Alumni Profile: Chanel Grenaway

Chanel Grenaway

Chanel graduated from the Peace, Conflict and Justice (then Peace and Conflict) program in 1997. She then found work at the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO), an international development agency that helps create strong businesses in foreign countries by creating partnerships between (semi-)retired Canadians and local businesses. She worked there for five years, starting in the communications department and then later moving into the programming side. During her time at CESO, however, she came to realize that there was a lot of social justice work to be done right here in Canada, particularly surrounding women’s equity, poverty reduction, and Indigenous issues. This led her to the Canadian Women’s Foundation in 2003, where a one-year contract turned into 14 years. There, she managed collaborative, multi-year grant-making projects that supported women living on low incomes to participate in pre-apprenticeship programs, self-employment programs and gain valuable work experience through social enterprises.   She also contributed to the launch and implementation of a Leadership Institute, focused on the needs of emerging leaders in the non-profit sector. She now leads her own consulting firm, Chanel Grenaway and Associates, assisting non-profits to promote gender equity and community development through intersectional analysis.


How would you say the program has helped you since graduation?

The Peace and Conflict program instilled in me the importance of creating an impact beyond our immediate communities, even beyond Canada. It also gave me the knowledge and expertise to promote equity and prosperity in foreign countries. The program also provided me with a new lens on analyzing conflict and socioeconomic issues, particularly by learning about the significance of and intersections in religion, race, the environment, the naming of borders, among other factors. Overall, it has helped me create an understanding of why things happen and how they can change. Furthermore, it emphasized the values of finding common ground and moving forward, something which I apply in my work over 10 years later.


A key aspect of the program is providing opportunities for international experiences and entrepreneurship. Could you speak briefly about your experiences with one or both of these and their significance?

In the last year of my undergrad, I took part of an exchange at the University of West Indies in Jamaica. I’m a full believer that international experiences provide yet another lens through which to view the world. If you’re interested in a particular geographical area, immersing yourself there is the best way to learn about it. In fact, I’d recommend any exchange that would get you outside of the Toronto classroom.

Exchanges are particularly helpful in determining if a certain field of study is truly right for you. Overall, there’s no substitute for the first-hand perspective you gain from international experiences. This is true even later in the workplace; at CESO, hearing directly from the women and business owners we were supporting was much more helpful than reading a report about our progress.


Would you care to offer any advice to current or prospective students?

I would attribute some of my success to taking on other opportunities during my studies. Take advantage of everything offered to you as students, such as on-campus clubs, recreational sports, volunteer opportunities and events. I made great friends, social connections and learned so much outside of the classroom by being involved in the broader university community.  Broaden your scope and take advantage of new things—the more you absorb and explore, the more connections and opportunities present themselves to you.



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