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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

CAMH President and CEO receives Honorary Doctor of Laws from Ryerson University

On Friday, June 5 CAMH President and CEO Dr. Catherine Zahn received a Honorary Doctor of Laws from Ryerson University. Dr. Zahn celebrated with graduates from the Faculty of Community Services, Master of Nursing program, and Primary Care Nurse Practitioner certificate program. 

“I’m deeply honoured to contribute in a small way to your memories of this day,” said Dr. Zahn and she thanked the graduates for their choice in career.  “You’ve chosen to care – to use your brain, your heart and your hands for good. In choosing a caring profession, you’ll transform lives and you’ll make this a better world,” she said. “I wish you all the joy and gratification that each chance to care has given me in my professional life.”

The Honorary Doctorate is the highest award bestowed by Ryerson on those who share the spirit of Ryerson’s distinctive mission: to advance the well-being of our local and global communities with learning and discovery at the ingenious edge, and an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity.

Dr. Catherine Zahn accepts Honorary Doctorate
Called CAMH’s “nuanced crusader” by the Toronto Star, Dr. Zahn joined CAMH as President and CEO in December 2009 at a critical time for the organization. Since then, Dr. Zahn has led the way for CAMH’s visionary redevelopment project, driving social change from the heart of Toronto’s Queen Street West community. She is a beacon of hope and optimism, working to broaden access to care and treatment, fostering breakthroughs in research and discovery, and challenging the stigma of mental illness through social advocacy. 

At the ceremony, Dr. Zahn shared a few examples of the “long series of chances and choices” that led her to where she is today and reflected on what being at CAMH means to her. 


“My five years at CAMH have been the most rewarding of my professional career. Just a week ago, a virtual stranger – knowing only my occupation – spontaneously shared her family experience of a child with a complex mental illness. She honoured me with a sacred trust, one that 3,500 staff and physicians at CAMH have taught me to cherish.”

In closing Dr. Zahn left the eager grads with three tips:

“First: make your own choices – after reflection, freely and unapologetically – then own those choices; second: some roads are less travelled by for a good reason – they’re dangerous or deceptive – a tried and true path is a sign of wisdom, not weakness; and third: until time travel becomes practical – discard regrets, reject remorse and be futuristic!”


Last June Dr. Zahn received a Honourary Doctorate from Western University in recognition of her exceptional contributions to mental health care and neurology. In September 2014 Dr. Zahn was named one of North America’s Top 25 Women of Influence ™ by Women of Influence Inc.


Congratulations Catherine!

You can follow Dr. Zahn on Twitter @catherinezahn

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