Remembering a Pioneer

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A life of firsts, a life of battles, and a life that lives on in the lives changed, Doreen McKenzie-Sanders, C.M. had a lasting impact on the Ivey Business School, as a forerunner for women in journalism, and as a pioneer for women in business. She passed away on Remembrance Day, November 11, 2017, at the age of 96.

After graduating with an Honours BA in Journalism from Western, she chose business as her area of interest. Doreen began her career writing for The Vancouver Daily Province and The Financial Post. She was the first woman elected president of the Business Press Editors Association and to the board of the Canadian Business Press Association.

Doreen arrived at Ivey in 1963, working with four consecutive deans on projects relating to the School’s publications.

She produced the first edition of Ivey’s history called Learning to Lead, but affectionately known as the “Purple Book,” which chronicled the years up to 1995. The book was updated in 2013 to celebrate nine decades of business education at Ivey.

At the request of then dean Carol Stephenson, Doreen wrote the introduction to the updated version.

“When I joined Ivey as Dean in 2003, Doreen called me to offer her insights, encouragement, and support,” Carol says. “Doreen sent me the original version of Learning to Lead, the history of the business school, which she wrote. She wanted me to understand the rich history and contributions of many who had built the School over many decades. She wanted me to make sure that we updated the book so history would not be lost.”

Doreen also published and edited The Business Quarterly from 1963 to 1988 (100 continuous editions of the print book), taking it from a fledgling magazine to one of Canada’s leading management publications. It lives on online as Ivey Business Journal.

She also taught magazine publishing at Western and Harvard/Radcliffe. A pioneering feminist, she took pride in editing the School’s newsletter, Women in Management, designed to encourage women to attain business degrees in pursuit of their career ambitions.

“The School was not welcoming to women when I arrived in 1963. There were no women on faculty. Even harder to believe there were no female students,” she writes.

Related link: Read her introduction to Learning to Lead online at

Carol recounts a story from Doreen’s memoirs on the reaction to a woman as editor of the School’s business magazine.

“She related that when she was hired, it was suggested they publish her name on the magazine’s masthead with the initial “D” instead of Doreen. ‘It was reasoned that, if it were known a woman was editing the journal, it would lose credibility. However, the magazine was about to lose me if the initial was insisted upon. Doreen, I remained, but not without a battle; one of many battles to come. Such were the prejudices of the times.’ ”

“Doreen McKenzie-Sanders was a force in the business world and a mentor and champion for women long before women started entering the business world in any significant way,” says Carol. “Barely five-feet tall, she was a gale-force wind of change throughout her 25 years at the Business School.”

And beyond.

Honours received

On retiring and moving to Vancouver, B.C., she co-founded a not-for-profit organization, “Women in the Lead,” aimed at placing more qualified Canadian women on corporate boards. The work also included a bilingual directory of more than 800 qualified women.

A recipient of several life-time achievement awards, Doreen was made a member of The Order of Canada in 1987 and was further honored with the Governor General’s medal in Commemoration of the Persons Case in 2006.

After a gift from Doreen to the School, Ivey named the MBA Women in Management Club after her, which was a fitting tribute to the woman, who, as an avid mentor, was always eager to pass on her knowledge and wisdom to young people.

“We named the Women in Management student club after Doreen and, at 95, she still wanted to know what our female students were doing,” says Carol.

“I wish that everyone at Ivey could have had the opportunity to meet Doreen. She loved the business school and was a force for change, especially as it related to women. I will always remember Doreen as a woman of courage, enthusiasm, and wisdom. I will miss her dearly.”

Dr. D. Carlton Williams, Western’s President (left) adds the University’s congratulations to The Business Quarterly on its 40th anniversary. Former dean Jack Wettlaufer and Doreen McKenzie-Sanders look on.

2 responses on “Remembering a Pioneer

  1. Barbara Fraser

    As one of the first female students at Ivey in 1969 , I remember Doreen Sanders so well. She immediately took me under her wing and had the amazing ability to combine her motherly ways with her business focus. She was an inspiration to everyone, but especially to the young women she nurtured for so many years. She truly is someone who made a difference in the lives of others, including mine.
    Barbara Fraser HBA 71


    I worked in the School in an administrative capacity for four years after graduation from 1969 to 1973 and I expect that this picture was taken in that period or shortly thereafter.
    Doreen’s efforts through the BQ and other activities contributed significantly to the ongoing connection between the school and HBA, MBA and Management Program participants. Hard to measure, but invaluable in my opinion. The School owes her a lot.

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