Lorraine Sixto, 2020 Winner of the Morley Gunderson Prize

December 3, 2020 by CIRHR Communications

The CIRHR is delighted to announce that Lorraine Sixto is the 2020 winner of the Morley Gunderson Prize

Lorraine Sixto (MIR 2004) was selected as this year’s winner in recognition of both her incredible career trajectory since graduating from the MIR program, and also her involvement in our student mentorship program.

The Morley Gunderson Prize was established as a tribute to Morley Gunderson’s ten years as Director of the Centre for Industrial Relations. It recognizes and honours current students or graduates who combine outstanding professional achievement with significant service to the Centre. Morley’s own career has exemplified this combination of outstanding accomplishments as a scholar and researcher in industrial relations and great contributions to the activities and goals of the Centre. 

“Morley Gunderson is known for his incredible mentorship of students, and so I am very pleased that the committee chose to honour Lorraine Sixto, an alum who has also served in this important role for the CIRHR on several occasions since her graduation in 2004,” said CIRHR Acting Director Dionne Pohler.

The award will be presented on December 10th at the Morley Gunderson Lecture in Industrial Relations and Labour Economics, co-sponsored by the CIRHR, the Department of Economics, and Woodsworth College. 

Lorraine graduated from the MIR program in 2004. Since then, she has built a multi-faceted HR career in both the private and non-profit-sector.

Receiving her MIR degree launched Lorraine on a 10-year career at Kraft Foods and Mondelēz International, where she partnered with a variety of functions and operations as both an HR Business Partner and Organizational Development leader. Two of her career highlights include providing change management project leadership following the acquisition of Cadbury; and earning her Green Belt and improving the labour relations climate at a manufacturing facility. Following her time at Mondelēz International, Lorraine worked at Rogers Communications where she was Senior Manager, Organizational Development and provided project leadership for the launch of a new talent management framework and technology. 

Since 2016, Lorraine has been Senior General Manager, People and Organizational Development with the YMCA of Greater Toronto, where she has had accountability for Leadership Development, Learning Programs, Employee Engagement, and Diversity and Inclusion. 

After over 20 years in Human Resources, Lorraine continues to have a passion for her work and developing new HR and OD professionals.

In her own words:

In a few words, could you tell us about your role with the YMCA?  

At the YMCA I am leading the Association’s first OD [Organizational Development] department, accelerating our work on leadership development, training, and e-learning. My biggest area of professional development has been going deeper diversity and inclusion. In the private sector, we were primarily focused on women in leadership; at the Y, our strategy includes looking at our programs and viewing diversity and inclusion as a measure of community well-being. With a workforce of over 6000 full and part-time staff, 5000 volunteers and four different operational areas, flexible thinking and creativity are important attributes in my role.

Is there one thing you learned at the Centre that you can point to as especially valuable to your career?

I was a “mature” student when I left a full-time position to complete my MIR, so I was worried about getting back into the academic swing of things. Fortunately, staff were helpful, my classmates were collaborative and the coursework was challenging. The program gave me the confidence to say “yes” to other stretch assignments throughout my career.

Do you have a favourite memory of your time at the Centre? 

Aside from the excellent faculty and staff, I remember a group of us desperately reading SPSS Statistics for Dummies in the basement!

[I also remember] coaxing my classmate Shafeega to come to class during her first winter since leaving the Maldives—we are still in touch.

Do you know a CIRHR grad whose professional success is matched by their support of the Centre? Nominations for the 2021 prize may be submitted by current students, graduates, faculty and staff at any time to the CIRHR Director.