As seen in En-Route magazine
The Frequent Flyer: Joelle Berdugo Adler
Joelle ( Joey) Berdugo Adler has always believed in the uplifting potential of social enterprise. In 1986, she secured the rights to the Diesel label for Canada, and spent the next 20 years building a fashion retail company with her late husband, Lou, who passed away in 2003. As Berdugo Adler stepped in, of necessity, to run Diesel Canada as CEO, she also stepped up: Leveraging C-suite skills and an enviable Rolodex, she founded ONEXONE, a charity that feeds breakfast to 5,000 Canadian schoolchildren on northern reserves, and has channelled millions of dollars to international development aid, mostly in Haiti and Africa. Early on, ONEXONE drew the world’s attention to the plight of Haitians affected by flooding in 2008, and was one of the first agencies on the ground in Port-au-Prince when the 2010 earthquake struck. “The suffering I’ve witnessed is indelibly etched in my mind,” says Berdugo Adler, recalling missions to distribute food to flood survivors, and medicine and supplies to help rebuild following the earthquake two years later. She frequently collaborates with fellow A-list philanthropists, including Haitian-American singer Wyclef Jean (“a dear friend”), Matt Damon and former United States President Bill Clinton. Two years ago, Berdugo Adler co-founded Industrial Revolution II, a garment factory in Port-au-Prince run on a profit sharing model. Her next big venture will be announced at the Toronto International Film Festival in September (coinciding with ONEXONE’s 10th anniversary). Dividing her time now between Montreal and Los Angeles, the ex-fashion-industry CEO is far from retired. “I’m starting a whole new chapter,” she says.
Most famous on-board neighbour Frank McKenna, Deputy Chair of TD Bank Group and an honorary chairman of ONEXONE. He’s brilliant, with so much integrity. And Matt Damon, who is also very bright, and one of the nicest human beings on the planet.
Most unexpected travel moment Seeing the poverty on some First Nations communities for the first time was shocking. I’d visited Ethiopia, then flown north of Winnipeg to a community that was substantially more painful to look at.
World traveller I’d most like to sit next to on a flight Albert Einstein. He had a deep understanding of the human psyche and of humanity’s spiritual side. He was a genius beyond just being an intellect.