About Kim Samuel

Kim Samuel, Chair of The Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness, has over two decades of leadership experience in business, philanthropy, development of multi-stakeholder partnerships and academic research.

A pioneer in the field of social isolation and connectedness, Ms. Samuel combines academic research, writing and lecturing with direct programmatic and partnership building experience supporting communities across the globe facing diverse challenges. Her work focusing on social isolation as a critical experiential and measurable component of multi-dimensional poverty and other critical issues underscores the importance of social connectedness to human dignity and human rights struggles globally.

Ms. Samuel is Professor of Practice at the Institute for the Study of International Development at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. In 2016, she designed and delivered the first academic course offering in the emerging field of social connectedness to graduating students in international studies and taught a new cohort in 2017. She also created the Social Connectedness Fellowship Program in 2017, which offers recent undergraduates the opportunity to pursue projects related to social isolation and connectedness in the context of community building and international development.

Ms. Samuel is actively engaged in several joint programmatic and research efforts. In 2014, she convened the first Global Symposium on Overcoming Isolation and Deepening Social Connectedness, a global gathering of over a hundred leading thinkers, activists and community leaders from over 40 countries. The second Global Symposium was convened by Ms. Samuel together with McGill University in October 2016. In her continuing leadership role in the emerging movement for social connectedness, Ms. Samuel is a commentator and author featured regularly in the Huffington Post and other media and scholarly sources.

Under Ms. Samuel’s leadership as President and Chair, The Samuel Family Foundation has committed to advancing social connectedness and to supporting and enabling people to improve their lives and reinforce their commitment to family, community and society. Several programmatic efforts have been developed in direct partnership with Ms. Samuel, including dedicated programming supporting social connectedness for children with the Synergos Institute and partner organizations across southern Africa. Ms. Samuel also plays an active and ongoing role as a member of the Board and Executive Committee of Special Olympics International. In addition, she is engaged in partnership with Indigenous communities in northern Canada, including Misipawistik Cree Nation and the Connected North initiative supporting community driven strategies for strengthening education and employment.

Ms. Samuel co-created the innovative Environmental Performance Index (EPI) with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University. The index supports governments in accessing and addressing environmental sustainability targets, and in 2016 Ms. Samuel helped launch its 10th iteration at the United Nations. In 2017, urbanization was highlighted as a new key dimension, utilizing social isolation as the primary lens to frame the research.

Ms. Samuel served as Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford (2013-2014) where she continues to serve as Policy Advisor. She also served as Chair of the External Advisory Board (2007-2015) of the Yale University Center of Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP). Among other appointments and memberships, Ms. Samuel is a Director of the Synergos Institute, Founding Member of the Global Philanthropists Circle, and Member of the Disability Rights Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch.

Articles by Kim Samuel