Niagara University in Ontario honored Dr. Steven Jackson, Jack and Dena Armstrong, and the Hon. Maurizio Bevilacqua at the 2023 President’s Dinner, Sept. 26 at Venu Event Space in Vaughan. More than $46,000 was raised toward student scholarship assistance during the event, which was attended by more than 200 students, alumni, and friends of the university.
The event was hosted by the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University, and co-chaired by Frank Fazzari, vice chair of the NUO board of advisors, and Jennifer Coletta-Rashty, president and CEO of the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce. It included a formal program with remarks from Father Maher and Steven Del Duca, current mayor of the City of Vaughan, and the presentation of awards to:
Dr. Steven Jackson, vice president of medical planning and chief of staff at Mackenzie Health, who received the Ozanam Medal. Dr. Jackson has been a driving force for the advancement of healthcare and medical opportunities in the Greater Toronto Area for over 30 years. In his current role, he has led transformative changes in procedure and practices that empower both the patients and physicians in managing their healthcare. He also played a crucial role the pandemic response, which included the opening of the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital as a full-service community hospital that prioritizes patient care and accessibility. Dr. Jackson has served on numerous local and regional committees and task forces, reinforcing his commitment to better the well-being of society.
Jack and Dena Armstrong, ’79, who received the St. Vincent de Paul Award. Jack and Dena met at Niagara University where, at 26, he was the youngest basketball coach in NCAA Division 1, and she was the women’s soccer coach. They were married in the university’s Alumni Chapel. Their shared passion for sports strengthened the pillars on which they’ve built their lives as professionals and as parents – unity, dedication, and unwavering support. Jack has been the voice of the Toronto Raptors NBA team since 2008, and Dena is co-director of the Porter Cup amateur golf tournament, an organization with which she has been involved for more than 50 years. The Armstrongs support numerous special projects for foundations and organizations and welcome young golfers into their home year after year. They are also the proud parents of three adopted sons, whom they have raised according to their values of acceptance and support of others.
The Hon. Maurizio Bevilacqua received the Legacy of Service Award. Bevilacqua recently completed his third term as mayor of the City of Vaughan, which followed a notable 22 years as a member of the Canadian federal Parliament. This work, as well as his service on numerous committees and boards, has positively impacted the lives of those living in the Province of Ontario and throughout Canada. The Spirit of Generosity Initiative alone impacted more than 200 charitable and not-for-profit organizations in Vaughan and beyond. Bevilacqua has also been a key ally in the establishment and expansion of Niagara University’s campus in Vaughan. He has been recognized for his efforts and dedication with honors including the Queen Elizabeth Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals and the Premio Italiani nel Mondo award, which is presented by the Italian government to individuals of Italian heritage who serve as a role model within the international community.