Explore the Award
Inaugural Recipient, R. Douglas Elliott
The University of Toronto Alumni Association (UTAA), is delighted to announce R. Douglas Elliott as the inaugural recipient of the Carl Mitchell Community Impact Award. A renowned litigator, Douglas is widely celebrated for his decades of work fighting discrimination on behalf of the 2SLGBTQI+ community.
His landmark victories as lead counsel include judgements giving recognition to same-sex common law relationships, securing CPP survivor’s pensions for gay and lesbian Canadians, and a class action for thousands of people fired from federal government jobs in the 1950s and 60s—victims of the so-called “LGBT Purge”.
Beyond his epochal achievements in the courts, Douglas is also recognized as an extraordinarily active and committed volunteer. These contributions include serving on the board of directors for the LGBT Purge fund and speaking at countless events and venues in Canada and around the world to raise morale and awareness about LGBTQ2+ rights.
About the Award
Established by the University of Toronto Alumni Association (UTAA), the Carl Mitchell Community Impact Award recognizes alumni who advance the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) through their extraordinary volunteer contributions to the community at large.
The award originated in 2015 as the UTAA Alumni Award for Community Engagement. It was championed by Past-President Carl Mitchell to celebrate “everyday heroes”—alumni supporting the community through grassroots volunteer activities.
Following Carl’s passing in 2016, the award was renamed the Carl Mitchell Community Engagement Award. Revised in 2022 with an expanded scope as the Carl Mitchell Community Impact Award, this prestigious distinction continues to honour Carl’s remarkable legacy and his commitment to inclusivity, volunteerism, and community service.
About Carl Mitchell
The Carl Mitchell Community Impact Award honours UTAA Past-President Carl Mitchell (BSc 1984 SMC), who passed away in 2016. Despite having his life cut short by cancer at age 55, Carl gave several lifetimes’ worth of contributions to U of T, generously providing time, leadership, resources, and ideas to his alma mater.
Carl’s extraordinary impact on the University included sitting on several of its highest-level volunteer committees and boards. These included the Group of 175 – Campaign Leadership, Governing Council Committee for Honorary Degrees, UTAA’s Council of Presidents, Faculty of Arts & Science Advisory Board, and the Department of Computer Science Industrial Advisory Board. In addition, Carl served as Treasurer for the UTAA before becoming President.
Among his many innovations, Carl began the UTAA’s Community Engagement Initiative to celebrate U of T volunteers and their service to the community. In 2002, Carl was himself honoured for his remarkable commitment with an Arbor Award, which is U of T’s highest distinction for volunteers.
Building on his success in business and as a pioneer in the computer industry, Carl also became a significant donor to U of T by generously funding a computer lab in the Bahen Centre for Information Technology.
“Carl Mitchell won the admiration and affection of everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him,” said U of T president Meric Gertler at the time of Carl’s passing. “He also earned the gratitude of the entire U of T community for his exemplary leadership in service to our alumni and to our shared academic mission.”
Nominate an alum for their outstanding community impact
Each year, the UTAA will recognize one individual for their volunteer efforts that have a positive impact on equity, diversity and inclusion within the community. These contributions will be demonstrated through tangible outcomes such as reduction of systemic barriers, elevating and embedding EDI awareness, and for implementing initiatives through their volunteer work, such as civic and charitable causes, that serve to engage and inspire others.
Along with the distinction of being named an award recipient, the Carl Mitchell Award honoree will also receive a cash prize.
The UTAA is committed to an equitable and inclusive nomination process. We encourage nominators to submit all qualified nominees including those who identify as 2SLGBTQI+, racialized, Indigenous, or persons with lived experiences of a disability.
Nominations for the 2024 Carl Mitchell Award are now open. If you have questions, email CarlMitchell.Award@utoronto.ca
- Nominees must be alumni of the University of Toronto to be eligible for the award. To qualify as alumni, the nominee must have successfully completed at least four (4) full courses at the University of Toronto.
- Nominees cannot be currently sitting politicians or elected officials, or currently serving on the UTAA Board of Directors or in any University governance capacity.
- Posthumous nominations will not be accepted.
- This award will be presented to an individual only and is not a group award.
- The Carl Mitchell Community Impact Award is intended primarily as a volunteer award recognizing individuals for their outstanding community impact through generous contributions of time and talent.
- Activities and contributions made as part of a paid position may occasionally be considered by the selection committee, however, these will be held to an additional threshold of expectations and review to ensure their appropriateness and eligibility.
- In the case of contributions made as part of a paid position, the nomination package must clearly demonstrate to the selection committee how the candidate’s compensated contributions significantly impact the community within the context of the selection criteria below, keeping in mind this is not a career award.
- Note that these nominations are not automatically eligible and will be assessed for eligibility by the selection committee.
The nominee’s contributions and activities must meet one or more of the following criteria, which will be considered by the Selection Committee:
- Demonstrated leadership in supporting and promoting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) directly through their community volunteer contributions
- Tangible impact and concrete outcomes of their EDI-focused contributions, as felt across the community in breadth and depth
- Increase awareness of bias and issues relating to equity, and significant efforts towards reducing barriers and advancing opportunities pertaining to race, socio-economics, religion, physical disability, mental health, sexual diversity, and gender diversity through their outreach, activism or advocacy
- Sustained commitment to initiatives resulting in the reduction of systemic barriers and in tangible long-term systemic change (for example, but not limited to, significant efforts in the areas of adapting or changing procedures or policies to ensure fair, equitable and inclusive practices within community organizations or the community more broadly, and the resulting long-term impact of this work)
- Development and implementation of projects or initiatives promoting or supporting broader community engagement in EDI initiatives
- Fostering mutual respect among groups and creating a sense of belonging to ensure open and welcoming spaces for community engagement in EDI initiatives
Complete nomination packages should be submitted to the selection committee via email at CarlMitchell.Award@utoronto.ca by the nomination deadline. Nomination packages must include:
- The nomination form, completed by the nominator.
- A comprehensive letter from the nominator demonstrating the nominee’s impact through their contributions and initiatives. Note: the nominator does not need to be a U of T alum.
- Up to, but not more than, two (2) letters of support from individuals other than the nominator.
- These endorsement letters should come from individuals who have direct knowledge of the nominee’s activities and contributions as they pertain to the criteria, and who can speak to clearly demonstrated examples of these activities.
- Examples of endorsers include supervisors, peers, or direct beneficiaries of the nominee’s activities.
- Endorsement letters must demonstrate the tangible impact and outcomes of the nominee’s contributions.
- An endorsement letter signed by multiple individuals will be considered as one letter.
- Endorsement letters do not need to be signed by U of T alumni.
- A comprehensive biography or CV is strongly recommended, but not required.
Important: if the nominee is a non-volunteer (i.e., candidate is nominated for contributions made as part of their paid work and is not being nominated for their volunteer contributions), one additional support letter is required. This letter must be signed by the nominee’s supervisor/immediate manager:
- This letter must demonstrate clear examples of the nominee’s impact and contributions as they pertain to the criteria, and that are clearly above and beyond the daily responsibilities and parameters of their job.
- The letter must also clearly state where the expectations of their job end with respect to the additional contributions for which they are being nominated.
- The onus is on the nominator and endorsers to clearly demonstrate for the Selection Committee how the nominee’s contributions went beyond the expectations of their paid employment to meet the eligibility criteria for the award.
Please review "How to Write an Effective Award Nomination" for further information.
- Nominations are now open and will close on Monday, February 19, 2024.
- It is the responsibility of the nominator to ensure that nomination packages are complete, and that the information provided is comprehensive. Incomplete nomination packages will not be considered by the Selection Committee.
- All letters of support are confidential and will be viewed by members of the Selection Committee only. Those who wish to view the letters for publicity or information purposes must obtain permission from the individual who wrote the letter.
- It is the responsibility of the nominator to retain copies of the complete nomination package for future reference.
- It is recommended that the nomination remain strictly confidential and that the nominee is not notified of the nomination.
- Nominations received each year may be carried forward, at the discretion of the Selection Committee.
- Questions about the award may be sent to CarlMitchell.Award@utoronto.ca
Recipients from 2017-2019 were honoured with the Carl Mitchell Community Engagement Award:
2019 Recipient: Glen Sharpe
A Mohawk of the Bay of Quinte, Dr. Sharpe (Ed.D. 2011 OISE) is actively involved in a number of Indigenous organizations including Indspire where he serves as a mentor to teachers.
2018 Recipient: Peter Rekai
As the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Rekai Centres, Peter Rekai (BA 1976 Trinity) advocates for innovative long-term care that focuses on the unique multicultural needs of some of Toronto’s most vulnerable residents.
2017 recipient: Kimberley Tull
Kimberley Tull (BA 2000 UTSC, MEd 2013), a community engagement manager at U of T Scarborough, has created numerous successful community programs at U of T to strengthen individuals and break down systemic barriers to inclusion and equity.
Recipients from 2015-2016 were honoured with the UTAA Award for Community Engagement:
2016 recipient: Elisabeth McGregor
Elisabeth McGregor (BA 1978 UTSC, MSW 1984), a social worker in Mississauga, has made a lasting impact on her home town by founding community outreach centre The Compass.
2015 recipient: Rosemary Moodie
Dr. Rosemary G. Moodie (MBA 2001), a paediatrician and a professor in U of T’s department of paediatrics, is making strenuous efforts to overcome the barriers of poverty and make it easier for women and children to access quality health care.