Three Durham College alumni nominated for 2019 Premier’s Awards

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce that, in recognition of their outstanding career success related to their college experience and the significant contributions they have made to their community, three of its alumni have been nominated for Colleges Ontario’s 2019 Premier’s Awards.

Andy Popko, who graduated from DC’s Public Relations program in 1987, has spent over 40 years in the oil and energy sector working closely with western Canada’s Indigenous peoples to develop equitable joint venture partnerships that will protect Indigenous land rights. For his work, Popko was named an honourary Chief at Heart Lake First Nations and also won a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Tribal Chiefs Institute in 2003. Presented on behalf of the Treaty 6 Chiefs, Popko is the first non-Indigenous person to be presented with the award. In 2004, he was also recognized as a Durham College Alumni of Distinction. Today, he is vice-president of Aboriginal Relations at NC Services Group Limited and a director at energy start-up Bitcrude. Popko is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Business category.

Over the last ten years, Cailey Jones has worked her way up from volunteer to full-time teacher, vice-principal and finally principal of Botshabelo Urban Kids Educentre (UKE) in Midrand, South Africa. A 2010 graduate of DC’s Early Childhood Education program, she is driven by the knowledge that early access to education can change a child’s life. Over the past nine years, she’s helped build Botshabelo’s preschool program from the ground up, filling a need for children who may not otherwise access preschool education. In her role as principal, she introduced play-based learning, parent workshops, standardized assessment processes, and regular teacher evaluations and training. In 2019, she was recognized as an Alumna of Distinction at Durham College and was a guest speaker during the Global Grad event. She is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Community Services category.

Bev Woods has given thousands of people a reason to smile over her 39-year career. Since graduating from DC’s Dental Assisting program in 1980 and the Dental Hygiene program in 1984, she has worked in both general practice and public health as a dental hygienist, consultant, and as a member and past president of numerous dental hygiene associations. In 2009, Woods founded Gift from the Heart (GFTH), a non-profit organization and annual one-day event that brings together dental hygienists across the country to offer no-cost dental hygiene services to those unable to afford or access care. The event has provided over $1.2 million in no-cost dental hygiene care to vulnerable populations over the past ten years. In recognition of Woods’ generous work with GFTH and meaningful contributions to dental hygiene and her community, she was recognized as a Durham College Alumna of Distinction in 2019. She is nominated for a Premier’s Award in the Health Sciences category.

“Using the skills they learned at DC, these three remarkable individuals have built successful and meaningful careers for themselves. We are so proud of their achievements and the impact they are having in their communities and worldwide,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “This is yet another example of how college education provides graduates with the foundation for success.”

This year’s Premier’s Award winners will be announced during a gala reception on Monday, December 2 in Toronto. For more information about the Premier’s Awards, please visit www.co-awards.org.