A jewelry designer who helped create the iconic True North ring, a Juno Award-winning comedian, an Interior Designer with an international clientele, the executive director of a child advocacy organization, a prolific community fundraiser who survived childhood cancer and a refugee from the Sudan who inspires young women to pursue their dreams are six of this year’s St. Clair College Alumni of Distinction award recipients.
The distinguished list of 2020 recipients includes:
- Will Bigelow, a 2006 graduate of Animation Tradigital;
- Dave Merheje, a Business Marketing graduate in 2003;
- Flora DiMenna, a 1980 graduate in Interior Design;
- Lori Kempe, a 1991 graduate of the Sign Language Interpreter, deaf studies, program;
- Anita Riccio-Spagnuolo, a 1999 Personal Support Worker graduate; and
- Elizabeth Moses, who graduated from CNC Precision Metal cutting in 2017 and Pre-Apprenticeship General Machinist in 2019.
They are all being honoured Tuesday, April 7 at a gala dinner at the St. Clair College Centre for the Arts.
Bigelow, a concept artist with Baron Championship Rings, found his niche with the Tecumseh-based ring and jewelry manufacturer. He began nine years ago as a Graphic Designer and has since been promoted to Technical Art Director. He was instrumental in designing the iconic rings that were made for the Toronto Raptors after the team’s NBA championship win in 2019. The rings were the subject of media attention throughout the world for their eye-popping design and creative craftsmanship.
Merheje, an actor and comedian who won a Juno Award in 2019 for Comedy Album of the year, is considered to be one of the most original stand-up acts on the comedy scene today. He has been recognized for several comedy awards and has made appearances on Comedy Network’s Match Game, MTV Live and CBC. His comedy special, Beautifully Manic, can be seen on Netflix as part of the Comedians of the World and he currently co-stars in the Hulu comedy series Ramy.
DiMenna, president and principal designer of Toronto-based FDM Designs, has received numerous awards around the world for her luxurious interior designs. She garnered an award for Best International Design at the International Interior Design Awards 2017 held in London, England. She was the “World’s Best” interior designer in the same competition held in 2016 and has a number of other accolades for excellence in her lavish interior designs for luxury residences, model homes and suites, corporate offices and public spaces.
Kempe, executive director of Children First, has a history of working in the non-profit sector. Skilled in nonprofit organizations, coaching, government, program evaluation and volunteer management, Kempe is a strong business development professional. She has worked as the manager of Chatham Kent Children’s Services, has been a program advisor for the Ministry of Community and Social Services and was also a social worker with the Windsor Essex Children’s Aid Society.
Riccio-Spagnuolo, the coordinator of fund development/mental health promotion with the Canadian Mental Health Association, was elected in 2018 as a town councillor in LaSalle. She was the director of fundraising for Harmony in Action for five years, having achieved success in raising $300,000 to build an accessible playground for the agency’s clients. She is a childhood cancer survivor, who beat terminal Stage 4 cancer. With her second chance at life, Riccio-Spagnuolo wanted to give back to others and make Windsor-Essex a better place. She has served on the T2B Action Committee for 15 years and with the help of her family, she has organized a gala for the past eight years in Amherstburg to help find a cure for cancer.
Moses, who works as a machinist apprentice at Windsor Mold, is a recent graduate, having completed her program in 2019. She has been described as a trailblazer for women in the trades and is a mentor for young women with WEST, Build-A-Dream and St. Clair College. Born in a refugee camp in Sudan, Moses moved to Canada at age 5. In high school, Moses was inadvertently placed in a woodworking class, but her teacher recognized her technical potential and encouraged her to join the school’s robotics team. She soon realized that she enjoyed machining and making parts for the robot. Moses relishes being a role model for other young women and she is interested in supporting young women who may be unsure about their future.
Tickets are $60 each with tables of eight or 10 available.
For tickets visit the chryslertheatre.com or contact the Alumni office at 519-972-2747.