Meet the FIRSt Team

Get to know our in-house expertise

Dan Reilly, Senior Manager, FIRSt
Dan Reilly

Director, First

As the Director of FIRSt, Dan oversees all operations and client service delivery for GBC's Technology Access Centre. Since he began working at GBC in 2010, his leadership, strategic thinking skills, and commitment to process improvement have made him integral to the effective planning and execution of countless research programs and projects. Previously, Dan managed projects and events of all kinds, from statistical studies for the federal government to small-town music festivals. Dan graduated from George Brown College with an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration and is a past recipient of GBC's Project Management Award of Distinction. He now teaches in the School of Management, training the next generation of project managers. Outside of work, Dan has completed the GBC Beer Specialist and Professional Cheesemonger programs, and can often be found at the Rogers Centre cheering on the Blue Jays.

Areas of Expertise: project management; strategic thinking; process improvement; team leadership


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Lorenza Carandang
Lorenza Carandang

Finance and Admin Coordinator

Lorenza brings extensive experience in administration and managing operations to her position as Finance and Admin Coordinator at FIRSt. Her diverse skill set ranges from client management to financial and wealth management to investor and shareholder communications and budgeting. Before joining FIRSt, she worked at Kingsdale Shareholder Services and AIG Philippines. Her considerable history of office management ensures that streamlined operations and an efficient infrastructure support our partners and projects. Lorenza has a B.Sc. degree in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines.

Areas of Expertise

  • Operations management and control
  • Financial management and budgeting
  • Administration and office management


Michelle Kienitz-Henderson
Michelle Kientiz-Henderson

Manager, Industry Liaison & Business Development

Currently on parental leave.

Michelle brings a value-chain approach to FIRSt, where she has supported hundreds of food entrepreneurs throughout the product development process. Her academic and professional careers have focused on primary agriculture, agri-food, and agri-technology, and she even occasionally assists on her parents’ cash crop farm. With a BA in Social Development (University of Waterloo) and a MA in Political Science and International Development (University of Guelph), she uses her interdisciplinary background to bring creative and holistic solutions to clients and partnerships. Michelle enjoys eating food as much as she enjoys working in the industry and is deeply committed to growing the food value chain in Ontario and Canada and increasing opportunities for Canadian food & agri-food companies.

Areas of Expertise

  • Food systems
  • Food entrepreneurship
  • Relationship management


Syeda Munzareen Rahman

Research Project Officer, FIRSt

Syeda Munzareen Rahman joins the college from her previous role as Research Project Coordinator at the Hospital for Sick Children. Syeda has extensive experience in project coordination and management in supporting cross functional projects/initiatives in both research hospital and academic institutions, including grant management, research ethics, contracts management, onboarding staff and students. Syeda has an MBA and received the Research Administration Certification in 2021. She has served as a member of the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) since 2020. 


Candace Rambert, Lab Operations Manager, FIRSt
Candace Rambert

Lab Operations Manager

From learning family recipes to working in hotels around the world, Candace’s passion for food has been her driving force. She has proven recipe and product development skills with over 16 years of culinary and foodservice experience. Candace values building strong client relationships at FIRSt and has a proven track record of meeting the demands of FIRSt’s diverse and dynamic clients. They are often at the cutting edge of the foodservice and the consumer package goods industry. By collaborating with food scientists and culinary students at FIRSt, she applies her culinary and sensory science experience to meet the needs of FIRSt’s diverse clients to produce best-selling products. Her product roaster includes ready-to-drink beverages, sauces, healthy snacks and nutrition-focused recipes which help in the recovery of certain medical conditions. Since starting her career at FIRSt, she has seen first-hand how innovation pushes the boundaries when developing unique products and how food brings people together. Candace holds a B.A from the University of Windsor and is an alumnus of both the George Brown College (GBC) Culinary Management and Italian postgraduate programs. Candace is a member of the Research Chef Association and a past recipient of the prestigious Ontario Hostelry Institute’s ‘Top 30 Under 30’ award.


Pere Ramel, Lead Food Scientist
Pere Ramel

Lead Food Scientist

Pere Ramel joins FIRSt as a versatile food scientist with research and development experience in the food, cosmetics and natural health products industries. His career has applied industry experience and knowledge to the development of innovative products and solutions. He has extensive experience in product scale-up (bench to pilot to industrial scale), product analysis, quality systems design, and regulatory affairs. Pere has a Ph.D. in Food Science from University of Guelph, Canada; an MSc in Food Technology with specialization in Dairy Science and Technology from Wageningen University, The Netherlands; BSc in Food Technology from University of the Philippines.

Areas of Expertise

  • Food product development
  • Dairy science and technology
  • Lipids and emulsions
  • Food structure (Microscopy/Rheology)
  • Cosmetics and topical natural health products formulation