Meet our CEO

Meet Patricia Erb, President and CEO

“I was confronted with poverty, injustice, and inequality. But I also witnessed people working to make things better. That’s what started me down this path…”

It was while travelling through Bolivia at the young age of 14 that Patricia Erb decided she would dedicate her life to helping others. In Bolivia, she witnessed overwhelming poverty – children and families struggling simply to survive. It inspired her life’s work to help break the cycle of poverty and social injustice.

Patricia later attended university in Buenos Aires during the time of the military junta. She became a student leader and social activist, working in the city’s ghettos. It was a time of great unrest and violent repression by the military government.

During her time as an activist in Argentina, 19-year-old Patricia was imprisoned. She was held captive for four weeks and tortured at a secret army site called Campo de Mayo. Patricia is certain her life was saved by the public outcries of her parents and others.

Video: Get to know our CEO

Patricia’s ordeal as one of the ‘disappeared’ was a catalyst. Collaborating with others, she later influenced the United States to cut military funding to the Argentine government and pressure the government to end illegal detentions and torture. By speaking out, she discovered a voice that could influence powerful change. Patricia would go on to use her voice to help children and families around the world.

“It gave me a sense of how you can change things when you are a witness, and when you speak out.”

Patricia has worked with Save the Children for more than 25 years. During that time, she has worked continuously to advance and protect child and human rights in Canada and around the globe. Patricia has held key positions including country director for Bolivia and Peru, and regional director for Latin America. She has also served as a board member for more than 20 grassroots non-governmental organizations.

A strong focus for Patricia has been her extensive work and collaboration with Indigenous peoples on issues of self-determination, cultural preservation, and community wellbeing. She received the Exceptional Services to the Human Rights Cause award from Foreign Affairs of the Argentine Government.

“Leadership is when you ignite others.”

Patricia Erb, CEO

Patricia became CEO of Save the Children Canada in 2011.

Years of life and work experience have taught Patricia that effective leadership is about fostering partnerships and positive collaboration within and across stakeholder teams.

“A leader is somebody who creates space for others to help them shine. Save the Children Canada is filled with incredible people and it is an honour and privilege to work with them, all of our partners and the children and families we serve.”

Patricia has earned two Bachelor degrees and holds a Master’s degree in International Development Planning from Cornell University. Her passionate dedication to saving and improving children’s lives, protecting their rights and creating opportunities for change, continues to influence everything we do.

“We know this isn’t about us. It’s about getting everybody involved. Mobilizing the whole world—youth especially!—to ensure that children have a healthy life, get an education, have time to play, and are prepared to live their lives to the fullest. I invite all Canadians to join Save the Children to help fulfill our mission of change.” –Patricia Erb, CEO, Save the Children Canada