What it takes to be an award-winning volunteer

The spotlight was on the profession at the first-ever CPA Canada Volunteer Awards. Six stars were honoured in a new initiative recognizing outstanding contributions to and a significant impact on the Canadian accounting profession.

CPA Canada recognized six of its volunteer stars at its First Annual Volunteer Awards gala in Toronto on Oct. 26.

“It would be an enormous understatement to say that volunteers are central to achieving our goals as an organization,” said Alain Côté, FCPA, FCA, chair of the CPA Canada Board.

Volunteers serve on oversight boards, standards boards, advisory boards, working groups, committees and task forces, said Côté, who was a member of the judging panel and the evening’s MC. “They also help us understand the needs of our stakeholders and offer a deep set of knowledge, skills and support.”


A total of 41 unique nominations were received. Awards were presented in six key areas.

“The winners came from across the profession and across the country,” says Cassandra Dorrington, FCPA, FCMA, past co-chair of the CPA Canada Board and a member of the judging panel. “We have a lot of very dedicated, capable individuals.”:

  • Education: Peter R. Norwood, FCPA, FCA, FCMA, was recognized for exceptional dedication and leadership in the development of the profession’s education and certification program.

    “Volunteering is one of the most enjoyable parts of my professional life.”

  • Financial Literacy: David Duong, CPA, CMA, has made significant contributions to CPA Canada’s Financial Literacy Program.

    “Financial literacy is one of the most important subjects that you’re never taught in school. It’s our job to help the next generation.”

  • Tax: Penelope Woolford, FCPA, FCA, was recognized for her contribution to tax education and for her impact on legislative changes relating to the foreign affiliate rules.

    “The biggest reward is the people you meet. We’re coming to the awareness that we can impact policy.”

  • Standards: Nicola M. Young, FCPA, FCA, has made significant contributions to the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB).

    “I’ve gained national and international perspectives. Volunteering has contributed to keeping me current in my field. I’ve enjoyed our association so very much.”

  • Research and Guidance: Karyn Brooks, FCPA, FCA, has made a measurable impact nationally and internationally through CPA Canada’s Research, Guidance and Support group.

    “Volunteering grows you as a person. And it gives you intelligence you can take back to your place of employment.”

  • Lifetime Award: Leo Gallant, FCPA, FCA, has influenced countless undergraduate students and professional accounting candidates over his 43-year teaching career. Gallant embodies the principle of self-sacrifice, volunteers for the right reasons and commits to any project or position he takes on.

    “Volunteering is something I’ve done my entire career. It’s been fun and I’ve met lots of wonderful people, some of which have become lifelong friends. There’s no question that you get a different perspective of the profession when you’re involved as opposed to standing on the sidelines.”

For more details on the winners, click here.


The CPA Canada Volunteer Awards acknowledge the far-reaching contributions of members.

“We have 800 volunteers who work with 120 boards and committees, plus thousands more who give of their time at the grassroots level in our award-winning international financial literacy program,” Joy Thomas, CPA Canada’s president and CEO, told gala attendees.

The winners are not people who volunteer for a few years and then check out, said Dorrington, past chair of the CMA Canada national board. “It’s a continual pattern. These are long-term volunteers,” she says.

When selecting the winners, the panel of judges zeroed in on three criteria:

  1. Contribution to the CPA profession
    While CPAs volunteer in many areas, the Volunteer Awards first and foremost focus on volunteering for and contributing to the Canadian accounting profession.

    “You volunteer, but how do you contribute and lead the way strategically?” asks Dorrington. “That’s what makes the CPA Canada Volunteer Awards unique.”

    “Your passionate commitment is vital to our success,” Cairine Wilson, CPA’s vice-president of Corporate Citizenship, told gala attendees.

    “Without you, CPA Canada wouldn’t be able to achieve its mission and vision.”

  2. Going above and beyond what’s expected
    CPAs tend to take on a lot of volunteer work in their daily jobs. These awards go beyond that.

    “It’s not just the number of committees and hours. It’s the quality of the work,” explains Marianne So, manager of CPA Canada’s Volunteer Programs. This might include more technical work or networking on an international level.

  3. Creating a unique volunteer role
    Volunteering isn’t a paid job, so there’s an opportunity to create something different. Some of the winners, for example, led the way when the profession was undergoing major changes. “We were looking for things that had a unique or innovative perspective,” explains Dorrington.


CPA Canada will build on this successful first year and hold the second Volunteer Awards in 2017. For the latest volunteer news, visit cpacanada.ca/volunteers. For questions, please email volunteers@cpacanada.ca.

Editor’s note

The next issue of Member News will land in your inbox on Dec. 12, 2016.