Jay Hennick & the Horatio Alger Gala from a JD/MBA’s Perspective

Centre News

The Horatio Alger Gala from a JD/MBA's Perspective

By: Alexandra Misurka

JD/MBA’2021, Co-VP Alumni of the JD/MBA Students’ Association and Hennick Fellow, Programs & Special Projects



On October 30, 2018, the Horatio Alger Association of Canada hosted its second annual Excellence Gala at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto.  Approximately 670 of North America’s most successful business executives, lawyers, politicians, professional athletes and actors were in attendance, including 9 very fortunate JD/MBA students from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business.  I was one of these lucky JD/MBA students!

The main purposes of this very special evening were to:

  1. honour Jay Hennick as the 2019 International Horatio Alger Award Recipient for his distinguished and exemplary contributions to Canadian business, the legal profession and society at large, through a life-time of professional excellence, leadership and generosity; &
  2. honour three young students who had each received a Horatio Alger Association Student Scholarship for overcoming remarkable adversity in their personal lives to achieve outstanding academic and community success in their high-school years.

Jay Hennick was a true inspiration to all in attendance at this event.  He shared with the audience how he had overcome cancer on two separate occasions in his life to pursue a successful legal career and then create First Service Corporation, a North-American leader in essential outsourced property services.  After his founding role with First Service Corporation, Jay then went on to also become Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Colliers International Group Inc., a commercial real estate conglomerate which employs 13,000 people in 69 countries around the world.

In addition to Jay’s tremendous accomplishments in business, Jay and his wife, Barbara, have founded and continue to generously support the Hennick Centre for Business and Law at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business.  The Hennick Centre aims to promote the intersection of business and law and has been instrumental in providing JD/MBAs with internship opportunities, extra curricular activities, and the education to succeed in both the legal and business professions.  In keeping with the purpose and generosity of the Hennick Centre, Jay ensured that current JD/MBA students were given the opportunity to attend this spectacular Gala!

From the perspective of a JD/MBA student, it was very inspiring to hear Jay’s story and to be part of his memorable evening in receiving the Horatio Alger Award of Excellence.  Jay is an outstanding role model for JD/MBA students, because he exemplifies how resilience, hard work and thoughtful leadership have enabled him to achieve his compelling professional accomplishments.  He has experienced difficult personal challenges (much like the recipients of the Horatio Alger Student Scholarships) and has overcome them with flying colours.  His successful and varied career paths have demonstrated to JD/MBA students how a dual education in business and law can lead to remarkable success, both professionally and personally.  Understanding a little more about Jay’s journey has motivated me further to pursue my professional dreams with vigor!

The JD/MBA student body is extremely grateful for the unique opportunities and compelling inspiration that Jay and Barbara Hennick have provided to us all, both through the Hennick Centre and their respective professional pursuits in life.

During Jay’s acceptance speech, he stated: “I take this promise seriously: to remain true to the mission of the Association, to support and encourage our scholars, and to do whatever I can to help.”  Jay is a very deserving recipient of this prestigious award, and there is no doubt that he will strive to do what he has promised to do, and more, in significant and meaningful ways!

2019 International Horatio Alger Award recipient Jay S. Hennick (middle, left) and Horatio Alger Association of Canada president Prem Watsa (middle, right) with Horatio Alger Scholars at the 2018 Excellence Gala

More about this year’s Gala…