2020 - Judith Birdsell, PhD

Dr. Judith BirdsellJudith Birdsell grew up on her grandfather's homestead southwest of Stettler. She attended Waverly until grade nine and Wm. E. Hay Composite for grades 10-12, graduating in 1968. Her roots are still very much in Stettler and are constantly reinforced by visiting her sister who still lives here, and by her reconnections with high school friends since retiring (and entering the quilting world). Judy's husband, Terry Brooker, and she have two grown children and they and their children still consider a trip to Stettler as special.

Judy's career began with nursing positions in aboriginal settings in Alberta and Northwest Territories and ended with fifteen years of consulting across Canada on organizing and policy in health care, health care research and the voluntary sector. In between, her professional life involved earning a Master's degree in Health Care Research (1987) which led to several years working in cancer epidemiology and prevention. An interest in inter-organizational relationships led to a PhD in Organizational Analysis (1997) in which her research included a key focus on the role of patients and family in policy making in breast cancer research.  In volunteer roles, she has held over 20 leadership positions in health and research organizations including chairing the boards of several national health or health research related organizations (eg. Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative, Stem Cell Network). At the provincial level, community service included nine years (three as chair) on the board of a large foundation providing affordable housing for seniors in Calgary. She has received three national awards that recognize her achievements in the voluntary sector. One of these awards was an Honorary Life Membership in the Canadian Cancer Society granted in 2000.

Most importantly, Judy's efforts for the past ten years have been shaped by her defining experience as a family caregiver. This led to roles as board member of the Health Quality Council of Alberta, active involvement as a member of Patients for Patient Safety Canada, and is one of the founders and now chair of the Board of IMAGINE Citizens Collaborating for Health, a society created by a group of citizens who are working to support Albertans to take a more active role in shaping the future of healthcare in the province.