2019 Calgary Awards Recipients Bios
The Community Achievement Awards
Colin Jackson, Arts
Colin Jackson is an arts and culture advocate, entrepreneur, and changemaker. Since his arrival to Calgary in the 1990s, Colin has engaged Calgarians and led organizations to see how arts and culture intersect with other essential elements of our community. During his twelve-year tenure as CEO of the Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts (now Arts Commons), Colin transformed the Centre from a successful performance venue where only the arts society gathered, to a community pillar of the downtown core. His success in attracting a multi-million-dollar naming agreement with EPCOR was the beginning of a broader community effort to invest in a vital arts and culture scene that impacts the lives of all Calgarians.
Colin is an innovator, creating initiatives such as the Calgary Arts Development Agency and the Calgary Cultural District. As the Jarislowsky Executive Fellow in Residence at the Haskayne School of Business, Colin mentored students about the powerful connection between business and the arts. Though retired, Colin continues to champion a strong and vibrant arts community through his volunteer activities with numerous Boards and community advocacy groups. Calgary’s arts and culture scene would not be what it is today if not for the leadership and passion of Colin Jackson.
Bryan de Lottinville, Commerce
Bryan de Lottinville is making a big impact on Calgary’s business community as an entrepreneur, a disruptor, and a diversifier. In 2008, Bryan founded Benevity, with a vision to revolutionize the way companies do well by doing good. Benevity flipped the traditional corporate fundraising model on its head, providing organizations worldwide with a software platform to facilitate corporate purpose programs. Iconic brands such as Amazon, Google, Nike and Visa use Benevity’s programs to engage their employees, customers and communities, empowering them to connect to the causes that matter to them most. Bryan’s success has led to increased investment in Calgary's technology sector and diversification in our business community. Benevity is now one of Canada’s largest early-stage technology companies, proving that this kind of business can be built and thrive in Calgary.
An internationally recognized thought leader, Bryan advises senior executives on corporate social responsibility strategies that infuse purpose into their workplace culture to maximize social and business returns. This shared value philosophy benefits not just companies but society as a whole.
Ken Lima-Coelho, Community Advocate - Individual
Ken Lima-Coelho is a leader and passionate volunteer who, for many years, has given his time and talents to the Calgary community. Ken has a long history with one of our city’s pillar organizations, YMCA Calgary. After giving back through countless volunteer hours, he served on the Board. Today, he is the Vice President, Community Engagement, coming full circle as an integral member of the YMCA’s management team. Ken’s charisma, authenticity and ability to engage with people is a benefit to numerous organizations. He volunteers as emcee for events hosted by University of Calgary, Calgary Foundation, and Calgary Economic Development, to name a few. He currently chairs Calgary Foundation’s Arts and Heritage Grants Advisory Committee, is a Board Director with cSPACE Projects and sits on the Best of Calgary advisory committee.
Nearly 28 years ago, Ken co-founded the award-winning comedy acapella group, The Heebee-jeebees. The quartet supports many community and fundraising events with free concerts, helping to raise millions for local charities.
As a community connector and conversation starter, Ken is truly interested in what people have to say, particularly when it comes to our city. Ken’s love for his hometown drives his desire to make our city a wonderful place to live for all Calgarians.
Leftovers Foundation, Community Advocate Organization
Each week in Calgary, Leftovers Foundation volunteers distribute 6,000 pounds of surplus food to service agencies. Leftovers Foundation works in partnership with local restaurants, bakeries, grocers and distributors to ensure edible food is redirected into the hands of those that need it most, while diverting waste from our landfills. Real-time coordination is all online, with vendors, drivers and agencies all connected via the ‘Leftovers’ smartphone app, developed by a group of high school STEM students. In 2019, volunteers rescued over 230,000 pounds of food that served over 122,000 meals to Calgarians in need. Building on the success of the food rescue program, Leftovers launched Fresh Routes Mobile Grocery Store in 2018, bringing healthy, fresh and affordable food into the city’s marginalized and vulnerable neighbourhoods. The mobile store makes 60 stops a month and is entirely volunteer-run.
Led by founder Lourdes Juan and a dedicated Board of community leaders, Leftovers Foundation is fulfilling a critical need in our city, enabling service agencies to spend less on food and direct donation and grant monies into essential client programming. This tremendous community mobilization initiative is expanding to other cities across Canada, with this innovative Calgary non-profit leading the way.
Dr. David Keegan, Education
Dr. David Keegan is an international leader in the field of education and family medicine. When he was recruited by the University of Calgary in 2008 as the Undergraduate Education Director in Family Medicine, less than 20 percent of the school's medical students were choosing family medicine as their career path. David set out to develop and implement a formal curriculum aimed at increasing medical student awareness, skills and interest in pursuing family medicine as a specialty. By 2014, over 40 percent of students were specializing in family medicine.
Since 2015, David has been Associate Dean of Faculty Development, developing and implementing a leadership development program for faculty members. In February 2019, the program was made available to Calgary’s health and social sector agencies with great success.
David is committed to enhancing learning opportunities for the local and international medical community. He is instrumental in the development of online education resource platforms so health professionals worldwide can share information and collaborate on ground-breaking healthcare solutions.
David has a passion for his work, always creating opportunities to better our city while enabling others to learn and succeed. When he’s not working, David can be found volunteering in his community, inspiring youth to achieve academically, and on the playing field.
Rob Lennard, Heritage
Rob Lennard, also known as `The History Wrangler`, showcases his passion for Calgary`s history through storytelling, songs, books, and entertainment. As Historian and Director of Education and Outreach at the Historic Bow Valley Ranche in Fish Creek Provincial Park, Rob developed programs for elementary schools. Through his theatrical and interactive modules, he has taught hundreds of Calgary students, both at the Ranche and in classrooms throughout the city. He has also developed and hosted the Lieutenant Governor’s Alberta History Quiz Show, a 21-episode series aimed at grade four students. The videos were filmed in 2019 with student audiences at museums and historical sites, including four in Calgary, and are being debuted this year.
Rob`s Twitter account, featuring well-researched tidbits on Alberta`s history, are enjoyed by his 3,500 followers. He is also the organizer of the annual Calgary and Central Alberta Region Heritage Fair. In previous years Rob wrote a book for Alberta's centennial, containing over 300 historical facts with many pertaining to Calgary; he was also a contributing author on two children’s books on Calgary`s history, published by the Chinook Country Historical Society.
Azaad Gill, Youth
Azaad Gill, a student at John G. Diefenbaker High School, is a champion for safety, education and philanthropy. During his grade nine year at Captain Nicola Goddard School, he lobbied for a safer crosswalk to address the growing traffic issues in the Panorama Hills community. After meeting with City of Calgary officials the traffic crossing was reassessed, and pedestrian-activated lights were installed in 2019.
Azaad is President of the Alberta chapter of FUSE Society, a youth-led, national organization aimed at educating youth in entrepreneurship and business literacy. He is leading Calgary’s first FUSE Society National Business Program, which involves engaging local schools to participate. To date, Azaad and his team have recruited five schools to incorporate the FUSE business curriculum into their lesson plans.
Azaad actively participates in other school and community-based groups where he has been instrumental in raising funds for local charities. In his spare time, Azaad volunteers as a mentor, tutor, Mayor`s Youth Council member, and event organizer.
Eva Friesen, Grant MacEwan Lifetime Achievement
For three decades, Eva Friesen has provided effective leadership in our city’s not-for-profit sector, to the benefit and well-being of Calgarians. During her twelve years at the YWCA Calgary, Eva created women`s employment counselling services, established residences for hard-to-house women, and fundraised $6 million for new facilities. In 2001, she became the CEO of the Calgary Health Trust, increasing fundraising revenues to $20 million annually. She also paved the way to acquire critically-needed equipment and services, at Rockyview General Hospital.
Since 2005, Eva has been the President and CEO of Calgary Foundation, growing its assets to approximately $1 billion in 2019. These funds support areas of high importance to Calgarians, including: poverty reduction, mental health initiatives, the arts, environment, and Indigenous communities.
Eva has volunteered her expertise for several organizations, including the Calgary Police Commission and Calgary Chamber of Commerce. She also served as the first female President of the Rotary Club of Calgary Downtown. In 2017, YW Calgary recognized Eva in their Canada 150 She Who Dares project, honouring 150 women who have impacted Calgary during the past 150 years.
Brian Thiessen, Citizen of the Year
As Chair of The Calgary Police Commission from 2016 to 2019, Brian Thiessen ensured the Calgary Police Service (CPS) was held accountable to the needs and concerns of Calgarians. The Commission, made up of citizen volunteers, represents the community’s voice on safety, inclusivity, engagement, and transparency. Brian created opportunities for citizens and built relationships with advocacy groups, to give them all a say on safety topics that affect their lives. He also introduced a new level of ethical leadership and transparency by making Commission meetings and the Chief’s swearing-in ceremony accessible to the public and media.
Brian used his expertise in employment law to make CPS a more fair and inclusive workplace, initiating changes to remove barriers preventing employees from feeling safe and successful in their jobs. He also increased the diversity and gender equity of the Commission by recruiting highly qualified women to join.
During Brian`s tenure, Calgary’s economic downturn resulted in instability in the police budget, but he managed to secure funding and minimize cuts to ensure CPS maintained service levels and agency partnerships to support Calgary`s most vulnerable residents. Brian’s outstanding contributions have improved the quality of life for all Calgarians.
The International Achievement Award
Dr. Janaka Y. Ruwanpura
In his dual roles at the University of Calgary (UCalgary), Dr. Janaka Ruwanpura has helped build the international reputation of the university -- and by extension, Calgary – as a top-tier learning destination. He is a widely-respected professor at the Schulich School of Engineering, as well as the university`s Vice-Provost, International. In this role, Janaka has identified and developed strategic partnerships for international investment and engagement in the areas of research, collaboration and training. These initiatives attract students and professionals to study in Calgary, as well as provide opportunities for UCalgary members to share their knowledge and expertise in other countries.
Under Janaka`s leadership, the university has secured millions of dollars in funding and grants to build and sustain global partnerships with world-leading institutions, individuals and organizations. As an extension of this work, he also created Cultural Days at the university, celebrating the individual countries involved with those global partnerships. This initiative helps build cultural fluency and awareness within the UCalgary community. Janaka’s best practices, models and tools for building international partnerships have been referred to, and adopted by, other universities.
The Environmental Achievement Award
RiverWatch Institute of Alberta, CreekWatch Citizen Science Program
"Science. Education. Adventure." RiverWatch Institute of Alberta is a non-profit organization, delivering watershed education programs throughout Calgary and Alberta for the past 25 years. In 2014, RiverWatch recognized a need to educate and empower Calgarians about stormwater quality and stewardship. They launched the CreekWatch Citizen Science and Stewardship Program, improving and restoring Calgary’s waterways and helping citizens reduce their environmental impact.
The program engages hundreds of volunteers from corporate and community groups who receive training to monitor river habitats and collect water quality data from five local stormwater creeks. The volunteers also participate in stewardship activities such as shoreline clean-ups, tree planting and invasive species removal along these urban waterways.
CreekWatch’s regular data collection helps municipal and provincial governments, along with water providers, planners and advisory councils to improve watershed management and ecosystem health, two critical aspects of our city’s resilience efforts. RiverWatch Institute of Alberta is a leader in environmental stewardship for creating a unique science program that benefits water literacy efforts in the community, connects citizens to nature and provides opportunities to celebrate and steward Calgary’s precious water resources.
The Award for Accessibility
Calgary Public Library, Central Library
The new Central Library has welcomed more than a million visitors since its opening in November 2018. To create an accessible building that welcomes all patrons regardless of age and ability, numerous design challenges and features were considered. A key challenge was the main entrance, which was 17 feet above ground due to the LRT line running through the building. A sloped walkway was added on the west side, and an exterior elevator on the east side.
Other features that exceed the Alberta Building Code for Accessibility include: barrier-free washrooms, Tactile Walking Surface Indicators at stair landings and railings, use of natural light and contrasting colors for visibility, and dedicated emergency exits for those with mobility issues. Each floor of the library has height-adjustable self-checkout stations, low bookshelves, movable tables, and different types of chairs. Technology and adaptive equipment such as digital tablets and listening systems are also available free of charge for library members.
In the past year, Calgary Public Library and Calgary Municipal Land Corporation listened closely to the visitor experience and feedback and made several improvements to the accessibility features. The successes of this location have inspired Calgary Public Library to perform an accessibility audit of all their branches, looking for positive features to incorporate into new facilities and future renovations.
The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize
Season of Fury and Wonder by Sharon Butala
Season of Fury and Wonder, written by Sharon Butala, is a beautifully paced collection of stories presenting the lives of aging women who have seen much of life and felt the joy of success, but also the sting of shortcomings; women who hold opinions and have come to conclusions about the lives they’ve lived. These are the stories of today’s aging women who understand that they have been created by their pasts.
Not only is each story an observation on aging, each pays tribute to a classic work of literature that has had an impact on Butala’s writing. Season of Fury and Wonder is an insightful series of stories, shaped by the creativity of those writers (Raymond Carver, Willa Cather and James Joyce, to name a few) who inspired readers for decades before her.
Sharon Butala is the award-winning author of 20 books, numerous articles and essays, poetry and five produced plays. She has thrice been a finalist for the Governor General’s Award. Her novel Wild Rose was shortlisted for the W.O. Mitchell Book Prize in 2015. When she is not writing, she lectures and teaches literary workshops throughout Canada, the U.S. and internationally.