Premier's Awards


The Premier's Awards is an annual provincial awards program created by the government to recognize the important economic and social contribution college graduates make to Ontario. Award nominees receive a bronze medal and direct a five thousand dollar bursary to the college of their choice. There are 6 categories and one graduate may be nominated in each category:

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

George Brown College has a fantastic history with the Premier's Awards. George Brown College Alumni nominees have won every year since 2012.


George Brown’s 2016 Premier’s Award Nominees


Premiere Award Nominee David Wolfman

Category: Creative Arts and Design
Nominee: Chef David Wolfman, Educator, Executive Producer
Program/Grad Year: 
Graduate 1981, Cook Apprentice

Chef and educator David Wolfman has been instrumental in raising the profile of native Canadian cuisine, while encouraging Aboriginal youth across the country to go to college. A member of the Xaxli'p First Nation in B.C., he was the first Aboriginal chef to produce and host a national TV cooking show, Cooking with the Wolfman. He ran the first Aboriginal catering company in Toronto and created the first Aboriginal Cuisine program at the college level in Canada. In 1992, he was captain of the first team of Canadian Aboriginal chefs at the World Culinary Olympics, winning seven gold medals.



Premiere Award Nominee Marlon Merraro

Category: Community Services
Nominee: Marlon Merraro, Manager, Urban Issues, Toronto Public Health
Program/Grad Year: 
Graduate 1994, Community Worker

In over 20 years as a community worker, Marlon Merraro has lent his expertise and enthusiasm to a number of community and government organizations in Toronto.  He has created groundbreaking programs that have helped marginalized young people finish school, achieve stable housing and publish books.  In his current role as Manager of Urban Issues at Toronto Public Health, Merraro spearheads the implementation of large-scale community health strategies to help citizens in 31 priority Toronto neighbourhoods.  Last year, Merraro was one of 230 Canadians chosen to participate in the prestigious Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference.

Premiere Award Nominee Nathalie Cook

Category: Business
Nathalie Cook, President, Cimoroni & Company
Program/Grad Year: 
Graduate 1991, Sport and Event Marketing

As a successful woman in the male-dominated sports industry, Nathalie Cook has been a role model and advocate for the advancement of women in sports in Canada.  In her 25 year career, she served as TSN's first female vice-president; helped guide the careers of some of Canada's top Olympians including gold medalist Marnie McBean; worked at six Olympic Games as manager, volunteer or executive; and helped land multi-million dollar marketing and partnership deals.  She has been named one of Canada's 100 Most Powerful Women, a Game Changer, and one of the Most Influential Women in Sport and Physical Activity.

Premiere Award Nominee Ashley Kwong

Category: Health Sciences
Ashley Kwong, Owner and Director of Operations Memory & Company
Program/Grad Year: 
Graduate 2000, Activation Co-ordinator/Gerontology

Ashley Kwong is committed to helping improve the lives of people with dementia.  She sold her house to open Memory & Company in Markham, which provides innovative day programming for people with memory loss in a country-club style setting.  With over 15 years’ experience in the senior care industry, Kwong says there’s a vital need for quality day programs to improve the well-being of people with dementia and their caregivers.  Since opening in May 2015, Memory & Company has seen cognitive improvement in some of its members and is participating in research projects, including testing of a brain fitness app.       

Premiere Award Nominee Perry Poulsen

Category: Technology
Nominee: Perry Poulsen, Chief Information Officer, Manitoba eHealth
Program/Grad Year: Graduate 1984 Office Systems Servicing/Digital Equipment Systems

Perry Poulsen has played a leadership role in the growth of electronic-based health care for more than 30 years.  From his participation in the introduction of lab automation and the integration of Electronic Medical Records to his current pivotal role in the future of digital health, Poulsen has dedicated his career to bringing quality to healthcare technology. As CIO for Manitoba eHealth – the province’s central organization for planning, delivery and support of healthcare information and communication technology -- Poulsen is helping to create a roadmap and vision for delivering the right health information at the right time for Manitoba citizens.

Premiere Award Nominee Kiwayne Jones

Category: Recent Graduate
Nominee: Kiwayne Jones
Program/Grad Year: 
Graduate 2015 Construction Engineering Technician, Graduate 2011 Construction Trades and Techniques and Graduate 2009 Pre-Business Certificate

Growing up a Crown ward and homeless at 17, Kiwayne Jones managed to turn his life around.  He graduated from college and embarked on a career in construction.  Now his dream is to build a community centre to help other struggling young people get the support and skills they need for a better start in life.  Even while homeless, Jones volunteered at youth centres and consulted with government offices on services for young people.  Jones is a Duke of Edinburgh International Award Gold Award holder and was elected national Youth Representative on the national board of the youth self-development program.  

Do you know of a candidate for the 2017 Premier's Awards? 
If so, please submit this nominee information form.



George Brown College 2015 Winner

Benjamin Kissell

Benjamin Valliquette Kissell, B.Tech, GSI, ICIOB
Category: Recent Graduate
Graduate 2013, Bachelor of Technology, Construction Science and Management
Graduate 2011, Construction Engineering Technologist
Graduate 2010, Carpentry – Advanced Certificate
Project Manager, Gillam Group Inc.

Benjamin Valliquette Kissell has played a key role in several high-profile construction projects, including the internationally acclaimed Aga Khan Museum. Ben was a recipient of the Mike Holmes Mike it Right Award, and the 2014 CIOB International Outstanding Achievement Award. He works as Project Manager for the Gillam Group, and serves as Chairman of CIOB Novus Canada. As past Director of the Habitat Campus Coalition, Ben's efforts had an enormous impact on the growth of affordable housing in Ontario. Motivated to make the world a better place, Ben and his wife Naly manage a child literacy project in the Philippines.

2015 Premier's Awards Nominees

Category - Creative Arts and Design

Brad Goreski

Brad Goreski, Graduate 1999, Theatre Arts
Fashion stylist and TV personality, Los Angeles
Brand Stylist, Kate Spade, New York

Brad Goreski turned a love of fashion and his college theatre arts training into a successful career as a celebrity fashion stylist and television personality. A host of the hit show Fashion Police, Goreski also dresses stars like Demi Moore, Christina Ricci and Jessica Alba for special events and red carpets. Goreski also starred in the fashion reality shows The Rachel Zoe Project and his own It's a Brad, Brad World. He is the author of the 2012 memoir Born to Be Brad: My Life and Style, So Far, and is the official Brand Stylist for Kate Spade New York. 

Category – Community Services

Susan Gapka

Susan Gapka, Graduate 2000, Community Worker
Community and political organizer

Overcoming major obstacles in her own life, social activist Susan Gapka now fights for the rights of other vulnerable members of society.  She successfully lobbied to: amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to prohibit transgender discrimination; change the Vital Statistics Act to allow transgender people to change their birth registration; and restore funding for sex reassignment surgery. Homeless for 10 years previously, Gapka credits college for building her self-esteem and helping her gain the courage to come out as a transgender woman in 2000. In 2015, Gapka was named LGBTQ Person of the Year by the Toronto Inspire Awards.

Category – Business

Cheryl Cecchetto

Cheryl Cecchetto, Graduate 1980, Theatre Arts
Founder and President, Sequoia Productions, Los Angeles

For over 25 years, Sudbury native Cheryl Cecchetto has been producing Hollywood's most prestigious events, including the Academy Awards Governors Ball for 26 years and the Primetime Emmys Governors Ball for 18 years. In 2015, Cecchetto produced the opening ceremonies for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles and published Passion to Create, a coffee table book featuring personal memories, photographs of her events, behind-the-scenes stories, and event planning tips. A theatre arts graduate, she was assistant to Oscar-winning actress Shelley Winters and appeared in movies and TV shows, before becoming a top Hollywood special events producer.

Category – Health Sciences

Louis Busch

Louis Busch, Graduate 2008, Behavioural Science Technology
Behaviour Therapist, Forensic Rehabilitation Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Louis Busch is passionate about behaviour analysis and its potential for improving people's lives. The Behaviour Therapist with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) uses behaviour analysis - interventions to bring about positive behaviour change - to help individuals with autism, acquired brain injury, intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health issues. Busch created and implemented a successful pilot program to increase the capacity of staff in community group homes to care for individuals with complex needs and challenging behaviour. The program has since been expanded province wide. Bear Clan Cree from the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, Busch also consults with CAMH's aboriginal outreach program. 

Category – Technology

Doug Heitkamp

Doug Hietkamp
Graduate 1986, Tool Design
Graduate 1987, Mechanical Engineering Technician – Manufacturing or Design
Director of Sustainable Development Programs, Teknion, Toronto

As Director of Sustainable Development Programs, Doug Hietkamp has helped grow Teknion's reputation as an organization committed to environmental sustainability. Under his leadership, the company has won numerous environmental awards, including the Minister's Award for Environmental Excellence from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.  Hietkamp speaks at industry and environmental events and mentors students in Toronto area colleges and universities.  Passionate about environmental sustainability, he has installed solar and geothermal systems and energy-saving upgrades on his own properties.  An Ironman triathlete and an active volunteer, he has participated in Habitat for Humanity builds in Chile, Bolivia and Honduras.

Do you know of a candidate for the Premier's Awards?

If so, please submit this nominee information form.
The Premier's Awards is an annual provincial awards program created by the government to recognize the important economic and social contribution college graduates make to Ontario. Award nominees receive a bronze medal and direct a five thousand dollar bursary to the college of their choice.
There are 6 categories and one graduate may be nominated in each category:

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

Now accepting recommendations for the 2016 Premier's Awards.