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2009 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners
For information about how to nominate a Holland College alumnus for a distinguished alumni award, call (902) 566-9590 or email.
2009 Award Winner Bios
Allan MacLeod is a life-long resident of Prince Edward Island. After graduating from Montague Regional High, Allan worked as a farm labourer for a year before enrolling in the fledgling Commercial Design course at Holland College. Allan's work ethic was well suited to the college's self-training and evaluation program. He graduated from the program in 1973. By the end of the first year he was employed part time as the first designer for a local print company and by graduation he was working full time. Before long he was overseeing additional design staff. Allan remained with that company until mid August of 1988. A chance meeting at the exhibition grounds with Don Smith, president of Design Associates provided a life-changing opportunity. Don launched TechnoGraphics, with Allan as President. TechnoGraphics was to use Macintosh computers to provide typesetting to Don Smith's design firms.
Allan and his team soon realized that these "computers" could do more than just set type. TechnoGraphics pushed the envelope, and became one of the first companies in the Atlantic region to use the computer as a design tool.
With increased production capacity afforded by technology, the company was successful from the start. TechnoGraphics continued to thrive and in 1993, Allan purchased TechnoGraphics and changed the name to TechnoMedia.
In 1994 Allan purchased Cardinal Communications in Halifax, and the following spring moved Cardinal to its own building on Agricola Street. With the move complete the entire Cardinal staff resigned to start their own company. Starting from scratch, Allan decided that Cardinal would be given a new direction, focusing on historical interpretive display. The rejuvenated company grew to have a permanent staff of eight; Cardinal became respected and sought after throughout Atlantic Canada and beyond. After seven successful years Allan noticed a slowing in the Halifax market and decided to wind down Cardinal and focus his attention on TechnoMedia.
By 2001, an historic property had been purchased at 17 Pownal Street and renovations were undertaken to make this TechnoMedia's permanent home. Under Allan's leadership, TechnoMedia continued to thrive. The business expanded further, and so did their capable staff team.
In February of 2009, Allan participated in a two week Habitat for Humanity build in Quintay, Chile. He had never been away from his business for longer than an extended weekend and it went remarkably well. In May 2009, Allan decided to retire. He suggested to two long time staff members, Blair Sweeney and Roberta MacLean that they should buy TechnoMedia. They thought this was a dandy idea.
June 30, 2009 was Allan's last day of gainful employment. He is enjoying days with deadlines and is looking forward going to El Salvador in March for another Habitat for Humanity build.
Islander Jamie Hill is a successful technology entrepreneur. He graduated from Holland College's Programmer/ Analyst program in 1984. In 1985, Jamie Hill co founded On-Line Support, a consulting firm specializing in information technology. Over the next eight years, the company grew to 20 consultants and completed projects in P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario. In 1993, Jamie founded PEINet in cooperation with Island Tel (now known as Bell Aliant). PEINet became the first company to provided Internet services, data communications and network management across Prince Edward Island. The internet and its associated opportunities drove much of Jamie's success over the next 20 years.
His experience with PEINet led Jamie to form Cycor Communications in 1995. Cycor Communications was a national Internet services provider and has the distinction of being the first ISP to provide local service in every province in Canada. In 1996, with its national presence being increasingly important, Jamie sold his interest in Cycor and PEINet to a publicly held company. Ever the entrepreneur, and risk taker, Jamie started a call centre business before the need was obvious to most of the technology sector. This company, On-line Support also known as OLS, remains one of Jamie's most successful accomplishments.
From 1998 to 2000, On-line Support grew from a staff of 53 in Charlottetown to more than 430 employees. In 2000, he sold 80 per cent of the business to a group of investors based in Toronto and Calgary. Jamie remains on the board of directors at OLS and it has now grown to nine centres located in P.E.I., Nova Scotia, and Ontario. It now employs over 2,000 people. Some of its clients include such well known companies as Apple, Rogers Communications, American Express, and Virgin Mobile.
In March of 2001, Jamie made an equity investment in a publicly held company called iWave Information Systems and soon obtained controlling interest. His primary interest in iWave was that it was publicly held company, and he was eager to learn the complexities of running and managing a company listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. He took on the responsibilities of chief executive officer and president in a management restructuring. He focused primarily on product enhancement and increasing operational efficiencies. iWave's primary business is the research, development and manufacture of an online prospect research database to aid non-profits in their major gift fundraising efforts. In late 2004, Mr. Hill took the company private.
Since 2005, the company has grown from 16 to 30 employees and has demonstrated double digit growth in each of the last five years. iWave has customers in five countries, but focuses primarily on the North American based market, with more than 75 percent of its sales from the United States.
Jamie has interests in real estate development and as an investor in other companies. He has generously supported charities such as Special Olympics PEI, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Throughout his career, Jamie has focused on information technology opportunities with global markets and opportunities while taking significant risks in order to succeed. He has invested in companies and technologies when no else would, and he has been first to recognize an opportunity when it arises.
After graduating from Holland College's EARLY CHILDHOOD CARE AND EDUCATION program in 1990, Sonya worked in a variety of areas within the early childhood community including kindergarten, special needs, and toddler care. She established her own child care centre in 1995 and developed a highly regarded program. It was evident that she believed in true partnerships with the entire family and the community. Every family was greeted with the same smile and inviting welcome, encouraged to be involved, and be a partner in the program. Parents were welcome at any time to join their children, nurse their baby, or share a talent and participate in crafts. The program was an opportunity for families to meet other families as well as to get to know their community through guest speakers at parent nights or field trips.
Sonya stands behind the research promoting the early years as children's most critical developmental years, and encourages everyone to pay attention to this. The leadership and innovation skills developed while operating her own business made for an easy transition into her current position as the Executive Director with the Early Childhood Development Association (ECDA) of P.E.I. She is the first person to fill this role for the ECDA of P.E.I. Sonya developed policy and programs within the organization that continue to promote and support high quality early years programs and services for families and children. She also developed and implemented programs such as the annual Learning Centre Challenge, (an opportunity for licensed child care programs to enhance the quality of their programs in a meaningful and somewhat competitive manner), and the ECDA annual Early Childhood Awards and banquet celebrations.
Sonya works closely with the community to ensure the best programs and services are available for P.E.I.'s children. She has been involved in various research initiatives to further the understanding of our children and our Island community needs. She was one of the project coordinators with the P.E.I. Understanding the Early Years Research Initiative, and participated with the UPEI Centre for Education Research, and the collection of the Early Development Instrument with P.E.I.'s five year olds. Sonya is currently the co-chair of the P.E.I. Children's Secretariat, P.E.I. representative on the Canadian Child Care Federation Member Council, chair of the Early Childhood Education and Care Network, and is a member of The Kindergarten Transition Team for the seamless transition of kindergarten from the community based system to the public school system.
She is committed to lifelong learning and continues to participate in formal and informal training at the post-secondary level herself, while promoting the same within the early childhood community. She played a key role in working with partners to ensure another successful delivery of the ECCE Accelerated Training Model currently offered at Holland College. Her passion for the early years is evident in the many professional development workshops she has delivered, as well as the key note addresses with a focus on a well-funded system of quality early learning and care. To further this, she recently led a successful strategic marketing campaign on behalf of the ECDA that promoted licensed, professional, certified child care.
Sonya believes beyond a doubt that every child deserves the best possible chance for a fantastic future, and that tomorrow begins today in a quality environment which encourages every individual to explore, learn, and develop to be the best they can be. She believes this begins at home and in our community, but also that professional early childhood educators play an important role as partner with families and communities to create these environments.