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Inspirational alumni to receive York University’s 2016 Bryden Awards

Inspirational alumni to receive York University’s 2016 Bryden Awards


Top executives from CAMH, CAA and the City of Toronto, and a youth human rights worker recognized for their leadership

TORONTO, November 24, 2016 – Four of today’s most inspiring leaders and top executives whose path to success included a York University education will be honored at the 16th Annual Bryden Alumni Awards. The Bryden Awards, sponsored by TD Bank, are named after the late Bruce Bryden (BA ’64), founder of the York University Alumni Association and the first alumni chair of the York University Board of Governors. The sold out event will take place at the Royal Ontario Museum on Thursday, November 24.

“As we celebrate a new group of Bryden recipients, we are reminded of the new ways of thinking and endless possibilities that come with York education – and this year’s Bryden recipients are no exception,” said Mamdouh Shoukri, President and Vice-Chancellor, York University, “These incredible York alumni have made major contributions to society, locally and globally, and encourage the entire York community to reach even higher.”

The 2016 Bryden honorees are inspiring role models with outstanding achievements. Their leadership in the community, and impact, will be recognized in the following four categories:

1.Outstanding Achievement: A graduate who has achieved distinction in their field and whose integrity and ability inspire alumni, faculty, staff and students.

Dr. Catherine Zahn (BSc ’74), president & CEO, CAMH
Catherine Zahn is a champion for the integration of psychiatry and neuroscience and is working to steer mental health care into the mainstream of medicine. In 2009, she was appointed as president and CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s leading mental health hospital and largest academic health science centre focused on mental illness. Zahn received a Bachelor of Science degree from York University.

2.Tentanda Via: A graduate who has demonstrated innovative, unconventional and daring leadership and success, reflecting the University’s motto – “The Way Must Be Tried.”

Jennifer Keesmaat (MES ’99), chief planner & executive director, City of Toronto
As chief planner and executive director for the City of Toronto, Jennifer Keesmaat is committed to creating places where people flourish. Most recently, she was named as one of the most influential people in Toronto by Toronto Life magazine and one of the most powerful people in Canada by Maclean’s Magazine. Keesmaat received a graduate degree in Environmental Studies (MES) from York University.

3.One to Watch: A graduate 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.

Cheyanne Ratnam (BSW ’12, MSW ’14), founder & project manager, What’s The Map: Mobilizing Newcomer Homeless Youth
Using her extensive knowledge of and experience in the child-welfare system, and her keen interest in the human rights of young people, Cheyanne Ratnam is making a big name for herself. Founder of the ‘What's The Map?’: Newcomer Youth Leading The Call to Action − Designing a Support System That Works’ initiative, she currently serves as its project manager. She is also the founder and primary investigator of the Child Welfare Permanency and Family Project (Study) with a provincial scope. Ratnam has earned both an undergraduate and a graduate degree in social work from York University.

4.Outstanding Contribution: A graduate who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of York and its students through exceptional service, commitment and/or philanthropic contributions.

Bill Graham (MBA ’86), chair of the National Board, CAA; executive-in-residence, Schulich School of Business, York U
Bill Graham is a respected business leader with more than 40 years of experience in automotive, technological, investment and financial service industries. He currently serves as chair of the national board of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA). Graham has a long history of supporting education and future generations of business leaders at York’s Schulich School of Business. He holds an MBA (with distinction) in international finance and business from the Schulich School of Business.

The award ceremony, hosted by York U alumna Jill Dempsey (BA ’04), begins at 7pm on Thursday, November 24.

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York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 26 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 295,000 alumni.York U's fully bilingual Glendon campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

Media contact:
Janice Walls, Media Relations, 416-736-5543,