Former Member Spotlight - Donna Rudnicki

Member Spotlight: Donna Rudnicki

As we wrap up 2022, wanted to dedicate our last post in the memory of Donna Rudnicki. Donna was a female leader and a role model for many of us. Donna had been very involved in the foundational years to shape the world of data and was very widely recognized to be the flag bearer of change, culture, adoption of data and a business trailblazer as well.

We interviewed some of the key members in the data community who were fortunate to work very closely with Donna. We gathered their memories on Donna & summarized them below.

Donna Rudnicki was the Chief Data Officer at RBC Capital Markets, and focused on advancing Data Strategy and Governance, operationalizing data management best practices and driving a change program to help mature the organization across all dimensions of information management. Donna was also a regional lead and active member of the EDM Council, and dedicated her time to advancing data management best practices, standards, training and research. In 2019, she helped launch the Canadian Chapter of the EDM Council’s Women in Data (WID) group, where she recruited several female Canadian CDOs to the WID Global Advisory Board. Donna was recently announced as the winner of the Enterprise Data Management (EDM) Professional of the year (end-user) category in the 2020 Women in Technology and Data Awards. Donna was an intelligent, charming, thoughtful and supportive professional with a colorful personality who was always ready to help others at personal and professional levels.

Given her nonconventional path, having a degree in Psychology from the University of Waterloo, into the male dominated field of Data, Donna was passionate about mentorship and enabling women to advance beyond the glass ceilings in their careers. Donna was a founder of the WDP Mentorship Program, which connected 100+ early women data professionals with industry leading mentors, she also served as Mentor for “Women in Capital Markets” group.

“She always spoke her mind, but always listened and was respectful of other opinions. Although she had limited free time, she used it to support the women in the data profession, in her organization, and found time for charity work as well. She was a thoughtful and caring individual.”

“I owe a lot of where I am today to Donna.  She consistently encouraged me to take on additional projects, to engage in committees to learn from others in the field and to also gain exposure to this industry.  She was never a self-promoter but took every opportunity to promote those around her. She led many initiatives to elevate and bring awareness to women in data. She was a true leader, mentor and friend.”  

“At both CPPIB and RBC (as well as though her work with EDMC), Donna was very focused on the advancement of data strategy and data governance.  However, where sometimes those areas can be a bit more academic, focusing on policy, Donna always had a pragmatic approach to centralizing data, controls, and data management capabilities that resulted in tangible progress for understanding data and improving data quality.  I have learned a great deal from working with Donna.”

Donna has several contributions to the EDMC WDP.

Donna had wonderful vision which helped create a strong network of professionals, well-functioning sub-committees, structured and sustainable roadmaps and operational processes for execution at the EDM Council

“Donna helped the EDMC Board as our Board Chair of the Nominations Committee and helping the EDMC expand to include board members from top companies. Donna also helped bring an attention to diversity in our nominations and board activities helping us draft and participate in building our diversity policies and objectives which has resulted in more women CDO’s being represented within the EDM Council Board of Directors.”

“Donna helped create a well-functioning team and sustainable process for replacing members at EDMC. She replaced herself with a strong co-lead, when her illness no longer allowed her to lead and assisted in a seamless transition to the new co-lead.”

“Donna not only formed the America's committee, but she also created subcommittees with leadership roles, helping committee members build their own leadership skills. With a steady hand she led the America's committee through the shift to virtual during the pandemic and never missed a beat meeting her targets for organizing events, content sharing, reaching out to affinity groups and building out the Americas WDP membership. Under her watch, the Americas committee grew by hundreds since that first meeting in 2019, due to her engaging content-filled activities.”

Interviewees had different experiences of meeting Donna Rudnicki and their favorite memories of her.


  • Mike Meriton, Co-Founder & COO of the EDM Council
  • Dessa Glasser, Principal, FRG Data Advisory and Analytics
  • Marla Dans, Director, Head of Data Governance, Tradeweb
  • Melissa Duong, VP, Client Data Services, RBC
  • Geoffrey Martin: Director, Data Services, RBC Capital Markets

Mike M. mentioned meeting Donna at 2019 EDMC Data Vision event in Toronto as a panelist. His favorite memory of her was - Donna appeared as a bright light who aspired to do things right for data.

Dessa G. met her on data projects in RBC, and her favorite memory of Donna was from a virtual industry conference – Donna wore a bright outfit with a vivid background, a lively and outspoken lady who later became a good friend and was always there to promote women in the data.

Marla D’s memory of Donna was – Donna was a bright spot and positive energy in all the board meetings and conversations, and remembers her home office as bold, bright and happy place that matched her wonderful, charming personality.

Geoff M. met Donna in the professional capacity at CPP investment board in 2007 and they worked together at RBC in 2015. He described Donna as someone who could bring humor and fun to dry topics like technology, infrastructure and others to support new investment capabilities in the early days at CPPIB.

“Donna is a great loss to our community – she was a bright light that cannot be replaced – we can only hope for others to follow her as a role model on how to serve others with compassion and hope.  Donna will be sorely missed by everyone that worked with her."

With deepest sympathies to her family and friends, we will carry on her data legacy and good work she started in both the WDP and EDMC.

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