Almost every asset that qualifies Dr. Joan Lesmond as a woman of distinction was inherited from her late aunt, Rosenna Dash.
“She taught me that I should always help people, I should respect them and I should work hard if I want to achieve something,” said Lesmond. “I am what I am today because of her.”
The health care administrator and educator will be recognized for her inspiring work to ensure women’s issues are at the forefront of health care policy and delivery with a 2011 YWCA Woman of Distinction health leadership award which she’s dedicating to Dash.
The 31st annual awards ceremony takes place on May 18 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
“It’s quite an honour and I am overwhelmed,” said Lesmond, executive director of the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Foundation since July 2007. “I have never rendered service with the expectation of receiving accolades. To be honoured for the things you think are the things to do is certainly rewarding though. My satisfaction is having a former student come up to me and say it is because of the encouragement I gave them that they are furthering their education.”
Lesmond has held several high-profile positions in the health care industry, ranging from frontline nursing practice to progressive management and senior leadership roles over the past three decades.
Prior to joining St. Elizabeth, she was the chief nursing executive and director of professional practice at Casey House. She was responsible for ensuring consistent high quality care and service delivery as well as effective management and professional practices across community and institutional settings at the HIV/AIDS treatment hospice.
A past president of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, Regent Park Community Health Centre chair and director of the Hospice Association of Ontario, Lesmond holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, a Masters in Community Health and a Doctorate in Health Policy and Health Education with a focus on cultural competency in marginalized communities.
She also instructs Baccalaureate students at Ryerson University and mentors staff at Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Clinic which provides primary health care to Black and other visibility minority women.
Lesmond, a director of Women’s College Hospital, seizes every opportunity to confront hurdles faced by women and girls of diverse backgrounds.
As chair of the Ontario Caregiver Coalition, she challenges the disproportionate burden of care on women; as president of the Association of Ontario Health Centres, she ensures the examination of social determinants of health and promotes the importance of anti-oppression frameworks and as an educator, she teaches students the equal importance of quality of care, ethics and community engagement.
Coming to Canada from St. Lucia in 1970, Lesmond was one of 25 nationals residing in the Diaspora who were honoured with St. Lucia’s Governor-General Homecoming awards last year.
Three years ago, she was among 100 Canadian nurses presented with centennial awards to celebrate the Canadian Nurses Association 100th anniversary.
The other Women of Distinction winners are Cristina Amon, Sherry Cooper, Vivian Del Valle, Elizabeth Goldberg, Sophia Gran-Ruaz and Karen Takacs.