Conestoga news

December 3, 2019 11:44 AM

Conestoga grads honoured at 2019 Premier's Awards

Three Conestoga alumni joined the ranks of Ontario’s most distinguished college graduates on Monday, December 2, when they were named as 2019 recipients of Premier’s Awards at a gala celebration held at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.

Conestoga College_2019 Premier's Awards winners.jpg
Three Conestoga alumni joined the ranks of Ontario’s most distinguished college graduates when they were named as 2019 recipients of Premier’s Awards. L-R: Kevin King, Clarice Ward and William Werth.

The awards, established in 1992, acknowledge the social and economic contribution that Ontario college graduates make to the province and throughout the world. Award recipients, chosen from nominations submitted by the province’s 24 colleges, have demonstrated outstanding career success related to their college experience and have made significant contributions to their community.

A total of 118 graduates were nominated for the 2019 awards which recognize graduates in seven categories: Apprenticeship, Business, Community Services, Creative Arts & Design, Health Sciences, Recent Graduate and Technology.

Clarice Ward received the 2019 Premier’s Award in the Apprenticeship category. She is a 2007 graduate of the Women in Skilled Trades Pre-Apprenticeship program at Conestoga as well as a 2011 graduate of the General Carpenter Apprenticeship program. As an assistant project manager of specialty contracts at Melloul-Blamey Construction Inc., she is the first woman to transition from tradesperson (general carpenter) to construction management in Melloul-Blamey’s 37-year history, and one of the only tradeswomen to serve on the board of directors of the Canadian Association of Women in Construction. A speaker, mentor and champion of women in apprenticeships, she has influenced thousands of women to consider skilled trade opportunities. Ward was awarded a 60th Anniversary Gender Equity Fellowship by the University of Waterloo in 2019.

William Werth was recognized with the 2019 Premier’s Award in the Recent Graduate category. He is a 2017 graduate of Conestoga’s Software Engineering Technology program. Now chief technology officer at James. E. Wagner Cultivation (JWC), Werth is using technology to revolutionize the cannabis industry. A former Canadian combat engineer who was awarded the Sacrifice Medal and competed in the 2017 Invictus Games, he designed JWC’s GrowthSTORM Management software, a custom technology for tracking cannabis cultivation from seed to harvest. He also led the refinement of JWC’s patent-pending aeroponic growing platform and helped to pioneer its unique business licensing model. Werth’s innovations were a catalyst for a $1.2-million energy-saving grant in 2018 and the company’s 2018 debut on the TSX-V at a market cap of $100 million.

Kevin King was named as one of two recipients of the 2019 Premier’s Award in Health Sciences. He is a 1995 graduate of Conestoga’s Ambulance & Emergency Care program and both founder and CEO of ECHO Healthcare. Inspired to act after the September 11 terrorist attacks, King created the first mobile simulation program for paramedics in eastern Canada and founded a national alliance for simulation specialists and educators. In 2010, he was recognized by the Prime Minister for his emergency services leadership during the G8 summit. In 2018, King founded ECHO Healthcare, featuring a world-first approach to simulation service and support that earned the company global recognition and profitability after just one year.

This is the first time in the history of the program that three graduates from a single college have received awards in the same year. Other Ontario college graduates recognized at the event include Don Ashton, Business (Fanshawe), Kevin Collins, Community Services (Georgian), Dean DeBlois, Creative Arts & Design (Sheridan), Peter Dundas, Health Sciences (Humber) and Kathy Lerette, Technology (Mohawk).

In addition to this year’s recipients, several other Conestoga graduates have also been recognized with Premier’s Awards, including Charmeli Naraine (Business, 2012), Tahani Aburaneh (Business, 2013), Marianne Walker (Health Sciences, 2015), Don Gosen (Apprenticeship, 2018) and Allie Libertini (Recent Graduate, 2018).

For more information, visit