Champion of Human Services Award

Recognizing a champion who has displayed extraordinary leadership and made an exceptional contribution to human services.

2024 Nominations Are Open!

Nominations for OMSSA's 2024 Awards are open. Submit your nomination below by September 20, 2024. If you have any questions, please contact OMSSA at

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

OMSSA encourages nominations that reflect the diversity of its membership, in particular from individuals from racialized groups and Indigenous Peoples to ensure that our awards are reflective of the racial diversity of the populations its members serve.

Eligibility Criteria

  • A proven and respected track record of achievement in human services
  • Someone who is recognized as a thought leader in human services
  • Someone whose work has been provincially and/or nationally significant

Nomination Process

Nominations for our 2024 Awards are OPEN!

  • Any OMSSA member can nominate another individual, including themselves

  • Only one nomination per member will be accepted

  • Nominators must receive sign-off from their Commissioner/Lead

  • The total number of award recipients is limited to one (1) person per year; however, exceptions will be made for more than one deserving recipient 

To submit a nomination:

Nominators can submit nominations online! Click on the button below and fill in the form to submit your nomination directly to OMSSA. If you have any questions, please contact OMSSA at

Submit Your Nomination

Current and Previous Recipients

2023 | David Thomas | Independent Trainer

David Thomas has been involved in policy development and training for over 30 years. 

Many of you know David from past years employed by OMSSA as a Lead Trainer in their Social Assistance Training, commencing from 1994, and in more recent years as a Lead Trainer for the SAIL Curriculum, and currently with Ontario Works (OW) Directive Training and Life Stabilization. 

David is involved with various leadership initiatives providing skills and competencies designed to improve service quality, build organizational capacity, enhance service system management, and further service integration. David’s role in supporting integration includes managing multiple projects related to implementation and delivery of streamlined services for clients and staff alike. 

David dedicated his career to training and policy advice, his networking with members has continued to build superior working relationships, including several speaking engagements at past OMSSA conferences, most recently on Life Stabilization at the 2023 OMSSA Exchange Conference. David is also working with OMSSA Staff on the development and framework for the OMSSA Municipal Human Services Certificate Program. 

His work currently with Human Services Integration includes infusing the business process and project management roles into current OMSSA Education curriculum and promoting integrated OW case management practices amongst the various OMSSA Professional Development Workshops.

David has a Life Skills Certificate in True Colours – Personality Dimensions and engages staff to promote diversity in skills acquisition that can be shared to benefit organizational achievement through common and distinct individual or corporate goals that increase capacity and relationship building in the future. His contracts include multiple projects for OMSSA, in the business sector with a large communications corporation, and non-profits that encourage employees to take ownership of their performance and development plans.

In the past David worked several years as a Caseworker and Employment Supervisor throughout the 1980s, and as a Senior Manager in Employment Services throughout the 1990s with York Region. 

He has most recently completed a course towards his Master of Education through Athabasca University with only one course left before graduation. David will tell you that learning is life-long as demonstrated by his career and commitment to working with others. 

2022 | Karly Church | Victim Services of Durham Region

Karly Church is an anti-trafficking advocate, crisis counsellor and well-known speaker. She is known for her work on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking and has been a leader in helping shift the perception of trafficked girls from criminals to victims and now to survivors and leaders. Karly is a graduate of two college programs including Social Service Worker Program as well as the Addictions Counsellor Program. She harnesses her lived experience, extensive knowledge of trauma-informed care and harm reduction, along with her passion to engage and work with survivors. Karly is a TED X speaker and has trained thousands of individuals globally on the issue of domestic sex trafficking. Karly is also the recipient of the Jennifer O‘Connell Women of Distinction Award for her dedication to supporting marginalized women and girls.

2021 | Dr. Kwame McKenzie | Wellesley Institute

Dr. Kwame McKenzie is the CEO of Wellesley Institute and is an international expert on the social causes of mental illness, suicide and the development of effective, equitable health systems. Dr. McKenzie is also Director of Health Equity at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and a consultant working with the World Health Organization on equity. As a policy advisor, clinician and academic with over 250 papers, 5 books, and numerous awards he has worked across a broad spectrum to improve population health and health services for three decades. He is a member of the National Advisory Council on Poverty, a member of Canada’s Expert Advisory Panel on COVID-19 and Mental Health, the Minister of Health’s Covid-19 Testing and Tracing Advisory and was a member of Canada’s Delegation to the High Level Political Forum on the Social Development Goals. Dr. McKenzie was previously a Human Rights Commissioner for Ontario and Chair of the Research and Evaluation Advisory Committee of Ontario's Basic Income Pilot. In addition to his academic, policy and clinical work, Kwame has been a columnist for the Guardian, Times-online and Toronto Star and a past BBC Radio presenter.

  • 2020: Dr. Gary Bloch, St. Michael's Hospital

  • 2019: Jim Grieve, The Retired Teachers of Ontario

  • 2018: Janet Menard, Ministry of Community and Social Services

  • 2017: Terry Cooke, Hamilton Community Foundation

  • 2016: Senator Ratna Omidvar, Senate of Canada

  • 2015: Senators Art Eggleton and Hugh Segal, Senate of Canada

  • 2014: Janet Gasparini, Social Planning Council of Sudbury

  • 2013: Clyde Hertzman, Professor, School of Population and Public Health, UBC

  • 2012: Armine Yalnizyan, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

  • 2011: Sherri Torjman, Caledon Institute of Social Policy