Meet Mary Gordon -
Mary Gordon

Mary Gordon

Founder and President Roots of Empathy


Mary Gordon is recognized internationally as a social entrepreneur, speaker, educator, author, child advocate, and parenting expert.

Ms. Gordon created Roots of Empathy in 1996. It is a not-for-profit organization that offers empathy-based programs to children. The school-based program shows children (5-13 yo) the most powerful model of empathy, the loving relationship between a baby and parent. Roots of Empathy is in 14 countries and has reached 1 million children. Seeds of Empathy (est. 2005) focuses on early childhood centers (children 3-5 yo). Her first innovation was Canada’s first school-based parenting programs, Ontario’s Parenting, and Family Literacy Centres, which have been replicated around the world.

For the third year running, Finnish education organization has selected Roots of Empathy as one of the world's best innovations in education. Ms. Gordon recently received an Honorary Doctorate in Literature from the National University of Ireland - Galway for her work. In 2018 Ms. Gordon was one of six recipients of the Governor General's Innovation Award - the only social entrepreneur so honored. She is also the recipient of other awards for innovation in education and international social entrepreneurship, including the Ernest C. Manning Innovation Award for the top social entrepreneur in Canada. She is a Senior Ashoka Fellow (Globalizer) and sits on the Ashoka Global Board. Ms. Gordon has been awarded both the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond and Silver Jubilee Medals and is a Member of the Order of Canada, the Order of Newfoundland, the Order of Ontario and is the recipient of an honorary Doctorate from Memorial University.

Ms. Gordon speaks and consults with governments, educational organizations and public institutions, WHO, and the United Nations. She was the Co-Chair of the Ontario Ministry of Education Student Well-Being Advisory Committee and has had dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Both Ms. Gordon and the program have been featured in the New York Times, the LA Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, The Globe and Mail, Time Magazine, Japan’s NHK, CBC and in features on PBS, CNN, NBC, and The Huffington Post.

Her book, Roots of Empathy: Changing the World Child by Child, is a Canadian bestseller and is available in multiple languages.

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