Four members of the Conestoga community were recognized with 2023 Oktoberfest Rogers Women of the Year awards at a ceremony held May 25 at Bingemans conference centre. The awards recognize and pay tribute to outstanding women in the community.
Monica Himmelman, a 1970 Social Services graduate and Conestoga retiree, was honoured in the Community Services category. Himmelman’s volunteer work spans all facets of her community including the Breakfast Club, the Alzheimer’s Society, and Community Support Connections, as well as private citizens who she provides day-to-day care for. In 2018, she coordinated Conestoga’s United Way campaign, which raised over $39,000 in one month, receiving the Rising Star Award from United Way Waterloo Region Communities. Now retired, Himmelman works part-time at Conestoga as a standardized patient for the School of Health & Life Sciences.
Jolene MacDonald, a 1999 Graphic Design graduate, was recognized in the 40+ Entrepreneurship category. MacDonald leads a team of accessibility champions at her company, Accessibrand, empowering and educating other companies to integrate accessibility into their business operations. MacDonald’s business model focuses on creating equitable access for all and meaningful work for professionals with disabilities.
MacDonald participated in Conestoga’s Venture Lab, delivered through the Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective, which is designed to support the development of early-stage start-ups through one-on-one coaching, and access to industry mentors and community new venture development resources. Accessibrand won the college’s Pitch Day competition in 2020 and was named a recipient of the Equitable Life of Canada Community Venture Award in 2021.
Broadcast Performance & Digital Media graduate Angela Onuora won in the Arts & Culture category. An award-winning filmmaker and interdisciplinary artist, Onuora is a first-generation Nigerian immigrant and embraces a passion for equity and inclusion, fueling her mission to ensure all people experience a culturally vibrant, inclusive, empowered and engaged Waterloo Region. Through her work in film and the arts, she empowers others to share stories of underrepresentation to raise awareness and shed light on their abilities to overcome and inspire others. Onuora also participated in Conestoga’s Venture Lab and was named a recipient of the Equitable Life of Canada Community Venture Award in 2021.
Clarice Ward, a graduate of the Women in Skilled Trades program and the General Carpenter Apprenticeship program, was recognized in the Professional Over 40 category. Ward is a multi-career construction professional and 17-year industry veteran. Currently an independent contractor, she is an advocate for opportunities within the Canadian construction industry and was the first woman to receive the prestigious Premier’s Award - College’s Ontario’s highest honour -- in the Apprenticeship category. She was recently named Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Skills Ontario.
Alison Carden, a 2006 Software Engineering Technology graduate, was nominated in the STEM category. Alivia Chanyi, an Aviation student who will cross the stage at convocation on June 16, was nominated in the Young Adult category. Amina Ismail, a fourth year Bachelor of Public Relations student, was also nominated in the Young Adult category.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest Rogers Women of the Year awards ceremony launched in 1975 and has been an annual tradition in Waterloo Region since.