7 People Paying it Forward in Calgary

These university champions are deeply invested in the community and believe philanthropy is about more than money. It’s also about cultivating a feeling of home, caring about the success of the next generation and building a better future.

Illustrations by Julie McLaughlin

Allan Markin, Hon. LLD’98

“When I was younger, I had a very clear idea of what success looked like. But that evolved over time to include working with others for the benefit of all, not just myself. I could see that balance in life, between working hard and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, was necessary, so I made it my mission to help people help themselves, to be their best and to inspire that kind of success in others.”

Allan Markin is a Calgary business leader and advocate for public health, education, athletics and the arts — all of which he has supported at UCalgary.

Carolina Romeo, BSc (Eng)’13

“The grass is greener where you water it. I invest in Calgary because I believe in the special place that it is — the sense of community, the opportunities that it cultivates and the feeling of home. This city and the university have had an incredible influence on the woman that I have become and giving is one way I choose to pay it forward.”

Carolina Romeo was a Chancellor’s Scholar and varsity athlete during her time at UCalgary and is now part of the Chancellor’s Circle, which supports the prestigious scholarship.

Sanders Lee

“Sharing and working together is the fundamental fabric of any civilization or society. We should all contribute if we can and giving is one way to help. I give back to Calgary not only because it’s where I live, but because Calgarians have the right attitude. They’re welcoming, entrepreneurial and have a can-do spirit. It’s how we manage to attract the best people to come and work towards building for the future.”

Sanders Lee is behind the Hopewell M.I.N.D. Prize, which will spark innovation and new discoveries in brain and mental health research.

Joan Snyder, Hon. LLD’11

“Whenever I’ve taken on a project, it’s because I see a need and thoroughly believe in it. It’s done from my heart. Philanthropy is more than money, it’s people helping people. The community coming together, each giving what they can and supporting each other, just as my parents taught me. Better a booster than a knocker, be.”

Joan Snyder, who passed away in April 2022, was a visionary philanthropist, champion of women’s athletics and sport science, and an integral driver of chronic disease research in Calgary.

Kate Wong, BN’12

“The University of Calgary is the place where I discovered the things I’m passionate about, both in my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and I want others to have the opportunity to find that for themselves. I believe that education underpins free, democratic and thriving societies, so I see giving to UCalgary as an investment in my home and the well-being of my loved ones and community.”

Kate Wong is currently earning her PhD in nursing — with the help of a scholarship she supported years ago — and is vice-president and vice-chair of UCalgary’s Alumni Association board.

Paul Kennedy

“Alberta is a special place to do business. It’s what I love about this province. When I came here from out east, I found an openness and enthusiasm that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. I want to create that opportunity for someone else and give students the chance to make their own mark. It’s my way of giving back to the province that gave me so much.”

Paul Kennedy spearheaded the Kennedy Scholars Program at UCalgary, bringing together computer science and business under one of the university’s most prestigious student awards.

Trevor Johnson, BA’96

“If you can connect to something you think is worth giving to, it’s important that you do. My best friend of 30 years took his own life after a two-year recovery from a bad concussion, which left us with so many questions. Partnering with a world-class institute to investigate the impacts of stress and trauma, and how to manage them, gives us a way to honour Mike and help others who are struggling.”

Trevor Johnson is one of the driving forces behind MIST, a new initiative that aims to better understand, treat and destigmatize brain trauma and mental health issues.

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