Tonya Surman is a social entrepreneur, community animator and mayhem choreographer. With a passion for bringing to life world-changing projects, Tonya is the founding CEO of the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), a co-working space, community and launchpad for people who are changing the world, with three locations in Toronto and a location in New York City. CSI provides its members with the tools they need to accelerate their success and amplify their social impact.

Tonya’s work fundamentally embodies collaboration, entrepreneurship and change. The Centre for Social Innovation is the first of its kind in the world – a pioneer in the co-working movement, a driver behind the move toward social enterprise and most recently, an innovator in the creation of a citizen-based Community Bond – a practical social finance tool that was created to purchase CSI Annex – CSI’s second location. Since then, CSI has launched its own crowdfunding platform – Catalyst – and Catapult, a microloan program for social enterprise.

Tonya co-founded and chaired the Ontario Nonprofit Network for 5 years, is a founding trustee in the Toronto Awesome Foundation and has been a leader within the Ontario Social Economy Roundtable and the Social Enterprise Council of Canada. Tonya was instrumental in the replication of the Enterprising Nonprofits Program in Toronto and the rollout of Tech Soup Canada, among other initiatives.

Previous to CSI, Tonya was the founding Partnership Director for the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment, whose work, in part, led to a new legislative framework to manage chemicals and the banning of BPA in baby bottles. Tonya has been creating and leading social ventures since 1987 and has built her body of knowledge around multi-sectoral collaboration and entrepreneurship for social change.

Paul joined the Centre for Social Innovation as a member a few months ago and has benefitted from the space immensely. He was excited to sit down with Tonya and learn the history of CSI, her role in building the core concepts of the organization and what motivates her to innovate.

Follow Tonya on Twitter: @tonyasurman.

Centre for Social Innovation’s website:

CSI on Facebook:

CSI on Twitter (Toronto): @csiTO.

CSI on Twitter (New York): @csiSL.