UWindsor alumni were a force to be reckoned with at the recent Business Excellence Awards, with nine wins and nominations in 11 categories.
UWindsor interim president Douglas Kneale extended congratulations to the graduates lauded at the event.
“This is another example of what makes us Windsor Proud,” he said. “To have so many of our University of Windsor alumni recognized in this year’s BEA is a measure of not just their individual success but their collective investment in this community.”
Sherrilynn Colley-Vegh (BHK 1985, B.Ed 1993) was this year’s winner of the Athena Award, honouring mentors who excel in their fields and dedicate time to their community. Colley-Vegh, the director of leadership development and training at United Way, is a former teacher, counsellor, school principal, communications officer, and business owner lauded for the boundless energy she devotes to volunteerism.
“It’s such an honour to receive this award because it’s about mentorship and leadership and that’s what I’ve done in my careers,” Colley-Vegh said. “The most important thing we do in our lives is to raise someone or raise someone up.”
UWindsor Board of Governors member Elaine Whitmore (BScN 1988), CEO of the John McGivney Children’s Centre, received the Pillars of Our Community award.
The Pillars of Our Community award recognizes an organization or person who has made an outstanding contribution to the social, cultural, or economic well-being of the community. The John McGivney Centre supports children with special physical, neurological, and developmental needs.
Allison Hawkins received the Professional of the Year award. Co-owner of Hawkins and Co. Accounting, Hawkins has a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Windsor. She was lauded for the way she and her firm embrace technology, revolutionizing the way accounting services are delivered locally and beyond.
The two runners-up in that category are also UWindsor grads. Naturopathic doctor Kelly Upcott-Siebert of Lifetime Wellness Centre in Windsor and Origins Naturopathic Retreat in Kingsville has a bachelor of science degree in biology. Leigh Vachon, executive director of Victoria Manor Supportive Housing, has a bachelor of arts degree in English and psychology.
Celso Oliviera (BHK 2008, MBA 2014) received the Young Professional of the Year award. He is the business centre manager for the Business Development Bank of Canada and serves on UWindsor’s Board of Governors.
Oliviera, who once owned and operated two retail stores, is a sessional instructor at the Odette School of Business, teaching marketing, strategy, and entrepreneurship. He is passionate about giving back to the community, volunteering his time to Diabetes Canada and the Erie Shores Health Foundation Capital Campaign which raises money for the Leamington hospital and hospice.
The Business Excellence Award for Small Company of the Year went to Head of the Class, a tutoring and educational support centre specializing in students with anxiety and ADHD. Owner Julie Fader is a UWindsor graduate who majored in psychology.
Macro Foods, which earned a nomination in the same category, also boasts UWindsor ties through the meal delivery company’s co-founder, Sara Ducharme (BA 2007).
Jennifer Flynn (BA 1995, LLB 1998) is operations manager of Kingsville’s Grove Hotel and the Grove Brew House, nominated in the tourism and hospitality category.
Patti Lauzon, director of Alumni Relations and Advancement, says the awards demonstrate the amazing work of grads in their professional and personal lives.
“The recognition of so many UWindsor alumni through the 2019 Business Excellence Awards is something we celebrate,” she says. “Our alumni are truly making a difference in Windsor-Essex and around the globe.”
The Business Excellence Awards, in their 29th year, are sponsored by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Windsor Star.