Congratulations to Mohawk College's 2019 Distinguished Fellows
College to Recognize 11 Outstanding Community Members at June Convocation Ceremonies
"Mohawk is proud to honour these remarkable people and the important contributions they have to made to the college and to the communities they serve."
An award-winning investigative reporter, an advocate for Indigenous youth and several highly respected community and business leaders are among 11 people who will receive special recognition as Distinguished Fellows of Mohawk College at the college's spring convocation ceremonies.
Mohawk’s Distinguished Fellows make invaluable contributions to the college through academic advisement and student engagement, community outreach and strategic advisement to Mohawk’s senior leadership team. The distinction is conferred during convocation by virtue of a hooding ceremony. Participation in Mohawk College’s Distinguished Fellow program is by invitation only, with the title conferred and service to the college recognized during convocation ceremonies.
This year’s inductees are:
Miranda Ferrier, President & Founder, Ontario Personal Support Workers Association (OPSWA)
Distinguished Fellow – Honorary Diploma
Miranda Ferrier graduated from Mohawk College’s Personal Support Worker program in 2006 and began her life’s work in Ontario’s health care sector. In 2010, driven by a passion to protect the public, Miranda formed the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association in an effort to establish a self-regulatory framework for Personal Support Workers in Ontario. Since then, the OPSWA has grown to more than 32,000 members and has become a leader in both provincial and national discussions on health care delivery, issues and trends affecting PSWs and the public. Recognition of this role saw Miranda and the OPSWA invited to participate in Justice Eileen Gillese’s Public Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in the Long-Term Care Homes System. Miranda has since appeared on CTV’s W5 and CBC Marketplace as their expert guest on PSWs. She has also been interviewed by CBC Radio One, CBC News Now, Zoomer Radio, CTV National News, CBC National, The Toronto Star, Maclean’s Magazine and many local newspapers.
The Distinguished Fellow - Honorary Diploma for Miranda Ferrier will be conferred by virtue of hooding at the Convocation Ceremony to be held on Monday, June 17, 2019 at 2 p.m.
Dr. Bonnie Freeman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, McMaster University
Bonnie Freeman, Ph.D. is Algonquin/Mohawk from the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario, Canada. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at McMaster University. Bonnie’s post-secondary education started in the Native Community Care Counselling and Development Program at Mohawk College. This program provided Bonnie with the foundational knowledge and skills that became an asset in securing positions in Six Nations Social Services, as well as a counselling position with Indigenous Studies at McMaster University. Bonnie understood the importance of education and, as a single mother with a young son, she continued to pursue her education and achieved a Bachelor of Sociology, Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Social Work from McMaster University. In 2015, Bonnie completed a Ph.D. program in Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier. Her work focuses on Indigenous culture and activism as it contributes to the health, well-being and resiliency of Indigenous youth. She has traveled on various Indigenous journeys on horseback, walking & canoeing in North America exploring the importance of Indigenous methodologies and epistemologies through the connection of the land, natural environment and waterways. Her current research with the Six Nations Two Row Canoe Paddle on the Grand River focuses on reconciliation and building alliances between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
The Distinguished Fellow for Dr. Bonnie Freeman will be conferred by virtue of hooding at the Convocation Ceremony to be held on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 9:30 a.m.
Glen is a former executive with McDonald’s Corporation and owner of a number of restaurants in the Hamilton area. Building on a successful career in Canada, Glen was promoted to oversee and accelerate McDonald’s expansion throughout Russia, and major markets in Europe. After 18 years, he and his family returned to Ontario where he served on the board with Hamilton’s Ronald McDonald House. Glen is currently an Executive in Residence at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University. He currently serves as Chair of the Mohawk College Foundation Board, and he is a past member of the college’s Board of Governors.
The Distinguished Fellow for Glen Steeves will be conferred by virtue of hooding at the Convocation Ceremony to be held on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 2 p.m.
Judy Marsales, Realtor, Judy Marsales Realty Ltd.
Distinguished Fellow – Honorary Diploma
Judy Marsales has enjoyed 39 years of active real estate involvement. This January, she celebrated 31 years as Broker/Owner of Judy Marsales Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage.
Judy has been a strong advocate for a vibrant vision for Hamilton through a number of community organizations. She was the first female President of the Hamilton-Burlington & District Real Estate Board, Past President of the Hamilton & District Chamber of Commerce, Past President of the Business Executives Organization, as well as Past Director of the Hamilton Club, The Bach-Elgar Choir, and a Governor and Trustee of Hillfield-Strathallen College, and a Governor of the YMCA. In 2003, Judy was elected as the Member of Provincial Parliament for the Riding of Hamilton West. Judy served four years in various roles, including Parliamentary Whip, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Judy also served on the Mohawk College President’s Campaign Advisory Council.
Judy has received several awards, including 2011 Inductee into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction, Honorary Life Member of the Realtors Association in 2003, Athena Award Winner in 2001, Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1995, Award of Merit from the Realtors Association in 1987, and proudly received a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
The Distinguished Fellow - Honorary Diploma for Judy Marsales will be conferred by virtue of hooding at the Convocation Ceremony to be held on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 7 p.m.
Steve Buist, Investigative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Distinguished Fellow – Adjunct Professor
Steve Buist is an investigative reporter and feature writer at The Hamilton Spectator. He is responsible for producing large investigative projects, such as the highly acclaimed Code Red project, which began in 2010 and has been examining the connections between health and poverty by mapping the health of Hamiltonians down to the level of neighbourhoods. Buist has won four National Newspaper Awards and been nominated six other times. He was also named the Canadian Association of Journalists’ Investigative Journalist of the Year three times and was named Ontario’s Journalist of the Year five times. In 2014, Steve received of one of the world’s most prestigious cancer journalism awards as the Best Cancer Reporter Award from the European School of Oncology. He has a degree in Human Biology from the University of Guelph, a Master’s degree in Journalism from the Durban University of Technology, and a longstanding interest in science and science journalism.
The Distinguished Fellow - Adjunct Professor for Steve Buist will be conferred by virtue of hooding at the Convocation Ceremony to be held on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 9:30 a.m.
Elaine Gerrie Valentini, Co-President and CEO, Gerrie Electric Wholesale Ltd.
Distinguished Fellow – Adjunct Professor
As Co-President and CEO at Gerrie Electric, Elaine Gerrie runs one of the largest independent electrical distributors in Canada. Headquartered in Burlington, the 24-location, eight-division company is a family-owned business and is a certified Women Business Enterprise. The company has also been named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies for the past four years. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Elaine worked in all areas of the company, including Automation, Operations, Administration, Corporate Quotations, and Sales before she joined the Executive in 1988. She continues to be an active owner, focused on strategy, customers and operations. Elaine has served on numerous industry and executive boards, including Burlington Economic Development Corporation, Young Presidents Organization, Burlington Hydro Board of Directors, and as Chair of the Electro-Federation Canada and Chair of Electro-Federation Scholarship Committee. She also served on the steering committee that was tasked with developing the Industrial Distribution Leadership Certificate Program at Mohawk College. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for SupplyForce.
The Distinguished Fellow - Adjunct Professor for Elaine Gerrie Valenti will be conferred by virtue of hooding at the Convocation Ceremony to be held on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2 p.m.
Heather Gerrie Kwant, Co-President and CEO, Gerrie Electric Wholesale Ltd.
Distinguished Fellow – Adjunct Professor
Heather Gerrie is Co-President and CEO at Gerrie Electric Wholesale Ltd., one of the largest Canadian family-owned electrical and automation distributors in Canada. Headquartered in Burlington, the 24-location, eight-division company is a family-owned business and is a certified Women Business Enterprise. The company has been named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies for the past four years. Gerrie Electric is passionate about supporting the industrial, OEM and contractor markets in Ontario. Heather knew from a young age that she wanted to carry on her father’s legacy and joined the family business after graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1981. She learned the business by working in the Lighting Showroom, Bookkeeping, Payables, Payroll and Corporate Sales. She joined the Executive team in 1988. Today, Heather focuses on the Strategy, Vendor Relations, Retail Lighting and Human Resources. Heather is currently Canadian Divisional Chair of Affiliated Distributors, and Past Chair of the Electro-Federation Canada, Canadian Electrical Distributors Association, Supply and Distribution Committee, and the Oakville Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee. She is also a Past Director of Tigertel Communication Inc.
The Distinguished Fellow - Adjunct Professor for Heather Gerrie Kwant will be conferred by virtue of hooding at the Convocation Ceremony to be held on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2 p.m.
Rob Ellis, Founder, Our Youth at Work Association
Rob Ellis became an outspoken advocate for safety and wellness in the workplace after the death of his son, David, in 1999. Rob has developed international partnerships with leaders dedicated to becoming safety champions. His work with young people, parents and businesses has been widely publicized across Canada and the United States.
As a graduate of McMaster University and having work experience in corporate finance and turnarounds, Rob knows the challenges that industry leaders face in educating and training new leaders at all levels of the organization. He believes that by working with Ontario colleges, a positive change and cultural shift in safety and wellness will take place. Rob is a frequent guest speaker at Mohawk College and is excited to see the students developing positive momentum for safety in their workplaces and on campus. Rob sees Mohawk College graduates as courageous leaders of change in Ontario, Canada and the world.
The Distinguished Fellow for Rob Ellis will be conferred by virtue of hooding at the Convocation Ceremony to be held on Thursday, June 20, 2019 at 9:30 a.m.
Paul Takala, Chief Librarian, Hamilton Public Library
Paul Takala received his Master of Library Science from the University of Toronto in 1994. His 25 years in libraries have focused on using technology innovation and collaborative leadership to increase the impact of public libraries in ways that are both sustainable and ethical. Paul believes in the power of public libraries to advance communities and individuals by creating learning opportunities, reducing social isolation and growing empathy. In recognition of his work, Paul received the Paul Harris Fellowship Award from the Rotary Club of Hamilton in 2015; he was the Ontario Public Librarian of the Year in 2006; he received a W.J. Robertson Medallion Recipient from the Ontario Library Association; in 2003, he received the Arbour Award, Alumni Association University of Toronto, Faculty of Information Studies; and in 1997, he received the Special Performance Award from The New York Public Library for Outstanding Contributions to the Library's Computing Environment. Paul is currently Chair of Canada’s National Heritage Digital Strategy Steering Committee. He is Past Chair of both the Canadian Urban Library Council and the Canadian Federation of Library Associations. Paul is an active member of the Rotary Club of Hamilton.
The Distinguished Fellow for Paul Takala will be conferred by virtue of hooding at the Convocation Ceremony to be held on Thursday, June 20, 2019 at 2 p.m.
Terry Cooke, President & CEO, Hamilton Community Foundation
Distinguished Fellow – Adjunct Professor
Terry Cooke is President and CEO of Hamilton Community Foundation, which has played a leading role in mobilizing the community to address issues such as increasing access to postsecondary education, strengthening neighbourhoods and reducing poverty. Terry’s career includes leadership positions in the private, public and non-profit sectors. He served as Chairman of the Region of Hamilton-Wentworth from 1994 to 2000. He is also a past Chair of the Canadian Urban Institute, and served on the board of Community Foundations of Canada as well as a number of corporate organizations. In recognition of his community service, Terry has been a Paul Harris Fellow and a two-time recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. Terry was inducted into the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction in 2016.
The Distinguished Fellow - Adjunct Professor for Terry Cooke will be conferred by virtue of hooding at the Convocation Ceremony to be held on Thursday, June 20, 2019 at 7 p.m.
Kathy Lerette C.E.T., Fellow OACETT, Sr. Vice President, Business Transformation, Alectra Utilities
Kathy currently serves as Senior Vice President, Business Transformation at Alectra Utilities, the largest municipally owned electric utility in Canada. Previously, Kathy served as VP Utility Operations for Horizon Utilities, overseeing all aspects of the Engineering, Construction & Maintenance, and Supply Chain Management divisions. Kathy works tirelessly to transform the traditionally male-dominated energy sector; ensuring opportunities are created for young women seeking careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In recognition of her work in this area, Kathy was named a YWCA Woman of Distinction for Science, Technology and Trades in 2018. Kathy is a graduate of Mohawk’s Electrical Engineering Technician program, and holds a C.E.T. designation from the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists (OACETT). She was inducted as a Fellow of OACETT in 2019. She is Vice-Chair of the Electricity Human Resources Canada Board of Directors, and is an influential and leading voice for removing barriers to combat the underrepresentation of women in the energy sector.
The Distinguished Fellow for Kathy Lerette will be conferred by virtue of hooding at the Convocation Ceremony to be held on Friday, June 21, 2019 at 9:30 a.m.
Mohawk College educates and serves 32,500 full-time, part-time, apprenticeship and international students at three campuses in Hamilton, Ontario, at learning hubs across Hamilton through City School by Mohawk, and at the college’s Aviation facility at the Hamilton International Airport. Mohawk is among the leading colleges in Canada for applied research. It has been named one of Canada’s greenest employers for six years in a row, and is also home to the country’s largest net zero energy institutional building. The college offers 178 postsecondary programs and is one of the largest trainers of apprentices in Ontario, providing training to more than 4,000 apprenticeship students annually at the Marshall School of Skilled Trades & Apprenticeship in Stoney Creek, Ontario.