Lesley MacDonald's career showcases extraordinary women — just like her.
By Renato Pagnani | January 3, 2024
300. That’s the milestone that Lesley MacDonald was just about to hit before the COVID-19 pandemic. Once a month since its inception in 1995, MacDonald had profiled extraordinary Edmonton women on Global TV’s Woman of Vision series, which she produced and hosted. The program was even set to celebrate its 25th anniversary with a special 900-person gala dinner, which was canceled weeks before its was supposed to take place as the world stopped almost instantly.
And although Woman of Vision has been on hiatus since its last profile, which was of former RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki in February of 2020, MacDonald continues to tell stories as she works on planning how to relaunch the series—which has won three national broadcasting awards over its run. She also continues running her communications firm New ViewPoint Communications, which she also launched in 1995.
MacDonald’s passion for storytelling emerged when she was a young girl in Campbellton, New Brunswick. Her family attended Expo 67 in Montreal, and it was during the long lines at the exhibition where MacDonald discovered her fascination with people and their stories. “My family and I spent a lot of time at Expo 67 sitting on benches people-watching,” says MacDonald. “We started making up stories about where these people came from and what their lives were like. I came from a small town with very little diversity. I was exposed to so many kinds of people and kinds of stories there, and it changed my life.”
After graduating from the radio and television program at Toronto’s formerly named Ryerson University in the early 1980s, MacDonald landed at Global Television,. There she learned the ropes of the news industry as an associate producer and reporter, where she interviewed hundreds of people before moving to Edmonton in 1987 to take an anchor role.
A few years later, MacDonald was asked to “do something about women” with hopes of increasing both Global’s female audience and, as the savvy entrepreneur MacDonald is doesn’t hesitate to point out, advertisers. And so Woman of Vision was born.
“Nobody else was telling these stories,” says MacDonald. “I had a young daughter at the time and wanted the world to be different for her. I wanted her to have female role models, examples of what she could be if she dreamed big.”
Notable Women of Vision over the years include former (and so far only female) Prime Minister Kim Campbell, former premier Rachel Notley, and former Mrs. Universe, actress, and model Ashley Callingbull
And even though the series was meant to inspire little girls, MacDonald credits her daughter for helping shape the series as she grew up.
“She’s had input all along the way,” beams MacDonald. “She’s grown up with these stories. I would go to her and say, ‘We’re talking about this person, and this is the angle I’m thinking about. What do you think?’ It helped make the show better.”
But even though Woman of Vision has been dormant for the past few years, MacDonald hasn’t. Over the pandemic, she has hosted monthly panels on mental health. And now that the world has opened up again, she’s resumed her work as a prolific speaker and emcee, hosting and moderating events across the country while balancing the consulting work she does with New ViewPoint. Woman of Vision of course remains a priority, even if she’s got the privilege of taking time to plot out its next 25 years — perhaps reaching 500 women profiled isn’t out of the question.
“I still have a lot of work do to,” she says. “I have too much energy to stop.”