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Heather Conway Named New Hot Docs Executive Director & Co-President

Hot Docs Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Heather Conway, former executive vice president of English services at CBC/Radio-Canada, has been named the organization’s new executive director and co-president. Heather was selected for the position after a months-long international search following the departure of former executive director Brett Hendrie in March 2021. She will assume responsibility for the strategic leadership and management of the annual Festival, industry programs and other special year-round initiatives starting November 4.

As the organization’s lead executive officer, Heather will collaborate as a peer leader with Hot Docs co-president Chris McDonald who oversees the direction of Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, Hot Docs at Home VOD platform and other select funding programs and projects. Heather will also collaborate with long-time Hot Docs directors Alan Black and Erin Lau who have helped grow the cinema, organization, and strategic community partnerships, and who have both been recently named to the new executive team as managing directors.

“Heather is a visionary leader who brings with her a sharp intellect, acute strategic skill and an impressive breadth of experience,” said board co-chair Lalita Krishna. “At CBC she embraced independent documentary filmmakers and championed diverse stories and voices. Speaking on behalf of my co-chair Robin Mirsky and the entire board, we’re excited that Heather will be leading Hot Docs into its next chapter, and we are eager to work with her to realize the boundless opportunities ahead.”

“Hot Docs is a hugely valuable cultural institution as famous for its down-to-earth friendliness and inclusion as it is for its commitment to documentary filmmakers and their important work,” said Heather Conway. “I’m thrilled to be joining the team that has so successfully grown the organization into one with such impact and relevance.”

Heather is an accomplished media and financial services executive who was the head of CBC English Services from 2013-2018. During her tenure she led CBC’s digital transformation resulting in it becoming the number-one Canadian digital media company and launched CBC Gem, the public broadcaster’s streaming service. She refocused the CBC’s programming bringing critical and audience acclaim with shows such as Schitt’s Creek, Kim’s Convenience, Baroness Von Sketch, Anne with an E, Alias Grace, Caught, and The Book of Negroes, and put arts programming back on the network. She shifted the focus of documentary programming from in-house to independent POV documentaries. In radio, CBC became the number-one podcaster in the country during her tenure and reached record high audience numbers in music and talk.

Prior to CBC, Heather ran all non-curatorial/development operations at the AGO.

A Top 40 Under 40 winner, Heather was named Woman of the Year by Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) in 2017. She has been honoured with a Bonham Centre Award by the University of Toronto’s Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies and in 2019 was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by Leaders to be Proud Of. A director on the boards of Amex Bank of Canada and Great West Lifeco, Heather has also served on numerous charitable boards, and currently sits on the advisory boards of Samara and The Walrus.



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