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Wpg Free Press: U of M’s new chancellor Anne Mahon determined to make a difference

November 12, 2019 — 

As the Winnipeg Free Press reports:

For Anne Mahon, it boils down to a question of faith.

When she was asked last year to become the University of Manitoba’s 14th chancellor, the Winnipeg writer, volunteer and philanthropist turned to prayer for guidance.

Raised a Protestant, she converted to Catholicism when she married Paul Mahon in 1987, the same year she graduated from the U of M’s faculty of human ecology with a major in marketing of apparel and textiles and a minor in business.

“It shapes every day,” the 54-year-old mother of three confides when asked about the role faith plays in her life. “I try to have it shape every decision. I pray daily. I prayed very hard before I took the chancellor’s job. The first book came from having a spiritual vision. Some people would roll their eyes, but it’s the truth.”

That’s the kind of person the newly minted chancellor is — she’s kind, compassionate, outgoing and forthright. Ask her a straight question and she’ll give you a straight answer. She calls herself a pragmatic extrovert, a curious but friendly person who is passionate about family, food, Victoria Beach, social justice and helping people living on the fringe.

The prospect of being named the ceremonial head of the university — a sort of goodwill ambassador responsible for conferring degrees and diplomas — never crossed her mind until she got a surprise phone call last year.

“I was curious what would it be like, how would it broaden my life. I also felt it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And community is important to me, and serving the community. I thought it was a very surprising way to serve,” says Mahon, whose three-year term began on June 1, when she succeeded Harvey Secter, who had served as chancellor since 2010.

The journey to becoming chancellor is “a super-wiggly road,” says Mahon, laughing as she shares a large salad and pizza at Casa Grande Pizzeria on Sargent Avenue. “I wouldn’t have been asked to be chancellor if I hadn’t written those books.”

As an award-winning author, Mahon has become a champion for immigrant and refugee families in Manitoba. Her two books tell the stories of the disempowered, giving voice to the voiceless.

Read the full Free Press story here.

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