Association recognizes ‘servant leader’

Published December 1, 2002


Suzanne Lawson, former executive director of program for the Anglican Church of Canada, has been recognized for excellence in the field of volunteerism.

Ms. Lawson, 60, received a lifetime achievement award from the International Association for Volunteer Administration.

Contacted at the ALS Society of Canada, where she has been national executive director for five years, Ms. Lawson said the award demonstrates for her the ?coming together of my theology and my profession.?

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Lawson reiterated her belief in servant leadership:

?My life in the profession of volunteer administration, in both its salaried and unsalaried versions, has been an attempt to live with the paradox of servant leadership,? she said. ?Servant leadership has frequently shaken me up to ensure that the leading makes others? lives better, that deeply listening and actively responding to others creates a better path forward.

?And, as a student of the voluntary sector writ large, I?ve learned that voluntary organizations can also be servant leaders. By following this central motif, they can change peoples? lives for the better and make a corner of the world a better place.?

Nominated by two individuals in the volunteer sector (one in Toronto and another in Colorado), Ms. Lawson won the award based on her years of work with volunteers. She said it is unusual for an executive director of an organization to receive the award, which typically goes to co-ordinators of volunteer workers.

The Association for Volunteer Administration is the professional organization for those working in the volunteer sector.

Ms. Lawson was executive director of program of the Anglican Church of Canada from February 1992 until September 1997, when she took up her position with the ALS Society of Canada. ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig?s disease.


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