Tonya Surman

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Tonya Surman
Tonya Surman headshot.jpg
Born (1969-03-24) March 24, 1969 (age 50)
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
OccupationCo-Founder and CEO of the Centre for Social Innovation
Spouse(s)Mark Surman (divorced)
ChildrenTristan Surman
Ethan Surman

Tonya Surman is a Toronto-based social entrepreneur, and the founding executive director and current CEO of the Centre for Social Innovation.[1][2]

Education and early social ventures[edit]

Surman studied Environmental Studies and International Development at the University of Toronto and has been creating and leading social ventures in Canada since 1987.[3][4] She was the founding co-chair of the Ontario Nonprofit Network,[5] is a founding trustee in the Awesome Foundation Toronto,[6] and has been active within the Ontario Social Economy Roundtable and the Social Enterprise Council of Canada.

Tonya and husband Mark Surman were instrumental in developing the Constellation Model of Governance, a complexity-inspired framework designed to enable collaborations within dynamic systems.[7] She was the founding Partnership Director of the Canadian Partnership for Children's Health and Environment, a legislative framework to manage chemicals and the banning of BPA in baby bottles.[8]

Centre for Social Innovation[edit]

In 2009 Tonya was named a Global Ashoka Fellow.[4][9] She was recognized for building shared spaces and networks for social innovators designed to foster cooperation. The Centre for Social Innovation has four locations in Toronto and one in New York City.[10]CSI is home to over 700 organizations.[11][12]

In 2012 Tonya Surman co-authored the book "The Community Bond: An Innovation in Social Finance". The book details the process by which the Centre for Social Innovation raised $2 million through community bonds to purchase and renovate its Annex location.[13][14][15] She also co-authored three books on creating shared work spaces for social innovation,[16]and has developed an expertise in the creation of shared spaces for social innovation.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Tonya Surman was born in London, Ontario, and currently resides in Toronto with her ex-husband Mark Surman, CEO of the Mozilla Foundation, and their two sons, Ethan and Tristan Surman.


  1. ^ The Community Bond: An Innovation in Social Finance. Toronto: Centre for Social Innovation. 2012. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-9865436-5-4.
  2. ^ Jermyn, Diane (3 November 2010). "200 office-mates, one copier: It's all about sharing". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  3. ^ "". Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ a b Birnbaum, Elisa. "Tonya Surman and TEDx Toronto: Collaboration at it's [sic] finest". See Change Magazine. Archived from the original on 1 February 2013. Retrieved 24 August 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  5. ^ "Ontario Nonprofit Network News Releases". Archived from the original on 9 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "Awesome Foundation Toronto Chapter Website".
  7. ^ "Constellation Governance". Centre for Social Innovation. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Major health and environment organizations call on government to eliminate public exposure to BPA". Canadian Environmental Law Association. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  9. ^ "The Ashoka Foundation Tonya Surman Profile".
  10. ^ "Entrepreneur - Starrett Lehigh Tonya Surman Profile".
  11. ^ Klein, Paul. "What's Your Scale for Good?". Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  12. ^ "Centre for Social Innovation Website".
  13. ^ Lu, Vanessa (May 9, 2010). "Social innovation centre pins hopes on expansion". Toronto Star. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  14. ^ Wade, PJ (March 20, 2012). "Community Bonds: Actionable Innovation for NonProfits & Investors". Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  15. ^ Yogaretnam, Grace (February 23, 2012). "Community Bonds and the Rise of Local Power". Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  16. ^ "Shared Spaces for Social Innovation". Centre for Social Innovation. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  17. ^ "MIT Press" (PDF).