Melissa McGuirk McNeil, director of advancement, Ottawa Network for Education

Melissa McGuirk McNeil
Melissa McGuirk McNeil
Editor's Note

Each year, OBJ and the Ottawa Board of Trade honour 40 of the region’s top young entrepreneurs, business executives and civic leaders and recognize them for their professional achievements, expertise and community service.

Click here to see the full list of the 2020 recipients and click here to watch the special Ottawa Stronger Together broadcast honouring the year’s recipients.



When Melissa McGuirk McNeil joined the Ottawa Network for Education in 2015, she brought a vision of online fundraising and digital rebranding that would fundamentally change the way the organization operated.

Now five years into her role, she has raised thousands of dollars through digital campaigns such as #GivingTuesday and the JA Future Leaders Campaign that broadened ONFE’s reach to hundreds of new donors. 

McNeil has restructured many aspects of the organization, including a long-standing annual gala that was not raising the funds needed and was occupying too much time. Instead, she assisted in designing the ONFE Spark Soiree, which has raised $250,000 in three years and has become a well-known event within the city. 

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Prior to joining the ONFE team, McNeil played a pivotal role at the United Way, where she implemented major fundraising galas with the help of the Next Generation Cabinet – a team of young volunteers she founded. Together, they created Schmoozefest, a major source of funding for the United Way that still takes place 14 years later. 

McNeil’s passion for philanthropy does not end at work. She helped plan and execute Ottawa’s first Timeraiser event in 2006, which was the most successful first-time event of its kind – attracting more than 250 participants and raising in excess of $10,000 for local artists. 

She has also held positions on numerous boards across the city, including the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre and the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Ottawa.


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