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University Advancement | March 2019  


Alumni Achievement Award recipients announced

2019 Alumni Achievement Awards recipients

This year’s honourees include Emily Mills, Jeremy Podeswa, Whitney Rockley, Maayan Ziv, and Abdullah Snobar.


Bringing creativity, social activism and generosity of knowledge and self to today’s challenges, the winners of this year’s Alumni Achievement Awards embody Ryerson’s enterprising spirit.

The recipients will be honoured at the Alumni Achievement Awards on May 4 as part of Alumni Weekend. The celebration is open to all alumni and represent a remarkable breadth and depth of accomplishment.


The 2019 recipients of the Alumni Award of Distinction are:

2019 Alumni Achievement Awards recipient, Emily Mills, Journalism ’05

Emily Mills, Journalism ’05

Named to Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 list by Women's Executive Network and the 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women list, Mills is an alumna on the rise. Mills is the founder of How She Hustles, a network that connects diverse women through events. The events focus on entrepreneurship and leadership, attracting as many as 400 guests, from CEOs to Olympians. Her digital photo series, HERstory in Black, featuring 150 inspiring Black women, earned earned national media coverage on CBC including a one-hour TV documentary. She was recently named to Canada’s national committee for the world’s largest gender equality conference. Mills also held a roundtable with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about entrepreneurship and economic opportunities for Black women. 

2019 Alumni Achievement Awards recipient, Jeremy Podeswa, Image Arts ’84

Jeremy Podeswa, Image Arts ’84

Podeswa has been a director on the rise over the last two decades with directing credits in a number of hit television shows ranging from Six Feet Under and Dexter to True Blood, Homeland and most recently The Handmaid’s Tale. He is the winner of two Genie Awards and the 1999 TIFF Best Canadian Film for The Five Senses. He has received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for episodes of Game of Thrones.

2019 Alumni Achievement Awards recipient, Whitney Rockley, Business ’92

Whitney Rockley, Business ’92

Changing the face of what a venture capitalist looks like, Whitney Rockley is Co-founder of McRock Capital, one of the few women founders of a venture capital firm in Canada, and the first woman to have served as Chair of the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA). Her expertise has made Rockley a sought-after advisor to top-tier Canadian government officials on national entrepreneurial priorities and innovation strategy. Rockley is a leader in the venture capital realm and sits on the boards of a number of tech companies.

2019 Alumni Achievement Awards recipient, Maayan Ziv, Radio and Television Arts '12, MA Digital Media ’15

Maayan Ziv, Radio and Television Arts '12, MDM ’15

Ziv is an activist, photographer and entrepreneur. The creator of AccessNow, an app that uses crowdsourcing to determine the accessibility status of landmarks, businesses and more, Ziv has used her experience living with Muscular Dystrophy to create a more accessible world for people with disabilities. She is the recipient of the David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility and a Queen’s Jubilee Medal in recognition of her work to increase awareness for disabilities in the arts. She was also named one of Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards by the Women's Executive Network (WXN) and IABC/Toronto's Communicator of the Year.


The Isadore Sharp Outstanding Recent Graduate for 2019 is:

2019 Alumni Achievement Awards recipient, Abdullah Snobar, B Comm ’09, MBA ’18

Abdullah Snobar, Hospitality and Tourism ’09, MBA ’18

Abdullah is the Executive Director of the DMZ, a leading tech accelerator that helps high-potential startups scale to world-class businesses. To date, the DMZ has accelerated 383 companies that have raised over $563.6M and fostered 3,612 jobs. Under his leadership, the DMZ was named the number one university-based incubator in the world by UBI Global. Prior to joining the DMZ, Abdullah held roles at Ryerson University, the Canadian Armed Forces, Fairmont and Marriott Hotels and Resorts and co-founded a non-profit foundation in Kenya. He’s an avid community builder with a longstanding history of working with marginalized and underserved communities at home and abroad. Most recently, Abdullah was a board member with the Ontario Trillium Foundation. He regularly appears in the media and is a member of the Forbes Tech Council. In 2018, Abdullah became a recipient of Canada’s 2018 Top 40 Under 40.

Join us on May 4 as we celebrate these outstanding Ryersonians and their contributions during a cocktail reception at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Register today for this free event during Alumni Weekend.