Keynote Speaker

FRANK O’DEA

FRANK O’DEA  

Inspiring Entrepreneur and Humanitarian

Frank O’Dea is a celebrated businessman who has launched and led a number of successful not-for-profits and businesses, including the Second Cup and Street Kids International. He is an inspiring speaker who shares his lessons-learned from his days of living on the streets to his receiving the Order of Canada. It is a wonderful, educational and moving story.

 In his early teens, Frank O’Dea’s life went off the rails into a downward spiral. By the time he was 21, he was living in 50-cent-a-night flop houses in Toronto’s bowery district. At 23 years of age, with the courage to hope for a better life, and the spirit to forge ahead, Frank began the long road back. Fighting all of those obstacles that hold back the homeless, the impoverished and the destitute, he overcame and rejoined society.

Within a few short years, he co-founded Second Cup, which soon became the largest chain of gourmet coffees and teas in the country. Building on that success, he, with others, co-found Proshred Security (now Iron Mountain), a company that pioneered the entire industry of on-site document destruction. He grew that company into an international organization with operations in Canada, Europe and the United States.  

Even as a struggling entrepreneur, Frank took steps to give back to the community. He began serving on the boards of directors of charities and not-for-profit organizations. He co-found Street Kids International, an organization developed to help homeless children in third world countries, through education and self-reliance programs. He became the founding Chair of War Child (Canada), an organization that provides assistance against suffering and abuse for children in war affected countries. Later on, Frank co-found the Canadian Landmine Foundation, an organization that raises funds and awareness for the dismantling of minefields around the world. With support from Colin Powell, Paul McCartney and Rotary Clubs across Canada, he went on to initiate that organization’s most successful, worldwide annual fund raising program, “Night of a Thousand Dinners”, with participation of thousands of donors from some 29 countries.

Frank is currently working on for-profit affordable housing development projects in Brazil and has launched YP-IT Data, a youth employment enterprise in Canada. He is also founding Chair of “My Idea of Canada” a nationwide initiative that will engage Canadian youth on the occasion of Canada’s 150th Anniversary. His achievements are, of course, a work in progress for which he has received much public recognition. He has received two honorary university degrees and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.  This incredibly inspiring story of resilience and triumph in the face of adversity is retold in his captivating autobiography, “When All You Have Is Hope”. And his latest book, “Do The Next Right Thing: Surviving Life’s Crises