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Five outstanding alumni recognized at the 2013 Bryden Alumni Awards
published December 4, 2013

To follow how the evening’s celebration unfolded on Facebook and Twitter, see the Storify version.

For Janice Fukakusa (MBA ’79), RBC’s chief administrative officer and chief financial officer, her outstanding achievements in a more than 30-year career all began with a foundation that she built at York University’s Schulich School of Business. “At York, it’s not just about education; it’s about the broader experience,” she said.

Photo: Nicola Betts

Photo: Nicola Betts

To celebrate her lifetime of success, Fukakusa was recognized with the Pinnacle Achievement Award at the 2013 Bryden Alumni Awards, where five exceptional York grads from a variety of fields and specialties are recognized each year.

“Tonight we celebrate the successes of five outstanding alumni who have realized their visions,” said York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “As our current students work toward realizing their dreams for the future, the exceptional paths that our recipients have travelled serve as proof that the possibilities after York are endless.”

2013 Bryden Award recipient Janice Fukakusa with last year’s Pinnacle Achievement award recipient Kathleen Taylor.2013 Bryden Award recipient Janice Fukakusa with last year’s Pinnacle Achievement Award recipient Kathleen Taylor

This year’s Bryden event, which included a dinner and award presentation ceremony, was held on Thursday, Nov. 21 at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram & Bluma Appel Salon and saw more than 250 guests. The evening was sponsored by TD Insurance Meloche Monnex, MBNA and Manulife Financial, and was hosted by York grad and co-host of CBC Radio’s “Metro Morning” Jill Dempsey (BA ’04).

Fukakusa, who was recognized for achieving distinction in her career and for serving as an inspiration to the York community, was joined by four other alumni at the 2013 event receiving awards based on their own unique contributions.

Dr. Mamdouh Shoukri

York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri speaking at the 2013 Bryden Awards

“York has been a family affair for us, with several members of my family attending this great university, including my wife and oldest son,” said Dave Smith (BSc ’70, MBA ’72), recipient of this year’s Local Hero Award. The award, which recognizes a York grad and employee who has gone above and beyond the call of duty, perfectly encapsulated Smith’s more than 45-year history with York. Whether it was in his tenure as a star athlete and York Sports Hall of Fame inductee, as a volunteer coach for the University’s track and field team or as a staff member who made huge strides for athletic facilities and information management, Smith has had an immense impact at York.

The One-to-Watch Award is presented to a recent grad for remarkable accomplishments early in their career. Upon receiving her award, Karen D. Foss (BA ’01), a Canadian foreign service officer and graduate of York’s Glendon College, gave a modest yet impassioned speech that brought the dire impact of her work to the hearts and minds of the evening’s guests. “I’m very touched to be a York grad and, particularly, to be a Glendonite. York definitely prepared me well for the challenges and rewards of a career in the foreign service.”

The 2013 Bryden Alumni Award Winners (left to right): Guy Burry (BA '82), Janice Fukakusa (MBA '79), Carolyn Acker (BAS '87), Karen D. Foss (BA '01) and Dave Smith (BSc '70, MBA '72)

The 2013 Bryden Alumni Award winners (left to right): Guy Burry (BA ’82), Janice Fukakusa (MBA ’79), Carolyn Acker (BAS ’87), Karen D. Foss (BA ’01) and Dave Smith (BSc ’70, MBA ’72)

Carolyn Acker (BAS ’87) has lived York’s motto of  “Tentanda Via” in many ways throughout her career. These efforts are most apparent in her work with Pathways to Education Canada, the organization she founded to help youth in low-income communities successfully transition into postsecondary education. “Leadership is both an art and a science,” said Acker. “York’s unique sense of responsibility inspires students to make positive change.” For her innovative, unconventional and daring leadership, and for the tangible change she is creating for young people, Acker was presented with the Redefine the Possible Award.

The final award for Outstanding Contribution was given to York’s ultimate ambassador Guy Burry (BA ’82), who has given more than 30 years to York as a tireless volunteer, a passionate fundraiser and a philanthropist. Burry, a current member of the Board of Governors, is the driving force behind the Chair’s Cup golf tournament, which has brought in more than $5 million for graduate scholarships and, with his family, has made incredible contributions to the University.

More than 250 people attended the Bryden celebration

More than 250 people attended the 2013 Bryden Alumni Awards

“I was able to turn only one year as a York student into more than thirty as a volunteer and ambassador,” said Burry. “That’s a pretty good return on investment!” Burry’s passion for York was received with a standing ovation from the Bryden guests.

Among the guests in attendance were Julia Foster, chair of York’s Board of Governors, and Jeff O’Hagan, vice-president advancement, both of whom took to the stage to share their excitement with the night’s recipients. “Our five award recipients are a few of the many alumni responsible for making York what it is today,” said O’Hagan. “You make us all very proud to be a part of this great university.”


Julia Foster, chair of York’s Board of Governors, and Jeff O’Hagan, vice-president advancement, both spoke at the event

As the event came to a close, Randy Williamson, chair of the York University Alumni Association, congratulated this year’s winners and turned everyone’s thoughts towards next year’s ceremony. “Planning has already begun on next year’s ceremony and we’ll need your help to discover other York grads from our growing community of more than 270,000 alumni that deserve to be recognized.”

Photo: Nicola Betts

Randy Williamson, YUAA chair

Ron Westray Jazz Ensemble and the duo of Jessica Scarlato and Mark Herrera provided the entertainment for the 2013 Bryden Alumni Awards.

If you know of a York grad who is making an outstanding impact and deserves to be recognized with a Bryden Alumni Award, e-mail or learn more by downloading the Bryden Awards Nomination information. To see more images from the evening, visit the Bryden Photo Gallery Facebook page.