Mary Gordon is the founder, President and inspiration behind Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy.
Mary Gordon is recognized internationally as an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy. In 1996, she founded Roots of Empathy, which offers programs in Canada, New Zealand, the USA, Isle of Man, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and Germany. In 2005, Ms Gordon created the Seeds of Empathy program. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and an Ashoka Fellow.
Ms Gordon speaks and consults to governments, educational organizations, and public institutions. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards recognizing her contribution to innovation in education and international social entrepreneurship, including the 2011 David E. Mitchell Award of Distinction from the Ernest C. Manning Innovation Awards, and the 2009 Public Education Advocacy Award from the Canadian Teachers' Federation. In 2012, Ms Gordon was the featured speaker on social innovation at Change Nation, representing 50 of the world’s leading social innovators. Her 2005 Canadian bestseller, Roots of Empathy: Changing the World Child by Child, was ranked as one of the Top 100 Books of the Year by the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper. She was a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal for her outstanding commitment to education. In 2011, Ms Gordon was named an Ashoka Globalizer, joining a select group of Ashoka Fellows supported in extending their message and impact to the global level.
Ms Gordon has consulted to and presented on early childhood development to gatherings organized by the World Health Organization. She has presented at the United Nations on the importance of emotional literacy and she is often quoted as saying, "it is equally important for a child to learn to relate as it is to learn to read."
Ms Gordon has had three dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in three countries. The Dalai Lama has expressed that programs like Roots of Empathy will build world peace.
In 2008, Roots of Empathy was one of three winners in an international competition from Changemakers for programs that help youth at risk. Also in 2008, National Chief Phil Fontaine and the Assembly of First Nations passed a resolution to support Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy in First Nations schools across Canada. Ms Gordon is committed to making her program available to Aboriginal communities.
Mary Gordon introduces us to the wisdom of babies and shows us how they can teach us - and our children - what it is to be human. Over a lifetime, I have learned that the human capacities for empathy and respect must be fostered from earliest childhood to reduce violence in the world and build a truly civil society.”
- The Honourable Landon Pearson, Advisor on Children's Rights to the Minister of Foreign Affairs