Ken Macdonald: Executive Director of National Programs

Man wearing suit and glasses smiles at camera.
Photo: Ken Macdonald
Ken Macdonald pictured in Eureka, Nunavut, in 2006.
Photo: Ken Macdonald pictured in Eureka, Nunavut, in 2006

“I could never have imagined the opportunities that I would get in this career.”

Meet Ken Macdonald.

Ken Macdonald is the Executive Director of National Programs for the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC). Over his 46-year career, Ken has made many lasting memories and witnessed advancements that continue to inspire his work each day.

Ken came to Canada at a young age immigrating from the United Kingdom with his parents. Attributing his hardworking spirit to his Scottish heritage, Ken says that he is grateful for the opportunity to have found a career that has always captured him and presented him with endless challenges and opportunities.

Ken first joined Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) in 1975. “I started my career wanting nothing more than to be an operational forecaster but ironically moved on from that in less than 5 years,” he remembers. “One of my favourite things about working at ECCC is the variety of the work. I feel as if I’ve had 6 careers within a career.” With time spent in forecast operations, training, research, operational development, client relations management and executive leadership, Ken brings a wealth of experience to his current role.

Working across a number of different capacities within ECCC has also provided Ken with a unique perspective on the advancements of each function in the MSC. “The evolution of the technology in 46 years has been nothing less than amazing, both within the forecast office and in the computer models that provide such incredible precision and skill,” he says. “In the early years of my career, virtually all weather observing was done by humans. I have seen the advancing of sensors and automated observing systems to the point where this is almost exclusively an automated process today.”

Another highlight of Ken’s career is having the chance to travel and work in many cities. “I have had the opportunity to travel for work to every corner of Canada, from the High Arctic to Sable Island and from St. John’s to Victoria, and to foreign cities in Europe, South America and Asia,” he says. Ken’s greatest memory was when he visited Eureka, Alert and Resolute Bay on a trip to the arctic 15 years ago. “It was such a privilege to see that incredible part of the country and visit places that few Canadians ever get the chance to see firsthand.”

This fall, Ken Macdonald was announced as the recipient of the Emergency Management Exemplary Service Award. This prestigious award recognizes exceptional service and achievement in the areas of prevention, preparation, response, and recovery from emergencies and disasters in Canada. Ken was proud to receive this award in recognition of his contributions towards the establishment of the National Public Alerting System (NPAS), which plays a crucial role in protecting the lives of Canadians.

To learn more about the advancements of Canada’s weather service, visit: Timeline: Major milestones of the Meteorological Service of Canada –

Here are a few random facts about Ken:

  • What was your first job? An after-school job, 5 days a week, when I was in the tenth grade as a dishwasher at a university residence.
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Australia and New Zealand. That is one corner of the world that I haven’t had the chance to visit with work, and I have always wanted to see it.
  • What is your favourite game or sport to watch and play? When I was younger, I enjoyed playing hockey. Today I love watching almost any sport and have taken road trips to see the Blue Jays play baseball in several America cities.
  • If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to? I would like to go back to 1867 and the time of Confederation. I am deeply curious about the society of the day and thinking of the people that made the decisions that seem so horrific to us today.
  • What form of public transportation do you prefer? (air, boat, train, bus, car, etc.) I love to fly and used to regret not pursuing a career as a pilot.
  • What's your favourite zoo animal? Elephant.
  • Summer or winter? When I was younger, it was winter but with each passing year, I find that it is spring and summer that I look forward to most.
  • What's your favourite holiday? Travelling by road on the West Coast of Canada.
  • Do you love or hate rollercoasters? Love.
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years? With luck, I will be watching my 6 grandchildren progressing through high school and on to post-secondary education.

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