St. Mary’s University Appoints New Vice President of External Relations

St. Mary’s University (Alberta) is excited to announce the appointment of Lisa Laskowski as its new senior leadership team member responsible for institutional fund development, marketing, communications, alumni engagement, and government relations. The five-year appointment is effective June 24, 2024.

“An award-winning and results-oriented executive with more than 25 years as a collaborative leader in Canada’s higher education, healthcare and cultural sectors – including 15 years leading post-secondary advancement teams in western Canada – Lisa is ready to champion St. Mary’s new strategic plan and bold vision for growth and exceptional student experience,” says President Sinda Vanderpool.

Lisa brings a successful track record of transforming organizations, building high-performing teams, and fostering meaningful relationships through strategic philanthropy, transparent communications, best-practice alumni engagement, and good governance. Leveraging internal expertise, she inspires her teams to focus on immediate results with an eye to the future. As a result, constituent engagement increased and revenues for priorities like new and revitalized buildings, endowments, student awards, leading-edge technology, research, and Indigenous programming were beyond institutional, supporter and government expectations.

Throughout her distinguished career, including at the University of Saskatchewan, Manitoba’s college system, and as Chief Development Officer at the Royal University Hospital Foundation and Director of Development and Alumni at St. Peter’s College and Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Lisa has led with conviction to champion organizations and inspire people to support their missions.

Most recently, Lisa was the Regional Vice President and member of the national Senior Leadership Team at Make-A-Wish Canada Foundation where she rebuilt and led the team of staff and volunteers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Labrador. Together, they grew fund development, elevated community awareness, and increased impact for children with critical illnesses. As a result of the Atlantic team’s collaborative and multi-disciplinary learning work environment, their Region was celebrated for its outstanding 2023 Great Place to Work survey results. Prior to working with Make-A-Wish, Lisa led the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s successful $140 million capital campaign which involved strengthening policy and systems, partnering with local, provincial, and federal governments, and establishing a strong volunteer team of business and community leaders.

President Vanderpool adds, “Lisa’s extensive external relations experience has equipped her with a deep appreciation for diversity, accessibility, and inclusive excellence. She actively cultivates and promotes the importance of a vibrant workplace, and respectful teamwork. All that is grounded in her upbringing and education in the Roman Catholic tradition.”

With university degrees in Commerce and Music Performance, and post-degree Fellowship in Institutional Development, Lisa is an active and caring volunteer “womentor,” adjudicator and conference speaker. She has served in executive and board roles for organizations such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Canadian Association of Gift Planners, and the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education where she was appointed to the board for two three-year terms representing Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. She also served as Canada’s appointed representative to the International Committee of the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy.

Lisa is the mother of two grown children, who benefitted from a Catholic-based elementary and secondary education. They and her extended family support Lisa’s work to change and save lives. When not working or volunteering, Lisa, a self-described “farm girl,” enjoys gardening and singing with friends.