Executive Director Briefing Document

Thank you for your interest in this important opportunity. This Executive Brief contains an overview of Action Canada, an outline of the Executive Director position, and an ideal candidate profile. Also included is an overview of the search process and a few points we would like to share with you at the beginning of the search.

Some of the material may be subject to change. We will do our best to keep you informed of any new developments over the course of the search.

Additional information about Action Canada can be found at www.actioncanadahsr.org.  We encourage you to visit the website.

Please hold the following dates in your calendar. Should you be short listed, you will be invited to interview. You may also be invited back for a 2nd interview if you are one of the finalist candidates.

Long List Presentation of candidate material to the Committee:  Early September

Short List interviews: Early October

2nd interviews: Mid-Late October

Please send us your application materials by Sunday, August 28, 2022 at 11:59pm. This will include a Cover Letter and current CV. 

Please contact Lesley Hoyles, Director of Operations at lesley@actioncanadashr.org should you have any questions. 

About Action Canada

Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights is a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally. Action Canada receives its multi-year funding from institutional funders and foundations both in Canada and abroad, including from Global Affairs Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. With total annual funding of approximately $3.5 million, the organization currently employs over 20 talented staff.  

Action Canada is an organization that works in Canada and around the world to promote health, wellbeing, and rights related to sexuality and reproduction. Building on the 50-year legacy of the organizations that formed Action Canada, the organization provides direct support, referrals, and information to the people who need it most; partners with groups and organizations on a range of campaigns using a collaborative, movement-building approach; and, works with decision-makers to advance progressive policies on access to abortion, stigma-free healthcare, gender equality, LGBTQ rights, and inclusive sex-education. 

In addition to its domestic and global policy and advocacy work, Action Canada is the secretariat of the Sexual Rights Initiative, a coalition of national and regional organizations based in Canada, Poland, India, Argentina, and South Africa that work together to advance human rights related to sexuality at the United Nations. While Action Canada’s main office is located in Ottawa, Canada, the SRI coalition has had a permanent presence in Geneva since 2012 to support the work of the partners. Action Canada oversees the Geneva Office as part of its responsibilities.    


All people everywhere have full control over, and are able to decide freely upon, all matters related to their sexuality, reproduction, and gender, including their reproductive and sexual health.


To advance and uphold reproductive and sexual rights and health, in Canada and globally.

Learn more about the Executive Director Role

History of Action Canada

Following decades of activism, three of Canada’s leading sexual and reproductive health and rights organizations saw an opportunity for a strengthened voice in policy, health promotion, and access to information and a way to engage others across Canada and around the world in the sexual and reproductive health and rights movement.

The 2014 amalgamation allowed each of the three organizations to build on one another’s histories, strengths and shared vision. Canadians for Choice (formerly CARAL) and the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (formerly Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada) would benefit from the policy expertise of Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD) and the organization’s international partnerships, while ACPD would profit from frontline knowledge and experience in Canada. A newly bridged gap between the national and global context was made and our shared history has set the stage for an organization that works in collaboration across all levels.

historical timeline of Action Canada

Governance & Operating Dimensions

Action Canada is governed by a 10--member Board of Directors. More information on the composition of the Board can be found by clicking here.

More information on Action Canada’s activities and operations can be found in their 2020-2021 Annual Report by clicking here.

Position Description

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director provides strategic leadership and direction, supporting performance and promoting innovation and learning while ensuring financial health and compliance with ethics and standards. Working in a collaborative and collegial manner with the Management Team and staff, the Executive Director creates an environment that encourages a positive, supportive, cohesive and anti-oppressive team culture, progressive management, a sustainable work culture, and continuous improvement. 

The Executive Director provides inspiration and leadership to achieve Action Canada’s mission. Working with the Board and staff, the Executive Director develops the strategic direction and assures responsive and responsible management. Working to increase Action Canada’s impact, influence and effectiveness, the Executive Director assures Action Canada is accountable to marginalized communities of rights-holders as well as to diverse social movements, partners, donors, funders and the public. Working with other staff, the Executive Director represents Action Canada to government, media and key stakeholders. 

Action Canada is committed to working within an anti-racism and anti-oppression framework and dismantling the white supremacy inherent to the SRHR movement. We are explicitly inviting women and gender diverse members of Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities to apply and self-identify in your cover letter. We welcome applications from people living with disabilities; please let us know if you require accommodations at any stage of the recruitment process.    

Specific Accountabilities

Strategic Leadership

  • Provide strategic leadership for the achievement of Action Canada’s mission, providing leadership and advice to the Board and Management Team in setting strategic direction and ensuring delivery of Action Canada’s strategic objectives. 
  • Develop and implement a strategic plan and annual operational work plans and budgets within the parameters set by the Board and within the framework of the Action Canada 2019-2024 Strategic Plan. 
  • Promote, support and jointly lead the work of the Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression Committee and further goals identified by staff to help break down white supremacy. The Executive Director must have the ability to translate anti-oppressive frameworks into working methods.
  • Support and advise the Board in their governance responsibilities, ensuring effective systems for defining and reporting on performance measures and outcomes and regular and reliable reporting on risk management, financial resources, compliance and accountability. 
  • Promote a culture in line with our values, which includes pacing ourselves, approaching our work with intention and compassion, supporting equity, learning and continuous improvement, and ensuring accountability to the Board of Directors and key stakeholders, including donors, funders and partners. 
  • Lead and guide the development and growth of Action Canada’s program areas in line with the Strategic Plan.


  • Provide effective management to achieve high quality outcomes that deliver Action Canada’s strategic plan and ensure its financial health and sustainability. 
  • Support the organization to identify and address macro and micro levels of oppression and emphasize the importance of social justice and social change in more empowering and emancipatory ways.
  • Build an effective and cohesive Management Team through motivating, collaborating, and providing guidance and support to help Team members fulfill their objectives. 
  • Contribute to the effectiveness of the Sexual Rights Initiative’s Management Team to ensure that the coalition is well governed and that staff in the coalition’s Geneva office are supported.
  • Ensure execution of Action Canada’s operational plan within budget, in accordance with agreed financial and non-financial performance indicators, parying particular attention to the values and priniples of the organization. 
  • Ensure appropriate attention to the growth and management of Action Canada’s financial reserves.
  • Ensure operational alignment and cross-team collaboration and coherence. 
  • Ensure effective planning, resourcing, quality control and financial management. 
  • Ensure effective processes are in place for monitoring, reporting, knowledge management and identification of strategic priorities. 
  • Ensure effective risk management, including reputational, brand and financial risks, and adherence to policies that safeguard the security, well-being, health and safety of staff. 
  • Ensure recruitment and retention of suitably qualified staff that reflect the values of the organization. 
  • Ensure Action Canada is an employer of choice, through: effective staff development and performance management systems; policies and practices that provide opportunities for staff to learn, develop their skills, and participate in organizational decision-making; the development of a sustainable anti-oppressive work culture; and, the creation of positive and transparent relations with the staff team and a supportive and high-performing culture. 
  • Ensure Action Canada complies with all legal, fiscal and other compliance requirements, including in relation to the Canada Revenue Agency’s charitable organization requirements.

External Communications, Representation and Relationships

  • Ensure Action Canada’s development of effective and collaborative partnerships with key stakeholders and ensure Action Canada’s effective nurturing of existing key partnerships, including the Sexual Rights Initiative, Action Canada’s associate organizations, and the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development.
  • Represent Action Canada effectively to public audiences, through key events, the media, public meetings and written communications. 
  • Assure supportive working relationships with key stakeholders, including major donors, funders, partner organizations, strategic allies, and government officials.
  • Supports institutional fundraising efforts to ensure that Action Canada is garnering new funds to support the strategic plan and is stewarding existing funders effectively.
  • Ensure external communications are credible, accurate and in accordance with Action Canada’s brand position, strategy and values.

The Ideal Candidate

Sharing Action Canada’s vision and values, as an ideal candidate you are driven by a passion for human rights and social justice and possess in-depth knowledge of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues. Action Canada will benefit from your combination of vision, senior management experience, preferably in an analogous not-for-profit setting, and in your strong commitment to collaboration, partnership, equity, diversity and inclusiveness. An outstanding communicator and influencer, your previous experience in working with or reporting to a volunteer Board of Directors is complemented by a track record of success in advocacy, donor, government and media relations. You are a collaborative leader and team builder who has worked in unionized settings and can create an environment that encourages a cohesive culture, progressive management and continuous improvement. This dynamic leadership skill combined with your strong business acumen will ensure trust, confidence and a strong financial future for Action Canada as it continues to change and grow. 

Experience & Knowledge

  • Senior management experience in leading the development and ensuring effective delivery of the organizational strategy 
  • Experience and a track record of success in leading an organization or holding a significant high-level function in an organization. This experience includes: 
  1. successfully leading, managing and motivating teams, with a high degree of self-awareness and understanding of how to support team performance and individual development using participatory and collaborative approaches;
  2. experience managing complex change processes and relationships involving a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, across diverse disciplines, cultures and contexts;
  3. senior-level financial accountability experience;
  4. experience managing risk in an international context;
  5. experience in evaluation and promoting high performance;
  6. experience in working with and reporting to a volunteer Board or governance group.
  • Strong experience of advocacy and influencing with senior government officials, private sector leaders and public opinion shapers; 
  • Experience in managing a marketing/fundraising operation, preferably in a not-for-profit setting;
  • Experience working on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programming, mobilizing and/or influencing preferred;
  • Experience with media, including social media, in promoting social change;
  • Sophisticated knowledge of and passion for SRHR, including understanding the community/domestic/global linkages and the main actors operating in these settings;
  • Demonstrated commitment to gender justice, intersectionality, anti-racism, anti-oppression, human rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights and the interests of marginalized people; 
  • Experience working in a unionized environment strongly preferred;

Skills and Abilities

  • Proven analytical skills and ability to think strategically, including the ability to think beyond a country context and to act within a regional and/or global framework; 
  • Skills to drive organizational effectiveness and steer resource allocation decisions; 
  • Competency in understanding the principles of marketing, communications, fundraising, human resources and finance as they relate to not-for-profit organizations; 
  • Demonstrated skills as a strong “connector,” bringing teams together and motivating them towards a common goal 
  • Excellent communication skills in English and French; Spanish an asset.
  • High level of IT literacy (including for example with Asana, Dropbox, Microsoft Office Suite, GSuite etc.).

Competencies & Characteristics

  • Personal behaviours: self-aware, sophisticated interpersonal skills, behaves consistently in line with the policies, values, and culture of Action Canada, displays the highest standards of personal and professional conduct, has the ability to listen deeply, and shows good judgement and discretion.
  • Leadership behaviours: motivates, supports and inspires others, develops teams, shares power, achieves results, facilitates change, establishes and maintains positive relationships. 
  • Outward behaviours: listens deeply; is flexible;approaches issues with intention and compassion; has strong strategic analysis, analytical and lateral thinking skills; takes initiative; advocates effectively; is flexible and has strong communication skills.  effective advocacy, engaging communication, flexibility.

Asset Qualifications:

  • Understanding and experience working with the UN system, particularly the Human Rights Council (Preferred);
  • Knowledge of International Human Rights Law and/or the Canadian legislative environment (Preferred).


  • The position is based in Ottawa, though the candidate may work remotely and we will consider candidates outside of Ottawa, within certain conditions. The Executive Director is expected to undertake approximately 2 to 6 weeks of travel each year to support Action Canada’s staff and offices; to monitor operational activity and outcomes; and, to participate in key meetings that contribute to Action Canada’s work. 

Steps in the Selection Process

  1. Announcing Your Wish to be Considered

    If you wish to be considered for this position, please forward your résumé, cover letter, and any other relevant material to us.
  2. Interview

    Once we receive the Résumés and Cover Letters of those who express interest in the position, the Committee will compare them against the Candidate Profile and also against the backgrounds of other candidates.  At this point, we may conduct a telephone interview with some top-rated candidates to assess fit, motivation, experience, and alignment with the key criteria set out above.  
  3. Candidate Due Diligence

    We will let you know as soon as possible if we will be proceeding further and presenting your candidacy to the Search Committee for its consideration; we will also ask you about your interest and whether you would like to continue in the process.  If both parties wish to proceed, we will ask you to begin gathering any information that might have an impact on your final decision. Usually these include:  

    a) Questions related to benefits, pension plans, vacation policy, etc. If you will make a physical move to accept the position, please learn about housing, schools, relocation assistance, and any other matters of this kind that are important to you. 

    b) Please list the remaining questions that you would need to have answered about the position and the organization and we will be happy to answer them for you.

    The goal of gathering this information is to help you make an informed decision, as soon as possible, about the degree of your interest. In fairness to everyone, please do not go further if you really think you are unlikely to accept the position should it be offered to you. If you have additional questions following our initial discussion, but your interest is tentative and you are still “exploring”, please let us know. We can help you get the additional information you need.

    It is not uncommon for candidates to be pursuing multiple opportunities concurrently. In the interest of transparency, if you are a candidate for another opportunity, please let us know immediately, and keep us informed of your status. Doing so does not reflect negatively on your application, it simply ensures full disclosure from all parties involved.
  4. Preparation of Long List and Creation of Short List

    If after your initial discussion and your due diligence, you remain interested, we will include your application in our Candidate Report. The Candidate Report will include the materials noted in step 1 above.  The Report will be presented to the Search Committee, for its review and consideration.   From this, the Search Committee will choose a Short List of candidates that it will invite to an interview. 
  5. Interview with the Search Committee 

    Interviews with the Search Committee are scheduled as follows:  

    Round 1: The first round interviews will each be 60 minutes long and will centre on discussing key priorities and the role.  All candidates will be notified of their status at the end of the first round of interviews. 

    Round 2: Two or three candidates may be invited back for a second interview.  The second interview will be less formal and focused on addressing any unanswered or new questions arising from the previous interview.

    If you are one of the candidates invited back for a second interview, you may also be asked to make a short presentation on a specific topic of interest to the Board.  
  6. If you are the Finalist – Assessment and Referencing

    If you are chosen as the finalist, references and any other due diligence as required by Action Canada will be conducted at this stage; 

    Finally, you will be required to provide Action Canada with the necessary information and authorization to complete a background check.
  7. Presenting the Assessment, Reference, and Background Findings to the Search Committee

    At the completion of the references, assessments, and background checks the Search Committee will meet to review and consider the results.  The Search Committee will meet and make its final selection.
  8. Steps Leading to an Offer

    If you are selected as the finalist candidate, and if no further references are required, you will be made a verbal offer of employment during which time the terms and conditions of the Offer of Employment will be discussed with you.  Action Canada will facilitate the negotiations and present you with the formal Offer of Employment once agreement is reached.


To apply for this position, please submit your CV and cover letter to lesley@actioncanadashr.org no later than August 28, 2022, at 11:59pm.

We thank all applicants for their interest, however only those under consideration for the role will be contacted.

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Updated on 2022-08-15