• By: OLM Staff

Top 25 People in the Capital 2014

by Marie Waine, Janice Dickson & Caleigh DiNicolantonio.

Our list of the TOP 25 people in the Capital reflects a small sampling of the citizens who lead and make our community better. While honourees differ greatly in vocation and social circumstance, they share a commonality: With the odd exception, they all fly under the radar in Canada’s capital city. While we have a numbered list of TOP 10, all are in fact considered first among equals.

Alexandra Badzak
Art Impressario

There is no stopping the artistic vision of Alexandra Badzak, director and CEO of the Ottawa Art Gallery. A trained artist herself, she understands the art world. Now she is on a one-way street to changing the relationship between Ottawa and the arts. “This is a big coming of age for the arts community,” Badzak said. Ever since Badzak accepted her job four years ago, she has been working towards this moment: when shovels go in the ground this fall to begin the OAG expansion. Currently operating at 12,000 square feet, Badzak is excited to quadruple the size of the gallery and be a major presence in the arts community. The new 85,000 square foot building will be a lot to handle, but Badzak is not afraid of the challenge. “I have been deeply connected to the arts community to understand what they want in their gallery, and to be able to say we are delivering. That’s what makes me most excited,” she said. Over the past few years, there have been many ups and downs for the OAG and the expansion. However, Badzak says they are now steamrolling right on through. She is determined to make the OAG a place for everyone by incorporating new communities and new programs. One example is the pop-up art tent which arrives at different festivals and fairs throughout Ottawa with art-making activities. It is with continuous fundraising efforts, increased publicity and greater community engagement that Badzak is making her OAG dream a reality. “I really enjoy taking an institution through a moment of great growth and change,” said Badzak. There is no doubt that as the expansion kicks off in the fall, Badzak will continue to see the results of her endless efforts in creating great staffing and appropriate programming. “You’re just going to be hearing nothing but good news stories from the gallery,” Badzak said.

Brenda Hollingsworth & Richard Auger
Legal Power Couple

Brenda Hollingsworth and Richard Auger are the power couple that make up Auger Hollingsworth, Ottawa’s personal injury law firm. The two met in law school and have been inseparable ever since. It was a natural decision to open up a law firm together. “We are a husband and wife law team,” says Hollingsworth. “There can be strain of what direction the firm should go in, but we work from the same pot so we are always watching out for each other. It’s a very nice way to practice.” And that practice has been booming. Over the last year, Auger Hollingsworth has grown, opening up a second location in the downtown Ottawa core. The firm has also welcomed two new associate lawyers. Hollingsworth says she hopes to add one or two more in the next year. “We are in expansion and growth mode,” she says. “It is a big time for us.” If this is not enough, the firm is also in the midst of becoming a paperless law firm, increasing the use of technology to improve client services. One of the client services Auger Hollingsworth prides itself on the most is its education-based marketing technique. The firm has published multiple books people can order for free off of the firm’s web site. “A lot of people don’t need a lawyer,” says Hollingsworth. “They just need some help and information.” She says providing free legal resources helps differentiate the couple’s law firm from others in the city. “People don’t usually associate lawyer with free,” she says. “It’s our way of giving back. From a business perspective, it’s good and from a community service perspective, it’s good.”

Ishbel Solvason-Wiebe
Public Servant Extraordinaire 

The Social Housing Registry of Ottawa is 16 years in the making, and Ishbel Solvason-Wiebe is the executive director who has been there through it all. The registry offers a centralized waiting list process for those in Ottawa looking for rent geared to income, affordable or supportive housing. Solvason-Wiebe has grown the organization from the ground up from its original six housing providers to the 67 of today. Solvason-Wiebe is especially proud the community built the organization before any provincial legislation about housing services was created. She says she sees Ottawa as a really solid network for this organization. Major accomplishments of the organization over the past year include the impressive feat of becoming the only organization to incorporate a comprehensive range of services to merge many Ontario waiting list systems into one. Solvason- Wiebe says she sees this as a jumping off point for many new opportunities involving the management of waiting list systems, including more online presence, choice and active involvement. As head of the board of the Social Housing Network of Ottawa and as a member of  a board of social housing co-ordinated access groups, she is an effective advocate.  She proved this in her successful quest to receive money from city council for affordable housing. She says she believes Ottawa is understanding everything starts at the home and it is important for everyone to have one. For Solvason-Wiebe, it is the interactions she has with the community that determine her personal success. “I love the opportunity I have to work with so many creative people,” she says. “And to make sure everybody who walks through the door of this office who is coming here to apply for housing is treated fairly and respectfully.”

Lawrence Martin
Award-Winning Singer/ Songwriter 

Juno Award winner Lawrence Martin, aka Wapistan, recently release his latest album Train of Life. The 13 tracks tell the story of Martin’s life as well as those of his family. Each song means something unique to Martin, “I could give the album 13 different titles.” For him, it’s exhilarating when he starts to get the feel for a new record coming out. He recorded in Nashville with some of the best talents in the industry. The music on this album was done in both Cree and English to incorporate his two backgrounds. Martin’s mother was Aboriginal and his father, Irish. He can’t pigeonhole his music into one genre as there are so many different sounds intertwined to create the beautiful melodies and words. Martin’s first album, released in 1994, won the first ever Juno for Best Music of Aboriginal Canada Recording (now called Aboriginal Album of the Year). His music is a marriage between two cultures, truly representing who he is. For Martin, his family is very important and this latest album reflects that. He incorporated some of his sons’ original works into the recording. He himself grew up in a musical family. Martin was taught to play guitar by his aunt Abba when he was 12. She taught him the G, C, and D chords and after that, he was eager to start writing his own music. The rest is history and here we are five great albums later.

Tanya Bracanovich
Ottawa Dentist Pays it Forward

Laser dentist and owner of successful Sparks Dental Clinic, Tanya Bracanovich goes well above and the call of duty. For years, Bracanovich has been offering complimentary dental work for people in need who could not otherwise have access to personal dental care. Her community involvement goes beyond her pro-bono work as she also supports many local charities. In addition to giving back to her community, Bracanovich has solid professional credentials. She is a member of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, the Canadian Dental Association, the Ontario Dental Association and finally, the Ottawa Dental Association. Bracanovich can proudly boast a number of career accomplishments. Her clinic, located at 240 Sparks Street, continues to grow with some of the most advanced dental technology in Ottawa. It offers an array of services include veneers, whitening, crowns, bridges, even smile makeovers. Client testimonies show a very loyal clientele and how much she cares. She is genuine in wanting to help her patients as well as others. Her friendly nature and brazen spirit create a positive environment that she seems eager to share. Between her community work and care for patients, Bracanovich gives people a reason to smile.

Ken Hughes
The Buck is Reviewed Here!

Ken Hughes is the City of Ottawa’s Auditor General. Hughes was appointed last October to a seven-year term. “It’s kind of unique in the sense that it’s part of the city but because it has to report on the activities of the city, it has to have a degree of independence.” Before his appointment to AG, Hughes was the deputy city treasurer. In that role, he dealt with taxpayers on a daily basis and so he understands their strong feelings about ensuring their money is protected and is spent according to the wishes of council. Hughes said that it’s not an individual effort—everything from ensuring ambulances are dispatched, fire departments are equipped and roads get plowed is a result of thousands of individuals doing their piece. The AG said that whether it’s politicians, staff of the audit shop or any part of the city of Ottawa—everyone’s best interest is focused on delivering better services to the people of Ottawa. He said this is the same message he offers internal staff when they ask him why he’s looking into their particular activity. He said it’s a job that has to be done and the good news is that at the end of the day, after he and his office have spent time working in various areas of the city, the city is a little bit better for the work that they’ve done. “On a daily basis when we see the result of an audit that we’ve done—one audit finding that brings about a change in a particular piece of the city—all of those things together make it a better city. I was born here, I have spent my entire life here and I expect that I’ll be dying here, so like every other resident in the city of Ottawa, I have a strong interest in caring.

John Molot
Environmental Health

Doc Dr. John Molot is leading the way in changing how the public looks at the impact of the environment on human health. In his first book, 12,000 Canaries Can’t Be Wrong, Molot explores this relationship. But what sprouted this initial search for cause and effect? “I attended a conference on toxicology…and they discussed the impact of the environment on unborn and newborn animals,” says Molot. “The impact has potential to change the formation of genes and cause them to become sick later on in life.” This struck a chord with Molot. “I wanted to see if there are things in the environment that seem to be tolerated but are actually making us humans sick.” The process of writing the book turned out to be an uphill battle. Molot says he was initially faced with criticism by his peers. “In the medical world, we should base our opinions on the level of scientific evidence that is peer-reviewed and published. And when I started there was very little,” says Molot. “Now it’s a tsunami of information about the impact of environment on human health.” Molot persevered. “I went from being the doctor being criticized to being considered an expert.”  “Other doctors are turning to me. I’m being asked for my opinion.” Molot now provides independent medical evaluations that are used in court. He also works part-time in Toronto at the Women’s College Hospital in the environmental health clinic. He has developed workshops to help family doctors learn about the impact of environment on health. While Molot is very busy and currently having a lot of success, he says he can’t take all of the credit. “Some of it should go to my parents for helping me to persevere when no one else believed,” he says.

John Gordon
Building Quality

Growing up on a farm, John Gordon knew he had a future working with his hands. After high school he began working in the trades, learning quickly and progressing in home renovation. Today, you know John Gordon as founder of Your Reno Guys. Over the past year, Gordon’s business has been booming. He now has 10 staff members, teaches the trades and makes a difference in the homes and lives of the Ottawa community. Gordon is an advocate of self-development and constantly tries to motivate his team and clients. He hopes to share his knowledge of saving money, setting goals and gaining confidence—whether it is about renovations or just about life. His motto? Learn one new thing a day or make a difference in someone’s life. So that is what Gordon does. When he is not tearing down and building up, he can be found working with charitable events and as an acting member of the Orleans Chamber of Commerce. Gordon has also been busy speaking at the YMCA Power of Trades event, which helps new immigrants in Canada gain skills they need to acquire jobs. Currently, he is involved with the Live, Work, Play organization, helping people with intellectual disabilities. One day, Gordon hopes to keep giving back to Ottawa by opening his own school for the trades. He wants to be able to teach those who are interested in learning by providing an easy, accessible space. Home renovations can feel overwhelming, but Gordon wants to supply all the knowledge to make trades work less intimidating and help people find employment in trades. He says the industry is booming and more people are needed to work in his sector. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Your Reno Guys!

The Right Hon. Stephen Harper
Smooth Sailing in Rough Waters

As he continues to work with Canada and the leaders of the rest of the world, Stephen Harper proves himself as a steady, reliable Prime Minister. One of his biggest focuses is on securing Canada’s economy. He is leading the way to create balanced budgets for the year 2015, as he brings the country back from a recession/ financial crisis. Balancing the budgets now will help bring security to Canada’s long-term economic success. Contributing to this security is Canada’s Economic Action Plan, which works closely with provinces and territories to rebuild and renew infrastructure across the country.  Besides economy, Harper works daily to provide what he believes is best for the country. After 12 years with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, it was the Harper government who brought the troops home. The government also shows ongoing support for countries during times of crisis, such as Ukraine and Israel. Harper upholds Canada as a peacekeeping nation. Let us not forget about the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, led by Harper and hailed as one of the biggest deals the country has ever made. Other free trade deals include the recent bilateral union with South Korea. Each agreement helps Canada to grow as a strong country, by providing jobs and opportunity. Harper also put Canada on the map with other major international successes, many related to sport. From hosting the 2010 Olympic Winter Games to the upcoming Pan-American Games, Canada is becoming a world stage for athletes. With a federal election coming up in 2015, Harper is proving himself as a strong, committed and sometimes underestimated political figure.

Jeff Hunt
Champion of Sport

As the president of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, Jeff Hunt has had the busiest year of his life. With the opening of Lansdowne Park and TD Place, the first game for the Ottawa Redblacks and the Ottawa Fury, as well as increasing community engagement, Hunt has worked non-stop to make this year a winning season. Hunt has a deep passion for sports that started with playing hockey at the age of four. Fast forward to adulthood, he purchased the Ottawa 67’s in 1988. When Hunt and his family moved to Ottawa in 1984, he says one of the first things he did was purchase tickets to the Ottawa Rough Riders, the old CFL team. Seven years ago, Hunt said he began the journey of bringing CFL football back to Ottawa and redeveloping Lansdowne Park. “The community is having the same positive reaction. The response has exceeded our expectations dramatically,” said Hunt. “It really has been a game changer for Ottawa. I think TD Place and Lansdowne Park is going to be one of the iconic images that people have when they think about Ottawa.” So what is next for the man who never seems to stop? “…To win championships for the city

Clément Chartier
Métis Leader

As President of the Métis National Council, Clément Chartier is responsible for representing the Métis Nation at home and abroad. He was recently re-elected for his fourth term as president—proving he is a hard-working representative. As a lawyer, writer, lecturer and activist, Chartier has served with many Indigenous peoples organizations across the world throughout his life. He is a recipient of a Queen’s Counsel distinction for his work in law, specifically with his efforts to Métis-related issues. He continuously works to strengthen the Métis Nation through active service in securing rights and adopting a more modern Métis Nation Constitution. The Métis National Council aims to secure room for the Métis Nation’s existence within the Canadian federation. With many struggles in the past, Chartier looks to move forward and improve the national representative body for the Métis. Chartier’s responsibility is to reflect the desires and aspirations of those he represents. He continues to excel and his re-election confirms he is moving in a positive direction.

André Marin
Defender of Public Complaints

As an independent officer of the Legislature, André Marin, Ontario’s ombudsman, investigates public complaints about government services. He has been all over the news lately, calling for more accountability in the system. He has held this position since 2005, is currently serving his second term and over the years has earned great respect for his work. Marin made the Top 25 Most Influential in Canadian Lawyer magazine for the second year in a row. A local high-profile case Marin has been involved with recently is the Ottawa-Orgaworld waste management dispute. He is now calling for a bill that would allow his office to investigate municipalities. As for Queen’s Park, he has the trust of decision makers. In fact, the government accepts a majority of recommendations prompted by investigations made by Marin. With over 20,000 complaints coming into his office every year, Marin clearly also has the trust of Ontario people. He continues to successfully delve into issues affecting thousands of Ontarians.

Lisa MacLeod
Provincial MPP

As the MPP for Nepean-Carleton, and one of the only Conservative MPPs in the Ottawa area, MacLeod’s priorities are all about family and community and she makes a huge effort to give both her utmost attention, making her a very busy woman. As she gears up for another busy year, MacLeod will continue to serve as the Tory critic for government budget cuts, the Ontario PC Energy Critic and the Francophone Affairs Critic. If that is not enough, she serves as Vice Chair of the Legislative Assembly Committee, the Vice Chair of the Quebec-Ontario Parliamentary Friendship Committee and as Ontario’s member on the Canadian Parliamentary Women’s Association. She says the Tories hope to build towards the future and she will no doubt play a critical role. But success does not stop there. MacLeod also accomplishes a lot outside of Queen’s Park. Along with her husband, MacLeod is raising a daughter and even took time to author a cookbook.

Frank Smith
Supporting the Disabled

The National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) supports full access to education and employment for post-secondary and graduate students with disabilities across Canada—a vital organization. Frank Smith, the national coordinator, is part of a small group who founded NEADS in 1986. Through core strategic program areas, from student debt reduction to student experience, Smith is changing the way students with disabilities can access the fundamentals of education and employment. NEADS provides skills training resources, conducts research on access to opportunities and holds events across Canada to provide these resources. NEADS is a community of knowledge and empowerment. Smith has made it his mission to respond to the needs of students right after he graduated from Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communications. When he is not working hard at NEADS, Smith can be found grooving with his alternative rock band, Sills & Smith. He is a singer-songwriter for the band, which has produced four-critically acclaimed albums. Smith is a passionate worker dedicated to changing the lives of others.

Jennifer Stewart

A graduate from Carleton’s School of Journalism, Jennifer Stewart has an impressive list of accomplishments and is now the owner of her own communications company, JS Communications. Stewart started her business four and a half years ago as she was excited to help people tell their story or their company’s story in a meaningful way. Placing a strong emphasis on the importance of listening, Stewart said that she has always been intrigued by the way information can be expressed in multiple ways to make it more captivating. Having grown up in Renfrew, the Ottawa community is very close to her heart so she stays involved by giving back. Stewart is on the Board of the Kanata Food Cupboard and works with Project North, a not-for-profit that helps to provide a better life for Inuit youth and children through education and recreation.

The Hon. John Baird
Multiple Minister

Given that Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is a household name, he really doesn’t qualify as one who flies under the radar but he remains on our Top 25 anyway. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 2006. In the past 8 years, Baird has been President of the Treasury Board, Minister of the Environment, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, as well Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. Baird has received much praise and recognition for his work. He was acknowledged by the World Economic Forum with the Young Global Leader Award and named Parliamentarian of the Year by Maclean’s magazine and Historica-Dominion, as voted by colleagues in the House of Commons. Baird puts heart into everything he does and works hard to accomplish his goals. His reach is large, as he is a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, an honourary member of the Kiwanis Club of Nepean and a lifetime member of the Canadian Association for Community Living. He remains dedicated to his community.

Joanne McGrath
Guiding Student to Achievement

Teaching for over 25 years, Joanne McGrath gives back like no other. She is a resource teacher at St. James Catholic School in Kanata. Working with the 360 students, McGrath looks for ways to help students succeed and feel confident in what they do. McGrath received a Director of Education Commendation for teacher excellence in 2014 from the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Her support and work ethic show she is a selfless educator actively involved with students and parents to find the right strategy to ensure each individual receives the assistance they need for success. McGrath participates in many school committees, coaches sports teams and organizes theatre groups, continuing to extend herself outside of her job requirements. Although it may seem McGrath is always working with the school, students and parents, she also finds time to celebrate her other talents. She has a passion for the arts and is a budding artist. McGrath is also raising a family where the desire to inspire and teach others has rubbed off—one son is starting a teaching career.

David Gourlay
Hitting Home Run After Home Run

Batter up! David Gourlay, president and minority owner of the Ottawa Champions Baseball Club, has been working tirelessly over the past three years to secure a professional baseball franchise in Ottawa. His work has finally paid off. Come spring 2015, the Ottawa Champions will take the field at the Ottawa Ballpark and bring the community together over homeruns and hotdogs. Gourlay knows Ottawa baseball faced hurdles in the past, but hopes by investing locally in goods, services, talent and players, he can build a loyal fan base and exciting experience. Gourlay’s work stop there. As volunteer president of the Miracle League of Ottawa, a charity founded through Gourlay’s organization, the Champions for Ottawa Baseball, Gourlay is working to build Canada’s first fully accessible baseball diamond and a barrier-free playground for thousands of children with special needs. All of his dreams will become a reality as the new year approaches. Gourlay says he cannot wait for the next baseball season to see the Champions in action and to hopefully open Ottawa’s Miracle Field in Orleans.


Marc Dos Santos
Fury Football

Is there anything better than taking to a new field to start a game full of passion and teamwork? For Marc Dos Santos, manager and head coach of the Ottawa Fury FC, not much can beat it. Having interned as a coach with FC Porto and Chelsea FC, Dos Santos learned a lot about how to build a successful team. His approach is simple: let the game be the best teacher. Dos Santos trains his players in accordance to the team’s model of play and ensures great fitness and skill development. One of the toughest challenges he faces? The Fury FC is an expansion team, meaning it is one of the newest teams added to the established North American Soccer League. Players have less experience working together. However, no challenge is too big for Dos Santos. Working to establish a strong core over the season, the team will develop and become stronger as they play together and get to know each other. There is no doubt Dos Santos and the rest of the Ottawa Fury FC are ready to play hard.

Paul Meek
Brew Meister

Paul Meek is one of the owners of Ottawa’s Kichesippi Beer Co. As acting president, Meek has a love for beer that is undeniable. It dates back to 1994 when he first tried Granite Brewery Peculiar in Halifax and was immediately inspired to bring the same experience back to Ottawa. Brewed in Ottawa, Kichesippi prides itself on community involvement, including working with a variety of charities, supporting festivals and other area breweries. Over the past year, Kichesippi launched Harvey and Vern’s Olde Fashioned Soda. Meek says the difference is selling soda over beer is huge, but it is a learning opportunity for the brewery and the response from consumers has been fantastic. With continued success, the local brewery is aiming for an expansion focused on packaged products. New equipment, new flavours of soda and more products to the LCBO are just a few other things on the list of goals for the next year.

Rebecca Kohler

Ottawa’s funny girl is Rebecca Kohler. And while this comedian is not quite positive where her passion for comedy stems from, she does know she was always laughing growing up in her family. Having just won a 2013 Canadian Comedy Award for Best Taped Live Performance and being nominated for Best Female Stand-Up for the 2014 Canadian Comedy Awards, Kohler cannot stop making people laugh! Over the past year, Kohler has also worked a few writing projects, including the Just For Laughs Festival and on a show called Too Much Information. And while she says being a comedian is something she loves, there are a lot of tough parts about the job too. Between constant driving from city to city and the subpar hotels, life on the road can take a toll. But Kohler would not change a thing about her lifestyle—she says one of her biggest accomplishments is being able to get paid for something she loves to do. And while Kohler is looking for her big step—think the American comedy scene—she says Ottawa will always be her favourite city to perform in. “Ottawa crowds are also extremely sharp. They get a lot of the subtleties I find sometimes go unnoticed in other cities!” .

René Rodriguez
Canada’s Top Chef

Food is only as delicious as a chef makes it—and lucky for us here in Ottawa, we have chefs who make some award- winning plates. René Rodriguez is one chef in particular who stands out for his mouth-watering selections. Rodriguez is not only the owner and chef of Navarra in the ByWard Market, but also wears the title of Top Chef Canada 2014. Rodriguez won the culinary competition early this year and has since been on a wild ride. The publicity from Food Network Canada’s top-rated show means business is booming at Navarra, but it does not stop Rodriguez from thinking about the future. He says he hopes to open a new restaurant in 2015 featuring the flavours of Oaxaca, Mexico. When Rodriguez is not wearing his chef hat, he can be found sporting another hat of sorts—his motorcycle helmet. After winning Top Chef Canada, Rodriguez went right out to buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Whether in the kitchen or on his bike, Rodriguez is enjoying this exciting time in his life.

Steve Madely

Tune in to 580 CFRA every morning to get your Steve Madely fix. He is a radio personality like no other. From his passionate views to energetic debates, Madely keeps his audience engaged and informed with the Madely in the Morning show. He also can be found commenting on Ottawa’s CTV Mornings and as a guest on numerous other television and radio programs. He says the part of his job is interviewing people who are leaders, on top of their game and genuinely trying to make a difference. When he is not sharing information with listeners, he can be found in the community working on projects to benefit youth mental health, care for seniors and the disadvantaged. Although it seems like Madely does not stop working to create a more informed Ottawa, he does take a little time to himself every now and then. Madely loves to spend time traveling with his family and hopes to complete a bucket list of trips one day.

Tom Lawson
Chief of the Defence Staff

Chief of the Defence Staff General Tom Lawson plays a major role in the Canadian Forces and in the Ottawa community. Appointed in 2012, Lawson stepped in to take direct responsibility for the command, control and administration of the Canadian Forces. He is accountable to the Minister of National Defence for everything the Canadian Armed Forces does, including the ability to fulfill military requirements. At the time of his appointment to the position, then-Defence Minister Peter MacKay called Lawson an exceptional, dynamic leader with a lot of experience. He shows commitment to Canada through his almost 40 years of service with the Canadian Forces. Having graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1979, Lawson has moved up the ranks, moved across much of Canada and held a wide range positions with the Canadian Forces. He now holds the most powerful position in the Canadian military. And with this power, comes great responsibility. Over the past year, Lawson had to deal with military cuts, opening new infrastructure, working with Veterans Affairs and numerous other important issues to the Canadian military. Despite any negativity surrounding the military over the year, Lawson continues to stand tall and proud of the Canadian Forces.