Announcement: Retirement of Glenn MacDonell, President & CEO of Special Olympics Ontario

A Letter from the Chair of the Board of Directors

Dear SOO athletes, coaches, volunteers, friends and colleagues,

Glenn MacDonell, our President & Chief Executive Officer of Special Olympics Ontario (SOO), has decided to retire as of June 30th, 2024. Glenn has given us 35 years of outstanding leadership, compassion and stewardship. 

We, on the Board of Directors, would like to thank Glenn for his inspiration, determination and guidance.

1988 was a pivotal year for SOO as Soccer was introduced as an official sport. We were a mere 2,200 athletes supported by 1,200 volunteers and active in about 40 communities. The average age of our athletes was 38 years old. At the end of 1988, an exciting change for the better took place as Glenn joined the 7-member staff team and was hired as the field program staff for Eastern and Central Ontario. During those two years of program development and in field operations, Glenn was the team lead for volunteer and athlete recruitment, and he spearheaded provincial competitions and assisted in bringing on Softball as an official sport to SOO. 

September 1st, 1990, Glenn was promoted to the role of Executive Director (later, titled to President & CEO) and began his true passion and outstanding career as a Leadership Champion. Glenn is widely known throughout the organization and the international movement as a leader with compassion, stewardship, innovation and entrepreneurial savvy.

SOO is reputed as a first class charity, with exceptional commitment to the members of the organization and is proud to say that in 2024 there are 23,000 athletes with more than half the athletes under the age of 21. More than 12,000 coaches and volunteers operate local sport programs in over 120 communities across Ontario and in every school board. This is one more pivotal example of Glenn’s forward thinking and leadership influence. Glenn has led the organization through countless regional, provincial and national games. Each of these major properties have resonated tremendous impact on the lives of athletes, volunteers, the community, the games organizing committees and the core people raising funds and providing quality competitions for each major games. Every games left a financial and public awareness legacy for each of the hosting communities.

Glenn suits the term Leadership Champion. His grassroots and friendly personality forms an ability to build strength through strategic partnerships. Having several long standing relationships and friendships with sponsors and committed people who believe in the outstanding work of SOO. Glenn has always had an apt sense of raising funds and building a mixed revenue generation for the charity.

Over his 35 years, Glenn has always ensured that the charity was in good financial health with a solid reserve for those up and down years and the many rainy days.

Attesting to a career of achievements, Glenn has received many accolades and awards of significance. Among the highlights was when he was inducted into the International LETR Hall of Fame. This is a very prestigious award and for Glenn, it was a testament to the “outstanding” LETR program in Ontario.

Among his many achievements, Glenn is also recognized as a mentor and influencer in the leadership structures of Special Olympics International and with the International Law Enforcement Community. Glenn has successfully guided these national, international and North American based groups in strategic and operational planning with an emphasis on keeping the Special Olympics Athlete at the heart of organizational change and effective and inspiring revenue generation.

Glenn is transformative in his mindset to help others chart new paths forward and adapt when change is needed. During the pandemic years, we all witnessed Glenn’s extraordinary energy and ability to pivot through challenging times. Under Glenn’s leadership staff and board kept connected, engaged and vastly supported the thousands of athletes and volunteers during these difficult times. This is a true Leadership Champion Moment in our history at SOO. Glenn is a person filled with quotes and one liners but the one that came to mind during the pandemic months was thought of as a “Glennism” – “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

Over the years, and under Glenn’s leadership the board has reaffirmed our commitment to our mission, established a solid reserve fund, ensured financial sustainability, sharpened our strategies for growth and innovation, and developed a solid volunteer and staff leadership team with a plan to transition us for the future.

On a personal note, as a parent of an athlete and as the board chair I am thrilled to share that working with Glenn has been so inspiring and second to none. As we began the succession planning several months ago, Glenn has made every effort to ensure that as a board we were in full confidence and are in good hands as he leaves the organization. Glenn in his usual high end commitment and dedication to wanting the best for SOO has graciously offered to assist the board and team in being available during the transition of change. To note, Glenn contributed to the succession plan and was very involved in the recruitment of his replacement. We have more information to share in this regard and will do so in the coming weeks.

SOO seasons come and go, but Glenn’s 35 years of dedication to the cause is a legacy that will last forever. Please join me in wishing Glenn a sincere and heartfelt thank you and best wishes in his next adventure.

AND THANK YOU, on behalf of all of us, for your role and commitment to Special Olympics Ontario.


John Bryden,
Chair of the Board of Directors