Marva Wisdom: Community Motivator and Leader
What is leadership? Simply put, leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal. Community leader Marva Wisdom is an involved activist who believes deeply in building inclusive spaces where all people belong.
Wisdom moved to Guelph in 1985 as a young mother looking to raise her family. She quickly became a community leader. Her daughters’ school was old and run-down, and Wisdom and others fought to build a new school. Wisdom soon realized that she could make a difference in her community.
Wisdom is committed to the motto: "Equality of opportunity." Through her company Wisdom Consulting, she provides her clients with the tools and encouragement they need through leadership, engagement, diversity, and inclusivity. Currently, Wisdom is the current Director for the Black Experience Project: “A groundbreaking research study of the ‘lived experience’ of individuals across the Greater Toronto Area who self-identify as Black or of African heritage.”
Like many women who face adversity in the workplace, Wisdom, as a Black woman, has been told to “wait her turn” or been dismissed as “over-qualified.” She has used these experiences to propel her work in community engagement, showing that by valuing everyone, you can create an inclusive community.
Wisdom’s dedicated volunteer roles include the Vice-Chair of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, Director of the Rotary Club of Guelph, Director of the YMCA/YWCA of Guelph, Trustee of the MacDonald Stewart Art Centre (now Art Gallery of Guelph), founding Chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (Guelph Chapter), and founding President of the Guelph Black Heritage Society. Wisdom was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013, recognized as a YWCA Women of Distinction in 2002, received a Volunteer of the Year Award for the Liberal Party of Canada, and won the Service Excellence Award from The Co-operators Insurance.
Wisdom stresses the urgency of achieving equality now, as a community, a country, and the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has made all people feel like things are out of control. Wisdom says that minority groups have felt like this for centuries: “We can’t go where we want to go, when we want to go there, without worrying about our safety.” She hopes that the pandemic will inspire change for equality. At Guelph’s Solidarity Protest in support of Black Lives Matter on June 6th, 2020, she encouraged others to “act out and speak out” to help end systemic racism.
Wisdom works to empower minority communities and to expand Guelph’s social equality. She committed to inspiring change for generations to come in Guelph, in Canada, and around the world.
Photograph of Marva Wisdom wearing a red scarf.