Recognizing extraordinary contributions: Okanagan College names Honorary Fellows for 2023
Okanagan College is bestowing its highest honour upon four esteemed residents this spring: Terry Flannigan, Dr. Silvina Mema, Michael Tindall, and Grant Stevens. These distinguished individuals have been selected as 2023 Honorary Fellows in recognition of their remarkable contributions to the fields of philanthropy, health care, community development, and aerospace.
“As I reflect on the accomplishments of our honorees, I am struck by the transformative impact each has had on the community,” said Okanagan College President Dr. Neil Fassina. “They have served as true champions for education and learning, and their significant contributions are deeply woven into the social and economic fabric of the region. We take immense pride in recognizing them as Honorary Fellows.”
Terry Flannigan is being honoured for his fifty years of service in the field of educational advancement. During that time, he established College and University Foundations across Western Canada, including Okanagan College’s Development Department. By inspiring the community to invest in post-secondary education, he changed students' lives and increased the long-term economic sustainability of the region.
“I am honoured to be recognized for my involvement with the College and my lifelong career in education. It means the world to me. I can't wrap my mind around it. It's an overwhelming and deeply appreciated acknowledgement,” said Flannigan.
Dr. Silvina Mema is a Medical Health Officer with Interior Health who played a crucial role in developing COVID-19 response strategies for Interior Health and Okanagan College. She provided strategic leadership that prioritized student well-being. This involved following physical distancing protocols while allowing students to maintain important peer connections. She’s also a passionate researcher and advocate for health and equity, striving to remove the stigma surrounding mental health, substance use and homelessness.
“I'm deeply honoured to be selected as an Honorary Fellow. My work with the College has been meaningful and enriching. I believe that education changes people’s lives and makes communities stronger. I’m passionate about supporting students and helping them maintain their social and professional networks so they can thrive when they graduate,” said Dr. Mema.
Michael Tindall was selected as an Honorary Fellow for his three decades of volunteer leadership with Okanagan College and his unwavering commitment to community development since the 1970s. He has served on a multitude of charitable governance boards and campaign committees, including the Okanagan College Foundation Board of Directors and the Sunflower Childcare Campaign Committee. His dedication has played a pivotal role in galvanizing community support to secure the capital needed to build state-of-the-art learning environments for OC students.
“It's a phenomenal honour. I began my involvement with the College in 1989 in Vernon, and I'm delighted to still be involved today. I'm very pleased to be honoured in this fashion. It wasn't expected but is most definitely appreciated,” said Tindall. “In my career, I've seen the value that education of all kinds brings to people's lives, in helping them to grow and be successful. Education is so very transforming, and I've always been proud to be involved with the College and to participate in its growth and development over time.”
As Chief Corporate Services Officer at KF Aerospace, Grant Stevens has played a pivotal role in developing and expanding Okanagan College’s aerospace programming. His unwavering support for the College also extends to the Business Administration program, where he has served on the Program Advisory Committee for seven years. He also generously donates his time and expertise to numerous charitable boards, including the Central Okanagan Human Resources Senior Leadership Group.
“I'm very pleased and appreciative to be selected as an Honorary Fellow at Okanagan College. I've been working with the College since 1990 and am glad to still be involved today. In 2008 we partnered with OC to develop, implement and support the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer - Structures Program. Since then, we have worked to double the number of spaces available annually, enhance the curriculum, and improve the student workshop,” said Stevens. “I believe in the high quality of education and development students receive at Okanagan College, and the community connections. It’s a partnership I am proud of, and why KF Aerospace proudly hires OC graduates.”
The College will bestow the newest Honorary Fellows with their titles during Convocation ceremonies starting this June. For information, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/honorary-fellows.
As the Director of Development for Okanagan College (then OUC) from 1991 to 1995, Flannigan was a community builder who created the College’s Development department, laying the foundation for new programming, facilities, and student support in the decades that followed.
Flannigan’s leadership has extended beyond academia: he’s chaired numerous fundraising campaigns, including several United Way campaigns, the 2000 BC Seniors Games Society, and the 2007 Heart of Gold Gala in support of the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation.
He’s received several awards for his contributions including, the Distinguished Service Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Manulife Financial Outstanding Achievement Award, and The Dina and Mel Kotler Humanitarian Award.
Dr. Silvina Mema
Dr. Silvina Mema completed her MD at the University of Buenos Aires, in Argentina before moving to Canada to pursue a master's degree in physiology. She has worked as a Medical Health Officer at Interior Health since 2016.
In addition to her extensive work in developing COVID-19 response models for Okanagan College and Interior Health, she has played a key role in developing initiatives to address the toxic drug crisis. One notable example is the launch of a website specifically created to be accessible for people who use drugs alone, providing essential information and support. She also spearheads drug checking and harm reduction initiatives for the Shambhala Music Festival.
Additionally, she collaborates with the City and BC Housing on local initiatives concerning homelessness, striving to ensure safe housing options for individuals in need.
Dr. Mema also generously volunteers her time as an assessor and mentor to international medical graduates and new physicians in Canada.
As a retired broadcaster and business executive, Michael Tindall made many meaningful contributions in his career. Since he retired, he’s worked tirelessly to support the City of Vernon and the Okanagan Valley. He has served on numerous boards including, the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, Okanagan College Foundation, the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, the Okanagan Partnership, Kalamalka Rotary, the Vernon Women's Transition House, Community Futures North Okanagan and British Columbia and the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation.
For over thirty years, Tindall has generously volunteered his time and expertise to Okanagan College. From 2002 to 2007, he served as a Director on the Okanagan College Foundation Board of Directors. From 2017-2018, he took on the role of Chair of Okanagan College Foundation’s Vernon Trades Capital Campaign. Presently, he Chairs the Vernon Campus Sunflower Childcare Centre Campaign.
His unwavering dedication and remarkable contributions have been key in securing state-of-the-art environments for students to train in and will help to outfit and equip the new high-quality, affordable, Sunflower Childcare Centre on Okanagan College’s Vernon Campus.
Grant Stevens is an accomplished Operations, Media, and Human Resources Executive, who currently serves as the Chief Corporate Services Officer (CCSO) for KF Aerospace, a leading Canadian aerospace company with over 1100 staff. He’s played a crucial role in expanding and developing the workforce of KF Aerospace across the country and has been instrumental in developing Okanagan College’s aerospace programming.
He generously donates his time and expertise to numerous community service and philanthropic endeavours. He serves as a member of the Central Okanagan Human Resources Senior Leadership Group, acts as the President of the Ringette Hockey Association, and has been an active member on OC’s Okanagan School of Business's Program Advisory Committee for the last seven years.
Stevens has been recognized for his outstanding contributions with numerous awards, including the Distinguished Fellow title from Mohawk College, being named in the Top Forty over Forty by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce in 2021, and being a finalist for HR Professional of the Year in 2015 by CPHR BC & Yukon.
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