Jodi Kovitz is the founder and CEO of #movethedial, a global movement that she launched in January 2017 and is dedicated to advancing the participation of women in tech.
Jodi has been recognized by the Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women (2017) and by Women of Influence as one of Canada's Top 25 most Powerful Women (2018). She is a member of the SickKids Foundation Capital Campaign Cabinet and serves on the advisory board of Mayor John Tory’s Innovation Council. She was also the co-chair of Mayor Tory’s re-election campaign in 2018.
In honour of International Women's Day, we are celebrating five Torontonians who inspire us and who are each making a lasting impact in their own unique way.
Elle: What’s been your biggest adventure to date?
Jodi: One of my greatest life adventures was climbing Machu Picchu in Peru. It was both breathtaking and incredibly challenging for me as a metaphor for life because I got very sick from the altitude so I really was not well the whole four days. But you are up there in the mountains and you have no choice but to keep walking and putting one foot in front of the other. It was beautiful and at one moment in the journey I was in a valley by myself and I felt more connected to the universe than I ever have. And the message I got was one foot in front of the other you can do anything. And that really has become a moment and a metaphor for my life and my business.
Elle: Who or what inspires you?
Jodi: One of my early influences was Golda Meir. She was prime minister of Israel long before women were in leadership roles like that typically. I read her autobiography called My Life years ago. I recently read Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming and she equally inspires me. I think it’s really about watching women who can be powerful and make positive change in the world yet also have humanity. I try to teach my daughter that none of us are perfect humans and all of us have our own struggles. But resiliency is what can drive your impact and your ability to make positive change.
My grandmother, Muriel Kovitz, really inspired me and still does. She is ninety three and just had her birthday. I lived in Toronto and she lived in Calgary from when I was very young. She was on a public board at that time and she also was the Chancellor of the University of Calgary which so many years ago was quite a remarkable feat. It still would be today. She made time to have dinner with me once a month every time she came for a board meeting in Toronto. She would don her Order of Canada pin and we talked business and politics and life lessons. That really piqued for me what impact legacy looks like and really set the bar for what I needed to achieve for myself. It never was an option for me not to have big aspirations.
Elle: What drives you?
Jodi: Doing good and leaving the world a better place than I found it. This has always driven me since I was a little girl. I started doing community work when I was sixteen, serving breakfast to underprivileged children at six-thirty in the morning on Wednesdays in high school. That has always motivated me and I’ve wanted to do good in the world. I have done that throughout my life in different forms.
My current mission is really driven by a desire to create a world where my daughter’s gender doesn’t impact her career choices. That’s my work drive. The work that I do with Sick Kids Hospital is really about making any child have access to the best health care system and making it as easy to navigate as possible for their parents.
Elle: One person living or dead you’d like to have a conversation with.
Jodi: Gandhi. I just admire him so much and there’s so many lessons I could learn from him. If I could host a table Gandhi would be at it and I certainly would love Oprah to be at the table. She’s been a remarkable inspiration to me always throughout my life.
Elle: First word that comes to your mind if I ask you to describe yourself.
Jodi: Joyful. I feel so blessed.
Elle: What is your favorite word or phrase?
Jodi: I lived in Italy for a year so ‘allora’ is my favorite Italian word. It just means ‘and so’. When I lived in Italy I said it all the time and I just love it.
Elle: Finish this sentence, I know for sure...
Jodi: Life is beautiful.
Elle: At Zvelle, we believe we are in the business of inspiring women to use their voice through fashion. What does using your voice mean to you?
Jodi: Moving the dial for future generations of girls and women. I believe that in order to attain your dreams it is dependent on self-love and self-confidence and so to me the art of fashion and choosing that expression ties directly to that. It’s not what others think about how I dress, it’s about how I feel when I leave my house so that I can go out as my best self.
Photography: Mark Binks