Heather Reisman (b. 1948) was born in Montreal and studied at McGill University to become a social worker. Looking for a fresh start after getting divorced, Reisman moved to Toronto and switched careers, entering the world of business. In 1979 she co-founded a consulting company which she directed for seventeen years. That experience led her to become the president of Cott Beverages in 1992 (a private Canadian soft-drink company that makes RC Cola, among others). Several years later, Reisman noticed an opportunity to expand Canada’s book retail market. In 1996 she founded Indigo Books & Music, with help from her husband Gerry Schwartz, who is listed by Forbes among the richest Canadians. In 2001, Indigo acquired its top competitor Chapters (and its subsidiaries Coles and SmithBooks) to become Canada’s largest book retailer. Reisman is still the CEO of the socially-responsible company, praised for its green initiatives, progressive policies, and for being among Canada’s top 100 employers. Indigo also produced Kobo, Canada’s most popular eReader. Reisman herself is a noted philanthropist, donating generously to the University of Toronto and Harvard, Mt. Sinai Hospital, the UJA and a host of other institutions, many of which are pro-Israel, such as the Heseg Foundation which assists Israeli lone soldiers, as well as Israeli Ethiopian and Druze soldiers. Indigo also commits $1.5 million every year to schools across Canada through its Love of Reading Foundation. For all of her efforts, Reisman has been listed among the world’s 50 top businesswomen. She has been awarded several honorary degrees, and has even served as the governor of the Toronto Stock Exchange and McGill University.
Words of the Week
When one eats and drinks, one must also feed the stranger, the orphan, the widow, and the other unfortunate paupers. But one who locks the doors of his courtyard, and feasts and drinks with his children and wife but does not feed the poor and the embittered – this is not the joy of mitzvah but the joy of his stomach.
– Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Festivals 6:18)