Deborah Gillis is President & Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst, the leading research and advisory organization working to change workplaces and improve lives by accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion. She is the fourth President in Catalyst’s 53-year history—and the first from outside the United States. She is also the first internal successor from within Catalyst’s ranks to hold this office.
Ms. Gillis brings a unique blend of strategic vision, operational savvy, and advocacy to her position. Her distinguished career at Catalyst includes roles as Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President, Membership and Global Operations, where she led Catalyst’s global growth strategy and expansion into India and Australia. Ms. Gillis joined Catalyst in 2006 to lead Catalyst Canada and became Vice President, North America, in 2008, introducing a new global membership model which enabled Catalyst to support members and their operations around the world. She initiated Catalyst Canada’s signature event, the Catalyst Canada Honours, paying tribute to champions of women’s advancement to leadership in corporate Canada, and she instituted the Catalyst Connects series of events, in which senior executive women share their inspiring stories. In anticipation of the current attention to board diversity challenges in Canada, she led Catalyst’s initiative to increase women in the boardroom, resulting in the successful launch of the Catalyst Accord and Catalyst’s first acquisition, Women On Board®.
Prior to Catalyst, Ms. Gillis spent more than 20 years advising decisions-makers in the public and private sectors, including management roles in two multi-national firms. A thought leader and advocate, she twice served as a candidate for elected office, and has made coaching and mentoring of women in business and political life a personal priority.
As a breast cancer survivor and a woman who has successfully overcome the challenges inherent in high-pressure, male-dominated environments, Ms. Gillis is a recognized advocate and expert on expanding opportunities for women and business. She is frequently quoted in the media globally, including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, CNBC, CNN, The Globe and Mail, and Economic Times, on issues related to talent and women’s leadership. She regularly addresses senior leaders around the world in a variety of business, academic, and public policy venues.