Grand Challenges Canada

Ms. Jocelyn Mackie and Dr. Karlee Silver to serve co-Chief Executive Officers

Ms. Jocelyn Mackie and Dr. Karlee Silver

TORONTO, September 19, 2018 – On behalf of the Board of Directors of Grand Challenges Canada (GCC), Chair Guylaine Saucier today announced that Ms. Jocelyn Mackie and Dr. Karlee Silver have been appointed as co-Chief Executive Officers. Their appointment is effective immediately.

“Innovation is the defining DNA of Grand Challenges Canada and we have opted for an innovative approach in both the model and the individuals we have selected to lead this organization forward through its next stage of growth and transformation,” emphasized Mme Saucier. “In Dr. Silver and Ms. Mackie, we have chosen two strong leaders who combine an incomparable knowledge of GCC’s operations with a detailed plan for change and growth. In presenting their shared vision for a co-CEO model, the board was struck by the ambition, pragmatism and dynamism of their plans for GCC.”

As co-CEOs, Ms. Mackie and Dr. Silver are being handed a mandate to build on GCC’s success by leading a new era of scaling in global health innovations, and catalyzing innovations within humanitarian settings and among Canada’s Indigenous communities, as well as fortifying the financial, operational and external-facing profile of the organization over the long-term.

Their appointment distinguishes GCC as one of the few research and impact-investor organizations worldwide to be led by women – at both the executive and board level.

“The opportunity to take Grand Challenges Canada into its next stage of maturity and growth is one that we approach with energy and confidence,” stated Ms. Mackie and Dr. Silver. “Supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact remains the essence of what GCC will do in the future. Working together, we have a clear vision for how to build on established success and pursue this success in new areas – in pursuit of helping to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through innovation

The Board’s decision comes after an extensive and competitive open search and review process, led by the Board’s CEO Search Committee and administered by an international executive search firm.

Please see attached for biographic information about Dr. Silver and Ms. Mackie.



Kenneth Tong, Communications Strategist
communications [at] grandchallenges . ca



Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact®. Funded by the Government of Canada and by other partners, Grand Challenges Canada funds innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada. The bold ideas Grand Challenges Canada supports integrate science and technology, social and business innovation – known as Integrated Innovation ®.  One of the largest impact-first investors in Canada, and with a feminist investment approach, Grand Challenges Canada has supported a pipeline of over 1000 innovations in more than 80 countries. Grand Challenges Canada estimates that these innovations have the potential to save up to 1 million lives and improve up to 28 million lives by 2030.  Grand Challenges Canada is hosted in Toronto at the Sandra Rotman Centre at the University Health Network.

In the past year, Grand Challenges Canada has initiated two new Grand Challenges including Creating Hope in Conflict: a Humanitarian Grand Challenge in partnership with USAID and DFID UK, and the Indigenous Innovation Initiative in partnership with the McConnell Foundation and Johnson & Johnson.



Dr. Karlee Silver, DPhil
Co-Chief Executive Officer

Karlee Silver is Co-CEO of Grand Challenges Canada, giving leadership and oversight to all aspects of the organization’s activities together with Co-CEO Jocelyn Mackie.

Prior to being appointed co-CEO, Dr. Silver was VP Programs where she set strategy for development and humanitarian innovation initiatives, and enabled the programs, investments, and knowledge management teams to source, support, and transition to scale promising innovations for social impact in low- and middle-income countries. She represents Grand Challenges Canada in the International Development Innovation Alliance (IDIA) and in the Grand Challenge network, and advises on a range of global initiatives aligned with women’s and children’s health and development and global mental health. She is the Chair of the Every Woman Every Child Innovation Marketplace Steering Committee.

Dr. Silver has been with Grand Challenges Canada since it launched, and led the process of selecting the organization’s prioritized grand challenges. Prior to joining Grand Challenges Canada, Dr. Silver trained in the laboratory of Dr. Kevin Kain at the Sandra Rotman Centre in Toronto where she helped to identify host responses of malaria infection in pregnant women to harness for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

Dr. Silver received her doctorate in 2006 from the University of Oxford, where she attended as a Rhodes Scholar and trained in genetics and immunology. An accumulation of inspirations, including traveling through southern Africa after Oxford, led to a refocus towards global health. Witnessing both the strength of women to sustain their families and communities, and the vulnerability of these same women to the consequences of poverty inspired Dr. Silver to apply herself to empowering women and girls.

In her spare time, Dr Silver explores the outdoors with her dog, practices yoga, and studies wine tasting.


Ms. Jocelyn Mackie, MSc, JD
Co-Chief Executive Officer

Jocelyn Mackie is Co-CEO of Grand Challenges Canada, giving leadership and oversight to all aspects of the organization’s innovation platform, together with Co-CEO Karlee Silver.

Prior to being appointed co-CEO, Ms. Mackie was Vice President Operations & General Counsel at GCC where she led the Finance, Operations, Legal, and Communications teams, providing leadership and oversight on the organization’s operations, funder relations, deal structuring and negotiations (on grant and non-grant financing deals), financial accountability and risk mitigation management, as well as providing legal and compliance oversight.

Prior to joining GCC, Ms. Mackie provided legal and strategic advice to pharmaceutical and technology companies at a boutique law firm with offices in Toronto, Washington and New York. She specialized in intellectual property law and litigation, as well as lobbying for legislative change in Washington and Ottawa. Ms. Mackie started her academic pursuits studying languages and international development, and spent time digging latrines and helping to set up a self-sustaining micro-enterprise for rural women in Honduras.

Ms. Mackie has a MSc from the University of Toronto, where she jointly authored a book on ethical decision-making and corporate social responsibility in the bioscience industry. She has a JD from the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, and an honours business degree (HBA) from the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario. She is called to the Ontario Bar and the New York State Bar.

When not focused on saving and improving the lives of the most vulnerable, Ms. Mackie spends time with her entrepreneurial husband, three children and two step daughters (aged newborn to 18) at their home in Toronto, family cottage and cattle farm.  In her spare time, she stays grounded by taking dance classes, and is active in her community church and children’s school.