SPPA awards recognize public servants in face of pandemic

Image announcing Awards

The annual School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA) Student, Alumni and Community Recognition Awards ceremony took place on Nov. 25. The event recognized alumni, students and community partners who continue to answer the call of service. Last year’s recipient of the Alumni Recognition Award, Marco Giancarlo, served as host and moderator for the event.

Photo of John Riches
John Riches

The unfolding pandemic has brought into focus the importance of public service along with its challenges and rewards. The keynote speaker of the event, John Riches, deputy chief of Regulatory Compliance & Administration for the Region of Durham, highlighted the post-pandemic expectations from the public must include wrap-around services and flexible programs that focus on equity.

Riches is a 2019 graduate of the Master of Public Policy, Administration and Law (MPPAL) program and received the Foster-Greene Award for Excellence in Public Policy, Administration and Law for his work as a 25-year paramedic services veteran. He is a champion for collaboration and integration across health and social service sectors to ensure patients and residents receive the proper care and support from the right providers.

The Undergraduate Student Award was presented to Khushbu Dhaliwal, president of the Public Policy and Administration Student Association (PPASA). Dhaliwal is currently participating in the post-graduate Ontario Internship Program as a program and service delivery intern with the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries.

Sylvia Gajunsingh

Sylvia Gajunsingh (MPPAL ’21), 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). Gajunsingh’s professionalism, enthusiasm and encouragement of her peers in SPPA was exemplified through her work to advance and support student success and well-being.

The Best Major Research Paper Award was presented to Gyula Kovacs (MPPAL ’21) for his paper titled, “Diversity Training in the Workplace: assessing effectiveness and outcomes,” which was completed under the supervision of MPPAL Graduate Program Director Naomi Couto.

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 average in the graduating class of 2021: Sarika Bhatnagar, Munir Chagpar, Meghan Ditta, Gyula Kovacs and Cara Santoro.

Team York 2021, MPPAL students Eva Fok, Ranziba Nehrin, Pravina Rajadurai, Dilumi Rupasinghe and Paula Tablon-Modica, were recognized with the Team Award for their work in representing the University at the IPAC–CAPPA National Case Competition with their faculty member coach John Wilkins.

SPPA Director and Associate Professor Alena Kimakova, and Vice-President of PPASA Milena Basciano, introduced the 2021 winners of the “What is Your Vision for Canada?” high school essay contest.

First prize: Pritika Lally – Grade 12, Donald A. Wilson Secondary School, Whitby, ON, for the essay “A Longing Call to Prioritize the Safety of Indigenous Women against Violence in Canada.”

Second prize: Isabella Wossen Grade 10, Omer-Deslauriers Secondary Public School, Ottawa, for the essay “Ableism: The Unspoken Social Injustice in Canada.”

Third prize: Isabella Yue Grade 12, Paul Kane High School, St. Albert, AB, for the essay Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation.”

Couto also presented Jocelyn McCauley (MPPAL ’21) with the Emerging Leader Award. McCauley is a lobbyist registrar for the Town of Collingwood and senior advisor to Metrolinx’s chief safety officer. She identifies and actions strategic priorities in the areas of corporate administration, team governance and operations, stakeholder management, safety and system assurances.

Romina Chencheva

The Alumni Recognition Award was presented to Romina Chencheva. York University School of Public Policy & Administration Alumni Network (YUSPPAAN) Learning from Leaders podcast series, a primary and formal channel of mentorship, is just one example of initiatives Chencheva created and led. She also works with the student ambassadors of YUSPPAAN to foster a growing alumni community and develop future SPPA leaders.

SPPA also recognized Mandeep Flora, director of data strategy and solutions platform at the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services for his commitment in providing practicum opportunities for our undergraduate students in public administration despite the challenges of remote work.