Now in its 16th year, the Bryden Alumni Awards celebrate outstanding alumni who have achieved the extraordinary and made remarkable contributions to York University and the community. The four leaders (pictured clockwise from left to right) who will be honoured Nov. 24 at a celebration at the Royal Ontario Museum are:
- Catherine Zahn (BSc ’74), president & CEO, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health;
- Jennifer Keesmaat (MES ’99), chief planner & executive director, City of Toronto;
- Cheyanne Ratnam (BSW ’12, MSW ’14), founder & project manager, What’s The Map: Mobilizing Newcomer Homeless Youth; Primary investigator/researcher, Child Welfare Permanency and Family Project;
- William ‘Bill’ Graham (MBA ’86), chair of the National Board, Canadian Automobile Association; executive-in-residence, Schulich School of Business, York University.
“As we celebrate a new group of Bryden recipients, we are reminded of the new ways of thinking and endless possibilities that come with a York education – and this year’s recipients are no exception,” said Jeff O’Hagan, vice-president Advancement. “Like Bryden recipients before them, our 2016 honorees inspire all of us through their outstanding achievements, leadership, and impact. These incredible York alumni have made major contributions to society, locally and globally, and encourage the entire York community – students, staff, faculty, alumni and friends – to reach even higher.”
Hosted by York alumna Jill Dempsey (BA ’04), the 2016 event features hors d’oeuvres, dinner, entertainment and more. Tickets are $100 each. Tables of 10 may be purchased for $850. Corporate tables of 10 may be purchased for $1,200. Visit http://alumniandfriends.yorku.ca/bryden2016info for more information or to purchase tickets (note that space is limited for this event).
This year, there are four categories of Bryden Alumni Awards, each of which honours a distinct set of achievements and contributions.
Outstanding Achievement: A graduate who has achieved distinction in their field and whose integrity and ability inspire alumni, faculty, staff and students. This award is intended to recognize significant achievement and should focus on mid to late-career success.
Catherine Zahn (BSc ’74) is a champion for the integration of psychiatry and neuroscience and is working to steer mental health care into the mainstream of medicine. In 2009, she was appointed the president and CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s leading mental health hospital and largest academic health science centre focused on mental illness. For 12 years prior, she held senior executive positions at the University Health Network (UHN).
At CAMH, Zahn has led the transformation of the campus into a modern and respectful hospital facility and has contributed to its reputation for diversity employment, admired corporate culture and healthcare workplace quality.
Zahn has made numerous contributions to health care in Ontario through her leadership in hospital integration, technology assessment, chronic disease management, stroke care coordination, health innovation and mental health care system improvement. She also often speaks publicly on mental health issues and makes extensive use of social media to raise awareness and promote equitable health care access.
Zahn is a professor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. She received a BSc from York University and an MD and MSc in Health Administration from the University of Toronto. Recent honours include the Order of Canada and recognition as one of Canada’s 25 most influential women by Women of Influence Inc.
Tentanda Via: A graduate who has demonstrated innovative, unconventional and daring leadership and success, reflecting the University’s motto – “The Way Must Be Tried”. This award can be given to recognize success at any point in the winner’s career, and would normally focus on mid to late-career achievements.
As chief planner ande executive director for the City of Toronto, Jennifer Keesmaat (MES ’99) is committed to creating places where people flourish. Keesmaat is an advocate for density and walkability, mid-rise development, transportation, and waterfront, and has engineered master plans for major cities across the country, including Vancouver, Saskatoon, London and Halifax.
Keesmaat’s planning practice is characterized by an emphasis on collaborations across sectors, and broad engagement with municipal staff, councils, developers, business leaders, NGO’s and residents associations. She is the leading voice on city planning in Canada, contributing to major publications such as The Globe & Mail and hosting publicly broadcasted roundtable discussions on Rogers TV.
Keesmaat has been repeatedly recognized by the Canadian Institute of Planners, OPPI, the Design Exchange, + EDRA for her innovative work in Canadian municipalities. Most recently, she was named as one of the most influential people in Toronto by Toronto Life magazine and one of the most powerful people in Canada by Macleans Magazine.
In 2012, Keesmaat debuted her first TED talk, ‘Walk to School’, and in 2013, she delivered her second, ‘Own Your City’. She is also the founder of Project Walk, which premiered its first short film in 2011, as an official selection at the TIFF. Keesmaat is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and has an MES from York University.
One to Watch: A graduate who has made a significant impact in their field and/or community within 15 years of a bachelor’s degree or 10 years of a professional/ graduate degree.
Using her extensive knowledge of and experience in the child-welfare system, and her keen interest in human rights issues pertaining to young people from within these systems, Cheyanne Ratnam (BSW ‘12, MSW ’14) is making a big name for herself.
Ratnam currently serves as project manager and founder for the ‘What’s The Map?!: Newcomer Youth Leading The Call to Action – Designing a Support System That Works’ initiative, and as a program manager with Adopt4Life Ontario. In these roles, she works to affect the educational outcomes of young people and tackle issues such as the social determinants of health, poverty and equity; community engagement, development and mobilization; and, immigration.
In addition, Ratnam has lent her considerable talent to a number of other community organizations. She is the primary investigator for the Provincial Child Welfare Permanency and Family Project and an ambassador and public speaker for the Children’s Aid Foundation. Ratnam was also involved in the Hidden in Our Midst Newcomer Homeless Youth Study and has served with the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.
Ratnam has a social service worker diploma from Centennial College, and both a BA and an MA in social work from York University.
Outstanding Contribution: A graduate who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of York and its students through exceptional service, commitment and/or philanthropic contributions. This award can be given to recognize someone who has been engaged at York for many years but also to an alumnus/alumna who has made a major impact in a short period of time.
Bill Graham is a renowned business leader with more than 40 years’ experience across the automotive, technological, investment and financial services industries. He currently serves as chair of the national board of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), representing their more than 6.2 million members across Canada.
Graham also has a long history of supporting education and future generations of business leaders at York University’s Schulich School of Business. He serves as an executive-in-residence for the International MBA Program, is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council and is the president of the Schulich Global Alumni Network. Graham also served on the board of the York University Alumni Association.
Previously, Graham was the founding president and CEO of Proponix Inc. (now part of CGI), a global technology and process outsourcing company, a role he entered after a significant career at Citibank N.A., where he served in various senior executive positions in Canada and Asia.
Graham holds an MBA (with distinction) in international finance and business from the Schulich School of Business and a BSc in mechanical engineering from Queen’s University.
Sponsored by lead partner TD, the awards are named after the late Bruce Bryden (BA ’64), founder of the York University Alumni Association and the first alumni chair of the York University Board of Governors. A passionate member of the community for nearly 30 years, Bryden’s inspiring commitment, vision and contributions helped shape York into the vibrant and innovative university it is today.