Grand Challenges Canada


Toronto, CanadaJune 27, 2023 – Grand Challenges Canada (GCC) announced the appointment of Dr. Karlee Silver as CEO, effective September 11, 2023. The board expressed its gratitude to co-CEO, Ms. Jocelyn Mackie, who has decided to step down and embark on her next adventure after 11 years with the organization.

Under their leadership as Co-CEOs of Grand Challenges Canada, Dr. Silver and Ms. Mackie have:

  • Secured ~$300M in funding to support innovations in low-and-middle-income countries and strengthened relationships with partners and funders, including primary funder Global Affairs Canada
  • Enabled Creating Hope in Conflict to become a new platform to support the delivery of Humanitarian Grand Challenges
  • Supported the incubation of the Indigenous Innovation Initiative
  • Launched the Being Initiative for youth mental health with a group of international funders and partners
  • Incubated and invested in global health impact investment funds
  • Initiated new challenges on climate and health and the development of sustainable diagnostic labs in low- and middle-income countries

Guylaine Saucier, Chair of the Board at Grand Challenges Canada, stated: “The Co-CEO model has served the organization exceptionally well over the past five years. With Jocelyn’s decision to step down, and after careful consideration, the Board of Directors is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Karlee Silver as the CEO of Grand Challenges Canada. Karlee has been an integral part of our organization’s success, almost since inception, and her extensive experience in innovation for impact will continue to be a vital asset for our organization. Under her leadership, we are confident that Grand Challenges Canada will continue to drive innovation and address critical challenges around the world.”

Saucier continued, “We extend our deepest gratitude to Jocelyn for her outstanding dedication and leadership during her time as Co-CEO. Her strategic vision and relentless efforts have resulted in significant achievements for the organization.”

Karlee Silver expressed her enthusiasm about leading GCC forward, saying, “I am deeply honored to assume the position of CEO at Grand Challenges Canada. I am excited to build on the work that Jocelyn and I led with our amazing team, partners, and stakeholders to further our mission of transforming innovative ideas into sustaining solutions. Together, we will continue to push boundaries and make a lasting impact on the health and well-being of people around the world.”

Reflecting on her departure, Jocelyn Mackie stated, “It has been an incredible honor to be part of GCC’s management for over 11 years and to serve as Co-CEO for the last five. Grand Challenges Canada is fortunate to have such dedicated advisors, staff, funders and partners working together to support hundreds of inspiring innovators who are changing the world. I have learned so much from all of them and have valued their partnership and friendship.”

Mackie continued, “There is no perfect time to decide to leave an organization I love, but the time has come for my next challenge. Being Co-CEO with Karlee for the past five years has worked so well because we embraced the true meaning of partnership. I am delighted that Karlee will be continuing as CEO. I look forward to working with her, and the full GCC team, to ensure a smooth transition to her ongoing leadership.”

Dr. Silver is currently on parental leave and the appointment will be effective upon her return.

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About Dr. Karlee Silver

Dr. Karlee Silver is the incoming CEO of Grand Challenges Canada.

Over the past five years, Karlee has served as Co-CEO with Ms. Jocelyn Mackie, leading the Global Health Innovation, Humanitarian Innovation, Scale & Sustainability, and Knowledge Management & Translation teams. She co-led funder and stakeholder relations, risk management and mitigation, new opportunity development, and strategic planning and decision-making, together with co-CEO Jocelyn Mackie.

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 serving as co-CEO, she was Vice President of 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 Challenges network and advises on a range of global initiatives aligned with women’s and children’s health and development, and global mental health.

Before 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 genetics and immunology in 2006 from the University of Oxford, where she attended as a Rhodes Scholar. Dr. Silver has been recognized as one of Canada’s ‘Top 40 Under 40’ and a Canadian Woman Leader in Global Health.


About Grand Challenges Canada

 Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting bold ideas that integrate scientific, technological, and business innovations to address critical global health challenges. By providing funding, resources, and expertise, Grand Challenges Canada empowers innovators to create scalable and sustainable solutions that improve worldwide outcomes for populations in need. Grand Challenges Canada is funded by the Government of Canada and other partners. For more information, please visit www.grandchallenges.ca .


Media Contact:

Gillian Mathurin
Director of Communications
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+1-647-406-5731

Press Release – June 27 2023