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U of C graduate among Calgary’s “Top 40 under 40” for improving epilepsy services in the city

By Nazeefa Ahmed, November 28 2022

Last month, Avenue Calgary Magazine released its annual “Top 40 Under 40” list of 2022. This recognition celebrates 40 Calgarians that have made a significant impact in their respective fields and improved the city with their efforts. 

“Top 40 Under 40 is […] a celebration of early career success, but also of the brains, guts and grit it takes to make change, to innovate, to lift others up, and, in doing so, create a better city and world for all of us,” according to their website

In an interview with the Gauntlet, recipient Evan Legate spoke about his award-winning work as board chair of the Epilepsy Association of Calgary (EAC). Legate was inspired to take this position after being diagnosed with epilepsy — a neurological disorder in the brain that causes unpredictable seizures.

“I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2015, and I got great medical care, but I fell through the cracks in terms of getting social support to manage my diagnosis,” said Legate. “I joined the board and became chair of the epilepsy association in 2018 with a clear vision in place. Now, we are offering many services to people living with or impacted by epilepsy.” 

Since becoming board chair, Legate introduced social programs and services to provide different types of help to 30,000 Albertans impacted by epilepsy. 

“We built in a referral system for our medical partners at the Calgary Comprehensive Epilepsy Program to refer their patients to us,” said Legate. “We also have programs to deal with cognitive recognition and memory problems that some people with epilepsy face. The EAC also has a mental health program called ‘UPLIFT’ to deal with negative feelings associated with a diagnosis.”

As a partner at Longview Communications & Public Affairs, Legate uses his skills to advocate for government support for the EAC’s Five-Year Revitalization plan, which aims to make the organization a leading one in the country. 

“About a year and a half ago, we were ready to approach governments to try and find some alignment between what we are doing and some government priorities,” said Legate. “We are currently engaging in active lobbying efforts to secure funding for increased community-based support and education.”

As a University of Calgary graduate, Legate described how his political science education, as well as his active exploration of differing perspectives, prepared him for his position as board chair.   

“During university, I sought not to have an echo chamber and look for those diverse viewpoints,” said Legate. “The Board of Directors have a diverse range of views around the table about the direction of the association and I think my background in political science helped to prepare me for how to work with others who come at things from a different approach.”

In his concluding remarks, Legate encouraged current students at the university to reach out to their respective communities and make positive changes by volunteering their time. 

“I think students should really look for those opportunities to grow personally and professionally while improving their community,” said Legate. “There’s no shortage of organizations out there who need your help either as a volunteer or as a board member.” 

Those interested in learning about and supporting the Epilepsy Association of Calgary can visit their website.

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