Alumni Awards

2017 Alumni Award Recipients 


The University of Alberta Alumni Awards recognize the professional achievements, community service and innovation of graduates around the globe — people who uphold the promise to use their education “for the public good.” This year, 21 people were honoured.

Distinguished Alumni Awards


Donald C. Brinton, ’51 BSc(Ag)

Don Brinton has the distinguished honour of having spoken the first words on Edmonton’s first television station in 1954. To this day, he recalls the script: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to CFRN-TV, at the sign of the totem pole, Channel 3, Edmonton.” Brinton had a childhood love of music and drama that grew while attending the University of Alberta. While researching permafrost in the Northwest Territories before his final year of study, Brinton worked as a radio announcer in Yellowknife. This led to a job producing rural radio reports for the Alberta Federation of Agriculture. He soon began working for CFRN radio and, a few years later, was the first broadcaster to hit the air on CFRN-TV, doing newscasts, cohosting The Noon Show and creating a variety of programs for the station. Starting in 1964, Brinton went off-camera to spend decades creating what is now a legacy of quality Canadian television programming. He has always believed in giving back to his community and has served on the U of A board of governors, as well as boards of the Television Bureau of Canada, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Banff Television Festival, Academy of Canadian Film and Television and many more. In 2016, he was invested as a member of the Order of Canada.


Paul G.S. Cantor, ’62 BA

If you ask someone about Paul Cantor, you’re sure to hear the word leadership. He started his career in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the U of A and was chair of the Fund Drive for World University Service of Canada (WUSC). In the decades that followed, he served in the not-for-profit sector on the national secretariat of WUSC and in the federal finance department, becoming known as a financial expert and community builder. As Cantor moved through the financial sector, from president of CIBC’s investment bank to CEO of Confederation Life Insurance Company, CEO of National Trust Company and chair of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, he showed a commitment to leadership development. Cantor was founding executive director of the Toronto International Leadership Centre for Financial Sector Supervision, an international agency that has provided leadership training for thousands of public servants in emerging countries. He has served as chair of York University’s board of governors and was founding board chair of the Global Risk Institute for Financial Services. His community activities have focused on education and health sectors, with particular emphasis on programs relating to public policy at the U of A and York University. He has been appointed to the Order of Canada and is founding chair of QuadReal Property Group’s board of directors.


C. Wayne Lindwall, ’71 BSc(Ag), ’75 MSc

Wayne Lindwall has helped change the way land is farmed in Canada and beyond. His leadership in soil conservation created a more sustainable way to grow crops — called conservation tillage — that has improved soil and water conservation, reduced costs, increased food production and contributed to lower carbon emissions around the world. After earning a PhD in agricultural engineering from Iowa State University, Lindwall was director general of environmental health for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for 35 years. He led research teams at 19 research centres across Canada dedicated to proving, and improving, the benefits of conservation tillage. He persevered in efforts to shift conventional farming wisdom, collaborating with farmers’ organizations across the country. As a result, conservation tillage is now used on more than 70 per cent of seeded land in Western Canada. The impact goes far beyond the farm: by keeping organic matter in the soil, conservation tillage can significantly reduce the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere. His team’s extensive research has convinced policy-makers nationally and internationally of the benefits of soil conservation. In addition to changing the agricultural landscape in Canada, Lindwall has helped farmers adapt conservation methods in China, Africa, Australia and Brazil. Among many honours, he was inducted into the Soil Conservation Hall of Fame in 1996 and was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada in 2008, the highest honour in public service.


Lorne B. Warneke, ’63 BSc(HonsCert), ’67 MD

Lorne Warneke is not only a psychiatrist, but also a clinician, teacher and advocate for the rights of LGBTQ individuals. His life has been devoted to promoting the well-being of others. In 1984, he convinced Alberta Health to pay for gender reassignment surgeries. He was one of many who lobbied the provincial government to change Alberta human rights legislation to include sexual orientation as a protected area. In 1996, Warneke opened a gender clinic in the outpatient department of psychiatry at the Grey Nuns Hospital. He has promoted the teaching of human sexuality, including gender issues and identity, to medical undergraduates in the psychiatric residency program at the U of A, and as part of the Human Sexuality Course at Grant MacEwan University. In 2010, he successfully lobbied to have Alberta Motor Vehicles legislation changed to give transgendered individuals the right to change the gender marker on their driver’s licences. In 2015, he was part of a group that lobbied to have the regulations changed to allow transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates without the need to have surgery beforehand. Warneke is also recognized internationally for his work on the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder and has published papers in this area. He has fought tirelessly against the stigma associated with mental illness and is a champion for gender rights. 

Alumni Honour Award

Jane Alexander, ’93 MEd, ’97 PhD

In Edmonton, Anglican Bishop Jane Alexander might be most closely identified with the city’s anti-poverty initiative. Alexander, the 10th bishop of Edmonton, co-chaired the Mayor’s Task Force for the Elimination of Poverty in Edmonton and now serves as co-chair of EndPoverty Edmonton, working with community leaders to end poverty in the city within a generation. Alexander also gives close attention to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission —inviting her diocese to reflect deeply on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples — and to grassroots movements drawing attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women. Within the church, she has advocated for same-gender marriage, and in 2012, the Anglican church agreed to bless these unions. Her diocese also helped build an HIV clinic and provided education and medical support to a community in Burundi, Africa. Prior to her ordination in 1998, Alexander was a music and special education teacher in northern England, and then in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Alberta, leading to a PhD thesis on cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease in persons with Down syndrome.

Bradley D. Burns, ’94 BEd

As principal of Highlands School, Brad Burns has brought enthusiasm and ideas that have benefited the community inside and outside the school. Whether it’s giving a student a winter jacket or food bundled into a backpack, Burns has worked to create a place where students are supported and given the opportunity to succeed. Every Tuesday after school, he drives around the city picking up donations for The Toast breakfast program, which relies on donations to provide food for students. He has even been known to make applesauce from donated apples. The school’s valuable community partnerships also provide for free hot lunches. More than 60 per cent of the school’s students participate in the food programs. Burns uses collaboration and creativity to reduce the costs of attending school, for example through parent-led fundraisers for field trips and e-textbooks. He has helped build a support network between the school and the community through ideas such as bringing local artists to the school or going with students to rake leaves or shovel snow for elderly residents.

Margaret Evans, ’14 BA

Margaret Evans is a renowned foreign correspondent and gifted storyteller known for her journalistic integrity and unerring moral sense. One of the CBC’s most experienced conflict reporters, Evans has reported on war and strife in regions ranging from Angola, Chad and Sudan to Ukraine, Crimea and Chechnya. Evans was based in the heart of Europe in the 1990s, freelancing out of Brussels and reporting on NATO during the Balkan Wars and on the birth of the single European currency. Her recent assignments have included the man-made famine in war-stricken South Sudan and the decaying regime of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. Evans was based out of Jerusalem for close to a decade, where she served as Middle East bureau chief and correspondent for the CBC covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War and the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Syria and Libya. Currently based out of London, she has since returned to Syria, most recently to Aleppo to cover the ongoing conflict, telling the story of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees seeking shelter in Europe.

John Kuspira, ’55 PhD

The science of genetics and the art of teaching it have been integral to John Kuspira’s life and persona. As the U of A’s first recipient of a PhD in genetics, he promptly began collaborating with geneticists across the country to establish the Genetics Society of Canada in 1957. Concomitantly, he was instrumental in negotiating to create a U of A Department of Genetics in 1961, the first at a Canadian university. Kuspira’s pioneering work in plant genetics is known around the world; the same basic principles, with modifications to the technique, are used by geneticists today to study the heredity of humans and other animal species. Kuspira was also a beloved professor of a very popular genetics course that attracted around 10,000 U of A students over 35 years. His problem-solving approach to teaching the subject challenged the critical thinking abilities of students, a skill that many carried forward. Many of his former students are now dispersed around the world: South Korea, Pakistan, Thailand, Switzerland, across Canada and the United States.

William Patton, ’86 BMedSc, ’88 MD

When William Patton looks at the word “doctor,” he sees its Latin root: docére, which means to teach. Patton works and teaches at the University of Alberta Hospital on the Acute Care Emergency Surgery Service and is an associate clinical professor of surgery. He also has experience saving lives in war zones, having enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces in 2000, and currently holds the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He completed a tour of the Golan Heights with UN peacekeeping forces in 2004, then deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 as the officer commanding the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar. In his time there, his NATO combat hospital was the busiest trauma centre in the world and had the highest survival rate ever recorded for victims of war. Despite teaching and running a busy civilian practice, Patton is an active reservist, who has provided aid in Haiti, in southern Alberta during the 2013 floods and in Canada’s High Arctic. He received the prestigious John McRae Memorial Medal from the Canadian Medical Association in 2016 for exemplary service.

Gail J. Powley, ’84 BSc(ChemEng)

Gail Powley believes more women should pursue careers in engineering. For the engineering profession to become a more desirable long-term career for dual-career families, she believes firms need to retain and support engineers returning from parental leave. As volunteer chair of Women in APEGA, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta, Powley led the development of a groundbreaking policy, Managing Transitions Before, During and After Leave: A Planning Resource Guide for Employees and Employers. The policy was republished by Engineers Canada and Geoscientists Canada in 2016 and is seen as an important ingredient in achieving the national goal of 30 by 30: to have 30 per cent of newly licensed professionals be women by 2030. Powley has participated in other groups that support under-represented populations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers with the goal of helping build a more diverse and innovative workforce, including Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science & Technology (WISEST), Women in Science, Engineering and Research (WISER), the Alberta Women’s Science Network and MentorUP Alberta, which supports newcomers and advanced degree-holders in finding career opportunities in industry. 

Teresa Spinelli, ’83 BA

Teresa Spinelli will tell you that the Italian Centre Shop is about much more than “selling salami.” It’s about people. Since 2000, when Spinelli stepped up to take on the role of president of the company, she has grown the business many times over. When she took over, the company had 30 employees and was worth $9 million. Spinelli changed the business from a local grocery store to a major importer and distributor and now has four stores, 509 employees and sales of $64 million. Spinelli’s passion is revitalizing the community around Little Italy in Edmonton’s downtown. She volunteers with organizations such as the Italian Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor’s Task Force on Sustainable Communities and the Edmonton City Manager’s Advisory Committee. Spinelli has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs by Profit magazine and as the People’s Choice Businesswoman of the Year. She is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of contributions to Canada.     

Alumni Horizon Award

Nicole Cardinal, ’12 MD

Nicole Cardinal goes beyond her clinical role as a doctor at the Saddle Lake Health and Wellness Centre to improve the physical and emotional health of her community. Cardinal buys and delivers fresh food to community members through her Health Food Box program. She also presents on health and prevention, and at community diabetes conferences. She accomplishes all this while working as a visiting doctor in rural Alberta communities. Cardinal further contributes to Indigenous health by working with Alberta Health Services through its Indigenous Health Strategic Clinical Network. One of Cardinal’s newest ideas could offer medical students a rare opportunity to experience rural living conditions while learning how to provide health care to Indigenous peoples. She is working to create an elective for first- and second-year medical students that would have them work at the Saddle Lake health clinic for month-long intensives. The initiative would not only help the community and students, but would also align with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action for improved medical education in Canada.     

Titilope Sonuga, ’08 BSc(CivEng)

As a poet, a writer and a performer, Titilope Sonuga knows artful communication is integral to who she is. Even while she was building roads as a civil engineer, she found herself writing poems in the borders of design drawings in the middle of construction sites. It became clear that poetry wasn’t just a hobby, so she took a chance on herself and her art. Since then she has published two collections of poetry, released a spoken-word album and co-founded the Breath In Poetry performance collective in Edmonton. In 2015, Sonuga was the first poet to perform at the Nigerian presidential inauguration ceremony. She has been a TEDx speaker in Edmonton and an Intel Corporation ambassador for its She Will Connect program, which encourages young women to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology. She plays a lead role on a Nigerian TV show called Gidi Up. In the decade that she has dedicated herself to her art, Sonuga has ultimately taken a journey to finding her true self.

Adam Sweet, ’07 BA, ’07 BA(Cert)

Every morning, Adam Sweet wakes up with a clear purpose: cultivate the energy, innovation and investment needed to build a prosperous and resilient Edmonton economy. He’s the chief of staff at Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, the arms-length economic development agency of the City of Edmonton. Previously, Sweet worked on Parliament Hill, where he held multiple roles for various members of Parliament and ministers, most recently as press secretary to Canada’s environment minister. Prior to working in Ottawa, he worked at Canada’s embassy in Washington, D.C., and spent two years overseas deployed to Afghanistan with the Canadian government. Sweet believes the solutions to our problems lie in the hearts and minds of the next generation, which is why he serves on the Peter Lougheed Leadership College Mentorship Team and the U of A senate. At the national level, he serves on the board of directors of Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), a program to empower low-income newcomers and Indigenous people to prepare their children for success in school.     

Lalitha Taylor, ’05 BSc(Nutr/Food)

After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 19, Lalitha Taylor’s desire to help prevent and manage her disease, as well as provide other individuals with a greater quality of life, prompted her to become a dietitian. She is now a senior dietitian with Edmonton Southside Primary Care Network and offers nutrition services through her own company. Taylor is a national spokesperson for the nearly 6,000 members of Dietitians of Canada and contributes regularly to radio, print and media events, including CTV2’s Alberta Primetime and Global Edmonton. She has created educational videos, volunteered at public hospitals in Peru and South Africa and received awards for her many contributions. Taylor donates time to her local community, including Youth Empowerment and Support Services, the Arthritis Society, Ronald McDonald House, Red Willow Community Church and the U of A nutrition program, where she mentors students. She is passionate about strengthening the health of communities through nutritional education and shares her knowledge at daycares, schools, churches and community organizations.

Alumni Service Award

Heike Juergens, ’72 BA, ’79 MEd, ’87 PhD

When you spot Heike Juergens in the halls and on the paths winding through U of A North Campus, it’s a good bet you are witnessing one of her many selfless acts of volunteerism. Her work helping members of the U of A community began when she was a graduate student who worked to make international students feel at home in Edmonton. She has gone on to serve as president of Alumni Council, as a member of the U of A senate and in countless other volunteer roles. As a psychologist and volunteer, Juergens leads with a caring heart, whether it’s billeting international students, advocating for mental health services on campus or introducing children who might not otherwise consider a university education to the U of A through U School. She also donates her time to numerous other organizations around the city, including the Children’s Health Foundation, and serves on Edmonton’s City of Learners steering committee.

Alumni Award of Excellence

Elizabeth Turnbull, ’84 BMus

In September 2015, Elizabeth Turnbull’s husband, Christopher Kubash, ’85 BSc, died by suicide. Using the connective power of music, Turnbull vowed that she would help bring awareness about the prevalence of suicide, give hope to those at risk and offer healing to those who have lost someone to suicide. She wanted to let people know they are not alone, so she started a cross-Canada concert, named after Kubash’s favourite piece of music, François Couperin’s Les Barricades Mystérieuses. The concert spanned 18 hours on Sept. 10, 2016, World Suicide Prevention Day. More than 300 musicians performed at 13 venues across the country, starting at sunrise in Newfoundland and ending at sunset in Victoria. In Edmonton, at the University of Alberta’s Convocation Hall, Les Barricades Mystérieuses was played on the harpsichord that Kubash built. The Mysterious Barricades Concert Society free cross-Canada concert was livestreamed to more than 14 countries and viewed by more than 16,000 people. Turnbull brought it to life with the help of a dedicated group of volunteers. The day was one for healing, connecting, showing support and raising funds. The success of the 2016 concert inspired an even bigger concert on Sept. 10, 2017, with 15 cities participating over 21 hours.

Sports Wall of Fame

A. Danielle Bourgeois, ’05 BA, ’09 LLB

From the moment Danielle Bourgeois stepped onto the ice with the U of A Pandas hockey team in 1999, through her work as an assistant coach with Pandas hockey and the MacEwan University Griffins, and as an Edmonton lawyer, she has been a consummate leader and professional. In Bourgeois’ rookie season, the Pandas captured their first of eight national championships and she led the team with 29 goals in 29 games. Her dynamic season earned her Rookie of the Year, the first of many accolades she would earn over the coming years. In the 2001-02 season, the Pandas began one of the most dominant stretches in university sport history, winning the first of seven consecutive Canada West championships, three straight national championships and an undefeated streak that extended to 110 games. Bourgeois is regarded as one of the best women’s hockey players in Canadian university history, earning Player of the Year, Female Athlete of the Year and team MVP honours multiple times. She finished her university career as the all-time Canadian Interuniversity Sport scoring leader.

John M. Hogg, ’78 MA, ’82 PhD

The idea that sports are mostly a mental exercise is one of the keys to winning, and when John Hogg introduced his innovative sport psychology courses at the University of Alberta, people paid attention. He was involved in 12 U of A sports championships and worked as a coach and sport psychologist in more than 10 sports, helping athletes ranging from Olympians to world champions. His expertise in the field of mental preparation also led to his work being shared through hundreds of publications and conference presentations. Hogg’s work as an innovator also extended to the U of A aquatics program. In 1978, he became head coach of the swim programs. Over the next 25 years, he restructured the entire program, combining the women’s and men’s swim teams to create one unified group of athletes. Hogg’s legacy is that of a coach, a teacher and a builder who believed that great improvements in sport are possible if coaches and athletes are given the tools to succeed. 

James Lazaruk, ’71 BSc, ’72 Dip(Ed), ’73 BEd

James Lazaruk is a natural leader, and where he went, winning followed. He joined the U of A Golden Bears football team after two all-star seasons with the Edmonton Huskies. In 1972, he helped the Bears win their second national championship. After Lazaruk began his career as a teacher at Salisbury Composite High School, he found success behind the bench when he started the school’s Sabres football team. In just two seasons, the Sabres won their first city championship. At the same time, Lazaruk was coaching the Edmonton Wildcats junior football team to a national championship. He was then offered a spot on the Golden Bears coaching staff in 1979. Three straight Hardy Cups and a Vanier Cup followed. Lazaruk took over the Salisbury women’s basketball program in 1976 and added another four championships to his resumé. He also joined the MacEwan University Griffins women’s basketball coaching staff, serving as head coach from 2006-2009. Lazaruk has won coach of the year five times and this is his fourth wall of fame appearance. 

David D. Otto, ’86 BMedSc, ’88 MD

David Otto grew up playing hockey in Edmonton during the 1980s, and, like many kids, he imagined playing for the Edmonton Oilers. It was his gift in the operating room, however, that landed him in the National Hockey League. He was a member of the Golden Bears hockey team from 1983-88, which won conference championships in 1984 and 1985 and a national championship in 1986. Otto also took home a bronze medal while representing Canada at the 1987 World University Games in Czechoslovakia. He is ranked in the top 20 in Golden Bears program history in games played, assists and points. Otto is one of the most renowned orthopedic surgeons in Canada, a position that landed him a spot as part of the Edmonton Oilers medical team. He is also surgical director at the University of Alberta Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic and associate clinical professor in the Division of Orthopedic Surgery. 

2018 Nominations Now Open

Do Great Things is both the promise and the challenge of our Alumni Association. The University of Alberta Alumni Awards recognize the professional achievements, community service and innovation of graduates around the globe.

Help us recognize these outstanding University of Alberta grads by nominating them for an Alumni Award.

Nomination deadline: December 15, 2017

Contact or 780-492-4523

How to Nominate