Our Outstanding AlumniZabeen Hirji, Dr. Jennifer Gardy, Margaret Trudeau, Dr. David Mark
March 03, 2016

Thank you to those who joined us on Thursday, March 3, 2016 to hear inspirational stories from the 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award recipients who have made exceptional contributions to their local and global communities: Margaret Trudeau, a mental health and clean water advocate; Dr. David Mark, a pioneer in GIScience; Zabeen Hirji, a business leader and champion for diversity; Dr. Jennifer Gardy, a science rock star, and David Fong, an extraordinary philanthropist.

Margaret Trudeau

Celebrated Canadian, Mental Health & Environmental Advocate

Outstanding Alumni Award - Service To The Community

Margaret Trudeau is a Canadian icon, celebrated both for her role in the public eye and as a respected mental-health and environmental issues advocate. From becoming a prime minister’s wife at a young age, to living with bi-polar disorder, she tirelessly shares her personal stories to remind others of the importance of nurturing the body, mind, and spirit. She is the author of four books, including her bestselling title, Changing My Mind, which charts her life’s ups and downs, and her latest title, The Time of Your Life, which offers women an inspirational and practical approach to creating a healthy, happy, secure and satisfying future. Trudeau sits on the Executive Advisory Board of the UBC Mental Health Institute as a community advocate, and she is the Honorary President of WaterAid, a charitable Canadian non-governmental agency that is dedicated to helping poor communities in developing countries build sustainable water-supply and sanitation services.

Dr. David Mark

SUNY Distinguished Professor, Department of Geography, State University of New York at Buffalo

Outstanding Alumni Award - Academic Achievement

A pioneer of the field of Geographic Information Science (GISci), Mark developed new methods to represent topography on digital computers, and worked on the principles of vehicle navigation systems and way-finding long before GPS or Google Maps existed. Consistently named as one of the most productive, creative and integrative academics in Geography, Mark’s more than 225 publications have been cited over 10,000 times and his research has provided sustained and far-reaching contributions to advancements in the field. In 2004, Mark was named Researcher of the Year by the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), and was later recognized as Educator of the Year in 2009. In 2013 he received a Distinguished Career Award from the Association of American Geographers. He was also promoted to the rank of a Distinguished Professor at State University of New York.

Zabeen Hirji

Chief Human Resources Officer, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

Outstanding Alumni Award - Professional Achievement

Zabeen Hirji has twice been named a Top 25 Women of Influence as she is an internationally recognized champion for diversity and inclusion and also active in youth employment. She is a frequent commentator in the media on the themes of leadership, talent management, youth and diversity. As RBC’s Chief Human Resources Officer with global responsibility for Human Resources, Brand, Communications and Corporate Citizenship, Hirji has brought a fresh perspective to the human resources and corporate citizenship field by looking beyond convention and being creative in how talent is recruited, engaged, developed and retained. She was named Catalyst Canada Honours Champion in 2014 for leadership in the advancement of women and minorities and inducted into Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Hall of Fame by the Women’s Executive Network in 2012.

Dr. Jennifer Gardy

Senior Scientist, BC Centre for Disease Control / Host, CBC’s The Nature of Things

Outstanding Alumni Award - Rising Star

Dr. Jennifer Gardy is a dynamo dubbed by The Globe and Mail as “the new Suzuki.” Since 2009, Gardy has pioneered a way of tracking how organisms such as tuberculosis and influenza spread from person to person and eventually lead to outbreaks, creating the new scientific field known as genomic epidemiology. Her entrepreneurial spirit and devotion to science education have catapulted her as a strong female representative within science communication and media, frequently guest-hosting CBC’s The Nature of Things and Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet. Her contributions were recognized in 2014 through the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Science, Technology and Research.

David Fong

Managing Director, Hip Shing Hong Group

Outstanding Alumni Award - Service to the Community

While overseeing a billion-dollar property development company in Hong Kong is his primary responsibility, David Fong is recognized foremost as a philanthropist. Benevolence has been a core value of the Fong family, and one that is exemplified through their award in 2014 as a Family Friendly Employer.  Fong himself is a proponent for redefining education, socio-economic development and social services. His entrepreneurial spirit combines with his interest in tax and wealth reform to particularly design initiatives for start-ups and ‘disillusioned youth.’ In 2014, Fong oversaw a project to convert an industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang to commercial use where approximately 10% is designed for young people to lease at rates nearly one-third less than market rates.

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