11:10 AM

Congratulations to Mohawk College’s 2020 Alumni of Distinction Recipients

A popular radio show host and podcaster, an award-winning voice actor, and a successful tradeswoman/entrepreneur are among 10 Mohawk College graduates who are being honoured with a Mohawk College Alumni of Distinction Award this week.

Established in 1996, the annual awards recognize the career achievements and community contributions of outstanding Mohawk College alumni. In honour of every recipient, the Alumni Association supports a bursary with a one-time donation of $500 to Mohawk College to support current students in achieving their goals.

“Mohawk is proud to celebrate these 10 exceptional alumni. Their remarkable achievements show current and future generations of students what is possible with a Mohawk College education.”

Ron McKerlie, President & CEO, Mohawk College

Read the full bios of each of this year’s recipients here: https://www.mohawkcollege.ca/alumni/alumni-awards-0

This year’s Alumni of Distinction recipients include:



Chris Van Houten – Civil Engineering Technology, 1995Director, Virtual Design and Construction, Walters Group

Chris is director of virtual design and construction at Walters Group, a family-owned structural steel construction company based in Hamilton that designs, fabricates, and constructs commercial and industrial projects throughout North America.


Karen Breitner – Electrician: Construction & Maintenance (AP), 1988, Industrial Electrician – HITD (AP), 1992
Owner, Lumination FX

Karen is the founder and owner of Lumination FX, a full-service electrical contractor specializing in residential and commercial electrical services, including interior and exterior lighting design and installation. 


Lisa McDonald – Child and Youth Worker, 1994
Author and Radio Host, The Contact Talk Radio Network

Lisa is a successful author, motivational speaker, TV and radio host, blogger, vlogger, mentor, and personal development coach. Her podcast Living Fearlessly with Lisa McDonald, explores the obstacles and challenges that hold people back. The show seeks to inspire and empower listeners to break the cycle of negative thoughts and actions that prevent them from reaching their goals.

Community Services

Nancy Smith – Child Care Worker, 1981
Executive Director, Interval House Hamilton

Nancy joined Interval House of Hamilton (IHOH) in 1997 as residential program manager before moving to executive director in 2015. IHOH provides emergency shelter, safety planning and support services for women with or without children who have experienced abuse or violence.

Creative Arts & Design

Elizabeth Naumovski – Broadcasting – Television and Communications Media, 1984
Vice President Marketing, Caldwell Securities Ltd.

Elizabeth Naumovski, a Chartered Marketer and a licensed Investment Advisor. In 2018, Elizabeth created a half-hour YouTube show, Finance Is Personal. A lively educational talk show featuring female guests with an emphasis on Financial Literacy for women.


John McGrath – Broadcast Journalism, 1983
Principal, McGrath Communications

John founded McGrath Communications in 2011, providing a wide range of external and internal communications services to major corporations in various industries, professional associations, health care institutions, governments and government agencies, and charitable organizations, including the Roberto Alomar Foundation, which raises tens of thousands of dollars every year for charity. John is a former journalist and an award-winning voice actor. 

Health Sciences

Dr. Laurie McLaughlin – Physiotherapy, 1982
Owner, McLaughlin Proactive Health Group

Laurie is a leader in the field of orthopedic physiotherapy and a world-renowned expert in manual therapy and the role of breathing in chronic pain and stress. She served as a chief examiner for the Orthopedic Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association before being inspired to complete a Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy at Andrews University in Michigan.

Mohawk College Employee

Brian Willrich – Broadcast Television, 1980
Faculty, Media & Communications

Brian is an award-winning broadcasting professional who puts his vast experience in the TV industry to great use as an educator. His dedication to teaching has provided Mohawk College students with the benefit of his extensive knowledge both inside and outside the classroom.

Recent Graduate

Curtis Onaczyszyn – Environmental Technology, 2019
Spray Technician, Bartram Woodlands Ltd.

Curtis co-founded Project Snorkel, an initiative that seeks to improve watersheds and enhance the relationship between the local communities of Southwestern Ontario and their waterways via stewardship and outdoor recreation. The project removes litter from water bodies and beaches in Oxford County, incorporating public engagement through social media.


Bella N. Dietrich – Architectural Technology & Civil Engineering Technology, 2009
Global Research Programme Manager, Arup Global Foresight, Research & Innovation

Bella is a global research programme manager with Arup Global Foresight, Research & Innovation in London, U.K., which studies the complex forces shaping the future of the built environment around the world. She is also the managing director of Modern Design Studio, a design, construction and events management firm focused on providing an enhanced community experience by creating inclusive, creative, and sustainable design solutions.

The 10 Alumni of Distinction recipients will formerly receive their awards at a virtual awards ceremony this Thursday.

For more information on Mohawk’s Alumni Association visit: https://www.mohawkcollege.ca/alumni/about-mohawk-alumni