Nominees in the category of Business

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.