Arlene Perly Rae has an Honorary BA in English and Philosophy, and a Masters Degree in Drama from the University of Toronto.
A long time Board Member and Member of the Executive Committee of the United Way of Greater Toronto, she founded its Success by Six program.
Arlene is currently a Director of the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown and on the Board of the National Reading Campaign. She co-chairs the Winchester Project in Toronto, creating 30 housing units for women facing the dual challenges of poverty and mental health issues.
Arlene served for many years on the Boards of Sistema, McClelland and Stewart, the Stratford Festival, World Literacy of Canada among others, and was a steering committee member of the National Campaign Against Child Poverty.
As co-chair of the YWCA’s Elm Centre Capital Campaign, Arlene helped raise $15 million to create 300 permanent housing units for women and women-led families in Toronto, including 50 Indigenous families.
For many years, she was the Children’s Book Reviewer for the Toronto Star. She wrote the award-winning book Everybody’s Favourites: (Canadians Talk About Books That Changed Their Lives), as well as travel writing and commentary.
Arlene adapted two operas—Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Stravinsky’s Petruschka—for the Royal Conservatory of Music, to help introduce children to the orchestra.
Arlene has been an advocate for children’s literacy, mental health support and human rights. She was Chief Judge and organizer of the Mr Christie Book Awards for over a decade, a Judge for The Commonwealth Book Prize, and other Awards.
Arlene currently lives much of the year in New York, with her husband, Bob, the Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations. She is actively involved on the Board of the Women’s International Forum with other groups.
She enjoys theatre, swimming, tennis, golf and grand-mothering.