Congratulations to the past recipients of the President's Community Impact Awards!
In just 60 years, the University of Waterloo has become Canada’s most innovative university. In celebration of Waterloo’s 60th anniversary, these outstanding community leaders are the inaugural recipients of the President’s Community Impact Awards. These awards recognize those who embody the University’s spirit of innovation and contribute to making Waterloo region strong and prosperous.
For almost nine years, Alison has been engaged with the Volunteer Action Centre Waterloo Region, including serving as Board Chair from 2014 to 2016. Each winter, Alison is one of the most long-serving volunteers at the Ken Seiling Waterloo Region Museum’s Doon Heritage Village, during the holiday season’s Doon by Lantern Tours. As a mathematics graduate with a non-traditional career path, Alison routinely mentors young women to encourage their explorations of careers in STEM. For six years, was the administrative officer of the University’s annual campaign in support of United Way Waterloo Region Communities, helping to raise more than $250,000 each year.
As a current Engineering student, Mariko inspires her fellow students to get involved in their community. Through the Faculty of Engineering and the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association, she has led outreach with elementary aged children at THEMUSEUM, Canstruction for The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, and takes part in the Toronto Pride parade. Through programs like Women in Engineering, Mariko is passionate about inspiring young girls to become involved in STEM. Mariko is committed to the well-being of her fellow students; she developed a mental health resource kit, and is as an active member of RAISE, Waterloo’s racial advocacy and equity club.
Stork Family YMCA and Waterloo Public Library, John M. Harper branch
The Stork Family YMCA and Waterloo Public Library’s John M. Harper branch on the University’s north campus have been partners in the Waterloo West Neighbourhood Fest (WWNF) since it began in 2012. The annual event is a free full-day, drop-in event programmed exclusively by first-year students in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies. Now in its eighth year, the event has reached over 2,500 participants. Staff and volunteers go beyond their job responsibilities to support the students. They meet with the course instructor, visit students in their class, evaluate students’ programming ideas, and provide organizational support to promote and implement the event. Without their commitment, the WWNF could not happen.
Waterloo Ravens Girls Minor Hockey Association
The Waterloo Ravens Girls Minor Hockey Association has partnered with Warrior hockey programs for the past eight years. Initially sparked by a connection when a Pee Wee team invited varsity athletes to assist with on-ice skill development, the positive experience led to a strong, long-term partnership involving 16 teams and a number of specialty programs for girls as young as three years old. To date, over 1,000 girls and 200 coaches have taken part. Going well beyond skill development, the Warriors varsity athletes act as positive role models for the girls and the athletes have the opportunity to build their own leadership skills and sense of community pride.
The School of Pharmacy's Professor Mike Beazely has contributed to the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council and has been involved with the Waterloo Region Integrated Drug Strategy (WRIDS) since its inception. As chair of the WRIDS since 2017, Mike’s leadership has contributed to prevention resources, partnerships with school boards and the Waterloo Region Local Health Integration Network, and promotion of student volunteer engagement in this critical community issue.
Robin Mazumder is a PhD candidate in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo. Robin has served on the City of Kitchener Cycling & Trails Advisory Committee and as Guest Librarian to the Kitchener Public Library in 2016. He partnered with the Waterloo Region Local Health Integration Network and the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre to make light therapy lamps available at all KPL locations and to the Waterloo campus.
Sustainable Waterloo Region
Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR) programs such as TravelWise and the Regional Sustainability Initiative have helped shape the University of Waterloo’s sustainability strategy, which was recognized with a SWR Breakthrough award in spring 2018. A unique partnership between SWR, the Cora Group, EY Canada and the University’s David Johnston Research & Technology Park (R&T Park) led to the opening of Canada’s first net-positive multi-tenant building in the R&T Park this fall. Many UWaterloo students and faculty are SWR volunteers.
Volunteer Action Centre Waterloo Region
In 2014, the Volunteer Action Centre Waterloo Region (VACWR) began a formal partnership with the University’s Federation of Students (FEDS ) , leading to the launch of the FEDS Volunteer Centre one year later. To date, the online volunteer database has made more than 2,000 meaningful community connections for Waterloo students, as well as staff and faculty. VACWR is a regular participant at our bi-annual campus Volunteer Fairs, and have also partnered with the University’s Centre for Career Action, St. Paul’s Greenhouse, and the First Year Engineering Leadership conference.
Inaugural 2017 Recipients
Sally Gunz, Professor, School of Accounting & Finance, has an impressive history of community leadership in downtown Kitchener. Since the early 1980’s, Sally has advocated for neighborhood improvements such as changes to parks and property standards, lobbied against school closures, and tackled drug, prostitution and violence in downtown through leading a 100 person volunteer “Citizens on Patrol” program in partnership with Waterloo Region Police.
“Sally readily offers her skills, knowledge, and strong sense of ethics in service of the community to defend the interests of, and improve the quality of life for, children and families of very diverse ethnic and social backgrounds, as well as persons with disabilities.” She served as the first co-chair of the Cedar Hill Community Group, and is the founder and coordinator of the Cedar Hills Soccer League, a free program for 70- 100 children each spring. For the past seven years, Sally has been a member of the Board of Belwood Lodge and Camp.
Idrisa Pandit is Associate Professor and Director of Studies in Islam at Renison University College at the University of Waterloo. Idrisa founded Muslim Social Services, an organization that for the past ten years has served a wide range of needs for families, particularly in light of the influx of Syrian refugees in recent years. A longtime member, her work has been instrumental in breaking barriers to address policy and procedural gaps in service alongside the Waterloo Region District School Board and Waterloo Regional Police.
She is known as an insightful and courageous advocate to promote respect and dialogue in our community; she is also a donor and hands-on volunteer. Her work through the House of Friendship and the Chandler Mowat Community Centre has promoted food security, mental health, wellness, and community for newcomers, youth, and neighbours. “At the heart of her leadership is passion for inclusion, which drives her to affirm justice from a place of love and create a welcoming place for all.”
Mary Jane Patterson
In her role as the Executive Director of REEP, the Residential Energy Efficiency Project, and beyond, Mary Jane Patterson is a longstanding champion of the University of Waterloo. Mary Jane is an alumna of the University, having earned a Masters in Environmental Studies (2001). Both personally and professionally, Mary Jane is passionate about supporting UWaterloo students who are following in her footsteps as environmental stewards and advocates.
To date, Mary Jane has provided mentorship and employment opportunities to over 125 University of Waterloo students, through paid internships, volunteer placements, and experiential learning opportunities. In fact, each year up to 20 students are involved with the organization.
A partner with the Faculty of Environment, Mary Jane is a frequent guest lecturer at the University; she has served as a judge for final projects in SEED, worked with geography students showcasing the REEP House, and critiqued policy briefs prepared by Environment and Resource Studies students. By ensuring access to REEP data for our students, Mary Jane has facilitated energy conservation research by supporting numerous honours, masters and PhD theses.
Through its programs, THEMUSEUM aims to inspire the next generation of leaders who may well arrive at the University of Waterloo several years from now as prospective young scientists, engineers and software developers full of new and innovative ideas.
THEMUSEUM champions the impact of the University of Waterloo in our community through acting as a “community stage” on which to showcase the remarkable ideas, knowledge and technology being produced by our students and faculty, and making them accessible to children and adults in the community.
Some recent partnership examples include:
- Light Illuminated, a 2015 exhibit designed by University of Waterloo students from the Department of Physics & Astronomy and presented at THE MUSEUM;
- Quantum: The Exhibition with the Institute for Quantum Computing in late 2016, now traveling across Canada;
- A Cause for Celebration exhibit during Canada150, with the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre at St. Paul’s;
- and the upcoming INTERACTION exhibit, a new media art and video games exhibition in partnership with faculty in the Department of Fine Arts.