Alumni Award Recipients

Kelly Brewer Headshot

2021 Kelly Brewer

After graduating from the University of Toronto in Physical Therapy, Kelly embarked on a 40-year career that has included working in both adult and pediatric settings, from acute care to rehabilitation, whilst being an educator and Practice Leader. In her pursuit of knowledge, Kelly obtained her Masters in Science (Rehabilitation Science) from McMaster University in 2012 while continuing to work.  Her generosity and selflessness make her an ideal coworker, teacher, mentor, and friend. Her unique ability to analyze the details of a situation without losing sight of the big picture is invaluable in the profession. That combined with her empathy, clinical expertise, leadership, and strong organization skills are just some of the qualities that make Kelly the outstanding clinician she is. She continually demonstrates a desire to learn and support the advancement of her peers. She is a champion of best practices at Holland Bloorview and an exemplary model of Physical Therapy to her colleagues, the students and foreign trained Physiotherapists that she teaches, and the Physiotherapy volunteers at Holland Bloorview. In fact, her reach far extends outside of this hospital as she was recognized with a Medal of Distinction Award from the Canadian Physiotherapy Association in 2021.

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She began as a staff physiotherapist at St. Michael’s Hospital, where she quickly became a Physiotherapy Supervisor in Cardiorespirology. Many years later, she transitioned to Holland Bloorview as a staff physiotherapist in the Neurorehabilitation and Spina Bifida/Spinal Cord programs. Kelly has been one of the driving forces in evidence--based practice at Holland Bloorview by championing the use of outcome measures in pediatric rehabilitation. Kelly encourages her colleagues to continually explore and research new measures that could best serve children/youth with ABI. Kelly has been instrumental in many quality improvement initiatives, participating in various committees such as the Falls Prevention and Family Team Goal Plan. As a highly respected Professional Practice Leader, she supported the hospital’s physiotherapists in many initiatives to improve practice including: implementing committees to standardize physiotherapy assessments and outcome assessments and outcome measures across various programs, organizing regular in--services and educational courses, implementing a resource binder for PT staff onboarding, and establishing regular documentation audits. She also extended her clinical and teaching expertise to international partners when she was selected to be a neuromuscular and rehabilitation expert for two hospital--led missions to establish a pediatric hospital in Qatar.

Kelly has been recognized for her contributions to teaching and education, receiving the Spirit of Education Award from the Teaching and Learning Institute at Holland Bloorview, and the Clinical Instructor Recognition Award and the Professional Development Exceptional Achievement from the Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto. As Centre Coordinator of Clinical Education for many years, Kelly provided guidance and leadership to many clinicians, which has been instrumental in shaping clinical placements for students and instructors.

Kelly’s ongoing dedication to the betterment of the profession is apparent in the work that she does with the College of Physiotherapists. Since 2017, she has been involved in Quality Assurance as an assessor. True to her nature, she supports ongoing quality improvement for Physical Therapy students as a member of the Curriculum Committee / Continuous Quality Improvement in the Department and has served in the past as an examiner for the Physiotherapy National Exam.

Kelly’s drive for quality improvement, her passion for teaching, her collaborative and strong work ethic and encouragement of her peers is why she is truly respected and valued as a leader in her profession. Despite being recently retired, her dedication to her colleagues and the profession in the midst of a pandemic is humbling. She continues to be a barometer for professionalism.

Sara Guilcher

2020 Sara Guilcher

Dr. Guilcher is an exceptional scientist and leader in the healthcare community. She received her physical therapy degree from the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto (2003) and MSc in Psychology at Western University (2006). She was inspired by her time working with Dr. Cheryl Cott during her physical therapy training to further develop her research skills, which lead her to do a MSc in Psychology to understand more about factors that influence health behaviour and self-management.

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Dr. Guilcher’s research interests in health systems and policy led her to complete a doctoral degree in Clinical Epidemiology within the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) at the University of Toronto (2012) under the supervision of Dr. Susan Jaglal. Funded by a primary healthcare doctoral fellowship from the Canadian Institute for Health Research, her doctoral thesis examined the journey of care post inpatient rehabilitation for persons with spinal cord injury. During her doctoral training, Dr. Guilcher also completed two collaborative programs: (1) Ontario Training Collaborative Program in Health Services and Policy Research and (2) Collaborative Program in Women’s Health. She also completed a competitive two-year post-doctoral CIHR funded fellowship in the Action For Health Equity Interventions (ACHIEVE) program at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario (2012-2014).

Dr. Guilcher was recruited into a tenure-stream position at the rank of Assistant Professor in August 2015 at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. Dr. Guilcher brings expertise and leadership in rehabilitation, health services research, and clinical epidemiology, especially with respect to studying integration of care for marginalized populations with complex health and social needs (such as those with multimorbidity and disability), and tackles some of the most complex issues facing healthcare today. As the only physical therapist who was funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Embedded Clinician Scientist program (2016-2020), Dr. Guilcher is demonstrating leadership working with Ontario Health (Quality; formerly Health Quality Ontario) to ensure rehabilitation is a priority for health system planning, delivery, and evaluation.

Collectively, Dr. Guilcher’s research provides evidence that to address complex needs, we need system transformation that is inclusive of health and social services, such as pre/rehabilitation, which are scientifically shown to improve health and well-being. Dr. Guilcher’s research highlights that our current healthcare system is not financed, structured or delivered to meet the complex needs of persons with multimorbidity and disability. Her research aims at understanding how we can optimize transitions in care, integration of care, and self-management for whole-person activation, and designing/evaluating interventions to address these critical system and care gaps. Improving activation through prevention and rehabilitation services within integration of care models has impact at the patient/caregiver, clinical and system levels.

Dr. Guilcher has been actively teaching different audiences since 2004. Dr. Guilcher has been a teaching assistant at the University of Western Ontario in the Department of Psychology, and the University of Toronto in the Department of Physical Therapy. Since her appointment at the University of Toronto, Dr. Guilcher has co-coordinated a Canada Health Systems Course to undergraduate pharmacy students, as well as graduate teaching on case study methods, mixed-methods, and qualitative methods. At the Department of Physical Therapy (University of Toronto), Dr. Guilcher co-led with Dr. Cathy Evans the development of two online courses related to the Canadian Health System (Canadian Health Care System, Culture and Context for Internationally Educated Physical Therapists) and Evidence-based practice (Introduction to Clinical Research to Support Evidence-Based Practice in Manual Therapy). These courses continue to run today and have been quite successful in advancing the knowledge of practising physical therapists and Internationally trained physical therapists.

In addition to undergraduate teaching and supervision responsibilities, Dr. Guilcher is passionate about and dedicated to optimizing the education experiences research trainees under her supervision (

As a physical therapist, Dr. Guilcher’s research program intersects with pharmaceutical care and healthcare policy, instilling her with clinical insight and a practical, informed approach to health system improvement. Interdisciplinary collaboration is a key component to healthcare, and a focus of training among healthcare professionals. Dr. Guilcher not only teaches the importance of interdisciplinary collaborations but models the importance through her research and mentorship to trainees. Key strengths include mixed methods expertise, an ability to articulate ‘the big picture’ of how her research contributes to health system change with policymakers and other knowledge users, and a well-developed appreciation for the importance of finding the balance between integration of theory and pragmatism in research while ensuring rigor. Dr. Guilcher’s research endeavours all share an interdisciplinary and collaborative spirit, and her ability to bring together researchers with diverse expertise and to establish expansive networks with other talented investigators across the Canadian healthcare landscape will ensure her sustained and far-reaching success for years to come.

Brenda Mori's headshot

2019 Brenda Mori

Dr. Mori has held the position of Director of Clinical Education and Community Affairs since September 2005 and has been at the University of Toronto in an educational capacity since 2002. During this period, she has made a tremendous educational impact on all those with whom she has interacted. Students and faculty are always impressed by her knowledge and enthusiasm she exudes in sharing her expertise with others. She is an educator that encourages participation and critical thinking and is sincerely interested in the academic development of her students.

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Dr. Mori is in an optimum position to integrate the components of a strong physical therapy education: the application of education theory through her own Education Scholars Program Certificate and the clinical application of the skills of physical therapy through her own clinical experience and expertise. The varied format and areas of teaching in which Dr. Mori has been involved demonstrate this integrative ability. Dr. Mori has taught students throughout the curriculum and has used various formats such as lectures, laboratories, small group, and clinical sessions.

Dr. Mori’s ongoing commitment to evolvement of education is well demonstrated in the creative education endeavors in which she has been involved. Dr. Mori is the Associate Director, Education Scholars Program. The Education Scholars Program (ESP) is a two-year leadership development program for educators of health professional students offered by the Centre for Faculty Development of the Faculty of Medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital. The curriculum has three core themes – Teaching Excellence, Scholarship & Curriculum, and Education Leadership & Career Development. She is the leader of the Teaching Excellence Theme.

Dr. Mori is lead instructor and facilitator for the Learning and Collaboration Program, specifically designed for health professional teachers. The program consists of six modules with pre-readings, interactive delivery of theoretical content, the deconstruction of re-enacted video teaching simulations derived from authentic teaching situations from multiple health professions, role-plays, group discussion, feedback, and teaching tip cards. In 2009, Dr. Mori was awarded the Faculty of Medicine, Helen P. Batty Award for Innovation in Program Development and Design for this program. Dr. Mori’s commitment to making learning enjoyable is evident throughout these teaching activities, as she utilizes a variety of educational media as well as interesting cases.

Dr. Mori is one of the very few American Physical Therapy Association Credentialed Clinical Instructor Trainer in Canada and has trained many clinical instructors. Dr. Mori is involved in a number of research projects around education issues, such as the student evaluation (ACP) she has developed and validated. She has received peer reviewed funding from Education Development Fund, Dean’s Excellence Fund for Innovation in Medical Education, Medical Council of Canada and others. She is presently conducting a national study to develop an updated evidence informed form for students to evaluate the clinical site/internship/learning experience inviting input from academics. She has explored different models of clinical education and published the findings.

Beyond the classroom, the committees to which Dr. Mori contributes to are further evidence of her commitment to physical therapy education. For example, Dr. Mori co-chairs the Academic PT Professional Leaders Committee and the Education Advisory Committee. External to the University, she has chaired the Ontario Association for Clinical Education in Physiotherapy Committee, been vice-chair of the National Association of Clinical Educators in Physical Therapy and a reviewer for the Accreditation Council of Canadian Physiotherapy Academic Programs. As part of these committees, Dr. Mori provides valuable input on new and innovative learning strategies.

Despite all of her activities and commitments, Dr. Mori always manages to find time for students and other faculty. Dr. Mori makes herself accessible to address questions and clarify areas for the students who require additional help. She is always willing to consult with faculty in her area of expertise. Dr. Mori has boundless energy and a never-ending supply of encouragement for both students and faculty.

Dr. Mori’s commitment to exemplary education, educational research her contagious enthusiasm, and seemingly limitless energy as she promotes the physical therapy profession deserves recognition. Dr. Mori is an educator who instills pride and respect in our profession. She is a role model for professionalism.