Director since 1961
Chair 1984 – 2015
Always modest and unassuming, Donald Lawson is an accomplished businessman with an exemplary record of hands-on service to his community. Of all of the milestones in his remarkable life, Mr. Lawson would be the first to say that the most important has been his marriage to Lorraine M. (Forbes) Lawson. Their marriage has been the foundation upon which all other achievements have been built, and the values of generosity, philanthropy and community building they share have been passed on to their four children and eight grandchildren.
Mr. Lawson was President and CEO of Moss, Lawson & Company Ltd. from 1966 to 1989, and Chairman from 1989 to 1997. When Moss Lawson was sold to HSBC Securities, he became Honourary Chairman of the firm until his retirement in 2008. He also served on the Board of Directors of several publicly listed firms.
Mr. Lawson’s record of community service began nearly 60 years ago with the YMCA of Metropolitan Toronto. His involvement with the Y became much deeper when in 1968 he was recruited to join the Board and ultimately became Chairman. At the time, the Toronto Y lacked strong leadership and was on the verge of bankruptcy; its infrastructure was seriously outdated, and it was no longer meeting the needs of its client base. Mr. Lawson helped to articulate a vision of what a renewed Y could mean to the community and personally raised millions of dollars over the span of more than a decade. His efforts helped to make the YMCA of Greater Toronto into one of the most active and respected charitable organizations in the community.
Since assuming the role of Chairman of The Counselling Foundation of Canada in 1984, he has led the expansion and updating of the organization’s mandate, which would see a Foundation that would advance innovative programming and reflect the changing needs of Canadians. Much of that effort has focused on helping those who live on the margins of society achieve their potential and lay the foundation for their employability. Mr. Lawson stepped down as Chair in 2015, at which time he was given the title “Chair Emeritus.”
Mr. Lawson has also been active in a number of other organizations, including the Toronto Stock Exchange, Toronto Board of Trade, Investment Dealers Association, United Church of Canada, Huntley Youth Services (now “Youthlink”), Victoria University (University of Toronto), and the Georgian Bay Land Trust.
For his many achievements, Mr. Lawson has been awarded the Canadian YMCA Fellowship of Honour Citation, in recognition of his lifelong commitment and service to the YMCA, Doctor of Sacred Letters, honoris causa by Victoria University, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa by the Dalhousie University, Doctor of Laws, honouris causa from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the Arbor Award by the University of Toronto for outstanding service. Mr. Lawson was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 in recognition of his many accomplishments. In 2019, Mr. Lawson became a Member of the Order of Canada.