By Lexie Penko
Thunder Bay – On Saturday night, twenty of the brightest young stars from across the region were celebrated at the 5thbiennial Northwestern Ontario Visionary Awards (NOVAs), a gala hosted by SHIFT Thunder Bay’s Young Professionals Network. Over 300 people gathered at the Valhalla Inn to recognize exceptional under forties from Kenora to Manitouwadge for their leadership, professional achievement, volunteerism, civic pride, and more.
“It’s inspiring when we can start the year off celebrating the change-makers in our communities. I think for our attendees it symbolizes moving forward into the new decade with positivity and ambition. It’s hard to not feel pride and inspiration when our young leaders gather to support one another,” says SHIFT President, Hannah Gladstone.
This year’s Northwestern Ontario theme was a meaningful nod to the growing pride SHIFT has seen for the region over the years. Attendees enjoyed the local focus with northern decor, musical performances by Thunder Bay folk rockers, Greenbank, complimentary Heartbeat Hot Sauce at every table, after-party tunes by City Wide Sound, and Thunder Bay famous emcees Spencer Hari and Amanda Mihalus.
Gladstone continues, “Choosing the top twenty young professionals from almost sixty nominees is not an easy task, but the 2020 winners have proven that they are invested in their communities and their industries. There is remarkable under-forty talent all around us and we’re honoured to be able to send the message that their work matters and is valued.”
2020 NOVA Recipients
Business and Professional Achievement Category
- Dr. Derval Clarke – Dentist, Sovereign Dental (Nipigon)
- Patrick Trevisanutto – General Manager and Partner, Halfway Motors Group (Thunder Bay)
- Katie Simoneau – Vice President, Manroc Developments Inc (Manitouwadge)
- Richard Togman – Founder and Owner, Rent Panda (Thunder Bay)
- Peter Marchl – Certified Financial Planner, Normaxx Financial (Thunder Bay)
Community Champion Category
- Hafsa Siddiqui – Founder and Owner, Do or Diabetes (Thunder Bay)
- Adetunde Ogunberu – Founder and Owner, MTC Immigration (Thunder Bay)
- Jamie Lee Yawney – Project Manager, Origin (Thunder Bay)
- Linda Kelly – Chief Executive Officer and Registered Social Worker, Kelly Mental Health (Thunder Bay)
- Albert Tjong – Wealth Advisor and Financial Planner, RBC (Thunder Bay)
- Jacquelyn Forbes-Dyck – Program Developer, Lead Facilitator, and Thunder Bay Chapter Leader, One Woman One Girl (Thunder Bay)
- Jamie Sitar – Physician Recruitment Specialist, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (Thunder Bay)
- Dayna Bobrowski-Lowndes – Operations Manager, Spadoni Motors Marathon (Marathon)
- Tamara Bernard – Founder and Owner, Tamara Kwe (Thunder Bay District)
- Stephanie Pesheau – Electrical Designer, TBT Engineering (Thunder Bay)
Rising Star NOVA
- Jocelyn Bel – PhD Candidate, Lakehead University (Thunder Bay)
Civic Pride NOVA
- Joshua Donald Hewitt – Founder, Stand Up for Clean Up (Thunder Bay)
SHIFT Disturber NOVA
- Jason Veltri – Chair, Thunder Pride Association (Thunder Bay)
People’s Choice NOVA
- Masoud Manzouri – President, Lakehead University Student Union (Thunder Bay)
- Al Bourbouhakis and Nancy Shaw – Founders, Heartbeat Hot Sauce Co. (Thunder Bay)
The official auditor of the 2020 NOVAs is Grant Thornton. Winners were selected by a panel of judges from across Northwestern Ontario.