On May 24, Pickering College hosted a special celebration in recognition of the nominees, finalists and recipients of the Alumni Keystone Award and the Agent of Change Community Award. These awards recognize leaders who are innovative, courageous and compassionate global citizens in their efforts to take action in one of the following areas: Community Engagement, Environmental Stewardship, Social Justice, Truth and Reconciliation, Advocacy, other meaningful contributions to the community.
Pickering College was founded by Quakers in 1842 and while non-denominational, strives to uphold the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, compassion, equality and stewardship. Recipients of the Alumni Keystone Award and Agent of Change Award demonstrate these values in their work to make their community a better place. Pickering College is honoured to announce following award recipients:
Nico Macias ‘14
Enabling unprecedented access to space and advancing satellite internet technology for societal benefit.
Nico’s impactful work as an engineer at SpaceX has focused on enhancing the launch rate and reliability of the Falcon vehicle. His work contributed to cost effective satellite missions and the first portion of the Starlink constellation to be placed into orbit. This technology is revolutionizing internet connectivity worldwide, forging new paths for rural and Indigenous communities lacking affordable internet and proving to be a vital tool for disaster relief efforts, demonstrated by its valuable use in Ukraine.
Activist-in-Residence, University of Guelph
Galvanizing the agricultural community, academia, government & others to be more aware of injustices faced by migrant workers.
As the Activist-in-Residence at the University of Guelph, Gabriel brings activists and researchers to work together on migrant issues and amplify each other’s work. He provides outreach and support to migrant workers in Ontario, and is the author of an eye-opening book on their living and working conditions. His work with politicians aims to change unjust immigration and labour laws and to grant migrant workers status upon arrival in Canada.
Founder, Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association
Building inclusive spaces, community connections, opportunities for young people, & intercultural understanding.
Jerisha is committed to moving our communities forward through partnerships and bold conversations. She is the founder and chair of the Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association which is a nonprofit organization that is focused on building community, supporting and strengthening Black families and empowering Black youth. She is driven by the desire to eradicate racial discrimination by cultivating and promoting an inclusive environment where social harmony, mutual respect and human dignity are realized for all.
Founder of Revolution Now!
Spreading awareness for a variety of issues & raising funds for charities such as The 519 and Woodland Cultural Centre.
Megan is a teacher and founder of Revolution Now!, a sustainable fashion venture established as a response to homophobia and performative allyship in schools. Their purple shirt was created to bring awareness of the lived experience of trans youth and to generate funding for The 519, providing services for 2SLGBTQ+ youth in the GTA. Revolution Now! has grown to provide the same platform for Black and Indigenous youth, spreading messages of inclusivity and social change.
Dr. Gaurav Mehta
Medical Director Psychiatry, Southlake Regional Health
His passion for research and education has enhanced several mental health programs.
As a consultant addiction psychiatrist, Gaurav is dedicated to serving vulnerable individuals with serious mental illness and complex needs, many living in shelters or group homes. He sees patients in nine outpatient programs as well as his role as a Medical Director for inpatients at Southlake Regional Health Centre. He has a keen interest in Addiction Medicine, ECT and Diabetes. He holds an appointment as adjunct lecturer in Psychiatry, University of Toronto.
Blue Door transforms the lives by helping our community’s most vulnerable escape homelessness and access dignified housing.
Blue Door has a long history of providing dignified housing support to vulnerable people in York Region.
As the largest emergency housing provider in York Region, Blue Door is committed to addressing the root causes of homelessness, by providing access to innovative and collaborative housing, health, and employment programs and supports. In 2022, it provided:
- 28,800 nights of safety
- 200 participants with the training to launch careers in the skilled trades through its employment social enterprise Construct
York Region Food Network
York Region Food Network’s dignified approach uses food to bring people together.
York Region Food Network is a small organization with a huge impact in York Region, where approximately 25,000 households experience food insecurity. Their programs include community gardens, food classes to develop skills and build community, drop-in breakfasts, and the Good Food Box. They build spaces where people can enjoy fresh foods, expand social networks and they advocate for the right to food for all.
Tara Bhardwaj ’11
Pickering College Alumna
Helping and inspiring others to create meaningful change in their communities.
Tara is a dynamic community leader helping others give back to their communities through philanthropy and volunteerism. She has an impressive career in the nonprofit sector, currently working with the Nature Conservancy of Canada managing the donor services team. She is also working towards a master’s degree in leadership and community engagement with York University. Tara’s impactful involvement includes volunteering as a board and committee member with Santropol Roulant and guest lecturing with various community engagements.
Amanda Brissenden ’11
Pickering College Alumna
Combining expertise in health sciences research and a passion for community service within clinical medicine.
Amanda is a biomedical engineering research scientist pursuing a doctor of medicine at the University of Alberta. Her impressive academic journey includes a doctor of philosophy in applied science at Queen’s University, where she achieved first place in the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis Competition and third place provincially. As a passionate community volunteer, she was honoured with the 2021 Ontario Volunteer Service Award for her five years of dedicated service at Kingston General Hospital.
Josephine Kanu ’16
Pickering College Alumna
Striving to make a difference and positively impact the lives of others.
Josephine is a dedicated professional committed to making a difference through work and volunteer service. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she played a vital role in a nationwide database project on emergency department admissions. Currently a clinical research coordinator at the BC Centre for Substance Use, Josephine focuses on evidence-based approaches to substance use and addiction. Josephine’s extensive history of volunteerism with her alma mater, University of British Columbia, contributed to a more inclusive, accessible campus, and helped inspire youth to become excited about learning.
Carter Powis ’10
Pickering College Alumnus
Leading bold conversations around environmental change and sustainable practices.
Carter currently serves as a senior advisor at McKinsey & Company’s Sustainability Practice while pursuing doctoral work in climate science at the University of Oxford. His expertise in climate science and its application to economic and business strategy extends beyond his work and academic studies. As a creator, producer and co-host of a Spotify podcast, Carter helps bring attention to climate change and mental health through conversations with world-leading experts such as former US Vice President Al Gore.