2015 CAS Leadership Award Winner: Elisse Zack (posthumously)

Elisse Zack’s posthumous award was received by her mother Mrs. Lillian Zack with the support of Elisse’s siblings and family.

Elisse worked in the HIV sector, co-infections and social justice for nearly two decades. She served as the Executive Director of the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR) from its creation in 1998 until her illness made it impossible, as of December 2013, for her to continue. Elisse’s involvement in HIV and HIV-related work – and in community development and social justice work more broadly – predated by several years the inception of CWGHR. This includes her ground-breaking work with and for CAS on HIV and TB project in the 1990s, after working with immigrant women and in advancing literacy.

Over the last 15 years, she built CWGHR from an idea into a vibrant national organization. It remains one of the few organizations of its kind in the world that actively brings together the research, training, care and advocacy work of the HIV sector and those working in other fields of disability. She believed passionately in the importance of people and organizations working together, contributing their respective expertise, to make care, treatment and support the best it could be for people living with HIV and other episodic disabilities. From the very beginning, CWGHR modelled this multi-disciplinary approach and, in doing so, made great contributions to the HIV response in Canada and beyond.

As a true leader in the movement, she epitomized strength, courage and grace. Elisse always went above and beyond to cultivate relationships and partnerships that strengthened not only her organization, but also our community.

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