Featured Alumni

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work | School of Graduate Studies

Helena Monteiro

Master of Social Work (MSW) 1994

Helena Monteiro took the principles she applied as a graduate student at the University of Toronto -- thinking, learning and leading -- into a career that has made her a major player in the field of international philanthropy.

Monteiro is the Executive Director of the Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmakers Support (WINGS), an international network representing and serving the broad community of grant makers, foundations and philanthropy-support organizations.

Monteiro was born in Brazil and moved to Canada when she was 24. After getting her graduate degree in social work she spent 16 years in the non-profit sector in Canada before moving back home in 2005.

"I am a big fan of the University of Toronto. It opened doors, opened my mind. Professors were very approachable, flexible and accommodating. U of T is very much a model for other countries."

She remembers friends she made and the stimulating environment she loved at U of T, including the courses she took at the law faculty. U of T was “dynamic and diverse, where you got different perspectives on the same issues,” something that isn’t true at other universities.

With students drawn from all parts of the world, the U of T is “well-placed” to face the challenges of globalization, she says.

Monteiro is taking on those challenges directly.  WINGS was incorporated in 2010 and is now a fully-fledged, non-profit association with 140 members in 54 countries with its head office in Sao Paulo.

Underway now is a major project called the Global Philanthropy Data Charter. Monteiro says while much is known about philanthropy in general there is not enough data world-wide to support it.

She told the Charles Steward Mott Foundation (which helps fund WINGS) that “philanthropy is growing and gaining visibility around the world. There are new actors and new approaches to giving. The rapidly-changing situation of global philanthropy makes the task of developing a simple and effective global-data platform for philanthropy an urgent one.”

Monteiro is also helping organize the next WINGSForum, to be held in Istanbul in March, 2014.  It will include experts from the U of T. The forum is designed as a peer learning experience where philanthropy leaders from all over the world share practical lessons, innovations and inspiration from their work.


Published Dec. 9, 2013.

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