Is Donna Hayes, BA’78, anything like a heroine from one of the books she publishes? Well, the CEO of Harlequin is a smart, successful, globe-trotting business leader. So, yes.
Under her leadership, Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. has shifted from romance fiction to more innovative fare, with the goal of publishing the best women’s fiction in the world. A 24-year veteran of Harlequin, Hayes is the first woman to run the company since it was founded in 1949.
Hayes has been busy helping to push her alma mater in new directions, too. A Toronto Campaign Co-Chair, she is one of the forces behind McGill’s new Mordecai Richler Writer in Residence Program. “Most major universities have a writer in residence program,” says Hayes. “This would make a significant difference to McGill and its Arts students.”
Hayes has not only donated to the program, with a matching gift from Harlequin, she also contributes her time to connect with others who might have an interest in supporting the program. The goal is to raise a $2.5-million endowment which will support two writers per year, working in either English or French in genres ranging from poetry to digital media to fiction. The endowment will also provide for eight annual graduate awards of $5,000 each.
The program is named in memory of Mordecai Richler, who received an honorary doctorate from McGill a few months before his death in 2001. “He was a giant in Canadian and world literature," says Hayes.
She has also given to the Faculty of Science to support female undergraduates. “This gift was initiated by my friend and colleague, Dr. Wendy Dobson, in honour of McGill Principal Heather Munroe-Blum,” Hayes explains. “Heather is such an exceptional person, who is so passionate about McGill.”
Why give back to McGill? Hayes’s own passion is evident in her response: “McGill is this world-recognized institution sitting right here in Montreal. It deserves our support.”
TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION to the Mordecai Richler Writer in Residence Program, please contact Elizabeth Gomery, Director of Development, Faculty of Arts, at 514-398-6590; or Debbie Dankoff, Director of Regional Major Gifts, at 514-398-4637.
Read more about the Mordecai Richler Writer in Residence Program.
“One of the things I love about McGill is how cosmopolitan it is. It’s like a United Nations. I meet these remarkable young people who come here from around the world. Private giving makes all the difference – because of it, McGill is one of the best in the world. I travel a great deal for my research and no matter where I go, everyone knows McGill.”
John M. Dealy
Professor Emeritus, Chemical Engineering