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2022 York U Alumni Awards recipients announced

2022 York U Alumni Awards recipients announced

For 21 years, The York U Alumni Awards have celebrated alumni who exemplify the values of York University, have made remarkable contributions to their fields, and changed the world for the better. The tradition of recognizing their contributions will continue at an event on Nov. 16, 2022.  

Leaders honoured at this year’s awards include Gregory Sam Sorbara (BA ’78, LLB ’81, LLD ’13); Dr. Eileen de Villa (MBA ’03); The Honourable Michael H. Tulloch (BA ’89, LLB ’89); and Larissa Crawford (BA ’18).  

The York U Alumni Awards feature four award categories, each of which honour a distinct set of achievements and contributions. 

Outstanding Contribution

An alumnus/a who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of York and its students through exceptional service, commitment and/or philanthropic contributions.

Gregory Sam Sorbara (BA ’78, LLB ’81, LLD ’13) 

Chancellor, York University; Principal, Sorbara Group of Companies; Owner, The Royal Hotel, Picton

Gregory Sorbara is a Principal of Sorbara Group of Companies, Ontario-based land development and property management business specializing in commercial, industrial and residential developments across the Greater Toronto Area.     

Mr. Sorbara is completing his second term as York University's 13th Chancellor, a role he has held since June 2014. His departure coincides with the recent opening of The Royal, a boutique hotel located on Main Street Picton that he and his family lovingly restored and reimagined while honouring its strong 100-year history in the community.  

His passion for enhancing the lives of Ontarians is evident in his 21 -year public service career (between 1985 and 2012), where he held numerous cabinet positions in the Ontario Legislature, including Minister of Finance, Minister of Colleges and Universities, Minister of Labour & Minister Responsible for Women's Issues, and as the Member representing Vaughan   

Mr. Sorbara has worked with the interests of the Greater Toronto Area at heart and has contributed substantially to its infrastructure and financial growth. He has championed postsecondary education as a catalyst for social and economic growth and a driver of community building. His landmark second budget as Minister of Finance in 2005 featured the bold plan to invest significantly in increasing accessibility for low-income students while funding more enrollments and expanded faculty, graduate scholarships and research. He also brought forward many positive reforms to the provinces taxation system, including the Business Education Tax reduction and equalization, eliminating GTA pooling, welfare rate increases, 25% increase of senior property tax credit, Property Tax Reform, harmonizing corporate tax collection with the federal government and eliminating the capital tax.  

He currently serves on the Boards of the Ontario Arts Foundation, Festival Players, The Prince Edward Affordable Housing Corporation and Chair Emeritus of Mackenzie Health Foundation Campaign Cabinet.   

He and his wife, Kate, spread their time between their home in Toronto and their active farm in Prince Edward County. They have six children and sixteen grandchildren. 

Outstanding Achievement

An alumnus/a who has achieved distinction in their field and whose integrity and ability inspire alumni, faculty, staff and students. 

Dr. Eileen de Villa (MBA ’03) 

Medical Officer of Health, City of Toronto 

Dr. Eileen de Villa is the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto. Dr. de Villa leads Toronto Public Health, Canada’s largest local public health agency, which provides public health programs and services to the nearly 3 million residents of Toronto. Prior to joining Toronto Public Health, Dr. de Villa served as the Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel serving 1.4 million residents. 

Dr. de Villa received her degrees as Doctor of Medicine and Master of Health Science (MHSc) (Health Promotion) from the University of Toronto and holds a Master of Business Administration from the Schulich School of Business at York University. Dr. de Villa is also an Adjunct Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Health at the University of Toronto. 

Dr. de Villa has authored, published and presented research on issues including public health considerations for city planning and emergency preparedness, communicable and infectious disease control, and public health policy development. 

Dr. de Villa has been recognized for her leadership and achievements with Faculty Educator awards from the University of Toronto – Public Health and Preventative Medicine Residency Program, the Naimark Award, from the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement and, in 2021, the award for Communicator of the Year by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC, Toronto Chapter). 

In her capacity of Medical Officer of Health, Dr. de Villa has led the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto since the city saw its first case of COVID-19 on January 25, 2020. In addition to providing leadership to the largest immunization campaign in the history of Toronto, throughout the COVID-19 response, Dr. de Villa has advised political partners including Mayor John Tory on measures the municipal government could take, such as declaring a state of emergency, and introducing local by-laws on physical distancing and mask wearing to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. In her ongoing efforts to lead Toronto through the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. de Villa has worked tirelessly to ensure Torontonians have the tools and information they need to keep themselves and those around them safe, while also maintaining critical public health services.  

Dr. de Villa continues to play a key advisory role in the City and Province's COVID-19 response and recovery, remaining vigilant of COVID-19 trends and providing updates and reassurance to the public regularly. 

Tentanda Via

An alumna/us who has demonstrated innovative, unconventional, and daring leadership and success, reflecting the university’s motto, “The way must be tried.”

The Honourable Michael H. Tulloch (BA ’89, LLB ’89) 

Ontario Court of Appeal Justice  

Justice Tulloch was born in Jamaica and immigrated to Canada when he was nine years of age. He earned two degrees at York University and was called to the bar in 1991. He has the distinction of having been the first Black judge to be appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal – and to any appellate court in Canada. He was a Crown attorney (in Peel and Toronto), a private defense lawyer and a special prosecuting agent with the Federal Department of Justice. During this time, he also participated in a number of commissions including the Ontario Government Review on Civilian Oversight on Policing, the Review of the Ontario Legal Aid Plan, and the Criminal Code Review conducted by the Federal Attorney General and the Minister of Justice.

One to Watch

An alumna/us who has made a significant impact in their field and/or community within 15 years of a bachelor’s degree or 10 years of a professional/graduate degree.

Larissa Crawford (BA ’18) 

Founder, Future Ancestors Services Inc. 

Larissa Crawford proudly passes on Métis and Jamaican ancestry to her daughter, Zyra, and is a published Indigenous, anti-racism, and climate justice researcher and policy advisor with over 14 years of experience. Larissa is the Founder of Future Ancestors Services, a youth-led professional services social enterprise that operates at the intersection of climate and racial justice.   

Since the launch of Future Ancestors Services in April 2020, the organization has mobilized +$95K in donations and gifted services for anti-racist and climate justice initiatives. Larissa and her team seek to increase their clients' capacity to honour people and Planet through their minds, work, and spaces, and do so while leveraging decolonized and Indigenized approaches to 'doing business.' Among their +300 diverse clients are small youth-led collectives and non-profits; Canada's most influential law firms and publishing houses; and the highest offices of Canadian government.  

Larissa graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Development and Communication Studies in June 2018, Summa Cum Laude, with 2-year-old Zyra on her hip and the Robert Tiffin Leadership Award. After experiences such as starting a library in Accra, Ghana, studying international law and volunteering in Istanbul, Turkey, and representing her university at several global United Nations events, Larissa redirected her efforts to home. She led several anti-racism and Indigenous research initiatives at the university, and shortly after brought this experience to Ontario’s Ministry of Energy and Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate as a policy advisor; the 2018 G7 as an expert advisor and youth delegate; and many of her related volunteer roles. Larissa's experience has led to her specializations in raced-based data collection, Indigenous and anti-racism research, accessibility, restorative circle keeping, restorative practice and conflict resolution, climate justice, and public policy.  

Through programs such as the CohortX Climate Justice, the Action Canada, and the Youth Climate Lab FutureXChange fellowships, the Raven Trust Capital Fireweed Fellowship, and the Students on Ice Arctic Policy Cohort, Larissa continues her learning of Northern Indigenous climate knowledge, climate policy, anti-racism opportunities in environmentalism, and doing business with traditional and decolonized approaches.   

In 2022 Larissa was honoured in Complex Canada’s 20 Creators Who Will Shape the Next 20 Years of The Culture, and in 2020-21 in Women of Influence’s Top 25 list; in Refinery Canada’s 29 Powerhouses; as York University’s Top 30 Under 30 Alumni; in HuffPost’s 26 Indigenous Influencers to Follow; and with the Pollution Probe Equity in Sustainability Award. She supports international brands such as Merrell, Nike, and The Body Shop, in better serving and representing her communities. 

A special thank you to our premier sponsor TD Insurance and our recipient video sponsor Manulife for helping us recognize these outstanding alumni.

For more information about The York U Alumni Awards visit

Bruce Bryden

Remembering Bruce Bryden, an outstanding York leader

The York U Alumni Awards were inspired by Bruce Bryden who was an exceptionally committed and influential leader at York University for many years. He was a member of our first undergraduate class, was the founding president of the York University Alumni Association (now the York University Alumni Board/YUAB) and was a member of the York University Board of Governors.

The York U Alumni Awards recognize and honour his vision, exemplary leadership and extraordinary achievements.