The annual School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) Student, Alumni and Community Recognition Awards ceremony took place for the first time in virtual format, on Nov. 26.
In today’s world, public service takes centre stage worldwide, and the School’s alumni, students and community partners have stepped up efforts to meet the needs of the stakeholders they serve, turning unprecedented problems into opportunities for innovation. Following the annual tradition, last year’s recipient of the Alumni Recognition Award, Ashley Cabral, Chair of the York University School of Public Policy and Administration Alumni Network (YUSPPAAN), served as host and moderator for the event.
The Foster-Greene Award for Excellence in Public Policy, Administration and Law was presented to alumna of the Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) program (’13), Judith D’Souza Soares. She was selected for her work as director of the Occupational Disease and Survivor Benefits Program at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and for her volunteer work advancing women’s rights and education. D’Souza Soares has served as a crisis support counsellor, and later as Chair of the Board of Directors, for the Women’s Support Network of York Region, and as co-Chair of the National Education Program Committee for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund.
The Undergraduate Student Award was presented to Gurkamal Dhahan, 2020 graduate of the BPA program and intern with the Ontario Legislature Internship Program. Dhahan is a seasoned student association leader and an ultimate team player, who has balanced roles with ease and graduated as a member of the Dean’s Honour Roll.
Joana Jabson, MPPAL (’20), is the recipient of the Graduate Student Award for her engagement and service to the Graduate Students’ Association of Public Policy, Administration and Law (GSAPPAL). Jabson’s commitment and willingness to work across the graduate, undergraduate and alumni associations on various projects helped foster a creative and supportive environment for all involved.
The Best Major Research Paper Award was presented to Alyssa Offenheim (MPPAL class of ’20, BPA ’19) for her paper on the Impact Assessment Act, Climate Change, and Political Priorities in Canada, which was completed under the supervision of University Professor Brenda Spotton Visano.
University Professor Emeritus Ian Greene presented the Ian Greene Book Prize for Academic Achievement to the top five MPPAL students with the highest grade-point averages in the graduating class of 2020: Sara Gajic, Jennifer Lai, Jocelyn McCauley, Kyle Nimmrichter and Alyssa Offenheim.
Team York 2020, MPPAL students Stanley Chikombero, Shriya Dangwal, Chloë Hill, Melissa Khachik and Sindiswa Moyo, were recognized with the Team Award for their hard work in representing York University at the IPAC – CAPPA National Case Competition by their faculty member coach, John Wilkins.
Professor Joanne Magee, undergraduate program director, and Khushbu Dhaliwal, president of the undergraduate Public Policy and Administration Student Association, introduced the 2020 winners of the “What is Your Vision for Canada?” high school essay contest.
First prize: Erin Rebello, Grade 12, Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School, Toronto – “Prioritizing the Healthcare Needs of Black and Indigenous Persons of Colour.”
Second prize: Noah Smale, Grade 10, Middleton Regional High School, Middleton, NS – “A Vision When Time is of the Essence.”
Third prize: Selina Alora, Grade 11, St. Joseph’s College School, Toronto – “Climate Change in Canada.”
Professor Alena Kimakova, SPPA director, presented Asare Kester-Akrofi (MPPAL, ’20) with the Emerging Leader Award. He was selected for the award for his ability to achieve academic excellence in the MPPAL program while simultaneously earning a promotion to program manager, Business Licensing & Regulatory Services, Municipal Licensing & Standards Division with the City of Toronto.
The Alumni Recognition Award was given to Marco Giancarlo, who completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at SPPA in 2009 and 2015, and has been an engaged alumnus ever since. He is always accessible to the School’s students, said Kimakova, and exemplifies the qualities of alumni that are recognized for continuing to give back to the School.
The School also recognized Alexey Togunov, manager of the Project Management Office at the Ministry of the Attorney General, for enthusiastically maintaining practicum opportunities for our undergraduate students in public administration despite the challenges of remote work.