Sandra Reilly, RN, EdD, Med, BScN, has devoted her career to practice, teaching and research in the area of community health, with particular focus on child and family. Her significant program of research has focused on circumstances which impact parents’ abilities to care well for their children. It is her point of view that building capacity and support within the layered contexts of family life is a key opportunity to promote children’s health. Dr. Reilly’s view of capacity building in children and their families extends seamlessly to her extended communities of practice, whether academic colleagues, students or community partners. She is also a community activist and volunteer, an acknowledged community leader and an active researcher.
Dr. Reilly is renowned for her outstanding achievements with the Calgary Children’s’ Cottage Society. The innovative programs of the society, including its flagship crisis nursery, speak to her tremendous community vision and diligent, sustained community service. She spearheaded the crisis nursery service for the Calgary community in 1986, and it has now grown to four major programs, plus subsidiary ones. Twenty-five years later, the Children’s Cottage has accommodated over 53,000 young children, at no cost to their families. The Children’s Cottage also served as a model for Kids Kottage in Edmonton. In 2011, Children’s Cottage was recognized nationally for its cost-effectiveness, leadership, management and bottom-line results in delivering health promotion services to Canadian families in crisis. It is considered one of Canada’s top charities.