Alumni Awards

Celebrating Alumni Excellence

The Alumni Association takes great pride in recognizing the achievements of our fellow alumni. By celebrating our collective successes and acknowledging the excellence within our diverse community, all Brock degrees increase in value.

Brock University Alumni Association Awards

Nominations for the following awards are reviewed and selected by members of the Brock University Alumni Association (BUAA) Recognition of Excellence Committee.


The Distinguished Alumni Award honours one Brock University graduate each year who has earned prominence as a result of their exceptional professional achievements and/or service to society.

Dr. Sarah Viehbeck (BA ’02)

Dr. Viehbeck is the Chief Science Officer for the Public Health Agency of Canada. In this role, Dr. Viehbeck is responsible for providing strategic leadership to oversee and support science excellence, science-policy integration and science promotion, as well as re-energizing the scientific vision and capacity across the Agency. Previously, Sarah worked for 12 years at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, most recently as an Associate Vice-President where she was responsible for all science-related strategy and policy development.

Sarah is a former adjunct faculty member at University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health and Health Systems and the University of Ottawa’s Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences and former Board member of the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. She has been recognized for her contributions by the Senior Women Academic Administrators of Canada, the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, the Canadian Public Health Association, and through a CIHR President’s Award of Excellence.


Each year the Alumni Association acknowledges one young alumnus/a for their outstanding contributions early in their career. The recognition of this graduate speaks to the great work happening on campus – the excellent student experience, the quality of teaching and research and perhaps, most importantly, the dedication and commitment of all our Brock faculty and staff.

Jason Ribeiro (MEd ’15)

Jason Ribeiro has combined his longstanding passions for sport, youth mentorship and community to help bring a professional basketball franchise to Calgary. As the co-owner and President of the Calgary Surge, Jason is committed to bridging Calgary’s diverse communities through sport and entertainment and creating a sense of belonging. For the past decade, he has volunteered with several groups in Calgary to advocate for community sport and recreation, developed into an awarded researcher and published author in the field of education, and represents the views of everyday community members at board tables and as a weekly radio/television contributor for Global News. 


The Brock University Alumni Association (BUAA) Award for Community Engagement recognizes a Brock alumnus/a who has made outstanding contributions to their community, and in doing so, has enriched the lives of others. This award honours one extraordinary alumnus/a who has set a high standard for community service and has made a significant contribution as a volunteer to their community.

Adam Carter (BPhEd ’97)

Adam Carter has dedicated his professional life to public service for more than two and half decades alongside his wife, Lisa (BA ’94). Adam began his studies at Brock University in 1991. During orientation week in ’94, he encountered the former Brock Division of the St. John Ambulance who was recruiting volunteers in exchange for free CPR & First Aid certification. The serendipitous encounter marked the beginning of Adam’s 30-year volunteer career with the organization. He has held numerous progressive leadership roles with the organization locally, regionally and provincially. He has assisted in coordinating St. John’s response during four emergencies, including the organization’s COVID-19 pandemic response where he led a team of 80+ volunteers in the operation of a 24/7 quarantine shelter for immigrants in the Niagara Region. Adam has been the Honorary Commissioner for Niagara since 2019, and for his exceptional leadership, meritorious service and outstanding contribution of over 11,500 volunteer hours in the past 30 years, Adam was formally knighted in the Senate of Canada in June 2023. 

Adam has volunteered with a number of other charitable organizations including the Ontario Special Olympics, Operation Christmas Child, Niagara Region Children’s Safety Village, Cops for Cancer, National Police Memorial Ride to Remember, and several local soccer clubs. He is an internationally licenced soccer coach, and spent more than two decades mentoring youth through sport, helping to improve the lives of hundreds of young athletes. He currently volunteers with the 87 Eagle Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, providing youth between the ages of 12 to 19 with good citizenship, leadership, and life skills.


The David Betzner Award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated loyalty and commitment to their alma mater by supporting Brock University and/or the Alumni Association through continuous dedicated volunteer service.

Vince Anania (BA ’85, BEd ’86)

Vince’s longstanding loyalty and commitment to the Brock community has had an immeasurable impact. As a student, Vince Anania volunteered his time with the Brock University Students’ Union between 1982 and 1986 to help organize various events across the University including concerts, Homecoming events, College of Education events and more.

Since graduating, Vince has maintained close connections to his alma mater as a dedicated volunteer of the Brock University Alumni Association since 1987. For decades, Vince has supported a wide range of initiatives at the University in varying capacities including Convocation, Smart Start, facilitating presentations for Badgers sport teams, classroom presentations within the Faculty of Education and more.

Distinguished Faculty Graduate Awards

These awards were implemented to celebrate individual faculty alumni who have earned prominence as a result of their exceptional professional achievements and/or service to society.

Mahoganie Hines (BScN ’16)

Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Distinguished Graduate Award

Mahoganie Hines volunteers her time as the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario’s (RNAO) President of the Palliative Care Nurse’s Interest Group and previously held the role of Policy and Political Action ENO for more than five years. She sat on the inaugural executive board of the Canadian Palliative Care Nursing Association as the Secretary/Treasurer and is the current President-elect. She is also the Past Chair for the Palliative Care Consultants Network (of Ontario).  

She sat on the expert panel of the RNAO’s Best Practice Guideline’s (BPG) committee for the current BPG, A Palliative Approach to Care in the Last 12 Months of Life (2020). She also spoke at Queen’s Park about the need for equity and accessibility for all to receive excellent Palliative Care through the development of the Compassionate Care Act—in December 2020, the Act reached royal assent and became law.

Recently, Mahoganie has been honoured with several awards for her practice, including Niagara’s 40 under 40 (2020), Nursing Now Ontario award for the RN category (2021), RNAO Leadership award in Political Action (2021), Dorothy Monteith Scholarship (2022), and the Larry Librach Prize for Ethics and End-of-Life Care (2023). When she is not working, she can be found volunteering her time at the St. Catharines Consumption & Treatments Services (CTS) site, refereeing the Niagara Roller Derby League, or going on adventures with her husband and dog.  

Jane Omollo (MEd ’07)

Faculty of Education Distinguished Graduate Award

Born and raised in Kenya, Jane Omollo has lived in Canada for the past 20 years and has called Sault Ste Marie home since 2006. She is an active and passionate community leader and has over two decades of experience working in cross-cultural environments to champion inclusion for equity-deserving groups at both the organizational and community levels.

Jane is the Manager of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Algoma University. Her accomplishments include leading the development of an institution-wide EDI Climate Study, and for implementing the EDI Strategy and Action plan to address the systemic challenges experienced by underrepresented groups at the institution. At Algoma, Jane has been able to shape program priorities to better support historically underrepresented equity-deserving members of our society.

As a community builder, Jane is the founder and president emeritus of the African Caribbean Association of Northern Ontario. She is currently a member of the Cultural Vitality Committee in Sault Ste Marie. From 2020 to 2022, she served as the Program Director of the Parents, Caregivers, and Guardians Program funded by the Youth Opportunities Grant from the Government of Ontario. Jane also served on the board or advisory committees for several community organizations including Refugee705, the Local Immigration Partnership, and the Rural Northern Immigration Partnership Endorsement Committees.

Tom Pennachetti Headshot

Tom Pennachetti (BA ’86)

Faculty of Humanities Distinguished Graduate Award

As Senior Vice-President and a managing partner at Cave Spring Vineyard (CSV), Thomas (Tom) Pennachetti has been a guiding force for over three decades in establishing the winery as one of Canada’s premier estate wineries. In every facet of Ontario’s thriving wine community, Tom has helped establish the Niagara Peninsula as a globally recognized, cool-climate viticultural region and flourishing tourism destination.

From the beginning of his professional career in wine, Tom has been a dedicated champion of Niagara’s wine and wine tourism industries. He is a longstanding member of the VQA Wines of Ontario Marketing Committee and a board member of Somewhereness, an exclusive association of Ontario wineries dedicated to producing estate and single-vineyard wines reflecting Ontario’s varied terroirs with utmost authenticity. He also serves on the Winery and Viticulture Program Advisory Committee at Niagara College, helping refine the curriculum at this vital institution. Tom was also a founding board member of the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4C), a consumer event attracting top winemakers from Canada and around the world held every year in Niagara and is a past Vice-President and Board Member of the Niagara Wine Festival, the region’s largest annual wine event.

From working in the family vineyards and cellars to travelling the world’s cool-climate regions, operating his own vineyards, and spreading the word about CSV and the wines of Canada across the globe, Tom remains steadfast in his focus on CSV’s founding principle of producing authentic wines from the estate’s exceptional terroir.

Mitchell McCurdy (BSc ’18)

Faculty of Mathematics and Sciences Distinguished Graduate Award

Mitchell McCurdy is a graduate of Brock University’s Oenology and Viticulture program and was introduced to the wine world through the restaurant industry in Brantford, Ontario. His career began with Kacaba Vineyards & Winery where he spent five years learning all aspects of the wine business while completing his studies at Brock, taking a short break from Kacaba Vineyards & Winery to complete a co-op work term in Kelowna, British Columbia at Quails’ Gate Vineyards & Winery.

Following his graduation, Mitchell worked at a wine consulting company and became winemaker at Marynissen Estates in 2019. After a few years they transitioned the business, now known as Vintegrated, to be a consulting company for all aspects of the wine business including viticulture, oenology and the marketing of wine products. They utilized Marynissen’s facilities to launch Collab Wine & Beverage, a hub for small batch virtual beverage labels. Since its launch in 2021, the hub has grown from a team of four brands to ten virtual brands and is helping more small-batch producers enter the market.

Tefari Bailey (BA ’19)

Faculty of Social Sciences Distinguished Graduate Award

Tefari Bailey is an accomplished financial and startup professional with over six years experience in the banking industry. He has an exceptional track record of building high growth businesses and is the CEO and Founder of Hutsy Financial. Tefari is known for emerging from CBC’s Dragons Den with $500K and a mission to revolutionize finance and banking for Canadians.

He has raised $1.5 million dollars for Hutsy’s pre-seed funding round for Hutsy—and he’s just getting started. A creative problem solver with solid business acumen, Tefari has helped clients with the planning and execution of initiatives to help them create top-line growth and improve organizational effectiveness, with a focus on delighting customers.

Tefari studied Economics at Brock University and previously worked at TD Canada Trust (TD), in the Financial Services Group, where he planned and successfully executed client engagements for the Audit, Consulting, and Private Client Services practice areas, always embracing and overcoming challenges with grit and optimism.

Alia Lee (BBA ’06, MBA ’07)

Goodman School of Business Distinguished Graduate Award

Alia Lee is a finance and technology leader known for her strategic and strong corporate governance mindset of pursuing excellence in business management. Being a committed, visionary leader with a purpose to make a difference, Alia explores beyond the horizon in both her education and professional career. Alia constantly pushes the boundaries to explore diverse industries, including AI, agri-tech, robotics, fintech, retail, tourism, food services, government, non-profit, biotech, telecommunication, and transportation. This extensive exposure in the business world has solidified Alia’s management approach in building sustainable businesses and nurturing the next generation of business leaders.

She is interested in understanding and promoting good corporate governance, and has served communities in various board advisory roles for educational organizations and a business association. Among the list of her many accomplishments, Alia managed the finances of a cell and gene therapy commercialization project funded by a public-private-partnership to build an advanced manufacturing lab at the MaRS Discovery District. As the former head of finance and technology at the Toronto Zoo, Alia led innovation initiatives promoting the importance of climate change and biodiversity. Partnering with the City of Toronto, universities and multiple startups, she implemented technologies to enhance business operations, animal welfare, and guest experience.

Currently at Deloitte, serving as Chief Financial Officer for a portfolio of technology companies, Alia is laser focused on building a better future through her finance leadership in the commercialization of emerging technologies of startups in life science and technology. She is dedicated to developing industry best practices to nurture future leaders, and utilize cutting edge technology to enable a new generation of companies to build the foundation for a brighter future.

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge the land on which Brock University was built is the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples, many of whom continue to live and work here today. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties and is within the land protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum agreement. Today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples and acknowledging reminds us that our great standard of living is directly related to the resources and friendship of Indigenous people.