn together, and to learn to lead in uncertain times."

Rooted in the global vision of former Prime Minister and Nobel Laureate Lester B. Pearson, Pearson College has earned international acclaim for the accomplishments of its graduates. For forty years, the College has consistently produced graduating classes of inspired young leaders eager to tackle the challenges of this world and bring about positive change.

"Désirée McGraw has absolute integrity and a deep commitment to the development of a more peaceful and sustainable society in Canada and internationally. She has a rare capacity to exercise leadership and influence while ensuring the confidence and respect of those with whom she works," said former Prime Minister the Right Honourable Paul Martin. "I know of no one at her stage of life who has done more in practical terms to give effect to her values and aspirations." 

She first came to Canadians' attention in 1986, when she was only 16 years old. Concerned with the Cold War and young people's anxieties about nuclear arms, McGraw spent eight months travelling across Canada with three other teens speaking to high school students about global peace and disarmament. One of the last stops on her tour was Pearson College, where she recalls being struck by the engagement and idealism of the students—traits still reflected on today's campus. The National Film Board captured her experience in the documentary Mile Zero: The SAGE Tour.

On August 1, the Pearson College community will welcome McGraw to campus, and she will start her new role as President and Head of College.

About Pearson College:

Pearson College, located just outside Victoria, B.C., is one of 14 prestigious United World Colleges around the globe. The College is a two-year, pre-university school for up to 160 students from over 100 countries who live, study and learn together pursuing the International Baccalaureate. A group of visionaries founded the College in 1974 with the goal of creating a national memorial to Nobel Prize winner and former Prime Minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson, in the form of a school that aligns with the United World College mission: to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. Forty years on, this mission continues. Today, more than 3,900 students have graduated from Pearson College. Its alumni are determined to make a difference in the lives of others. For more information, visit

SOURCE Pearson College

For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact: April Gibson, Communications Consultant, Thornley Fallis, Toronto,, Office: 416-515-7517 ext. 323, Cell: 416-904-4425; Patricia Robitaille, Principal, PR Strategies Inc., Victoria,, Cell: 604-230-0530; Marie-Josée Gauvin, Présidente, Kilicom Relations publiques, Montréal,, Office: 514-845-8222 ext.222, Cell: 514-247-0088; Danielle Pope, Communications and Media Relations Officer, Pearson College UWC, Victoria,, Office: 250-391-2479, Cell: 250-885-6449

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