Ottawa Jazz Festival executive producer Catherine O'Grady recently received a Women of Distinction Award from the Ottawa YWCA.
The biennial awards "recognize not only the amazing contributions of our nominees, but the incredible effect these women have on the people they serve, and the programs and activities to which they are devoted," said Gail DiCintio, the chair of the 2011 awards committee.
At the ceremony on May 31, 2011, O'Grady received the St. Joseph Media Arts and Culture award.
Her award biography said: "Since Catherine O'Grady's take over as Executive Producer of the Ottawa International Jazz Festival (OIJF) in 1996, the event has seen an audience increase of 300 percent. Her dedication and enthusiasm has emphased success for female jazz musicians – with the creation of Women in Jazz – and art administrators in apprenticeship roles in this typically male-dominated sector.
"Catherine actively promotes volunteering – a fact witnessed by the over 500 volunteers, including people with disabilities, on whom the OIJF relies on each year to bring the festivals to the Ottawa community. As a gift to the community, the OIJF's opening night and other short performances are free to the public. 1 Her activities on each committee she's served on, each award she's won, and her dedication to youth development demonstrate her commitment to the community. Such programs as the Children's Festival and the Youth Jazz Summit demonstrate Catherine's care in enlightening the next generation. She continues to teach and inspire Ottawa's eager minds at the University of Ottawa in the areas audience development and marketing."
The awards have been presented since 1994. They "honour, encourage and recognize women whose outstanding activities and achievements contribute to the health and future of our community."
In 2007, O'Grady received the Investing in People Award from the Community Foundation of Ottawa "for her unwavering dedication to making Ottawa a vibrant, creative city for residents and visitors alike."
– Alayne McGregor
1 The opening night of the festival was free in 2009 and 2010, but will not be free in 2011.