MacEwan University announces 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients and introduces the first two Emerging Leader Awards winners.

Six university alumni representing a range of sectors – music, education, communications, nursing, journalism, government and business – are being recognized for their outstanding achievements and significant contributions. Rob Cyrynowski, Vivian Giang, Keith King, Scott McKeen, Dean McNeill and Angela Merriott will participate in the university’s spring and fall convocation ceremonies, sharing personal stories, advice on life after graduation and what it means to be a MacEwan alum.

“These impressive individuals bring the total number of Distinguished Alumni to 100 since the program began in 1986,” says Myrna Khan, vice-president, University Relations. “It’s a fitting way to acknowledge the incredible contributions our alumni make in our city, our province, our country and our world – and to wrap up celebrations of MacEwan’s 50th anniversary.

In commemoration of its 50th anniversary year, the university is also introducing a new Emerging Leaders Award and presenting it to two relatively recent graduates, Mackenzie Brown and Alexander Fanni. 

“We understand and appreciate that greatness isn’t merely a function of age alone,” says Khan. “That’s why recognizing the commitment and impact our recent alumni are making in their professions and communities is so important to us.”

Meet our distinguished alumni

The Distinguished Alumni Award is given to alumni who exhibit outstanding achievements or make significant contributions within their professions and service to the community.


Rob Cyrynowski (Management Studies ’93) is a multi-award-winning Canadian music industry veteran with over 25 years of experience in talent buying, booking agency and promoter experience. He has been on the Canadian Country Music Association Board of Directors since 2017 and is currently the president/CEO of Livestar Entertainment Canada. During the pandemic, Rob found a way to safely bring back live, in-person concert events with his latest business venture, Hotels Live. The innovative entertainment concept set up concerts on hotel pool decks and atriums and transformed hotel balconies into front-row seats. Hotels Live became Canada’s top-grossing concert promoter during the pandemic, producing over 80 live indoor and outdoor in-person concert events in Calgary and selling over 4,700 hotel rooms to more than 15,000 patrons. The achievement earned the 2022 Outstanding Emerging Organization award from the Canadian Live Music Industry Awards.

Vivian Giang

Vivian Giang (Bachelor of Applied Communications in Professional Writing ‘07, Professional Writing ‘05, University Transfer, Bachelor of Arts ‘02) is passionate about communicating and engaging with people and communities. She is pursuing interdisciplinary doctoral studies (anthropology and engineering) through the University of Alberta’s Future Energy Systems research initiative as a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS-D Scholar and Fulbright Canada Scholarship recipient. Her doctoral research aims to inform and develop equitable community engagement processes and communication frameworks for approaching renewable energy development responsibly and sustainably while respecting Indigenous rights. She is past president of the United Nations Association in Canada Edmonton Branch and was an Action Canada/Public Policy Forum Fellow. In addition to MacEwan, she studied at Royal Roads University, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (Germany) and Kyushu Women’s University (Japan).

Keith King

Keith King (Certificate of University Transfer, Bachelor of Science in Nursing ‘02, University Transfer, Bachelor of Science ‘00) has been a registered nurse for the last 18 years and comes from a long family tradition of nursing and innovation. They grew up on a farm in northern Alberta, in Treaty 8 territory and Métis Nation of Alberta Region 6. Nursing is where their natural talents shine – helping others, learning with others and making connections that improve people’s lives. They are currently doing a PhD in nursing, exploring Métis people’s experiences of HPV-related cancer prevention in Alberta, and working in public health with Alberta Health Services. They also volunteer with the Edmonton 2-Spirit Society and Métis Nation of Alberta. In their career and life, the greatest accomplishments and the things they are most proud of are the relationships they’ve built and maintained over time and distance with family, friends, colleagues and other kin.

Scott McKeen

Scott McKeen (Journalism ’83) recently returned to MacEwan University as a member of its Roundhouse community. A graduate of MacEwan’s journalism program in 1983, he enjoyed a long career in newspapers — 24 of those at The Edmonton Journal, where he won or was short-listed for several major awards. In 2010, he left the paper and campaigned for a seat on city council. After losing that election, he launched a successful communications business. In 2013, he again ran for council in his home territory of Ward 6, the greater downtown and was elected and served two terms, leading initiatives on reconciliation, mental health, anti-racism and supportive housing for Edmonton’s most marginalized citizens. Today he is a consultant and advocate for mental health, plain language, government relations and rising polarization.

Dean McNeill

Dean McNeill (Music ‘87) has been a professor of brass and jazz at the University of Saskatchewan for 25 years, during which time he has toured Canada and recorded and produced over 15 CDs. Over the years, he has led many professional and music education-based projects, including the Saskatoon Jazz Orchestra, Texas Lone Star Film Awards, two radio series for CFCR Radio Saskatchewan and galas for the Saskatchewan Arts Board, Saskatoon Community Foundation, Saint Paul Hospital and Persephone Theatre. He has been recognized with many awards, including the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival’s Special Recognition Award, for his lifelong commitment to furthering the musical arts in the province. He also received a Downbeat Magazine Arranger’s Award, the University of Saskatchewan’s Students Union Teaching Excellence Award and Dwayne Nelson Teaching Award, and the 2022 Saskatchewan Choral Federation’s Outstanding Administrator Award.

Angela Merriott

Angela Merriott (Asia Pacific Management '04) founded Switch HR Solutions, a multinational consulting and coaching firm, after working as vice-president of human resources for the largest publicly traded automotive group in Canada. At Switch, she works closely with leadership teams and boards as a trusted advisor to develop strategies for success that align with the company’s mission, vision and values. Her expertise includes executive and team coaching, strategic human resources and management consulting, board governance and change management. She is also a board member with McDougall House, an addictions treatment facility for women, where she sits on the governance committee and chairs the people and safety committee. She is on the Junior Achievement of Northern Alberta advisory council and is a member of their human resources and governance committee. She lives in Tasmania, Australia, with her family.

Meet our emerging leaders

The new Emerging Leader Award recognizes recent alumni who have demonstrated an early ability and willingness to make significant contributions to their profession and community.

Mackenzie Brown

Mackenzie Brown (Bachelor of Child and Youth Care ’18) is a nehiyaw iskwew (Cree woman) from the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation who currently works as the director of industry development with Indigenous Tourism Alberta. She is a performer, drummer, tourism entrepreneur, philanthropist and advocate for at-risk youth. She is also an avid acrylic artist and traditional First Nations crafts artisan, with work featured in galleries and museums in Alberta. Her work has earned numerous awards, including the Alberta Indian Arts and Crafts Award, Esquao Award for Children's Future, Indigenous Woman of the Year from the Alberta Assembly of First Nations and Top 30 under 30 From Alberta Corporation for Global Cooperation. She was the only Indigenous artist and Albertan on the reality TV show Landscape Artist of the Year Canada, where she placed in the top three finalists.

Alexander Fanni

Alexander Fanni (Bachelor of Arts ’17) is a Canadian Forces veteran who deployed to Afghanistan with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Regiment in 2008. After completing his education at MacEwan and an MBA at Royal Roads University, his professional focus turned to developing environmental, social and governance (ESG) platforms that apply to local, regional, national and international audiences. As general manager at Landmark Resource Management Ltd., he supports First Nation and industry clients working in the natural resources sector, providing guidance, client relations and corporate strategy for his firm. He is also an active volunteer, supporting high school students from rural and Indigenous communities to enter the trades in the natural resources sector. He enjoys watching baseball, fishing and travelling with his wife in his spare time.

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