November 7, 2017
Ottawa lawyer and community builder, Nancy Cook Johnson, will be celebrated with the second annual spark Ignite Award on November 7.
This annual award recognizes a woman who has made a significant impact in Ottawa in the areas of leadership, philanthropic giving, advocacy, and volunteerism. It will be presented at Gezellig restaurant, celebrating the power of extraordinary women making a difference in Ottawa.
Who is Nancy Cook Johnson?
Nancy grew up in a home that valued the need to give back to the Ottawa community. As a result, Nancy says that when it comes to being a community leader, one of her greatest role models is her mother. “My mom often had friends and neighbours at the kitchen table seeking her advice and wisdom”, she says. “I have always felt very blessed and believed I should contribute to my community.”
Nancy graduated from Carleton University, and then attended Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto.
By the age of 19, Nancy was working with social workers in Toronto to help teens struggling with drug addiction. In Ottawa she has been actively involved with the Board of the National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA, also serving as Chair, and with the Boards of the County of Carleton Law Association,the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and the Ottawa-Carleton Economic Development Corporation . In addition she has a leadership role at her church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.
In May, 2017, Nancy was the first woman to receive the Abe Feinstein Solicitor Award from the County of Carleton Law Association. It is awarded to a lawyer who has distinguished him or herself throughout his or her career by exemplary service to the Law Association, the legal profession, and/or to our community.
One of Nancy’s proudest accomplishments has been to help two single mothers own their own homes. As a single mother herself, raising two kids since they were very young, Nancy understands the importance of having a place to call home. One of the house purchases is ongoing and the home will be transferred to the single mom when the mortgage can be arranged in her own name. With the other mom, in addition to helping with finances and ensuring the kids were settled in school, Nancy has already transferred ownership of the house because, after five years, the home had increased in value and the mother was able to qualify for her own mortgage.
“I have learned firsthand how important a home is for the mom and the children. It is the foundation of stability which affects everything else in their lives,” she said.
The spark program is all about celebrating women driving local community change and Nancy said she believes the gifts women can give each other have a ripple effect.
“If we support women, then we support the future…When we give women a hand, then they will inspire those around them.”
What is spark?
Through spark, women collectively invest their donations into the sparkFund. They then allocate Community Action Grants for resident-led, grassroots initiatives serving Ottawa’s priority neighbourhoods. Members learn the needs of the community, assess and score proposals, and vote collectively on projects to support.
Nancy says it is humbling to be recognized by such an impressive group of successful, engaged women through the spark initiative.
“I remain overwhelmed and very appreciative of this recognition by spark. It will surely mean that I will do my best to further spark’s goals going forward”.