Graduate Profiles

The Dalhousie School of Social Work and, previous to that, the Maritime School of Social Work has graduated many wonderful leaders of the social work profession. Hundreds of dedicated social workers have contributed to the growth and enhancement of social welfare in this province as well as nationally and internationally.

Here we spotlight but a few*:

Maura K. Donovan, MSW, RSW

Extra Support for Parents Coordinator at IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Contributions to the Profession:

  • The Youth Project, which had started as a field placement in order to fulfill the degree requirements of Donovan's Bachelor of Social Work degree, is now a service that supports youth in the LGBTQ community through education, support services, leadership and advocacy.
  • Supportive Housing for Young Mothers (SHYM), provides basic necessities (shelter and safety) to an extremely vulnerable and marginalized population and helps reduce their risks of sexual exploitation, abuse, violence, toxic stress and lifelong poverty.

Maureen MacDonald, PhD

Retired MLA Halifax Needham, NDP

Contributions to the Profession:

  • Has served as the Minister of Health and Wellness, the first female Minister of Finance, the Minister of Gaelic Affairs, Minister of African Nova Scotia Affairs and the leader of the Nova Scotia NDP from 2013-2016.
  • Introduced the Act for Protection of Persons in Care (passed in 2004) as an extra safeguard for patients and residents of a health care facility to help prevent abuse.
  • Introduced the Fair Drug Pricing Act (passed in 2011) to cap the price of generic drugs
  • Led the creation of Nova Scotia's first Mental Health Strategy
  • Restored the Children's Dental Program

Courtney Maloney, BSW

Child protection social worker with the Department of Community Services

Contributions to the Profession:

  • Advocate for children's rights
  • Passionate about social equality and the eradication of poverty

Alexa McDonough, BSW

First woman to lead a major political party, the NDP (1995-2003)

Contributions to the Profession:

  • A tenacious advocate for Nova Scotians by leading the fight for - and winning - the first ban on extra medicare billing in Canada, worker health and safety improvements and human rights protections and was also at the forefront of the fight to save medicare, the Canada Pension Plan and Canada's unemployment insurance system
  • Awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians after over 30 years of public service

Sharon Murphy, BSW, MSW

Retired from social work in 1997 after many years of dedicated service, but is still very involved in the community as a social activist/advocate in Halifax 

Contributions to the Profession:

  • Chaired the Amherst Poverty Action Committee for 15 years
  • On the Board at Transition House for 18 years 
  • Involved with the NSASW for 20 years
  • Chaired the social justice committee for five years 
  • Received the Nova Scotia Volunteer of the Year Award in 2006
  • Awarded the Courage to Give Back Award from Family SOS in 2013 
  • Recognized with the Distinguished Service Award from the Canadian Association of Social Workers in 2014 

Wanda Thomas Bernard, PhD

Professor at the Dalhousie School of Social Work, most recently appointed as Senator by Pime Minister Trudeau

Contributions to the Profession:

  • The first African-Canadian to hold a tenure-track position at Dalhousie University and to be promoted to full professor.
  • Founding member of the Association of Black Social Workers and current chair of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women
  • Appointed to the Order of Canada in 2005 for her work on racism
  • Serves as Dalhousie’s special advisor, diversity and inclusiveness
  • The first African Nova Scotian woman to serve in the Senate Chamber


*Thanks to Instructor Sasha Kondrashov and students Sean MacLean, Rachael Gardiner, Kelsie Maloney, Eileigh Storey MacDougall, Sarah Dimmer and Mario Rolle for contributing to the content on this page.