‘Queen’s is a Place of Service’ says Agnes Benidickson Award Recipient

Kathleen Macmillan

Kathleen Macmillan, Artsci’78, credits her sons for inspiring her to contribute to her alma mater in all the ways that she can.

Together with her husband Graham Macmillan, MBA’78, they have watched their three sons leave their mark on Queen’s. Tom, Artsci’06, was a coordinator for Camp Outlook and a volunteer with the on-campus Walkhome program. James, Artsci’10, MBA’11, was the 2006-07 Alma Mater Society president, and Jack, their youngest, is currently attending the Smith School of Business.

“They inspired me. They reminded me that Queen’s is a place of service, and students are very committed to making the university better,” said Ms. Macmillan.

For her leadership in volunteerism and philanthropy, and her contributions to Canadian trade policy, the Ottawa Branch of the Queen’s University Alumni Association (QUAA) will present Ms. Macmillan with the Agnes Benidickson Award at a reception in Ottawa on May 16.

The award, established in 1990, is the highest tribute bestowed by the Ottawa Branch of the QUAA and is given for distinguished service to the university and Canada. “I am surprised, touched and very honoured to be included in the company of so many incredible previous recipients of this award,” she said.

Previous Agnes Benidickson Award recipients include former Speaker of the House Peter Milliken, Arts'68; MP and Canada’s first female foreign minister Flora MacDonald, LLD’81; and Globe and Mail columnists Hugh Winsor, Arts'64, and Jeffrey Simpson, Arts’71, LLD’05.

Although she and her husband had been donors for many years by the time their eldest son Tom had graduated, it was son James who encouraged his mom to run for the Board of Trustees. Since then, Ms. Macmillan has served with the university in numerous roles. One of her most notable contributions came as chair of the Board of Trustees Governance Working Group, which led to a unanimous vote in favour of changes to the Royal Charter that permitted a reduction in the size of the Board of Trustees and opened the door to the possibility of a reformed and revitalized University Council.

While serving as chair of the Grant Hall Society, she inspired fellow alumni to give back to the university and worked to expand the society’s membership and recruited many new volunteers. Today, Ms. Macmillan serves on the Advisory Board of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, which she says allows her to be surrounded by great art and artists.

After graduating with an economics degree from Queen’s, Ms. Macmillan earned a Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Alberta. She had a successful career in economic trade policy that included positions with the Canada West Foundation, the C.D. Howe Institute, and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, before moving back to Ottawa.

It was during her student days at Queen’s where she discovered her love for economics. “Many alumni look back very fondly at their times at Queen’s. The friendships they made, the professors who influenced them. It was a special time of life. Returning to Queen’s with my sons reminded me how important (the university) was to me. Queen’s welcomed me back with open arms,” said Ms. Macmillan, who also received the Distinguished Service Award from University Council in 2011.

Chancellor Emeritus David Dodge, Arts’65, LLD’02, is giving a tribute speech at the Agnes Benidickson Award reception in Ottawa on May 16. Dr. Dodge and Ms. Macmillan both live and work in Ottawa, where they are prominent figures in the city’s public policy community.

“Katie has made an outstanding contribution to Canada through her work on international trade; to Ottawa through her support for local voluntary organizations; and most of all to Queen’s through her many years of service,” says Dr. Dodge, who received the Agnes Benidickson Award in 2009.

The Agnes Benidickson Award Reception takes place on May 16th at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. To attend, please register below. 

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