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2019 Premier's Awards Recognize Outstanding Ontario College Graduates


2019 Premier's Awards Recognize Outstanding Ontario College Graduates

Ministry of Colleges and Universities

The Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities presented the 2019 Premier's Awards to eight college graduates for excellence in seven categories:


Don Ashton is Vice President of Finance, International Operations for 3M Company, overseeing the financial team of a $20B+ global business unit with 1,200 employees located in more than 50 countries. A member of 3M Executive Conference (~top 100 leaders) and Finance Steering Committee (top seven finance leaders), he is certified Black Belt Six Sigma known for developing high performing teams and top talent. Over the past 30 years he has been an active community volunteer, most recently with Fundación Mujer, an organization that provides access to credit and microfinancing, training, and technical assistance to entrepreneurs in Costa Rica.


Community Services

Kevin J. Collins is a two-time recipient of the Queen's Jubilee Medal and Ontario Restaurant's Trillium Award Newsmaker of the Year 2013 and has brought philanthropy to the forefront in the hospitality industry. As a child with Cerebral Palsy, Kevin benefited from Easter Seal's camp programs and pledged to give back, doing so as Executive Director of Friends of We Care, the industry's charitable arm which sends physically disabled children to camp. After successfully tripling the organization's donor base and raising $20.5-million over his career, he was appointed to his current role as President and CEO of Easter Seals Ontario in 2017.


Creative Arts and Design

Dean DeBlois is an award-winning writer and director, best known for having written and directed the How to Train Your Dragon DreamWorks trilogy, and co-writing and co-directing Disney's Lilo & Stitch. DeBlois has earned dozens of awards for his work, including two Annie Awards and a Golden Globe. How to Train Your Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon 2 earned Oscar nominations in the category of Best Animated Feature. "As a student, I thought the dream would be to work at Disney," he said. "I never anticipated writing and directing films that are being recognized at this level."

Health Sciences

Kevin King - Medical simulation has been the driving focus in every step of his career as a paramedic, sales leader and entrepreneur. Inspired to act after the September 11 terrorist attacks, he created the first mobile simulation program for paramedics in eastern Canada and founded a national alliance for simulation specialists and educators. In 2010, he was recognized by the Prime Minister of Canada for his emergency services leadership during the G8 summit. In 2018, Kevin founded ECHO Healthcare featuring a world-first approach to simulation service and support that earned the company global recognition and profitability after just one year.

Peter F. Dundas is Chief of Peel Regional Paramedic Services in Ontario. For almost 40 years, he has forged a distinguished career from front-line paramedic to senior leader. He leads a team of 650 health professionals that serves 1.4 million people and responds to over 150,000 calls a year. His leadership has resulted in new initiatives to improve patient outcomes, such as drone delivery of automatic defibrillators in rural communities and improving engagement with communities that lack access to primary health care. Dundas has inspired many young paramedics and touched the lives of thousands in their time of greatest need.


Kathy Lerette, who is overseeing the largest merger ever in Canada's electrical utility sector, uses her impressive career to inspire other women and girls to create and chase dream jobs in the science, technology, engineering and math sectors. Throughout her 37-year career, she has been a pioneer in the male-dominated energy industry and as she has taken on progressively more challenging and important roles, she has worked tirelessly to see the ranks of women grow behind her. Lerette credits her college education for giving her the technical foundation that has powered her career.  


Clarice Ward is a national advocate for diversity and inclusion in apprenticeship training. As an assistant project manager of specialty contracts at Melloul-Blamey Construction Inc., she is the first woman to transition from tradesperson (general carpenter) to construction management in Melloul-Blamey's 37-year history, and one of the only tradeswomen to serve on the board of directors of the Canadian Association of Women in Construction. A speaker, mentor and champion of women in apprenticeships, she has influenced thousands of women to consider skilled trade opportunities. Clarice was awarded a 60th Anniversary Gender Equity Fellowship by the University of Waterloo in 2019.


Recent Graduate

William Werth is the chief technology officer at James. E. Wagner Cultivation (JWC) and using technology to revolutionize the cannabis industry. A former Canadian combat engineer who was awarded the Sacrifice Medal and competed in the 2017 Invictus Games, he designed JWC's GrowthSTORM™ Management software, a custom technology for tracking cannabis cultivation from seed to harvest; led the refinement of JWC's patent-pending aeroponic growing platform; and helped to pioneer its unique business licensing model. William's innovations were a catalyst for a $1.2M energy-saving grant in 2018 and the company's 2018 debut on the TSX-V at a market cap of $100 million.

Minister Romano also presented the 2019 Minister's Lifetime Achievement Award at the December 2 gala:

Sonia Del Missier, retired Vice President, Academic at Cambrian College

Sonia Del Missier retired from Cambrian College in 2017. During her 39-year career at Cambrian, she held a number of positions including Chair, Continuing Education; Dean of Academic Support Programs; Vice-President, Community and International Development; Vice-President, Strategic Development; Vice-President, Academic; and Vice-President, International, Applied Research and Business Development.

Ms. Del Missier's active community involvement includes the Rotary Club of Sudbury Sunrisers, and the Canadian Cancer Society Sudbury Advisory Committee. She was a former member of the University of Sudbury Board of Regents and has been a member of the Laurentian University Board of Governors since 2012. She is also a member of Cambrian College's Board of Governors and the Cambrian College Foundation Board of Directors. Ms. Del Missier holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Language, a Certificate of Bilingualism, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Laurentian University.

The Minister's Lifetime Achievement Award was created in 2005 to recognize lifetime achievement in advancing an individual college, the community, and the Ontario college system. This award is intended to further highlight the government's recognition of the contribution Ontario's colleges make to the lives of their students, to the communities they serve, and to economic development of the province.

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