Ronald Mannix has devoted considerable efforts to preserving the wealth of advantages he feels privileged to have enjoyed as a native Albertan and Calgarian. His work with his family’s business has literally helped to build Alberta, while his record of community leadership has helped many of his fellow Albertans find the same balance he strives for in his own life.
Ron was born in Calgary on February 25, 1948 to Frederick C. and Margaret R. Mannix. He grew up learning about the family business his grandfather Frederick S. Mannix began in 1898 as one of western Canada’s first construction firms. When Ron joined the business in 1973, the newly-minted Bachelor of Commerce graduate from the University of Alberta took his place in a business that had diversified to include ventures such as oil and gas exploration and production, venture capital, coal mining, pipelining and railroad maintenance services. Ron and his brother Frederick P. Mannix began efforts to take the third generation of the family business to the global stage.
While he worked to grow the family businesses, Ron also took care to give back to the community, largely in a very quiet and private way, and always with a greater purpose in mind. His thoughtful approach to his community work is evident in the initiatives he has supported over the years.
Ron has encouraged a wide range of community initiatives through his work as a former chairman, director and shareholder of the family’s Carthy Foundation, as a past director and chairman of the Scripps Foundation International Board, as a former chairman, director and current member of the Max Bell Foundation and as a founder and former member and director of Strathcona Tweedsmuir School Foundation. Whenever possible, he has worked to focus his energies on initiatives that contribute to a balanced community where healthy bodies, strong minds and resilient spirits are encouraged in equal measure.
This balanced approach can be seen, in particular, in the work of the Norlien Foundation, which he created in 1998. The Foundation works to support four major initiatives that contribute specifically to the body, mind and spirit of his fellow Albertans, including health-related programs like the One World Child Development Centre and programs that encourage healthy pre-natal development and prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, as well as a variety of educational, musical and environmental protection initiatives.
Ron believes that music has the most universal ability of all the arts to strengthen the human spirit. That belief, along with the love of keyboard music he inherited from his mother, led to efforts that have made Calgary an internationally-recognized centre for keyboard music. Ron served as founder of the Calgary International Organ Competition and Festival and creator of Calgary’s Cantos Music Foundation, which offers a museum-style exhibit and experience of the history of keyboard instruments. Over the years, he has also provided his energy and skill to the Jack Singer Concert Hall and the Esther Honens International Piano Competition. He has been a driving force behind the rebuilding of numerous organs in the city and the building of a Bach concert organ for the University of Calgary’s Rozsa Centre. Ron also supports keyboard programs in over one quarter of Calgary’s elementary schools and plans to expand the program further so that more children have the opportunity to develop a love of music. Other music programs have been developed and used to help the seniors community.
Ron’s contributions to education in Alberta also include his support of numerous programs at the University of Calgary, Strathcona Tweedsmuir School and the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise at the University of Alberta School of Business. His guidance, along with that of his fellow program supporters in the Alberta Business Family Institute (which he helped found), has turned the University of Alberta into a centre of excellence that boasts more resources invested into this field of study than any other university in the world. Ron’s many contributions to his alma mater over the years were recognized in 2005 when he received an Honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Alberta.
His further support and efforts to help build Canada in many ways, through his family enterprise and previous work with industry associations such as the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and Coal Association of Canada, and through his philanthropic efforts, will be recognized when he receives the Order of Canada in late 2005.
Ron is currently helping to introduce a fourth generation of the Mannix clan to the business, using some of the family’s philanthropic activities as a training ground in corporate governance and business principles. If that generation can master the same level of energy, dedication and leadership that Ron brings to his work, the Mannix family businesses and philanthropy will continue contributing to the health and well-being of Albertans for many years to come.
In addition to his brother Fred and sister Maureen, Ron’s family includes his wife, Nancy, and his five children and one granddaughter.