Celebrating outstanding Durham College alumni through 2022 Premier’s Awards nominations

Durham College (DC) is delighted to announce that four alumni have recently been nominated for a 2022 Premier’s Award, which honours outstanding college graduates who are making an impact through social and economic contributions in Ontario and beyond.

The awards have been presented by Colleges Ontario since 1992 and recognize Ontario college graduates every year in the following seven categories – Apprenticeship, Business, Community Services, Creative Arts and Design, Health Sciences, Recent Graduate, and Technology.

“Our nominated alumni continue to showcase in their careers the solid foundation of excellence and innovation that they first developed as students at Durham College,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “I’m extremely proud of each of their accomplishments, and take immense pride in knowing that DC was a stepping stone for their exceptional work in our communities. I wish each of our nominees the best of luck at this year’s awards!”

DC’s nominees include:

Kristin Atwood – Culinary Management, 2016 and Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts, 2017

Kristin Atwood has been combining her passion for food and filmmaking since graduating from DC’s Culinary Management and Advanced Baking and Pastry Arts programs in 2016 and 2017.

She created an award-winning independent production company called Chef Studio, where she produces cooking tutorials and web series that bring the joy and magic of cooking to digital streaming and video-on-demand platforms. Atwood has been recognized by several prestigious awards organizations, including winning Best New Filmmaker by the Canadian Diversity Film Festival in 2021, as well as receiving a nomination for a James Beard Foundation Award and an Emmy® Award in the Outstanding Single Camera Editing category – just to name a few.

Atwood currently works for LS Productions, an agency specializing in commercials, film and TV, music videos, and fashion and sports shoots in the United Kingdom. She is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Recent Graduate category.

Brandon Bird – Level 3 Plumber Apprentice Certificate, 2012

Brandon Bird completed his Level 3 Plumber Apprentice Certificate in 2012 in order to prepare himself for future leadership at his family’s third-generation plumbing and heating company. As a licensed Red Seal plumber, Bird worked his way up the ranks, always looking for ways to grow the business. This included overseeing the acquisition and amalgamation of John McKenzie Plumbing with Bird Mechanical Ltd. in 2014, allowing the company to offer more services and expand into new markets. In 2016, at just 28 years old, Bird became the youngest CEO in the company’s history.

Today, Bird manages a team of 200 people, including 135 tradespeople. Under his guidance, the business has doubled its annual sales revenue to $56.4 million thanks to his new approaches to service. As CEO, he oversees projects ranging from $5,000 to $20 million. Clients include Cape Breton Regional Health Centre, Queen’s University, Dalhousie University, Infrastructure Ontario and Cadillac Fairview. Bird is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Apprenticeship category.

Dr. Nicole Blackman, DNP, MN, RN – Registered Nursing, 2004

Since graduating from DC’s Registered Nursing program in 2004, Dr. Blackman has continued her academic path, attaining her Bachelor of Science degree, as well as a Master of Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice, both with a specialization in Indigenous Health. As a proud member of Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, she has dedicated her advanced practice nursing career to enhancing the health of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

After devoting more than five years to improving Indigenous health in Moose Factory and surrounding communities, Dr. Blackman returned to the Durham Region, accepting an Indigenous lead position for the Durham Region Health Department, and was hired in 2019 as the health director for the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation. More recently, she was hired as provincial director of the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council. Dr. Blackman is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Health Sciences category.

John Draper – Journalism, 2005

Entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, John Draper champions diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion through Together We Rock! Inc., the organization he founded in 2006. Supported by a team of employees, consultants and volunteer advisors, Together We Rock! realizes its vision through presentations, learning resources and leadership initiatives. Through his lived experience as a person with a physical disability who is an augmentative communication user, Draper presents a compelling case for change.

His leadership efforts have earned him provincial and international recognition, such as the 2007 Alumnus of Distinction award from DC, and the David C. Onley Award in 2017 for Leadership in Accessibility, presented by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. In 2017, he was also named Businessperson of the Year by the Whitby Chamber of Commerce. Draper is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Community Services category.

The entire DC community wishes our nominated alumni the best of luck. This year’s Premier’s Award winners will be announced on November 28, 2022.