Christina MacLeod

CEO, Startup Zone 


I love figuring out people - their motivations, their skills, and their dreams. Once I figure them out, I constantly search for projects or people to connect them with. I think that's what I am best at, connecting people to work and projects. I have been so humbled by the amazing people that I have had the chance to work with and get to know in my career.

My career has been quite diverse to date, but it’s always focused on helping people. My mom instilled a sense of public service in me at a young age. I have always seen it as an honour to give back and volunteer - as well as a lot of fun. Although there is this perspective that younger generations don't give back to the community like previous ones, I believe they do - just in different ways.

I am a constant learner so I love jumping into different sectors and positions that provide me a new perspective on Prince Edward Island or Atlantic Canada. I have worked in environment, newcomers, federal politics, health sector, tourism, and startups. I believe this diversity gives me a great overview to understand how these sectors do or do not work together, and what can happen to bring down the silos.

What are you most proud of professionally? And who or why?

I would say my work in Nova Scotia. I was able to bring together all the different groups working on Active Transportation to collectively lobby the provincial and municipal governments for change. From that work there was the 1- meter rule for cyclists, which Nova Scotia was the first province in Canada to pass. The best part of that project was the talented and focused women that I worked with - Amy Schwartz and Susanna Fuller. I keep waiting for a future project that will bring us back together again.

I was also blown away by the support I received when I started Fusion Charlottetown. We had over 300 young people come out to talk about their dreams for Charlottetown at the launch. Three years later, it is going strong under new leadership and helping shape young leaders in the city.

What's your vision for Atlantic Canada in 10 years? What’s our biggest opportunity now?

Atlantic Canada is going to be a hub for innovative, authentic companies. I think our brand as producers of quality products can help create a niche market for Atlantic Canada manufactured goods, food products, and tech. We need to capitalize on that brand and understand that our people are an important part of that brand.

What was your greatest stage of growth?  What made it a shift for you? 

I grew the most when I was in 21 Inc. I felt that the peer group was a great way to have a group of people seeing opportunities for your career and support each other in growing in all aspects.

What's your favourite or most read book or podcast? Now or at each of your greatest stages of growth?
‘Let My People Go Surfing’ by Yvon Chouinard was impactful for me because it spoke about losing your path and the impact that will have on your business. Not defining where you are going and what you stand for is a dangerous method to go through life and your career. You need to know who you are and why you are committed to the career or causes you work on.

What's your deepest learning from this past year? How did/will you apply it?

Wow, well I became a mom. From a personal perspective, it put everything into focus. I learned to breath and enjoy the moments as they will fly by. From a professional and community perspective, I realized that simple changes that can occur to support parents with their multiple priorities.

 Who's inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?

Every woman that has stood for public office. It takes guts and isn't set up for women to be successful so for that I thank them and they give me inspiration that things will and can change.

What would you have done differently?

To be honest, I am very happy so I wouldn't change much, but I think I would have stopped thinking I needed to earn positions and take more chances realizing that I have a lot to offer.

What motivated you to make the choices you've made? What are the principles you live by?

I always want to feel like I am helping people and the world. I have worked in multiple fields, but always want to know that I am making a difference. My mom always told me to follow my gut. The only times I have gotten into trouble is when I didn't listen to it.

How have you recovered from fractured professional relationships?  What uncomfortable truths have you learned about yourself in those experiences)?

I always say, don't burn bridges. Sometimes a difficult interaction can lead to a great relationship. I am very big on people being honest and blunt. It can create some uncomfortable conversations, but you are much further ahead after you have those than if you continue to avoid the issue. The biggest thing in any relationship is to figure out and understand their motivation. The issue might just be divergent motivations or it could just be different methods to meet the same end.


Policy maker, Advocate, Connector, Executive, Founder, Supporter, Nerd