J. Stephens Allan FCA, ICD.D
Steve Allan is a respected chartered accountant, tireless volunteer and community leader who advocates for economic development, poverty reduction, sports and the arts. In his home town of Calgary, Steve is an esteemed connector, linking good people to great causes and community initiatives.
“Honesty and integrity, our can-do attitude, your word is your bond, our entrepreneurial spirit, our neighborliness, our welcoming openness, our love of the land… those values describe our community. And they really describe Alberta.”
Jackson Stephens Allan was born in Calgary in 1944. Steve’s family settled in Calgary in the 1880s, making him a proud member of the Southern Alberta Pioneers and Their Descendants. Steve fondly remembers growing up in the much smaller Calgary of the 1950s. Steve’s father and older brother were chartered accountants, so in the absence of a strong career preference, Steve somewhat reluctantly followed the example of his family and many of his friends by entering into the field of accounting.
Steve was a member of the University of Calgary’s first Bachelor of Commerce graduating class in 1967. From there he took an articling position at Price Waterhouse, which entailed extensive audit work. He quickly realized this was not the ideal career for him. His father encouraged him to go through with his qualifying exam nevertheless. Steve agreed on the condition that if he did not pass, he would be done with accounting.
He passed the exam and went from auditing to management consulting work. Upon the death of his father in 1975, Steve took over his father’s practice and merged the firm with Collins Barrow. In 1979, he earned his trustee’s licence and began doing bankruptcy work. Despite his initial reluctance with the profession, he found a niche for his career, with a focus on corporate restructuring, insolvency and forensic accounting. He also became active in the governance of the profession, serving as President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta (now CPA Alberta) in 1992-93. He remains an active volunteer with the organization.
Steve’s career has seen him involved with some of the most high profile and significant insolvency files in Alberta, including Abacus Cities Ltd., Principal Group Ltd., Canadian Airlines, Bre-X and many others. He has given evidence as an expert witness in many criminal and civil court proceedings and in 2005, LEXPERT Magazine named him one of the Top 20 Expert Witnesses in Canada.
Every organization can use a good accountant and when the accountant is willing to volunteer his time, the opportunities are endless. Steve has acted as a trustee or an advisor in a number of high-profile cases affecting arts, sports and social organizations with deep meaning to the Calgary community, in essence ensuring their future. Steve’s pro bono work helping to restructure the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra was recognized by the Turnaround Management Association and won him an Award of Distinction from the National Post Awards for Business in the Arts. Steve’s expertise and sense of community helped the Stampeders Football Club through their highly publicized restructuring in 1986. Steve also provided his professional services to help restructure the Banff World Television Festival (now the Banff World Media Festival) and to the City of Calgary on behalf of several non-profit and charitable organizations, including the Bowness Community Association, Crowfoot Recreational facility, Family Leisure Centre, Acadia Recreation Centre and many others.
Over the 40 years that he has been involved with the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, including his time as a director and board chair, Steve has left a remarkable legacy. His work as Co-chair of the Reputation Management Committee helped to revitalize the Stampede and renew and refresh its connections with the community. He also Co-chaired the Master Plan Committee that established the Plan that is still being implemented to create a year round gathering place for the community. During his time as Chair of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, the long awaited expansion of Stampede Park was completed and the implementation of the Master Plan was underway. His recent term as Chair of the Calgary Stampede Foundation afforded him the pleasure of seeing several of the visionary elements of the Master Plan, notably Enmax Park and significant components of the Youth Campus, completed.
Steve has lent his tremendous leadership skills to the boards of numerous other organizations including the Saddledome Foundation, the Calgary Committee to End Homelessness, the Calgary Foundation, University Technologies Inc., the Calgary Golf and Country Club, Rideau-Roxboro Community Association and the Calgary Zoological Society. At the request of the Mayor, he co-chaired the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative and chaired the Project Advisory Committee to Refresh Calgary’s Economic Strategy. He currently chairs the Leadership and Implementation Team for the Economic Strategy. In 2007, Steve became Chair of the Canadian Tourism Commission (now Destination Canada). During his term, Canada entered new markets in India and Brazil and achieved Approved Destination Status in China. In 2010, for the first time ever, Canada became the top tourism brand in the world.
Steve is currently Chair of Calgary Economic Development and McMahon Stadium Society; Board Vice Chair of the Neyaskweyahk Trust of the Ermineskin Cree Nation and a Governor of the University of Calgary.
Steve has been an active Rotarian since 1980 and has served as President of the Rotary Club of Calgary and Governor of District 5360. He was President of the Club in 1994-95 when the Stay-in-School program was initiated and has mentored ten children in this program from grade six through to high school completion. He also helped to create and is one of the stewards of the Rotary Tom Jackson Stay-in-School program, focused on Indigenous youth.
Steve’s professional excellence and dedication to his community have been recognized with an impressive diversity of awards. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta made him a Fellow in 1992 and a life member in 1993. He received the Distinguished Service Award in 2004 and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. He has also received the Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary International. He was named City of Calgary Citizen of the Year in 2006, Heart of Calgary Award recipient from Volunteer Calgary in 2008 and Distinguished Alumni of the Year for 2009 by the Calgary Board of Education. He received an Honourary Chieftainship from the Five Tribes of the Treaty Seven Nations of Indian Village at Stampede Park and was given the name Aa-koh-hkii-to-pii, or “Chief Rides Many Horses.” He has received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Alberta Centennial Medal and the Distinguished Service Medallion from the Canadian Forces. Venture Magazine named him one of Alberta’s Most Influential People in 2010.
Steve’s commitment and talent are not limited to the boardroom, but also have an athletic focus. After an active childhood and youth, Steve noticed he was spending far too much time seated at a desk and leading a sedentary life as an adult. He remedied this by running laps around the badminton courts at the Glencoe Club in the late 1960s, long before running had become a popular activity. He graduated from running laps to running in road races, completing his first marathon in 1983. He went on to complete four more marathons, including Boston, and competed in triathlons. He considers exercise to be an essential part of his life that contributes immeasurably to his mental health and overall productivity. He still runs, cycles, skis, golfs and works out several times a week.
Steve considers himself the luckiest guy in the world to have had such a range of opportunities in life and to do the things he has done. “It's way beyond what I would have expected... people really can achieve what they put their minds to. There are no limits.”
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