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Benefits pioneer earns special recognition

May 30, 2017 Laura Harris, ATA News Staff

Perry Dorgan addresses ARA delegates after accepting the Association’s special recognition award.

In the 100-year history of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the organization has presented its special recognition award just three times. The third time occurred May 21 at the Annual Representative Assembly in Edmonton, as the Association recognized the contributions of J. Perry Dorgan, who has spent the last 34 years of his career with the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP).

“Virtually everyone in this room has benefited from Perry’s very significant contributions,” said ATA executive secretary Gordon Thomas in introducing Dorgan.

From Association staff to the more than 400 teacher delegates to members of Provincial Executive Council — if they had clean teeth (or the opportunity to get them), were wearing prescription glasses or had a cast on a recently broken ankle, they had been affected by Dorgan’s efforts, Thomas said.

Dorgan, recently appointed strategic adviser to the trustees and CEO of ASEBP, spent his first 34 years at the organization as a benefits plan consultant. Before landing in Edmonton with ASEBP, he began his career in New Brunswick with Great West Life, and made stops in Hamilton, Toronto and Calgary. One of his earliest career accomplishments was establishing the first dental plan for teachers in Canada.

“And vision care, health spending accounts … where did they come from?” Thomas asked after mentioning several other Dorgan-driven improvements to ASEBP’s benefits plan.

“Well, they didn’t just fall from the sky. They were introduced in response to calculated efforts [by Dorgan] to improve teachers’ and their families health and wellness.”

Thomas praised Dorgan as the ultimate team player.

In accepting his award, Dorgan said it was “an honour to be honoured” for the work he had done.

“But I want to tell you today that I’m here to thank you,” he continued.

“As an Albertan, thank you for the education and development of our young people for over 100 years,” he said to ARA delegates.

He thanked Association staff and executive for the opportunity to serve and work with them, and then thanked the entire membership.

“I’d like to thank the ATA membership for being civic champions, outside your classrooms, in your communities,” he said, making special mention of ASEBP trustee and Fort McMurray teacher Chad Bowie.

Dorgan also expressed thanks for two Association leaders whom he said were very important to the work he had done throughout his career for Alberta teachers — former Teacher Welfare co-ordinator Thomas Hjelter and former associate executive secretary Earl Hjelter.

“I’m truly humbled by this award,” Dorgan said. “Thank you.” ❚

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