The following was originally written and published by MacEwan University.
For over 30 years, Liz O’Neill has devoted her life to serving children and youth. For her many years of service in the community as the Executive Director of Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton & Area, Liz will receive a Distinguished Citizen Honourary Degree as part of this year’s Spring Convocation ceremony.
In 1979, she became Executive Director of Big Sisters of Edmonton (serving 50 children and working with a budget of $60,000). When the agency joined with Big Brothers in 1991, Liz became Executive Director, and then in 2011, merged with Boys and Girls Clubs of Edmonton. The Boys & Girls Clubs Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton & Area serves over 5,000 children and youth, has over 3,000 volunteers, employs 100 staff members, and operates with a budget of nearly $7 million.
But Liz says her greatest accomplishment is being part of a team that gets work done.
“I have never achieved anything alone,” she says. “I have always been surrounded by great people who do so much of the heavy lifting and I very much like working as part of a team of staff and volunteers, parents, youth, funders and donors, executive director colleagues, and business and government leaders who collectively want to do the best for everyone in our community.”
Liz has served on a number of boards, currently as the deputy chair of the Edmonton Community Foundation Board, as a member of both the EPCOR Community Essentials Council and the TELUS Edmonton Community Board, and as co-chair of the Alberta Mentoring Partnership.
When MacEwan University named Liz the 2010 Dr. Charles Allard Chair in Business, she was the first person to be honoured for leadership in the non-profit sector. She was inducted into the City of Edmonton Salute to Excellence Community Service Hall of Fame in 2012 with the observation that Liz is a driving force in Edmonton’s charitable sector and demonstrates savvy business acumen, sound values and inspirational leadership. Other notable recognitions include the YWCA Women of Distinction Award in Social Services; Global TV’s Woman of Vision; the Government of Canada 125th Anniversary Medal for Community Service; and the Alberta Centennial Medal for Community.