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Anne Innis Dagg wrote 25 books about giraffes.Alison Reid/Courtesy of Alison Reid

The organizers: Anne Innis Dagg and Mary Dagg

The pitch: Creating the Anne Innis Dagg Foundation

The cause: To raise awareness about giraffes

In 1956 Anne Innis Dagg was a 23-year-old biology student from Toronto when she took an extraordinary trip to South Africa that started a lifelong passion for giraffes.

Ms. Dagg went on to write 25 books about giraffes and she became a leading expert on the animals. Despite her groundbreaking research and a doctorate in animal behaviour, Ms. Dagg couldn’t land a job as a tenured professor. “Just about all of the universities really, really, really, didn’t want to have any women professors, it seemed, especially in science,” Ms. Dagg recalled in a documentary titled The Woman Who Loves Giraffes. “I wrote many scientific books on animals but much of the rest of my life was trying to get fairness for women.”

Last year her daughter, Mary Dagg, and a group of supporters created the Anne Innis Dagg Foundation to promote conservation efforts. The foundation has raised about $50,000 so far and it funds several programs in Africa to protect giraffes, which are on the verge of extinction. “The focus of the foundation is about raising awareness about what’s happening with giraffes in the wild but it’s also a celebration of all the other contributions Mom had made whether as an author or whether as a feminist,” said Mary, who lives in Oakville, Ont., and is the former director of finance at the law firm Stikeman Elliott. Her mother, 88, lives in Waterloo, Ont., and she returned to South Africa a few years ago to help make the film, which was released in 2018.

Ms. Dagg’s story has touched the lives of many people like Myrna Gabbidon, a retired teacher in Toronto who also runs a free book program for children. Ms. Gabbidon became fascinated by giraffes while teaching in Tanzania years ago. She’s donated a painting of giraffes by the African artist John Kilaka which will be auctioned off to raise money for the foundation. She’s also pursuing other fundraising ideas for the organization. “I just love giraffes,” Ms. Gabbidon said.