Return to Newsroom

Recognizing Inspiring Leadership - Congratulations Deb Fisher


Congratulations to Deborah (Deb) Fisher on being awarded this year's INSPIRE Leadership Award at the third annual INSPIRE Mentoring Awards which took place on November 7 in Saint John.

The event aims to recognize individuals in the community who have made meaningful impact through mentoring with funds raised supporting the great work of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Saint John.  INSPIRE recognizes mentors from all walks of life and who mentor all demographics of people. 



Deb was recognized for her inspiring leadership within the business community, education fields, and within the non-profit sector. Deb is the coordinator of PALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools) which addresses the needs associated with students living in poverty. Initiated in Saint John by Mr. James K. Irving and the local school district in 2000, PALS has grown to over 30 schools in NB with close to 200 business and community partners as well as hundreds of volunteers.  PALS has been internationally honoured as a Global Best Education Partnership. 

Her leadership demonstrated within her role as the PALS Coordinator has far exceeded anyone's expectations. She has always shown outstanding dedication to helping thousands of young people by connecting business, non-profits, the education system and families together for the common purpose of helping helping people succeed in life.

When Deb is not at the schools with the children, she can be found in the office supporting our employees and their fundraising efforts for various events throughout the year including Bowl for Kids and Holiday Hampers.

Deb Fisher (Biography)

Deborah E. Fisher (TC74/ BA76 UNB) was born in Kentville, Nova Scotia in 1955, and spent Grades 1-4 in Werl, Germany before moving to Fredericton for the remainder of her education.  It was obvious from early on that she would either be a teacher or work with animals, and she was able to do both throughout her life! Upon graduation, Deborah intended to enter into Veterinary College to work with large animals but at the time there were limited opportunities for female veterinarians so Deborah turned to her other love – working with children. Attending the New Brunswick Teacher’s College in the Secondary Program, she was part of the final graduating class of TC (now Marshall D’Avry hall, UNB) and completed her BA at UNB Fredericton. She began her teaching career in Perth Andover, then taught in the Fredericton area, Moncton and Shediac where she finished her teaching career. 

Seconded by Mr. J. K. Irving in 2001 to coordinate PALS (Partners Assisting Local Schools) she will be continuing with the 20th year of this project.  What began with one partner and one school has grown to more than 150 partners and approximately 30 schools in the province. One of the most important aspects of PALS is its focus on working closely with the local schools and school district, partners and in particular the mentoring of young students, taking many forms from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and beyond. Many children who were part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters In-School Mentoring Program in the early years of PALS are still friends with their Mentors even 18 or more years later.

Deborah has served on the boards of the Magnetic Hill Zoo, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saint John, and the Boys and Girls Club in both Riverview and Saint John. She has been the recipient of the Premier’s Award of Excellence in Education, a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award (shared with Erica Lane), the BBBS Judge Tom Bell Award, and several national awards for programs she helped develop.

Her loves are family, friends, the seaside, riding, gardening, and of course her four legged friends.

Anyone who has met Deb knows that her tireless commitment to helping youth in our community is unmatched and she is truly deserving of this award. 



Congratulations to Deb's fellow recipients of this year's INSPIRE awards and the difference they make to life in our community:

  • Isaac McLellan - INSPIRE Youth Award
  • Janice MacMillan - INSPIRE Imagination Award
  • Don Darling - INSPIRE Community Spirit Award
  • Derek Oland - J.K. Irving Lifetime Distinction in Mentoring Award


Thank you for the positive difference you are making in our communities!