Eleven Out of Ten


Visionary social entrepreneur David Pecaut’s life demonstrates how to make a positive impact on a community.

City builder David Pecaut has been called a visionary and a pragmatist, passionate and compassionate, a bridge builder, a catalyst, and a trailblazer. Though David was a business leader and management consultant, most of these accolades flow from his volunteer work as a civic entrepreneur. A native of Sioux City, Iowa, David chose Toronto as the beneficiary of his formidable enthusiasm.

When Toronto was in the doldrums because of the SARS scare, David helped the city restore its tourism industry by chairing the Toront03 Alliance, launched by a flamboyant Rolling Stones concert. David was perhaps best known for co-founding Luminato, the international festival that each spring showcases the world’s finest artists to audiences of over a million.

As chair of the Toronto City Summit Alliance, David worked as easily with the homeless, minorities, and poverty activists as with billionaires, corporate CEOs, and labour leaders to tackle pressing social and economic issues. He was the driving force behind the Career Edge youth internship program, the Strong Neighbourhoods Task Force, the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, DiverseCity, the Emerging Leaders Network, the task force on modernizing income security, and Greening Greater Toronto.

David’s efforts to make Toronto the most socially and culturally dynamic urban centre in the world were cut short when he succumbed to cancer in December 2009. When it became obvious that his time was running out, he took copious notes and recorded interviews with friends, colleagues, and family, all of which are the basis for this book, a memoir by his wife Helen Burstyn.

About the Author

Helen Burstyn

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014
Helen Burstyn photo

Helen Burstyn

Helen Burstyn has enjoyed a 30-year career in government, business, and community service. She served as the chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and president of the Canadian Club of Toronto. She is currently a director of several non-profit organizations, including Luminato, CAMH, TIFF, the Canadian Journalism Foundation, and The Pecaut Centre for Social Impact, an organization she recently co-founded.