NSASW award recipients-2011

CATHY GILLIS, RSW -  Recipient of the CASW Distinguished Service Award for 2011

Cathy Gillis exemplifies all the attributes required of a recipient of this very special honor.  Significantly, she has devoted her social work career to the specialized practice of nephrology social work and has been employed full-time in this field since 1984.  Over the past 26 years, she has gained invaluable expertise and experience in all areas of the nephrology program at the QEII.  Cathy Gillis has demonstrated tremendous leadership throughout her career and has been a mentor to her colleagues and students over the years, as well as to all the nephrology social workers at the QEII and to many others practicing throughout Nova Scotia.  She is member of the Canadian and Nova Scotia Associations of Social Workers and is a dedicated member of long-standing in the Canadian Association of Nephrology Social Workers.  Cathy Gillis is a passionate advocate for kidney patients and their families.  This passion informs both her practice and her service to the nephrology program, CANSW and the Kidney Foundation.  She continues to be an active member of the Kidney Foundation and has served extensively at both the national and branch levels.  Cathy is past president of both CANSW (1997-2000) and the Nova Scotia Branch of the Kidney Foundation.

It is especially fitting that, as Cathy begins to prepare for and anticipate retirement, other social workers will have an opportunity to recognize the extensive contributions she has made and the support she has provided to her peers and the people she serves.  Cathy often says that individuals living with kidney disease are her heroes.  NSASW would like to pay tribute to Cathy, who is one of our Social Work heroes.  Her colleagues, who nominated her, say: “Cathy Gillis is an esteemed colleague, an inspirational mentor, a passionate advocate and dear friend.  She epitomizes the attributes and spirit of a dedicated social worker and deserves to be recognized by the CASW and NSASW as a 2011 recipient of this award.”


Dennis Adams, RSW was nominated for the Ron Stratford Memorial Award by Andrew James Stratford, eldest son of the late Ron Stratford. He describes Dennis Adams as “his high school counsellor while I was a student at QEH  and has been a very positive person in my life ever since. He is an excellent listener has been there for me since high school. He is currently the director of LOVE in Halifax (where) the work that he has been doing has been very positive and innovative and I cannot think of a more deserving person for my father’s award.“
This award is presented in memory of Ron Stratford, a dedicated social worker committed to a holistic perspective emphasizing prevention and community development. It has been awarded annually to a resident of Nova Scotia since 1983.
LOVE,  refers to Leave Out ViolencE, a unique long-term violence-prevention youth program. Victims, witnesses and perpetrators of violence undertake multi-media and leadership training to develop the positive life-skills, sense of community & critical thinking that enable youth to analyze causes of, and alternatives to, violence. Through LOVE, youth see the impact they have on others: youth choose to use their voice to educate themselves, their peers and our communities (exerpt from the LOVE website).
Dennis Adams was not able to be present at the awards presentation on May 12th  and plans were made to make the presentation at another appropriate time.


  ILONA MACKENZIE, RSW was nominated for the David William Connors Award by co-worker Marie Meagher, RSW and the following are excerpts from her letter of support. “It is with complete confidence and pleasure that I nominate Ilona MacKenzie, a co-worker and member of our Association, for the David William Connors Memorial Award. She has worked diligently for four decades providing competent social work in direct practice.  Through her leadership and high ethical standards she has exemplified, to countless staff in her agency and to community colleagues, the profile of competency and professionalism as established by our Association.  She inspires everyone around her with her dedication and compassion to helping the most vulnerable families in our communities and she has consistently exhibited superb intellectual and analytical skills in carrying out the responsibilities of her profession.”

Ilona has worked in direct practice at the Family Services of Eastern Nova Scotia for forty-one years. Ms. Meagher goes on to support the values of the award by stating: “Ilona also parallels her career with Mr. Connors as she has worked in the interests of three generations of youth in our communities. She has spoken out when connections such as home, school or other community placements are not working for them and she very quickly asserts herself to recognizing their needs and seeking help for these individuals, either demanding that they receive proper educational assessments, increased mentorship, or changes in home environments.”

Ilona MacKenzie was not able to attend the awards presentation on May 12th and Nancy MacDonald, Exe. Dir. Family Services of Eastern NS accepted the award on her behalf.