Phyllis Yaffe is awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws in recognition of her exceptional business acumen and for trailblazing paths for other women to follow into the world of publishing and entertainment. This former librarian has made a lot of noise in commercial entertainment.
Ms Yaffe was born in Winnipeg and began working as a librarian in the Winnipeg Public Library in 1969. Her love of books led her, after she earned her BA from the University of Manitoba, to receive a Bachelor of Library Science degree from the University of Alberta, and a Master of Library Science from the University of Toronto. In the 1970s she was a librarian at Seneca College in Toronto, and was later the Executive Director of the Canadian Children's Book Centre.
In 1980, the Association of Canadian Publishers appointed her Executive Director. Five years later she became Vice-President of Marketing for the children's magazine Owl, a position she held until 1993 when she was approached by Alliance; they wanted her to help them expand. She did, and they did. By 1995, Ms. Yaffe was President of Showcase Television and she again helped them expand in 1996 with the successful licensing of History Television. In 1999, she became President and CEO of Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting and by 2001 she was appointed to the newly created position of Chief Executive Officer of Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting. Four years later, they appointed her Chief Executive Officer of Alliance Atlantis Communications. She was responsible for overseeing the company's worldwide operations, including the specialty channels, the international television distribution business, and the CSI franchise. She is also credited for bringing such personalities as Mike Holmes, Christine Cushing, and the Trailer Park Boys to Canadian television.
In 1999, Canadian Women in Communications presented her with the Award for Woman of the Year. The following year she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Film & Television. In 2006, she was named one of Canada's 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women's Executive Network.
She is Chairperson of Women Against Multiple Sclerosis and she has sat on the World Wildlife Fund Board, the Board of Trustees of the Ontario Science Centre, and on the United Way of Greater Toronto's 2007 Campaign Cabinet. She is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of Cineplex Entertainment and the Lead Director at Torstar Corporation, as well as a member of the Board of Directors of Astral Media Inc. and Lionsgate Entertainment. Today, she receives an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Manitoba, a premier academic institution that celebrates Ms. Yaffe’s trendsetting spirit.
Phyllis N. Yaffe