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Donna Thomson - McArthur and Co. Publishing. Ottawa, ON, CA

Donna Thomson Donna Thomson

Author | McArthur and Co. Publishing

Ottawa, ON, CANADA

Inspirational speaker who links personal experience with lessons in leadership and resilience.





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DONNA THOMSON began her career as an actor, director and teacher. But in 1988, when her son Nicholas was born with severe disabilities, Donna embarked on her second career as a disability activist. A veteran of numerous local committees promoting inclusion for her son, Donna became interested in how families, communities and governments can work together to find new ways of supporting our most vulnerable citizens.

In her book, "THE FOUR WALLS OF MY FREEDOM", (McArthur and Co., September, 2010), Donna examines her personal family experience through the lens of Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach and a wellbeing index created by Sabina Alkire, co-creator of the Bhutan Happiness Index.

Through her narrative, Donna Thomson helps us to imagine a different way of seeing the good in caring for each other. She asserts that an aversion to states of dependency in our society limits our wellbeing and effectiveness in achieving our life goals. Jean Vanier wrote, "I am deeply moved by this book. It is about being human, finding wisdom and learning to live in the face of pain. It is about seeing under the suffering and needs of people with disabilities, their value and beauty, their uniqueness and dignity. This book should be read by all who seek to understand what it means to be human."

Donna is married to James Wright, the former High Commissioner for Canada in the UK. Their previous postings have been in London, Washington D.C. and Moscow. Jim and Donna have two children and live in Ottawa, Canada.

Social innovation, lateral thinking, speaking about social inclusion, ageing well and social policy. Consulting on philanthropy and social enterprise investment.

Industry Expertise (7)

Health Care - Services

Government Relations




Elder Care

Social Services

Areas of Expertise (3)

Strategic Advocacy


Changing Optics: Seeing Deficits as Assets

Education (3)

Central School of Speech and Drama: DTIE, Theatre in Education (Applied Drama) 1997

University of Ottawa: BEd, Education 1977

Concordia University: BFA, Theatre (Performance) 1976

Magna Cum Laude

Affiliations (2)

  • Canadian Centre on Disability Studies
  • The PLAN Institute

Sample Talks (3)

Innovation and Ethics

This talk (keynote for the FICCDAT Conference, Toronto, June 2011) explored how to chart an ethical path through the development of new medical technologies are they are rolled out into communities. For this talk, I focused on the conference theme which was, "Living longer, living better".

Resilience, Optimism and Endurance: The Undervalued Survival Skills

Maintaining personal health and productivity through times of chaos and adversity is difficult, but not impossible. This talk will assist audience members to prepare for surviving difficult life events by creating personal support networks and developing strategies that enable effective crisis management while not compromising personal wellbeing.

About Care: Know What You Need and Get What You Want

Transitioning through levels of care can be confusing and traumatic, whether it is for yourself or for an ageing parent. This talk offers practical advice and strategic tips on how to survive the process with your sense of control, your dignity and your employment intact.



  • Keynote
  • Moderator
  • Panelist
  • Workshop Leader
  • Host/MC
  • Author Appearance


500 to 1000