Nine Brock alumni have recently been honoured for their success and positive impact in the Niagara region.
The Business Link’s 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Awards give recognition to Niagara’s next generation of business leaders.
At an event held on May 11, Mario De Divitiis (BA ’06, MA ’08), Jeff Guarasci (BA ’00), Alexandra Hlinyanszky (BA ’02), Karen Marquardt Wyers (BRLS ’93), Jeffrey Neill (BAcc ’04), Laura Ricciuto (BA ’05, MBA ’08), Dave Shaw, Natalee Tokar (BBA ’03) and Andrew Ware (BBE ’03) were all recognized for their work.
We couldn’t be more proud of the continuous ways that Brock graduates develop as positive leaders within the community.
Mario De Divitiis (BA ’06, MA ’08)
As the executive director of Leadership Niagara, De Divitiis is responsible for planning and implementing their strategic direction – using his passion to develop public and private partnerships to help strengthen Niagara’s economy. He’s also co-owner of “Seven 2 Hospitalities” which includes properties such as the Moose and Goose, Envy Lounge and Donnelly’s Pub. De Divitiis sponsors several charities in the community including the Hernder Picasso’s Foundation, and hosts the Spirit of Christmas Dinner at his company’s venue – Stella’s Dining Lounge. Over the years, De Divitiis had job opportunities in Ottawa and Calgary but chose to work in Niagara so he could remain close to friends and family. And that has made all the difference to him.
Jeff Guarasci (BA ’00)
Jeff Guarasci is a highly energetic professional who is firmly committed to his community. As Resource Development and Communications Coordinator for Project S.H.A.R.E., Guarasci helps provide Niagara Falls’ residents that fall below the poverty level with the necessities of life like food and emergency shelter. Since joining Project S.H.A.R.E. in 2002, Guarasci has helped increase food and money donations at his agency by over 400%. On a personal level, Guarasci has also been the recipient of Niagara College’s Peter F. Druker Award for non-profit innovation from Niagara College – and the Food Bank Innovator of the Year Award from the Ontario Association of Food Banks.
Alexandra Hlinyanszky (BA ’02)
Alexandra Hlinyanszky has always had a passion for food, people and social justice. Those passions convinced her to launch Pan Café in 2007 – a St. Catharines-based restaurant with a special menu designed to accommodate everyone from vegans and vegetarians to people with gluten and dietary issues. With the help of her husband, Hlinyanszky grows several organic foods for the restaurant in their backyard. She has also expanded her business, and now offers a new program that caters healthy food to young children. Hlinyanszky has donated her time with many local organizations including Wellspring Niagara and the Suitcase in Point Theatre Company where she acts as Artistic Director. She also provides free space at her restaurant to many community groups that need to hold special events.
Karen Marquardt Wyers (BRLS ’93)
Radar Property Management Inc.
As operating partner at Radar Property Management, Marquardt Wyers specializes in tenant recruitment, property management and property investment consulting. Marquardt Wyers’ husband launched their firm in 2001 and she decided to come on board after her maternity leave in 2006. Since that time, Marquardt Wyers has helped to grow their business – quadrupling their client base and adding a staff of five. She’s also seen her sales triple in the past three years. Marquardt Wyers is proud to serve her community, sitting on the Parent Involvement Committee at Prince Philip Public School. In 1997, she helped found Paul’s Kids – a charitable organization named after her late father that raises money for children’s sports initiatives. Their annual Tall Paul Fall Classic golf tournament has raised more than $30,000 to date.
Jeffrey Neill (BAcc ’04)
Durward Jones Barkwell & Company LLP
Since joining DJB as a co-op student in 2004, Jeffrey Neill has been committed to being the best. Working his way up the ladder, he was promoted to the position of Manager in 2007 – and is now responsible for $400,000 in billings, training and mentoring a staff of 15, and chairing the firm’s IT committee. Neill is a firm believer in helping out in the community. Each year, he volunteers his time with several organizations and events including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Terry Fox Run – and helps provide free income tax clinics for low income families in Welland. He also assists with the Niagara Food Festival, recently helping their team get out of debt, turning a $130,000 deficit into $200,000 in assets.
Laura Ricciuto (BA ’05, MBA ’08)
Kaizen Marketing & Creative Design House
Laura Ricciuto is President of Kaizen Marketing & Creative Design House where she is responsible for running the day-to-day operation and overseeing client project management. With Ricciuto’s strong work ethic and firm direction, her company has experienced strong growth, expanding its sales by over 50% each year. Starting out as a small operation, Kaizen Marketing has now secured a premium office space in downtown St. Catharines and dramatically increased their range of services. Ricciuto is also a pillar of the community through her volunteer work with countless local charities and non-profit organizations like United Way, Community Care and the St. Catharines & Area Arts Council.
Advanced Office Solutions Inc.
Dave Shaw is Co-owner and Managing Partner of Advanced Office Solutions – one of North America’s most successful Xerox partners. He began his career as a Xerox sales rep in 2000 and quickly rose up the ranks to Sales Manager. By 2004, Shaw had launched Thunder Bay Xerographix Inc. where he was responsible for all business accounts in Northern Ontario for Xerox Canada. Born and raised in Niagara, he sold his business and moved back to the area to launch his new IT firm in 2008. Shaw also has a professional auctioneering background and has volunteered those skills with a wide range of organizations – from the Thunder Bay Children’s Hospital to the Wise Guys Charity Fund.
Natalee Tokar (BBA ’03)
Research & Innovation Division, Niagara College
As Acting Director at Research & Innovation, Natalee Tokar is responsible for the direction and management of applied research projects and related innovation activities. Here, Tokar provides opportunities for more than 1,000 Niagara College students to work on over 75 real world projects each year. In her role, she develops relationships with provincial and federal funding agencies, obtaining more than $2-million in funding to assist small and medium-sized businesses in Niagara. By creating partnership models, working with community organizations, and helping research and innovation to thrive in our region, Tokar is working to create a better community for the people of Niagara.
Andrew Ware (BBE ’03)
Meridian Credit Union
Andrew Ware is a Financial Services Advisor at the Glendale Branch of Meridian Credit Union where he is dedicated to providing their members with solid and straight-forward financial advice. Joining the Meridian team in 2008, Ware has experienced incredible success, increasing his sales by 173% in the past year and improving his performance by taking in various seminars and training courses. Ware enjoys working for an employer of choice like Meridian because of their dedication to the community. And Ware has demonstrated that same commitment to the community as a member of the St. Catharines Jaycees where he helps to support several local groups including Community C.A.R.E., Big Brothers Big Sisters and Wellspring Niagara.
Special thanks to Tyler James Photography for providing the above photos as well as Adam Shields (BSM ’02) and Julie Shields (nee Dodge) (BKin ’03) of The Business Link for providing the above background information for the seven Brock recipients of The Business Link’s 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Awards.