Find Information on past recipients below.
Past Recipients Ordered by Year
Bryan Keshen is a passionate leader, caring teacher, avid mentor and devoted friend. Mr. Keshen has dedicated his career to fostering a safe and nurturing environment that is inclusive and allows all individuals to grow and thrive as valued members of the community. As Chief Executive Officer of Reena, a social services agency that supports individuals with diverse needs, Mr. Keshen is instrumental in the organization’s continued success. Working tirelessly in his pursuit of excellence, Mr. Keshen engages in solution-based dialogue, attentively listening to staff and colleagues while discovering opportunities and new approaches to improve and expand the services Reena offers to the local community. Under his leadership, Reena has grown to provide multiple services to individuals living in Vaughan in several areas, including employment, housing, recreational and emotional support, and was recognized with the Vaughan Accessibility Award in 2019. Mr. Keshen’s passion for his community and commitment to service have allowed him to reach beyond his work at Reena. He has connected with many private, not-for-profit and professional sectors, including all levels of government ministries, in constructive dialogue to share his vision for supporting individuals with diverse needs and realizing new opportunities to expand and raise the standard of services across Ontario and Canada. Mr. Keshen’s dedication to and focus on Reena’s mission and values have enabled Reena to be recognized as a leader in the development services sector and a beacon of hope in the community. Reena is now the largest developmental service organization operating in Vaughan, thanks in great part to the trailblazing advocacy work of Bryan Keshen.
Elvira Caria is an active and engaged member of the Vaughan community. Through significant and meaningful community involvement, she has demonstrated a genuine and authentic desire to help her neighbours. For more than a decade, Ms. Caria has been a dedicated board member of Vaughan in Motion to Cure Cancer. Her civic leadership has helped raise funds for cancer care at Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital. During her time as Director of Media and Sponsorship, Vaughan in Motion to Cure Cancer raised nearly $100,000 in support of cancer patients. Ms. Caria’s commitment to public service has been recognized by York Region Media Group through its Vaughan Citizen Readers’ Choice Awards. She was the recipient of the 2020 Diamond award in five categories, including Business that Gives Back to Local Community. Ms. Caria is also a past recipient of the City of Vaughan’s 2015 Ward 3 Civic Hero Award, the Portraits of Giving in York Region, and even has a local street named after her – Caria Court. For more than 20 years, Ms. Caria has represented the residents of Vellore Woods as the Chair of the Vellore Woods Ratepayers’ Association, working with residents and Members of Council on several Vaughan-based initiatives. Ms. Caria also empowered the local business community as the co-creator of Savour Vaughan, a campaign that encouraged residents to dine at Vaughan restaurants, with proceeds supporting the Vaughan Food Bank each Thanksgiving. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Caria’s giving spirit did not waiver. From fundraising to finding baby strollers, she dedicated her time to the Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women. For the last 30 years, Elvira Caria has dedicated herself in a very selfless way to her fellow citizens and the city she has called home since 1987.
Iolanda De Simone Masci
Iolanda De Simone Masci has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to philanthropy and non-profit organizations. Her most significant accomplishment is the founding of Hospice Vaughan. In 1995, she was introduced to the concept of palliative care and hospice. At that time, there were no such services available in Vaughan, which left a considerable gap in the community. After identifying this urgent need, Ms. De Simone Masci instinctively answered the call of duty. She graciously and voluntarily embarked on the journey to ensure that her community would one day have the resources and services required for compassionate end-of-life care. Just one year later, in 1996, Hospice Vaughan was officially founded. Today, Hospice Vaughan has evolved into a 10-bed facility impacting many lives. Last year alone, Hospice Vaughan provided care to 500 clients, which had wide-reaching positive impacts to more than 2,500 people. It is estimated that over its 26 years of existence, Hospice Vaughan has affected tens of thousands of people. As a true community leader, Ms. De Simone Masci has been recognized on several occasions for her commitment to philanthropy. She has been celebrated for contributing to the lives of girls and women in Ontario, as awarded by The Honourable Harinder Malhi, Minister of the Status of Women; helping the settlement of newcomers in Canada through the Citizenship and Immigration Canada HOST program; providing a sense of belonging for seniors through CHATS community programs; community involvement as recognized by the City of Vaughan’s Volunteer Certificate of Appreciation; looking out for the interest of Italians in the world through the Comitato Tricolore Per Gli Italiani Nel Mondo; and many other great causes, including Polizia Sezione A.N.P.S., Heart and Stroke Foundation, North York General Hospital Foundation, Amica at Villa Da Vinci, Pine Grove Lodge, CAYRE (Community Alliance for York Region Education) Spirit of Community Award. Ms. De Simone Masci’s devotion to supporting her neighbours is indisputable and deserves to be celebrated.
Joseph Sgro has been steadily championing the need for healthcare services for the residents of Vaughan for the better part of two decades. In particular, Mr. Sgro has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Mackenzie Health since his involvement with the Mackenzie Health Foundation began 13 years ago. In June 2018, Mr. Sgro was elected to Mackenzie Health Foundation’s Board of Directors. Today, Mr. Sgro is also the Vice-Chair of the Foundation’s Ultimate campaign – the largest fundraising drive led by a community hospital in Canada – with proceeds benefitting Mackenzie Health. Mr. Sgro has been an important member of the team that will deliver the $250-million local share needed to build Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital — Canada’s first smart hospital. His support has ensured Mackenzie Health can provide its healthcare teams with the tools they need to deliver the ultimate in patient care. Through Mr. Sgro’s ongoing initiative, leadership and dedication to the city of Vaughan, he continues to make a measurable impact that will continue to serve the community’s healthcare needs well into the future.
Dr. Karine Rashkovsky
Dr. Karine Rashkovsky has been serving the Vaughan community for more than two decades as an award-winning educator, business leader, policy academic and volunteer. Dr. Rashkovsky has made it her mission to ensure Vaughan is the place to be for future young leaders and like-minded PhD educators. She delivers community service through her extensive civic engagement – whether it be mentoring teen and adult entrepreneurs, leading community educational conferences, providing academic consulting, offering monthly community social justice book clubs, being on the board of directors for Canada’s oldest environmental organization, contributing to Vaughan’s public libraries, or training Canada’s top public speakers. Dr. Rashkovsky’s wide-reaching influence on the lives of Vaughan students and families is evident in many ways. As Founder and Director of Brain Power, Canada’s award-winning enrichment learning centre for bright and talented youth, Dr. Rashkovsky inspires nearly 2,000 talented students each year. Dr. Rashkovsky is also a senior research associate with York University’s Faculty of Education and facilitates field research in schools across Vaughan. She founded the Future Lawyers program, which is now recognized by York Region’s school boards. Some of her most recent accomplishments include being recognized as the CSPN Entrepreneur of the Year – Canada in 2019, Toronto City Mogul in 2019, receiving the Top Business and Entrepreneur City of Vaughan in 2018 and 2019, York Region Sustainability Award Winner, York Region’s Passion into Practice Award in 2018, and more. Dr. Rashkovsky is committed to making a positive impact, advocating and championing social change, and leading the way forward through her ongoing pursuits – she is proud to call Vaughan home and is delighted to shape Canada’s future.
Dr. Mark Terry
Dr. Mark Terry is a longtime environmental adviser with the United Nations and a highly skilled digital artist in the field of documentary. Dr. Terry has applied his award-winning techniques to create new film projects following themes of climate change that serve as communication tools for policymakers. He was the first to introduce film as a data delivery system in 2009, and has since developed a new media platform for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as the Youth Climate Report. His project was introduced at the Paris Climate Summit in 2015, and was officially adopted by the UN the following year under its mandate for Education and Outreach. Today, the Youth Climate Report has a database of more than 540 video reports produced by the global community of youth on the subjects of climate research, impacts and solutions. It is widely available in 190 countries on all seven continents. In 2011, Dr. Terry won the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television Humanitarian Award for introducing film as a data delivery system to the United Nations and was decorated by The Explorers Club with their highest honour, the Stefansson Medal for polar exploration in the Arctic and Antarctica. He has also been decorated by Her Majesty The Queen with her Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for International Humanitarian Service. In 2015, he was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Explorers by Canadian Geographic Magazine. York University recognized Dr. Terry with a teaching award and research award in 2016 and 2020. He was also elected to Canada’s highest Academy, the Royal Society of Canada, in 2020. Most recently, Dr. Terry was awarded the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action Award in 2021 for the Youth Climate Report project. Dr. Terry’s outstanding film work in environmental research has made a substantial impact to date and will continue to inform policymaking around the world for years to come.
Mark Falbo’s passion for healthcare and his visionary business sense as Board Chair of Mackenzie Health and President of the Mircom Group of Companies has made him a strong leader with many noteworthy accomplishments to-date. Since joining Mackenzie Health, Mr. Falbo has provided outstanding governance for the hospital’s activities, worked with health partners in the community, and supported the hospital in delivering its vision to create a world-class health experience. In 2017, thanks in part to Mr. Falbo’s efforts, Mackenzie Health was awarded a rare second consecutive Accreditation with Exemplary Standing rating by Accreditation Canada. He continues to be a supporter of the new Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, the city of Vaughan’s first hospital, and the first smart technology hospital in Canada. In his capacity as board chair, Mr. Falbo has built strong relationships with community stakeholders and government partners. In October of 2019, he represented Mackenzie Health for a special signing ceremony on the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Vaughan, York University, Mackenzie Health and ventureLAB. This city-driven initiative is called the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct and its goal is to create a modern community healthcare experience. This is just one example of Mr. Falbo’s civic participation, which has continued to guide Mackenzie Health through the global pandemic. Mr. Falbo is a member of several boards and committees, including the City of Vaughan’s Smart City Task Force, Vaughan International Commercialization Centre, York Regional Police’s Strategic Community Advisory Committee, the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce, and the Finance & Property Committee of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto CollegiumSingle Engine Private Pilot. His commitment to supporting front-line staff, nurses and physicians has encouraged the team to remain motivated and has enabled them toprovide the best possible patient care.
Frank Fazzari is an active and well-known leader in the city of Vaughan. Mr. Fazzari founded Fazzari + Partners LLP, a Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) firm in 1988, and was awarded the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year in the Professional Services Category in 2012 and 2016. For his exceptional service to the accounting profession, Mr. Fazzari was awarded the distinction of Fellow from CPA Ontario in 2013. As an active member of MGI Worldwide, a global accounting network, Mr. Fazzari continues to advocate for Vaughan’s business community and local economy. In recognition of Mr. Fazzari’s interest in education, he created the Maurizio Bevilacqua Scholarship Fund at Niagara University Vaughan in 2020 and was appointed Vice-Chair of the inaugural Board of Advisors of Niagara University Vaughan. Also, in 2020, Mr. Fazzari founded and chaired the COVID-19 Council 2 You Assembly to bring together business and government leaders to share ideas on how to navigate through the unprecedented circumstances presented by the pandemic. Mr. Fazzari’s dedication to bettering the community through his philanthropy, commitment to higher education, and support for our community's health and well-being have made a positive and meaningful impact in the city of Vaughan.
As Chair of the Board of Directors for the Mackenzie Health Foundation, Rina Pillitteri has played an important role in the development of Vaughan’s first-ever hospital. In addition to her role as Chair, Ms. Pillitteri is a member of the $250 million Ultimate Suits You Campaign Cabinet and has played a key role with Mackenzie Health Foundation’s gala, which is now in its 33rd year. She believes that we are stronger together and – united – we have the power to help shape the future of healthcare in our region. Ms. Pillitteri also serves at the Royal Bank of Canada as Regional Vice-President for Vaughan and King Township. She has a long-standing involvement with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection as a member of the foundation. Ms. Pillitteri received the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal for Community Leadership in 2012; the National Congress of Italian-Canadians Ontario Spirit Award in 2017; the Global Citizen Award in 2019; and the Business Excellence Award from the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario in 2020. In all her capacities, one thing remains consistent: she strives to ensure that every decision will ultimately have the greatest impact on all people.
Many years ago, Mary Reali answered the call of public service. Throughout her career at the City of Vaughan, Ms. Reali demonstrated that she was in it for all the right reasons, and she understood that before one can lead, one must serve. Through both words and deeds, Ms. Reali was consistently genuine and authentic, and her approach to leading teams mirrored the way she lives life — with character and integrity. On Sept. 9, 2020, after 35 years of service, Mary Reali, former Deputy City Manager, Community Services, retired from the City of Vaughan. Ms. Reali held many positions throughout her tenure in Vaughan, which stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to serve staff and the community with professionalism and compassion. She began her career as an Administrative Supervisor in Recreation Services in July 1985, and, in February 2020, Ms. Reali was entrusted by Council to sit in the organization’s highest administrative role as Acting City Manager. Shortly thereafter, she led Vaughan’s administration through the uncharted waters of a global pandemic. Ms. Reali’s contributions to the City and the many positions she has held are a true reflection of her commitment and dedication to her community.
Max Eisen was liberated from Auschwitz on May 6, 1945 and has devoted much of his life speaking about the need to eliminate racism and bigotry. Today, he continues to dedicate his time and effort travelling across the country to share his experience as a Holocaust survivor with thousands of Canadians, speaking to students, teachers, law enforcement professionals and the community at large. In 2016, Mr. Eisen published his memoirs entitled By Chance Alone: A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Survival at Auschwitz, which won the 2019 Canada Reads Award. He has become a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration. Through his personal experiences and life's work, he has demonstrated an exceptional capacity to promote the importance of the noble values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Mr. Eisen continues to share his story and educate generations of young people so they may better understand the Holocaust. In June 2019, Mr. Eisen was recognized by Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua for his contribution to the City of Vaughan and the world, with a Key to the City.
Eric Jolliffe has led the transformation of the York Regional Police through his role as Chief of Police by emphasizing community outreach and relationship-building programs. As a result, multiple community partnership opportunities for learning, understanding and collaboration have formed with ethnocultural, religious, marginalized and vulnerable communities. Chief Jolliffe remains vigilant against prejudice, discrimination and hate while building and maintaining a community that is welcoming, inclusive and one of the safest in the country. His leadership has inspired the creation of the Human Rights Education Centre Global Classroom – the first of its kind in the world to be recognized and supported by the United Nations – at the Community Safety Village of York Region. The mission of this centre is to inspire progressive action for peaceful coexistence through education, empowerment and investment in children and youth. Chief Jolliffe continues to align diversity and inclusion in the workplace and community. He remains a champion for social justice and human rights.
Dr. Vincent Maida
Dr. Vincent Maida is a pioneer in developing palliative care services in York Region. He created the first palliative care unit in 1997 at the William Osler Health System and Vaughan’s first home-visiting palliative medicine service. He has served as a member of the Hospice Vaughan Board of Directors since 2012 and has been named Medical Director of the new Hospice Vaughan – The Mario and Nick Cortellucci Hospice Palliative Care Centre of Excellence. Dr. Maida was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002) and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), for his work in palliative care and wound management, and overall contributions to Canadian society. He is the inaugural winner of the William Osler Award of Excellence in 2001, as well as the first doctor at William Osler Health System to win the award a second time in 2009. In 2007, he was declared one of Ontario’s “most educationally influential physicians” through a poll carried out by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons. As an advocate for high-quality and accessible end-of-life care as a fundamental human right, Dr. Maida has been an innovative force in the research, education and creation of palliative care.
Caroline Riseboro is a passionate advocate for children’s rights and equality for girls. In 2016, she became President and CEO of Plan International Canada, making history as the youngest person to ever to lead a major Canadian charity. In her role, she calls on Canadians to take a stand anywhere children are oppressed, and girls are not equally valued. Her work was instrumental in the 2018 G7 Summit, where Plan International Canada appealed to global leaders, successfully securing a historic $3.8-billion commitment to the education of children in crisis and emergencies by the G7 Presidency. In June 2019, Ms. Riseboro’s work played a pivotal role in the second historic $1.4-billion funding announcement by the Government of Canada to promote the health and rights of women and girls around the world. Ms. Riseboro is breaking traditional barriers to gender equality by amplifying the voices of youth and engaging boys and men. In addition to the many programs she has launched, she spearheaded the Girls Belong Here program to mark International Day of the Girl, which enables girls to see themselves in powerful positions by spending a day with leaders. She has received seven Stevie Awards for Women in Business, including Canadian Female Executive of the Year, and has been recognized as one of Women’s Executive Network’s (WXN) Most Powerful Women in Canada for two years in a row. A champion for empowering girls and youth, Ms. Riseboro is a trailblazer for youth, gender-inclusive leadership and the assurance that every individual can leverage their inherent power for the betterment of society.
Maria Castro is the past President of the Hospice Vaughan Board of Directors, where she has served for nearly six years. Ms. Castro became the Co-Chair for the “Better Ending” Residential Initiative and Capital Campaign Committee, formed in January 2015, with a vision to build a Centre of Excellence 10-bed Residential Hospice for the delivery of hospice palliative care in Vaughan. Ms. Castro’s ability to inspire change and her dedication to the service of others embodies the true spirit of leadership. With more than 20 years of experience in senior and executive roles, Ms. Castro currently holds the position of Chief Financial Officer at Picco Engineering.
As a developer and home builder, Michael DeGasperis is the Founder, President and CEO of Arista Homes and the Vice President of the TACC Group of Companies. Mr. DeGasperis is also a long-standing champion of the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital and has undertaken countless other philanthropic endeavours over the past two decades. Mr. DeGasperis serves on many charitable boards and committees, including ASVV Charity, whose mandate is to assist local families that are challenged to meet the financial obligations of supporting special needs children. He has led his professional team for more than 23 years and has built more than 10,000 homes across the GTA – including several award-winning signature communities in Vaughan. Mr. DeGasperis remains determined to grow his businesses and positively impact local families whenever possible, while maintaining his reputation as an exemplary Vaughan corporate citizen and resident.
Altaf Stationwala is President and CEO of Mackenzie Health. Under his guidance, Mackenzie Health is reenvisioning its care delivery model to embrace a connected health strategy that utilizes digital communications and the Internet of Healthcare Things. Mr. Stationwala has been instrumental in ensuring our local hospital delivers the exceptional services our patients and their families deserve. In June 2015, he established the Mackenzie Innovation Institute (Mi2), a catalyst for disruptive technologies in the health care industry through research, education and training. Mr. Stationwala draws on his experience as Chair on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Hospital Association, as well as his role as Member of the Board of GS1 Canada, a neutral, not-for-profit organization that enables more than 20,000 organizations of all sizes from more than 20 sectors across Canada to enhance their efficiency and cost effectiveness by adopting electronic supply chain best practices.
Robert Charles Wilson
Robert Charles Wilson is a globally-acclaimed science-fiction writer. Mr. Wilson won the World Science Fiction Society's Hugo Award - the top international "Academy Award" of the field for Best Novel of the Year (for SPIN, in 2006), and has six other Hugo nominations to his name. Mr. Wilson also won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award - the field's top juried honour, presented by the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas; the Philip K. Dick Award for best sci-fi paperback of the year; the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short story of the year; and three Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards (Auroras), two for best novel and one for best short story. In translation, his work has won top sci-fi awards across the globe, including Japan's Seiun award in 2009; Germany's Kurd Lasswitz Preis in 2007; France's Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire in 2007; and Israel's Geffen Award in 2006. Vaughan is proudly home to one of Canada's top authors and one of the top science-fiction writers in the world.
Bob Bak is a strong champion for education and empowering youth. As founder of the Korean Community Centre for Multiculturalism, he is a pioneer of heritage language programs in Vaughan and York Region. Among his many achievements has been implementing the International Languages Program within the York Region District School Board. He is a recipient of the Diamond Jubilee Medal and the City of Vaughan’s Civic Hero Award. A resident of Vaughan since 1987, Mr. Bak has built a solid reputation as an active and engaged community member for more than 45 years.
Vic De Zen
A successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and visionary in the plastics industry, Vic De Zen has made a significant contribution to city-building here in Vaughan and beyond. Shortly after immigrating to Canada in 1962, he started his first business, which introduced the vinyl window industry to the Canadian market. Mr. De Zen has since established multiple businesses and created thousands of jobs. He is a passionate supporter of the Meta Centre, an organization committed to serving individuals with special needs, and most recently he made a transformative pledge of $10 million to support the establishment of the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital. Mr. De Zen has received many prestigious awards including the Order of Canada, Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Canada’s Innovation Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Plastics Industry Association. Through his corporate leadership and philanthropy, he continues to inspire positive change in our community.
Author of the award-winning book series The Crystal Chronicles, Alessia Dickson is passionate about writing and is a champion of youth empowerment and literacy. At age 17, her first novel was published, which she began writing at the tender age of 10. Since then, Ms. Dickson has spoken to hundreds of students at more than 45 local elementary and high schools to speak about the importance of reading, writing and aspiring to reach one’s full potential, whether in sports, academics or the arts. In addition to advocating for higher learning, she highlights the important role hard work, dedication and persistence play in the pursuit of life goals. She is an inspiring role model for young people looking to follow their dreams.
Frank Dimant, former CEO of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith, is internationally recognized for his commitment to human rights advocacy. In this role, he co-ordinated campaigns against anti-Semitism in Canada and abroad, and established a 24-hour hotline to report acts of racism. Mr. Dimant spearheaded significant educational efforts to convey the magnitude of the Holocaust and has led numerous international missions championing human rights. He currently serves as the CEO of Christians United for Israel Canada, where he works to build awareness and support for Israel. A recipient of the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, he continues to be a voice for the Jewish community.
Geraldine Di Marco
Geraldine Di Marco is the president and co-founder of A Touch of Love and Hope Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping children and seniors both locally and internationally. Established in 2014, the foundation was built upon her desire to give back to the community by supporting youth in need and providing social services to the elderly. Ms. Di Marco has also had a significant impact on arts and culture in York Region through her volunteer work with Opera York and Opera Belcanto of York. A long-standing resident of Vaughan, she is an active member of our community devoted to making a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
Dedicated to finding a cure and building awareness for Crohn’s disease, Meriel Gordon has been instrumental in the York Region Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC). She was one of the drivers of the first Heel ‘n Wheel-a-Thon in Thornhill to raise money and unite people who have been impacted by Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Ms. Gordon also pioneered the first CCFC Education Symposium in Canada, which brought patients, researchers and health care professionals together to share insights and treatment information. As a result of her efforts, the symposium now takes place across the country. Ms. Gordon remains an active member of the community, committed to multiple philanthropic causes including environmental sustainability, children, health care and women.
As the founder and former president of Project Linus Canada, Rona Kleiman was instrumental in obtaining charitable status for the organization, which provides blankets to children in hospitals and shelters who are facing life crises. Running one of the 44 chapters in Canada, she worked tirelessly to collect, prepare and deliver blankets across the Greater Toronto Area. Today, Ms. Kleiman continues to deliver hundreds of blankets a month to children in need.
As the founder and president of the First Chinese Senior Association of Vaughan, Dominic Lee has been dedicated to providing seniors with recreational activities to improve their physical and intellectual well-being. He is a leader in the Chinese community and an advocate for embracing a healthy lifestyle. Mr. Lee developed innovative exercises to support patient recovery and wellness as a volunteer with the Toronto Western Hospital Community Mental Health Program, where he continues to volunteer his time today. Through his passion for health and helping others, he has had a tremendous impact on many people in the City of Vaughan and throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
Rabbi Yoseph Zaltzman
As the founder of the Jewish Russian Community Centre, an organization that provides a variety of resources for Jewish people from Russia, Rabbi Yoseph Zaltzman is a spiritual leader who has been instrumental in facilitating the integration of Russian immigrants and their families into the Jewish community in Vaughan. A long-time resident of Vaughan, he has developed many programs to help newcomers adjust and integrate into their new city. Through the provision of educational, spiritual, religious and cultural services, he has been successful in creating a strong network that has been successful in helping Russian newcomers and their families reach their full potential.
As a respected influencer of local news, John Amendola demonstrates a passion for the people of Vaughan and the events which serve to define the essence of the community. Having provided coverage for more 7,000 events, his exemplary work reflects the quality and content of his media coverage. He has served as a board member on various organizations including Creating Alternatives and the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association. He is the recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal and has been featured in Portraits of Giving Back York Region.
Recognized as one of the City of Vaughan's modern-day pioneers and most prolific homebuilders, Carlo Baldassarra has demonstrated continuous and exceptional commitment in support of numerous charities. Mr. Baldassarra's most recent generous donation to support the building of the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital solidifies his exemplary efforts to secure a legacy for healthcare in Vaughan.
As a Canadian human rights activist and Vaughan resident, Avi Benlolo demonstrates an exemplary dedication to promoting the tenets of tolerance, freedom and mutual respect through his persistent advocacy. Among his many gifts, Mr. Benlolo is a well-known Canadian speaker and writer, as well as the founder and guiding force behind the annual Spirit of Hope Benefit, Freedom Day, the Tolerance Training Centre, and "From Compassion to Action" Holocaust education missions. A community leader and producer of educational videos, his programs are attended yearly by more than 100,000 people. Serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, he continues to be an agent for positive social change.
Franca Damiani Carella
Founder of the Vitanova Foundation, a client-centred agency providing treatment and rehabilitation for various addictions, Dr. Franca Damiani Carella continues to dedicate her life to helping those in need. As a long-standing resident of Vaughan, she is affectionately known as "Angel" by those whose lives she has touched. Providing services at no cost to clients since the foundation's inception in 1987, Dr. Damiani Carella continues her journey and mission of helping individuals in need and their families.
Through his impressive dedication and commitment to community and sports, Sam Ciccolini has been instrumental in the creation of sports programs benefiting neighbourhood children through the establishment of the Westwood Young Generation Soccer and Hockey Club. An exceptional entrepreneur who grew a family business unto a prominent insurance company, Mr. Ciccolini has demonstrated his passion for assisting others through his affiliation with many chariities. As a recipient of the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for exceptional contribution to public service, and recognition by the Honourary Doctorate of Law from Assumption University in Windsor, he continues to personify community service excellence.
A leading developer, philanthropist and avid supporter of various charitable causes, Dr. Mario Cortellucci exhibits a passion in community initiatives with an emphasis on healthcare facilities, First Nations communities, and education for children and youth in need with the goal of creating ad inspiring a new generation of leaders. Dr. Cortellucci has received many awards including the Order of Ontartio, the 2007 Merit of Brotherhood Award and the first CIIM Entrepreneurial Award of Excellence. Currently, Dr. Cortellucci is serving as the Grand Prior for the Knights Hospitallers of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem Knights of Malta (Ecumenical Order), and is the founder of the Universal Youth Foundation. Through his generous charitable donations, he continues to have a positive impact on the lives of many people in need.
The founder of Human Endeavor, an innovative not-for-profit community organization serving as a key social service provider for newcomers and seniors in Vaughan, Noor Din has inspired and motivated individuals to become their own advocates for self-growth and transformation. Committed to his vision for an inclusive and prosperous Vaughan, Mr. Din continues to build strong positive synergies with a myriad of organizations and enterprises. Among his many accomplishments, he is the recipient of the Innovation Award of the Ministry of Health and the 3M Health Leadership Award, and received recognition in the category of top five "Best Existing Age-Friendly Initiative."
Marie Fiorellino Di Poce
As Chief Operating Executive Director of the Empowerment Through Achievement (ETA) Vaughan Women's Shelter and Outreach Centre, Marie Fiorellino Di Poce has demonstrated unwavering commitment, guidance and support which has been integral to the success of ETA Vaughan's mission to create a safe haven for at-risk women and children. Ms. Fiorellino Di Poce has continued her journey in inspiring and empowering youth to create change by developing the Youth Achieving Empowerment Program. A recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for her commitment to philanthropic causes, she continues to give of herself selflessly to those in need.
A community leader with a long-standing record of supporting service cluibs and the seniors' community, Julian Fantino's leadership has enabled youth to be both active and engaged in their community. Mr. Fantino has dedicated his life to law and order, serving in various roles including Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, and Chief of the Toronto, York and London police services. Mr. Fantino is also committed to preserving the quality of life for those who need it most through his service as a former Member of Parliament and as a founder of Creating Alternatives, an organization that provides services for adults with developmental disabilities. He has been a positive influence in highlighting the importance of compassionate care in the community.
Serving as Trustee for the Vaughan Public Library Board and as Chair of SAVI (Seniors Association of Vaughan Initiative) since its inception in 2003, Isabella Ferrara has been a powerful voice advocating for the seniors' community. Through her dedicated efforts at co-ordinating events, outings and excursions, Ms. Ferrara has been instrumental in advocating unity, friendship and giving among seniors and the community with a focus on continuing to build upon a culture of diversity and inclusion.
As founder of the Hannah Godefa Project, Ms. Godefa has demonstrated exemplary dedication and leadership culminating in the empowerment of women and children on an international scale. Her many accomplishments include speaking at the International Day of the Girl Child at UNICEF headquarters, being the youngest speaker at the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm's Reach Summit and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland. She was a keynote speaker for the Toronto-based "Strong Girls, Strong World" Summit, and is the recipient of the Emerging Leader Award - Canada's Public Policy Forum and Community Service Excellence - Bikila Awards.
As an accessibility advocate working tirelessly in support of persons with developmental disabilities, Sandy Keshen transformed a small dedicated group of individuals into a formidable Ontario organization, Reena. Internationally renowned, it provides residential support to hundreds of individuals. In addition to her dedicated work with the UJA Inclusion Committee, Ms. Keshen also co-chaired the Faith and Culture Inclusion Network, supporting cultural choices in the community. Her passion and expertise resulted in her appointment to the Board of Ontario's Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN), which plays a vital role in delivering access to much-needed health services.
A successful business leader in the retail grocery industry, Gus Longo is committed to generosity, sustainability and open-mindedness. His exceptional contribution to growth and development within the City of Vaughan and the GTA has been built upon his business principles of honesty and mutual respect, and has culminated in his recognition as a Platinum member of Canada's Best Managed Companies. Mr. Longo's philanthropic nature in support of various community charities is a manifestation of his desire to help others succeed in both their personal and professional lives.
An internationally recognized Juno Award winner, Dominic Mancuso is a strong advocate for the City of Vaughan and its community, serving as an ambassador on a municipal, national and international scale. Mr. Mancuso's leadership, artistic presence and accomplishments include being the recipient of a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council for International Tour Support (2015), the Special Achievement Award in Music by the Sicilian Confederation of North America (2014) and the Spirit of Ontario Award for Arts and Entertainment by the National Congress of Italo-Canadians (2013). He has recently completed his 2016 European Tour and continues in his journey of musical excellence.
An accomplished educator, writer and workshop presenter, Shernett Martin is also the founder of the Vaughan African Canadian Association, a not-for-profit organization instrumental in the creation of CariVaughan, a celebration of Caribbean culture. She is also the founder of the Ballers' Paradise, a multi-level basketball organization offering programs to youth in Vaughan and the GTA. Ms. Martin has worked with many schools spearheading equity workshops and has been a mentor to youth, encouraging a strong work ethic and engagement in the community. Her commitment to equity and diversity is evident in her many affiliations with various committees including on the Canadian Alliance of Inclusive Educators and the York Region District School Board Race Relations Advisory Committee. She has been a guest host and speaker on radio and television outlets and is an award recipient featured in the book "100 Accomplished Black Women in Canada."
Dedicated to the protection of Vaughan's heritage, community education and experiences in agriculture, James Maynard has been instrumental in preserving and celebrating Vaughan's unique history. As a committee member and current president of the Historic Wallace House, Mr. Maynard has assisted the community in the development of many historical-based activities, providing a space for community members to gather. As a member of the Woodbridge Rotary Club, Mr. Maynard engages in providing humanitarian services both within the community and around the world, advancing goodwill and peace. His dedicated efforts to the club include founding the Woodbridge Rotary Rib Fest, in support of local charities. A strong community advocate, his affiliation with the Woodbridge Agricultural Society in promoting agrilcultural education remains one of his many focuses.
Nick Puopolo is a successful business owner and innovator in the Canadian architectural lighting community whose work includes the Canadian Opera House, Ripley's Aquarium and the soon-to-be-unveiled LED lighting system for Niagara Falls. A generous donor to numerous fundraising causes, Mr. Puopolo was instrumental in founding an event, Italian Car Day, in support of local charity providing exceptional respite and residential care to families whose children have multiple disabilities and require complex medical care. His achievements in business have contributed to his unwavering belief that with success comes the responsibility to give back to the community.
As an award-winning entrepreneur and real estate industry leader, Vivian Risi has made significant contributions to many charities including the Yellow Brick House and Mackenzie Health. Her passion for equal rights, dignity and integrity for all people to live a life free of violence has inspired her to empower women and children. Ms. Risi is the recipient of numerous achievement awards including the York Region Business Excellence Award, YMCA Peace Medallion Award and the City of Vaughan Philanthropic Business Person of the Year Award.
An executive producer, bestselling author, celebrity chef and host of two internationally syndicated television series, David Rocco's presence is felt throughout the world. Mr. Rocco's series air in multiple languages in over 150 countries worldwide and his success has included the publication of three cookbooks, two of which were national bestsellers. His recognitions include being one of Canada's Top 10 Style Makers and receiving top honours from The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards and Taste Canada. He is a supporter of many charities and remains actively involved in the Vaughan community.
As Chief Executive Officer of Link Up Employment Services, Bob Santos has exhibited a selfless and tireless work ethic in achieving transformations in the employment world for people with disabilities. He is a voice and advocate giving hope and empowerment to people with disabilities leading to independence and self-fulfilliment. Of his many awards and recognitions, Mr. Santos is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II DIamond Jubilee Medal, and was a torchbearer for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, among other accomplishments. He is affiliated with many associations and memberships, and continues to positively encourage employers in successfully integrating people with disabilities into the workforce.
Founder of Giuliano's Journey, a non-profit organization promoting education and research funding to assist in finding a cure and treatuing children with leukemia, Giuliano Todaro is a local hero. His involvement in a number of fundraisers to date has culminated in raising more than $100,000 for leukemia and lymphoma pediatric research. A true role model, he works tirelessly with parents and volunteers of his organization contributing much of his time to the betterment of the community. Giuliano embodies the definition of compassion, generosity and hope.
By volunteering his time to various organizations that support disadvantaged youth, Garry Vosburg has demonstrated his exceptional commitment in the past four decades to helping those who are most in need. His many achievements include his work with the Community Service Bureau of York Regional Police, serving as an instructor in the Values, Influences and Peers program, and providing instrumental support in the implementation of the York Regional Police Bike Patrol Program. He has also been recognized for his community involvement as an officer with the York Regional Police.
Exemplifying the virtues of an exceptional physician and community volunteer, Dr. Nicholas Voudouris is dedicated to achieving the highest level of care for patients across Southwest York Region. A well-respected member of the Vaughan medical community, Dr. Voudouris is a member of the Mackenzie Health Foundation's Major Gift Committee, successfully raised funds for its capital campaign, and was Chair of the Health Records Committee, Clinical Research Trials Committee, Pharmacy, Nutrition and Therapeutics Committee, and Medical Quality Assurance Committee. Among his many accomplishments, he has served as Chief of Family Practice and Medical Director of the Chronic Disease and Seniors Health portfolio at Mackenzie Health. His outstanding record of medical excellence and volunteerism within the community speaks to his strong commitment to better the quality of life for all.
Serving as the Executive Director for the Vaughan Food Bank for more than 21 years, Peter Wixson has volunteered over 3,000 hours annually to ensure meals are provided to Vaughan's most vulnerable citizens. Mr. Wixson has initiated a toy and food basket program, with a focus on providing for the less fortunate during the holiday season. He has been recognized as a Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service Local Hero, an honour which acknowledges his efforts in community service.
As President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of Toronto and York Region, Daniele Zanotti is a community builder and inspirational leader, serving to encourage, motivate and provide a positive platform for change in the lives of those who courageously face some of life's most challenging social issues, such as poverty and unemployment. Mr. Zanotti is a visionary who advocates for those most vulnerable in our society and is recognized by his peers for his leadership. Among his notable accomplishments, he has been a key influencer in the implementation of the Human Services Planning Board of York Region's Making Ends Meet in York Region initiative and Make Rental Happen Campaign.