The Aurum Awards celebrate outstanding Dalhousie alumni who are making a difference in their communities and around the world.

The awards recognize alumni for their achievements in research and innovation, community engagement and leadership, and contributions to the social, cultural and economic well-being of society.


2021 Honourees

Watch a video introducing the recipients.

Lee Cohen (LLB’80)

Lee Cohen (LLB’80)

When 174 Sikhs arrived in Nova Scotia after escaping civil war, Lee Cohen (LLB’80) represented them. From that moment, he dedicated his practice to immigration, refugees and human rights, changing hundreds of lives in the process, including his.

Ayat El-Dewary (BA’04)

Ayat El-Dewary (BA’04)

Displaced from Kuwait during the first Gulf War, Ayat El-Dewary (BA’04) knew at an early age she wanted to help others in the same situation. As the Representative a.i. with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, she has helped raise over $200 million to deliver shelter, health care, financial assistance and hope to refugees around the world.

Dr. Irving Fish (MD’64)

Dr. Irving Fish (MD’64)

Irving Fish (MD’64) spent his career helping children with neurological conditions overcome barriers to academic success. Now as co-founder of the Ethiopian School Readiness Initiative, he is helping disadvantaged children in that nation access the support and tools they need to stay in school and excel.

Teresa Mellish (Dip Agr’66)

Teresa Mellish (Dip Agr’66)

When a hurricane decimated banana crops in Dominica in 1979, Teresa Mellish (Dip Agr’66) raised funds to help. Realizing she could do much more, she has helped raise millions to address food security in Kenya as co-founder and treasurer of Farmers Helping Farmers.

Doug Townsend (BComm’04)

Doug Townsend (BComm’04)

Restauranteurs and community volunteers Doug Townsend (BCOMM’04) and Renée Lavallée had barely closed their doors due to COVID-19 when they saw an opportunity to help. With support from partner organizations and customer donations, they transitioned into a community kitchen to feed those in need.

2020 Honourees

Watch a video introducing the recipients.

Dr. Sultan Darvesh (MD’88)

Dr. Sultan Darvesh (MD'88)

For 20 years, Dr. Darvesh has searched for a key to unlocking the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease. A neurologist and a chemist, Dr. Darvesh leads a team of researchers at Dalhousie in groundbreaking work that could be a gamechanger for millions of people living with the disease.

Denise Pothier (BEng’93)

Denise Pothier (BEng'93)

Denise’s background is in chemical engineering, but she has distinguished herself through her advocacy for inclusion and diversity. For 20 years, she has been advancing inclusivity in the engineering field, motivated as much by her own experiences in a male-dominated profession as it is by her Acadian and Mi’kmaq heritage.

Doug Reid (BComm’82)

Doug Reid (BComm'82)

For more than 35 years, Doug has been helping entrepreneurs future-proof their businesses. That experience has made him a vital ally in community building, not just raising funds for health care and culture, but also developing the next generation of leaders.

Robert Zed (MHSA’86)

Robert Zed (MHSA'86)

Health is the cornerstone of everything Robert does. As the chair and CEO of Triangle Strategies, he has helped connect companies that specialize in innovative health-care technologies with health industry decision-makers. As a community leader, he’s a passionate advocate for mental health and he is also a mentor to students in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Health.

2019 Honourees

View the photo album of the evening and watch the videos of the recipients.

Anirudh Koul (BCS’07)

Anirudh Koul (BCS'07)

Anirudh Koul (BCS’07) believes that people are limitless if they are armed with the right tools. He’s trying to do just that by using artificial intelligence to empower and make the world more accessible for blind and low vision people.

Sura Hadad (DDS’03)

Sura Hadad (DDS’03)

Sura Hadad (DDS’03) demonstrates a level of community involvement that truly exemplifies the spirit of going above and beyond. Her motivation and desire to make a difference in the lives of others stems from her personal journey.

Heather McNeill (LLB’94)

Heather McNeill (LLB’94)

Heather McNeill (LLB’94) has dedicated her law career to helping others. For two decades she was at Dalhousie Legal Aid and now she’s tackling a new role as Project Legal Lead for the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative with a focus to create a governance model for Mi’kmaq child welfare in Nova Scotia.

Megan Leslie (LLB’04)

Megan Leslie (LLB’04)

Megan Leslie’s (LLB’04) passion for issues of justice have guided much of her career. Now, as President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada, she’s once again engaged in meaningful work that is making a difference in our communities.