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Algonquin College announces 2019 Alumni of Distinction

by ahnationtalk on August 13, 201930 Views

August 13th, 2019

OTTAWA – Algonquin College celebrates some of its most accomplished alumni at the third annual Alumni of Distinction Awards Gala Thurs. Sept. 26 in the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence (ACCE) Building’s Minto Hall.

The gala honours the achievements of 10 alumni and one community employer who have made distinctive contributions in their fields of endeavour and their communities.

Click here for more information about the gala and event tickets.

The 2019 Alumni of Distinction are as follows:

Alumnus of the Year
Ricardo Larrivée, Television host, food writer
Television Broadcasting – 1990

No one in Canada better represents the appeal of family life around the dinner table than Ricardo Larrivée. Known internationally simply as Ricardo, he and his wife, nutritionist Brigitte Coutu, have created a media and retail empire devoted to the appeal of simple and nutritious meals. His television shows have been broadcast in more than 150 countries, and his cookbooks – nine in French and five in English, with total sales of more than 700,000 copies — have all been best-sellers. Ricardo is a Member of the Ordre national du Québec and a Member of the Order of Canada.

Alumni Employer of the Year
MindBridge Ai

Ottawa-based MindBridge Ai is transforming a growing number of industries by using artificial intelligence to analyze and identify risk across vast sums of business data. Its cloud-based Ai Auditor platform is used by accounting firms around the world, including over 40 of the US Top 100. The platform helps companies identify and understand anomalies across 100 per cent of their data using a combination of advanced AI and machine-learning techniques. Chief executive officer Eli Fathi leads a growing team of over 100 employees, including several alumni of Algonquin College, across a variety of business, engineering, and sales disciplines.

Paul Brisson, President, Cantwell Air Conditioning
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Systems Mechanic – Class of 2011

Paul Brisson is passionate about everything to do with heating and air conditioning: the range of products available, the problems that can occur with their mechanisms and finding solutions. He loves it all so much, in fact, he bought a company. Today Brisson is president of Cantwell Air Conditioning in Ottawa, and an advocate for his trade, for customer service, and for young people entering apprenticeship programs. As a businessman and as an apprentice-intake interviewer for the Ontario College of Trades, he is playing a valuable role in advancing the success of a new generation of skilled tradespeople.

Luc Villeneuve, President, Benchmark Corp.
Business Administration – Class of 1979

Canadian businessman Luc Villeneuve has spent more than 25 years boosting sales and assuming leadership roles with major companies, including Sun Microsystems, GE Capital, NCR, McAfee Canada, Red Hat Canada and Benchmark. He has also taken a leading role in national discussions about diversity and inclusion in IT. “Gender equality is a critical economic and social issue,” he wrote in the Globe and Mail in 2017, and he increased the number of qualified women hired by his companies. He was a finalist for the Microsoft INSPIRE2018 Women in Technology Man of WIT Award, which celebrates men supporting diversity and inclusion.

Changing Lives
Ryan Armitage, Fitness Centre Manager, Soloway Jewish Community Centre
Fitness and Health Promotion – Class of 2007

Ryan Armitage is nationally known for his expertise and leadership in fitness and health promotion for clients with special needs. As Fitness Centre Manager at Ottawa’s Soloway Jewish Community Centre, he oversees personal training and conducts classes for many clients. But it is his work with people who are recovering from health crises or dealing with the impacts of aging or mental and physical disabilities that has earned him acclaim in his profession and in the media.

Community Services
Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow, founder, Birch Bark Coffee Company
Correctional Worker – Class of 1993

Entrepreneur Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow is founder of the Ottawa-based Birch Bark Coffee Company, a firm that sets aside a portion of its sales proceeds toward the purchase of certified water purifiers for Indigenous families in Canada. He has also spent years striving to raise the effectiveness of Aboriginal justice programs as a native justice coordinator, a residential school crisis intervention counsellor and as founder of IndiGenius & Associates, a justice consulting firm that to date has written more than 200 Gladue Reports, which tell the life stories of Indigenous people in court for bail or sentencing hearings.

Creative Arts and Design
Benjamin Ing, Head Chef, Noma Copenhagen
Culinary Management – Class of 2008

After years of honing his craft in Ottawa’s best restaurants and leading establishments in New York City and Melbourne, Australia, Canadian chef Benjamin Ing is thriving as head chef at Copenhagen’s celebrated Noma, which has been named Best Restaurant in the World five times by Restaurant magazine. Ing takes pride in leading the restaurant’s team of chefs and their award-winning explorations of Scandinavian cuisine, and ensuring that Noma is, in his words, “the best place to work, the best environment, has the best people and pays the best.”

Health Sciences
Jennifer Kryworuchko, Nursing Researcher, UBC
Registered Nurse, Critical Care – Class of 1996

Jennifer Kryworuchko has devoted much of her work as a nursing researcher to studying the organization and delivery of health care services to optimize patient and family involvement in health decision making and to improve access to palliative care. Her community-engaged scholarship — intended to influence practical changes in policy, system design and care delivery — has been focused on ensuring that seriously ill individuals, with their families and medical team, are engaged in shared decision-making about the end-of-life care they desire.

Recent Graduate
Naomi Fong
Social Service Worker– Class of 2018

Naomi Fong has been working toward a career and stable health in the years since the former Bombardier emerged from the Canadian Armed Forces with PTSD. She found hope and community at the Pembroke campus of Algonquin College, where she entered Social Service Worker program and graduated with honours. This helped give her the confidence to join the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, Australia, where she won two bronze medals in Women’s Road Cycling and was the Team Canada flag bearer at the opening ceremonies.

Rena Bowen Volunteer of the Year
Monica Elaine Campbell, founding member of the Ottawa Deaf Health Care Team
Palliative Care Multidisciplinary Program, 2005

Monica Elaine Campbell has been a leader in advancing culturally appropriate care, including palliative care, for the Culturally Deaf, hard of hearing and deafened communities in Ottawa and nationally. As a volunteer, she has tutored Deaf and hearing students in math and science, taught Deaf women with low literacy skills how to prepare meals at the Deaf Kitchen Club; helped establish the Ottawa Deaf Health Care Team; and successfully advocated for the opening of a dedicated floor for Deaf seniors at the Glebe Centre. For her dedication to the community, she was awarded the Order of Ontario in 2016.

Grant Lecky, security and resilience professional, Government of Canada; founder, Security Partners’ Forum
Security Management – Class of 2007

“Security is everyone’s responsibility,” says Grant Lecky, the security and resilience expert hailed as a “global visionary” on the cover of the April/May 2019 issue of Sovereign Magazine. Lecky has certainly made it his responsibility in a career that has earned him honours and accolades for his leadership and innovation. He is founder of the Security Partners’ Forum, an agile network of the global security community dedicated to building security and resilience capacity internationally. A Global Advisory Council member of the Institute of Strategic Risk Management, he is also a security and resilience professional with the Government of Canada.


For more information:

Ruth Dunley, Communications Manager
Algonquin College
Office: 613-727-4723 ext. 6452

Chris Lackner, Communications Officer
Algonquin College
Office: 613-727-4723 ext. 2091


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