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Pickering College announces recipients of the Agent of Change Award and Alumni Keystone Award

Pickering College is honoured to announce the award recipients of our second annual Agents of Change Award and Alumni Keystone Award. These individuals and organizations are taking action to make the world greater, better and more beautiful than they discovered it.

We were honoured to celebrate these outstanding individuals and organizations at a community celebration event that took place on Wednesday, May 15. We invite you to learn more and congratulate these winners and finalists on their achievements.

Agent of Change Award Winners

Dr. Felicia Marie Knaul - Agent of Change (Individual)
Health economist, Director of the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas and professor at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine

Through research, advocacy, and public policy work at the highest levels, Dr. Felicia Marie Knaul has improved the health and well-being of at-risk populations in low and middle-income countries, especially in Latin America. Her work, from aiding street children in Colombia to advocating against gender-based violence globally, has significantly impacted communities. Her additional contributions include implementing a program to guarantee the right to education for children with serious health conditions in Mexico, founding a nonprofit to promote early detection of breast cancer, and advocating for worldwide access to palliative care and pain management.

Ian Proudfoot - Agent of Change (Individual)
President - Board of Directors, Sharon Temple National Historic Site and Museum

In 2023, Ian spearheaded the Lafontaine-Baldwin Youth Leadership Conference, engaging 100 York Region students in discussions on leadership, Truth and Reconciliation, and democratic thought. The Sharon Temple Museum Society orchestrated a collaborative artwork with Georgina Island First Nation and artist Donald Chretien, which is now prominently displayed at Sharon Temple and symbolizes the Temple’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation. Ian coordinates significant activities at the Temple, uniting the community and highlighting the historical significance of the Children of Peace in regional community building.

Pauline Muthoni - Agent of Change (Individual)
The Small Project, Kenya

When Pauline met the founders of The Small Project in 2008, she saw a way that she could give back and help others as she herself had once been helped. The goal of  The Small Project is to break the cycle of poverty and to that end, Pauline diplomatically steers sponsored students into courses that will best lead to gainful employment after graduation. As The Small Project’s representative in Kenya, Pauline helps the students navigate issues, collects their reports, pays their school fees and provides regular fiscal updates.Pauline’s intention has always been to motivate the students in her care to be all that they can be and then, in turn, to give back to others. Pauline is an exemplary role model who continues to change the lives of the young people in her care for the better, and help them break free from the cycle of poverty. 

Newmarket Lions Club - Agent of Change (Community Organization)

For over 90 years, volunteers of the local chapter of the International Lions Club organization have spearheaded numerous initiatives to serve the community. With a motto of “We Serve” the time committed through the Lions Club has a remarkable immediate impact on individuals as well as programming to address more systemic issues. 

  • Assisting low-income families and individuals
  • Care and support for many in our community 
  • Support for those experiencing food insecurity 
  • Support for those with disabilities, physical or mental illness 
  • Healthcare support 
  • The environment 
  • Programs for children and youth
Robotics Rock - Agent of Change (Community Organization)
STEM Youth Association

The Robotics Rocks STEM Youth Association collaborated with organizations such as CICS Immigrant Youth Centre and the Aurora Public Library to provide free STEM workshops to teenagers. These young people have organized and hosted over 40 events, attracting over 400 individuals to engage in their activities. Their enthusiasm for STEM and making these fun and educational activities broadly accessible to those in the local community is impressive!

Alumni Keystone Award

Avish Sood '07 - Alumni Keystone Award Winner
Manager of Corporate Partnerships for the National Football League

Avish currently serves as Manager of Corporate Partnerships for the National Football League, overseeing branded digital integrations and managing client partners like PepsiCo, P&G, Visa, and more. Beyond his career, he co-founded TSwiftDanceParty Canada, Sponsorship Space, and co-founded the University of Toronto Sports Industry Conference, raising over $200,000 for charities including UNICEF and Canadian Cancer Society. He’s a proud Pickering College and University of Toronto graduate with a postgraduate certificate in sports marketing from George Brown College.

Dr. Charlotte (Charly) Coleman ’13 - Alumni Keystone Award Finalist
Obstetrical and Gynecology resident physician, The Ottawa Hospital

Dr. Charlotte “Charly” Coleman has a bachelor’s in medical science from Western University and a Global and Intercultural Engagement Honour. She is a recipient of the Lusthaus Prize from the University of New South Wales for her work on sexual-based violence prevention on campus. She earned her MD at Queen’s University with two academic enrichment distinctions in surgical skills as well as health and humanities. Her research accomplishments include four first author publications and several poster and oral presentations at conferences, both national and international. Dr. Coleman has held various leadership positions and was recently elected as the Site Lead for the University of Ottawa for the Professional Association of Residents of Ontario.

Adam Starr '16 - Alumni Keystone Award Finalist
Chief Executive Officer, Recircle Waste Management Solutions

Adam’s journey has shaped him into a compassionate individual who values connections and learning from others, particularly through volunteerism. He graduated from St. Francis Xavier University and St. Mary’s University with degrees in marketing, philosophy, and a master’s in technology entrepreneurship and innovation. With a diverse background spanning nine industries, Adam now leads Recircle Waste Management Solutions Inc., a company that remanufactures plastic waste into consumer products and provides manufacturers with more affordable local raw materials. His grassroots approach embodies Wendell Berry’s ethos: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Capstone Project

Lolade Alawode - Capstone Project Winner

Lolade created a digital collection of reliable, concise and verified information to guide international students through the process of enrolling in international study in the US and Canada.

With 186 website visits from 11 countries including New Zealand, Poland and Malaysia, and a mailing list of over 50 contacts, this project was able to provide vital information to people around the world.

Thomas Bianco - Impact Incubator Winner

Thomas Bianco, the creator of Inspector AI, has developed an internet browser extension app tailored to scan webpages for text and detect bias utilizing AI technology.

The primary goal is to provide users with supplementary information about the text they come across, aiding in the fight against the spread of fake news and misinformation. Thomas has commenced his beta trial and eagerly awaits the official launch of his app on the App Store.

Emma Furlong - Capstone Project Finalist

Emma’s project “BecomingONE” aims to build connections between Indigenous communities and Pickering College by fostering a sense of belonging and respect for identity diversity.

This project included a radio show and outreach efforts, resource sharing, and school visits between Sutton District High School and Pickering College, with future plans to increase visits and develop scholarship opportunities.

Phoebe Kuang - Capstone Project Finalist

Phoebe’s project addresses the gender gap in STEM and encourages more girls to get involved in STEM. She started a girl’s STEM club for Grade 8 students and created a space for them to freely explore a variety of STEM activities, discover their talent and enhance their skills. 

She used the MakerSpace, created daily math challenges, hosted a MicroBit tournament, and other opportunities for girls to continue their exploration in STEM.

Fiona Wang and Wyman Wang - Capstone Project Finalists

Wyman and Fiona’s project aims to promote sex and menstrual education in developing countries. They created a multi-language website, a song and posters. 

They designed lectures and delivered them to over 500 young people, in both the Pickering College community and a community in southern China, as well as brought menstrual pad kits to Chinese girls in need.

Award Winners have made significant global or local impact in their communities in the following areas:

  • Community Engagement
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Social Justice
  • Truth and Reconciliation
  • Advocacy
  • Other meaningful contributions to the community

The Alumni Keystone Award recognizes the outstanding contributions Pickering College young alumni make in their fields to leave our world greater, better, and more beautiful than they discovered it. A keystone is the wedge-shaped piece at the crown of the arch, something on which associated pieces depend on for support. Similarly, our young alumni are emerging community leaders who others depend on for inspiration, guidance, and action. Nominees are a minimum of 5 years out since having graduated from Pickering College and are younger than 35 years old.

Award recipients are individuals who strive to go above and beyond in the following areas:

  • Demonstrate excellence in their field of endeavour, either in their career or in a volunteer service, exemplifying: “Learning for Life. Creating the Future.”
  • Demonstrate Quaker values, supporting the vision and mission of the Global Leadership Program, to be: “creative, innovative and courageous agents of ethical and positive change, true to Quaker values.”


2023 Winners

Please read more about our 2023 winners:

Alumni Keystone Award

Nico Macias '14

Nico Macias ‘14

Engineer, SpaceX

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.



Agent of Change Award - Community, Individual

Gabriel Allahdua

Gabriel Allahdua

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.



Agent of Change Award - Community, Individual

Jerisha Grant-Hall

Jerisha Grant-Hall

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.


Agent of Change Award - Community, Individual

Megan Glanfield

Megan Glanfield

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.


Agent of Change Award - Community, Individual

Dr. Gaurav Mehta

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.


Agent of Change Award - Community, Organization

Blue Door Shelters

Blue Door

Community Organization

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


Agent of Change Award - Community, Organization

York Region Food Network

York Region Food Network

Community Organization

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.


Alumni Keystone Award - Finalist

Tara Bhardwaj

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. 


Alumni Keystone Award - Finalist

Amanda Brissenden

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.


Alumni Keystone Award - Finalist

Josephine Kanu

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.


Alumni Keystone Award - Finalist

Carter Powis

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.