The nominees for the 2023 Premier's Awards

Loyalist College

Janak Alford

Chief Technology Officer and Enterprise Architect, Government of Canada
Architectural Technician, 2004

In a world where technology outpaces human understanding, Janak Alford is fighting to help us keep up. A highly accomplished and innovative technology leader, Alford’s career spans the public, non-profit and private sectors. He is currently the chief technology officer and enterprise architect for the Government of Canada, serving as the foremost expert assisting the federal government to improve, transform and modernize its IT systems to support a more secure and efficient Canada.

Confederation College

Nicole Anderson

Nurse, Owner and Founder, The Foot Care and Ear Flushing Centre

Practical Nursing, 2006

Nicole Anderson opened an innovative nurse-led clinic to help fill identified gaps in health care, specializing initially in ear flushing and foot care. She was one of the first nurses in Ontario to provide independent ear flushing. She also brought advanced foot care methods to Thunder Bay, including Onyfix (to repair an in-grown toenail) and Podo Expert (to protect and repair cracked feet). She also now provides IV therapy for dehydration. She created a referral network between health-care professionals to help improve patient care. She is a shining example of what one woman with ambition, an idea and an Ontario colleges diploma can accomplish.

St. Lawrence College

Brenda Andress

Founder and CEO, SheIS Sports Network Corporation

Municipal Administration, 1991

Brenda Andress is equal parts education and sport. Andress, founder and president of SheIs, a non-profit promoting women’s sports, has spent a lifetime arming herself with intelligence and leading women to a place of belonging. She has led local municipalities' parks, recreation and culture divisions – normalizing leadership by a woman in a male-dominated industry. Along the way, she has founded industry-leading initiatives in both domestic and international marketplaces. Her grassroots approach to building, learning and leading launched her into the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, where she served as the league’s commissioner from 2007 to 2018 and established the first-ever Clarkson Cup Championship.

Centennial College

Laura Arndt

Mother, Daughter, Wife and Secretariat Lead, Survivors' Secretariat
Developmental Services Worker, 1984

The child of a residential school survivor, Laura Arndt is a proud Haudenosaunee woman who has devoted her life and career to advancing healing for Indigenous people and communities in Canada. In 2021, Arndt was named secretariat lead of the Survivors’ Secretariat, an organization overseeing a survivor-led search for unmarked graves of children who died while attending the Mohawk Institute, the first and longest-running school in Canada. Prior to joining the Survivors’ Secretariat, Arndt held senior roles focused on Indigenous rights and well-being at the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth and at Centennial College.

George Brown College

Ramkumar Arunamoorthy

Senior Manager, Site Reliability Engineering and Cloud Operations, Tomson Reuters

Information Systems Business Analysis Program (Post-graduate), 2013

Ramkumar Arunamoorthy devoted his time and career to empowering people through education. He provided technology training for more than 4,000 individuals across Ontario, facilitating the training needed to work in the technology sector. His work has garnered recognition by major tech companies like Google and Amazon and he currently serves as Google's mentor, east Canada region and as women techmaker ambassador. Additionally, he is an AWS community builder for Amazon Web Services and supports not-for-profit organizations pro bono. He was awarded the Michael Cook Leadership Award in 2014 and received the Walk the Talk Leadership Award from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2018.

Humber College

Carrie Baker

President, Canada Goose
Public Relations, 2000

As president of Canada Goose, Carrie Baker oversees the company’s commercial business and brand, driving its global growth. A creative communications strategist with a passion for breaking boundaries, she was instrumental in transforming the outerwear manufacturer that was founded in 1957 to an iconic Canadian luxury brand recognized around the world. Baker was instrumental in establishing Canada Goose’s communications strategy, helping to lead its initial public offering in 2017 and creating its industry-leading sustainable impact strategy. In 2019, she was named one of the WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada. In 2020, she was named one of Canada’s 50 Best Executives by The Globe and Mail.

Georgian College

Arjun Batra

Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Doon School
Mechanical Engineering Technology-Automotive Manufacturing, 2007
Arjun Batra is a successful serial entrepreneur and business owner, engaged community volunteer, passionate education champion and proud college graduate. He's the founder and CEO of three multi-million-dollar businesses. His decision to create Doon School was initially inspired by his job as a math tutor when he was an international student. The school now boasts more than 2,000 secondary school graduates. His other companies are a wholesale automotive business and a real estate group that specializes in affordable housing. Batra is a lifelong volunteer leader and the co-founder of two non-profit organizations. He received the Board of Governors Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater in 2022.

St. Clair College

Bob Bellacicco

Multi-Platform Journalist, CTV Windsor
Business Advertising, 1994

Bob Bellacicco is a multi-platform journalist for CTV Windsor. Carving out a career in sports journalism, Bellacicco has covered some of the best-known events in sports, from the Stanley Cup to the Super Bowl. He graduated from college in 1994 with a degree in business advertising, parlaying his skills into a career in the fast-paced and ever-changing field of journalism. He is most passionate about shining a light on exceptional people and causes and offering his time to bettering the community through volunteer work.

Georgian College

Donna Big Canoe

Chief, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation

Native Education - Community and Social Development, 1998

General Arts and Science, 1995

Donna Big Canoe was elected Georgina Island First Nation chief in 2007 at the age of 31 and has been re-elected every term since. Under her leadership the community enjoys improved drinking water, health services and employment opportunities. The community successfully fought a proposal to dump treated sewage into Lake Simcoe's watershed and she collaborated with First Nations chiefs and governments to settle two historic treaty disputes. She's been honoured with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Board of Governor's Distinguished Alumni Award at her alma mater. A collaborative, consultative leader, Big Canoe stresses any achievements are shared with her council, staff and entire community.

Georgian College

Sara Bingham

CEO and Owner, Sara Bingham Business Coaching Inc.
Post-graduate diploma, Communicative Disorders Assistant, 1994

Sara Bingham is a therapist, entrepreneur, author of two books and adviser who is committed to changing the world. Through WeeHands Baby Sign Language, she's taught thousands of families, educators and other caregivers how to use American Sign Language to communicate with their infants and toddlers. Her own entrepreneurial journey led to a second venture – Sara Bingham Business Coaching Inc. She works specifically with clients who are changemakers, starting or growing businesses that make a positive contribution to society. She was one of only 50 people across Canada to receive the 2021 Globe and Mail Report on Business Changemaker Award.

Seneca Polytechnic

Joseph Osei Bonsu

Co-Founder, Illustrator, Heroes of the World

3D Animation, 2006

Digital Media Arts, 2005

Visual artist Joseph Osei Bonsu's work promotes diversity and equality in a way that captivates young people and teaches them to treat others with respect. He is co-founder of Heroes of the World, a superhero cartoon series featuring 1,200 characters from different countries. He also collaborated with Olympic champion sprinter Andre DeGrasse on an illustrated book called Race With Me! In 2022, he was commissioned by Spoken Soul TO and the City of Toronto to create superheroes for the Scarborough Heroes Exhibit for Black History Month. He has also lent his talents to the CBC, CIBC, TD Canada Trust and ArtXperiential.

Algonquin College

Michèle Boudria

President and CEO, McDonald's Restaurants of Canada
Journalism, 1988

Michèle Boudria is McDonald's Canada's first female president and CEO. She started her career behind the front counter 38 years ago as a member of the restaurant crew in Aylmer, Quebec. From there, she moved on to regional, national and international leadership roles of increasing responsibility, including as managing director of McDonald's Netherlands.

A people-first leader, Boudria is focused on driving business results and delivering on McDonald's goal of feeding and fostering the community. Passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion, Boudria is proud to sit on the Catalyst Canada Board and Ronald McDonald House Charities Board.

Fanshawe College

Blair Brandon

Senior Vice President, Major Projects, Civil West (retired June 2023), Aecon Group Inc.
Construction Engineering Technology (Management), 1999

During more than four decades working in heavy civil construction, Brandon has been involved in the design, development and delivery of public and private infrastructure projects, including the reconstruction of the iconic Park Bridge in Kicking Horse Canyon, BC. Brandon joined Aecon in 2015 as vice-president of major projects west. Under his leadership, revenue grew from $80 million to $508 million annually. In a memo announcing Brandon's retirement in June 2023, Aecon noted that his generosity as a leader and mentor who invested in the growth and evolution of young workers into construction leaders, "will have far-reaching impact in our industry for generations to come."

Mohawk College

Tawnya Brant

Chef and Owner, Yawékon by Chef Tawnya Brant
Aboriginal Small Business Management, 2015

Tawnya Brant is a successful chef who is committed to celebrating and bringing attention to Indigenous foods. She is the chef-owner of Yawékon by Chef Tawnya Brant in her native Ohsweken. She supports Indigenous food producers and hunters, showcases time-honoured ingredients in her culture and fuses Haudenosaunee dishes with other global cuisine. She is focused on launching a line of packaged foods that can serve remote territories. Brant appeared as a competitor on season 10 of Top Chef Canada in 2022. She is dedicated to sharing her knowledge, showcasing Haudenosaunee heritage and culture and supporting other female Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Humber College

Matthew Burnett

Music Producer, Self-Employed
Bachelor of Music, 2014

Matthew Burnett has become a sought-after global producer in the music industry, highly regarded for his Grammy-nominated and Juno-nominated (and winning) work. One of his earliest achievements was his production of "Not Afraid," the lead single on rapper Eminem's seventh studio album, Recovery, and the 16th song in Billboard Top 100 history to debut at No. 1. The co-founder of independent record label Golden Child Recordings, Burnett has enriched the Canadian music scene and cultivated the rise of artists such as R&B superstar Daniel Caesar. He’s produced for world-renowned artists like Drake and Lil’ Wayne, all before turning 25.

Fleming College

Rochelle Byrne

Executive Director, A Greener Future
Ecosystem Management Technology, 2012

Rochelle Byrne, the executive director of A Greener Future, takes centre stage in the powerful environmental documentary, Shoreline: The Paddle Against Plastic. As producer, Byrne embarked on a remarkable 430 km paddle journey across Lake Ontario, using her passion to raise awareness about the detrimental impact of plastic on the environment. Amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic that hindered public cleanups, her determination shined as she paddled 18 days along the shores of Lake Ontario. Shoreline showcases the profound connection between recreation and environmental stewardship, inspiring individuals to join the effort in creating a greener environment for future generations.

Sault College

Kevin Callan

Faculty, Fleming College
Forestry Technician, 1985

Kevin Callan (a.k.a. the Happy Camper) is the author of 19 books, his latest being Another Bend in the River: The Happy Camper’s Memoir. He is an award-winning writer and a keynote speaker at outdoor industry events across North America. A regular educational and informative guest on several television morning shows and CBC Radio, he has won multiple film awards and writes columns for both Paddling Magazine and Explore Magazine. He was named one of the Top 100 Modern Day Explorers by the Canadian Geographical Society, inducted into Milton’s Walk of Fame and named Patron Paddler for Paddle Canada.

George Brown College

Chris Campbell

Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Carpenters' Regional Council of Ontario
Carpenter General Apprentice Certificate, 1991
A proponent of youth apprenticeship and diversity, Chris Campbell mentors students and created an endowment for BIPOC youth. He is the director of equity, diversity and inclusion at the Carpenters' Regional Council of Ontario. Campbell also serves as ambassador for the Children’s Breakfast Club community outreach program and is involved with the Toronto Community Benefits Network, the Black Action Defence Committee and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

Sheridan College

Sara Camposarcone

Content Creator, Self-Employed
Visual Merchandising Arts, 2018

Sara Camposarcone is not your average fashion vlogger. Her eye-catching style layers bold prints with vibrant colours, often on exaggerated silhouettes. She uses a mix of second-hand and vintage clothing – along with eco-friendly designers – to create a playful and fun aesthetic called sustainable maximalism. Her content has attracted the attention of Vogue, Harpers, Bazaar and The New York Times, as well as major brands like McDonalds and Amazon. However, it is the overwhelming positivity that Camposarcone puts forth in her videos that keeps a host of demographics interested and feeling empowered to wear what makes them feel confident.

Niagara College

Mark Carl

Chief Executive Officer, Habitat for Humanity Niagara

Business Administration - Marketing (Diploma), 1997

International Trade (Post-Graduate Certificate), 1997

As CEO of Habitat for Humanity Niagara, Mark Carl is his community's foremost fundraiser for low-income, working families enwrapped within Ontario’s unprecedented housing crisis. Mobilized by his learning disability to start volunteering, he witnessed firsthand how lived traumatic experiences trap individuals into homelessness, mental health struggles and opioid addiction. His advocacy energized a run for city council, where he influenced affordable and social housing legislation, engaged local organizations and compelled all levels of government into action. His current goal is to build 30 affordable family homes over the next five years by fundraising $10 million, with $4 million already secured.

Fanshawe College

Mamta Chail

President and CEO, Youthdale Treatment Services
Law and Security Administration, 1997

Mamta Chail is a results-driven mental health advocate with a focus on children and youth, where she believes resources and services have the greatest impact and return on investment. A recognized expert in her field and current CEO/president of Youthdale Treatment Service, Chail sits on the board of directors for Children's Mental Health Ontario and the mental health and addictions subcommittee of the London Police Services Board. Throughout her career, Chail has influenced policy and system-level standards to support better mental health outcomes, advocated for funding and resources and worked to ensure equitable access and supports for all families.

Algonquin College

Eric Chan (eepmon)

Founder and Digital Artist, EEPMON Inc.

Interactive Multimedia and Design, 2008

Computer Engineering Technology, 2003

Eric Chan (eepmon) is a world-renowned digital/NFT artist and consultant whose work sits at the intersection of fine arts, design and technology. His fusion of art and computer code and the traditional and the modern – as well as the artistic and the commercial – demonstrates his unique ability to create in the ever-changing landscape of modern, contemporary society. He is nomadic, adventurous and embraces uncertainty. His digital artistry engages the world and enriches his life with new perspectives and discovery. His works have been seen in fashion, comics, museums and exhibitions worldwide.

St. Lawrence College

Grant Courville

Vice President, Products and Strategy, BlackBerry IoT
Microcomputer Engineering Technology, 1986
Grant Courville’s work is helping to drive the digital transformation in the automotive industry to redefine commuting and travel. Throughout his 30-plus years in the technology sector, Courville has been on the cutting edge. He was an early developer of QNX, a Canadian software development company acquired by BlackBerry in 2010. Following the acquisition, he joined the BlackBerry QNX executive team and is BlackBerry QNX's vice president, products and strategy. His mission is to make car operating systems safe, secure and reliable, keeping drivers connected to their phone and data while travelling without compromising driving ability or safety.

Durham College

Christine Cunningham

Founder and Executive Director, Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario (Self-Employed)
Social Service Worker, 2015

After experiencing the effects of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) during her third pregnancy, Christine Cunningham was determined to help other women who have experienced the same struggle. Since returning to school and switching careers, she has become a leader in the field of perinatal mental health, running a successful counselling private practice. She is also the founder and executive director of Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario, a not-for-profit organization that provides free to low-cost mental health supports to those living with a PMAD. Her knowledge, experience and dedication has made a difference in the lives of countless women.

Confederation College

Sean Davies

Co-Owner and Co-Operator, Maintair Aviation Services

Aviation-Flight Management, 2000

Guidance counsellors recommended Sean Davies choose medicine or law. He chose the college’s flight management program instead. But when 9/11 hit, he entered the business side of the airline industry. Davies successfully managed several of Wasaya Airway’s operations until he bought Maintair Aviation Services with a partner in 2014. He avoided disaster during the COVID pandemic and turned it into an opportunity by filling the void when other companies didn’t survive the pandemic. Maintair grew by 10 times and now serves six mostly small-market airports. Davies also purchased another aviation services company and developed cruise ship services in Thunder Bay.

George Brown College

Melonie de Guzman

Owner, Melonie de Guzman Program Management Services Inc.

Sports and Event Marketing (Post-graduate), 2006

Melonie de Guzman is a pioneer and advocate for the inclusion of women in technology-focused industries. She has attained a high level in her industry as a certified project manager professional (PMP) and SAFe Agilist as well as a SCRUM Master II, while serving as a mentor and international speaker. De Guzman has made a positive impact in the community as a co-founder of Women in Technology and her affiliation with several prominent mentorship organizations. She has also received numerous awards over the course of her career.

Conestoga College

Mark Duchesne

CEO, Northvolt ETT
Electrician Construction and Maintenance (Apprenticeship), 1986

From paint shop electrician to CEO, Mark Duchesne’s career has spanned four decades across five vehicle manufacturers and seven countries. The newly appointed CEO of Sweden’s Northvolt ETT is a creative problem solver who operationalized Toyota’s first Lexus paint shop in North America, brought a Tesla manufacturing line from zero to its target in eight months and at five per cent of new facility cost, and designed, built and launched Nikola’s zero-emissions truck plant in less than a year. A skilled trade innovator and champion, Duchesne is revitalizing the manufacturing workplace culture using the problem-solving skills he learned during his college apprenticeship.

Sheridan College

Travonne Edwards

Assistant Professor, School of Child and Youth Care, Toronto Metropolitan University
Child and Youth Care Worker, 2014

Travonne Edwards is an assistant professor at Toronto Metropolitan University and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, researching the overrepresentation of Black families in Ontario’s child welfare systems. He is a transformational leader who rose from his experiences of anti-Black racism to become a leading academic, intent on improving the lives of Black children, youth and families navigating the child welfare system. His work has been recognized with many prestigious awards and fellowships. His research projects, peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and fact sheets support front-line practitioners, agencies and policy makers in their decisions to support Black families.

Mohawk College

Phyllis Fehr

Dementia Advocate and Speaker

Nursing, 1991

Concepts in Bereavement Support, 2008

Phyllis Fehr is an inspirational advocate for people living with Alzheimer’s disease. She is a human rights activist, strategist, policy creator, researcher, spokesperson and mentor. It’s her mission to change the way we think about dementia. Fehr, an ICU nurse, learned at 53 she had early-onset Alzheimer’s. When the gerontologist spoke only to her husband, she immediately decided she would speak for those with dementia. She has co-founded organizations, served on national and provincial boards, co-created campaigns and been a key policy adviser to governments. She has even addressed the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Humber College

Kenneth Fowler

Deputy Mayor, Town of Innisfil
Boilermaker Apprenticeship, 2001

After graduating from his college's boilermaker apprenticeship program, Kenneth Fowler travelled throughout Ontario, earning apprenticeship hours and becoming one of the first tradespersons in his area to earn the interprovincial Red Seal boilermaker certification. He has managed and overseen multimillion-dollar projects across the province and is a longstanding boilermaker and engineering specialist with the Toronto District School Board. An Innisfil resident, Fowler was elected as Ward 5 Councillor in 2018 and then deputy mayor of the town in 2022, serving its population of over 44,000 while also playing an exceptionally active and hands-on role as a Simcoe County councillor.

Mohawk College

Clare Freeman

Executive Director, Hamilton Community Legal Clinic
Child and Youth Worker, 1995

Clare Freeman is an accomplished and respected non-profit leader, speaker, instructor and trauma clinician. She has led key organizations in Hamilton, including serving as executive director of Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice and Interval House of Hamilton, a domestic violence shelter. She now serves as executive director at the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic. She is a passionate advocate in her community and beyond for social justice, rights-based inclusion, sex-gender-based equity, violence against women, male engagement in anti-violence, children’s mental health, child welfare and palliative care. She has served on several provincial advisory committees and presented at national and international conferences.

Niagara College

Jessica Garrett

Development Technologist, City of Niagara Falls

Construction Engineering Technology (Management), 2019

Construction Techniques, 2015

Jessica Garrett is a fearless female trailblazer within the male-dominated construction industry, dedicated to mentoring young women to join the field. She stands out as an abuse survivor overcame severe physical trauma during her college studies and needed a wheelchair, cane and knee braces to recover. She’s endured unchecked sexism and discrimination that young women in technical construction jobs can face and recalls the pressures of working during college to pay her bills. Today, Garrett's in charge of vetting engineering submissions and planning documents for subdivisions and condominiums for one of Ontario’s most famous destinations, Niagara Falls.

Fleming College

Heather George

Executive Director, Woodland Cultural Centre
Museum Management and Curatorship, 2008

Heather George is a prominent leader in the Canadian museum sector. As executive director of the Woodland Cultural Centre, she has been a strong advocate for promoting Indigenous perspectives and creating opportunities for Indigenous artists and curators. She was elected as president of the Canadian Museums Association in 2021, where she has led a national review of museum policies and their relationship with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples. George's leadership in advancing reconciliation and promoting Indigenous perspectives has been widely recognized in the Canadian museum sector.

Sheridan College

Kris Girdauskas

General Manager, Re-Strike Machine and Tool Inc.
Tool and Die Maker Apprentice, 2002

Kris Girdauskas is the founder of Re-Strike Machine and Tools Inc., a company that provides precision-machining services to a wide range of industries. These include the automotive, food and beverage, construction, aerospace, machinery building, mining and automation industries. He started by working alone from a tiny shop and steadily built a successful business solely on the basis of his college education. He is now a leading name in the tool and die sector, recognized for excellence. He gives back to his college by providing employment and internship opportunities to students and graduates and is a source of inspiration to them.

St. Clair College

Fil Grado

Advanced Projects Technical Lead for Next Gen E-Segment SUVs, Stellantis
Mechanical Engineering Technology, 1997

Fil Grado is the advance technical lead at Stellantis, leading the advance development of E-SUVs and managing a large engineering team. A graduate of St. Clair College's mechanical technology program, he has pushed the automotive sector forward as an engineer and leader. He was recognized for his contributions to the profession as a 2010 SAE Foundation Young Manufacturing Leadership Award Winner, one of just two award winners across North America. He was most recently awarded an Alumni of Distinction award at his alma mater college.

Mohawk College

Janet Greener

Founder, CEO and Principal, Beechwood Brainery Inc.

Social Service Worker, 2022

Mental Health and Disability Management, 2020

Recreation and Leisure Studies, 2004

Janet Greener is an entrepreneur dedicated to providing services for children, youth and their families who experience developmental disabilities or mental health conditions. She has applied her experience and expertise in neurodiversity to founding Beechwood Brainery Inc. since 2020. Its mission is to provide a safe space for personal growth and academic achievement through adapted and alternative education programming, tutoring, counselling and respite supports. She founded the school after seeing a critical gap in youth services through her own family’s experience with her younger sister, who has Down syndrome. The school now has two locations.

Sheridan College

Dane Griffiths

Director, Gay Men's Sexual Health Alliance (GMSH)
Social Service Worker, 2009

Through his passion for social work and a never-ending drive to help his community, Dane Griffiths creates tangible change to improve the health of 2SLGBTQ+ people in Ontario. Through his role as director of the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance (GMSH), he leads with empathy and a desire to harness the power of the community, producing sexual health resources that inspire and mobilize. Removing the stigma surrounding this health care is vital for proper care at every level, in policy and practice. Under Griffith’s direction, the GMSH leads the way for a healthy, more informed and more inclusive Ontario.

Fleming College

Evan Hall

CEO, Wittaya Aqua International Inc.
Environmental Visual Communication, 2012
Evan Hall, the CEO of Wittaya Aqua, is a leading figure in aquaculture technology, renowned for his data-driven solutions in farm and aquafeed management. He guided Wittaya Aqua to global recognition, winning the prestigious Global Aquaculture Challenge against 180 competitors and securing a $120,000 (U.S.) prize. Recently, the company secured an additional $2.5 million (U.S.) from investors worldwide, spanning Asia, the U.K. and the U.S. Hall’s vision includes integrating Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and enhancing forecasting capabilities, revolutionizing farm management through data-driven decision making. His remarkable achievements propel Wittaya Aqua's global success in the aquaculture industry.

Mohawk College

Cheyanne Hammell

Manager, Special Projects, PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
Architectural Technology, 2007

Cheyanne Hammell is a special projects manager with PCL Construction, Canada’s largest construction company. She leads specialized projects in the Toronto area, overseeing a team of 40 people who are undertaking 25 to 30 complex projects at any one time. She has achieved success in a heavily male-dominated field, including winning several awards, while also demonstrating dedication to improving diversity in her industry. She encourages girls and women to consider careers in construction wherever she can. Hammell says she is inspired by her mother, a retired commercial pilot, and never allowed gender biases to stand in her way.

George Brown College

Lesley Hampton

Founder, Fashion Designer, and Creative Director, Lesley Hampton
Fashion Techniques and Design, 2017

Lesley Hampton is the owner, fashion designer and creative director of the Lesley Hampton fashion company. She is an Anishinaabe artist, model and speaker who is passionate about increasing Indigenous representation in the world of fashion and changing stereotypical beauty standards and body types. That passion led her to be one of six Indigenous Canadian designers invited to represent Canada at 2023 Milan Fashion Week. Hampton cites her college education as being instrumental in facilitating her success in the fashion industry. Through her design work, she continues to be a voice for Indigenous representation and body positivity in fashion.

St. Lawrence College

Natalia Hanson

Executive Director, Humane Outreach for Latin Animals (HOLA)
Veterinary Assistant, 2010
When it comes to leadership in animal activism, Natalia Hanson knows no bounds. A proud global citizen, her groundbreaking achievements in campaigning for animal welfare have spanned the globe. Having volunteered in countries in Africa and Latin America, Hanson has shared her passion and expertise with various organizations to help promote their causes. Currently splitting her time between Canada and her Colombian homeland, she is the co-founder of HOLA, a charity that backs accessible and low-cost neutering. She’s also a skilled marketing and communications professional and continues to inspire animal advocacy via social media and other online forums.

Algonquin College

Niel Harper

Chief Information Security Officer

Business Information Systems, 1995

Niel Harper is deeply committed to digital trust and to ensuring that individuals and organizations consistently benefit from safety, privacy, security, reliability and data ethics when using online platforms. He has spent the last 20 years advising global organizations in the areas of corporate governance, cybersecurity management, privacy program management, digital transformation, enterprise risk management and digital policy. Harper is a frequently sought-after speaker and regular contributor to technical journals, industry publications and expert blogs – addressing the complex issues at the intersection of technology, policy and business. Harper serves on a number of global non-profit and advisory boards.

Georgian College

Ian Holmes

General Superintendent, Tamarack North Ltd.
Carpenter Apprentice - Advanced, 2010

Ian Holmes, a shareholder and general superintendent of Tamarack North Ltd., has built high-end fine homes for almost 20 years, creating dream properties on the shores of Georgian Bay and Muskoka. Tamarack North employs about 140 tradespeople and 30 office staff in three locations. Holmes is an integral part of the leadership team, ensuring standardized best practices for up to 20 building sites at a time. He's committed to a diverse workforce – recruiting women, First Nations, Métis and foreign-trained workers.

Centennial College

Tamar Huggins

Founder and CEO, TechSpark
Creative Advertising, 2007

Tamar Huggins is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur, author and tech education trailblazer. She created Canada's first tech accelerator for underrepresented founders, which shaped the Black and women-focused tech ecosystem in the country. In 2022, she raised $1 million to build the first ed-tech platform to personalize learning using data, AI and youth culture. Huggins was named one of the 100 Black Women to Watch in 2015 and was featured as one of 150 Black women making history in the CBC’s HERstory in Black.

St. Lawrence College

Amber Hultink

Commander, County of Renfrew
Paramedic, 2008

Amber Hultink is a highly respected paramedic, leader and innovator. The first woman Commander of the County of Renfrew Paramedic Service, she’s recognized as a caring and passionate advocate for vulnerable populations – including seniors – who face barriers to accessing health care. This drives Hultink’s pioneering work to expand the role of paramedics to provide patient-centred support in peoples’ homes and neighbourhoods. Her forward-thinking leadership in community paramedicine and palliative care paramedicine was especially vital during the pandemic. She’s known for developing effective, ground-breaking programs in Renfrew County, models that are shaping paramedicine across Ontario, nationally and internationally.

St. Clair College

Dan Janisse

Staff Photographer, Windsor Star (Postmedia)
Journalism, 1989

Dan Janisse is an award-winning photojournalist for the Windsor Star. Using photos to tell and illustrate stories, Janisse has worked for 25 years to illuminate the communities of Chatham, Windsor and Essex County. He believes photography and photojournalism can share powerful stories about individuals and systems in the community.

Seneca Polytechnic

Carol Jardine

Director, Tarion Corporation
Chemical Engineering Technology, 1977
As Carol Jardine rose to the highest positions of the Canadian insurance industry, she could have focused her efforts on the established insurance priorities of underwriting for risk and processing claims. Instead, she chose to influence public policy around mitigating the effects of climate change on Canadians. The highlight of her career has been the work undertaken by governments and the action taken by the industry to help protect Canadians against the effects of climate change. In 2018, she reached the pinnacle of the industry when she was appointed president of Wawanesa Mutual Insurance's Canadian property and casualty operations.

Algonquin College

Adam Joiner

Chief Executive Officer, BGC Ottawa (formerly the Boys and Girls Club Ottawa)
Social Service Worker, 2003
Adam Joiner is an experienced chief executive officer with a demonstrated history of working in the field of children and youth and overall business management. Over his 25 years of working for BGC Ottawa, Joiner has held various positions from youth worker to camp counsellor to youth outreach worker, before becoming manager of the Don McGahan Clubhouse in the Vanier community of Ottawa. He next rose to senior manager, followed by director of program and is now the CEO. He is skilled in non-profit organizations, program planning, event planning, strategic planning, public speaking and media relations.

Sheridan College

Darrell Keezer

CEO and Founder, Candybox Marketing

Marketing, 2005

Darrell Keezer is the CEO and founder of Candybox Marketing – a digital marketing agency singularly focused on results through effective websites, search engine optimization and digital content campaigns. Keezer has led Candybox to become one of Canada’s fastest growing companies and it has consistently been rated one of the best places to work in Canada. He is a thought-leader on digital marketing, entrepreneurship and managing in hybrid work environments. He is a podcaster, has delivered over 350 keynote speeches and is the author of 37 Ways Your Website Died And How to Resurrect It and Pick Up Your Freakin’ Phone.

Fleming College

Naman Khandelwal

Manager of Client Services, Fleming College
Global Business Management, 2019
Naman Khandelwal has achieved remarkable milestones in his career, with a focus on commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. In his role as the manager of client services, he focuses on bridging the gap between student needs and the services offered by the college. By leading a newly established customer service department, he worked to enhance the overall college experience for students by addressing their concerns and ensuring their needs were met. Through his leadership, Khandelwal has become a catalyst for change, championing the rights and welfare of underrepresented individuals.

Northern College

Christina Kioke

Program Manager - Omushkego Six Seasons Youth Program, Mushkegowuk Council
Social Service Worker, 2022

Christina Kioke is an Attawapiskat First Nation member, social service worker, advocate for those facing social injustice and inequity and a former foster parent. She inspires and mentors others through lived experiences. She is recovering from addictions and has overcome many traumas, including a suicide attempt. Kioke is a strong, proud and resilient Cree woman, striving to create positive societal change for the communities she serves. In her current role, she launched the Six Seasons Youth Program. It provides Indigenous youth with a culturally safe space to develop and maintain their sense of identity and belonging, thus decreasing the risk of suicide.

Loyalist College

Lisa Kirbie

Founder and CEO, Blackbird Strategies
Public Relations, 2007

Lisa Kirbie's career journey is a story of determination, passion and the pursuit of excellence. A single mother devoted to creating a better life for her children, Kirbie found her calling in public relations and government affairs. From her early years as a legislative assistant on Parliament Hill to her current work as founder and CEO of Blackbird Strategies, Kirbie has established herself as a respected voice in Canadian politics. A passionate advocate for reconciliation and social justice, Kirbie uses her influence and expertise to lobby for the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada.

St. Clair College

Christine Knights

Owner and Operator, Registered Dental Hygenist, Bright Smiles Community Dental Hygiene
Dental Hygiene, 2006

Christine Knights is a passionate advocate for dental hygiene and personal health. As the owner and operator of Bright Smiles Community Dental Hygiene, she has built a practice that allows her to provide no-cost dental care to dozens of people every year. She advocates for universal dental care and has travelled worldwide to continue providing dental care to those that need it most. She was recognized by the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce in 2017 as the Young Business Individual of the Year and Alumni of Distinction by her alma mater in 2023.

George Brown College

Emefa Kuadey

Fashion Engineer and Founder, ISRAELLA KOBLA
Fashion Techniques and Design, 2019
Emefa Kuadey started her successful fashion design business while still at college. Through her hard work and creative designs, she has achieved significant success and brand recognition, particularly via her company's online and in-store partnership with mega retailer Hudson's Bay. Kuadey is exemplary in every sense, highlighting the power of college education and showcasing the talent pool available in BiPOC students as she mentors those starting off in the fashion industry.

Seneca Polytechnic

Armand La Barge

Professional Consultant, La Barge Consulting Services

Investigative Sciences and Police Studies, Advanced, 1986

Advanced Applied Management Techniques, 1985

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, 1985

As chief of York Regional Police 2002-2010, Armand La Barge was a trailblazer, setting the standard for police leadership as a champion of diversity and inclusiveness. His progressive outlook over his 37-year career earned him respect in York Region's multicultural societies as well as in the policing community. He was elected president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and won numerous awards for his service to diverse communities. In 2022, he was appointed to the Order of Ontario in recognition of his lifelong commitment to diversity, inclusion, social justice, human rights and community activism.

Conestoga College

Laurie Lafleur

Founder, ReImagine Health IT
Advanced Diploma, Computer Programmer/Analyst - Co-op, 2002

In Canada’s growing medical technology ecosystem, Laurie Lafleur is an evangelist for digital transformation. She has built a career out of enabling health-care innovators to commercialize their ideas and providers to adopt new innovations. Lafleur has helped 40-plus med-tech startups secure millions of dollars in investor funding and 15 Canadian, U.S. and European hospital systems drive digital transformation resulting in improved quality, efficiency and scalability. As a Conestoga College professor and founder of a med-tech program, she works with the National Institutes of Health Informatics Canada and is educating the next generation of health-care innovators and providers.

Algonquin College

Alycia Lameboy-Dixon

Justice Projects Officer, Department of Justice and Correctional Services at the Cree Nation Government

Law Clerk, 2019

General Arts and Sciences: Justice Studies, 2018

General Arts and Sciences: English for Academic Purposes, 2016

As a native Cree and French speaker, Alycia Lameboy-Dixon came to college to study law with very limited English-language skills. Now trilingual, she is able to communicate effectively with all members of the justice system to ensure the needs of her community are met, including the over 18,000 people who call the Eeyou Istchee territory home. She works there as a justice project officer for the Department of Justice and Correctional Services at the Cree Nation government, writing key reports and managing criminal and by-law case files for nine communities.

St. Clair College

Julia Lane

Canadian multi-sport athlete in swimming and CrossFit
Community Integration through Cooperative Education, 2022
Julia Lane is an award-winning multi-sport athlete and public speaker sharing awareness of Down syndrome. She works to inspire her fellow athletes and swimmers with her hard work and dedication to sport and her community. She holds multiple world records and works to share her experience with other athletes and youth in the Windsor-Essex community.

Fanshawe College

Sarah Lehman

Office Administrator, Special Events and Volunteer Coordinator, London Abused Women's Centre
Developmental Services Worker Apprentice, 2020

Sarah Lehman is passionate about helping people living with disabilities or other challenges to lead their best lives. This includes paid positions at Alice Saddy Association (independent living support for people with developmental disabilities), London Abused Women's Centre and Family Services Thames Valley and as a volunteer. Lehman does small things every day that collectively have a big impact.

Lehman volunteers with Extra Life London Guild, fundraising to support the Children's Health Foundation. During her three years as president, the organization raised more than $100,000 annually, leading to Lehman's nomination for a prestigious Pillar Leadership Award in 2021.

Cambrian College

Kendra Liinamaa

Millwright Apprentice, Vale
Industrial Mechanical Millwright, 2020
Kendra Liinamaa, an apprentice millwright with Vale in Sudbury, has been recognized in the Canadian mining sector for the significant work she continues to do to close the gender representation gap in a largely male-dominated industry. She regularly speaks to audiences of young girls considering careers in the trades at events organized by skilled trades advocacy groups. She also serves as a trades ambassador with KickAss Careers, an organization that provides educational workshops and presentations to encourage students of all ages to consider careers in skilled trades and technology.

Durham College

Stew MacDonald

President and Chief Revenue Officer, Oilers Entertainment Group
Sports Administration, 1981

For five decades, Stew MacDonald has played a leading role in shaping the sporting landscape of western Alberta. As president and chief revenue officer with the Edmonton Oilers, he has contributed to the ongoing success and viability of one of the NHL’s marquee franchises. Throughout his tenure, the team has won multiple Stanley Cup championships, hosted the NHL’s first ever outdoor game and relocated to a new state-of-the-art arena in the city’s popular ICE District. He continues to serve as a mentor for students at his alma mater and to his colleagues in the business of sports.

Algonquin College

Suzanne Madore

Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Nuring Executive, The Ottawa Hospital
Nursing, 1990

Suzanne Madore has spent 33 years in nursing, continually moving up to become executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief nursing executive for The Ottawa Hospital. She maintains her humility and has never lost her bedside manner, respect for the profession or empathy for staff on the front lines. If anything, she is more in touch as she seeks to solve some of health care's biggest problems, like surgical wait times, staff burnout and hospital occupancy. She explores all avenues – including public-private and cross-hospital partnerships – and is willing to take risks to make improvements for staff and patients.

Seneca Polytechnic

Carol Mark

CEO / Founder, Empower T / Truth About Healthy Lives

Nursing, 1980

Carol Mark is the CEO of Empower T, a plant-based, sugarless tea, and was the founder of the 2017 Truth about Healthy Lives, Feeling Better, Feeling Great Health and Wellness Conference. The conference brought together physicians, scientists, chefs, nutritionists, entrepreneurs and the public to be empowered about their own health. A former nurse and breast cancer survivor, she influences others to live a healthy lifestyle by making choices based on research, shared stories and knowledge. Mark also founded the first social enterprise art gallery in Canada and donated profits from the gallery to building the first girls' library in Afghanistan.

Sheridan College

Sharron Matthews

Actor, Self-Employed
Theatre Arts Performance, 1989
Sharron Matthews’ versatile, accomplished performance career spans theatre, television and blockbuster films. On stage, she has appeared in Showboat, Les Misérables and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Her film credits include roles in Mean Girls, Cinderella Man and Hairspray. She portrayed spunky coroner’s assistant Flo Chackowitz on TV in all four seasons of the award-winning Frankie Drake Mysteries. Her other TV credits include Murdoch Mysteries and Apple TV’s Five Days at Memorial. She is also a trailblazing cabaret performer who has toured worldwide, earning rave reviews for her performances and who now serves as a mentor to many other cabaret performers.

Humber College

Deepa Mattoo

Executive Director, Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
Fundraising and Volunteer Management, 2007

Deepa Mattoo is an award-winning feminist lawyer whose work is rooted in equity and anti-oppression. She joined the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic as a legal services director, later becoming the executive director. In her current position, she has overseen legal, counselling, interpretation and intervention services to racialized and marginalized populations of women and survivors of gender-based violence. A YWCA Women of Distinction Award winner, Mattoo has appeared before parliamentary committees and United Nations civil society meetings, while her expertise and law reform work have brought her to the Supreme Court of Canada to speak on a wide range of human rights and social justice issues.

Conestoga College

Brett McQueen

Director of Innovation, North America, Linamar Corporation

Industrial Engineering, 2009

Basic Quality Assurance, 2008

Mechanical Technician - Tool and Die/Tool Maker (Apprenticeship), 2008

Brett McQueen is challenging the manufacturing status quo and improving lives and our planet. As the North American innovation director for Linamar Corporation and head of its Innovation Hub (iHub), Brett has initiated partnerships with three promising, high-tech start-ups and leveraged Linamar's manufacturing expertise and global supply chain networks to commercialize world-leading technologies in power electronics, water conservation and electric vehicles.

Brett credits his innovative thinking and adaptability to skills gained across three Conestoga programs – a cross-training model he duplicates to mentor the next generation of innovators.

Fanshawe College

Haviah Mighty

Artist, Entrepreneur, Founder and Owner, Mighty Gang Inc.

Music Industry Arts, 2013

Award-winning vocalist, songwriter and hip hop/rap artist Haviah Mighty has secured many firsts in the Canadian music industry: first hip hop artist and first Black woman to win the esteemed Polaris Music Prize, first female artist to win a Juno Award within the Rap Album/EP of the Year category, and only Canadian to be nominated for the BET Hip Hop Award for Best International Flow in 2022.

A role model and supporter of young Black entrepreneurs, Mighty in 2022 gave her $10,000 in Prism Grand Prize winnings and one-on-one time to support 10 different Black business owners.

George Brown College

Kayla Moryoussef

Death and Grief Worker, Good Death Doula Private Practice
Community Worker Program, 2018
Kayla Moryoussef has made significant contributions in the area of death and grief counselling. Through her company, Good Death Doula, as well as her work with the Home Hospice Association and Death Cafe, she has positively impacted her community and brought a pragmatic and compassionate perspective to care for persons at the end of their lives.

Northern College

Kristin Murray

Executive Director, Kunuwanimano Child & Family Services

Social Service Worker, 2003

Drug and Alcohol Counsellor, 2003

Kristin Murray is a helper, speaker and advocate who is passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion. Experienced in community development both personally, professionally and in her current role as a councillor with the City of Timmins, Murray was the first person of colour to become the mayor of the City of Timmins. As a Black and Indigenous woman, Murray’s intersectional identities help her empathize with diverse communities and bring compassion and kindness to her work. She is the descendant of a signatory to Treaty 9, who speaks passionately about integrating every individual’s personal responsibility into action toward reconciliation and decolonization.

Centennial College

Sid Naidu

CEO and Founder, SNCD Inc.

International Development, 2019

A first-generation Canadian, Sid Naidu is a Scarborough-based artist, creative entrepreneur and documentary photographer who creates community-driven storytelling projects through visual arts, photojournalism and public art installations. He is the co-founder of Scarborough Made, a social impact organization devoted to storytelling, creative employment and mentorship for youth, public art and community engagement. In 2020, he founded SNCD Inc., a creative enterprise that helps purpose-driven brands, artists and social entrepreneurs develop and amplify their impact. He holds a bachelor of arts in art and contemporary studies from Toronto Metropolitan University and a graduate certificate in international development from his alma mater college.

Centennial College

Leigh Naturkach

Executive Director, Mosaic Institute
Certificate of Thanatology , 2018
Leigh Naturkach is a values-based non-profit leader, committed community volunteer and social justice advocate, with a focus on feminism, equity and palliative and end-of-life spaces. She currently serves as the executive director of the Mosaic Institute, a national charity with a mission to equip people with the knowledge and skills to dismantle prejudice. She has previously worked with Women’s College Hospital Foundation, the AIDS Committee of Toronto and the Canadian Women’s Foundation and has volunteered extensively with local and national charitable organizations over the past two decades.

Centennial College

Nhu Nguyen

Certified Porsche Classic Technician, Pfaff Tuning
Auto Service Technician, 2015

The first woman in the world to earn Porsche Classic certification, Nhu Nguyen is a Red Seal certified automotive technician, a Silver Certified Porsche technician and a passionate advocate for women in the trades.

After completing her apprenticeship, she secured a job at Porsche Centre Oakville, where she earned her prestigious designations. Since 2020, she has worked at Pfaff Tuning as a specialist in air-cooled Porsches. Nhu also runs the popular Instagram account @dear-nhu, which she uses as a platform to share her story and celebrate the work of women in the skilled trades.

Niagara College

Jason Ofield

President and CEO, Bulk Barn Foods Inc.
Business, Sales and Marketing, 2006
As Bulk Barn’s president and CEO, Jason Ofield is a changemaker within the Canadian grocery industry. He’s purposefully devoted to sustainability, recycling and responsible community stewardship. As a climate change advocate, he is the innovator behind Canada’s first-ever reusable food container program. By actively encouraging customers to repurpose and reuse containers (often recycled) instead of disposable packaging, Ofield is helping consumers and communities reduce their environmental footprint. His successful program already results in more than one million waste-free transactions annually and adaptation rates continue to grow by the day.

Conestoga College

Angela Onuora

Founder and Chief Creative Officer, This Naija Girl Studios
Broadcast Performance and Digital Media, 2019

Angela Onuora is a women’s champion for equity and the founder and chief creative officer of This Naija Girl Studios. A first-generation Canadian immigrant from Nigeria, she attended college to gain the training, network and confidence to tell African and women’s stories through the lens of her new Canadian reality. Her award-winning documentary film, Operation Lights Out, was created as a result of her college projects. She used the campus venture lab to jump start Studio D-20, a women-in-filmmaking collective, and The RISE Class, a social enterprise for aspiring filmmakers. Onuora’s creative work is being showcased and recognized around the world.

Fanshawe College

Travis O'Rourke

President, Canada & Chief Commercial Officer, Americas, Hays PLC
Business Marketing, 2005

Travis O'Rourke is president, Hays Canada, as well as chief commercial officer and lead for all marketing and sales for Hays Americas. During O'Rourke's first year as president, Hays Canada set records for best month, quarter and year, increasing gross profits by 61 per cent and net profits by 321 per cent.

O'Rourke sits on the boards of two industry organizations that represent professional staffing firms on Canadian public policy issues. Believing everyone deserves an opportunity to work, O'Rourke advocates for inclusive hiring practices, encourages employers to look beyond credentials and has directly or indirectly helped more than 50,000 people find jobs.

Sheridan College

Helen Papagiannis

Augmented Reality Pioneer, Expert, and Keynote Speaker, Augmented Stories Inc.
Interactive Multimedia, 2002

A pioneer in the world of augmented reality (AR), Helen Papagiannis has dedicated nearly two decades of her life towards this ever-budding technology. As a world-renowned researcher, designer, published author, consultant and keynote speaker, Papagiannis is a trusted authority on immersive technologies. With clients such as Louis Vuitton and Adobe, feature articles in the New York Times and WIRED and speaking engagements with South By Southwest and TED, her far-reaching career aims to bring these new technologies to a human level and make them digestible to advance a collective societal future.

Lambton College

Nicole Paquette

Real Estate Agent, Remax Sarnia Realty Inc., Brokerage
Practical Nursing, 2009

Nicole Paquette is a passionate advocate for the health and well-being of marginalized children. As the co-founder of Noelle's Gift, she has helped to raise over $3.3 million since 2013, positively impacting the lives of over 15,000 children. The volunteer-run charitable organization has received local and provincial recognition for providing nutrition, clothing and educational equipment to thousands of marginalized children in the community.

Seneca Polytechnic

Karina Pérez

Freight Forwarder - Projects, Pricing Specialist, DSV - Global Transport and Logistics
International Transportation and Customs, 2019
Just three short years after graduating, Karina Pérez made her mark in the international transportation logistics world, taking home the coveted 2022 Global Young Logistics Professional Award following her wins in the Canadian competition and the Americas regional competition. Her winning dissertation centred on the importation of generator engines from Germany to northern Ontario and the exportation of dangerous goods from Canada to Peru. Both case studies focused on the environmental aspects of the moves. Her passion for the environment, along with her skills in logistics, has launched a career that will have a lasting impact on the international transportation of goods.

Sault College

Jenna Polutanovich

Family Support Facilitator, Algoma Residential Community Hospice (ARCH)
Child and Youth Care, 2019

Jenna Polutanovich has made a significant impact in her community by providing support and developing resources for children and families who have experienced a loss by death. As a student, she recognized that gaps needed to be filled and that her community lacked grief-specific supports for children who have lost a loved one. Since graduating, she has offered one-on-one and group support, authored and published the book ABC's of Death (for caregivers navigating loss with children), has educated post-secondary students and has “trained the trainer” with community organizations to become more comfortable supporting their own clients through grief.

Centennial College

Jody Porter

CBC News

Journalism - Print, 1993

Jody Porter was an award-winning journalist who dedicated her career to raising awareness of social justice issues that impacted Indigenous people and communities. Following a decades-long career that culminated with her role as a senior reporter with CBC Thunder Bay, she died on July 19, 2022, from ovarian cancer.

In recognition of her extraordinary work and talent, Porter won numerous awards over the years — including being one of the few non-Indigenous journalists to receive the Debwewin Citation from the Anishinabek Nation for excellence in reporting on First Nations issues.

Humber College

Lisa Post

Mayor, Town of Orangeville
Bachelor of Community Development, 2023

Rooted in community, Lisa Post is a transformational leader championing equity, diversity and inclusion, dedicating much of her political career to representing marginalized voices and building strong social policies. A lifelong resident of Orangeville, she was elected in 2022 as the town’s second female mayor since its incorporation in 1863 after serving a four-year term as a councillor. She is an active volunteer, serving on several non-profit boards and working alongside local organizations focused on culture, youth, empowerment and safety. She prioritizes a community-first approach in her decision-making and is an advocate for the merits of lifelong learning.

Georgian College

Steve Priestley

Co-Owner and Chief Operating Officer, AltoMaxx Technologies
Environmental Engineering Technology, 1999
With a 24-year career in innovation and the environmental sector, Steve Priestley has built two multi-million dollar international companies. He's currently chief operating officer and co-owner of AltoMaxx Technologies, a world leader in drone services, certification and training. In five years, AltoMaxx has grown to six locations across North America and the United Arab Emirates. Its innovations have helped reduce natural gas carbon emissions, limit dangerous work in enclosed spaces and even look for gold on TV programs. AltoMaxx is the only accredited drone certification body worldwide and Priestley is committed to advancing the entire industry through safety and compliance.

Fleming College

Vanessa Raaymakers

Registered Practical Nurse, Peterborough Regional Health Centre
Practical Nursing, 2021

Vanessa Raaymakers is a health-care professional who demonstrated exceptional dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteering at a long-term care home in Toronto, she provided critical front-line assistance during a severe outbreak. Amidst the uncertainties of the pandemic, she utilized her skills, experience and empathy to support residents, staff and grieving family members. She played a vital role in implementing essential policies and procedures to ensure the safety of all involved, collaborating with health networks and public health authorities. Raaymakers’ unwavering commitment to serving others highlights her remarkable dedication to the health-care sector and her compassion for those in need.

Georgian College

Wazeer Rahman

Police Constable, South Simcoe Police
Police Foundations, 2018

Wazeer Rahman became a police constable immediately after graduation. He’s an ardent believer in the value of community policing to not only respond to calls but proactively engage to build trust and reduce negative interactions. In a new role with the traffic and marine unit, he’s passionate about fighting impaired driving. He spends many volunteer hours mentoring other potential policing students who want to follow his path. As an international student, he co-founded the Kerala Muslim Student Association, which now has chapters across Canada. In 2021 he received a Community Champion Award from the Simcoe County Newcomer Recognition Awards.

Lambton College

Don Richardson

Executive Director, Major Projects, Three Fires Group Inc.
Business and Marketing, 1983

Don Richardson has spent much of his career dedicated to improving telecommunications and energy resources for First Nations communities, enhancing not only the resources available to First Nations communities, but also creating economic opportunities to foster revenue generation.

Richardson’s work as an advocate for First Nations communities has contributed to the offering of energy alternatives and enhanced telecommunications, contributing not only to the success of Indigenous students in remote communities but also greatly impacting the opportunities for telemedicine.

Conestoga College

Jehan Salim

Shelter Cluster Coordinator, Afghanistan, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Bachelor of Applied Technology - Architecture, Project & Facility Management, 2013

Jehan Salim has put her college degree to work on the international stage, using her project and facilities management expertise to lead post-conflict rebuilding efforts and operate the largest refugee camp in the world. She oversaw the reconstruction of Mosul University and 12,000 homes in Iraq, built a 400-bed COVID isolation clinic at Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp, secured the safety of 100 staff and key border assets during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and led the rehabilitation of 250 homes in Syria. From Iraq to Afghanistan, Salim has made it a priority to give marginalized women income, experience and a voice.

St. Lawrence College

Saifullah Sanaye

Professor of Automotive Technology/Automotive Program Coordinator, St. Lawrence College

Automotive Service Technician Level III, 2009

Automotive Service Technician Level II, 2008

Automotive Service Technician Level I, 2007

Saifullah Sanaye is blazing new trails as an expert in hybrid and electric vehicles (EV), partnering with the Automotive Industries Association (AIA) of Canada and his alma mater to develop two unique programs that are expanding to other colleges. The highly skilled automotive technician, instructor and entrepreneur is a leader known as “the guy your mechanic calls.” He looks at vehicles from a different angle, addresses hard-to-solve problems and is teaching this skill to others. He provides highly sought consultant services to multiple dealerships and aftermarket repair shops. This includes providing advanced vehicle diagnostics and training licensed and apprentice technicians.

Humber College

Michael Sanderson

Chief and Director, Hamilton Paramedic Service
Ambulance and Emergency Care, 1977

In his 50th year in emergency medical services, Michael Sanderson has been a paramedic, educator and leader at local, provincial, national and international levels. The chief of Hamilton Paramedic Services since 2013, he oversees 440 staff and ensures a high level of clinical, operational and financial performance within the 10th largest city in Canada. While executive director at B.C. Ambulance, he led all EMS activities for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Continuously giving back to his sector, Sanderson has served on provincial and national boards and is currently the president of the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs.

Durham College

Trevane Sanderson

Chef, Self-Employed
Culinary Management, 2015

Tre Sanderson has combined his love of cooking with his passion for his Caribbean heritage. Infusing that combination into every dish he creates, he has made a name for himself as one of Canada's best young chefs.

In 2022, Sanderson appeared as a contestant on the hit TV show Top Chef Canada and became the first Black chef to win the competition. In 2023, he received awards and recognition from Restaurants Canada and Kostuch Media.

He has also given back to his alma mater with a special pop-up dining event, where he mentored the young culinary students studying there.

Loyalist College

Mike Shoreman

Althete, Speaker, Author, Advocate, Self-Employed

Public Relations, 2007

Advertising, 2006

When Ramsay Hunt Syndrome – a rare neurological condition – left Mike Shoreman paralyzed and suffering from vertigo, hearing and vision loss, he descended into a mental health crisis. Fighting his way back from that place of despair fundamentally changed his life’s trajectory. As he undertook a healing journey, both mental and physical, Shoreman found his calling – to use his skills as a paddleboarder and his experience in public relations to be an advocate for accessibility justice and mental health supports. By sharing his story of resilience in the face of adversity, Shoreman inspires others to strive for excellence and achieve their potential.

Humber College

Anna Simone

Founder and Principal, Cecconi Simone Inc.
Interior Design, 1977
As founding partner and principal, Anna Simone and her business partner are behind the interior design practice Cecconi Simone, built with a philosophy to inspire with ground-breaking work that is experiential, has a unique sense of purpose, is culturally relevant and positively impacts the world. For decades, Simone has led projects in retail, corporate, hospitality and residential sectors worldwide, including Anguilla, Italy, United Arab Emirates, India and China. These range from large-scale condominiums to spa resorts and from boutique hotels to private residences for distinguished luminaries. In the GTA, Cecconi Simone has completed over 100 towers, with an average of 600 homes in each.

Georgian College

Ryan Sobkovich

Artist, Self-Employed
Advanced Fine Arts Diploma, 2016
Still in his 20s, Ryan Sobkovich is a full-time award-winning artist who has sold more than 1,300 works -- his first at the age of 12. He hikes, camps, kayaks and portages deep into the Canadian wilderness to create portrayals of its majestic beauty and the critical importance of preserving it. Sobkovich’s stunning landscape oil paintings are sought by national and international private, corporate and public collectors as far afield as Italy, China and Dubai. He's also a passionate entrepreneur – strategically growing the business of his own career and inspiring other artists to do the same.

St. Clair College

Cheryl Sprague

Executive Director and Founder, Delta Chi Early Childhood Centres
Early Childhood Education, 1978

Cheryl Sprague is the founder and executive director of Delta Chi Early Childhood Centres. Founded in 1986, what started as one location in downtown Windsor has expanded to 13 locations with child-care spaces for more than 1,000 children and 137 employees. Sprague has given back to her community as president of the Children's Aid Foundation board for nearly a decade. She invests in training the next generation of educators and has hosted more than 2,000 St. Clair College students for placements at Delta Chi. Throughout her career, she has found her passion in providing high-quality child care for families in Windsor.

Niagara College

Mark Suknanan

Drag Queen, Pop Star and Television Personality, Self-Employed
Broadcasting - Radio Television and Film, 2012

As a Canadian TV personality and drag queen, Mark Suknanan knows what it's like to be out front—to pave the way for others. As his alter-ego, Priyanka, he won the premiere season of Canada's Drag Race in 2020. He is also the first Indo-Caribbean to win the title in the worldwide broadcast franchise. Previously, under the moniker of Suki, he worked as a YTV host on The Next Star and The Zone. Determined and optimistic, he's honoured to be a role model as a successful gay, brown man.

George Brown College

Amy Symington

Nutrition Professor, Researcher and Chef, George Brown College
Culinary Management Nutrition, 2010

Amy Symington merged her love of the culinary arts with pragmatism and found her calling in the application of her culinary education to supporting people with cancer. Her research relating to proper nutrition for cancer patients led her to write two cookbooks (Community Guide to Cancer Nutrition Companion Cookbook and The Long-Table Cookbook) to act as resources for cancer patients, caretakers and survivors. As a nutrition professor, researcher and chef, she trains and inspires the next generation of chefs to create healthier recipes. She is currently pursuing a PhD in nutritional sciences.

Cambrian College

Jennifer Taback

Partner and Thought Leader, Design de Plume

Graphic Design, 2009

Registered graphic designer Jennifer Taback is a partner and thought leader with northern Ontario-based Design de Plume, a women-led, Indigenously-owned, award-winning creative agency that creates inclusive and accessible designs for social good. Under her leadership, the team at Design de Plume has completed significant Indigenous-focused design projects for the federal government, the CBC and John Hopkins University, among others. Taback is an in-demand industry speaker on topics like the decolonization of design. She is also an active member of the Association of Registered Graphic Designers, where she works to facilitate greater participation in the sector by members of marginalized groups.

Collège La Cité

Patrick Taillefer

President, TPH Plumbing and Heating
Certificate of Qualification Plumber 306A, 2010
Patrick Taillefer is a Forty Under 40 recipient and the president and co-owner of the company where he started as an apprentice in 2010. A true advocate for the skilled trades, Taillefer spends considerable time and resources developing partnerships that benefit high school students. He also supports local apprenticeship training delivery agents in their mandate. Taillefer aims to set an example for his industry. Thanks to his diversity initiatives, his transparent leadership style, his strategic mindset, his consideration for the environment and his focus on safety, he tripled the size of his company during the pandemic.

Algonquin College

Imrun Texeira

Founder, Wanderlust
Cook Apprenticeship, 2014
Chef and entrepreneur Imrun Texeira owns and operates Wanderlust, a personal chef service based in Toronto. Texeira spent 15 years working for Michelin-star chefs and has been employed at several top restaurants in Canada and around the world. He has also been a finalist on two of Food Network Canada’s top programs. He also advocates for better working conditions and mental health support for the hospitality industry as an ambassador for The Burnt Chef Project. In his spare time, he shares his love and knowledge of food by volunteering with children, teaching them about hospitality and tourism.

Confederation College

Amede Thompson

Sous Chef, Fairmont Chateau Whistler

Restaurant, Culinary and Catering Management/Manager, 2012

Electrical Course, 2008

Chef Amede Thompson took a college culinary arts program on a whim and it ignited his career. He has worked with hundreds of chefs in many kitchens across Canada, developing his own style of Canadian Indigenous cuisine and writing a cookbook. Thompson is now living his dream as a sous chef at one of the top hotels in the world: the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Not only is he changing people’s ideas of Indigenous cuisine, he is working towards modernizing the chef profession, putting a larger emphasis on training and mentoring. He has inspired and nurtured dozens of Indigenous and non-Indigenous chefs-in-the-making.

Confederation College

Jason Thompson

Owner, Superior Strategies and Warrior Engineering
Human Resources Management, 2010

Jason Thompson is a trailblazer for Indigenous businesses. After graduating from the college program in human resources, he and his wife launched Superior Strategies, a small but prosperous training and consultation firm. Since then, he has founded Warrior Supplies, Warrior Engineering (the first Indigenous nuclear-approved supplier) and All3 Innovation, an environmental, social and governance consulting firm with global aspirations in partnership with two other Canadian companies. He also co-founded the Aboriginal Business Professional Association to help promote Indigenous business across Canada. Thompson’s business goals include social change, environmental stewardship and reconciliation. He believes so deeply in these values that he calls himself an ambassador for inclusion.

Fleming College

Dylan Trepanier

Chief Executive Officer, Eye Care Ontario
Business Administration - Marketing, 2018

Dylan Trepanier has achieved remarkable success in his career. He is chief executive officer and founder of Eye Care Ontario, a business dedicated to addressing the vision-loss crisis. Trepanier’s team developed a ground-breaking virtual eye test that received FDA clearance in the United States and approval from Health Canada as a Class 1 medical device. With over one million users served to-date, Eye Care Ontario has created opportunities related to vision services at a scale never before possible. Through his innovative work, Trepanier is revolutionizing health care and improving the quality of life for individuals with vision loss.

Northern College

Quinn Truong

Road Construction Senior Inspector-Contract Administration, LEA Consulting Ltd.
Civil Engineering Technology, 2020

In just eight years in Canada, Quinn Truong mastered a new language and completed a three-year civil engineering technology advanced diploma in a condensed two years – graduating at age 50 with a 4.0 GPA. Truong is employed at a consulting firm working on road and bridge construction projects while teaching at Northern College. She became a Canadian citizen in 2022 and is reinvesting in the success of female engineering students with the Quinn Truong Woman in Technology Bursary. She immigrated from Vietnam with an architectural degree and 20 years of infrastructure project management experience.

Conestoga College

Bohdana Tyshchenko

Product Designer, Upsiide
Advanced Diploma, IT Innovation and Design, 2022
An advocate for women in STEM and refugees from her home country of Ukraine, Bohdana Tyshchenko is using her lived experience, expertise and connections to transform lives and workplaces. She developed the “Hire Ukraine” and charity mentorship programs that have helped more than 20 IT professionals from Ukraine secure employment and support the Ukrainian cause. Using the skills she learned at college, she designed an app that has been downloaded 28,000 times and another used to manage 2,000-plus annual applications to Canadian school boards. She also developed and led workplace teambuilding and staff onboarding programs, while mentoring 60 aspiring female designers.

St. Lawrence College

Ucheoma Udoha

Project Lead, Alzheimer Society of Durham Region
Healthcare Administration, 2022
Uche Udoha is a highly accomplished health-care professional and innovative entrepreneur. Her selflessly dedicated social impact continues to improve the lives of all those her work touches, locally and internationally. She is committed to serving in-need populations with her ever-expanding skill set, including optometry, business leadership, health-care administration and project management. For her, every achievement and award has been another opportunity to give back to humanity. Through her work, she is currently bettering the life quality of rural Nigerians, Alzheimer’s Society clients in Ontario and the career-building capacities of current and incoming international students at her alma mater college.

Niagara College

Dorothy Urschel

President and CEO, Columbia Memorial Hospital
Nursing Diploma, 1991
Dorothy Urschel is an award-winning leader in health care, dedicated to advocating for patients’ care. An innovative professional, she skillfully used her nursing diploma as a catalyst to a two-decade long career as a nurse practitioner before becoming a changemaker at the leadership level. She served tirelessly on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic during New York’s state-of-emergency by coordinating overflow beds to treat patients from the New York City region. As president and CEO for Columbia Memorial Health System, she’s currently advancing patient services while simultaneously nurturing the next generation of health-care professionals. She continues to collect numerous outstanding leadership, advocacy and teaching awards.

Lambton College

Garrett VanDusen

Film Producer, Johnson Production Group/Timeless Pictures/Cartel Pictures Inc.
Law and Security Administration, 2003
Garrett VanDusen is a film producer with top networks in the industry. Not only has he played a significant role in the production of major films and TV shows, he has also played a starring role in ensuring that minorities are accepted and feel included within the film and television production industry. He is an advocate for LGBTQ and BIPOC communities and has used his success and passion to help carve out a more inclusive space for minority groups working within the arts.

Fanshawe College

Lloyd Vermeer

Owner, VS Design Studio
Architectural Technology, 2018
A military veteran who completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan before attending college, Lloyd Vermeer received the Architectural Technology Achievement Award and launched VS Design Studio in his graduating year. Within five years, the company completed close to 500 architectural design projects for both new builds and renovations, generated $500,000 in annual sales and hired three additional full-time design staff to keep up with demand. Vermeer maintains a leading edge in the design industry, investing in Autodesk Revit software and 3D scanning technology and providing services that are typically not found in a small custom design company.

Seneca Polytechnic

Jude Vethanayagam

Senior Director, Global Quality Services, Apotex Inc.
Pharmaceutical Chemical Technology, 1995

Jude Vethanayagam’s career in the pharmaceutical industry in Canada had a humble beginning – getting a co-op placement with Apotex through Seneca’s pharmaceutical chemical technology program. He credits this program for propelling his career in the pharmaceutical sector. Vethanayagam started as a quality control chemist and has held many progressive positions over the years. In his current role as senior director of global quality services, he is responsible for global chemistry, global microbiology and quality and compliance surveillance of third-party suppliers.

Conestoga College

George Vezza

European Head of Sales and Digital, Nestlé Professional
Business Administration Marketing, 1983

George Vezza’s rise through the ranks of food service giant Nestlé started with the top Canadian sales award a year after his college graduation. Over the next four decades, he reinvented Nestlé’s sales and marketing in 35 countries, reviving underperforming markets, injecting sales leaders into decision-making roles and helping Nestlé Europe surpass pre-COVID sales numbers. Vezza’s greatest legacy is the launch of Nestlé’s digital customer relation platform – the first in the world, now adopted by the entire global team. He is a champion of next-generation leaders through the Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or hospitality competition and a mentor to hundreds of young professionals.

Canadore College

Joe Warmington

News Columnist, Postmedia News
Journalism - Print, 1986

Joe Warmington is an award-winning reporter and columnist with the Toronto Sun and was known for years for his street column, The Night Scrawler. A 37-year industry veteran, he has covered local, national and international news and events over the course of his successful career. An advocate for democracy and justice, Warmington applies balanced principles to inform readers and encourage respectful discourse that inspires action toward making meaningful change. He challenges the status quo by asking hard questions and showcasing different perspectives. A talented researcher and writer, he continues to positively impact lives through the people he meets and the stories he tells.

St. Lawrence College

Tim Warnock

Concept Artist and Vice President, North Front Studio

Graphic Design, 1994

Tim Warnock is an illustrator, graphic designer, visual effects and concept artist and entrepreneur, running his own creative design company catering to the television, film and video game industries. His notable achievements include collaborating with Industrial Light & Magic on the visual effects in blockbuster films such as The Avengers, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Pacific Rim. He also co-created the concept art for Amazon Prime’s TV series, The Expanse. Through his company, North Front Studio, he has collaborated with Riot Games on Legends of Runeterra and worked with Riot’s world-building team.

Niagara College

Christine White

Lead Technical Trainer, Stellantis N.V.
Automotive Certificate of Qualifications, 2006
Christine White is singlehandedly revolutionizing how automotive technicians learn about new generations of hybrid and complex electric vehicles. When pandemic lockdowns halted in-person teaching, the skilled trainer – and Red Seal certified automotive technician – turned to video to broaden accessibility and share lessons, illustrations, demonstrations and Q&As. She established her company’s first-ever on-demand micro-learning library and has already written, illustrated, produced and narrated 140 training tutorials, which are now available to her 22,000 technicians across the United States. Every day, hundreds log in to view White’s five-to-10-minute training tools, which she hopes to soon offer bilingually for potential distribution across Canada.

Fanshawe College

Deborah Wiseman

President, Victoria Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre
Nursing, 1996

Throughout a 25-year nursing career, Deborah Wiseman has used a patient-centred system-transformation approach to implement innovations through integrated care opportunities and partnerships. Pulling together a coalition to advocate, advance and define system strategies, Wiseman has shifted the mental health front line, improved access for vulnerable populations through outreach, increased critical capacity in response to surge pressures and initiated a transformation plan for rural emergency departments to improve the risks of closure. As a health-care system executive and current president of Victoria Hospital, Wiseman’s's multi-sectoral, regional partnered approach and collaborations have proven successful and valuable to the community and regions served.

Mohawk College

Melanie Wong

Founder, Olive + Splash Bamboo Apparel
Public Relations and Corporate Communications, 2012
Melanie Wong is the founder of Olive + Splash Bamboo Apparel, a sustainable made-in-Canada clothing company based in Burlington. Wong launched her company in 2015 to provide “adult-style clothes for kids” in gender-neutral colours, using highly sustainable and durable bamboo materials. Parents were soon asking for adult-sized designs. She launched a women’s and men’s line in 2020. Olive + Splash is now available online, at pop-up shops and in boutiques in Ontario, Montreal and Vancouver. The company achieved extensive media attention during the pandemic for launching a drive-through store window and being an early producer of fabric face masks.

Centennial College

Tonya Yearwood

IT Program Manager, Air Canada
Business - Accounting, 2009

Tonya Yearwood is an IT program manager at Air Canada and founder of the Black Aviation Professionals Network (BAPN), the first and only group in Canada with a goal to nurture Black talent within the aviation and aerospace industry. A registered charity, BAPN offers a youth outreach program, mentorship program and financial support for flight training, as well as a nationwide network that allows established professionals to share knowledge and build a sense of community. Through her extraordinary leadership, Yearwood has inspired a movement that holds the potential to advance diversity within the aviation industry for generations to come.

Canadore College

Lorie Young

Owner and Manager, Young Forestry Services

Legal Assistant, 1991

Lorie Young has an entrepreneurial spirit that makes her a natural business developer and community leader. Through insight and innovation, Young ensures Young Forestry Services continues to be one of the longest operating and most successful First Nation companies providing services to high-profile utility and natural resource companies across Ontario. She also has the distinction of being the first Indigenous owner of a Tim Hortons franchise in Nipissing First Nation. Young continues to focus on building bridges between First Nation and non-Indigenous organizations and remains a champion and inspiration for other young female and Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Niagara College

John Zambakkides

President and CEO, Z3 Controls Inc.
Power Engineering (Diploma), 1972
John Zambakkides is a high-tech veteran who after joining one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies in Silicon Valley, became its first field application engineer in Canada. By 31, he was managing two companies, bringing in $70 million of business. His career has included innovative startups – such as V3 Semiconductors, a leader in memory controllers – and his current venture, Z3 Controls Inc. As president and CEO, he oversees production of affordable, user-friendly energy monitors that enable industrial and commercial energy users (who comprise more than 70 per cent of the market share) to reduce energy consumption, related costs and their overall carbon footprint.