DOROTHY FERGUSON - 2012

Dorothy Ferguson has been a steadfast contributor and supporter of the Registered Nurses Foundation of Ontario for over ten years. Over the course of those years she has provided leadership to RNFOO within a number of roles. Dorothy began her formal work with RNFOO in 2003 when she joined the RNFOO Board of Directors. She assumed the role of Vice-President in 2004, President in 2006 and Past-President in 2008. In addition, Dorothy was highly involved in both the executive and finance committees, and served as Chair of the Donor Relations and Nomination Committees.

I think there should be a new role established on the Board for someone like Dorothy – perhaps, Advisor to the Past President, or simply the position of “we won’t let you go”! After Dorothy had finished her term as Past-President I asked her if she would remain on the Finance committee as her knowledge and overall financial expertise was invaluable to me and to the Board at-large. She, as always, was gracious in her willingness to remain involved as a member of this committee and to be available for consultation regarding other dimensions of RNFOO work. Dorothy has generously shared her knowledge and expertise with others and asks for nothing in return.

Dorothy has a quiet, gentle, inclusive and responsive leadership style. She is knowledgeable, analytical, and thorough in her approach to the major initiatives introduced throughout her tenure as a leader of RNFOO, as well as the day to day issues and ‘tasks’ involved in the work of the Foundation. Dorothy was, and continues to be, a strong advocate for the mission and vision of RNFOO and when she is working toward a goal she is tenacious. The Board, and hence RNFOO scholarship recipients – past present and future- benefit immensely from the fruits of Dorothy’s labour. When RNFOO was selected by Molson Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, to administer the SARS Memorial Fund for Infection Control Practitioners, Dorothy played a pivotal role in establishing the scholarships within RNFOO. Dorothy’s work was also key to the establishment of the Rolling Stones/CPI Awards for the advancement of professional practice in infection control. Together, these funds have supported the professional development of up to 150 Ontario Infection Control Practitioners and other Health Professions.

Dorothy’s dedication to donor relations is further illustrated by the more recent establishment of the Mary Brunning Harkin Scholarship and the Alumnae Association of the School of Nursing, Toronto General Hospital Scholarship. The Mary Brunning Harkin Scholarship supports Registered Nurses and Registered Practical Nurses who are studying at the baccalaureate level and whose career path is dedicated to the care of the elderly. The Toronto General Hospital Alumnae scholarship supports Registered nurses to pursue education at the undergraduate or graduate level. These scholarships would not have come to fruition without Dorothy’s initiative, ability to develop positive relationships with donors, and hard work.

As is characteristic of a true leader, Dorothy fosters the development of emerging nurse leaders. She offers the Dorothy Ferguson Scholarship on an annual basis, and has done so since 1999. This award supports Registered Nurses who have demonstrated outstanding leadership potential and wish to pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees in Nursing.

Dorothy’s leadership attributes and achievements extend far beyond RNFOO. She is currently the Director of Operations at the Sunnybrook Veteran’s Centre. I understand that she retired as VP Allied Health and Nursing at St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1997. Very soon thereafter she was offered a position in Saudi Arabia where she provided nursing leadership for 5 1/2 years. Not long after her return from Saudi in 2003 Dorothy was recruited by Sunnybrook for a 6 month contract – that was 8 years ago. I guess that the one thing that Dorothy does not do well is retirement.

One thing that you may not know about Dorothy is that she is also a pilot. Given Dorothy’s demonstrated excellence in leadership, her integrity, and her ability to navigate within and across our professional landscape – I would fly with her anytime! Furthermore, according to her husband Ewan, she is also a highly skilled and beloved wife and mother. You might say that she is ‘the total package’.

It is with great pleasure that the RNFOO Board of Directors recognizes Dorothy’s significant contributions to RNFOO with this Honourary Life Membership.