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Ann Dowsett Johnston

Public Policy & Addiction Expert

An award-winning journalist, Ann Dowsett Johnston is well respected for her expertise in higher education, alcohol addiction and public policy relating to both. For 14 years, she oversaw two bestselling projects: the Maclean’s university rankings and the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities.  Dowsett Johnston spent time researching the issue of Women and Alcohol as part of the Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy.  Provocative and dynamic, she engages audiences at a deeply personal level, exploring subjects that challenge many Canadian families.  Her bestselling book and speaking topic is a brave and informed look at Drink:  The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Presentations

Mental Health and Addiction: Beating the Twin Curse of the Overacheiver
Every person has a public story, a private story and a secret story. Ann’s was depression: for decades, she medicated this affliction with work. Overwork led to stress, which she ultimately medicated with alcohol. This double whammy—mental health and addiction issues—has become the twin curse of a growing number of professionals. How do you turn a life around? With grit and gusto and extreme self-care. There is no worthier role for an employer to play than helping to shepherd an achiever back to balance and health. With candour and passion, Ann will explore the signs of trouble and the signposts on the journey back to a life of joy and meaning.

Our Love Affair with Alcohol: How a Fairy-tale Romance Blocks Strong Policy, and How Media Can Help
To create strong alcohol policy, we need to take a hard look at the best available evidence, examine our core values and ask ourselves: what do we want for Canada? What role does the media play in the outcome? Enormous. Ann Dowsett Johnston argues that the media is key to shaping strong policy: essential in disseminating good research, advocating for change and puncturing many myths.

The Drinking Diaries: Why Women Drink Too Much and What We Can Do About It
Alcohol consumption is on the rise, and women are leading the growth, both here and in most of the developing world. Parity in postsecondary achievement, parity in the workforce, and now this? Clearly, this is not what Gloria Steinem had in mind. The marketers think differently. Ann Dowsett Johnston explores this phenomenon: what’s driving the trend in risky drinking for all age groups, the health risks, and what can be done.

Stigma and The Workplace:
All too often, a troubled employee is a high performer whose life has gone sideways, who may be suffering from concurrent disorders. How do you shepherd that person towards appropriate help and then re-integrate them back into the executive or high-performing team? How do you deal with resentment and discomfort within your team? How do you foster a stigma-free environment of support? As addiction reaches epidemic proportions in North America, this is a leadership challenge for all corporate teams. People can and do recover. As one of the team of experts on the upcoming national Life in Recovery survey—which will make big news across Canada this fall—I can tell you that this evidence is well supported. I can advise on this important area, tailoring my talk to each and every sector.

Platform Plus

Panelist/In Conversation

Awards

2015
Ontario Psychiatric Association | T. A. Sweet Award for fighting stigma against mental illness

2014
CAMH Transforming Lives Award


  • Ann is very warm, relatable and genuine. People appreciated her charisma, conversational style and her candor.

    The hour flew by as she has a wonderful way of holding the audience’s attention. People agreed that this is an important topic and they thought Ann clearly exhibited a passion for it and an expertise in the field – both of which made her a very compelling speaker. - Torys LLP
  • On behalf of House of Friendship we want to fully endorse Ann Johnston both as a speaker and a champion for individuals struggling with addictions. The event was sold-out in advance and there wasn't a spare seat to be had in the hall. Ann challenged our thinking through the presentation with her insights, research, and experience.



    - House of Friendship
  • The audience loved Ann. She impressed most with her approachability and her down to earth style. I felt as though I had known her my whole life. Her presentation was powerful and you could hear a pin drop in that room. What a beautiful person.

    - Executive Director, Breton House
  • She was a rockstar whose message was challenging and fit perfectly with what HoF is trying to accomplish.


    - Attendee, House of Friendship Conference

Summary Profile

An award-winning journalist, Ann Dowsett Johnston is well respected for her expertise in higher education, alcohol addiction and public policy relating to both. For 14 years, she oversaw two bestselling projects: the Maclean’s university rankings and the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities. Most recently, Dowsett Johnston spent a year researching the issue of Women and Alcohol as part of the Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy.

Beyond her focus on education and addiction, Dowsett Johnston has written on a wide variety of subjects, from the arts to mental health.  In 2013, she released  Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol. Her personal writing was anthologized in the bestselling Dropped Threads: More of What We Aren’t Told.

In 2014 she was named the CEO of the Pine River Foundation, an organization that champions and supports Pine River Institute (PRI), a residential treatment program for youth 13-19 struggling with addictive behaviours and often co-occurring mental health issues.

Dowsett Johnston has won numerous awards for her work, including five National Magazine Awards. She is also the recipient of a Southam Fellowship.

Feisty and outspoken, Dowsett Johnston champions the need for for political leadership on alcohol policy, a reduction in the stigma around addiction, and greater accountability in public education.

Carrie Fisher--a major hero to all of us who battle addiction and a mental health issue. Quip after quip, she told the truth. A pioneer. (2016-12-28 10:45:13)
RT @colinjones: Q: "If you could use the force in real life what would you do?" Carrie Fisher: “I would make Trump go away" https://t.co/0… (2016-12-28 10:27:26)
Love this. Yup. https://t.co/hpa7GKse0l (2016-12-26 03:21:46)