Ersilia Serafini

In 2001, Ersilia Serafini took her degree in biology and environmental science to the Clean Air Foundation (cleanairfoundation.org) - a not-for-profit which creates programs that achieve emission reductions - and became its executive director in 2004. Since then Serafini has been instrumental in partnering with governments, NGOs and companies including GM, London Hydro, Future Shop, GE and Honeywell to give corporate partners branded programs that engage the public, and good ROI to boot.

In 2001, Ersilia Serafini took her degree in biology and environmental science to the Clean Air Foundation (cleanairfoundation.org) – a not-for-profit which creates programs that achieve emission reductions – and became its executive director in 2004. Since then Serafini has been instrumental in partnering with governments, NGOs and companies including GM, London Hydro, Future Shop, GE and Honeywell to give corporate partners branded programs that engage the public, and good ROI to boot.

The foundation’s projects include Car Heaven, which recycles inefficient vehicles and donates the proceeds to charity; Cool Shops, in which street teams install compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs at businesses; and Mow Down Pollution, in which people bring their old lawn mowers to Home Depot. Donors receive rebates, gift cards, tax receipts and sometimes $1,000 toward a new car, while the programs have removed 60,000 polluting clunkers from the roads and thousands of tonnes of emissions from the air, saved energy and raised $2 million for charity.

‘In a short period of time, Ersilia has established herself as a leader in her sector, and an icon in bridging the gap between business and the environment,’ says nominator Ian Morton. ‘She manages 10 staff and 200 contractors, and has increased the bottom line fourfold since 2004, making the CAF one of the largest environmental organizations in Canada. She’s developed many of the leading social brands in the area and exudes knowledge and marketing savvy.’

The CAF’s latest efforts include expanding its mercury collection strategy, which extracts toxic switches from old cars and thermostats, and delving into solar energy technologies.

Serafini is on maternity leave, but Car Heaven program manager Fatima Dharsee says of her, ‘Ersilia is the kind of leader who brings out the strengths of those around her. She is decisive and strategic, and not only provides us with support and direction, but encourages us to integrate our convictions into our work.’

‘It’s hard to identify anyone else in the sector who in such a short time and at a young age (30) has so quickly dominated her space,’ says Morton. ‘Ersilia is a prodigy who will have a significant impact in the marketing arena.’