Catherine McLeod | Legacy Award Winner

Apr. 04, 2017


Chair Joy Bowen-Eyre presents the award to Catherine McLeod

The CBE Board of Trustees presented its most recent Legacy Award to Catherine McLeod on April 4, 2017.

Cathy attended John Ware School and graduated from Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School in 1975. After high school graduation, she went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University, Los Angeles.

She is currently the Director at the NCOD California State University, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services - Northridge, and has made a significant impact in both the hearing and deaf worlds.

In 1969, Cathy McLeod was one of the first profoundly deaf students to attend the CBE in a fully integrated program. Her parents fought hard for the right for her to attend school with hearing students.  Accepting a deaf student into the regular program was certainly uncharted and uncomfortable territory for the CBE, or any school district in the 1960s and 70s.

As a student at John Ware School, Cathy joined the regular program and attended all classes. With no supports or assistive technologies in place, she relied on the patience of her teachers and fellow students to help her.

At Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School, Cathy was able to have a range of experiences including joining the girls’ basketball team. At that time, much discussion between school staff occurred as to whether someone who was deaf could be on a team - "what if she didn't hear the whistle?" However, some staff members, who were wise beyond the times, believed that it was important that she be included. And, in fact, there were many funny moments when she did not, in fact, hear the whistle and carried on down the court with the ball.

After graduation, Cathy went on to Gallaudett University - the only deaf university in the world. Since that time, she has had a variety of positions related to advocacy for the deaf. She is considered to be a strong role model within the deaf and hearing community.

Upon graduation from Gallaudet, she moved to Los Angeles and volunteered as the Assistant Games Director for the 1985 World Games for the Deaf (now known as Deaflympics) in Los Angeles. The committee were able to secure many of the sites used in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

For 13 years, Cathy worked for a non-profit organization called Greater Los Angeles for the Deaf (GLAD) overseeing employee placement, human services and advocacy programs.


Catherine Risseeuw, Jill McLeod, Cathy McLeod, Sheila McLeod, Don Risseeuw.


Cathy was also the Director and Principal Investigator of a federal grant from the Office of Special Education Program in the United States. The primary goal of this program was to support post-secondary success for deaf and hard of hearing individuals across the United States by increasing access to postsecondary programs, with a focus on retention, persistence and graduation rates for this targeted population.

“Cathy is an excellent example of the type of graduate we want our students to be – one who exemplifies the results of not only academic success, but of character and personal development,” said Joy Bowen-Eyre, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “Students like Cathy, who persevere, push boundaries and help show us what is possible will ensure that our school system and society continue to evolve and become more inclusive."

While she no longer lives in Calgary, her work has impacted the lives of deaf students around the world as she focuses on accessibility for all deaf and hard of hearing people.

Congratulations, Catherine!

About the Legacy Award

Since 2002, the CBE Board of Trustees have recognized significant CBE alumni through the Distinguished Alumni Program administered by EducationMatters, the CBE's charitable trust. In the past 14 years, recipients have included Olympians, philanthropists, politicians, doctors and others who have made an impact on the lives of Albertans, and who exemplify the CBE Results. The CBE Distinguished Alumni Awards were the catalyst for the creation of EducationMatters' Emerging Leaders fund. Student leadership opportunities, civic engagement initiatives and post-secondary student awards are among the projects supported through this fund.

The CBE Legacy Award is a fresh take on recognizing the achievements of our alumni. Success at the CBE is highly personal, with each student defining how they learn best and our teachers working to recognize the unique talents and gifts of each student. We want to acknowledge the individuals who continue this work, who use their unique talents to make our world better, the former students who are our legacy.

Nominations for the Legacy Award are accepted year round.

 Video Highlights from the Presentation

O Canada by Students in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at Queen Elizabeth School

Remarks from Joy Bowen-Eyre


Remarks from Catherine McLeod