2017 Bryden Award Recipients

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2017 Bryden Awards Recipients

The 2017 Annual Bryden Alumni Awards, held at the Royal Ontario Museum on November 23, were presented to grads who have achieved the extraordinary and made remarkable contributions to York and their communities.

To see photos from the evening, please visit the 2017 Bryden Alumni Awards photo gallery on our Alumni Facebook page.

A special thanks to our Premier sponsor
TD Insurance, affinity program partner providing home and car insurance for York University alumni, students, employees, and retirees.

Outstanding Contribution J. Mark Lievonen
Outstanding Achievement Colleen Johnston
Tentanda Via Rudy Buttignol
One to Watch Abdullah Merei


Outstanding Contribution

A graduate who has made significant contribution to the advancement of York and its students through exceptional service, commitment and/or philanthropic contributions. This award can be given to recognize someone who has been engaged at York for many years but also to an alum who has made a major impact in a short period of time.

J. Mark Lievonen, CM BBA ‘79, MBA ‘87
Former President, Sanofi Pasteur Limited

J. Mark Lievonen is the former President of Sanofi Pasteur Limited, the Canadian vaccine division of Sanofi, which he joined in 1983. Under his leadership, he guided the company through several significant milestones and initiatives – notably spearheading a cancer vaccine program in 1997 and supporting the key launch of a five-component pertussis vaccine which is still widely used today.

Lievonen has served many industry organizations throughout his career. Currently, he is a Director of Oncolytics Biotech Inc., Quest PharmaTech Inc., the Gairdner Foundation and the Public Policy Forum. He has also been Chair of numerous organizations and the Vice-Chair of Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. He was also a founding member and the Vice-Chair of YORKbiotech.

Lievonen is a passionate advocate for public health access, education, and giving back to the community. His roles in this capacity include serving as former Chair of the Markham Stouffville Hospital Foundation, serving on the York University Board of Governors and as a Director of the York University Development Corporation. He is also the founder of the Sanofi Biogenius Canada, a program that has fostered young scientists for more than 20 years.

Among the honours Lievonen has received are the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medallions and Lifetime Achievement Awards from Life Sciences Ontario and the Pharmaceutical Sciences Group. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2015, named a Chevalier de l’Ordre National de Mérite by the government of France in 2007, and was inducted into Canadian Healthcare Marketing Hall of Fame in 2013.

Lievonen holds a BBA in accounting, an MBA in finance and marketing from the Schulich School of Business and in 2015 received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from York University. He is a Chartered Accountant and was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in 2007.

» Watch profile video» Watch acceptance video
Outstanding Achievement

A graduate who has achieved distinction in their field and whose integrity and ability inspire alumni, faculty, staff and students. This award is intended to recognize significant achievement and should focus on mid to late-career success.

Colleen Johnston, BBA ‘82
Special Advisor to the CEO, TD Bank Group

Colleen Johnston is currently Special Advisor to the CEO, TD Bank Group. Prior to this, she was Group Head Direct Channels, Technology, Marketing and Corporate & Public Affairs. Colleen spent over 10 years as TD’s Group Head Finance, Sourcing and Corporate Communications and Chief Financial Officer.

Johnston began her career in 1982 with Price Waterhouse. She spent 15 years with Scotiabank in various senior positions, including CFO of Scotia Capital. Johnston graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, received her Chartered Accountant designation in 1984 and in 2006 was elected a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA), the highest designation conferred by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, recognizing her outstanding career achievements and dedication to community activities.

Johnston was recognized by Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women three years in a row and inducted into Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Hall of Fame in 2007. Additional honours include: “Best Chief Financial Officer” in 2009 by Canadian Business magazine, and in 2011, for the third year in a row, one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking by American Banker. In 2012, Johnston was recognized as Canada’s CFO of the Year.

Johnston is Vice Chair of the newly integrated health network that includes St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and Providence Healthcare, a member on the Shaw Festival Board of Governors and the Dean’s Advisory Council at the Schulich School of Business. At TD, she is actively involved in promoting diversity in the workplace as a founding member of the bank’s Women in Leadership Committee.

Born in Vancouver, Johnston currently resides in Toronto with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys travelling, reading and an active lifestyle.

» Watch profile video» Watch acceptance video 
Tentanda Via

A graduate who has demonstrated innovative, unconventional and daring leadership and success, reflecting the University’s motto – “The Way Must Be Tried”. This award can be given to recognize success at any point in the winner’s career, and would normally focus on mid to late-career achievements.

Rudy Buttignol, CM,  BFA ‘82
President & CEO, Knowledge Network

Rudy Buttignol is the President and CEO of British Columbia’s public broadcaster, Knowledge Network, and President of the BBC Kids channel. He moderates financing forums at IDFA and Asian Side of the Doc, and is a Director on the boards of several arts organizations. Buttignol is a graduate of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Toronto’s York University and has completed Executive programs at Stanford and Harvard.

From 1993 to 2006, Buttignol was TVO’s Creative Head of Network Programming, Head of Independent Production, and Commissioning Editor. Notable commissions include The Corporation, Manufactured Landscapes, and Emmy/Grammy Award winning Yo-Yo Ma: Inspired by Bach.

From 1975 to 1993, Buttignol was an independent writer, director and producer of children’s series and documentaries. International honors include the inaugural Doc Mogul Award from the Hot Docs International Documentary Festival and nine Canadian Academy Awards.

In 2015, Buttignol was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada, “for his contributions as a champion of Canadian documentary filmmaking and for his transformative leadership at the Knowledge Network.”

In 2017, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Thompson Rivers University.

» Watch profile video» Watch acceptance video
One to Watch

A graduate who has made significant impact in their field and/or community within 15 years of a bachelor’s degree or 10 years of a professional/graduate degree.

Abdullah Merei, BASC ‘09, MBA ‘15
Senior Director - Compression Systems, Evertz Microsystems Ltd.

Currently serving as a Senior Director in the R&D department at Evertz Microsystems Ltd., Merei is leading the design, development, marketing and full deployment of industry-changing products and solutions for major broadcasting/media networks around the world, proving he is one to watch both now and in the future.

A passionate lover of technology from a young age, Merei achieved his first two tech milestones in 1994 at the age of eight when he completed his first computer programming course and introduced his country, Jordan, to the Internet via a televised demonstration. In 2004, Merei moved to Canada to attend York University where he earned his degree in Computer Engineering in 2009, graduating first in his class with distinction, and his MBA at the Schulich School of Business in 2015. His long list of accomplishments include: receiving the Allen Berg Award in 2007 and 2008, and being awarded a gold medal from the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers. Merei was also the recipient of the inaugural Alumnus of the Year at the annual Lassonde Awards in 2015.

In 2011, Merei created the Merei Family Scholarships making him the youngest of Lassonde’s major donors. Most recently, Merei has provided seed funding to establish the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (BEST) early stage venture program. He has also connected Evertz with the Lassonde Co-Op Program to give undergraduates the chance to gain experiential education experiences through work placements.

In his spare time, Merei seizes the opportunity to remain active and engaged. He is a mentor and role model to a number of Lassonde undergraduate students and is leading the start-up of the Lassonde Alumni Network. He also volunteers by mentoring start-ups in the technology industry.

» Watch profile video
» Watch acceptance video