Banker, philanthropist and community leader Tony Loffreda, who was RBC’s Vice-Chair for Wealth Management, was recently named to the Senate. He is the first native born Canadian of Italian origin to be so honored, and he told The Suburban that he is very proud of that fact.
Mr. Loffreda has held numerous positions of responsibility at RBC ranging from senior auditor and Regional Vice President of Commercial Financial Services at the Quebec headquarters, to his last position as Vice-Chair. He has also been the public face of RBC chairing, or co-chairing, some 120 charity initiatives through all communities. Among them have been the Giant Steps School, the Montréal Jewish General Hospital and the Montréal Cancer Institute. The boy from Ahuntsic has never forgotten where he came from nor the importance of paying it forward.
In addition, he is on the Concordia University Board of Governors, the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montréal, Montréal International, the Fondation communautaire Canadienne-Italienne, and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada. He also previously served as a member of the executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal.
He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Governor General of Canada Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Merit, the Canadian Senate’s 150th Anniversary Medal and the Philhellene of the Year Award by the Hellenic Community of Greater Montréal. He was also inducted as an administrator into the Montréal-Concordia Regional Soccer Hall of Fame.
But he is so much more than just the awards and titles. In business and the law a rainmaker is someone who brings in important clients. Keeps the money flow coming, and in a big way. But there are two aspects to rainmaking. And it is not everyone who can pull it off with grace and effectiveness. Tony Loffreda may be first among equals.
Leaders come in two categories. Insiders and outsiders. A few, a very few, manage to be both. We have all met rainmakers whose sole concern is money. Whether it be a businessman, banker, lawyer, they are people who focus all their energy on a constant round of power breakfasts, meetings and presentations. They may be charitable with their money, but frankly have little time left to give of their talent. These are the insiders.
There are other rainmakers who become the public face of an enterprise or firm. They lend their names, or that of their organizations, to many worthy causes – and that is good – but their direction is driven by what their company or firm demands. What the insiders demand. These are wonderful people, but sometimes the direction they want to take an organization is not followed because they are considered good souls, and competent, but the insiders’ clout carries the day.
Tony Loffreda is one of those rare people who is both Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside. And oh how he uses his talents for the good. Tony is Teddy Roosevelt’s quintessential man who “speaks softly but carries a big stick.” And he uses that stick as a staff for the vulnerable.
Most men in his position would have been happy to sit back and enjoy the fruits of a successful career. Not Tony. He has lent his name, and active participation, to literally hundreds of important causes. I cannot think of an organization that has not benefitted from his patronage. The name Tony Loffreda as co-president or chair of an event guarantees its success. He has helped raise millions for the relief of the sick, the vulnerable and the poor. The breadth and depth of his involvement is singularly unique and it crosses all communities. But he doesn’t just lend his name.
I have witnessed first hand his effectiveness at working the phones, or working a room. Dozens of times we have talked late at night about a particular cause or event. I constantly ask him if it’s not too late and his response is always the same. “I just finished. Never enough hours but it’s okay, this is important.” That’s Tony, “It’s okay, this is important.” He understands his responsibilities.
Tony is the quintessential Montrealer. Fluently trilingual, he has never let the two solitudes, or the fake walls politicians set up, separate him from the city and community that he loves. His commitments are incredibly diverse both in objectives and geography. From the east end to the West Island, he is there. Whether heading a drive for Santa Cabrini, or the Jewish General or the kidney foundation or the West Island Women’s Shelter, he is there.
Former RBC Executive Vice-President for Public Affairs Charlie Coffey always said that he’s “just a farm boy from New Brunswick.” Tony never forgets that he’s “just a kid from Ahuntsic.” It is not feigned modesty or false piety from either. It is a common cultural trait that has stood both in good stead. And it is that humanity and conscience that Tony Loffreda will bring to the Senate, in his words, “for the good of all Canadians.”