In Memoriam: Brenda Zimmerman

Brenda ZimmermanOn Tuesday, December 16, the field of social innovation in Canada lost a much loved leader with the early and untimely passing of Brenda Zimmerman.

Her friends at Social Innovation Generation, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and the Tamarack Institute, will remember Brenda for her brilliance, her deep humanity, and her infectious sense of humour. For successive cohorts of students in the McGill-McConnell and Waterloo Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation programs, Brenda, along with Frances Westley, provided a transformational learning experience. Who can forget her explaining the difference between simple (‘baking a cake’), complicated (‘sending a rocket to the moon’) and complex (raising a child)? She gave us Edgeware, a fundamental text for understanding complexity, and along with Frances Westley and Michael Quinn Patton, wrote Getting to Maybe, which stands as a seminal volume on social innovation. As well as a valued collaborator, she was a caring mentor and a trusted friend. As one of her close colleagues put it: “the world has lost a beautiful, bright light.”

We are so sad to lose such a vital and generous member of the social innovation field, and our thoughts are with Brenda’s family, colleagues and friends at this difficult time.

A web page on the SiG website has been created for people who wish to share memories and tributes to Brenda. Visit it here.

~Stephen Huddart