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Congratulations to Dal Health’s 2022 award winners

Posted by Jane Doucet on November 30, 2022 in Teaching and Learning

The Faculty of Health has had much to celebrate this year, and we’d like to extend our best wishes to all who have been recognized for their outstanding dedication, work and achievements.

In this article, we’re shining the spotlight on Dr. Judy MacDonald, the recipient of the 2022 Legacy Award in the President’s Award for the Advancement of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA) individual faculty/staff category (pictured above receiving her award from Dal President Deep Saini). Dr. MacDonald has been with Dal’s School of Social Work since 1999, when she joined as a targeted hire for a faculty member with a disability to promote disability scholarship and curriculum development.

“Judy advocates for change that goes beyond words and moves into meaningful actions to make a difference to all who are historically underrepresented and underserved,” says Faculty of Health Dean Dr. Brenda Merritt. “She constantly demonstrates perseverance, tenacity, good judgement and advocacy for all members of equity-deserving communities.”

More than ‘just a job’

Director of the School of Social Work since 2018, Dr. MacDonald is also the Assistant Dean for Equity and Inclusion in the Faculty of Health. Her commitment and dedication to advancing supports, policy, scholarship and research for the disability community is inspiring.

“The accessibility work I do across Dal is absolutely more than just a job,” says Dr. MacDonald, who lives with chronic pain causing mobility impairment. “It aligns with my personal and professional values, while integrating scholarship, policy development and organizational change.”

Dr. MacDonald has a long history of excellence in national “(dis)Ability” research, with significant contributions to the field through publications in research journals, book chapters, formal reports and other media. But it’s mentoring students that gives her the most satisfaction. “I get the most joy out of  working with disabled graduate students in promoting their own research and helping them find their voice,” she says.

In fact, mentoring students is central to Dr. MacDonald’s work and promotion of EDIA across the university. She is actively engaged with students in doctoral programs and the MSW and BSW programs, and she has contributed to countless student dissertation and thesis committees as a supervisor, co-supervisor and committee member.

“Judy is caring, thoughtful and passionate in her guidance of students with disabilities who actively seek her mentorship, and she deliberately seeks opportunities to work with these students,” says Dr. Merritt.

Inaugural Accessibility Week

International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Dec. 3 promotes the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. For the first time, Dal has plans for an Accessibility Week leading up to that date.

“This is a week where we can formally recognize the impact of  ableism on our community and promote the awareness of barriers that will then lead to institutional change,” she says. “The built environment poses  a challenge at Dal due to our  older infrastructure such as buildings that don’t have elevators or ramps, but even more challenging are attitudinal barriers where faculty or staff do not understand the right to accommodations or the importance of access and inclusion.”

The rest of the year, Dr. MacDonald will continue to promote and celebrate disability on all levels – research, curriculum, rights and employment supports – but she insists she isn’t doing this work alone. “I am privileged to work with an amazing  group of people doing this work to break down barriers,” she says. “Dal is beginning to understand ableism’s impact, but we need to continue developing principles, policies and practices to guide our work to make Dal truly accessible to everyone in the future.

Other faculty who are shining in their fields

Best wishes to these deserving Dal Health award winners this year (click on the links to learn more).

• Emma Archibald, Master of Health Administration graduate – Governor General’s Award Gold Medal for Students in Sciences and Humanities

• Dr. Sara Kirk, Professor, School of Health and Human Performance – Legacy Award, Distinguished Research Professor

• Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh, Assistant Professor, School of Health Administration – Legacy Award, Research Impact

• Dr. Olga Theou, Assistant Professor, School of Physiotherapy – Legacy Award, President’s Research Excellence Award

• Emma Whitely, Clinical Co-ordinator, School of Health Sciences – DPMG Outstanding Achievement Award