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 his or her 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 his or her career achievements and successes? The Alumni Office welcomes suggestions for nominations at any time. Please email or call 705.728.1968, ext. 1128 for more information.

2019 Premier’s Award nominees

David Mottershall

David Mottershall

Nomination category: Apprenticeship
Program: Cook Apprentice Advanced
Graduated: 2001
Job title: Chef
Place of employment: Bogside Brewing

Known as @Chef_Rouge on social media, David is a critically acclaimed and award-winning chef, building his culinary reputation for over 20 years. His restaurant Loka, opened with the support of a Kickstarter campaign which surpassed its $25,000 goal within a week, going on to be voted best Toronto restaurant of 2015 by NOW Magazine. He was featured in Toronto Life in 2016 and named one of 20 Canadian chefs to follow by Huffington Post. David implements a zero-waste policy in his restaurants and promotes the use of locally sourced, raised and produced food that highlights local farmers, fishermen and agriculture.

Alex Brown

Alex Brown

Nomination category: Business
Program: Business Administration
Graduated: 2007
Job title: Owner and founder
Place of employment: 
eCommerce Rockstars and Unconscious Content

Alex Brown is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur who has started and sold a number of thriving businesses, including his current venture eCommerce Rockstars. He is a well-respected operations and corporate development expert and youth entrepreneurship and employment leader in Canada and the U.S. Alex is Co-founder of The Dollar Beard Club, the subscription-based company that earned over $10-million in its first year and has over 400-million online video views to date. He’s a mentor to numerous eCommerce businesses, and has been a keynote speaker on three continents, speaking to more than 250,000 people either virtually or in-person.

Kevin Collins

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.

Cassandra Nordell

Cassandra Nordell

Nomination category: Creative Arts and Design
Program: Interior Design
Graduated: 2005
Job title: CEO and Co-Founder
Place of employment: William Standen Co. and Nordell Homes

Before turning 25, Cassandra Nordell launched two successful building and design companies, one of which, William Standen Co., was named one of the country’s fastest growing companies in 2013 and again in 2016, posting a five-year revenue growth of 958 per cent. She has been named one of the Top Female Entrepreneurs in Canada and a PROFIT 500 CEO. She is recognized as a leader in the North American kitchen and design industry. She uses her expertise to give back to her community by designing spaces for charities such as Habitat for Humanity, and mentoring new designers.

Darda Sales

Darda Sales

Nomination category: Health Sciences
Program: Therapeutic Recreation
Graduated: 2006
Job title: Co President
Place of employment: Co. Education and Consulting Inc.

A four-time Paralympian in two sports, a Gold and Silver medalist, world record holder and dual sport World Champion, Darda has dedicated her career to positively moving sports for individuals with a disability forward. Whether working as a recreation therapist, swim coach, motivational speaker, or consultant to companies looking to improve their parasports program, Darda strives to remove barriers and raise awareness that sport truly is for everyone. Her goal is to have a positive impact and change the landscape of what people perceive as sports for individuals with a disability.

Jesse Hambly

Jesse Hambly

Nomination category: Recent Graduate
Program: Business Marketing and Advertising and Marketing Communications
Graduated: 2014 and 2015
Job title: Co-founder
Place of employment: Pressa Inc.

As a two-time Ontario college graduate, ambitious entrepreneur and Co-founder of Pressa Inc., Jesse Hambly is helping to revolutionize the water bottle industry.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Pressa Inc. secured a manufacturer in China and began working with significant retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue and Staples. An appearance on Dragon’s Den in 2017, a successful e-commerce site, distribution centers in China, the US and Canada, as well as product placement in major chain stores across North America has put Pressa Inc. on the map with global sales of more than 210,000 units within two years.

Rishi Ghuldu

Rishi Ghuldu

Nomination category: Technology
Program: Mechanical Engineering Tech., Automotive Mfg.
Graduated: 1999
Job title: Founder and CEO
Place of employment: ZERV Inc.

Rishi Ghuldu’s career in automotive and mining is impressive. He facilitated $200-million in synergy identification from Barrick Gold’s $10.3-billion acquisition of PlacerDome, and led the Business Improvement team to realize $330-million through value creation projects. Leading Goldcorp’s Operational Excellence function, he yielded benefits of $230-million and led the Supply Chain transformation, delivering $26-million in annual net savings. He was Goldcorp’s ‘Synergy’ lead for the Newmont-Goldcorp merger, creating the world’s largest gold mining company. He’s Co-founder and President of CanEducate, a charity that’s supported 20,000 children with educational scholarships since 2010. A lifelong learner, he was 2013 Valedictorian, Kellogg-Schulich EMBA program.

Previous Premier’s Award winners

Aylan Couchie - 2016 winner

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

Close-up head shot of Dianne MartinNomination 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

Close-up headshot of Dale GeorgeIndustrial 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

Close-up headshot of Geoffrey StephensBusiness 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

Close-up headshot of Stephen Flowers1983 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

Close-up headshot of Rose Adams1984 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 contact the Awards Officer at 705.728.1968, ext. 1211 to learn more about establishing or contributing to an award.