Premier's Awards

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About the Premier's Awards

Launched in 1992 to mark the 25th anniversary of Ontario colleges, the Premier’s Awards honour outstanding college graduates from Ontario’s 24 public colleges. It is a provincial awards program created by the government to recognize the important economic and social contributions college graduates make to Ontario.

The awards are presented annually in seven categories:

  • Business
  • Community Services
  • Creative Arts and Design
  • Health Sciences
  • Recent Graduate
  • Science, Technology and Engineering
  • Skilled Trades 
  • Technology

George Brown College has a fantastic history with the Premier's Awards and proudly celebrates the achievements of our nominees and our winners.

George Brown’s 2023 Premier’s Awards Nominees

Melonie de Guzman

Category: Business
Nominee: Melonie de Guzman, PMP, SMM, Owner, Melonie de Guzman Program Management Services Inc.
Program and Grad Year: Sport and Event Marketing, Post-Graduate Certificate (2006)

Melonie de Guzman is a pioneer and advocate for the inclusion of women in technology-focused industries. She has attained a high level in her industry as a certified Project Manager Professional (PMP) and SAFe Agilist as well as a SCRUM Master II, while serving as a mentor and international speaker.

Melonie has made a positive impact in the community as Co-Founder of Women in Technology and her affiliation with several prominent mentorship organizations. She also has received numerous awards over the course of her career.

Lesley Hampton

Leslie Hampton

Category: Creative Arts & Design 
Nominee: Lesley Hampton, Founder, Fashion Designer, and Creative Director, LESLEY HAMPTON
Program and Grad Year: Fashion Techniques and Design (2017)

Lesley Hampton is the owner, Fashion Designer and Creative Director of LESLEY HAMPTON fashion company. She is an Anishinaabe artist, model and speaker that is passionate about increasing Indigenous representation in the world of fashion and changing stereotypical views on beauty standards and body types. That passion led her to be one of six Indigenous Canadian designers to represent Canada at 2023 Milan Fashion Week. 

Lesley cites her college education as being instrumental in facilitating her success in the fashion industry. Through her design work, Lesley continues to be a voice for Indigenous representation and body positivity in fashion.

Amy Symington

Amy Symington

Category: Health Sciences
Nominee: Amy Symington, Nutrition Professor, Researcher & Chef, George Brown College
Program and Grad Year: Culinary Management Nutrition (2010)

Amy Symington merged her love of the culinary arts with pragmatism and found her calling in the application of her culinary education to supporting people with cancer. Her research relating to proper nutrition for cancer patients led her to write two cookbooks ("Community Guide to Cancer Nutrition Companion Cookbook" and "The Long-Table Cookbook") to act as resources for cancer patients, caretakers and survivors.

As a nutrition professor, researcher and chef, she trains and inspires the next generation of chefs to create healthier recipes. Amy is currently pursuing a PhD in Nutritional Sciences.

Kayla Moryoussef

Kayla Moryoussef

Category: Community Services
Nominee: Kayla Moryoussef, Death & Grief Worker, Good Death Doula Private Practice 
Program: Community Worker Program (2018)

Kayla Moryoussef has made significant contributions in the area of death and grief counselling. Through her company, Good Death Doula, as well as her work with the Home Hospice Association and Death Cafe, Kayla has positively impacted her community and brought a pragmatic and compassionate perspective to care for persons at the end of their lives.

Emefa Kuadey

Emefa Kuadey

Category: Recent Graduate
Nominee: Emefa Kuadey, Fashion Engineer and Founder, israella KOBLA
Program: Fashion Techniques and Design (2019)

Emefa Kuadey started her successful fashion design business while still at college. Through her hard work and creative designs, she has achieved significant success and brand recognition, particularly in light of her company's online and in-store partnership with mega retailer the Hudson's Bay.

Emefa is an exemplar in every sense, highlighting the power of college education, showcasing the talent pool available in BIPOC students and as she also mentors those starting off in the fashion industry. 

Ramkumar Arunamoorthy

Category: Technology
Nominee: Ramkumar Arunamoorthy, Senior Manager, Site Reliability Engineering & Cloud Operations Thomson Reuters 
Program: Information System Business Analysis Certificate (2013)

Ramkumar Arunamoorthy devoted his time and career to empowering people through education, providing technology training for 4000 plus individuals across Ontario facilitating the training needed to work in the technology sector. His work has garnered recognition by major tech companies like Google and Amazon, with him currently serving as Google's "Mentor East Canada Region" and "Women TechMaker Ambassador".  Additionally, he is an "AWS Community Builder" for Amazon AWS and supports not-for-profit organizations pro bono.

Ramkumar was awarded the Michael Cook Leadership Award in 2014 and received the Walk the Talk Leadership Award from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2018.

George Brown’s 2022 Premier’s Awards Nominees

Ray Williams

Ray Williams

Category: Business
Nominee: Ray Williams, Managing Director & Vice Chairman — Financial Markets at National Bank Financial
Program and Grad Year: Culinary Arts, 2011

Ray Williams’ career began in London’s financial district. He brought his young family to Canada, where he is currently the Managing Director and Vice Chairman of National Bank Financial

Observing that few Black people held senior positions in finance, Williams began working to change that narrative as a quiet “social justice warrior” and role model. 

Believing that success should be used to benefit others, he co-founded the Black Opportunities Fund to address systemic inequities in access to capital and support. He says, “cooking is my meditation” and pursued a culinary arts program with the same passion, learning and connection.

Darrell Bowden

Darrell Bowden

Category: Community Services
Nominee: Darrell Bowden, Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management
Program and Year of Graduation: Career and Work Counsellor, 1995

One of 11 children, Darrell Bowden grew up experiencing first-hand the sense of being an ‘outsider’ because of his Black and Indigenous heritage, and eventually because of his sexual orientation. 

These experiences became the foundation of his multi-faceted career in social justice, equity and inclusion in employment. 

Although from a seventh- generation Canadian family, Bowden was the first to go to college and university. 

Currently, he is the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management, where he works to embed equity, diversity and inclusion in systems, practices and policies.

Sage Paul

Sage Paul

Category: Creative Arts and Design
Nominee: Sage Paul
Artist and Designer – Sage Paul
Program and Year of Graduation: Fashion Techniques and Design, 2006

Co-founder and executive & artistic director of the bi-annual celebratory Indigenous Fashion Arts in Toronto, Sage Paul – a Denesuliné tskwe member of the English River First Nation – works to express and sustain Indigenous culture. She learned to sew and bead as a child, loved fashion and enrolled in a fashion techniques and design program. 

As the co-founder and executive & artistic director of Indigenous Fashion Arts, Paul provides advocacy, training and support. Paul has designed for theatre and dance, given a TEDX talk and speaks on panels. 

Honouring Indigenous culture and values while reviving lost skills and arts is the essence of her work.

Cassandra Koss

Cassandra Koss

Category: Health Sciences
Nominee: Cassandra Koss, Lifestyle Manager, V!VA Mississauga Retirement Community
Program and Year of Graduation: Interprofessional Complex and Long-Term Care, 2021

Cassandra Koss’s career has advanced swiftly from volunteer to summer student to activation staff to manager to her current position as a Resident Engagement Manager with direct reports. 

As a student, she was asked to make “friendly visits” with residents. When she realized how meaningful these interactions were, it was an epiphany. 

As COVID confined residents to their rooms and exacerbated their loneliness, Koss developed an innovative program allowing residents to use iPads so they could engage with each other. 

Koss dreams of opening her own long-term care residence someday and has thoughts about innovations to make residents’ later years more meaningful and enjoyable.

Aliya Hirji

Aliya Hirji

Category: Recent Graduate
Nominee: Aliya Hirji, Project Administrator, Govan Brown & Associates
Program and Year of Graduation: Architectural Technology, 2020; Honors Bachelor of Technology –Construction Management, 2022 

Aliya Akil Hirji has always been fascinated by architecture. She came to Canada from Tanzania, studied architectural technology and went on to construction management. 

She adapted to Canadian life, made the dean’s list and received several merit-based scholarships. A construction company awarded her a scholarship and hired her. She is currently the Project Administrator at Govan Brown & Associates.

Hirji has high expectations for herself and dismisses stereotypes about women’s roles. She looks forward to encouraging women to consider the construction industry and to becoming a mentor. Raised to show gratitude and to give back, she volunteers at organizations such as the Jaffari Community Centre and Out of the Cold Foundation.

Eugene Filice

Eugene Filice

Category: Technology
Nominee: Eugene Filice, Vice President, Construction at Great Gulf
Program and Year of Graduation: Construction Engineering Technician, 1994

When Eugene Filice told his father and grandfather, he wanted to study construction technology, they said “NO! It’s too dirty, too risky” — despite the fact they were both construction workers. However, he was determined to make this his career.

He is currently the Vice President of Construction at Great Gulf – a major residential construction company – where he emphasizes teamwork and shared responsibility. He says technology has transformed the residential construction industry from backbreaking, dangerous work to a safer, more automated workplace. 

Filice has contributed to advancing the construction industry on three major deeply interconnected fronts: technology, health and safety, and education.

Mike Yorke

Mike Yorke

Category: Apprenticeship
Nominee Name: Mike Yorke
Director of Public Affairs and Innovation of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario
Program and Year of Graduation: General Carpentry, 1986; Labour Studies, 1989

In his teens, Mike Yorke travelled the world working on construction sites. He developed an affinity for teamwork and a fascination with power and politics. 

He is currently Director of Public Affairs and innovation of the Carpenters District Council of Ontario. Where he advocates for the education, safety and protection of all workers. 

He co-founded the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades and has been instrumental in ensuring workers have up-to-date skills. Yorke has participated in humanitarian construction projects in several countries, particularly Jamaica, as well as supporting local programs to interest youth-at-risk in the trades.

George Brown’s 2021 Premier’s Awards Nominees

Chef John Cirillo

Category: Apprenticeship
Nominee: Chef John Cirillo, Chef/Owner, Cirillo’s Culinary Academy
Program/Grad Year: Graduate 1986, Cook Apprenticeship Basic

Twice named Toronto’s Chef of the Year, Chef John Cirillo runs Cirillo’s Culinary Academy, a state-of-the-art kitchen facility that is a favourite for group cooking classes and teambuilding events by corporations like RBC, CIBC, Bell and Rogers. Cirillo opened his Academy in 2008 after a successful career as Executive Chef for Hilton hotels. The Escoffier Society of Toronto awarded him Chef of the Year in 1998 and 2003. Cirillo joined Hilton as an apprentice at 17 and worked in England and Switzerland. In 2004, Cirillo led the Ontario team to Gold and Silver medals at the Culinary Olympics in Germany.

David Offierski

Category: Business
Nominee: David Offierski, Vice-President, Customer Experience Strategy & Design, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG)
Program/Grad Year: Graduate 2007, Marketing Manager, Financial Services

David Offierski is passionate about technology and its role in our personal and professional lives and he’s made a career out of helping businesses transform their digital profile to deliver exceptional customer service. As Vice-President of OLG’s Customer Experience Strategy and Design, Offierski and his team are transforming OLG’s digital presence and creating new online gaming entertainment. In five years with Konrad Group he helped grow the company from revenues of $2 million to $40 million. Offierski started Clip Mobile, Canada’s first location-based mobile coupon app, in 2009. He also owns Grand Trunk Trading Company, selling restored vintage maps online.

Diana Coatsworth

Category: Creative Arts and Design
Nominee: Diana Coatsworth, Owner, Diana Coatsworth Design
Program/Grad Year: Graduate 2015, Fashion Techniques and Design

In March 2020, at the start of the global pandemic, Toronto fashion designer Diana Coatsworth mobilized an army of 3,700 volunteers to sew desperately needed PPE for healthcare workers.  Over the coming months, The Sewing Army sewed more than 120,000 masks, surgical caps and isolation gowns. Coatsworth’s own fashion business, Diana Coatsworth Design, was also dramatically impacted by the pandemic.  With no demand for her signature custom event wear and upscale casual, she switched to creating one-of-a-kind casual wear from pre-loved and eco-conscious fabrics. Prior to designing, Coatsworth was a professional actor, singer, dancer and choreographer for over 25 years.

Paul Sharma

Category: Health Sciences
Nominee: Paul Sharma, Mass Vaccination Program Co-Lead, Region of Peel
Program/Grad Year: Graduate 1999, Dental Hygiene

As Co-Lead for Peel Region’s Mass Vaccination Program, Paul Sharma was charged with the responsibility of vaccinating 1.5 million people during the global pandemic. Deployed from his position as Director of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Sharma oversaw the hiring of almost 2,000 personnel and the establishment of multiple clinics. A hotspot in the province, Peel’s clinics delivered 170,000 vaccines in seven days under Sharma’s watch. Sharma, who started his career as a dental hygienist, is a passionate advocate for what he calls “putting the mouth back in the body,” making oral health part of the mainstream health care system.

Dymika Harte

Category: Recent Graduate
Nominee: Dymika Harte, Founder and Creative Designer, UNSGND
Program/Grad Year: Graduate 2018, Graphic Design

Just three years out of college, Dymika Harte is already a successful entrepreneur. She runs UNSGND, an all-female creative agency that provides branding, design and printing for small businesses, especially those that are female-driven. UNSGND recently partnered with Wilfred Laurier University to provide branding and mentoring to women entrepreneurs. Harte’s also the co-founder of Clutch App, an Uber-like application for driving schools and students to book driving lessons and classes, scheduled to launch in 2021. Passionate about mentoring others, Harte created a Youth Business Fund for new entrepreneurs and produced a workshop to help young people called Be the Brand.

Leandro Almanzor Dumlao

Category: Technology
Nominee: Leandro Almanzor Dumlao, CEO and President, Perceptible Group Inc.
Program/Grad Year: Graduate 2000, Visual Arts Fundamentals

Digital marketing specialist Leandro Dumlao is CEO and President of Perceptible Group Inc., providing innovative strategies for Fortune 500 companies and startups alike. An entrepreneur at heart, Dumlao is co-founder of the popular Canada’s Podcast, featuring interviews with Canadian entrepreneurs. Prior to Perceptible, Dumlao worked with Intuit, where his performance leading global teams and driving triple digit growth earned him the company’s Game Changer Award four times in 6.5 years. Dumlao believes his college education has gave him a competitive advantage throughout his career. A lifelong boxer, Dumlao gave a TEDX talk on the parallels between boxing and leadership.

Stephanie Cole

Category: Community Services
Nominee: Stephanie Cole, Founder/Safe Space Specialist, Safepod
Program/Grad Year: Graduate 2018, Social Service Worker

Stephanie Cole is passionate about safe spaces. She believes being comfortable in your workplace, and living without fear, should be the standard for all work environments. That’s why she created SafePod, a consulting and training enterprise working with businesses to end gender-based violence and harassment, particularly in the hospitality industry.  As as a member of the LGBTQ community, female and a visible minority, Cole says she was particularly susceptible to sexual harassment working as a bartender while attending college. She says she founded SafePod so others don’t have to experience what she did to pay their rent or buy groceries.