Bill Bosworth Memorial Award
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Bill Bosworth Memorial Award

Mothercraft announces the Recipient of the 2017 Bill Bosworth Award - Sara Koke

A Deep and Lasting Legacy

Photograph of Sara KokeIn the complex world of special needs, Sara Koke stood out as a strong presence and unique voice in Toronto's system of services for children. Sadly, Sara passed away shortly after being selected as the recipient of the 2017 Bill Bosworth Memorial Award, only weeks before the award ceremony. Her loss has been profoundly felt by all who knew and loved Sara. She was a force of nature and the world has been diminished since she left it.

Sara was a speech pathologist by training, an advocate by inclination and a smart, strategic system planner by vocation. Early in her career, Sara leapt at the opportunity to lead York Region's new provincial Preschool Speech and Language Initiative. It didn't take long for Sara to demonstrate outstanding leadership by ensuring that these vital services for young children, which were historically fragmented and disconnected, became as integrated as possible.

Sara's passion led to her next important role, as the Clinical Director of the Children's Treatment Network of Simcoe York (CTN), where she was able to set up the first community-based, inter-professional developmental diagnostic clinic, now considered a best practice approach. The CTN model is one many look to for inspiration about what is actually possible with the right vision and leadership. To Sara and CTN's credit, this model has now been replicated in many communities across Ontario.

Following her success in Simcoe York, Sara brought her talents to Toronto, taking on the role of Associate Director with Toronto Public Health's Early Abilities Division, and leading the re-engineering of specialized services across the city. Her unwavering commitment to a unified, integrated system that put families first and her determination to make the system work differently - better - brought new partners to the table and re-engaged existing partners.

Sara's nominator, Angela Fong, wrote this about Sara:

"Sara stands out as a strong presence in the Toronto community and a unique voice in the children's services system. She is an outstanding leader and a champion for positive change. Her unwavering commitment to create a seamless service delivery model for children with special needs and their families has resulted in huge wins for families and has left a lasting imprint on the hearts of all those who have had the pleasure to work with her."

Although Sara is no longer at many of the tables she helped create, her influence and legacy will be felt for many, many years to come. Sara inspired others to be more and do more. She said what needed to be said, did what needed to be done and was tireless in her desire to affect change. She was strategic, forthright, kind and compassionate. She was respectful and she was respected. She never shied away from difficult conversations or hard work, especially if she believed they would make services and systems work better for children and their families. And she did it all with grace and integrity. Sara, like Bill Bosworth, is sorely missed.

Photograph of Sara Koke and Family