Current Recipients

Find the current Order of Vaughan recipients below.

David Van Slingerland – Business

David Van Slingerland, CEO of Sterling Industries, is a visionary leader in the city of Vaughan. He is committed to advancing Vaughan’s economic growth and supports the city’s development as a world-class centre for medical innovation. He played an instrumental role in the province’s – and country’s – COVID-19 pandemic response, having answered the call of service in the early days of the pandemic to help solve the looming crisis of a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortage for frontline workers. Mr. Van Slingerland and his team worked with all levels of government to design and manufacture more than 30 million class 1 medical device face shields, which, in turn, created 250 new jobs and helped save many lives. Not long after the development of this life-saving PPE, Mr. Van Slingerland’s expertise was called upon once more to develop a solution to the shortage of rapid antigen test kits. Bringing together a team to solve a critical bottleneck, an additional 1.5 million tests were delivered. Mr. Van Slingerland’s list of professional accomplishments is impressive, but what is more inspiring is who he is as a leader. He has built a remarkable and inclusive culture among his employees at Sterling Industries and encourages them to push boundaries and work together to deliver vital products and services to those who need them most. Above and beyond his vast philanthropic efforts, medical supports, business development opportunities and mentorship, Mr. Van Slingerland is wholeheartedly dedicated to supporting the medical technology start-up ecosystem in York Region. Through his work with ventureLAB, as well as the City’s Activate!Vaughan program, Mr. Van Slingerland further affirms Vaughan’s position as a destination of choice for both economic opportunities and medical transformations.


Kathy Laszlo – Accessibility

Kathy Laszlo is a caring and devoted advocate, respected and valued community leader and innovator at her core. As the Co-founder and Executive Director of Developing and Nurturing Independence (DANI) – an organization dedicated to helping adults with developmental disabilities thrive – Ms. Laszlo has facilitated a gold standard model of community-based programming for adults living with disabilities. Ms. Laszlo has enriched the community with an innovative model of social enterprises and has partnered with, assisted, led and inspired other like-minded community organizations on countless projects that enhance the exceptional quality of life and standard of living in our city. The strength-based services created through Ms. Laszlo’s leadership opens the doors to many opportunities that were previously not available to the DANI participants, like paid employment, performances in a theatre troupe, art sales, award-winning photography and volunteer positions in a seniors’ home. Ms. Laszlo has several accomplishments to be proud of, but one of the most impressive is the creation of DANI Social Enterprises. These businesses provide employment to individuals in the community who would otherwise face barriers to gaining employment. Some of the ventures include a gift shop, indoor and outdoor café, catering services, mobile food kiosks, an event centre and Fine Lines Art Boutique. Showing the community that disability-focused organizations can provide excellent products and services has confirmed that DANI is equated with quality in every way. Ms. Laszlo has an open-door policy and ensures everyone is treated with the utmost respect. She has become a friend, trusted advisor and mentor to so many. Through her unwavering dedication, hard work and determination, Ms. Laszlo has made Vaughan a more accessible and inclusive place to live and thrive.


Dr. Devender Sandhu – Public Service

Dr. Devender Sandhu, Managing Director of Biocule Inc., is an outstanding community leader who remains steadfast in his ongoing pursuit of excellence. He has developed new treatments for complex conditions, disseminated knowledge through scientific papers, international journals and conferences, and developed intellectual property that has brought commercial and scientific recognition to Canada through his patented discoveries. With a collaborative and inclusive approach to public service, Dr. Sandhu strives to build consensus in decision-making and create an environment where racial biases are eliminated. He continues to inspire innovation among his colleagues and peers, and leads with integrity and kindness. Dr. Sandhu’s contributions to his professional and personal communities are tremendous and longstanding. He is a distinguished member of Vaughan’s diverse community who volunteers his time and talent to serve in very important community positions, including the Vaughan Public Library Board and the Providence Healthcare Foundation Board. His leadership and advocacy work has been recognized provincially with his tribunal membership roles in the Ontario Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, and Ontario Health Services Appeal and Review Board and in the Board of Trustees of the Ontario Science Centre. Through his open, transparent and responsible direction on the Vaughan Public Library Board, Dr. Sandhu was awarded the Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade Ontario Volunteer Service Award and the City of Vaughan’s Outstanding Volunteer Recognition Award. Beyond his lifelong commitment to public service, Dr. Sandhu is deeply dedicated to his family. A respected scientist and active member of both professional and community boards, Dr. Sandhu continues to consistently demonstrate his family values and inspire others in Vaughan and beyond.


Dr. Nazila Isgandarova – Equity and Diversity

Dr. Nazila Isgandarova is a role model, mentor, friend and agent for positive change. She is a committed advocate working to improve the lives of women, girls and gender-diverse individuals in Vaughan. As a registered psychotherapist and social worker, Dr. Isgandarova is the founder of the Azerbaijani Women’s Support Centre and author of numerous publications on war violence against women, rape as a weapon of war, new models of Islamic spiritual care and counselling. Dr. Isgandarova is the recipient of the prestigious Forum for Theological Exploration research award for her study on domestic violence against Muslim women, the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care Senior Research Award, and the Society for Pastoral Counselling Research Award. Through workshops, information sessions, seminars, educational events and training sessions, Dr. Isgandarova shares knowledge and research about women’s and human rights advocacy while encouraging thoughtful conversations and policy discussions. Social justice is Dr. Isgandarova’s true calling. In her academic, professional and community work, she focuses on violence prevention, justice, social support system reform, housing and food insecurity and eliminating racial bias. As a role model in her field, Dr. Isgandarova was the first Muslim female chaplain/spiritual care provider in Canada, and the first Muslim-certified supervisor-educator at the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care. Prior to her work, this profession in hospitals and prison settings was primarily male-dominated and held by people not of the Muslim faith. Dr. Isgandarova’s impact on the community through the work she does – including advocacy for equity across social identities like gender, race and socio-economic status – is amplified by her caring and generous nature, which deeply enhances the city of Vaughan and everyone who lives, works and plays within it.


Hina Zahid – Not-For-Profit

Hina Zahid, co-founder and Director of Muslim Women of Vaughan, is a well-respected leader who has significantly contributed to creating a stronger and more connected Vaughan through initiatives that promote friendship, knowledge, inclusivity and acceptance. After noticing significant hardships in her community due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Zahid began to see the harsh effects of isolation and loneliness, particularly among children and older adults. Recognizing the urgent need for connection and support, Ms. Zahid organized virtual events to bring people together and create lasting and meaningful relationships, even in a time where they couldn’t physically be together. Through Ms. Zahid’s work within Muslim Women of Vaughan, she has solidified herself as a role model and mentor for current and future generations. Her efforts and the group’s mission go well beyond the Muslim community to serve all members of Vaughan – including marginalized and minority groups. Through the activities and events she and Muslim Women in Vaughan organizes, like an Eid Drive-Thru event, a backpack giveaway for school-aged children, the Eid Bazaar and a park cleanup, as well as her time as a volunteer at the Vaughan Food Bank, Ms. Zahid tirelessly devotes her time and talents to the people of Vaughan, ensuring that help and support are given to those individuals who need it most. She is a true pillar of strength in the community who leads with kindness and generosity. Through her personal connections, volunteer work, foundation and leadership, Ms. Zahid has bettered and bridged together communities and continued to promote tolerance, inclusiveness and respect for all, regardless of race, religion, age or financial background.


Ishita Aggarwal – Not-For-Profit

Ishita Aggarwal has a thirst for knowledge, and a relentless drive to help others and to do good. She exemplifies what it means to be an extraordinary leader. As a longtime volunteer, medical student and founder of Mom’s The Word, a sexual and maternal health non-profit organization that provides education and resources for homeless and low-income female-identifying and minority groups, Ms. Aggarwal is a remarkable individual. To date, Mom’s The Word has raised more than $150,000 and hosted more than 100 prenatal workshops teaching 1,200 impoverished women about how to have a healthy pregnancy. Through her organization, she has also helped more than 300 survivors of sexual assault receive counselling, testing and medical care. She is also an empathetic young leader who devotes her time and talent to making Queen’s University School of Medicine and the broader community more accessible and inclusive places to live and learn. At Queen’s University, she has served as co-chair of the Jacalyn Duffin Health and Humanities Conference that aimed to create a space where learners and educators of all disciplines could discuss the intersections of medicine, health, the arts and humanities. The event was an incredible success and saw a crowd of more than 100 students and professionals from Canada and across the world. Her involvement in numerous equity and diversity initiatives helps inform her academic and professional duties as a medical student, future healthcare professional and founder. Ms. Aggarwal is a health advocate with a focus on serving underserved communities and she creates spaces for people to feel welcome, included, seen and heard. She leads by example and with kindness, compassion, care and expertise. Supporting both her colleagues and the community, Ms. Aggarwal’s contributions to enrich the lives of women is unending.