Distinguished alumni to be recognized at NC’s Spring Convocation Ceremonies

As more than 3700 students receive certificates and diplomas at Spring Convocation ceremonies June 16-19 Niagara College will also recognize a group of distinguished alumni and community leaders who will serve as convocation speakers.

“Our spring convocation ceremonies celebrate our students’ success and are truly the highlight of our academic year” said Niagara College president Dan Patterson. “These are the highly-skilled graduates who will go on to drive the future success of our key industries and sectors and contribute to all corners of our society.”

The ceremonies take place daily at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the lower level of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus. Speakers and honourees include:

June 16:

·         10 a.m. Janet St. Amand CEO YMCA  of Niagara recipient of the Niagara Award;

·         3 p.m. Debi Pratt wine industry leader and public relations specialist recipient of an Honorary Graduate Certificate in Wine Business Management.

June 17:

·         10 a.m. Bob McNeil president and general manager NRB Inc. recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award;

·         3  p.m. Dave Maciulis principal Natural Landscape Group and publisher/editor-in-chief Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award.

June 18:

·         10 a.m. Chris Sinclair vice president and co-founder Brand Blvd. Inc. recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award;

·         3 p.m. Andrew Miele director of development Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award.

June 19:

·         10 a.m. Supt. Rose DiMarco director of operations Ontario Provincial Police Central Region recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award;

·         3 p.m. Dr. Valerie Jaeger medical officer of health Niagara Region Public Health recipient of an Honorary Diploma in Health Studies.

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences advanced technology media applied health and community safety supported by unique learning enterprises in food wine beer horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit NiagaraCollege.ca.


Note to editors: Bios attached.

Media inquiries please contact:

Michael Wales
Senior Communications Officer
Office: 905.735.2211 ext. 7773
Cell: 905.328.4101

Julie Greco
Communications Specialist
Office: 905.735.2211 ext. 7368
Cell: 905.328.2532


Janet St. Amand Chief Executive Officer YMCA of Niagara

Janet St. Amand is a 33-year YMCA veteran and is currently the chief executive officer for the YMCA of Niagara. A graduate of the University of Waterloo Janet holds an Honours BA in Recreation/Business and a certificate in Philanthropic Development from the Indiana University Centre on Philanthropy.

A natural strategic thinker St. Amand has a passion for volunteer and philanthropic development and uses her leadership and relationship skills to motivate those around her to achieve results that make a difference in her community.

Among her recent achievements was the successful negotiation of a 20-year renewable agreement with the City of Port Colborne for the viable operation of the Port Colborne YMCA within the Vale Health and Wellness Centre. Prior to that she led the YMCA in raising $2.2 million in charitable capital funds thanks to 50 volunteers and helped steward $11.8 million in government grants for the Niagara West YMCA development that today serves 7000 members.

During her career St. Amand  has held the role of general manager vice president and senior vice president for the YMCA of Niagara providing strategic leadership in the areas of Child Care Employment Services Health and Fitness Human Resources IT Communications and Development. She has also provided leadership as a national YMCA consultant in the area of YMCA Membership Sales and Services providing resources training and research through a secondment with YMCA Canada.

Currently St. Amand contributes to community by volunteering with the Niagara Community Foundation Board and Leadership Niagara Board along with involvement in numerous community planning tables.

She is affiliated with the YMCA African Alliance YMCA North American Network North American YMCA Development Organization and Canadian Urban Group. She is a past member of the Canadian Association of Fundraiser Professionals the Human Resource Professional Association and the HR Council for the Not for Profit Sector.

The YMCA of Niagara serves over 89000 individuals annually offering 178 unique programs operating from 101 sites throughout Niagara with an operating budget of $29 million. Over 900 volunteers and 1500 staff provide leadership at the YMCA.

St. Amand is deeply committed to helping those around her succeed and believes in the importance of building strong relationships and the power of values-based leadership in creating positive and lasting change within her community.

Debi Pratt Wine Industry Leader Public Relations Specialist

Deborah Pratt is a celebrated wine and tourism industry leader in Niagara and Ontario.

Born in Toronto and raised in St. Catharines she graduated from teacher’s college and achieved a BA in Psychology and Education from Brock University.

After 16 years as a primary school teacher in Niagara-on-the-Lake her career in the wine industry began in 1974 when she joined Inniskillin Wines. Her winery career flourished as Inniskillin gained international recognition. She also handled public relations for Niagara Estates and media relations for Jackson-Triggs and Les Clos Jordanne from Inniskillin Winery.

Her accomplishments in the wine and tourism sectors include being chair and one of the founders of the Niagara on the Lake Tourism and Economic Management Organization; the original founder and chair of the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake Marketing Committee (formerly known as the Group of Seven); and founding member of Cuvee an annual fundraiser celebrating excellence in Ontario Wines. Pratt currently continues as a present member with Cuvee as well as a member of the Niagara College Public Relations Advisory Committee the Niagara College Photography Advisory Committee and the Riesling Experience Committee at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute.

She has also held positions on the Wine Council of Ontario Tourism Committee the Niagara-on-the-Lake Wineries Marketing Committee (past founding chairman) the Niagara and Food Classic Committee the Niagara College Board of Governors the Tourism Industry Development Centre Steering Committee the Town of NOTL Branding Committee and more.

In April 2015 she received the Award of Merit from the Grape Growers of Ontario in recognition of her pioneering work with the Ontario grape and wine industry. Last year alone she received the Ontario Hostelry Institute’s Gold Award-Educator award the Lifetime Achievement Award from Tourism Industry of Ontario Awards of Excellence (2013) and the Niagara Foundation’s Living Landmark Award; was named RBC Wine Business Citizen of the Year by the Niagara Wine Festival; and had a 90-acre vineyard in NOTL named in her honour by Constellation Canada in recognition of her retirement and 40 years of service.

Her numerous awards over the years also include: Binational Star Award Women in Tourism (2009); and the Exceptional Hospitality Award Ontario Wine Society Committee (2009). She became an Honorary Member of Les Clefs d’Or (2004) and she was named Niagara Business Woman of the Year (2003).

Bob McNeil President and General Manager NRB Inc.

Bob McNeil is the president general manager and one of two second-generation owners of NRB Inc. The successful family-owned modular construction company was started by his parents Bob and Jean McNeil in 1979 and has since been operating in and supporting the community of Grimsby.

McNeil learned about modular construction at an early age with hands-on experience building classrooms and serving as an electrician’s helper during the summer months while he attended Niagara College’s three-year Construction Engineering Technology program. He graduated with Honours in 1980 and began his career with Toronto-based general contracting firm Beaver Cook and Leitch Ontario Limited where he worked for four years as a general trades estimator.

In 1984 he and his wife Bonnie who is also a graduate of Niagara College returned to Grimsby where he joined the family business at NRB as an estimator and project coordinator becoming vice-president operations two years later. When his parents retired in 1992 McNeil assumed his current role as president/general manager and part owner of the growing company. He has been instrumental in the success and growth of the award-winning company guiding it through industry and market changes to what it has become today – a leader in off-site construction technology with offices in Grimsby and since 2003 New Holland Pennsylvania.

McNeil is not only committed to his company and employees but also to his community. In 1990 he joined the Grimsby and District Chamber of Commerce Board and was president of the association in 1995 and 1996. He served on the West Niagara Literacy Board from 2002 to 2004. For many years McNeil and his family have been dedicated supporters of the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation. In 2008 he was the advanced division chair for Project Xray a $3.6-million fundraising campaign for diagnostic equipment. In 2013 the WLMH Foundation recognized McNeil and his wife for their philanthropic support with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 2012 McNeil was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal administered by the Chancellery of Honours part of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. This award was created to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne while honouring recipients for their dedication service and significant contributions to their communities.

McNeil and his wife grew up in Grimsby which is where they raised their three children Rob Heather and Erin. They are both avid runners each qualifying for and running in the Boston Marathon. McNeil is also an enthusiastic golfer and enjoys the occasional ride on his Harley particularly down to the plant in Pennsylvania.

Dave Maciulis Principal Natural Landscape Group Publisher/Editor in Chief Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine

A Niagara College Horticulture Technician graduate (1991) Dave Maciulis’ horticultural career was almost over before it started. At 20 years old he was injured on the job which left him unable to continue with the hard hands-on labour of landscaping.

Being able to sketch he started hand drawing landscape designs. He moved to Computer-Aided Design and eventually developed his own plug-in software to the AutoCAD program. In 1995 his company – Natural Landscape Group – took off and now provides design services for homeowners commercial clients and 15 landscape companies. With Maciulis as principal designer the company provides custom design project development online design and eco-landscaping.

Concerned that “anyone with a pickup truck could take people’s money” Maciulis was part of a group of four landscape designers who pushed for and worked on a committee to develop recommendations for professional certification that would elevate the value of the landscape design process and the professional stature of landscape designers. As a result the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trade Association introduced a Certified Landscape Design program in 1998. Maciulis earned his CLD in 2000.

In 2011 he launched the magazine formerly named Natural Landscape Canada’s only outdoor design and lifestyle magazine. Published twice annually the publication has a circulation of more than 50000. Through his national magazine he educates consumers on the value of working with accredited professionals profiles women in the industry and provides a forum for other professionals to share their expertise.

In 2013 he began a merger with another Niagara College grad whose 10-year-old company was inspired by Maciulis’ class visit. He provides free advice through his website JustAskDave.ca.

His latest venture is a media marketing and branding company that grew from his national magazine.

Maciulis is a popular guest expert on 102.9 K-Lite FM CHCH Morning Live and Breakfast Television for CTV. He is an in-demand speaker who has addressed audiences at the Landscape Design Association’s annual conference and chapter workshops as well as the Source of Furniture and Accessories (SOFA) international conference.

His success in the industry has been recognized with a Landscape Ontario Award of Excellence 2010 Commercial Design a Landscape Ontario Award of Excellence 2010 Private Residential Design (5000 sq ft or more) and a City of Hamilton Award of Merit 2005 Excellence in Overall Design.

Chris Sinclair Vice President and Co-Founder Brand Blvd Inc.

Chris Sinclair is vice president and co-founder of Brand Blvd Inc. a leading-edge promotional firm in southern Ontario. Alongside his business partner and best friend Shaun Lichtenberger their team helps create brand name recognition for companies and organizations by providing unique promotional products and corporate apparel ideas.

The company’s one-of-a-kind culture and proactive approach is fuelling rapid growth and impacting an aging industry. They have been recognized for being one of the fastest-growing Canadian companies in the industry and are recipients of multiple industry awards including Distributor of the Year for three consecutive years.

Born and raised north of Owen Sound Ontario Sinclair developed his strong work ethic and hometown values growing up on a farm. He is a graduate of the Business Administration Marketing (Co-op) program at Niagara College and landed himself a co-op in the field of branded merchandise where he developed a passion for sales and business development. He keeps a close relationship with several areas of Niagara College and continues to hire many of its graduates.

Since graduating Sinclair has been an active member in the community and believes strongly in giving back to the area you live work and play. He is a member of Entrepreneurs Organization co-founder of Niagara Business Group and sits on several local charity committees. He is most proud of being the co-founder of the Niagara Golf Marathon a unique event where golfers play 100 holes in one day that has raised almost $200000 in the last five years for the local hospital foundation.

His passions for food wine and fitness have made Niagara the perfect place for him to call home and cultivate Brand’s team of up-and-coming leaders.

Andrew Miele Director of Development Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

After graduating from the inaugural 2007 class of the Bachelor of Applied Business – Hospitality Operations Management program Miele joined the Four Seasons Hotel Austin Texas as manager in training in finance where he was trained in all the critical functions of the hotel’s finance department and led several key initiatives including integration of a new property management system and accounting system.

After just over a year in Austin he transferred to Four Seasons Corporate Office in Toronto joining its Worldwide Development department. As a development analyst he was responsible for researching and qualifying potential deals for new hotels and resorts for the company in Europe and the Middle East and Africa. This involved daily interaction with developers investors industry consultants lending institutions investment bankers architects and construction firms.  Miele spent two-and-a-half years at the corporate office completing research and due diligence on new hotel deals in more than 25 countries involving travel to most of these.

Now as director of development based in Miami Miele is responsible for growing the Four Seasons portfolio of hotels and resorts across the Americas. He has successfully led the identification and negotiation of several new hotel and resort projects in destinations such as Los Cabos Guatemala Grand Cayman Montreal Bogota – to name a few.

In February 2011 Miele was named among the Ontario Hostelry Institute’s Top 30 Under 30 Rising Stars. The award recognizes the hospitality industry’s top young performers.

In addition to his work and hectic travel schedule with Four Seasons Miele serves on the hospitality and tourism council of the Urban Land Institute in South Florida and the Caribbean and is an active speaker at industry conferences.

Miele was born in St. Catharines and raised in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Rose DiMarco Superintendent Director of Operations Ontario Provincial Police Central Region

Superintendent Rose DiMarco is currently assigned as the director of operations within Ontario Provincial Police Central Region where she oversees traffic and marine criminal investigations and emergency response. Central Region provides direct policing services to more than 800000 full-time residents and an additional half million seasonal vacationers.

DiMarco started her career with the Ontario Provincial Police in 1991 at Port Credit Detachment as a uniform patrol officer. While in Port Credit she was a member of the RIDE Team and specialized as a breath technician technical traffic collision investigator and was the first female member of the Greater Toronto Area Emergency Response Team (ERT).

DiMarco also held positions within the Investigations and Organized Crime Section working within Casino Niagara as a detective constable and as a detective sergeant in Corporate Investigations. She held positions within Professional Standards Bureau where she was promoted to the rank of sergeant major as the case manager overseeing police complaints for eight detachments within the Highway Safety Division.

Promoted to the commissioned officer rank in 2009 DiMarco was assigned as the inspector detachment commander for the Caledon OPP Detachment superintendent of provincial traffic operations and her current role as director of operations within Central Region.

DiMarco is a graduate of Niagara College’s Law and Security program.
She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Athabasca University and is a graduate of the Police Leadership Program of the University of Toronto Rotman School of Business Management.

In recognition of her contributions to the policing profession and public safety in Ontario Superintendent DiMarco was awarded Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. She was also awarded the Police Exemplary Medal with Twenty Year Bar.

Dr. Valerie Jaeger Medical Officer of Health Niagara Region Public Health

Valerie Jaeger MD PhD MPH has been Medical Officer of Health for Niagara Region for the past five years. In this capacity she is responsible for protecting the health of Niagara’s 450000 residents and 15-million visitors through Public Health programs Land Ambulance and Dispatch Services and Emergency Planning. Dr. Jaeger also currently holds part-time appointments in Community Health Sciences at Brock University and Clinical Epidemiology at McMaster University.

Dr. Jaeger’s eclectic view of the world was shaped by life in 14 cities and three continents. Many universities have been like home to her; including Cambridge and Edinburgh as a child and in Canada the University of New Brunswick (Bachelor of Science) McGill University (PhD and MD) and Waterloo University (Master of Public Health).

Being a person who likes to try many different things Dr. Jaeger has been a wildlife biologist at Fundy National Park a laboratory researcher at McGill a family physician in several places a director of student health services at both Brock and Niagara College and most recently a university teacher and Public Health Physician.

Dr. Jaeger is chair of the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health and founder of the Niagara Health Trust. As part of the Corporate Leadership Team at Niagara Region she is excited about working towards the municipality’s vision of a more prosperous and vibrant Niagara. To this end she believes that her most important task is to enable good people to do great things that they are passionate about.