Tribute Award for Leadership
Mendelsohn gets things done. She makes things happen. And the best
thing about her work – it’s all for people with disabilities.
She is a connector, an innovator and a fierce advocate for all people
with disabilities. Since the beginning of her career, she has been
dedicated to bringing the arts, sport, and culture to children and
adults with disabilities in an accessible and appropriate way.
And through all of her endeavours, Liv has followed one defining
theme: her leadership in removing barriers to inclusion and
participation in daily life for people with disabilities.
As the inaugural manager of accessibility at the Miles Nadal Jewish
Community Centre in Toronto, Liv created a new Access & Inclusion
department. And that, in turn, led to The Citizenship Project. Launched
in 2018, the program immerses young adults with intellectual and
developmental disabilities in Toronto’s civic landscape, using creative
engagement exercises to explore leadership, self-advocacy and what it
means to be a citizen. More than 80 young adults have participated since
the program launched.
Liv brought the US-based Reel Abilities Film Festival to Toronto in
2016. Focusing on the work and stories of deaf and/or disabled
communities and filmmakers in Canada, the festival is now the largest of
its kind in the country.
She expanded the festival’s impact by creating the ReelEducation
Program, bringing films and Ontario-aligned curriculum focused on
accessibility and equity to students across the province, from
kindergarten to grade 12. In 2020, the program grew to include online
workshops, virtual screenings and accessible education kits for
teachers, reaching more than 30,000 students.
Liv’s tenure at the community centre saw the creation of more than 30
accessible programs. She began her role as a team of one and grew it to
include five direct reports and 15 instructors.
In addition to creating opportunities for people with disabilities,
Liv also was sure to include activities for other equity-seeking groups,
such as LGBTQ+ and racialized communities.
She was an integral partner in the creation and execution of
accessible vaccine clinics for children and people with disabilities in
the city of Toronto during the COVID-19 pandemic, actively supporting
the execution of the city run clinics, and personally ensuring that
children and people with disabilities could access vaccines in a safe
and appropriate way.
In her current role as executive director of the Canadian Centre for
Caregiving Excellence, Liv is creating a movement to support caregivers
across Canada. Her experience rooted in the disability sector has meant
ensuring that parents of children with disabilities are included as part
of their strategy – a major step, given that many parents did not feel
they had a place.
Liv has made important achievements over the past many years –
innovations that will reverberate positively in our community for
decades to come.
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