Mary Ellen Bench joined StrategyCorp in 2019 and has over thirty years experience in municipal public service, mostly in leadership roles in the legal department at the City of Toronto and as the City of Mississauga City Solicitor. In those roles, she was often engaged on project teams outside of the traditional legal role because of her practical approach to achieving solutions that work for all parties.
While at Toronto Mary Ellen advocated for Toronto to become a Charter City, a project led by the City Manager’s office and also was an instrumental part of the team that supported the City’s 2008 Olympic bid, led by then Mayor Lastman’s office. She supported the governance review of the City that followed amalgamation under the leadership of then Councillor David Miller and participated on staff governance reviews as well.
At Mississauga, as City Solicitor she led the implementation of a Council Code of Conduct and the appointment of its Integrity Commissioner, and has played instrumental roles to achieve key land use planning, economic development, large infrastructure projects and other key projects in the City. She is very familiar with brownfield and other land development, development incentives, elections issues, regulatory and governance models that impact municipalities, risk assessments, project management and options for providing municipal services.
She has gained a reputation as a problem-solver and strategic partner both in the municipalities where she has worked, and in the many advocacy and professional associations she has been involved in, including the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association (CCCA), Women’s General Counsel Canada (WGCC) and the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA). Mary Ellen is past president of the International Municipal Lawyers Association, and has held various positions on boards and committees that include Canoe Kayak Ontario, Canoe Kayak Canada, and Learning Disabilities Association of Mississauga (now of Peel Region). In these roles she has led mergers and governance reviews of not-for-profits, advocacy initiatives and strategic planning exercises.
Mary Ellen has a BA in political science from York University and attended Osgoode Hall Law School. She was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1986, and is recognized by the Law Society of Ontario as a certified specialist in Municipal Law,
Local Government/ Land Use Planning and Development and is also designated as a certified inhouse counsel (CIC.C) by the CCCA and Rotman School of Business.
She participates as a speaker in many forums, as an executive-in-residence at the Rotman CIC.C program, and has been honoured with awards from many of these associations.