Zahn: Stand with pride, confidence in all you do

By Adela Talbot
June 18, 2014

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CONVO_ZahnPaul Mayne // Western News

Walking through life, you will encounter experiences that will forever change you, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) President and Chief Executive Officer Catherine Zahn told graduates at the Wednesday, June 18 morning session of Western’s 303rd Convocation.

“I want to share with you tales of experiences that have changed me; I tell them in the hope that you will watch for your special life moments, encounters that will give your life direction, give you courage or change your heart,” Zahn said.

Zahn spoke to graduates from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the Wednesday, June 18 morning session of Western’s 303rd Convocation. Western conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD), upon Zahn in recognition of her distinguished professional, clinical and academic career in the area of mental health.

Zahn told graduates as they progress in their lives and careers, they must keep in mind the metaphor of walking – a task thought to be simple, yet one complex on neurological and metaphorical levels.

“Walk tall. Walk steady. Walk together,” Zahn asked of the graduates.

She encouraged them to stand with pride and confidence in all they do; to see, hope and work for the best, even in times of uncertainty; and to always maintain a sense of community, keeping in mind those around them.

Having completed medical school at the University of Toronto, Zahn stayed to finish her residency in neurology. She also completed a masters in health science degree in health administration at the University of Toronto. Today, she is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and a professor at Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

Zahn is internationally recognized for her contributions to neurologic education and to standards of practice in neurology. She has made numerous contributions to health care in Ontario through leadership in technology assessment, chronic disease management and stroke care coordination.

Zahn joined CAMH as president and chief executive officer in 2009,when the organization was transforming and focusing more  on integration and enhancement of clinical programs, expansion of research and innovation capacity, and continuing public education and social advocacy to challenge the stigma attached to mental illness.

Prior to her current role, Zahn was executive vice president of Clinical Programs and Practice at the University Health Network, where she held senior leadership roles for 12 years.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the University of Toronto Faculty of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation prize for Innovation and the International Association of Business Communicator of the Year Award. She was recognized by the Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada's 100 most powerful women in the professional category. She continues to practice in her area of clinical and academic interest, which is epilepsy and women with epilepsy.

In her citation, Faculty of Information and Media Studies professor Jacquie Burkell called Zahn a “committed champion” of individuals struggling with mental health and addiction and praised her engagement with the community, by way of an academic, professional and even social media presence.

“She is a woman who has made – and continues to make – a tremendous positive difference in the lives of Canadians, not only for those living with mental illness but those who know, love and share a community with them,” Burkell said.

“In your life, I hope you, too, will have good the fortune to be sheltered, encouraged and humbled by chance encounters with humanity, that let you see your place in this world through different eyes,” Zahn told the graduates.

Also during the ceremony, the status of librarian emerita was conferred upon Eeva Munoz.























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