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Special Recognition Award 2002 - Karen Shaw. (Influential Women).

There are people who have visions for their community and ideas that, if brought into action, could create a better community for all. And then there are those who become so fortified and determined to initiate change for the betterment of society, that, irregardless of the obstacles they may stumble upon, they find the means to remove the barriers. Karen Shaw, through a lifetime of dedicated leadership, was one of those people.

"Karen Shaw made a difference in her community because she cared -- cared that Sudbury looked good to the rest of the province, Canada and the world," Andy McClellan says. "When some river or flood came in her path, she did not worry about the challenges of making it to the other side, she simply moved upstream and charged across the bridge, or arranged to build a new one."

McClellan was one of several individuals who nominated Shaw for the Influential Women of Northern Ontario Award.

Elected in 1991 as a member of city council for the City of Sudbury, a position she held until 1997, Shaw took on the challenge of breaking down barriers and initiating change through rational thinking, says Bob Shaw, her husband.

"Whatever Karen was involved in, she came in with the attitude that 'everybody in the past has fallen off the edge, maybe we can do something a little differently,"' Shaw says. "Sudbury is a wonderful city, but not a very tolerant society when it comes to doing things differently."

It was Karen who convinced council to create the title councillor to replace alderman.

For two decades, Karen was actively involved in educational initiatives, first as an elected trustee for the Sudbury Board of Education between 1976 and 1985, then as the executive director for the Cambrian Foundation, between 1989 and 1996, as well as a member of the board of governors for Laurentian University between 1986 and 1996.

Spearheading several committees, with a particular focus on physical education in the school system, Karen was involved in the development of province-wide curriculum for physical education, and was responsible for amalgamating the boys and girls track and field meet, bringing co-ed track and field meets into the educational system, says Shaw. French immersion was also introduced into the school system as a result of Karen's efforts.

In her role as executive director of Cambrian Foundation, she planned and directed a $2.5-million capital campaign to build a special needs resource centre for Cambrian College, an unprecedented world-class facility which serves as a model for North American centres. She was also a member and chair of numerous committees focussed on special needs at the post-secondary level.

"She's one of these people that when you had something to get done, you asked Karen," Shaw says. "She didn't have a lot of time for sitting around. Karen managed more in one day than most people would in one week."

Karen has also held the position of president of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce and president of the Sudbury Business and Professional Women's Club.

From 1967 to 1972, Karen was a physical education teacher at Sudbury High School. In 1978, she launched a home-based business Muffins and Mischief - making cross-country ski wear for children. Operating a home-based business allowed her to spend more time at home raising her three daughters, Shaw says. She operated the business until 1984.

In 1997, Karen was awarded a doctor of philosophy degree from Michigan State University.

Two years ago "Karen came down with an inherited neurological illness that has taken her from a functioning PhD to someone who is in a nursing home" and needs constant care, Shaw says. Karen has not recognized her family since August 2001. But her passion for life, and the contributions she made to her community, will not be forgotten, says Shaw.
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Title Annotation:overview of councilwoman's career
Author:Huhtala, Sari
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Words:635
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