Advisory Board

Diane Francis

Diane Francis is the first female to become editor of a national daily newspaper in Canada, became Woman of the Year in 2002, founded the Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, and in 2007 became the first working journalist to sit on a public company board of directors.

She is a journalist, author of 10 books, and Editor-at-Large at The National Post. She is Faculty at Singularity University in Mountain View California, a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC, a Distinguished Professor at Ryerson University, and also on the boards of the Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative and the Canada-US Law Institute.

She is a self-taught journalist who began with a small daily newspaper, The Brampton Times in Ontario, then freelanced for newspapers and magazines around the world. She was a reporter and columnist with The Toronto Star from 1981 to 1987, then a columnist and director with the Toronto Sun, Maclean’s, and the Financial Post in 1987 and its editor from 1991 to 1998, when it was taken over by the National Post and incorporated into it. She has been a columnist and Editor-at-Large at the National Post since then; her columns are widely cited, quoted, and republished.

She writes for periodicals around the world, and speaks at conferences about tech, geopolitics, and white collar crime. She writes a regular column for the National Post in Canada which is syndicated in the PostMedia chain (Canada’s biggest newspaper company), Kyiv Post in Ukraine, Atlantic Council Ukraine Alert, and The American Interest in Washington DC and appears regularly on the Business America broadcast with CCTV, China’s broadcaster. Her popular Twitter feed on tech, science, geopolitics, corruption, and trends has nearly 300,000 followers worldwide.

She is an entrepreneur, a software developer, advisor to startup companies, and advises governments on future technologies. She is a member of Abundance360, created by Silicon Valley influencer and space pioneer Peter Diamandis, who leads this exclusive group of 250 entrepreneurs.

Diane was born in Chicago, USA and attended school in Skokie, Illinois. She married one year after finishing high school then, at age 19, immigrated with her husband to Toronto, Canada. She is a dual citizen and lives/works in both countries.

They launched a commercial art studio, invested in other businesses and real estate, then had two children. Diane stayed at home for six years and became a political activist in her community of Mississauga, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. She decided, after helping two friends win local elections, that the most effective means of bringing about needed change in society belonged to the media, not to the political office holders. So she took a part-time course at a community college on feature writing. Weeks later, her professor obtained an internship for her at a small daily newspaper, the Brampton Daily Times, and she was immediately offered a full-time job.

From there, she became a freelance newspaper and magazine writer for many publications. She became Contributing Editor of Canadian Business Magazine and a columnist with Quest Magazine. In 1981, she joined the Toronto Star as a business writer, became a white collar crime specialist, then columnist. This led to regular commentaries on CBC and CFRB. In 1987, she joined Maclean’s, the Toronto Sun chain, and the Financial Post as a columnist and in 1988 she became a Director of the Financial Post, then in 1991 its Editor until it was sold in 1998 (and became the National Post).

Diane’s first book, Controlling Interest: Who Owns Canada? produced “the startling fact that one-third of Canada’s wealth was in the hands of just 32 families and five conglomerates” and was published in 1986 and she has written nine more. Her 2008 follow-up, Who Owns Canada Now: Old Money, New Money and The Future of Canadian Business showed that whilst much of the wealth covered in her earlier book had been inherited, 55 of the 75 wealthy families or individuals profiled were self-made. 36 of these had never been interviewed before.

Her 1996 book titled Fighting for Canada was published in the French language as Maîtres Chanteurs Chez Nous!. In it, she alleged subversive tactics and violations of human rights by members of the Quebec sovereignty movement during the 1995 Quebec referendum.

In 2013, she published Merger of the Century: Why Canada and America Should Become One Country, which argued for the economic and/or political union of Canada and the United States.

She has been a regular radio and television commentator for years on CBC, CTV, local radio stations, and various U.S. broadcast outlets. She has appeared in several documentaries, mostly about white collar crime, for ABC’s 20–20, CBC, Global TV, and various independent producers, most recently the Halcyon documentary about Bernie Madoff. She has also, for many years, been one of Canada’s busiest and most highly paid speakers, addressing hundreds of groups and individuals about the future of technology, Silicon Valley, trends, business, geopolitics, politics, trade, immigration, and markets.

She has become involved on various charitable, educational, scientific, healthcare, and corporate boards. She was the Executive in Residence at Queen’s University School of Business in 2002 and has been Visiting Professor at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management since 2008. Her other directorships include the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce since 1989, Aurizon Mines Ltd. since 2007 (taken over in 2013), Lake Shore Gold since 2013, CUSLI or the Canada-US Law Institute executive committee on border concerns since 2014, Toronto Symphony Orchestra since 2008, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences from 2010 to 2013, Ryerson University Cabinet since 2011, George Brown College Foundation, from 1997 to 2004, Care Canada from 1997 to 2006, York University East-West Exchange from 1992 to 2004, and the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry from 1987 to 1994.

Diane has interviewed, and written about, hundreds of CEOs, billionaires, heads of state, international criminals, Interpol officials, thinkers, and academics. These include Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates, George Soros, Carlos Salinas, Christine Lagarde, Pervez Musharraf, Angel Gurria, Raghuram Rajan, Larry Summers, Clayton Christensen, and dozens more.

She has also been able to observe and interview the world’s political and thought leaders for 20 years at the World Economic Forum. She has traveled and covered major news events: the fall of the Berlin Wall; the dismantling of the Soviet Union; the restructuring of the former Soviet satellite nations; the reunification of Germany; the enfranchisement of blacks and election of Nelson Mandela in South Africa; the independence of Ukraine then its Orange Revolution; the events and elections leading to free trade and NAFTA; the corrupt elections and the 1994 assassination of Presidential candidate Colosio in Mexico; the 1994 Chiapas rebellion in Mexico by Mayans including an interview in the jungle with its guerrilla leader, Subcommandante Marcos; the dangers and dreams of Mexicans and their smugglers crossing “el bordo” illegally from Tijuana to San Diego; the battle in Colombia against cocaine smugglers; the Quebec referendum battle in 1995 on separation from Canada; how the world’s biggest boiler room stock fraud took place out of Amsterdam and how the world’s biggest gold swindle, Bre-X, was pulled off in Calgary, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

She has received many writing awards: the Western Ontario Newspaper Award for environmental writing in 1976, and the National Journalism Award for energy writing in 1984, 1985, and 1987. She received the National Newspaper Award for business writing in 1982. She won the Edward Dunlop Award of Excellence in 1990 and was awarded the Journalist of the Year by the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress in 1994. She was also named Chatelaine Magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1992; won the National Citizens Coalition Freedom Award in 1995 and Woman of Achievement, Canadian Hadassah-Wizo in 1996. She has received honorary doctorates from St. Mary’s University, Niagara University, Sheridan College, and in 2013, Ryerson University.

She now divides her time between Toronto and Manhattan.

Read Diane’s list of articles and posts that she publishes on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

View her LinkedIn profile. Follow her on Facebook and visit her homepage.