150 Profiles: Firoozeh Radjai

As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector.

Name: Firoozeh Radjai

Current role in the sector: 
Director of Philanthropy, YWCA Toronto

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector: 22 years
Firoozeh Radjai profile picture

Can you describe a defining moment in your career working/volunteering in the non-profit sector?

Growing up, my father anonymously supported a number of families in the poorest parts of Tehran, Iran. When I was 12 years old, he took me with him to deliver his monthly donation of cash, food and other supplies. We were not rich but we had a comfortable life. As I walked with my father in muddy alleys and visited families living in rooms made of cardboard and other salvaged materials, I became extremely upset about the inequities that created such suffering. This was the start of my commitment to both fighting for social justice and using philanthropy to transform the lives of vulnerable populations.

Describe your desk/workspace.

I have a lovely office with lots of natural light, an antique YWCA sign hanging on the wall and usually some flowers on the window sill.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?

There are too many blogs and websites and newsletters to cite but some of my favourites are:

What matters to you or what are the questions you feel the sector needs to be thinking about?

Equity, justice and inclusion – these key issues have always mattered to me. Women and girls, especially Indigenous women and women of colour, continue to face multiple systemic barriers to lives free from violence, poverty, and injustice. My focus remains on fighting to break down those barriers. Philanthropy plays a big role in connecting those who want to change the world for the better with those who can and I am pleased that our sector is moving towards thinking about collective impact and inclusion.

Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at philanthropistprofiles@gmail.com

Firoozeh Radjai is the Director of Philanthropy at YWCA Toronto, the largest multi-service women’s organization in Canada. She holds a number of undergraduate and graduate degrees with honours from universities in Britain and Canada and is the recipient of distinguished awards for research and writing excellence. She also speaks five languages.