Listen in to hear Fiona McKean, co-founder of the Thistledown Foundation, and alum Denise Lee discuss how decarbonization can help to better our planet, technological solutions that have been created and why you should care!

Fiona McKean

A social enterprise entrepreneur, philanthropist, and community-builder, Fiona came from a diplomat family and grew up travelling the world, always coming back to Ottawa as a beloved home base.

Fiona and her husband, Tobi Lütke (Shopify), are passionate about curtailing the worst impacts of climate change. In January 2019, they launched Thistledown, a private organization with a mandate to advance decarbonization solutions by helping to prove, scale, and commercialize climate technology. In light of the Covid-19 global pandemic, Thistledown quickly pivoted its team to fund academic research projects for therapies and vaccine development, help improve the domestic supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE) and contribute to global vaccine distribution.

Fiona’s leadership and community commitment are also demonstrated through her work as owner of The Opinicon, where she led the shuttered resort through extensive renovations. The Opinicon’s restoration ignited renewal in the surrounding Rideau Lake system and the restaurant continues to be an engine for social growth, protecting community heritage and sourcing local produce for its kitchen.

Denise Lee

Denise Lee is a senior economics and environmental science undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, currently working at Tesla as a Canadian policy intern. A green tech and policy enthusiast, she is researching the scalability of direct air capture technologies and has co-authored a paper regarding ecotourism development in the Amazon. Denise also co-founded Our Poles Our Planet, a nation-wide conference series dedicated to ensuring the sustainability of the polar regions after venturing to the Arctic herself. She is a former chair of the Vancouver School Board Sustainability Conference, one of Canada’s 2020 Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalists, a 2019 BP Advancing Energy Scholar and a 2018 Top 30 Under 30 Environmental Educator.


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