An event to recognize those who have dedicated volunteer efforts to York University’s School of Public Policy & Administration (SPPA) was held on Nov. 17, and included a dinner and awards.
The annual Student, Alumni & Community Recognition Awards Dinner is a formal thank you to those who have helped to enrich the learning experience and extracurricular activities of students.
Professor Alena Kimakova, SPPA director, opened the event with reflections on the value of service to the school, its undergraduate and graduate student body, learning outcomes and practical experience. She also touched on the professional development of both the student beneficiaries and the volunteers, and noted the engagement offers learning and growth for all those involved.
The evening provided an opportunity for guests to engage in discussions on the meaning and challenges of professional, non-partisan public service that the school, as well as alumni and other partners, prepares its students for. There were nearly 80 guests in attendance, including students, alumni and faculty members.
Victor Severino (BA Spec. Hons. ’88, public policy and administration), returned to York to offer his keynote address, “Reflections on a public service career in (partial) review.” Severino is assistant deputy minister of the Business Climate & Funding Administration Division of the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Growth and the Ministry of Research, Innovation & Science. He discussed strategic policy relating to investment, trade negotiations and economic development. He is also Ontario’s Chief Negotiator for the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), a volunteer with a number of organizations, including the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) and, most recently, a part of the school’s own innovative mentorship circle pilot program.
Following the keynote address, several awards were presented to exceptional individuals for their dedication and leadership in the following categories:
Undergraduate Student Award to Melissa Calanza, bachelor of public administration honours, international development studies minor (’16)
• A passionate student leader and peer mentor, Calanza currently works for the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care, Digital Health Solutions & Innovation Branch, Project Management Office. She is also the recipient of the 2016 McLaughlin Academics Choice Award. At the school’s celebration she was accompanied by her proud parents, Mon and Felisa Calanza.
Graduate Student Award to Georgette Morris, master of public policy, administration and law (’16)
• Professor Dagmar Soennecken, director of the MPPAL program, presented the award to Morris for all of her volunteering with the Graduate Students’ Association and for fostering the interaction between the school’s undergraduate and MPPAL students. Her professional career spans positions from municipal government (City of Mississauga, City of Brampton) to the federal public service (Citizenship & Immigration Canada, Service Canada). At the same time, she is also a long-standing and avid volunteer with a number of non-profit organizations.
Alumni Award to Kevin Giddings, master of public policy, administration and law (’15)
• Kimakova highlighted that Giddings only strengthened his engagement with the school following his graduation. He is a tireless supporter not only of the MPPAL program, but also of the undergraduate BPA and professional certificate programs in a variety of ways. He has been employed with the Ontario Public Service (OPS) for over 15 years and currently works as a project policy analyst in the Emergency Health Services Branch of the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care.
Practicum Honouree Award to Sharon Walker, manager, Emergency Planning, City of Vaughan
• Professor Peter Constantinou, the school’s experiential education coordinator, presented the award to Walker for her enthusiastic support of experiential education initiatives and the opportunities she has provided to the fourth-year undergraduate students in the form of a practicum placement and a hands-on program evaluation project integrated into the courses.
High-School Essay Contest Award to Saba Manzoor, Turner Fenton High School, International Baccalaureate program, Brampton, Ont.
• On the occasion of Canada’s upcoming 150th anniversary, the school and its undergraduate Public Policy & Administration Student Association (PPASA) issued a call this year to high school students to share their vision for Canada’s next 150 years. Munisha Basiram, PPASA president, and Kimakova presented the award to Manzoor for her thoughtful and inspiring essay, titled “Cognitive Capital and the Role of Policy Development.” While only in Grade 12, she already has an impressive track record of volunteer engagement and leadership. The SPPA community embraced her accomplishment and the promise she shows with a great deal of excitement.
The evening of celebration concluded with remarks by Robert Haché, vice-president Research & Innovation, and Adriano Mena, the evening’s master of ceremonies, recipient of the 2014 SPPA Alumni Award and tireless supporter of our students and programs. The school aims to inspire junior students, returning alumni and first-time event participants to become engaged with the school and make meaningful contributions to the student community in a variety of ways.
The next call for nominations for the SPPA Student, Alumni & Community Awards will open in January 2017.