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Past Award Winners

2018: Ann Mortifee C.M. ’65 & Dr. Isabel Chen ’06

Alumnae Achievement Award Winners 18

Crofton House School and the CHS Alumnae Association are pleased to present this year's Alumnae Achievement Award winners.

The Alumnae Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an alumna in recognition of her outstanding dedication and accomplishment toward her life’s work.

The Alumnae Junior Achievement Award is presented to a young alumna, under 40 years of age, in recognition of her accomplishments in making a difference in the lives of others.

Alumnae Lifetime Achievement Award
Ann Mortifee C.M. ’65

The Crofton House School Alumnae Association is pleased to announce the 2018 Alumnae Lifetime Achievement Award winner – Ann Mortifee C.M. ’65 for her outstanding accomplishments in the performing arts and her tireless work raising awareness towards a wide range of social and environmental issues.

Ann graduated from Crofton House in 1965 and began her career in the performing arts. Ann has composed a number of musicals, as well as scores for ballets, operas and award-winning television specials; she has written over 300 songs and has recorded 10 albums.

In addition to receiving multiple nominations for Genie and Juno Awards, Ann has also been the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including the Order of Canada (1991), YWCA Woman of Distinction Award (1992), and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). In the midst of her successful musical career, Ann realized music’s power to raise social awareness for a variety of causes that range from world peace to the environment. In addition to her dedicated work with patients in palliative care, Ann has brought monumental awareness to the power of self, the necessity of environmental protection and the importance of social innovation.

In addition to her great contributions and promotion of care for patients in palliative care through her Healing Journey projects, Ann facilitates consciousness workshops and has co-founded two foundations for social innovation and environmental awareness.

Alumnae Junior Achievement Award
Dr. Isabel Chen ’06

The Crofton House School Alumnae Association is pleased to announce the 2018 Alumnae Junior Achievement Award winner – Dr. Isabel Chen ’06 for her outstanding accomplishments in education, health and community outreach.

Following her graduation from Crofton House in 2006, Isabel attended Yale University (BA and MPH) and UBC (MD). While pursuing her medical degree at UBC, Isabel actively volunteered and advocated for improved health and human rights for vulnerable groups. In 2011, she founded Keep Safe Initiative, an organization that develops panic alarms for sex-trade workers. Isabel is also the founder of Reading Bear Society, a city-wide education program bringing together nearly 3,000 pre-school, high school and medical students to promote inner city health and literacy. Isabel is the recipient of multiple scholarship and research awards, as well as the YWCA Young Women of Distinction Award (2014). She is an active board member of the California Academy of Family Physicians and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and is an intern with the World Health Organization (Geneva, Switzerland). She is currently a second-year family medicine resident at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles and a leading activist for women and children’s health.

2017: Doreen McKenzie-Sanders C.M. OG '38

Alumnae Achievement Award Winner 17: Doreen McKenzie-Sanders C.M. OG '38

The Alumnae Achievement Award is presented to an alumna in recognition of her outstanding dedication and accomplishment toward her life’s work. The Crofton House School Alumnae Association is pleased to award Doreen McKenzie-Sanders, C.M. the 2017 Alumnae Achievement Award for her pioneering work in advancing equality for women in the business world. 

Doreen McKenzie-Sanders attended Crofton House School in the 1930's. She is an award-winning journalist, educator & publisher, presented with numerous awards including the Order of Canada (1986), the first Business In Vancouver's "Influential Women in Business" Lifetime Award (2005) and the Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Person's Case (2006). 

Doreen started her career at the Vancouver Province in 1938 and after graduating from the University of Western Ontario's Journalism program (1962) she was hired as the assistant editor for the Business Quarterly, the publication of Western's School of Business. At the time she was hired there were no women on the faculty and no female students attending the Business School.   Throughout her life, Doreen has been dedicated to her work of ensuring greater recognition of women's abilities and their capacity to lead. “Women are remarkably capable in their many roles in society. They have earned the right to be accepted as equals in every aspect of modern-day life. This message still needs to be shouted loudly and clearly and persistently.”

2016: Leigh Boyle ’05

Alumnae Achievement Award Winner 16: Leigh Boyle ’05

Community, whether local or international, has always been at the heart of Leigh Boyle’s passions. The fundraiser, philanthropist, and former Head Girl, Leigh Boyle ’05, received the Crofton House School Alumnae Association’s 2016 Alumnae Achievement Award at the School’s 118th birthday Assembly on March 4, for her outstanding commitment to philanthropic endeavours.

After graduating in communications at Trinity Western University, eager and idealistic, and “yearning to find out more about the world”, Boyle spent 2.5 years working for non-profits in Swaziland and northern Ethiopia. In Ethiopia she was isolated by geography, language and lack of technology, Leigh sought to find a place for herself in the community she was living in. She began doing manicures for patients at a local hospital. An act as simple as painting their nails and giving the women - some who were only just teenagers - a hand massage, became a profound and joyful way of connecting and creating community.

On returning to Vancouver, she witnessed the passing of the mother of a family friend. In palliative care, the mother requested a manicure. Leigh understood what this meant and how this simple request would bring dignity and beauty to last days of her life. Deeply touched by the experience, she decided to bring the compassion she had learnt on her travels back to her local community. And so began the Lipstick Project.

The project has evolved into a full-fledged local non-profit. During the day, Leigh has been pursuing a career as a philanthropic consultant, recently launching a company, Fawkes & Holly, with her business partner, Janet. Together, Leigh and Janet help small charities build efficient, effective fundraising programs that allow them to grow. After hours, she directs her energy into her role as the Lipstick Project’s Executive Director alongside the Director of Community Partnerships and fellow CHS Alumnae, Holly Chan ’01. The Lipstick Project works with seven organizations in the Lower Mainland, including North Shore Hospice, Ronald McDonald House, Camp Goodtimes, and Canuck Place providing free professional and therapeutic spa services to patients approaching the end of their lives. Since it launched in 2013, the Lipstick Project has delivered more than 1,000 hours of professional services to over 500 clients in the Vancouver area.

Holly and Leigh met each other after graduating from school. “We had an instant connection and trust which I find typical of the CHS Alumnae. Some of the most meaningful relationships I have built are through the alumnae. The network is real, and I am enthused by the support I get for the Lipstick Project from this community, including creating a partnership and friendship with Holly.”

In her CHS Alumnae Achievement Award acceptance speech Leigh said: “Crofton House School imprints you with an awareness to be kind and compassionate, to be ambitious and creative, and to consider each day the ways you can help those around you. The school has been an essential part of the Lipstick Project’s development as it was here that many of us learned how to be good citizens. How to be people who care about their friends, families and community.”

CHS also taught Leigh how to learn, to ask questions and be curious. “We were not allowed to quit,” she says. “This stood me in good stead in my professional life. Instead of quitting we were encouraged to find solutions and to work as a team. We were taught that if we don’t like a subject or are not good at a particular task, you can still find a way to do it and do it well. The expectation was that you try your best. Success was the willingness to reach your personal best. In life, you are not going to be good at everything, and to think that you are, is setting yourself up for disappointment.”

Sport played a big part in her school career, and she stills plays weekly recreational volleyball with Lesley Cuddington ’05, her co-captain from the CHS volleyball team. “I found an instant sense of belonging on the sports field. It taught me leadership, teamwork, perseverance, and how to have a lot of fun. I am not sure I would have thrown myself into athletics in the same way if I was not at an all-girls school.” It was at CHS that Leigh first stepped into a leadership role as Head Girl. “CHS was a safe place to find my voice,” says Leigh.

Leigh’s leadership qualities and credentials continue to grow. In 2015, she was a BCBusiness 30 Under 30 Winner and is currently pursuing an MBA at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. The CHS community is excited to be alongside Leigh as she continues to carve out her life’s path. Her message to CHS Alumnae is: “I am honoured to be a recipient of the 2016 Alumnae Achievement Award. For all of us, it is about embracing the values that come from this community. CHS shaped all of us in our formative years, for the better. We were privileged to be here.”

2015: Prudence Emery ‘54

Alumnae Achievement Award Winner 15: Prudence Emery ‘54

Prudence Emery ‘54 is not one of those people that always felt she had a calling. In fact, in her words, it was “a sheer lack of direction” that led her first into the public relations (PR) field and then later into a 40-year career as a unit publicist for dozens of major films. When she reflects on why it took her some time to find a path, she thinks it was partly herself and partly the time when she was growing up. “We were not trained for a job,” she notes. “We were trained to be married and be young ladies.”

It’s a good thing that she found the path she did. After a stint doing public relations for The Savoy Hotels in London, she came back to Canada to publicize the launch of two landmark Canadian institutions: Global Television and the Metro Zoo in Toronto.

From there she made her way into film as a unit publicist in the film industry. A search for her name on IMDB suggests just how significant her impact on North American film culture has been. Among her 100+ credits are well-recognized titles such as The Dead Zone, The Fly, Adventures in Babysitting, M. Butterfly, eXistenZ, Crash, and Good Will Hunting.

The list may be impressive, but Prudence notes that “its not all glitz and glamour” working in the film industry. As a unit publicist, her job entailed arranging photo shoots, writing up press releases, reaching out to the press, and the sometimes trying task of putting together EPKs – electronic press kits, which involve gathering celebrity photos and film resources. With a laugh she recalls one incident where the director finally told Robert Redford and Jennifer Lopez that he’d be choosing the photos for their kit if they didn’t complete the task on time. As she puts it, “They were much more helpful following that.”

She attributes her success as a publicist to a very straightforward, practical approach, one she learned in part through her time at Crofton House. “You just pick up the phone,” she says. “People get to know you, and it gets easier from there.” She does note that things changed a lot over her 30-year career. Most notably, she says that “It’s not as fun as it used to be. The budgets have gotten so big, and people are far less willing to take risks.”

If there’s one common thread that runs throughout all of Prudence’s career, it may very well be the joy she gets from taking those risks. While she’s now retired from her job as a unit publicist, she’s far from settling down. She recently embarked on a whole new kind of career in film, co-writing and producing a short film called Hattie’s Heist. This whimsical, modern-day Robin Hood story follows a feisty senior citizen who, with the aid of her scooter-riding Yorkshire terrier, pulls off a bank heist.

After years of building friendships in the film industry, she had no trouble pulling together a crew to help make the film. In fact, many of the crew, including director Kent Harrison, have such a fondness for Prudence that they offered to work on the film for free.

She’s very happy with the final product but does note that there were a few hiccups in terms of the talent, including the loss of their original canine star, a particularly talented old pup who could “wag its tail 360 degrees in both directions.” Ever the publicist, Prudence decided to hold public auditions for a replacement and put together a celebrity panel including the mayor of Oak Bay and the entertainment columnist for Victoria’s Times Colonist newspaper. They were fortunate enough to find a Yorkshire Terrier whose credentials included having ridden over 6000 kilometres on a Harley Davidson.

It’s just that kind of quirkiness and creativity that shines through when Prudence talks about her life. With such an intriguing and varied list of accomplishments, she can truly serve as an inspiration to younger generations of women who are making their way through a world that is equally unpredictable, albeit in different ways, from the one Prudence walked into when she graduated.

We celebrate Prudence’s outstanding career and panache, and congratulate her on receiving the 2015 Alumnae Achievement Award!

2014: Dr. Amy Lo ‘93

Alumnae Achievement Award Winner 14: Dr. Amy Lo ‘93

Even by Crofton House School’s exceptionally high standards, Dr. Amy Lo ‘93 is an alumna with outstanding accomplishments. With a bachelor’s in physics from the famously rigorous Brown University, and a PhD in astrophysics from the equally prestigious UCLA, she is currently Northrop Grumman’s lead alignments engineer working on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. She is heading a team that’s objective is to create the first optical image of a planet beyond our solar system. In recognition of her remarkable contributions to engineering, in 2013 she received an Asian American Engineer of the Year award. Given these accomplishments and the promise of more to come, she is well-deserving of this year’s Alumnae Achievement Award, which was bestowed on her at this year’s school birthday by Alumnae Association Executive president, Dr. Christine (Wong) Applegarth ‘92.

Amy frames her successes in a unique way, noting that it was often a lack of impediments to her interests that was a key benefit of going to CHS: “At Crofton House, I didn’t have to experience the gender bias. There was never a restriction on girls doing science.” She went on to remark that this lack of bias positively affected her later pursuits at Brown and UCLA: “It never occurred to me that they wouldn’t listen when I said something.”

On the topic of the work she’s doing, Amy’s enthusiasm is contagious. “This is a kind of insane piece of equipment,” she notes with a chuckle: “It’s a once in a lifetime thing. It really is an honour.” In addition to working on the James Webb Space Telescope – also known as the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope – Amy is also working with a team on a developing a unique, star-shaped panel concept that could be deployed to block a distant star’s light in such a way that would allow for easier imaging one of its much smaller, less-bright planetary satellites. With palpable pride, she describes the joy of working with a team that operates in a seamless and invested way. She notes that “When any one of us encounters a tough problem, others are always there to jump in and suggest new ideas. For other women considering careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Amy says, “Don’t be afraid to try new things. We all have a tendency to do the things that we know how to do. Because of the high fatigue factor in hard sciences or engineering and the extra gender baggage, you have to like it. You have to ask yourself if you like doing it.”

We are so happy for Amy and the astronomical contributions she’s making to the frontiers of human knowledge. When the James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2018, it will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. It’s an honour to count Amy among the many distinguished alumnae of Crofton House School. Congratulations Amy!

2013: Lauren Wilkinson ‘07

Alumnae Achievement Award Winner 12: Lauren Wilkinson ‘07

Winning is not the End

When Lauren Wilkinson ‘07 recently received the Alumnae Association’s 2013 Achievement Award, her classmate and nominator told a story from back in their rowing days at Crofton House: “I knew Lauren was different when we were out rowing on the lake in our boat of four, and I heard a splashing coming up fast from behind us. It turns out it was Lauren, by herself in a boat, as she flew past and finished the race with open water between us.”

Authenticity, drive, and gratitude: these words start to provide the smallest of hints at what has made Lauren Wilkinson ‘07 such a successful athlete and scholar. This year she adds Crofton House School Alumnae Association’s 2013 Alumnae Achievement Award to her stunning trophy case which includes among other things an NCAA championship and an Olympic silver medal. While it’s hard to trump such impressive international accomplishments, as she puts it, “This one means a lot to me. This school helped make me the person I am. I couldn’t have done any of those other things without the people who supported me while I was at Crofton House.”

When we had the chance to speak briefly with Lauren on the day she received her achievement award, it became clear just how focused and determined one must be to become an internationally competitive athlete. Having graduated in 2007, she trained with the Princeton women’s eight team for four years before competing for team Canada in the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games. Currently, she’s “taking a break” from training for the next Olympic Games by condensing a two-and-a-half year Master’s degree into a year and a half. When she accepted her award from Alumnae Association Executive President Christine (Wong) Applegarth ‘92, she was clear that the medal and the award itself represented for her years of passion and hard work, and in our interview, she showed no signs of slowing down.

Lauren was also clear about just what a whirlwind the last Olympic Games were for her, and indeed just how rapid her ascent to athletic stardom has been. She told us that, granted she makes the cut for the next Olympic Games, she wants to take a little more time to “appreciate the environment she’s in.” She was also dead clear about one other minor detail: “My dream is to win a gold medal!”

2012: Kerry Lynne-Findlay '71, Q.C., M.P.

Alumnae Achievement Award Winner 12
Kerry Lynne-Findlay '71, Q.C., M.P.

The Alumnae Association is proud to pronounce Kerry Lynne-Findlay ’71 as the recipient of the 2012 Alumnae Achievement Award.

In her career, Kerry-Lynne has distinguished herself as a lawyer and as a community leader, achieving regional, provincial and national recognition as a passionate advocate and articulate debater. She has represented clients at every level of court including the Supreme Court of Canada, and been actively involved in the mediation of multi-party disputes in complex situations. Along the way, she has mentored many junior men and women in the legal profession and worked for improvements in access to justice and court reform.

Kerry-Lynne is recognized as one of the most knowledgeable lawyers regarding aboriginal land and resource management issues.

2011: Kit Pearson '65

Alumnae Achievement Award Winner 2011

This year we honour Kit Pearson from the Class of 1965.

Kit is a world renowned writer and winner of numerous literature awards. She was born in Edmonton and grew up there and in Vancouver. While at Crofton House School, Kit was a boarder in Douglas House. After leaving CHS, Kit received her B.A. from the University of Alberta, her Masters in Librarian Sciences from UBC and an M.A. from the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children's Literature in Boston.

Kit worked for ten years as a Children's Librarian in Ontario and BC and completed her first novel 'The Daring Game'. She is now a full time writer with many books to her credit. Her books have been published all over the world. She has won fourteen awards for her writing including the governor General's Award for 'Awake and Dreaming'.

Kit lives in Victoria, a few blocks from Ross Bay Cemetery, one of the settings in 'Awake and Dreaming'.
Conversation with Kit Pearson

Kit Pearson says she harboured a deep secret during her years at Crofton House School. None of her friends or fellow students knew, but Kit wanted to be a writer. She dreamed of one day writing a book and kept a diary during the time she was at our school. Kit says she loved the campus and enjoyed her time at Crofton House. The school allowed her to be herself and she always felt accepted and supported here.

Memories of Crofton House School fill the pages of Kit's stories. Many teachers and former students believe they can see themselves in her books. Kit has been given many awards for her writing but she says receiving the Alumnae Achievement Award is her greatest honour.

Kit's advice to current Crofton House students is believe in yourself and your talents and don't let other dissuade you from your dreams.

2010: Deborah Money ‘77

Deborah Money ‘77

Deborah holds a BSc, an MD, and an FRCS(C), and has become one of the most well-respected and highly regarded physicians in her specialties. She regularly collaborates with colleagues around the world in studies and conferences that greatly contribute to the medical community as well as to womens health initiatives.

After graduating from UBC Medical School and completing two fellowships, one in Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington, and one in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UBC, Deborah became the first physician in Canada to hold specialties in both Infectious Diseases and OBGYN. She helped develop a clinical and research program in OBGYN Infectious Diseases at UBC which focused on womens health and disease, and the program was one of the first of its kind in Canada. Deborah remains to be among only three doctors in her combined specialties in the country (after training the other two!).

Deborah has filled numerous leadership roles, both in her personal and professional life. Professionally, she led the creation of the UBC OBGYN Infectious Diseases research program. Deborah was also the Division Head of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Division at Women’s Hospital for six years, overseeing a large division of doctors and staff. During this time, Deborah was also an associate professor at UBC and continues to help teach young doctors in her specialties.

Deborah has also served as the head OBGYN at Oak Tree Clinic, a Womens Hospital based clinic which helps high-risk women and children infected with HIV/AIDS in Vancouver. She served as the Associate Director for STD/AIDS Control for the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, being responsible for coordinating efforts to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS among British Colombians.

Due to her dedication and tireless efforts to better the lives of her patients, she is regarded internationally as a leading expert in the field of Infectious Diseases in Women, with particular focus on HIV and HPV related issues. She greatly contributed to the research which resulted in the ground-breaking HPV vaccine, Gardisil, which has proved to be the greatest medical advancement in preventing cervical cancer fatalities since the invention of the PAP Smear.

Recent professional developments have seen Deborah being named the Executive Director of the new Womens Health Research Institute of British Columbia, an institution making new medical advancements to improve the lives of women. Deborah oversees the enterprise, including organizing and overseeing research projects while also managing the everyday tasks.

Deborah Money has continued the CHS tradition of giving back to the community. She has been greatly involved in the Dr. Peter AIDS Centre of Vancouver, both directly and indirectly. She has served as a board member for eight years and is now being considered to be a future chairman of the board for the Centre.

Deborah has recently become involved in the annual Ismali Walk for Women, a charity which raises funds for different organizations seeking to better the lives of women in the Vancouver Community. Recently, she was a contributing coordinator for the 2008 Walk which benefited her own Womens Health Research Institute of British Columbia. The Walk was a great success, raising approximately $300,000 for womens health research initiatives.

Deborah has remained greatly involved with the school. As both an alumnae and a CHS parent from 1998-2005, she contributed to many school events and hosted the 2005 Grad Mother Daughter Tea. She also served as a member of the CHS Board of Governors for five years.

Deborah lives with her husband of 15 years. Her two children recently completed undergraduate degrees at McGill University. Deborah motivates her children to pursue such high goals by providing encouragement and by being a great example of how hard work and determination can better one’s own life and the lives of others.

2009: Susan Payne '76

Susan Payne '76

After leaving Crofton House School, Susan went on to do three Honours degrees, including two in law from Oxford University and McGill. She was called to the Bar in Canada in 1985 and in 1986 joined JP Morgan, London, before joining the eight-person global Emerging Markets Group. During her tenure as Head of Emerging Markets Sales, Europe, the global group grew to number over 250 people and became established as the market leader in emerging markets securities.

In 1993, Susan joined Goldman Sachs International as an Executive Director and Head of Sales and Trading responsible for developing its emerging markets debt business in Europe. Four years later, Susan founded Emergent Asset Management Limited, an award –winning, alternative investment firm based in the UK, where she is a Principal.

In both 2007 and 2008, Susan was listed by Financial News as one of the Top 100 Women in Finance in Europe. She was awarded one of eight Shell UK Women of the Future Awards 2006 for "Mentor of the Year" and was short-listed for the CBI First Women Awards in Finance, 2005. In 2008, Susan was appointed as a UK Women of Achievement Ambassador.

Susan is also Head of the London Chapter of 85 Broads, the largest professional women's network in the world, and is an outspoken advocate of the advancement of women in the workplace.

Susan and her partner, David, have three young children and live just south of London. An avid sportswoman, she spent the first half of her life participating in competitive rowing - representing Canada in the 1984 World Championships - ice hockey and rugby. Susan now enjoys the more civilized pursuits of running marathons, skiing and sailing. She remains a committed rugby fanatic, but limits her involvement to yelling from the touchline.

2008: Annabel (Gerald) Slaight '58

2008 Alumnae Achievement Award Recipient: Annabel (Gerald) Slaight '58

The Right Stuff

Annabel (Gerald) Slaight '58 did not do well in school. The irony is not lost on the co-founder of Owl Magazines, Books and TV. She laughs as she recalls the teenage version of herself: "I didn't get to be a winner of the Alumnae Achievement Award from what I managed to do in Grade 12. 'E' for failure in math, can you believe it?"

Despite her own dismal grades, Annabel gives Crofton House School top marks. She says, "While I did so badly in terms of marks, I learned so much."

Her publishing career began at CHS with a small newspaper that was written, illustrated, and distributed by Annabel and her friends. The Croftonian Crumbs, complete with its own gossip column called Lucifer's Lips, was the first of many publications that Annabel would establish.

After attending the Faculty of Education at UBC (and not receiving very good marks there either) and then moving to Toronto to start a career in journalism, Annabel identified a void in the publishing industry. She saw the need for a magazine that could give Canadian kids a sense of their country: "Something that they could feel belongs to them," she explains. Soon after, Annabel co-founded OWL, followed by Chickadee, Chirp and Treehouse Family Magazines. Her ambitions led her then to establish Owl Books and Owl/TV, reaching a whole new generation of Canadian kids.

Contributing to the wellness of the Canadian identity is only one of Annabel's great achievements. She is also chair of the Shaw Rocket Fund, which provides financing for children's television programming, and was a winner of the Canadian Film and Television's Lifetime Achievement Award and a recipient of the Order of Ontario.

Annabel now adds calendar girl to her list of credits. She co-founded the Ladies of the Lake who, in 2006, created a calendar to raise money and awareness for Lake Simcoe, where she now lives. Featuring "cheeky, but not cheesy" photographs of nude women along the shores of the lake, the calendar raised $250,000 for the preservation of the lake. A 2009 calendar is in the works.

She says, "Through(out) my life, starting in school and beyond, I haven't wanted to be a star. I don't think of myself as a leader. I think of myself as someone who can help other people do the best that they can do. And as a result I have always managed to be surrounded by people who have fun, enjoy doing the best they can do, and we've really accomplished some stuff."

At least two generations of Canadian kids can attest, and now Lake Simcoe to boot, Annabel Slaight has most definitely accomplished "some stuff". 

2007: Josephine (Marler) Wright ’34 & Marian (Vance) Pocock ’35

2007 CHS Alumnae Achievement Awards Recipients: A Commitment to Enduring Service

By Anne Erickson

Alumnae president, Monique Badun ’84, believes this year’s Alumnae Achievement Award recipients exemplify the CHS maxim of courtesy, honour, and service. Josephine (Marler) Wright ’34 and Marian (Vance) Pocock ’35 are two women who made a difference during an era of limited choices. Both have led distinctive lives that demonstrate a commitment to service.

Josephine (Marler) Wright ’34 

In 1922, at the age of six, Josephine (Marler) Wright began her education at Crofton House School. "It was a good education," is her flat declaration. She adds, "Miss Jessie Gordon was a wonderful person."

Now at ninety, Mrs. Wright recalls each teacher's name and remembers those who became friends after graduation. CHS teachers played a large part in her development and she was particularly influenced by Mrs. Halpin, who taught art. Mrs. Wright developed a love of the French language and "somewhere along the line was put on to long division and mathematics."

At the junior and senior schools, Mrs. Wright also learned things that were well outside the curriculum. She concedes, "I was quite a little monkey." She recounts the day she was asked to copy a note on the blackboard she had passed to another student. Another time, Miss Gordon herself told her to wash off the lipstick she had deigned to wear that day. It was a time when no students were allowed to wear any makeup.

This time of certain mischief made for many memories. On one occasion she "was put out of the room" for talking and was required to read extra pages of Western World Progress and passages from the Bible. Fortunately, this served to spark a lasting interest in history.

After graduation, Mrs. Wright's father passed away, so she spent several years helping at home. She was also involved with the Red Cross, until at age twenty-four she married her longtime sweetheart—a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force. On their wedding day she fondly remembers receiving a gift from Miss Gordon. She and her husband lived in different places across Canada before finally settling in Toronto. She cherishes the CHS friendships that endured a vast span of geography and time, maintained through "the lost art of letter writing" and phone calls.

The Alumnae Achievement Award was quite an honour and surprise for Mrs. Wright, who cajoles that her age alone may have exempted other alumnae. Her achievements prove otherwise. She is the only Canadian citizen to have received the Silver Acorn, the 75 year pin of service from the Boy Scouts of Canada. This lifelong passion also earned her a letter of recognition from the Governor General of Canada.

Her commitment to Scouts Canada was sparked at age fifteen, when, while wearing her Girl Guide uniform, the well-loved scoutmaster Edmund Hoyle Milnes ("Gramps") saw her and immediately recruited her to help with his rambunctious crew. After losing his only son in World War I, Gramps devoted his life to the Scouts. When he passed away on April 6, 1949, Mrs. Wright, inspired by his story, decided to carry on his work and began a legacy of her own. Mrs. Wright's three sons, grandsons, and now great-grandsons have all been Scouts. She is particularly grateful to her husband for returning home from work to care for their six children while she went to take care of forty-five others, saying, "If it hadn’t been for my husband, I couldn't have done it."

The Scouts' unwavering commitment to leadership, self-reliance, and self-respect, and their embrace of all walks of life, are the reasons she remains involved. She continues to volunteer and is now working her way through the entirely revised Scout manual. The Scouts movement inspires her constant learning and undaunted enjoyment of each day. She affectionately notes, "I just love the little fellas!"

Marian (Vance) Pocock ’35

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world
—Tennyson, "Ulysses"

When asked what it was like to receive this year's Alumnae Achievement Award, Marian Pocock responded, "Seems like rather a big responsibility to be a good example." She also jested that receiving the award at her age first required her to actually remain living. But her story readily shows she has earned the award through how she has lived.

Marian, as she prefers to be addressed, was a voracious reader as a child. By the time she entered Crofton House School in Form B, now known as grade 7, she was on the cusp of becoming a young woman. Students were asked to give their time, skills, and personal earnings. Marian remembers paying five cents "cot money" each week to support a hospital in India in need of a bed. At the same time, boarders were constantly knitting squares for a quilt to send to the hospital. "School entailed a certain amount of fun and games," she says, "but it was also a time when students were to stand up when a teacher entered a room. Courtesy was always a must!"

The idea of service and community was iterated as the school's own future came into question. When founder and headmistress Jessie Gordon announced her intention to retire and close the school, it was very much the belief of students, parents, and Vancouver citizens that the school was too good to close. At Christ Church Cathedral, a meeting of many supporters was chaired by the dean, Dr. Ramsey Armitage, and resulted in a successful campaign to continue Crofton House School.

During the first year of the Second World War, Marian took first aid courses, belonged to an ambulance corps, made speeches to sell war savings bonds, and helped at home. Then the Canadian military and the Royal Canadian Air Force announced a selection process to enlist the first women recruits. With one brother already serving, Marian quickly applied, passed the medical, supplied all the necessary paperwork, passed the Selection Committee, and became one of the first 150 women to be chosen. "It meant I was no longer a free agent," she recalls.

Marian remembers officer training as a great learning experience that changed her very much. It was during this time that she met her future husband, Len Pocock, a young officer just returned from service in London during the Battle of the Blitz. They married within a few months. When the war ended, Len entered university to go into the ministry and eventually returned to the Air Force as a chaplain. Marian and Len raised four children, including one daughter, Janey (Pocock) Johnson, who also attended and graduated from CHS.

After eight interesting years on air force stations in Quebec, the Pocock family was finally transferred to the west coast and Marian came back to CHS as a member of the teaching staff. At this time Marian also became a member of the women's service club Soroptimist International, of which Jessie Gordon was a charter member and Ms. Bedford Jones was a former member. As the regional governor of Western Canada, Marian participated in many projects with the chief aim of helping women to re-enter the workforce through the support of scholarships and bursaries.

Marian's service is further marked with community involvement and recognition. She belonged to the Vancouver Volunteer Centre and was a member of its board. She was also the first woman to be elected senior society president for the Brock House Society. She was a recipient of the 1994 Frances E. Wagner Soroptomist Club Award and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. Despite her accomplishments, Marian maintains, "Family is always first, followed by work and then volunteer activities." She strongly believes "that we must use our time well." Her life to date is a worthy example of this belief.

2006: Jane Hungerford '62

Jane Hungerford, 2006 Recipient of the CHS Alumnae Association Achievement Award

"I didn’t set out to build a resume; I set out to live a life."

When you meet Jane Hungerford, winner of the 2006 CHS Alumnae Association Achievement Award, prepare to be impressed. Soft-spoken, well-educated, and thoroughly composed, do not let her polished demeanor mislead you. While she is a woman who possesses all of these positive characteristics in spades, there is more to Jane Hungerford than first impressions reveal.

A Class of ’62 alum, Jane (Knott) Hungerford has spent the greater part of her life in the service of others. Born in New York City and raised in Vancouver, Jane hails from a family who, for generations, has focused on giving back. For Jane, the community she serves includes her family, her friends, Crofton House School, and the world around us. With a resume that reads like a how-to manual for even the most seasoned professional volunteer-including a Special Honours section that highlights a litany of prestigious recognition awards-the CHS Alumnae Association Award holds special significance for Jane. Visibly moved when asked what this award means to her, she explains that "the fact that I was nominated by my CHS peers, that ALL of my classmates signed the letter in support of my nomination, was very special and very humbling." It is not often that you meet someone so accomplished who stills maintains the capacity to feel so touched by the admiration of friends and peers.

Sheer determination is another characteristic of Jane that rests quietly just below the surface. Although it is reasonable to assume that someone with so many accomplishments would be focused, possessing a strong sense of purpose, it is the strength of her resolve that is unique. Jane learned early the value of setting goals, aiming high, and persevering. Faced with the obstacle of a learning disability at a young age, she graduated from Crofton House School and pressed on to pursue post-secondary education at the University of British Columbia. She studied Fine Arts and American History for a short while, ultimately completing a Bachelor of Education. Early in her career she taught grade 1, grade 2, and English as a Second Language. After marrying George Hungerford and starting a family (today she is the mother of four adult children, Geordie, Michael, Drew, and Janie, CHS class of ‘99), Jane left the teaching profession in favour of family commitments and volunteer endeavours.

The Alumnae Achievement Award was introduced by CHS to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Alumnae Association, in an effort to recognize, celebrate, and honour the achievements of CHS alumnae. Each year, the award is presented to an alumna or Old Girl in recognition of her outstanding dedication and accomplishments in either professional or volunteer work. It is awarded to individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others or who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, artistic, or athletic accomplishments. Jane Hungerford exemplifies these qualities.

In recent years, most of Jane’s community service has been dedicated to the British Columbia Cancer Foundation. She laughs while admitting that the majority of her earlier volunteer efforts were deliberately focused away from medical issues-she was raised in a family of medical professionals and wanted to explore other areas-in favour of the arts, education, and charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army. She was an active member of the Junior League of Vancouver, which was responsible for launching community projects such as Science World and Arts Umbrella. She is currently the immediate past chair of the University of British Columbia’s Alumni Association. However, her sense of purpose for non-medical causes was redirected when, like many of us, her life was tragically touched by the effects of cancer.

Jane Hungerford has worked tirelessly to support the research efforts of the British Columbia Cancer Foundation, as a member of the board of directors since 1993 and, from 1997 to 2002, as chairman of the board. She has spent countless hours working on behalf of the foundation, raising awareness and managing capital campaigns in amounts exceeding $120 million. In 2003, she was awarded the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal, a national award received for outstanding community service.

She attributes her success to many factors, but the two she considers most important are her support network, including her family and friends, and her passion for her work. Her family has always been of the utmost importance to her. Over the years she has chosen to forego lucrative professional opportunities in favour of the flexibility of volunteer work and the time that it afforded her to spend with her husband and children. Jane refers to George as "the best husband," her "biggest supporter," and her "greatest source of encouragement." In fact, equally active in community service, Jane and George work together on many causes. One of her greatest sources of pride, her children have all become community-minded as well, and donate their time in support of a wide variety of issues.

In her own estimation, good friends are another critical link to her success. With great sincerity she will recount many examples of the value that her friendships have added to her life, and how the support of her friends has helped her through some of life’s most challenging times. She is very thankful for the friendships she has, and believes she would not have lived the same life without them.

Passion is a word often misunderstood in our society. It is more than just a passing excitement, but rather an intense enthusiasm and keen interest in a subject or activity. It is passion in this sense that Jane deems essential to success. In her case, passion is manifest in her love of people, in her love of her work, in her unwavering determination to help, and in her clear sense of purpose.

When Jane Hungerford began her career in community service she had no idea what accomplishments would lie ahead of her. While reviewing her own credentials she shakes her head. "I didn’t set out to build a resume; I set out to live a life." And, in simply living her life-with her unique blend of humility, determination, and passion-she has undoubtedly affected the lives of thousands of others for the better. When asked what is next for her, she responds (without missing a beat), "I’d like to help find cures for cancer, so that my children and my grandchildren can live in a world without the fear of cancer." If anyone can see this through, it is Jane Hungerford.

2005: Susanna (Garner) Cunningham ’61

2005 Alumnae Achievement Award goes to Susanna (Garner) Cunningham ’61

Research scientist, professor, and mother of two, Susanna (Garner) Cunningham ’61 is the first recipient of Crofton House School’s Alumnae Achievement Award, which commemorates the 90th anniversary of the Alumnae Association. Susanna is a Professor of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems at the University of Washington. Her multifaceted career in nursing, teaching, research, and science education has helped and has influenced the lives of many, from patients to peers.

Susanna’s nursing career, which evolved from direct patient care to research and teaching, shatters stereotypes of the profession. “I liked the clinical practice, and working with individuals is a wonderful experience,” she says. “However, if you really want to make a difference and influence change in the future, it is not going to be through one-to-one interaction, as rewarding as that is.” As a scientist and educator, she has lectured widely, published in prestigious medical journals – including the American Journal of Physiology ad the New England Journal of Medicine – and chaired numerous committees. She is currently a member of the Cardiovascular and Renal Drug Advisory Panel of the US Food and Drug Administration.

For her early research on cardiovascular risk factors and hypertension, Susanna received the Distinguished Service Medallion and Scientific Council’s Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Heart Association. In 1995 she was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, and in 1997 she received the Alvin Thompson MD Award for Science Education Excellence from the Washington Association for Biomedical Research.

As a principal investigator in several major research projects, Susanna’s career moved in a direction of science education in 1991, when she was asked to head a major project called “Making Connections.” This research focused on the involvement of women and minorities in science, understanding animal research, and the development of K­–12 outreach programs. The decade of the ‘90s was the decade of the brain, Susanna notes, so her team’s work involved understanding brain function and development in order to facilitate teaching and learning. This led to research and education projects on drug addiction. “One of the most successful things we ever did was to set up a program to teach judges how drugs affect the brain and alter brain chemistry.”

In a recent project, Professor Cunningham and Dr. Lynn Young of the University of Victoria found that single mothers have a higher incidence of strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure than partnered women do. Her latest project involves advancing the understanding of science and ethics.

A great proponent of maintaining a balance between work and play, Susanna is an avid cyclist and swimmer and is currently training for a half marathon. She has obviously lived by the advice that she gives to her students: “Take a chance. Do something you are little afraid of, because if you stick to the safe and sure you are probably not going to get very far or make such a difference in the world.”

Nominating an Alumna

Do you know an alumna you would like to nominate for an Alumnae Achievement Award? We accept nominations throughout the year.  

Nomination Form

Award Winners

Crofton House School and the CHS Alumnae Association are pleased to present the Alumnae Achievement Award winners for 2018–2019:

  • Alumnae Lifetime Achievement Award: Ann Farris '55
  • Distinguished Achievement Award: Jennifer Johnstone ’78 
  • Alumnae Junior Achievement Award: Emily Ma ’99

Award Winners