Dr. Jennifer Zwicker, MPP'13, PhD, a trailblazing leader in child disability policy who works with both the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy (SPP) and the Faculty of Kinesiology, has been named a recipient of the prestigious Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award.
This honour, presented by Women's Executive Network (WXN), celebrates extraordinary women who lead with unwavering dedication, reshape their fields and inspire others to do the same.
"It takes a powerful woman to lead like a legend in her field, organization or community, and it takes a powerful woman to empower those around her to do the same," says WXN owner and CEO Sherri Stevens, describing the essence of the award. "This year's winners embody that power, giving us hope when we need it most, setting new bars and changing the status quo.
"They are legends celebrated not just for the things they do, but also how they touch the lives of others."
With a deep-rooted commitment to advancing research and policy to realize the rights and well-being of children and families with disabilities, Zwicker’s influence transcends her roles with SPP; as deputy scientific officer of the Kids Brain Health Network; and as an associate professor in Kinesiology. Zwicker's vision and accomplishments are leaving a lasting impact on the landscape of inclusive policy and societal transformation.
Championing children and families with disabilities
At the heart of Zwicker's leadership is her unwavering dedication to improving the lives of children and families living with disabilities. Her research primarily centres on addressing the socioeconomic and health disparities experienced by children and youth, particularly those with developmental disabilities and their families. Her goal is to identify practical and effective policies that can significantly enhance the well-being and life outcomes of these individuals.
Canada Research Chair in Disability Policy
In 2020, Zwicker was appointed as a Canada Research Chair (CRC), Tier 2, in Disability Policy for Children and Youth. This prestigious recognition underlines her pioneering work in child disability policy. She leads the transdisciplinary Disability Policy Research Program, a platform dedicated to providing evidence-based information to shape public policy and improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
The program emphasizes a collaborative approach, bringing together practitioners, care-providers, community members and policymakers from various sectors to facilitate better participation and inclusion of individuals with disabilities in society. Zwicker's innovative and multidisciplinary research initiatives within this program are instrumental in providing decision-makers with invaluable evidence for developing more equitable policies.
A commitment to training policy leaders
Zwicker's influence extends far beyond her disability policy research. Her role with the Kids Brain Health Network underscores her commitment to advancing research and training. She has played a pivotal role in advancing the National Training Program and spearheading research to enhance the well-being of these families. In her roles at the SPP and in Kinesiology, she is committed to shaping the next generation of public policy leaders through applied and experiential learning.
Awards and recognition
Zwicker's contributions and ideas have led to her selection as a finalist for the Hunter Prize in Public Policy, recognizing innovative ideas to improving Canada's health-care system. She has also been honoured with the Caldwell Award for Canada's Top 40 Under 40, recognizing her as an exceptional leader in health and social policy, particularly in the context of children and youth.
Zwicker's journey as an emerging leader in child-disability policy is a testament to her commitment to empowering and uplifting individuals with disabilities through evidence-based research and inclusive policy development. As a recipient of the Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award, her legacy and impact on Canadian society continue to grow, touching the lives of countless individuals and inspiring others to join her in generating and implementing evidence and information towards a more inclusive world.
In a world where real change is driven by powerful women who lead with vision and dedication, Zwicker is leaving an indelible mark on her field, her community and the lives of those she touches.