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2021 OPA Award Recipients

The OPA received several excellent nominations for the various award categories. The three winners are all outstanding representatives of the profession and our OPA Association.

AWARD OF MERIT: Dr. Sachiko Nagasawa 


This is the highest OPA award to honour an individual, group or organization that has made a significant or sustained contribution to the profession and the OPA. Dr. Nagasawa’s free mental health resource, “Tolerance for Uncertainty: A COVID-19 Workbook” was downloaded over 20,000 times, was used by mental health organizations across the country and was translated into French by Health Canada. Dr. Nagasawa has been a strong advocate for prenatal and perinatal health, racial justice in psychology, and broadening the accessibility of mental health services in Northern Ontario. Dr. Nagasawa was charged with the task of reducing wait time lists (3.5+ months) and increasing of outpatient therapy program in North bay Regional Health Center. She engaged local stakeholders and the end result was significantly reduced wait times and improved outcomes.


This award is named after Dr. Harvey Brooker in recognition of his long-standing contribution to education in clinical psychology. This award is presented to a psychologist or psychological associate who exemplifies the highest standards of excellence in the clinical training of psychology students. Dr. Rockman is a highly skilled and competent psychologist whose psychological services have transformed the lives of many, both clients and clinicians, working under her clinical supervision. She was described in her nominations as someone who has many facets and qualities that foster mutual reciprocity, respect and care integral to promoting healing and wellbeing of clients and skill-building for clinicians. Her skilled competencies combined with her humility, generosity, compassion and kind regard, to name just a few qualities mentioned in the submissions nominating her. 

DR. RUTH BERMAN AWARD: Dr. Emilie Sheppard


This award was established to honour Dr. Berman for her many years of service to the OPA as Executive Director. The Dr. Ruth Berman Award is granted to an Early Career Psychologist who demonstrates exceptional effort in promoting and enhancing the profession and/or the OPA activities. Dr. Sheppard has completed her pre-doctoral residency in Clinical Neuropsychology at Hamilton Health Sciences, completing rotations in the Adult Acquired Brain Injury Program, Integrated Stroke Program, Adult Consultation Neuropsychological Services, as well as extended rotations in Pediatric Neurology and Pediatric Oncology Neuropsychological Services. She has been recognized as someone who promotes and enhances our profession at all times during her performance of neuropsychological assessment and treatment, in both pediatric and adult populations suffering from acquired brain injury, trauma, and many different medical and psychiatric difficulties


2021 President's Award To A Partner In Education

Congratulations to Dr. Maria Kokai as an Award recipient presented by the Council for Exceptional Children Ontario, at its 2021 Annual Special Education Conference!

This well deserved Award was given to her in recognition of her excellence in advocacy and leadership of behalf of students in public education systems. 

Please join the OPA in honoring Maria provincially and nationally for her unfailing commitment to Psychology in Education.


Excerpt below taken from the Ontario Council for Exceptional Children website: 

Dr. Maria Kokai was the Chief Psychologist with the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) from 2004 to 2018 and prior to this she was a school psychologist with TCDSB. During her career she demonstrated an outstanding commitment towards children and youth with special education needs. Community outreach was achieved through the implementation of annual parent/community fairs, and her committee and project work with the Ontario Psychological Association and the Ministry of Education provided significant support to educators and students alike. Her written publications, including a newly published book co-edited with Ester Cole, titled Consultation and Mental Health Interventions in School Settings, inform the field of school psychology. Maria is highly deserving of the award of Partner in Education.