Fran Sonshine, National Chair

Fran Sonshine, National Chair

Fran Sonshine has been a prominent leader in the Jewish community for many years with a long history of involvement in philanthropy and volunteering.

Fran is currently the National Chair of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, whose mission is to promote awareness of the Holocaust and its universal lessons through education and commemorative events and initiatives across Canada. She is also a member of the North York General Hospital Advisory Board, the Baycrest Campaign Advisory Board and a member of the ROM Board of Governors.

Fran was the 2009 annual Campaign Co-chair of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, raising $65 million for that year’s campaign.

In addition, Fran has served as Chair of Baycrest, a geriatric centre of excellence, and Chair of the Baycrest Foundation. As the first female Foundation Chair, she initiated its inaugural Annual Campaign.

Fran’s community work began with her involvement with Canadian Hadassah-WIZO, first locally and then moving on to the national scene. She was President in Toronto from 1993–1995. Fran has served in various leadership roles in numerous organizations in the Jewish community: Board Member of the UJA Federation’s Jewish Foundation, where she and her husband, Ed, established one of the first Legacy Funds; Chair of the UJA’s Past Chairs’ Council; Board Member of CIJA (Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs); and member of the Board of Governors of Mount Sinai Hospital, to name a few.

Fran is an accomplished fundraiser. She was the 2005 Chair of UJA Federation Women’s Campaign and Advocacy and is a past member of the National Women’s Philanthropy Board, the umbrella organization for North American Federations. Throughout her volunteer career, Fran has chaired major events, including the Toronto Hadassah Bazaar, the largest one-day sale of its kind, and the 1999 Brazilian Ball, which raised substantial funds for Baycrest.

Fran received Hadassah-WIZO’s 1996 Volunteer of Distinction award; UJA’s Federation’s Shem Tov Award in 2003; its prestigious International Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award in 2010; and its 2011 Ben Sadowski Award of Merit, the latter three in recognition of her many contributions to the UJA. In 2012, Fran was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Golda Meir Leadership Award from State of Israel Bonds Canada. In addition, Fran was appointed to the National Holocaust Monument Development Council, a committee of five dedicated Canadians charged with spearheading the fundraising campaign for a Holocaust Monument in Ottawa.

As a couple, Fran and Ed Sonshine were honoured in 2003 by the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, received the 2003 International Spirit of Jerusalem Award given by State of Israel Bonds, were the 2006 Jewish National Fund Negev Dinner honourees, and were honoured by Baycrest at its 2008 Tribute Gala.