With the 2022 festival just two weeks away, Hot Docs is changing leadership. The festival announced today that Heather Conway will transition from her position as co-president and executive director as of May 13, 2022. She will assume a new advisory role on strategic planning while president Chris McDonald will assume sole leadership of the organization. Conway began her role as co-president and executive director in November 2021. This year’s festival runs April 28 to May 8.
Hot Docs announced that current managing director Erin Lau, and Paul Lewis, conference director of World Congress of Science and Factual Producers, will serve as interim co-executive directors. They will support McDonald as part of the leadership team.
“We are extremely grateful for Heather’s tremendous contributions during her tenure and look forward to her ongoing involvement in Hot Docs’ future planning,” said Robin Mirsky co-chair of Hot Docs Board of Directors, in a statement. “Her decision to transition from her current role comes after much thoughtful reflection on how best to restructure the organization for greater success and how she could best contribute her considerable talents. We thank her for her valuable insight and commitment to Hot Docs.”
“I love Hot Docs and have immense respect for the hard work and dedication of its talented team,” added Conway. “There is a strong mission in place for the organization and very capable people already there to realize it. I remain a passionate member of the community and look forward to working with Chris to advise on strategic planning and contribute to the ongoing success of Hot Docs.”
During her time in the co-leadership position, Conway centralized and consolidated Hot Docs’ financial departments and furthered the organization’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. She also aided Hot Docs’ fundraising and partnerships as the festival planned its first in-person celebration after two years of digital. This includes securing Cineplex as a new presenting partner for the 2022 festival with screenings at the Varsity Cinema mostly centralizing Hot Docs along the Bloor-Bathurst strip. Her new advisory role will focus on strategic planning for Hot Docs’ upcoming five-year strategic plan.
Strategic planning is currently in Lau’s portfolio as managing director. Lau has been with Hot Docs since 2008 and has led numerous initiatives for equity and inclusion, including training and community screenings. Lewis assumed the role of conference director for World Congress of Science and Factual Producers in 2018. Prior to that, he worked in numerous roles on the production since including launching Daily Planet—the world’s first daily science program. He will continue his position with World Congress while sharing duties with Lau.