In Canada: Kids Can Press’ Lisa Lyons Johnston To Depart

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The longtime chief of Kids Can Press in Toronto, Lisa Lyons Johnston, is being replaced by a team of three in a Corus Entertainment shakeup.

Kids Can Press president and publisher Lisa Lyons Johnston, front row on right, is seen at Bologna Children’s Book Fair in March on the PublisHer stand. PublisHer founder Bodour Al Qasimi is seated second from the left. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Kids Can Press To Be Led by Three Associates
Familiar to Publishing Perspectives‘ international readership for her 15-year leadership of the Canadian children’s publisher Kids Can Press, the news today (April 24) is that president and publisher Lisa Lyons Johnston is leaving the company as the result of a restructuring at parent company Corus Entertainment.

Many of our readers will have seen Johnston at Bologna Children’s Book Fair last month, where she was a supporter of the inaugural PublisHer stand, hosting the program’s International Women’s Day breakfast presentation.

Lisa Lyons Johnston

And Johnston has made a point of developing children’s content for animated film, leveraging the subsidiary relationship that Kids Can Press has with the production company Nelvana, both the children’s publisher and the filmmaker being parented by Corus.

Johnston’s last appearance in her current role is to be made on May 10, when she’ll appear at the Canadian consulate general in New York City with a “CitizenKid” showcase that encourages youngsters to learn about and support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) program from the United Nations and the International Publishers Association. CitizenKid is a focused part of the Kids Can Press list that targets international issues with various media including books, videos, and teaching guides.

Johnston is to remain with the company through May 19 in a consulting capacity during the transition.

No rationale for the restructuring has been provided, but it appears to be a case in which the top executive will be replaced by several people. News reports have indicated to a 7-percent slip in stock prices earlier this month, when Corus Entertainment’s earnings report showed revenue of CA$343.9 million, down from CA$361.7 million in the second quarter of 2022. As Sean Mason writes at ProactiveInvestors.com, “Corus also recorded a 2Q loss attributable to shareholders of $15.5 million, or $0.08 per diluted share, for the quarter ended February 28, compared with a profit of $16.2 million, or $0.08 per diluted share, a year earlier.”

The financial analysis program Seeking Alpha on March 31 referred to pressures on Corus that include challenges to Corus’ core business in television advertising; “the risk of a free-cash-flow cliff”; and an opinion that “growth investments” may have had “limited success thus far in offsetting the decline in [Corus] legacy business.”

The restructuring will see “expanded leadership roles” handed to a three-person team by Corus. That troika is:

  • Lara Caplan, associate publisher and lead on operations and business development
  • Naseem Hrab, associated publisher for creative interests
  • Sara Labrie, director of sales and marketing

The trio of women who are to lead Kids Can Press as president and publisher Lisa Lyons Johnston leaves in a restructuring, are, from left, Lara Caplan, Naseem Hrab, and Sarah Labrie

‘Fresh, Talented Voices’

Corporate media messaging stresses a forward-looking notion involving “additional opportunities with Nelvana, Kids Can Press’ partner in content creation at Corus, while continuing to strengthen its acclaimed core publishing program, discovering fresh, talented voices and developing new stories with its roster of the best authors and  illustrators in the industry.”

Caplan, the company points out, has been with Kids Can Press for five years, and earlier was with Nelson Education and Pearson Education Canada. Hrab is an author who has won the Governor General’s Literary Award in illustrated books for The Sour Cherry Tree, with Nahid Kazemi. Labrie, the latest to join the company, earlier was at Penguin Random House Canada and Scholastic Canada.

Kids Can Press is a signatory of the SDG Publishers Compact from the United Nations and the International Publishers Association (IPA). Our associates at the IPA report that close to 300 publishers now have signed the pact since its inception at Frankfurter Buchmesse in October 2020.

Publishing Perspectives readers will recall that Kids Can Press, under Johnston’s administration, has become a signatory to the SDG Publishers Compact.


More from Publishing Perspectives on Canada’s Kids Can Press is here, more on children’s books is here, and more from us on books-to-film development is here. More on the Canadian market is here, more on sustainability issues is here, and more on the SDG Publishers Compact is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s world media partner.

Our readers will recall that our reportage of personnel changes in world publishing is limited to top positions (usually C-level) in companies that have demonstrated international influence and reach.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.