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The Alison Caird Young Leader Award

Alison Caird

In 2020 PAVRO renamed this award in honour of Alison Caird. Alison volunteered as a member of the PAVRO Board of Directors for several years and was formally recognized for her dedication and contribution as a recipient of the Linda Buchanan Award for Administrator of the Year in 2004 and the President's Award for exemplary leadership, innovation and fundraising in 2008. To learn more about Alison visit: PAVRO In Memoriam. 

The PAVRO Young Leader Award was created to recognize and encourage excellence in the up and coming generation of leaders within the Volunteer Engagement profession. It acknowledges a professional, aged 35 years and younger (age 35 within calendar year award is presented) who is working directly in the profession and has demonstrated leadership and excellence in Volunteer Engagement either within their organization and/or accomplishments within the professional body (by certifying, volunteering, contributing articles, research or submissions to projects such as the Marilyn Mackenzie Innovation Pilots, etc.).

The successful recipient will receive a $100 credit towards PAVRO activities or events (Conference, workshop or membership) and a personal letter will be sent to the recipient’s supervisor to inform them of the award.

The winner of each year's Award will serve on the Awards Selection Committee for the following year.

The 2024 nominations are now closed.

Congratulations to the 2023 recipient - Sammy Feilchenfeld, CVA

As Manager of Training, Sammy designs and oversees Volunteer Toronto’s responsive and accessible learning experiences for non-profit engagement professionals, grassroots leaders and volunteer seekers. With a strong focus on diverse educational interventions that support the changing needs in volunteerism, Sammy also develops training for aspiring and established non-profit Board Members. Sammy has been a volunteer for more than 20 years, a volunteer manager for more than 15 years, and an adult educator for 10+ years. He uses all of these experiences to help his training sessions come to life.

When the call for nominations was made for this year’s recipient, PAVRO received five nominations for Sammy. Each nominator highlighted Sammy’s contributions to the profession, his impact on empowering fellow leaders of volunteers to learn and grow, and his exceptional teaching and facilitation skills.

May Massijeh, Volunteer Coordinator with the Afghan Women’s Organization writes, “Sammy has a lot of experience engaging volunteer coordinators through his role at Volunteer Toronto. He has helped me personally in my role as a Volunteer Coordinator with AWO providing training, guidance, and support in implementing innovative solutions in our program.

His former colleague, Iona Frost, describes him as “an excellent listener, he is always present and goes above and beyond with every interaction, project or program he’s involved with. He is a kind and generous collaborator, and always welcomes, considers, and respects diverse perspectives and worldviews”.  She goes on to note that amongst his many contributions to the VE professional, Sammy “in addition to being an exceptional facilitator dedicated to delivering content in clear, engaging, and accessible ways for entry level to seasoned Volunteer Managers and everyone in-between, he is continuously upskilling and participating in research to ensure he is providing the most current, nuanced, and relevant information possible”.

A key criterion towards being a recipient of the Alison Caird Young Leader Award is a demonstrated contribution to the Volunteer Engagement profession. Cara Eaton, interim Executive Director with Volunteer Toronto and Faiza Venzant, Executive Director, Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration both highlighted several of Sammy’s contributions, including:

  • Collaborating with the VAACT in the creation of standardized training for arts and culture volunteers in the areas of human rights and 2slgbtq inclusion
  • Launched a dedicated learning management system for volunteer managers ( with an extensive suite of volunteer management and board governance courses
  • He perfectly articulated the need for adaptive activities for training volunteers through the creation of the “engage me” card set which is an incredibly helpful tool for leaders of volunteers
  • Created a new program, the CVA study group, in partnership with PAVRO to expedite the certification of volunteer engagement leaders

Kelly Harbour, Director, Volunteer Engagement and Innovation with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada summed Sammy up very well in saying, “I know whenever I have a question or need some support, he is more than happy to discuss tricky situations with me and direct me to supportive resources.  He believes strongly in the important role volunteers have in the nonprofit sector, and he has helped improve the experience of volunteers, and empowered volunteer coordinators to improve their impact at many organizations across the sector.

Past Winners of the Young Leader Award      

Year  Recipient
 2023 Sammy Feilchenfeld, CVA
 2022  No recipient
 2021 Jessica Pang-Parks
 2020 Tessa Hettrick, CVA, CVRM
 2019 Aloha Cruz
 2018 Amy Nazarewich
 2017 Samantha Chivers
 2016 Erin Schneider
 2015 Shane Joseph
 2014 Veronica Deally
 2014 Rachel Murphy
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