A TEAM FOR YOU
DONALD CHEN, BA, CMA
President and Executive Director
Donald Chen came to Canada as an MBA student in 1966.
He studied accounting and business management as a CA student at the McMaster University and Queen’s University. He received his CMA designation in 1974.
He served in both Ontario and Canada’s public service, but his greatest contributions were made outside his professional life. He served in leadership positions for countless voluntary service organizations including the Chinese Community Centre of Ontario, an umbrella organization of 39 group members from 1997 to 2005.
In 2010 he created the Jia Hua Centre in Toronto (Chinese Canadian Community Service Centre of Ontario) dedicating it primarily to serve the seniors and youth in an area where such services were lacking.
Donald helped erect a social and cultural network for Ontario’s Chinese community continuously, persistently and with excellence for nearly 50 long years.
Mr. Chen is the founder of the Chinese Cultural Association of Toronto (CCAT), a Registered Canadian Charity honoring the impactful legacy of Canadian Charities.
The focus of CCAT develops and inspires organizational skills that strengthen cultural diversity and community development through education programs that demonstrate future civic responsibility and promote lifelong learning for the youth and the seniors.
Seeking to create a sustainable role in learning and the community, Mr. Chen embraces leadership through unique vision and individual values that promote a higher level of thinking and lifelong learning beyond the classrooms.
He worked side by side with community partners (currently more than 24 community-based service organizations) openly and collaboratively. CCAT’s hands-on approach focuses on solutions using various strategies ensuring organizational development to align with the communities Mr. Chen and CCAT serve, striving for a new level of effectiveness and stability that helps to enrich the learning experience and teach civic responsibility and youth Leadership.
CCAT invests in fostering the need for inherent power of charitable giving, leaving a legacy of a caring community through alliance and assistance of creative services in Metro Toronto and beyond.
Since 2010, CCAT serves seniors across the spectrum of culture, age, race, income levels and abilities; instilling the importance of giving back to the community while nurturing healthy development that inspires creative vision and passion for a lasting change in Toronto’s Chinese community.
Please visit www.chineseculturetoronto.com for details of CCAT’s programs and Mr. Chen’s annual report and contents of his Electronic Newsletters to members.
Here is a summary of how Mr. Chen contributed and inspired action through encouragement of active education for youth while simultaneously addressing community concerns, needs and hopes.
From 1997 to 2005, Mr. Chen created a Youth group in Toronto Chinatown at 84 August Avenue, resulting in two students from this group having been admitted to Harvard University and one student admitted to Oxford University. Programs included Youth Public Speaking Competition in English, Youth Summer Camps, and the Youth Talent Show Case at the Toronto City Hall.
From 2005 to 2012 Mr. Chen organized the Canada Day celebration at the Toronto Chinatown Centre engaged both youth and seniors in active participation. The mission of this annual event has been aiming at citizenship development among Chinese Canadians. An estimated 24,000 residents and visitors to Toronto Chinatown were served in the last 8 years.
During the years 2005 to 2012, at least four (4) innovative community service solutions were created as follows:
On-line enquiries for seniors and youth at Laowahqiao@gmail.com
Free income tax preparation for seniors and lower income families.
Job training programs for women and youth.
Certificate courses for food handling workers enabling them to find suitable employment in the hospitality industry.
Likewise, during the same time, about $100K community outreach donations were made to CCAT which indicated overwhelming community support.
Mr. Chen’s contribution reached all corners of our community in the following aspects:
Presenter of Taiwanese Music Festival since 1993.
Year 2000 Cultural Extravaganza with financial support from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Culture ($75,000) entitled Maple Dragon Tour of Ontario.
Staged the Yellow River Cantata at the Massey Hall in 2002 with co-chair, the Late Mr. Tony Wong, MPP
Brought cultural performances to remote area in Ontario including Sudbury annually from 2000 to 2017.
Brought cultural performances from Taiwan to CNE in 1999. 2000 and 2001.
Benefited 50,000 plus residents from Toronto and Ontario
Founder of Newcomers Service Centre in Mississauga in 1999 with annual grant from the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Citizenship in the amount of $40,000 annually.
Founder of Chinese Canadian Community Service Centre in Scarborough Village in 2010.
Benefited 3,000 plus newcomers.
In association with the Happy Life Wealth Management Co; Ltd. conducted more than 80 Income Tax Workshops for new immigrants from coast to coast
from 2013 to 2020.
Benefited 4,000 plus newcomers.
Volunteerism and Citizenship Development:
Built a website to promote volunteerism in 2000 (Ontario Ministry of Culture and Citizenship Grant $100,080.-)
Initiated the Maple Dragon Walk on Canada Day in 2000
In 2006, right after the Prime Minister apologized to the Chinese community on the Head Tax Redress, Mr. Chen co-produced a Documentary film entitled
“From Gold Mountain to Mainstream” to highlight the achievements and recognition of the Chinese community.
Founder of Toronto Chinatown Seniors’ Activity Centre in 2007
Organizer of Canada Day Celebration at Toronto Chinatown from 1997 to 2018 with funding support from the Department of Canadian Heritage.
In 2010, Mr. Chen co-organized a “Historical Exhibition of Chinese in Canada” during the Chinese New Year Celebration at the CNE. Both the Honorable Minister Jason Kenney and the Right Honorable Prime Minister, Steven Harper was in attendance.
Benefited 35,000 Toronto residents who participated in all above noted events.
Conducted Youth Leadership Development Camp since 1999
Conducted Youth Public Speaking Contest in English since 1999
Founder of Chinese Association of Toronto for Heritage Among Youth (CATHAY)
Benefitted 1500 youth and their parents.
Reaching other community organizations
Co-organized the Mississauga Carassauga Multicultural Festival
Participated in most multicultural activities including the Asian Heritage Month by organizing Music Concerts at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts every other year since 2002.
Benefitted 20,000 members in the diverse groups.
Mr. Chen has been trained as a Certified Management Accountant and a professional manager. He is a likable and approachable person.
When he was a senior manager with Canada Revenue Agency he was ranked as a first-class manager by his superiors and staff.
He was known as an excellent communicator; in that, he communicated effectively with his fellow volunteers and set their goals and tracks the progress of their learning program. He also worked to close the gap in their knowledge and skills. He often said to his volunteers that “Knowledge is Power” without it you will not be able to meet the challenges of your time.
He set up a mentorship program to enable his volunteers to gain exposure, experiences, and relationships both inside and outside their own organization. He often encouraged his team of volunteers to diversify their experiences and exposures to develop their leadership capabilities.
To ensure and foster ongoing growth of his team of volunteers, Mr. Chen implemented a monthly lunch-and-learn program. He recruited volunteers to lead a one-hour program and buy some pizzas or sandwiches for the conference room.
Mr. Chen knew that a great way to make people feel appreciated is to ask them for their opinion and ideas. Mr. Chen always goes around the table at each meeting and asking, “Do you have anything you’d like to add?” or “What do you think about this approach?”
Mr. Chen often thanks volunteers in front of the other volunteers or “cc” the volunteers if he is doing it in writing.
Most charities face program and funding challenges on the daily basis. CCAT struggled with both challenges in recent years.
Mr. Chen initiated several important measures to overcome these challenges:
Signed a five-year lease for unit 131, 70 Silver Star Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario as headquarters for the charity in 2010.
Expanded the charity’s programs to include newcomers, youth, and seniors’ services since 2010.
Searched for funding for the new programs as funding for arts and music dried out.
Launched a website to publicize the Charity’s programs.
Published quarterly electronic Newsletters to keep the members informed of program results.
Mr. Chen mobilized the members in his community to participate and exercise their care of their charity. In the end, the members have shown care enough to do whatever it takes to help the charity’s program succeed. In fact, it seems to Mr. Chen that the more people who have a vested interest in seeing a program succeed, the more likely it is to happen, which is the key to his success.
Mr. Chen has demonstrated that he is not only a risk taker but also a successful risk manager.
Mr. Chen inspired people by helping them reach their own goals and potentials – to help them become what they have been created to be. Mr. Chen saw extraordinarily little difference between volunteer and paid workers in the context of reaching goals and potential.
He did such a good job that one of his employees was promoted to a position to become his boss.
Mr. Chen considered engagement critical because volunteering in the charity sector was ‘a huge commitment’.
To seek the commitment, Mr. Chen highlights the importance of activities in which volunteers will be involved and help them understand the results and outcomes of their efforts. Mr. Chen believes that, it is vital for people to connect to a vision of what is possible, and a vision of what influence they might have on the lives of others.
Mr. Chen used multiple media means to highlight achievements, experiences, and successes of volunteers. He believes that when people see the achievements of others, and how they relate to the people they were serving, it often inspires people to believe they can make a difference themselves.
To tap into the stories of previous and current volunteers to spread the good word and empower others to act, Mr. Chen encourages volunteers to share their stories to identify role models, and therefore a source of inspiration for all.
蘇水明 SIMON SO, BSW, MA, MDiv
Bachelor of Social Work for Shue Yan University of Hong Kong, Master of Arts in Recreation and Sports Management of University of Hong Kong and Victoria University of Melbourne.