The UC Alumni of Influence Awards were established in 2012 in the belief that the success stories of our alumni should be known to current students and fellow graduates. As the College’s signature event, the annual Awards Gala celebrates distinguished alumni who have been selected by the UC community for their leadership and other inspiring contributions.
Dr. John Barrett’s career has spanned the federal public service, international organizations, think-tanks, universities, and the nuclear industry, with a focus on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. He is a former president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association, former board chair of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and past president of the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. He is currently the Vice-President, Strategy and Government Relations, Westinghouse Electric Canada.
Laleh Bighash is the President and Dean of Scientific Affairs at the Academy of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, a private, post-graduate college for new immigrants that she launched in 2003. The school has placed more than 2000 graduates from its two campuses in positions in the food and pharmaceutical industry. She graduated with a BSc from University College while being a mother, wife, and full-time student, and later completed an MBA at the Schulich School of Business at York University.
As a former Ontario Superior Court judge, visiting professor, lawyer, mentor, and adjudicator, Sandra Chapnik’s contributions to the legal system and broader community reflect her special interest in women’s and human rights, and access to justice and education. A member of the Order of Ontario and recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, she has also been honoured by the Canadian Bar Association, Women’s Law Association of Ontario, Osgoode Hall Law School, and several charities.
Miriam Clavir is Senior Conservator Emerita and Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology. She has made outstanding contributions to the field of heritage conservation in Canada, particularly with respect to the care of Indigenous belongings, challenging the profession to rethink standards which prioritize the preservation of physical objects over less tangible cultural and spiritual elements. She was awarded the Canadian Association of Conservation’s Mervyn Ruggles Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2009.
Rebecca Duclos is Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and a Professor in the Department of Art History at Concordia University. In the cultural sector, she held key roles at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Design Exchange, Textile Museum of Canada, and the Manchester Museum. She serves on the board of the Montreal Biennial and was Artist in Residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
Over her long career, Deborah Gold has worked to improve the lives of people with disabilities, with the last 20 years devoted to those who are blind or visually impaired. She is the former director of research and program development for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and a past editor of a journal dedicated to research and practice in the field. She has presented her research findings at major conferences and has been an active collaborator in studies and research networks. She is the Executive Director of BALANCE for Blind Adults, which provides technology training, help with life skills, and community support.
Barbara Keyfitz is the Dr. Charles Saltzer Professor of Mathematics at Ohio State University. She is a pioneer in the mathematical theory of self-similar solutions of multidimensional conservation laws. She was the first female director of a major mathematical research institution, the Fields Institute at U of T. A role model of service and leadership, she has worked to support mathematics by strengthening membership organizations that speak for the discipline.
Pia Kleber is the Helen and Paul Phelan Chair in Drama at the UC-affiliated Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto. She is also the co-founder of the University’s new BMO Lab for Creative Research in the Arts, Performance, Emerging Technologies, and AI. Her distinguished career has spanned more than 4 decades and has bridged the academic and advancement worlds, years before fundraising became an expectation of academic leaders. She is an expert on Bertolt Brecht, the late German playwright and poet, and a recipient of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The late Sergio Marchionne was the CEO Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. He immigrated to Canada with his parents at age 13, and in the spirit of many new Canadians who attended UC, succeeded through education, determination, and hard work. Known as a tough negotiator with a razor-sharp business acumen, direct managerial style, and non-stop work ethic, he returned the Italian automaker, Fiat SpA, to profitability in two years. He also played a key role in the merger between Fiat and Chrysler to form Fiat Chysler Automobiles, and turned the company around financially.
A sexual health counsellor and educator, Ruth Miller has helped change the face of women’s health in Canada. An abortion rights activist, she has worked at and supported the Morgentaler Clinic in Toronto. She was one of only a few non-physicians on the panel of the Contraceptive Guidelines Committee of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (2004). She was also the first non-physician to receive the Marion Powell Award from Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, for her leadership and advocacy in women’s health.