Alumni awards

This annual awards program was created by the provincial government to acknowledge the important economic and social contribution college graduates make worldwide. The Premier’s Awards program is administered by Colleges Ontario. Any graduate of a college program may be nominated. The person must have demonstrated outstanding career success and be making a contribution to their community or society. Colleges may nominate one graduate in each of the following categories:

  • Apprenticeship
  • Business
  • Community Services
  • Creative Arts and Design
  • Health Sciences
  • Recent Graduate
  • Technology

Do you know a Georgian graduate who should be recognized for their career achievements and successes? The Alumni Office welcomes suggestions for nominations at any time. Please email for more information.

2021 Premier’s Award nominees

Andrew Cywink

Andrew Cywink (class of 2011)

Nomination category: Apprenticeship
Program: Electrical Apprenticeship, Industrial Electrician
Graduated: 2011
Job title: Research and Innovation Technologist
Place of employment: Georgian College

Andrew Cywink grew up in Elliot Lake, and is a member of the Whitefish River First Nation. He is a faculty member with Georgian College’s Electrical Engineering Technology and Apprenticeship program, and a research and innovation technologist in the Alectra Centre for Research, Innovation and Commercialization. He’s a certified 442A electrician with Certificate of Apprenticeship and Master Electrician license, and is registered as a Certified Engineering Technologist with OACETT. His volunteerism includes positions as vice-president of the Kitchener-Waterloo Urban Native Wigwam Project, and a member of the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe board of directors.

Glenn Vollebregt

Glenn Vollebregt (class of 1983)

Nomination category: Business
Program: General Business – Accounting
Graduated: 1983
Job title: President and CEO
Place of employment:
St. Lawrence College

Glenn Vollebregt is a dynamic, high-performing senior executive with a passion for lifelong learning and more than 29 years of experience in large, multi-stakeholder public and private sector environments including post-secondary institutions. He is currently the President and CEO at St. Lawrence College, where he brings an extensive level of strategic, operational and transformative leadership experience. Vollebregt led the first tri-campus, and most successful fundraising campaign in his college’s history, the largest expansion project in the college’s history, and St. Lawrence College has experienced significant growth in student enrolment under his leadership.

Jane Kovarikova

Jane Kovarikova (class of 2004)

Nomination category: Community Services
Program: General Arts and Science
Graduated: 2004
Job title: Founder and CEO
Place of employment: Child Welfare PAC Canada

After a tough start growing up in foster care and dropping out of high school, Kovarikova found her way to post-secondary and has devoted her professional life to improving outcomes for foster kids ever since. In 2017, Kovarikova founded the Child Welfare PAC Canada, a national charity that creates systemic changes that empower youth to succeed after care. Currently, Kovarikova serves as board chair of Simcoe-Muskoka Family Connexions, a regional child protection agency, and is on the Ontario Premier’s Council for Equality of Opportunity. She’s a PhD candidate and lecturer at Western University in the Department of Political Science.

Nadia George

Nadia George (class of 2009)

Nomination category: Creative Arts and Design
Program: Social Service Worker
Graduated: 2009
Job title: Actress
Place of employment: Marla Mann Agency

Nadia George is an award-winning Mi’kmaw-Canadian actress, media personality, therapist and public speaker based in Toronto. Her work focuses on uplifting young voices and addressing stigma around contemporary Indigenous identity, and her volunteerism includes roles as a national ambassador, advisor and BIPOC committee member for several national organizations. She can be seen in numerous films and television series including History Erased, Along the Water’s Edge and Uncolonize, and her portrayal of Jolene in the award-winning film ‘Her Water Drum’ earned her the distinguished award of Achievement in Acting for a Leading Role at the Los Angeles Skins Film Festival.

Lisa Marie Naponse

Lisa Marie Naponse (class of 2004)

Nomination category: Health Sciences
Program: Native Education – Community and Social Development
Graduated: 2004
Job title: Aanjichigewin Health Educator/Promoter
Place of employment: Maamwesying North Shore Community Services

Lisa Marie Naponse is an Aanjichigewin Health Educator/Promotor from Atikameksheng Anishinawbek First Nation. Her Anishinabe name is Odemin Kwe, meaning “Strawberry Woman”, and in her culture, the strawberry is known as the “heart berry”, nourishing the body, mind and spirit and connecting emotions. Her work incorporates Indigenous language and culture into programming, and focuses on normalizing physical activity and strengthening factors that improve Indigenous people’s resiliency by improving overall quality of life. She’s an active community leader and volunteer, award-winning singer/songwriter, and has captured multiple medals at the North American Indigenous Games.

Jonathan Andrews

Jonathan Andrews (class of 2016)

Nomination category: Recent Graduate
Program: Business – Entrepreneurship
Graduated: 2016
Job title: Founder and Speaker/Presenter
Place of employment: Your Mental Health Ally

Jonathan Andrews is a youth mental health champion and award-winning speaker who has combined his lived experiences with clinical depression and anxiety, with skills obtained through his Business – Entrepreneurship credential, creating a business for social good. He’s the founder of Your Mental Health Ally and Project Circle Up, and has delivered over 100 presentations in the last five years to tens of thousands of youth around the world, helping to expand the conversation and reduce stigmas associated with mental health. His podcast, Project Circle Up, ranks on Listen Notes as one of the top 10 percent of shows globally.

Seann O'Donoughue

Seann ODonoughue (class of 1997)

Nomination category: Technology
Program: Marine Technology – Navigation
Graduated: 1997
Job title: Marine Pilot
Place of employment: Great Lakes Pilotage Authority

Captain Seann O’Donoughue is currently a Marine Pilot with the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority and a marine simulation instructor with the Centre for Marine Training and Research, where he uses highly technical equipment to simulate the dynamic behaviour of a vessel and its systems in a simulated maritime environment. Using marine simulation technology, he’s trained cadets on how to safely navigate waters around the world, and to successfully manage some of the harshest environments imaginable. He’s the Past Grand President (North America) of the International Shipmasters’ Association (ISMA), and current President of the ISMA Georgian Bay Huronia Lodge 15.

Previous Premier’s Award winners

Kevin Collins - 2019 winner

Kevin Collins

Nomination category: Community Services
Program: Hotel and Resort Administration and Tourism Management
Graduated: 1984 and 1985
Job title: President and CEO
Place of employment: Easter Seals Ontario

A two-time recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and Ontario Restaurant’s Trillium Award Newsmaker of the Year 2013, Kevin J. Collins has brought philanthropy to the forefront in the hospitality industry. As a child with Cerebral Palsy, Kevin benefited from Easter Seal’s camp programs and pledged to give back, doing so as Executive Director of Friends of We Care, the industry’s charitable arm which sends physically disabled children to camp. After successfully tripling the organization’s donor base and raising $20.5-million over his career, he was appointed to his current role as President and CEO of Easter Seals Ontario in 2017.

Aylan Couchie - 2016 winner

Close-up head shot of Premier's Awards winner Aylan Couchie

Nomination category: Recent Graduate
Art and Design Fundamentals
Job title:
Anishinaabe artist, community organizer and aspiring writer
Place of employment: Freelance artist, currently pursuing MFA at OCAD University

Just a year out of college, Aylan has built an impressive list of career achievements. In August 2015, she was chosen from among more than 950 entries worldwide to receive the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the U.S.-based International Sculpture Center. Less than a month later, Aylan was honoured with the inaugural Native Women in the Arts Barbara Laronde Award, which celebrates the career of one outstanding, emerging Northern Ontario-based  Indigenous female artist. Her artwork has also been featured in Sculpture magazine, an international publication that is distributed in more than 70 countries and has a readership of more than 37,000.

Aylan was also the winner of the Pratt Homes Sculpture competition that hand-selected four artists to design a sculpture to sit atop their new condominium in Barrie, as well as a rooftop patio piece and select works throughout the interior. Her work was chosen by the public against three seasoned and highly-esteemed sculptors. Once built, the piece, (H.I.O. Big Chiefs) will be seen from Highway 400 as it looks out over Kempenfelt Bay in tribute to the Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Anishinabek nations.

Aylan has also made an indelible impact on the community. In 2014, she organized and launched Barrie’s first downtown art crawl, which featured local artists, fostered new relationships within the downtown merchant core, and led to partnerships that continue today.

Aylan says she is inspired by her grandfather, a residential school survivor whose passed-down teachings greatly influenced her work and encouraged her to return to college as a mature student and single mother of three teenage boys.

Despite the many accolades, Aylan feels the most important part of her work is being part of the larger conversation about First Nations realities, including murdered and missing Indigenous women, current actualities facing First Nations communities across Canada, and residential school legacies.

Dianne Martin - 2016 winner

Dianne Martin

Nomination category: Health Sciences
Program: Nursing
Graduated: 1998
Job title: Chief Executive Officer
Place of employment: Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario

As the Chief Executive Officer of the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario, Dianne provides leadership and advocates for the province’s thousands of registered practical nurses. She also works hard to make a difference in the lives of patients and nursing students through policies, reforms and education.

Dianne is currently working to refocus healthcare decisions on the needs of patients, which will help them take control of their own wellness. She’s also spent a good portion of her career addressing the workplace bullying she says is prevalent in the industry and providing support to nurses suffering from work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dianne hopesp the resources she and her team have created will assist employers, re-engage nurses in the profession, and help reduce or eradicate bullying and PTSD.

In addition to overseeing day-to-day operations and managing the RPNAO’s budget, Dianne visits healthcare organizations across the country to consult on nursing and how to improve patient outcomes and workplace satisfaction and retention.

Dianne also consults with many hospitals and helps administrators understand and expand the nurses’ role and implement positive change. She speaks regularly at conferences across the province on issues related to health and wellness education, and nursing issues in particular.

In addition to her leadership role, Dianne sits on nursing advisory committees at several colleges – including Georgian – and still finds time to teach in the classroom.

Dale George - 2012 winner

Dale George

Industrial Design, 1985 Chief Technology Officer, Buoyant Aircraft Systems International (BASI)

Dale George has established a niche in the world of design for improving operations, defining innovation, and creating industry standards for a number of products and services. Now he is again at the leading edge as the chief technical officer of Buoyant Airship Services International. George’s remarkable journey began in the Industrial Design program at college. Throughout his evolution from the early days of designing the now-famous “little yellow” plastic slide that can be found in backyards across North America, to developing the first high-altitude wind turbine, to his aviation work with lighter-than-air airships with NASA and transport to remote areas, George has remained a trailblazer in his field.

Geoffrey Stephens - 2011 winner

Geoffrey Stephens

Business Administration, 1984 President, Capital Paving Inc.

Geoffrey Stephens became president and controlling owner of Capital Paving Inc. at age 35 and has grown its revenue from $18 million to $80 million in just over 10 years. He and his partners recently made a major ownership investment in Fowler Construction. In 2010, Capital was named one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies and is an unprecedented three-time winner of the Ministry of Transportation’s Paver of the Year Award. Stephens was one of 40 Canadian entrepreneurs chosen for the 2010 Quantum Shift at Richard Ivey School of Business. He is active in the community, serving on numerous industry association boards.

Stephen Flowers - 2005 winner

Stephen Flowers

1983 Business Grad, President, UPS Americas Region Stephen Flowers, President of the UPS Americas Region, is responsible for all UPS package operations in Canada and more than 50 countries and territories across Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to taking on the region’s highest post, Flowers was UPS’s West Europe District Manager, where he oversaw the company’s operations in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Stephen began his career with UPS in 1981 as a loader/unloader while at Georgian College. Stephen has served on the board of directors for the United Way of Long Island, New York and the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris.

Rose Adams - 2003 winner

Rose Adams

1984 Office Administration graduate

Rose overcame a difficult childhood to get where she is today. Growing up in foster homes, she financed her college education by cleaning houses and checking coats at a local bar.  In 1991, she was crowned Miss Black Ontario and entered law school as a mature student. Rose has taught business courses at Georgian College and Ontario Business College and volunteers for non-profit community groups such as the Out of the Cold program. She served on the board of Big Brothers and the Simcoe Literacy Network.

Every year in May, the Georgian College Board of Governors recognizes graduates who:

  • have achieved an exceptionally high level of career success
  • have received professional recognition in their field
  • have made a significant contribution to Georgian, or the community in general

Recommendations for the Distinguished Alumni Award are welcome at any time. Nominations are due in February.

Learn more about the Board of Governors Awards.

Distinguished Alumni Award nomination form
Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian College with 2018 Georgian College Board of Governors Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Mike Maurice and Jim Bertram, Chair of the Board of Governors.
Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian College with 2018 Georgian College Board of Governors Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Mike Maurice and Jim Bertram, Chair of the Board of Governors.

A $1,000 scholarship presented annually to a student who is a child of a Georgian College graduate and has demonstrated financial need. This student must be a permanent resident of Ontario. To contribute to this award* follow this link and indicate “Alumni Endowment” as the “fund/designation.”

*Georgian College appreciates and recognizes all gifts to the college.

Awards and scholarships

Awards and scholarships help Georgian students achieve their academic goals! Please email our office to learn more about establishing or contributing to an award.