Putting passion into action – meet Lianne Black

Lianne Black. Photo Barry Samuel.
Lianne Black. Photo Barry Samuel.

You could say the stars were aligning when Lianne Black heard about the opportunity to join the board at Cycle Toronto. Lianne has long been passionate about social justice, climate action and environmental conservation, and she just happens to be a life-long, four-season, cyclist. What’s more, she has built her career as a professional fundraiser for organizations like World Animal Protection, and is currently director of development with the Canadian chapter of the Jane Goodall Institute. Cycle Toronto, which advocates for a healthy, safe and vibrant cycling city for all, became a registered charity in 2021 and needed fundraising expertise on its board.

A native East Yorker

“Cycle Toronto is all about safe and accessible streets for everyone and I think they do such a great job presenting the issues positively in what can be a very polarizing world,” says Lianne. She grew up in East York and has always biked around the city, not getting a driver’s licence until her late 40s. Her career took her to Australia for several years, but when she moved back to downtown Toronto in 2018, she was impressed by how far the city had come in terms of cycling infrastructure. Even so, relocating to Leaside also showed her that more needs to be done to make it safe for people to bike outside the downtown core.

Broadening the conservation community/encouraging a cycling community

Lianne’s work with the Jane Goodall Institute parallels her involvement with Cycle Toronto – both involve building communities. Jane is world-renowned for her work with chimpanzees and travels the world giving lectures to support her institute. The Canadian chapter is second only to the United States, and conservation programs include Roots & Shoots, which provides micro-grants to young people in schools across Canada to take on environmental projects in their communities.

At Cycle Toronto, the aim is to build cycling communities across the broader city and bring the advantages of safe, efficient and climate-friendly travel to neighbourhoods outside the core through education, advocacy and encouragement. Lianne hopes her fundraising expertise can help Cycle Toronto make this happen.

#My5km – where can you go?

Living in Leaside, Lianne needs only 35 minutes to get to her office at College and University by bike. “As soon as I get on my bike, I always feel better. It’s great exercise and I’m not tied to transit schedules.”

She would love to see more people in Leaside getting around by bike and notes that Cycle Toronto is launching #My5km this month – a social media campaign that encourages people to share their rides of 5 km or less. As Lianne explains, “Toronto’s climate action goals include having 75% of all trips of 5 km or less be done by bike, on foot or using transit. This is a great way for people to share their stories and inspire others.” The campaign also aims to raise $25,000 to support Cycle Toronto’s good works. You can learn more and make a donation at www.cycleto.ca.


About Holly Reid 49 Articles
Holly Reid is a recreational road rider and cycling commuter. An advocate for safe cycling, she is a member of Cycle Don Valley Midtown, Cycle Toronto’s advocacy group for Wards 15/16.