Peggy Cady was raised in New York and has a BA from the State University of New York with an English major and a minor in filmmaking. She studied in Spain, moved to British Columbia in 1970 and became a Canadian citizen. She took a Masters Degree programme in education and psychology at the University of British Columbia. She left a teaching career become a video artist, an art and design student, and a painter, with a continuing interest in filmmaking, photography and video. She moved to Victoria, BC, where she exhibited photography and participated in collaborative art projects at the Open Space Gallery and with Direct Media Association, pioneering in telemetry with slow-scan video performances.
She worked with the National Film Board, teaching animation, filmmaking and photography in Victoria schools. She finished her design training, graduating from the Northwest Coast Institute of the Arts. She found her passion for design when she started a job at a weekly magazine. During this time she was mentored in typography and design by art director Robert Wilcox and artist Jim Corte, and later became the magazine's production manager. She went on to work for several other companies in Victoria, honing her design skills with tutors and courses, and later started her own business, which she still runs today.
Besides being a designer/business owner, Peggy is also a graduate of both Leadership Victoria 2003-04 and The Art of Leadership at Hollyhock Institute 2003. She credits these two courses with giving her a strong base for her leadership work with the national GDC. "Personal work in these courses prepared me for some of the many challenges I faced as president of the GDC," said Cady. "I could always refer to the touchstones of leadership: reliance on the values of the organization, the support of the community, trusting the process and having the courage to act."
GDC Vancouver Island Chapter 1994-2003: Peggy joined the GDC Vancouver Island Chapter in 1993 and has been an active member ever since. She spearheaded, chaired or participated on committees for many major events for the Chapter, including the Art of Communication event/exhibit series, Strategic Connections, the Vancouver Island Creative Awards, later the Rock awards, and Breakfast with the Judges. She co-chaired the creation of the Design Cares Traveling Exhibit in 2002, assisting in winning the chapter a $10,000 Sappi Paper ‘Ideas that Matter’ award, and she continues to chair and promote the exhibit’s world tour. She served on the Chapter Executive for 10 years, first as South Island Representative and Membership chair 1994–1998, then as President of the Chapter for two terms, from 1998 to 2002. Her commitment, diplomacy and advocacy contributed to the strong growth, success, and public recognition of the VI Chapter. She was honoured by the Chapter in 2002 with a special recognition of her inspirational leadership. She served as VI Past President until January 2003.
Peggy served on the GDC National Council, first as a Chapter Representative 1998 - 2000 and then as National Vice President and Membership Chair for two terms, 2000-2004. She was the fourth female national president the GDC’s 50-year history. Under her leadership and direction on the national council and executive, GDC membership and admission procedures were standardized across the country; GDC membership was clearly defined as national rather than chapter membership, elevating the GDC professional credential; the Constitution was revised and updated to clarify language and procedures and to define membership association; an award-winning annual report was published; an historic membership agreement was signed between chapters and the national, defining the relationship of chapters to the national body. Her work at the national level has been aimed at structural improvements to build on the viability and credibility of the national GDC, and to increase GDC’s visibility across the country.
She participated in the planning of the GDC website, which was pivotal for GDC in terms of a national presence. Financial policy and fiscal responsibility were a large part of her focus, moving the GDC out of a deficit position through control of spending, increasing membership dues, and finding new ways to finance special projects.
In the first days of her national presidency, the GDC challenged the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee’s logo contest. She met with the committee leaders to discuss GDC’s policy on speculative contests. Since then she and a team of volunteers have successfully intervened in many contests and speculative work proposals on behalf of Canadian designers. She has worked to build a cordial relationship between the GDC and RGD Ontario, attending the Design Thinkers Conference in 2005 and meeting with RGD Board members. She has been supporting RGD Ontario on Ontario spec advocacy issues.
She has represented Canada’s graphic designers on the federal Trade Team Canada - Cultural Goods and Services Design Working Group for two years. She represented the GDC at the inauguration of Icograda’s new headquarters and the establishment of IDA in Montreal. Finally, Peggy has worked to diversify the GDC’s sources of income and negotiated partnerships which have brought annual cash donations for GDC. She is the founder of the GDC Foundation.
Notes from her Peers presented at the 2006 AGM
From Karen Brown, CGD:
“Peggy has worked tirelessly for the GDC. First at the Chapter level, then as VP Membership and then the last two years as President. As President, she has virtually put her business on hold and has made the GDC a priority. She has shown tremendous leadership and forward thinking. Under her leadership the groundwork necessary for certification has been laid. The GDC Foundation is her initiative – she even made the first donation. ... I could never match the hours and dedication that she has given to the GDC. It has been a great honour to get to know her and to have served on her executive.”
From Paul Nishikawa, CGD:
“Her leadership, through a period of renewal and refocusing for the society has lead us back to a place where we can be proactive about the future of design in Canada. Her commitment to helping others and to furthering design has been a model for us all. I look forward to being part of the legacy she has left us through her leadership and vision.”
From Michael Marshall FGDC, Founding President, VI Chapter:
“There may have been others nominated in the past that were as deserving - but none were any more so than Peggy Cady. ... I’ve never really been surprised by what Peggy does, after watching how she embraced her first office as Chapter registrar. She welcomed every new member to the GDC family, learning and remembering their names and personal histories. No small feat as we went thorough a pronounced growth phase largely due to her efforts. She made all members feel important, urging them to participate with their voices and actions and made people feel positively guilty for not volunteering to help - a great talent and gift that she has honed over the many years that I have had the pleasure to observe her. Peggy played a huge role in making our Chapter a model of activity and accomplishment and continues to astound me with her energy and willingness to take on and complete anything asked of her. For me, one of her greatest qualities is that what she commits to do she does...and does well!
Whether it’s tackling a simple task or a complex issue, along the way she became an extremely well informed and capable leader herself - with an enviable list of supporters she molded into a dedicated volunteer work force. And not content to rest on her already ample leadership abilities, she sought out and completed a challenging Leadership course - developing even more skills that each of you on the national stage have benefited from. Her quiet demeanor belies a strong and passionate personality, with a real commitment for the GDC community and its ideals. Building on her work with our local Chapter, including holding our highest office, she has now developed a long list of National admirers - with even the most hardworking in awe of her capacity to meet a challenge head on and work diligently towards a solution. And she hasn’t done all this while an employee of a benevolent employer - rather she has had to continue to work as a self employed (and accomplished) designer to support herself and family. I’ve gone from being her coach to one of her most ardent fans - she has often delegated tasks to me as I once did to her (although I’ve become adept at hiding from her). Warm, compassionate and completely committed to our industry and Society, she is the embodiment of the very best Fellow Candidate...”
From Robert L. Peters, FGDC:
“For as long as I’ve known Peggy (over a decade now), she has been an initiator and a natural leader. Andy Warhol once said the following (famously): “They say that time changes things, but I’ve always found that you have to change them yourself.” And, those words ring very true for me as regards Peggy - from her active work on the GDC’s sponsorship protocols, her co-authorship of the Design Cares initiative, to her exemplary national presidency of the GDC. Focused, inspiring, motivating, nurturing, empowering... always with the right response at the right time.”
From David Berman FGDC, R.G.D.:
“Peggy Cady is calmly, quietly, relentlessly, poisedly one of the greatest forces behind the GDC, and has been for as long as I can recall. Since the first time I met her, I have been touched by her brilliance, her gentle determination, her focus. As I got to know her, I was inspired by her dedication to choosing the best things to do, getting them done, and doing them well. She asks, we do, and when we’re discouraged, she writes a personal note of thanks reminding us why we must. We, the graphic designers of Canada, are so fortunate to have Peggy. The vast majority of those who will benefit from her diligence and wisdom will never meet her; most won’t ever know her name. Yet she has seen us through some of the most challenging times that graphic design in Canada has known. As we continue to choose what our young profession will be about, I hope that Peggy will continue choosing us.”
From Brenda Sanderson, Director Icograda:
“Peggy’s leadership of the GDC has given us a new voice on the national stage and created a platform for future growth.”
From Matt Warburton, FGDC:
“I know how much time and effort it takes to do a job, and do it well. When you have to apply that amount of dedication to a volunteer position, it takes on another meaning, and it truly becomes a labour of love. That’s what Peggy has done over the years with the GDC, and I’m honoured to have been able to work with her, as a mentor, as a colleague, and as a student.”
From Carmen von Richthofen, Executive Director, The Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario (RGD Ontario), Examination Board for Registered Graphic Designers:
“Peggy Cady is a consummate professional with whom it has been my pleasure to work, both when she was on the GDC National Council and during her tenure as GDC President. What has consistently been in evidence in our working relationship over the years are Peggy’s passionate commitment and her unflagging efforts to promote awareness of the value of graphic design to a variety of audiences. Peggy’s interest in addressing challenges in a positive way and her skill at working towards common goals shared by other organizations has characterized her effectiveness as a leader and made her contributions to the profession all the more relevant and valuable. “
From Miriam MacPhail, CGD:
“One trait of true leaders is Inspiration: the ability to inspire those led to willingly rise to challenges, experience compassion, give a little more time, and act for the greater rather than the personal good. ... Whether serving on chapter committees, chapter executive or national executive, she has modeled honesty, friendship, leadership and community, and given others the belief that they, too, could make differences. Peggy Cady has shown herself a true leader, and has changed the GDC, and those who know and love her, in doing so."
From Laurie Darrah, CGD:
“Over the past few years she has delivered what was missing and has done it with compassion, exceptional diplomacy and integrity.”