Outstanding Achievement Award 2015

The Outstanding Achievement Award, supported by Manulife Financial, recognizes a current or recent CCAE member who has made extraordinary contributions to the field of educational advancement over a number of years. The recipient is recognized both for exemplifying the highest ideals of the advancement profession and for dedicated mentoring of others in the field. This award is made possible by Manulife Financial.




Mary Williams
Vice President
, University Advancement, McMaster University

As Vice President, University Advancement at McMaster University, Mary Williams is an exemplary leader who, over the course of 25 years, has built the scope, innovativeness and capacity of McMaster’s integrated Advancement operation. Mary is the highly acclaimed recipient of the 2015 CCAE Outstanding Achievement Award, supported by Manulife Financial.

Mary has been a key member of the executive leadership team that has achieved industry-leading fundraising successes, multiple successful fundraising campaigns, and shepherded the growth in philanthropic gifts to McMaster from $7 million to over $42 million per year, with a cumulative total impact (in 25 years) of over one billion dollars in new revenue for McMaster University. She has also helped support and had best in class results in all facets of McMaster’s highly integrated advancement operation.

Wrote Roger Trull, President of Leadership in Philanthropy and Retired Vice-President, Advancement at McMaster University:

“As Mary 's long time colleague and friend I can honestly say that she represents the very best of our profession. Acting with the highest level of integrity, Mary has played an important role in increasing the profile of and respect for Advancement Professionals across Canada. CCAE has benefitted from her participation as a volunteer, a Board Member, and as President (2010-2011). I can't think of anyone who reflects the ideals of our profession better than Mary Williams.”

Mary has led McMaster’s Advancement team to deliver “best in class” results in public and government relations, alumni relations, development, stewardship and advancement services. She is the recipient of the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education – Ontario’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Her team has been recognized with 38 professional association awards, from CCAE and CASE, since 2011.

A McMaster alumna, Mary also serves as President of the McMaster University Foundation, Friends of McMaster (U.S. Foundation) and McMaster University Hong Kong Foundation. Her volunteer engagement comprises the National Council for Fundraising Executives; Ronald McDonald House; the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce; past chair of the Hamilton-Burlington-Brantford YMCA; and many other volunteer roles.

The longevity of the Senior Management team at McMaster (average of 14.2 years) is a reflection of the way in which Mary motivates people. Her dedication to mentorship, nurturing future advancement leaders and lifelong learning are hallmarks of her career.

Said Patrick Deane, President and Vice-Chancellor of McMaster University: “In her 20-plus years in the educational advancement profession, Mary has always exemplified what it means to be a leader and a mentor. From her time as alumni director to her current role leading McMaster's 75-member advancement team, she has inspired her McMaster team and advancement professionals across Canada and internationally to strive for excellence.”

He added: “Mary deeply values the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and she demonstrates this in all of her efforts to enhance advancement, both here at McMaster and through her many contributions to furthering educational advancement across Canada.”

Marnie Spears, President and CEO of KCI, wrote that Mary’s “commitment to ‘professionalizing’ the profession through the introduction of contemporary human resource practices, team building and her focus on excellence is well-known and underscores her consistent and valuable contribution to growing talent at all levels.”

Sincere congratulations to Mary Williams, eminently deserving of the 2015 CCAE Outstanding Achievement Award, supported by Manulife Financial.