Integrating sustainability into the big picture

Strategic thinker and integrator
Governance leader and advisor
Panelist and public speaker
Government relations and public policy advisor

Leveraging trisector leadership experience in commercial, government, and NGO organizations, Dilhari Fernando is a seasoned strategist and communicator with more than two decades of experience helping organizations and the Government of Canada adopt transformative policies, strategies, programs and practices focused on sustainability. Driving change, value, performance, and partnerships in areas of environmental protection, social inclusion, and good governance, she has served as an agile, experienced, and authentic partner to leaders of modern organizations who are increasingly expected to operate in more sustainable ways.


Throughout her career, Dilhari consistently orchestrated impacts that improved the planet and communities as well as bottom lines, processes, brand image, and relationships with stakeholders, investors, customers, and citizens.


“Most organizations do not have the luxury of pursuing sustainability at any cost”, says Dilhari about the mounting pressure leaders face to move the needle on ESG performance. “They need rationale that supports business strategy and the ability to envision the returns and value that can be created at each stage in their journey to sustainability. I have helped provide that so leaders can better understand, maximize, and actualize potential at each step and communicate it in the most advantageous ways.”


Dilhari draws upon extensive experience gained in executive leadership roles at organizations including:


Dilhari  currently serves on the Board of Directors for OECM (Ontario Education Collaborative Marketplace) and the Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital Foundation. In her role as a Board Director, Dilhari brings expertise in governance and sustainability, and leverages her skills in strategy, government relations and communications. In 2023, Dilhari received her ESG designation (GCB.D) from Global Competent Boards.



In 2023, Dilhari founded the Sitka Group and provided advisory services to corporations, non-profits, investors, government, academia, and think tanks.  Supporting companies wishing to enhance in-house ESG bench strength, she worked with C-suites and boards to develop ESG strategies, training and workshops, advised organizational leaders, and assisted educational institutions with integrating ESG into course offerings and student events.



Dilhari was a Managing Director and Head of Communications and Corporate Citizenship at PSP Investments where she helped shape the climate strategy, sustainable finance framework and strategic communications at one of Canada’s largest institutional investors. She brought an ESG lens to communications, managed global events for employees and stakeholders, and worked with asset managers to tackle ESG issues.  “I understood how to lead strategy and enjoyed learning about sustainable finance,” recalled Dilhari. “I’m proud of my work on the firm’s first climate strategy which, I believe, added value to the firm’s reputation and its global investment portfolio.”



As General Manager, Corporate Sustainability, Dilhari headed up Canada Post’s first in-house sustainability team. She established enterprise-wide strategies and policies for ESG, environmental sustainability, and disability inclusion and then led their integration into business strategy, marketing, supply chain, and operations. “As Canada Post’s first sustainability leader, I had to marry ESG with business strategy, operational realities and diverse stakeholder perspectives,” reflected Dilhari on her cross-enterprise role. “From developing the company’s ESG strategy and environmental action plan, to reducing the carbon footprint of facilities, to engaging with labour unions, and even installing EV charging stations at work locations… it was an expansive and impactful role. Through win-win strategies, prudent resource management, and active outreach and engagement, we were able to embed sustainability into every aspect of operations and customer facing solutions. I am proud that my contributions accelerated Canada Post’s sustainability agenda, helping the company to win Clean 50 and Clean 16 awards.”



As Director General, Policy, Planning and Partnerships at Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dilhari navigated and influenced at the federal level, with international governments, and within UN agencies to mobilize action to address climate change. “The priority was aligning actions, policies, initiatives, and investments to help Canada to address climate issues and uphold its climate commitments under the Paris Accord,” recalled Dilhari.


As Director General, Strategic Policy and Priorities at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, she supported the growth of the commercial fisheries industry on both coasts of Canada and led initiatives focused on Indigenous reconciliation and community economic development, biodiversity and conservation, and oceans protection.  “I quarterbacked issues management and brokered solutions to make a meaningful difference in shaping national policy, regulations and legislation that had far-reaching impacts on businesses, communities and even individual livelihoods,” commented Dilhari about a position in which she held a lot of influence and sway.


Dilhari also held executive roles at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the Privy Council Office, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency where she led policy development and contributed to governance, regulatory, and program transformation.



As Executive Director, Dilhari led the Canadian non-profit and served as the Center’s chief spokesperson to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species within Canada’s forests and waterways. “We were engaged in nature-based solutions before it became mainstream,” Dilhari said about her hybrid corporate, government relations, and community leadership role. “Building it from the ground up required being a jack of trades and master of all. We employed a multi-faceted approach to influencing policy, partnering, and amplifying awareness, outreach, and environmental programs. It was a strategic, tactical, ‘roll up your sleeves’ and just get things done type of role.”



Dilhari holds an MBA from the University of Ottawa, a Master of Forestry with specialization in forestry economics from the University of New Brunswick, and a Bachelor of Science in biology from Western University, and multiple certificates in corporate sustainability and ESG.


Having lived on both coasts, Dilhari currently resides in Ottawa.

The Sitka Spruce

Dilhari's logo features a majestic tree from the Pacific Northwest.

“I fell in love with the Sitka Spruce while living in BC. Known as the ‘mother tree’, it represents life. It’s strong, versatile, and resilient - values that I aspire to – and its a distinct point of reference when you’re walking in the fog. It reflects my personal and professional purpose: helping others to navigate ambiguity while creating a better world for our children.”


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