Meet Tova Davidson —SWR’s newest director
Tova Davidson is committed to protecting the environment. She’s already plotting her soon-to-be daily commute to Waterloo from Guelph — and it will be green.
“I like distance biking.” she said. “It would take little under an hour to bike in [from Guelph].”
Though she admits that in the colder months, she will find a carpool to join.
But for the former marketing professional, biking and carpooling are drops in the bucket compared to the changes she’ll oversee as the new executive director of Sustainable Waterloo Region [SWR].
SWR fosters collaborations between local businesses, helping them make their sustainablity visions a reality.
After an intensive six-month search for a new executive director, Davidson was announced as the replacement for SWR founder Mike Morrice on Jan. 9.
Morrice is departing to oversee the Sustainability CoLab, a network of initiatives similar to SWR across the province.
And for Davidson, taking over the executive director spot at SWR was the perfect opportunity to finally pursue her passion for non-profit work. Raised in northern Ontario by parents she describes as “hippies” who went up north in a VW bus, her life had been in the corporate world.
She was, until recently, the vice-president at The Letter M Marketing in Guelph, a company she was with for 12 years.
But she was ready to make a change.
“I decided it was time to follow more what pulls on my heart strings,” she said.
Environment was high up on the list of fields she wanted to work in. When she spotted the SWR job opportunity, it seemed like a perfect fit.
However, like her predecessor, Davidson’s approach to sustainability will be pragmatic. She’s committed to ensuring that SWR continues its track record of encouraging area businesses to become more sustainable.
It’s also one of the reasons SWR was so eager to have her.
“What [Davidson] brings that we’re all excited about is this balance between someone who can be entrepreneurial, growing new programs and sharing the vision, while also being someone who can manage a mid-size organization,” said Morrice.
Davidson will be maintaining tight ties with Morrice, who will continue on as a member of SWR’s board and work with the organization as part of the Sustainability CoLab network.
She also wants to continue the growth of SWR, which started as a group of volunteers at Wilfrid Laurier five years ago and now has six to eight paid staff and over 60 volunteers.
The organization has begun to explore the potential of starting their own incubator for environmental organizations, similar to the high tech incubators in Communitech — one of SWR’s neighbours in the Tannery building in downtown Kitchener.
The organization launched in 2009. Today, they work closely with the Regional Carbon Initiative, ClimateActionWR, and TravelWise.
They are also looking forward to bringing to life the ideas in the Climate Action Plan that was unanimously endorsed by Waterloo Regional Council and the city councils of Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge in 2013.
Davidson believes that Waterloo Region residents eagerness and ability to embrace new technologies also bodes well for their ability to accept new sustainability practices.
“Integration of new technology is really open here,” she said.
“So the companies that have decided to be here are open to change and new technology and new ways of doing things.”
It’s a mentality that she credits for SWR’s success – one she hopes will continue under her direction.