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 2016 Allison Roach Alumna Award

 Ann DOWSETT Johnston'71

Ann DOWSETT Johnston'71 is an award-winning writer and an inspirational advocate. She has had a stellar career in journalism, including close to three decades at Maclean's magazine, where she was the chief architect of the magazine's famed annual university rankings, and in higher education, as a vice-principal at McGill University. In 2013, her international bestseller Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol combined her groundbreaking reporting on the topic with a searingly candid account of her own journey.

Today, she is a sought-after public speaker and consultant, as well as co-founder of two advocacy organizations—the National Roundtable on Girls, Women and Alcohol; and Faces and Voices of Recovery Canada. "My passions are to jumpstart a broad conversation about the impact of our favourite drug, including on public health and on public policy, and to destigmatize a very pernicious disease, addiction, which touches nearly every Canadian," Ann says.

Raised in the varied environs of northern Ontario, South Africa and Toronto, Ann studied at Queen's University and then joined Maclean's in 1977. In the 1990s, she turned its brand new university rankings into a huge phenomenon—the biggest-selling issue every year, and a major influence on post-secondary education—and earned five gold National Magazine Awards. In 2006, she accepted a major leadership role at McGill, in charge of development, alumni and communications and oversaw a record increase in fundraising.

Ann now devotes herself to informing, advocating and consulting about the complexities of risky drinking, for which she has won a series of national and international awards, including a Transforming Lives Award from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She consults with corporations and a wide variety of organizations, last year advising the government of Ireland. "I feel a responsibility to contextualize what's happening to young women," she says. "Our stories set us free."

 

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