Aug. 4, 2014

Loss of leader in episodic and chronic illness - Elisse Zack

Photo of Elisse Zack


A Celebration of the life of Elisse Zack

To celebrate a life well-lived and a person well-loved.

Date: Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Place: The 519 Church Street Community Centre, Toronto

Time: 9:30 – 11:00a.m.

Followed by a reception at House-Maison (restaurant opposite to ‘The 519’),
580-582 Church Street, Toronto from 11:00a.m. – 1:00p.m.

Join us as we laugh, cry, hug, sing and honour our friendship with Elisse, as well as pay tribute to her long and distinguished career in HIV.


On behalf of DAWN-RAFH Canada’s Board, Staff and Members we wish to express our deep sadness at the loss of Elisse Zack. Elisse’s understanding and support for collaborative work beyond HIV to other episodic and chronic illnesses and the impact of her vision is yet to be fully understood.

But because education and community driven research were foremost in her hands-on approach to leadership, and the ground breaking work she has lead through CWGHR, millions of people in Canada and around the world, who live with an episodic or chronic illness are already better represented and better understood.

Gender difference and it’s impact on the one in four Canadians who live with an episodic or chronic illness was something Elisse not only understood, but that she actively promoted in the work of CWGHR, particularly in our partnership with them through the Episodic Disabilities Network.

I recall a get together we had in New York one afternoon, with Wendy Porch – we were all there for the UN CoSP 5 of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and we were talking about the huge responsibility we have in Canada to provide leadership and to do everything we can to make sure that the we move our work beyond research to resources and education … I believe that is exactly what Elisse was doing that day in New York and through all her days and I know that is what she expects us all to continue to do. Rest in peace Elisse and thank you.

Bonnie Brayton
National Executive Director


CWGHR Regrets to Announce the Passing of

Founding Executive Director Elisse Zack

Leading HIV advocate and pioneer leaves behind great legacy

Toronto, August 1, 2014 – It is with profound sadness that co-Chairs of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR), David Salter and Glyn Townson, announce the passing of founding Executive Director Elisse Zack. Elisse passed away peacefully at the Palliative Care Unit of Bridgepoint Health yesterday evening.

“This is a terrible personal loss for many of us, and for the extended CWGHR family”, said David Salter. “Elisse dedicated fifteen years to building CWGHR and to advocating on behalf of those living with HIV and other episodic disabilities. As a result, CWGHR has become a pioneer in many of the areas she championed, including HIV and aging and access to rehabilitation, among many others.”

Glyn Townson shared, “Elisse engendered enormous respect as one of our sector’s strongest leaders. For those who knew her well, you couldn’t help but develop a sense of great affection and loyalty because of her expert knowledge, as well as her candour, integrity, kindness, and great sense of humour. We extend heartfelt condolences to Elisse’s family and friends at this time, and we shall miss her terribly.”

Elisse worked in the field of HIV/AIDS since 1994, initially with the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS) to coordinate a national project on HIV and tuberculosis. She held a Master’s Degree in Management with a focus on the non-profit sector and a Master’s Degree in Education with a focus on Adult Education. Elisse was the Executive Director of CWGHR from 1998 through November 2013.

CWGHR will be holding a celebration of Elisse’s life on Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 from 9:30 – 11:30a.m. at The 519 Church Street Community Centre in Toronto. This will be an important opportunity for many of us to honour our friendship with Elisse and pay tribute to her long and distinguished career in HIV.


About the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation

The Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR) is a national charitable organization that promotes innovation and excellence in rehabilitation in the context of HIV and related conditions. Our membership and activities are multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary. CWHGR is a leader and catalyst for improved rehabilitation services for people living with HIV and related conditions through integrated research, education, policy and practice.


Ms. Tammy C. Yates

Manager, Programs and Communications

Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR)

416-513-0440 ext 240 ;