A long-time champion for women’s leadership, gender equality, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mary Coyle has forged a distinguished career in the post-secondary education and non-profit sectors, with a focus on international and local development.
She holds a diploma in French Language from the Université de Besançon in France and a Bachelor of Arts in Languages and Literature with a major in French and a minor in Spanish from the University of Guelph. After working for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as a Cuso International cooperant in Botswana, she earned a Master of Arts in Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph. She subsequently worked as a rural development advisor in Indonesia and later to support two State Islamic Universities develop their community engagement strategies.
For the next decade as Executive Director of Calmeadow, Ms. Coyle helped the organization pioneer the creation of the world’s first commercial micro finance bank, BancoSol, in Bolivia and establish the First Peoples Fund to provide micro loans to First Nations and Métis communities in Canada.
In 1997, she joined St. Francis Xavier University, serving as Vice President and Director of the school’s Coady International Institute, a world-renowned centre of excellence in community-based development and leadership education. During her tenure, the Coady International Institute grew significantly, enhancing its global education and innovation agenda and expanding programming for women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples.
Since 2014, Ms. Coyle has worked as the Executive Director of the Frank McKenna Centre for Leadership at St. Francis Xavier University, a centre devoted to developing student leadership. She also continues to work as an advisor and facilitator for various organizations, including the Haitian Centre for Leadership and Excellence and the Friends United Indigenous Arts and Culture Initiative. Mary Coyle played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, and the Indian School of Microfinance for Women.
She has 3 daughters, Emilie, Lauren, and Lindelwa, and 7 grandchildren.