Alison Lawton has an A-list of global friends that includes the Dalai Lama, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela and Richard Branson. Successful in business, the mother of two has parlayed her wealth and reinvested it in social change. Appointed Chair of UNICEF Canada's Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS campaign, Lawton has fronted Unite with Art, a contemporary art auction and gala in Vancouver that has raised $1 million in four years.
Wanting to publicize the plight of the Acholi children in Uganda, Lawton produced Uganda Rising, an award winning documentary about child exploitation in Uganda's bloody 20-year civil war. Following up on the film's success, Lawton founded Mindset Social Innovation Foundation. As its founder and CEO, Lawton works directly with artists, policy makers, educational institutions, governments, and UN organizations to change how people think, feel and act towards pressing issues.
Lawton's foundation helped a group of UBC journalism students produce a documentary about the dumping of electronic waste in Ghana. A $1 million gift sustained an International Reporting course so students could travel abroad to work on under-reported news stories. Titled Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground, the film won an Emmy Award last year for best documentary.
What sparked your desire to affect change?
The injustice and restrictions on freedom; I am interested in humanity's innate right for justice and freedom.
Person you would most like to sit down with and have a conversation?
Person you most like to have dinner with?
My dad, who passed away four years ago.
What you hate most about the world?
What does success look like?
Happiness within myself.
Completing a 10-day Vipassana silence and mediation retreat in India.
Three words to live by?
Think, feel and act
Last book read?
Cultural Strategy by Douglas Holt/Douglas Cameron.
Drink of choice ?
I don't go to any.
Cheap place for dinner?
Super Tuscan wine.
Harold and Maude.
Kitsilano for its beaches; West End for its diversity and Gastown for its history
Best thing about Vancouver?
People who have chosen to live here regardless of its exorbitant cost.
Worst thing about Vancouver?
Cost of living.
Community event you look forward to every year?
Gay Pride Parade.
Best places to take out of town visitors?
Jericho Beach, MOA and a walk around the Stanley Park Seawall.
Who inspires you?
Most memorable celebrity encounter?
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