The loss of a true leader

By Barb Willet

The news of Brenda Zimmerman’s death has left us speechless and shocked.  Brenda, Director of the Health Industry Management Program at theSchulich School of Business, York University, was a former member of our Board of Directors, and longtime supporter of the organization. She was also married to the late Bryan Hayday, our founding Executive Director.  As a Canadian leader in applying systems thinking and chaos theory to the health sector, our work has been influenced by her innovative, creative reflections.

Brenda inspired us to challenge our thinking about organizational change throughout our sector. Her book, “Getting to Maybe”, which she co-authored, is considered a must-read for anyone interested in the dynamics of social innovation.  Most recently, Brenda gave the keynote address at our 2012 Health Leadership gala.  Her talk was appropriately titled, Dynamic Leadership for Complex and Changing Times.

We will miss Brenda in countless ways, not only as a systems change leader, but as a wonderful person.  Brenda had an enthusiasm, grace and sense of humour that was irresistible to all who knew her.  Our thoughts are with Brenda’s husband, her children and extended family at this very difficult time.   We have lost a champion, a visionary and a friend.

Brenda Zimmerman with Wendy Barnes and Suzanne Schwenger