Carolyn Acker C.M
Carolyn Acker began her career as a Registered Nurse at Saint Michael’s Hospital, and then she became a Community Health Nurse with Saint Elizabeth Health Care. In 2010 she received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of New Brunswick and was recognized as a “Canadian Pioneer in Poverty Reduction” and in 2012 she was appointed Member of the Order of Canada. At Saint Elizabeth Health Care she held positions of increasing responsibility and in 1992 she became the Executive Director of the Regent Park Community Health Centre, in Canada’s oldest and largest public housing community. The Health Centre served about twenty thousand people annually who were largely disadvantaged or homeless and offered a range of medical, dental, health and social services; community development; and capacity building programs. In 2006, she became the founding CEO of Pathways to Education Canada, a Public Foundation.
In 2001, as Executive Director of the Regent Park Community Health Centre, she founded the Pathways to Education Program and fundraised to sustain and replicate it. At the time she didn’t think of herself as a social entrepreneur she was working hard to break the cycle of poverty and implement the Health Centre’s vision of “Community Succession”—- that the young people growing up in the community would be the future doctors, nurses, social workers, community development workers and administrators of the Centre. Six years later, the 56% high school drop-out rate became just 11% and post-secondary attendance increased from 20% to 81%. In order to replicate this Program in other low income communities she became the founding CEO of Pathways to Education Canada where she led the replication of Pathways in 5 other communities in Ontario and Quebec. The results from the replication sites are as good as or better than the results in Regent Park. Pathways is now in eleven other low income communities from Winnipeg to Halifax and over 5,000 students are getting results that mirror these.