Chalmers-Gauvin, Susan

Degree conferred: Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.)

Orator: Mason, Gordon

to be Doctor of Letters

What were they thinking? It's hard to imagine the conversation that might have taken place in Moncton over 10 years ago. "Let's create a ballet company, based here in Moncton, which will tour throughout Canada and internationally. Oh, and it will be financially successful". Improbable as it may seem, that's exactly what happened.

A native of Fredericton, Susan Chalmers-Gauvin graduated from UNB with a Bachelor of Arts degree and subsequently a Master's degree in Sociology. She began her career in home care, first with the New Brunswick Government, and then as provincial director of Home Care for the Canadian Red Cross. From there she moved to the Stellar Consulting Group to provide management, planning and evaluation services to a variety of non-?profit organizations and first nations communities in Atlantic Canada.

In 2001, Susan founded the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada, indeed based in Moncton. Unique in having artistic director Igor Dobrovolskiy as sole choreographer, and a sophisticated business and export model, she garnered government and private support to launch the project. With high artistic standards, it was noticed in the places that count -- so that after only six years the company had established a national and international tour schedule, with performances in the United States and Europe. In 10 years, the operating budget grew 10-fold to $2 million.

In 2009, Susan initiated a project that combined the ballet with her previous background in social work. Celebrate Courage addresses violence against women and girls through the arts. The short ballet that was prepared as a fundraiser for the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation was expanded to a full multi-media production Ghosts of Violence. Premiering at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa in February 2011, Ghosts of Violence is still touring in theatres and high schools across Canada. The production is supported by departments of education and justice, the RCMP, and associations of nurses and social workers to raise awareness of this issue.

Susan is active in her community as a member of various boards, including the Advisory Board of the Ron Joyce Centre for Business Studies at Mount Allison University. She has won several business awards, as well as the Greater Moncton YWCA Woman of Excellence award.

In creating an organization that treats arts organizations under a quasi-?business model, by maintaining high artistic standards and by using the arts to achieve social change, Susan has shown what hard work and a singular vision can do. We are proud to honour her today.

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