President’s Community Impact Awards

president's impact awards

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2020 President's Community Impact Awards

Community Leaders

Ambika Opal

Ambika Opal

Ambika Opal demonstrates her commitment to sustainability and social inclusion through avid volunteerism. She sits on the boards of the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region and REEP Green Solutions, and volunteers with newcomers at Reception House Waterloo Region. She is committed to youth engagement, coaching for several years with Special Olympics KW and the KW Sertoma Speed Skating Club, and she is a former facilitator of the Waterloo Riding Youth Council. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ambika has sewed masks, supported remote learning for newcomer families and planned outdoor concerts for seniors.

Paul Parker

Paul Parker

Twenty-one years ago, Faculty of Environment professor Paul Parker joined with three University of Waterloo colleagues and a local non-profit to create the Residential Energy Efficiency Project, now REEP Green Solutions. Their goal was to match academic research with practical action in the community, and Paul’s passion for climate action has led to tremendous impact. As a community advocate and champion of student engagement in the community, Paul’s commitment has included longstanding participation on the REEP board of directors, including five years as chair.


University champions

Sanctuary refugee health care PCIA

Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre

Since its beginnings in 2013, Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre (SRHC) has grown into a non-profit organization located in downtown Kitchener that cares for over 5,400 patients from 84 countries. They have initiated two substantial research partnerships with the University of Waterloo; a Department of Psychology study of the emotional well-being of refugee newcomers to Waterloo Region and a study of food and nutritional insecurity among refugee newcomers through the School of Public Health and Health Systems. At any time, close to 20 University students volunteer with the Centre.

legacy PCIA

KW Legacy Leaders

Co-founded by University of Waterloo alumni Mike Denomme and his late brother Brian, KW Legacy Leaders is a grassroots group of people who grew up in Waterloo Region and have an earnest desire to give back to their home community. Ten of the members are University of Waterloo alumni. Since 2015, the group has raised over $520,000 to support 55 student scholarships for incoming University students, the School of Pharmacy and St. Jerome’s University. Alongside the scholarship, students also gain access to KW Legacy’s network of mentors.


Waterloo’s leaders come from all corners of our University and out in the community. These leaders champion the impact of our institution and make it stronger along the way. As our community and society continue to chart a path forward through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we need to recognize and honour these pioneering individuals and organizations more than ever.

The President’s Community Impact Awards were created to recognize and celebrate these leaders. Now, we are searching for more.

Award winners may be distinguished through such community service activities as volunteer work, public speaking, school outreach, or other outstanding community service.

The awards will:

  • Reward and recognize community excellence
  • Inspire us to engage in activities that develop leadership, foster social responsibility and contribute to the well-being of our community
  • Promote community pride and participation
  • Engage with, serve, and draw strength from the diversity of our external communities.

Awards are intended to recognize community contributions over and above duties for which the individual is paid or that the individual is completing as a part of a degree program.

Previous recipients of these awards will not be eligible.

Award categories

Up to four awards will be awarded each calendar year.

Community Leader awards (up to two per year). A Community Leader is a current University of Waterloo student, faculty or staff member.

University Champion awards (up to two per year). A University Champion is an individual or organization from the Waterloo Region and city of Stratford who has demonstrated a commitment to championing the impact of the University in our community either through partnership with the institution or in working with individual students, faculty or staff of the University.

Nomination process - currently closed

Nominations will be received from the community and campus each year by submitting a brief nomination package that includes:

For more information, review the guidelines for supporting documentation and where to submit a nomination.

Review and selection process

Nominations will be reviewed by a selection panel led by

  • the Office of the President
  • Community Relations & Events
  • the Staff Association
  • the Faculty Association
  • the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association
  • the Graduate Students Association
  • Human Resources

Have questions? Please contact