Pillars of the Pandemic

Pillars of the Pandemic is a new series acknowledging the deep commitment and exemplary contribution to public health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic by honouring health and health-care professionals and volunteers who have gone above and beyond this past year.

Health and health-care professionals across Ontario – such as front-line workers, community advocates, caregivers, volunteers, administrative leaders, and academic scholars and leaders – were nominated to be recognized for their contributions.

Though all nominees have made outstanding contributions, a selection committee invited to participate by Dean Steini Brown, comprised of a diverse group of individuals with lived expertise and relevant experience within the public health and health care systems, reviewed the nominations and selected 13 distinguished individuals who will be profiled here. These pillars represent a number of exemplary individuals and their contributions over the past year.


Anna Banerji, a pediatric and public health specialist in Indigenous and refugee health, and a clinician and associate professor at DLSPH;

Erin Bearss, associate chief of family medicine at Sinai Health, who has led a team that delivered vaccines at long-term care and retirement homes;

Lloyd K. Douglas, planning lead for the COVID-19 Regional Response team for Sioux Lookout First Nation Public Authority, as well as an incident commander;

Shiran Isaacksz, vice-president of Altum Health & UHN Connected Care, who led the organization’s mobile vaccine rollout;

Carlye Jensen and Jennifer Wilson, chief of the Uxbridge site of Markham-Stouffville Hospital and outgoing president of Uxbridge Health Centre, respectively, who ensured their community remained informed about COVID-19’s effects locally;

Jennifer Kwan, Burlington family physician, who is renowned for her social media campaign to educate Ontarians about COVID-19 and vaccinations;

Lawrence Loh, chief medical officer of health for Peel Region and a prominent advocate for measures preventing the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable populations;

Kate Mulligan, a U of T professor and member of the Toronto Board of Health, who kept the public informed in real time about the board’s COVID-19 discussions and debates;

Cheryl Prescod, executive director of Black Creek Community Health Centre, whose team worked tirelessly to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in northwest Toronto;

Angela Robertson, executive director of Parkdale-Queen West Community Health Centre and co-lead of the Toronto region COVID-19 homelessness/shelter working group, a determined advocate for the homeless population;

Nathan Stall, a geriatrician for Sinai Health System, long-term care researcher and assistant scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table;

Sharon Straus, physician-in-chief and director of the Knowledge Translation Program for St. Michael’s Hospital and member of the Royal Society of Canada’s COVID-19 Task Force; and

Vaccine Hunters Canada, a volunteer organization that has worked tirelessly to connect thousands of Ontarians with opportunities to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations.

Profiles of these incredible recipients coming soon. Stay tuned! And thank you to all the outstanding nominees.