The Harbinger Foundation founder, Joan VanDuzer, grew up on a farm in London Ontario in a family committed to philanthropy. As an adult, she provided vision and leadership as President of The Lawson Foundation, a foundation begun by her grandfather.
Joan’s appetite for adventure and travel lead her around the globe and brought her face to face with hardship and challenges faced by the world’s poorest people. In 1995, she decided to form her own family foundation believing that strategic grants, given at the right time and put in the right hands, could make a difference particularly in the developing world.
Her family of three (adult) children and late husband, Justice John VanDuzer, joined her initiative with the goal of working to improve the lives of others. The Board of Directors currently includes her three children and one son-in-law.
For more than 20 years The Harbinger Foundation has supported Canadian organizations working to build healthy communities internationally. This includes a 10-year commitment (2005-2015) to global water, sanitation and hygiene issues culminating in a 3-year initiative, WASH Canada.
In retirement, Joan was drawn back to her roots on a farm, establishing the Mansfield Heritage Farm. She uses this organic farm to nurture initiatives including: beekeeping, CSA organic delivery baskets, participation in community farmer’s markets, hosting organic farming internships for young people from around the world, educational workshops for school-age kids and the occasional gourmet cooking evenings. For Joan, it has been a transformational experience to begin to understand the challenge of providing fresh, healthy, affordable food and the lack of knowledge/education that exists regarding our food systems. These experiences has fed back into The Harbinger Foundation’s charitable work.
In 2016, The Harbinger Foundation Board decided to focus efforts on a crisis within Canada, the struggles of our own Indigenous communities. Harbinger’s efforts are focused on two areas: food security & nutrition; and youth & culture.
In 2006 The Harbinger Foundation received an award for “The Outstanding Foundation” by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) in the GTA.