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Headshot of Wendy Cukier

Dr. Wendy Cukier MA, MBA, PhD, DU (HC), LLD (HC), MSC

Founder/Academic Director

Dr. Wendy Cukier is one of Canada's leading experts in disruptive technologies, innovation processes and diversity. She has written more than 200 papers on technology, innovation and management and is coauthor of the bestseller “Innovation Nation: Canadian Leadership from Java to Jurassic Park”. She is the Founder of Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute, which she founded in 1999 and has led projects aimed at promoting the participation and advancement of underrepresented groups. Dr. Cukier has assisted organizations in becoming more inclusive through innovative programs such as DiversityLeads funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, which tracks the progress, impediments and evidenced-based strategies for promoting diversity in organizations. The results helped inform Canada’s new comply or explain legislation - Bill C-25: an act to amend the Canadian Corporation’s Act – designed to advance women on boards. Wendy also leads the new Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub – a network of organizations aimed at developing an inclusive innovation ecosystem – funded as part of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.  She is also the research lead for Canada’s new Future Skills Centre, led by Ryerson University with the Conference Board of Canada and Blueprint in collaboration with more than 150 organizations and a network of more than 50 researchers. Wendy serves as an ex officio member of the Minister’s Expert Council on Entrepreneurship as well as on the expert panel for Canada-UK Economic cooperation and is a member of the interim advisory council of the Future Skills Centre. 

During her five-year term as Ryerson University's Vice-President of Research and Innovation, she transformed her unit to support the growth of research and to promote innovation and commercialization. Under her leadership, research and partnerships expanded, driving an increase in external funding by more than 60% over 5 years. Dr. Cukier spearheaded Ryerson’s social innovation strategy to help engage faculty and students from across the university in all disciplines in the innovation agenda. This included leading the bid to become Canada’s first Ashoka Changemaker Campus. She also created innovative programs to support student learning, experiential learning and applied research (iSTEM, Summer Company, RECODE, RBC) with particular focus on leveling the playing field between Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and Social Science and Humanities (SSH) funding and opportunities.  Prior to that Dr. Cukier was the first Associate Dean of the Ted Rogers School of Management, leading the development of new MBA programs, dramatically expanding research activities, and gaining accreditation by the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business. She continues to teach and mentor students in several programs at Ryerson University.

She has published papers on digital skills and soft skills as well as on diversity dimensions of Work Integrated Learning (WIL).  She has also championed a variety of action-oriented research projects including the Advanced Digital and Professional Training (ADaPT) program a work integrated learning program which successfully transitions diverse job seekers into employment, as well as the newcomer entrepreneurship hub and the women’s entrepreneurship hub both projects with Scadding Court Community Centre. 

She chairs the Board of Directors of Women’s College Hospital as well as the social enterprise Green Iglu (formerly growing north). She is on the Board and serves as Treasurer for nPower which provides intensive technology skills training and internships for marginalized youth. She is on the board of the Lifelong Learning Institute which aimed at advancing the academic outcomes of youth of African and Caribbean decent. She is also on the Board of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. 

An active volunteer, her work has been widely recognized for its impact. Wendy has received many awards for her volunteer work including two honorary doctorates (Laval and Concordia University) and the Meritorious Service Cross, one of Canada’s highest civilian honours.  She also has received a YWCA Women of Distinction, a top 25 Women of Influence, the Bob Marley Award, the Harry Jerome Diversity Award (from the Black Business Processional Association), the Business Professional of the year award from the Canada Pakistan Business Council and more recently, Ryerson’s Social Innovation Award, the Metropolis Award for Excellence in Research on Immigration, and the Canadian Advanced Technology Association’s Sara Kirke Award for Advancing Women in Technology.  She was named one of 100 alumni who shaped the century by the University of Toronto.

Dr. Cukier holds an MA and MBA from the University of Toronto, a PhD from the Schulich School of Business, York University. She completed the Executive Entrepreneurship program at MIT and Singularity University’s Executive Program on Exponential Technology. She has also received an honorary doctorate from Laval University in medicine, dentistry and nursing and an honorary Doctor of Laws from Concordia University.