Distinguished Alumni

Our alumni do amazing things. The Distinguished Alumni awards celebrate accomplishments in areas such as community development, lifelong learning and business innovation.

If you know a MacEwan graduate whose contributions to the university or the larger community deserve recognition, we want to hear from you. Anyone can nominate a MacEwan graduate for the award. Nominations are accepted any time, but those received by January 15 will be considered for the spring convocation.

Nominate an alumnus

Jennifer Lavers

Many truths

“What defines your character is not how you fall, but how you pick yourself up afterwards,” says Jennifer Lavers, marine science researcher and 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. You may be surprised by the source of this, and other pieces of wisdom, she shared at fall convocation.

From Craigslist to Broadway

Career paths are seldom what we expect they’ll be. “Nothing is certain. Even when we are granted a measure of success,” says Nate Lueck, musician, composer, producer and a 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.

Nathaniel Lueck

Distinguished Alumni

Nate Lueck, 2019

Music Diploma, 2006
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2019

Nathaniel (Nate) Lueck is a musician, composer and producer from Calgary, Alberta. Classically trained as both a pianist and a guitarist, he has over ten years of experience as a multi-instrumentalist, playing numerous instruments for a wide variety of artists and shows including Tom Monks (Tokyo Police Club), Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead) and Ron Pope, as well as direct support for Lord Huron, Ted Nugent and Meatloaf. He has also played as a pit musician in multiple theatre productions, including Honestly Abe Off Broadway, as well as regional productions of Hair and RENT. He is currently the principal guitar II/mandolin chair for Broadway's Tony Award-Winning musical Come From Away.

Nathaniel is also a prolific writer, producer, arranger and sound designer, having composed and recorded music for television, radio and commercial clients such as AT&T and Man Made Music, and produced sample libraries for Loopmasters and LP24 Audio. He applies his expertise to many different musical roles ranging from sideman and soloist to musical director and technical consultant/programmer.

Mark Power, 2019

Child and Youth Care, 1996
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2019

Mark Power is a counsellor, writer, filmmaker, visual artist and the founder of Give of Yourself – a social enterprise. Throughout Mark’s diverse career, he has supported people and families through setbacks and seasons of rebuilding. His creative projects, including a series of short documentaries, empower people on journeys of incarceration, re-integration, addiction and homelessness.

As a trusted advisor in youth development, Mark draws on his long-standing relationships in education, mental health, corrections and community disability services. He advises and supports professionals in developing coaching and mentoring skills for youth and families, and is masterful at navigating institutional supports and creating innovative outreach programming. Mark currently facilitates in the arenas of mental health, social justice and restorative coaching.

Emmett Hartfield, 2019

Bachelor of Commerce, 2010
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2019

After receiving his Bachelor of Commerce from MacEwan University in 2010, Emmett began his career working for a boutique real estate marketing agency in Edmonton. He immediately noticed a gap within the Alberta residential real estate market, and at the age of 27, co-founded Intelligence House.

Within its first five years, the highly successful data research, marketing and sales agency was handling over $600 million in multi-family assets in Canada and the United States. Intelligence House’s clientele includes some of Canada’s largest developers, and the company recently expanded into New York and New Jersey. In 2017, Alberta Venture listed Intelligence House as the 14th fastest-growing company in Alberta. Emmett has also received many recognitions for his work, including being named to Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40.

Dr. James Makokis, 2019

Bachelor of Science Transfer, 2001
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2019

Dr. James A. Makokis is a Nehiyô (Plains Cree), Two-Spirit physician from Onihcikiskwapiwinihk (Saddle Lake Cree Nation), who practices general family medicine in Kinokamasihk (Kehewin Cree Nation) and a more specialized clinic in Edmonton where he focuses on providing medical hormonal transitioning for transgender people. His passion drives him to elevate the nehiyô health system, which includes the use of nehiyâw maskihkiya (Cree medicines) and preventative interventions during the Cree Seven Stages of life, while simultaneously working to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination in the health care system and beyond.

James has served as chairperson of the inaugural Indigenous Wisdom Council of Alberta Health Services, and is currently a board member of the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute of Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto and Indigenous Advisory Council of MacEwan University.

He is a recipient of the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (currently known as the Indspire Awards), and Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Dr. D. Scharie Tavcer, 2019

Law Enforcement and Security, 1992
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2019

Dr. D. Scharie Tavcer is an associate professor in the Department of Economics, Justice, and Policy Studies at Mount Royal University. She received her Doctorate in Sociology from the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law and the Albert-Ludwigs Universität in Freiburg, Germany.

Scharie’s main areas of scholarship and research include offenders and the barriers and challenges of reintegrating into the community; sexual and relationship violence; understanding crime, social disorder and the criminal justice system through a feminist lens; victims and trauma-informed care; poverty offending; and mental illness.

Prior to her career in academia, Scharie worked for Correctional Services Canada in Alberta and British Columbia. She uses her expertise to give back to her community, serving on the board of the Elizabeth Fry Society and contributing research and acting as an advocate to many organizations including United Way, the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter and the Justice Sector Constellation of the Poverty Reduction Coalition of Calgary.

Dr. Jennifer Lavers, 2019

Bachelor of Science Transfer, 2001
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2019

Dr. Jennifer Lavers is a lecturer in Marine Science at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. Her research interests include understanding how marine apex predators, such as seabirds, can act as sentinels of ocean health, and translating this knowledge into outreach programs that engage the broader public in science and conservation. Jennifer's research, and that of her many graduate students, primarily focuses on plastic and associated chemicals as pollutants of aquatic ecosystems.

Before joining the University of Tasmania, Jennifer worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on remote islands in Hawaii and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in London, England. She completed her BSc (Honours) at MacEwan University and the University of Alberta, and her PhD at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Cheryl Whiskeyjack, 2018

Child and Youth Care, 1995
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2018

Cheryl is a graduate of MacEwan’s Child and Youth Care Program, as well as the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Leadership program. She began her career in 1995 as a youth worker at the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, a non-profit agency serving urban Indigenous youth. Since then, she has taken on a number of roles within the organization, and was appointed to her current role as executive director in 2008.

Cheryl continues to raise Bent Arrow’s profile in the community. She oversees the organization’s 18 programs and services, and has fostered partnerships with many organizations, including Edmonton Public Schools, Edmonton Police Service, Alberta Children’s Services, University of Calgary, Blue Quills University and MacEwan University.

In additional to her work with Bent Arrow, Cheryl serves on the board of the Canadian Accreditation Council of Human Services and the Align Association of Community Services, and has contributed to organizations like End Poverty Edmonton. She’s also sharing her experience and wisdom through the Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations Executive Director Mentorship program.

Brenda Lieberman, 2018

Arts and Cultural Management, 1998
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2018

After graduating from MacEwan University’s Arts and Cultural Management program in 1998, Brenda moved to Calgary where she noticed a lack of independent film programming and festivals. She decided to fill the void, and spent a few years independently programming local film events before co-founding the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) in 2003. In the 15 years since, CUFF has grown from a small, four-day festival into a week-long event with nearly 7,000 attendees, its own documentary festival and a series of off-season special events.

In 2005 Brenda began working for the Calgary International Film Festival, where she is currently the lead features programmer. She also lends expertise to start-up festivals, curates off-season events, and participes in industry juries and panels internationally, positioning herself as Calgary’s go-to person for film programming.

In 2009 she was awarded Avenue Magazine's Top 40 Under 40 award. She has also sat on the board of directors for Alberta Media Arts Alliance and Jewish Family Service Calgary

Justin Yaassoub, 2018

Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, 2012
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2018

After graduating from MacEwan with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Justin joined the Canadian Special Operations regiment in 2012, and was subsequently deployed to North Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. He was awarded the Bravery Medal by the Governor General for risking his life to save an injured solider, as well as a Commanders and Task Force Commanders Citation for his teamwork and leadership.

He is now the founder of All Around Consulting, an organization that provides leadership and team-development guidance to small businesses.

Jason Carter, 2017

Digital Arts and Media Diploma, 2003
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2017

Jason Carter is a Canadian Indigenous visual artist specializing in contemporary sculpture, paintings, illustrations and public art. In 2003, while working as a television camera operator, he received a gift of what he perceived to be “just a rock,” that would change the course of his life. He began to chip at the stone and within hours, a bird emerged and a passion was discovered.

Since his first solo sculpture show in Edmonton in 2008, he has had work featured and commissioned by numerous events and organizations, including the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the Art Gallery of Alberta, The Canada Council for the Arts, Syncrude, The Government of Canada and The Edmonton and Calgary International Airports. In 2011 he opened a gallery dedicated to his sculpture and paintings with Bridget Ryan, with whom he collaborates on children’s books. In March 2017, the Carter-Ryan Gallery opened its second location in Banff, Alberta. He currently carves or paints seven days a week.

Peter Dent, 2017

Law Enforcement, 1984
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2017

Peter is currently a partner with and the global leader of Deloitte’s Centre for Crisis Management at Deloitte LLP. Since graduating from MacEwan’s Law Enforcement program and the University of Alberta, with degrees in sociology and business, Peter has focused on conducting investigations and providing advice to organizations to enhance accountability, transparency and governance.

Peter started his career in policing and, after a short period, became a forensic accountant. His work has taken him to over 35 countries between his time with the investigation unit at the World Bank and Deloitte’s forensic accounting practice. Peter also spent three years on retainer with the RCMP’s K Division’s Commercial Crime Unit.

Peter is the past-chair of Transparency International–Canada, a global anti-corruption focused NGO. Peter also lectures on a director’s responsibility with respect to crime risk in his role as a faculty member at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business.

Lyn Krutzfeldt, 2017

Business Administration, 1983
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2017

Lyn Krutzfeldt’s passion for quality and healthcare began over 35 years ago when she personally cared for her ailing parent after graduating from nursing school. A few years later, she returned to school and received her Business Administration diploma at MacEwan. Since, Lyn has gained more than 30 years of leadership experience in healthcare management, seniors living, homecare and long-term care.

As president of AdvantAGE Assist Group Inc. and chief executive officer of Christenson Communities Ltd., Lyn has spearheaded several new approaches that have transformed senior living divisions into the leading provider of housing and care in the senior living industry.

Lyn encourages her team to focus on strategic solutions and out-of-the-box thinking. Her philosophy of improving the lives of seniors through lifestyle, wellness and residential alternatives is now recognized and modelled across the country.

She is the past president of the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and NWR, and served eight years as a board member with the Alzheimer Society of Canada, chairing its Fund Development Committee.

Lyn is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work with Alzheimer’s Canada and her service to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Lyn’s vision is to see Canada as the leader in seniors living, incorporating innovative strategies for both care and housing. Her mission is to enhance the lives of older adults by fostering strong partnerships and building inspiring communities that are dedicated to providing exceptional wellness options for seniors.

David Cormican, 2016

Theatre Arts, 2001
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2016

David Cormican has made many notable contributions on screens both big and small. As partner and executive vice president for Don Carmody Television (DCTV), David co-produced the 2014 Rogers-Netflix original series Between—the first new Netflix original series launched in Canada. David's producer credits for DCTV also include ShadowHunters, a second season of Between, the Emmy-nominated The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe and Tokyo Trial, an upcoming miniseries.

David's filmmaking accomplishments include the Christian Slater thriller Stranded, The Tall Man (Jessica Biel), 13 Eerie and Faces in the Crowd.

In 2008, David founded the Canadian Short Screenplay Competition, which he ran until 2012. During that time, he produced five winning short film scripts. Rusted Pyre premiered at the 2011 Festival de Cannes and Will won the Golden Sheaf for Best Drama at the 2013 Yorkton Film Festival.

After being selected for Playback's 10 to Watch in 2012, David was named one of the magazine's 2015 New Establishment recipients in an annual feature highlighting great mid-career success. David was also part of Hollywood Reporter's Next Generation Canada: 2014 and he received the National Screen Institute's Producer Drama Prize in 2010.

Sorin Mihailovici, 2015

Design Studies, 2008
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2015

Sorin Mihailovici began his career as a TV reporter in his homeland of Romania before coming to Canada in 2001. After struggling for six years to find work in his adopted home, he completed his Design Studies diploma at MacEwan in 2008 and began the next chapter of his career as a producer with OMNI Television. While nurturing his passion for media, community relations and helping newcomers in Alberta, Sorin discovered the need to educate people about fraud. He produced his first movie, 419: The Nigerian Scam, based on fraudulent partnerships solicited by email. It quickly became a viral hit, garnering over one million online views and winning the Rappahannock Independent Film Festival in Fredericksburg, VA. Producing the film led Sorin to create a free mobile and web-based app, called Scam Detector that exposes the world’s most notorious scams.

He is also the co-creator of the international humanitarian campaign and television series, Travel by Dart. Each episode, Sorin and his best friend throw a dart at the world map and travel wherever it lands, with the purpose of helping the land or the people. Whether it’s building a school in Uganda or a home shelter for the indigenous people of Vanuatu, they’ll do just that. The show has gained international popularity with a full season (12 episodes) airing in 2016. An Avenue Magazine Top 40 Under 40 alumnus, Sorin along with OMNI Television have received multiple RISE (Recognize Immigrant Success in Edmonton) awards, including the 2010 Diversity Impact Award, 2010 Community Engagement Award and the 2010 Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC) Mentorship Award, was recognized in 2012 and 2013 by RBC and Canadian Immigrant Magazine as one of Canada’s top 75 immigrants and won the 2012 Consumer Champion Award for his Scam Detector app.

Kim Wheeler, 2015

Journalism, 1995
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2015

Kim Wheeler has brought positive Indigenous stories to both the mainstream and Aboriginal media for over 22 years. She began her journalism career at the Edmonton Journal, and worked for the Canadian Press/Broadcast News for five years before leaving to pursue marketing and publicity work.

Kim joined CBC Radio One in 2008 and produced four seasons of ReVision Quest; a radio talk show that mixed personal storytelling, current affairs, interviews and comedy while exploring issues affecting Aboriginal Peoples. She was awarded a silver medal at New York Festivals for her work on ReVision Quest and was short-listed for a Prix Italia for her work on Indian Summer, a series that told stories and shared songs of Indigenous musicians.
Kim created and developed a weekly podcast called Ab-Originals – featuring the hottest Aboriginal music in Canada. It aired on CBC Radio 3 for three seasons and was the precursor for the CBC Music’s Aboriginal music community where she developed digital content and programmed a 24/7 music channel that’s still available online at cbcmusic.com.

Kim has worked with musicians and publicity clients across Canada including: Gemini Award winning actress Michelle Thrush; Joey Stylez, named one of Canada’s Top 25 rappers of all time by CBC Music; Inuvik country artist Leanne Goose; punk rockers The Johnnys; and award-winning author Richard Wagamese. She currently sits on the advisory committee for the Indigenous Music Awards and is a previous board member and music programmer for Aboriginal Music Week.

Recently, Kim has returned to CBC Radio as a producer on Unreserved. The weekly hour-long show, hosted by Rosanna Deerchild, invites listeners along a journey into the living stories of people, culture and music. Unreserved ran regionally for 11 months before being picked up by the network to run nationally across Canada.

Founding Members McMan, 2015

Founding Members, McMan Youth and Community Services Association
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2015

Jim Allers, Youth Development, 1975
Norah Cantin, Youth Development, 1975
John Meston, Youth Development, 1976
Rick Newcombe, Youth Development, 1976

In 1975, four graduates of what was then Grant MacEwan College questioned and challenged the existing practices around caring for young people. Not only did they believe things should be different; they knew they needed to be different. So they opened a group home in the inner city of Edmonton and McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association was born. Youth in the home were cared for within the context of supportive and understanding relationships, and McMan’s practices were based upon the values of giving, trust, security and acceptance. They created a place that felt like home, where each youth’s individual interests were nurtured, and visits from family were encouraged and supported. It was more than just a placement, more than just a place to live. It was a real home, a safe and caring place in which each youth was given equal opportunity, and encouraged to realize their full unique potential.

Over the last four decades, McMan has grown and evolved into a dynamic, not-for-profit social service agency employing close to 700 staff and providing a comprehensive range of programs across Alberta, including foster care services. In 2014, McMan worked with 210 individuals with disabilities, 10,844 children and youth, 3,177 families, and 4,513 adults. This would not have been possible without the vision, determination and passion of the founding members, who came together to truly make a difference in our community.

Sandra Woitas, 2015

Advertising and Public Relations, 1975
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2015

Sandra Woitas brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion to the education community. As one of the 100 influential Edmontonians of the Century, an educator for 35 years and advocate for Edmonton’s most disadvantaged children and families, Sandra adopted several roles, all aimed towards helping students realize their full potential. As the former director of the City Centre Education Project with Edmonton Public Schools, she collaborated with seven inner-city schools to ensure students had the resources and support they needed to realize their full potential, academically and in life. The project was recognized by Today’s Parent magazine in its report recognizing the top 40 Canadian schools, by the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development for its collaborative practices and the Alberta Premier’s Award for excellence.

Sandra worked with Alberta Education/Children and Youth Services on a cross-ministry Family Violence and Anti-Bully Initiative. Collaborating with the Alberta Mental Health Board, Sandra assisted school districts across the province in building 38 school-based integrated mental health capacity projects providing them with the skills, resources and support required to reduce the frequency and severity of bullying behaviors in Alberta schools.

Sandra has garnered several awards for her dedication, including the Queen Diamond Jubilee Medal, Alberta Centennial Medal, Women of Integrity, Women of Vision and Advocate of Young Children Award and an honorary doctor of laws from the University of Alberta. Most recently, Sandra received the Lions Club International Foundation Citizen of Distinction Award for Dedicated Humanitarian Services and was inducted into the City of Edmonton Hall of Fame for her dedicated work in community services.

Megan Dart, 2014

Bachelor of Applied Communications in Professional Writing, 2006
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2014

Megan’s activity in the Edmonton arts scene has put her on the map. In 2013, The Wanderer Online named Megan one of Edmonton’s Top 100 Influential Women in Business, backing up its choice with a CV filled with arts activities: Megan is curator, artist liaison and publicity manager for Nextfest; publicity manager for the Expanse Festival; street team member with the Arts Touring Alliance of Alberta; president of the Good Women Dance Society Board and artsScene Edmonton; and committee member with Theatre Network and Theatre Edmonton Project.

Megan is co-artistic producer of Catch the Keys Productions, producing unique arts-based events. As an integral part of the Edmonton arts scene for more than seven years, she has worked with clients such as the Edmonton Arts Council, the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, Citadel Theatre, and produced the 2014 Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts. She is also a spoken-word poet with The Edmonton Slam Team, which represented Edmonton at the 2014 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word.

In addition to her role in the arts community, Megan coordinated a national lobbying campaign involving more than two million Canadians and 2,000 commercial fitness facilities, which led to the introduction of the children’s fitness tax credit and changed provincial and federal legislation.

Solon and Jeremiah McDade, 2014

Music, 1998
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2014

Juno Award winners Solon and Jeremiah McDade began their music careers as talented multi-instrumentalists at the ages of four and five. Veterans of the McDade Family Band and the Canadian folk festival circuit before the age of 16, the siblings had the chance to perform at the Canadian National Exhibition, Vancouver Expo ’86 and the Commonwealth Games, and they have given multiple performances for members of the British royal family. Solon McDade has performed with a long list of blues greats and throughout his time at MacEwan and while in McGill University’s jazz performance program, he took part in North American and European tours with artists such as Bill Bourne, Shannon Johnson, and Maria Dunn. Most notably, Solon has been recorded on a number of albums, four of which have been nominated for Juno Awards and nine for Aria Awards.

Jeremiah McDade, also a graduate with high distinction from McGill’s jazz performance program, has been featured on numerous soundtracks, including the Biography Entertainment Channel, the Banff Film Festival and the National Film Board of Canada. In 2000, the siblings began to work together on their new group, the McDades, with the release of Bloom, which won the 2007 Juno Award for best roots/traditional album by a group, two Canadian Folk Music Awards and an International Independent Music Award. The group has performed all over Europe and North America, and recorded with a variety of musicians from around the world. In 2012, The McDades collaborated with composer Allan Gilliland, chair of MacEwan University’s Bachelor of Music, to create arrangements that they performed to three sold-out shows with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

Patricia Garrett, 2014

Social Work, 1976
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2014

Since 1989, Patricia has been the executive director of WINGS of Providence, a housing agency and program that provides support for women and children who have experienced family violence. Under Patricia’s leadership, WINGS recently expanded and built a $6.5-million, third-stage housing apartment building. This building, the Home Next Door, provides additional low-cost, long-term housing units for women and children. Patricia has been instrumental in guiding the development of WINGS through its early days in a 12-suite apartment building to the major agency it is today.

In 2003, Patricia led the development of a new building that includes a six-month intensive second-stage program providing housing, safety and support for 20 families. Over the past two years, she has led the development of the Home Next Door, where 29 families can live for a further two years while they develop independence and healthy relationships. To date, WINGS has served over 980 families and 2,300 children.

A strong supporter of education, Patricia is a member of MacEwan University’s Social Work Advisory Committee and provides consistent and ongoing learning opportunities for social work students to complete their field placements, with several becoming employees of WINGS following their graduation.

Stephen McHolm, 2014

Arts Administration, 1995
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2014

Stephen McHolm has been chief artistic and administrative officer of The Esther Honens International Piano Competition Foundation since 2004. He is described as a ‘rebel and revolutionary’ by Calgary’s Avenue Magazine—a testament to work in making a ‘new Calgary’ seen and heard around the world today. Under his leadership, Honens has become one of Canada’s farthest-reaching arts organizations, taking the city and the nation to the world’s music capitals while launching the careers of deserving emerging concert artists.

Music has been central to McHolm’s life since taking up piano at age five. While studying at the University of Ottawa, he balanced research on arts funding with hosting and producing programs on campus radio. He started his career in the arts with the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA), for which he later served as a Board Director. He joined Honens as Artistic Administrator in 1998. In 2012, McHolm was honoured with the Rozsa Award for Excellence in Arts Management—the only prize of its kind in Canada to recognize the development and implementation of outstanding administrative practices in the arts while encouraging artistic innovation.

In 2013, he was named an Honorary Fellow of Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music for his contribution to classical music and arts education around the world, joining a distinguished group that includes Measha Brueggergosman, David Foster and Oscar Peterson. McHolm has served as a Vice President of the Geneva-based World Federation of International Music Competitions—a member of the International Music Council of UNESCO—since 2009.

Ben Weinlick, 2013

Disability Studies: Leadership and Community, 2007
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2013

Ben is the founder of the Think Jar Collective, a group of creative people from diverse sectors who are trying to effect social innovation and positive change in human services, community health and beyond. Ben has written a number of articles on enhancing creativity in organizations. He is also a facilitator, teacher and trainer in human services, challenging individuals and organizations to create meaningful community connections for all citizens.

As a senior manager at SKILLS Society, Ben works diligently to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Ben leads Project Citizenship, a collaboration with the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts, SKILLS Society and the University of Alberta. This project has resulted in an increased awareness of the full citizenship for people with disabilities through stories highlighting the contributions people with disabilities are making in their communities. In 2012, the project was showcased at a gala at the SNAP gallery. Ben was also instrumental in the launch of the CommuniTEA van, a mobile tea house that creates an opportunity for people to gather and connect.

Ben has a keen intellect, a great sense of humour, and an ability to think outside of the box. He uses these traits to create innovative approaches to his work and invites others to be better by asking tough questions in a gentle and fun manner. Ben mentors students from MacEwan in field placements and routinely returns to the classroom providing students with inspirational stories.

Ben has had a tremendous impact on the lives of people with developmental disabilities in Edmonton. He is a true community builder and embodies the belief that strong communities have the capacity to recognize and appreciate the gifts of all citizens.

Mark Holowaychuk, 2013

International Business and Supply Chain Management, 2005
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2013

Mark is the founder of Vitamart.ca, one of Canada’s largest online health supplement stores. In just five short years, Mark grew his company from $1,000 in sales to a multi- million-dollar corporation. Originally starting out in his basement, Mark now carries over 5,000 products and runs his business out of a 5,000 square-foot warehouse.

Mark regularly returns to MacEwan University to mentor students in the business program. During his visits, he discusses the benefits and the challenges of owning and running an e-business and participates in the e-business challenge which involves reading student reports, attending presentations and provides guidance and feedback throughout the process.

Mark also launched supplementreviewer.com, a review website dedicated to providing feedback and reviews on health products. He founded Edmonton Internet Millions Mastermind Group, a monthly get-together for local internet entrepreneurs and was named one of Edmonton’s “Sizzlers” in 2010.

Betty Lorraine Cornelius, 2013

Business Administration, 1976
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2013

Betty is the founder and President of CANGRANDS National Kinship Support, a national grass-roots organization dedicated to providing information and support to the 62,500 kinship children being raised by grandparents and other kinship family members.

Betty works tirelessly providing encouragement, and moral and emotional support to kinship families. She is a strong advocate for kin-children and kin-headed households, having personally had the experience of being denied access to one grandchild and rescuing another from an abusive situation. She has a strong drive that motivates her to continue to learn about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Radical Attachment Disorders and behavior modification.

Betty has persistently worked to get Ontario grandparents rights since 1997 and was instrumental in getting Bill 210 passed, which is commonly known as the kinship bill. She has a strong background in business, addictions and social psychology and thrives on making things happen.

Betty spoke at the First International Kinship Conference, held in New York in 2007, and in March 2008 at the AARP in Washington DC, as well as at the United Nations Youth round table in Ottawa. In 1980 Betty's mother was murdered, so she also speaks on issues affecting victims of violence.

On top of all she does, Betty works part time as a Mental Health Support worker and has fostered 32 children over the past 30 years. In 2011, she was nominated for an Everyday Heroes award in Chatelaine magazine.

Don Caron, 2013

Accounting, 1991
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2013

Don Caron is the Chairman, President and CEO of Bri-Chem. Bri-Chem is North America’s largest drilling fluids distributor and operates from 25 national warehouse locations. It’s a leader in wholesale distribution of drilling fluid chemicals and additives, as well as steel products and services to the resource, industrial and construction industries in North America. Prior to joining Bri-Chem, Don was a managing partner of a Canadian private equity group that specialized in taking an active interest in the management and growth of public and private diversified companies.

Don is very active in volunteering his time as an instructor and mentor for various youth sports groups and actively raises funds for community sport and associations and select charities. Don was a former director of the Edmonton Petroleum Club, as well as numerous private and public companies. He was also the recipient of an Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award last fall.

Beth Allard-Clough, 2012

Advertising and Public Relations, 1991
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2012

Beth Allard-Clough is an active donor, volunteer and community ambassador for MacEwan University. She is the executive director and board member of the Allard Foundation, which provides financial assistance to a number of organizations in Alberta and Canada that primarily focus on healthcare, education and medical research. In 2010, the Allard Foundation provided its largest-ever gift to a post-secondary institution when it made a donation to students entering the new Bachelor of Communication Studies program. The Allard Foundation has also given support to Brentwood College in British Columbia, NAIT and Red Deer College.

By leading the Allard Foundation, Beth carries on the legacy of her grandfather, Dr. Charles Allard, who Beth represents at the MacEwan University's Allard Chair in Business annual luncheon, which brings together business leaders and students.

Beth's continued involvement with the university included her role as a member of the 2011 Mad Hater's Gala auction acquisition sub-committee and being named 2009 Honorary Mad Hatter.

Nargis Jamal, 2012

Voluntary Sector Management, 2004
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2012

Nargis is the founder and president of Women’s Empowerment International Foundation (WEIF), an Edmonton-based organization aimed at improving the lives of women and children in the poorest districts of Central and South Asia. As a 2004 graduate of the Voluntary Sector Management Program, Nargis has used her management and leadership skills to guide a small team of dedicated board members and volunteers to alleviate poverty, promote gender equality, and improve the lives of thousands of individuals through access to education, health services, and economic opportunity.

In the five short years since WEIF’s inception, Nargis has been instrumental in the creation or expansion of 11 educational facilities in India and Pakistan, while courageously pursuing innovative projects in microcredit, health, and rural development. This past June, WEIF launched a rural development initiative in Dahanu Taluka, India, that provided clean drinking water, tools for income generation, vocational training opportunities, and health education to impoverished and underserved communities. In addition, this year WEIF will prevent the closure of an HIV/AIDS clinic in Mumbai, and finance the post-secondary education of dozens of talented youth.

Nargis has spread her energy and hope in Canada and abroad, envisioning a world where all children, free from the burdens of poverty and social inequality, can reach their full human potential.

Richard Neidig, 2012

Audio Visual Technician, 1976
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2012

As President of Northern Lakes College, Rick has made a significant contribution to his community and has been a major force in enhancing the post-secondary education opportunities for students in Northwest Alberta. A graduate of the Audio Visual Technician program, Rick always had a keen interest in the use of technology to improve instruction. It was that passion and interest that led him to eventually have a significant voice in lobbying that resulted in the building of the Alberta SuperNet.

His leadership and sense of community led him to turn the Northern Lakes Slave Lake campus into the crisis command centre for emergency services during the 2011 Slave Lake fire. He deployed college resources, personnel and other campus space to assist with the emergency -- ensuring that staff, students and members of the community had a safe place to stay during the fire.

Rick has over 30 years of experience in the post-secondary sector.

CEIBA Association, 2012

Various alumni, 2007-2010
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2012

The CEIBA Association was founded in 2010 by a group of passionate and dedicated MacEwan alumni (all are Project Hope alumni as well). CEIBA is an Edmonton-based, non-for profit organization that is passionate for local and global community projects that promote change and social transformation. The association is run by “youth-for-youth,” is 100% volunteer powered and provides numerous opportunities for youth to participate in hands-on learning projects and programs. CEIBA works with elementary and high schools to create and facilitate educational workshops on leadership, global education, water and food justice, and youth action and engagement. Recently, the group signed a two-year contract with the university to ensure that Project Hope continues to operate. The Project Hope student brigade, which consists of 13 MacEwan students from diverse academic programs and backgrounds, is now co-managed by CEIBA and the university.

Alexandra Hatcher, 2011

Arts and Cultural Management, 1999
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2011

Alexandra’s first position upon graduating from MacEwan was as an executive director, which in itself exemplifies her potential and her ambition. Since then she has gone on to complete her Master's degree in Public Administration and was one of a very few Canadians selected to attend the J. Paul Getty Trust Museum Leadership Institute in Los Angeles. Her drive and ambition is matched only by her intense vision for arts and culture.

All who know her agree – Alexandra Hatcher is a dynamic force in our community. Her most recent accomplishment was the recognition given her by Avenue magazine which named her one of 2010’s Top 40 under 40. In every area of her professional life, Alexandra has continued to distinguish herself in the 12 years since graduating from MacEwan. Alexandra is currently the Executive Director of the Alberta Museum Association.

Mark Sirett, 2011

Arts Administration, 1980
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2011

Mark Sirett is an award-winning conductor and composer with 100 published choral works. His works have been performed by some of Canada's leading choirs and have been heard on CBC radio and television. He is frequently in demand as a guest conductor, choral clinician, and adjudicator.

Mark holds both master's and doctoral degrees in choral conducting and pedagogy from the University of Iowa. He has taught at the University of Alberta, the University of Western Ontario, and Queen's University. For six years he served as Organist/Music Director at St. George's Cathedral in Kingston. Under his direction the Cathedral Gril Choristers won first prize in the 1996 CBC Choral Competition for amateur choirs.

His recent work, The Stars Point the Way, was honoured as "Outstanding Choral Composition" by the Association of Canadian Choral Communities.

Barbara Reid, 2011

Rehabilitation Practitioner, 1984
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2011

Barb Reid has worked in the field of supporting families and children with disabilities for over 25 years. Her professional practice is grounded on values of community inclusion, family centered practices and early childhood development. As Executive Director of Getting Ready for Inclusion Today (GRIT), a non-profit early childhood program, Barb provides leadership in best teaching practices for children with disabilities. For families, she supports their journey, helping them to envision a future for their children that integrates families’ hopes and dreams for an inclusive community life from childhood to adulthood. Barb began her relationship and service to GRIT shortly after her graduation from MacEwan. She was also an instructor with MacEwan from 1990 to 1996 in the Rehabilitation Practitioner and Early Childhood Development programs.

Amanda Woodward, 2011

Design Studies, 1999
Distinugished Alumni Award, 2011

Amanda Woodward is a positive and enthusiastic individual who has excelled in her career as an illustrator and designer. As a professional in the design industry, she is highly respected by her peers and colleagues. She is a member of and holds an executive position on the board of the Graphic Designers of Canada - Alberta North chapter. Since graduating from MacEwan and starting her own firm, Woodward Design, Amanda has served a lengthy list of clients including the Edmonton Journal, ATCO, City of Edmonton and Cricket magazine. In addition to her graphic design work, she continues to exhibit illustrative artwork locally and internationally, from coffee shops in Edmonton to the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City.

She is dedicated to serving the community and has worked on fundraising and awareness events for organizations such as Edmonton Women's Shelter, United Way, Doctors and Derrieres, Homeward Trust Edmonton and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Her support of the art includes pro bono work for the Brian Webb Dance Company, Northern Light Theatre, International Street Performers Festival and North Country Fair.

Amanda is committed to enabling future designers. She lectures at post-secondary institutions and offers internships for new graduates. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, Amanda credits MacEwan for providing her with the foundation upon which she has built success.

Jean Crozier, 2010

Library and Information Technology, 1974
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2010

Jean Crozier graduated from MacEwan’s Library and Information Technology program in 1974, a goal she accomplished as an adult part-time student while working part-time and raising a family. Over the next decade Jean served on several MacEwan advisory councils and was a frequent speaker with the program. Between 1975 and 1984, Jean completed a Bachelor of Science degree through the University of Alberta – again she studied part-time and raised her family but she worked full-time.

For almost 20 years, Jean owned and operated one of the largest and most diverse information management companies in western Canada. Jean and her staff received numerous awards for the historical projects they completed for clients in all sectors: business, government, and nonprofit. Jean has also been recognized as an entrepreneur, a writer, and a volunteer within a broad spectrum of our community – from women’s advocacy organizations to literary festivals and museum societies, international sporting events, as well as arts and culture organizations.

Cheryl Feldstein, 2010

Social Work, 2002
Distinugished Alumni Award, 2010

A graduate of MacEwan's Social Work program in 2002 and recipient of the 2009 “Top 40 under 40” award, Cheryl Feldstein credits most of her success as an educator and facilitator to her desire to make a difference in her community.

After volunteering and being an active board member with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton, Cheryl became its executive director. Through Cheryl’s leadership and passion for the environment, the fledging society has grown substantially, increasing its public profile and annual budget. Overcoming financial hurdles and the loss of the land the organization was originally built on are experiences that have served to strengthen Cheryl’s resolve.

Cheryl also serves as the spokesperson on air quality for the Lung Association (Alberta and North West Territories) and as president of the board of the youth-driven media initiative, Active Citizens Television. Much of Cheryl’s time is spent as an environmental spokesperson helping people of all ages and sectors see how our natural surroundings are connected to every component of our lives and our community.

Andrea Engel, 2010

Journalism, 1991
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2010

From an early age, Andrea Engel loved reading and telling stories. It was a fitting career choice when she decided to pursue journalism, graduating from MacEwan in 1991. For the better part of two decades, Andrea has been reporting and anchoring radio and television news in Alberta. In 2007, Andrea received the Consumers Choice Award for “Woman of the Year” based on the organization’s annual survey of Edmontonians.

Recently, Andrea shifted her career in a new direction into the field of residential real estate. This allows her the flexibility she needs as a busy wife and a mother of two young children as well as a dedicated volunteer in our community, where she blends her media expertise and love of literacy with causes that focus on children and youth.

Andrea often remarks that she feels privileged to “walk with one foot in two worlds” – as a mother to both a typically-developing nine-year-old son and a seven-year-old son who has autism. In addition to being a hockey and snowboard cheerleader, Andrea is very involved with delivery of special education for her younger son. She has translated her experiences as a parent of an autistic child into a passion for raising public awareness about the ‘extraordinary world of autism’.

Ryan Silverman, 2010

Theatre Arts, 1997
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2010

After graduating from the Theatre Arts Program in 1997, Ryan Silverman quickly showed how hard work, training, education, and talent combine to create success. Ryan has carved out an impressive career on some of the world’s most famous stages as well as regional stages, concert halls, and in film and television.

In addition to being a talented performer, Ryan has another quality that is of special note. It is his commitment to reaching out to youth and young performers through Talkback sessions and theatre tours, where participants have the opportunity to ask questions of the performers. Ryan encourages these young people to believe in themselves and what they can achieve – he speaks from experience that they can relate to.

At the time of receiving the distinguished alumni award, Ryan was living in New York and starring as Raoul in the Broadway Production of Phantom of the Opera.

Award Winners, 2006-2009

Chloe Albert

Music, 2004
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2009

Scott Kashuba

Early Childhood Development, 1981
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2009

Alex Mahe

General Arts and Science, 1987
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2009

Kathleen Quinn

Volunteer Sector Management, 2000
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2009

Lewis Cardinal

Native Communications, 1984
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2008

Sarah Edwards

Public Relations, 1997
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2008

Danielle Peers

BA University Transfer, 1998
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2008

Deb Cautley

Advertising and Public Relations, 1980
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2007

Lawrence (Lorne) Gladue

Management Studies/University Transfer, 1996
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2007

Andrew Ross

University Transfer, 1999
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2007

Bridget Ryan

Theatre Arts, 1993
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2007

Sean Caulfield

Fine Art, 1998
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2006

Kim Clegg

Arts and Media, 1989
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2006

Eric McMurray

Insurance and Risk Management, 1992
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2006

Bradley Walker

Arts and Cultural Management, 1998
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2006

Award Winners, 2000-2005

Dave Bell

Law Enforcement and Corrections, 1976
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2005

Eric Bergman

Advertising and Public Relations, 1982
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2005

Joan Goodman

Social Work, 2000
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2005

Diane Bergeron

Management Studies, 2001; Rehabilitation Practitioner, 1992
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2004

Damien Atkins

Theatre Arts, 1994
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2003

Marjorie Bencz

Voluntary Sector Management, 1990
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2003

Merle Harris

Info Management and Library Technology, 1998
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2003

Laurel Deedrick-Mayne

Arts Administration, 1981
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2002

Florence Loyie

Journalism, 1984
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2002

Rhonda Palmer

Legal Assistant, 1991
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2002

Denise Carpenter

General Administration, 1985; Advertising and Public Relations, 1981
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2001

Susan Donnelly

Early Childhood Development, 1973
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2001

June MacGregor

Social Work, 1973
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2001

Shauna Seneca

Child and Youth Care, 1997
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2000

Isabel Bernete

Interior Design Sales Retailing Program, 1980
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2000

Karen Ashby

Nursing, 1981
Distinguished Alumni Award, 2000

Award Winners, 1990s

Dennis Lenarduzzi

Visual Communication Design, 1985
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1999

Karen Spiess

Voluntary Sector Management, 1990
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1999

Darcy Verhun

Accounting, 1980
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1999

Mandy Corea

Teacher Aide, 1998
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1998

Zedingle Ghebremeusse

Social Work, 1991
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1998

Darka Tarnawsky

Arts Administration, 1989
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1998

Iren Bartok

Music, 1995
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1997

Bob McPhee

Arts Administration, 1983
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1997

Colin Vann

Law Enforcement, 1978
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1997

Dale Auger

Native Communications, 1982
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1996

Stephen Williams

Volunteer Sector Management, 1990
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1995

Lynn Loos Moroz

Interpreter Training, 1987
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1994

Margo Kane

Dance, 1975
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1993

Stephanie Wilson

Occupational Health Nursing, 1979
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1992

William Exelby

Accounting, 1981
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1991

Sunita Kumar

Arts Administration, 1988
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1990

Award Winners, 1980s

Linda Tyre

Volunteer Management, 1984
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1989

John Meston

Youth Development, 1976
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1988

Sherri Makarewicz

Volunteer Management, 1983
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1987

Carol Lynn Chilkowich

Travel Consultant, 1979
Distinguished Alumni Award, 1986