FREDERICTON – An advocate for women in trades, an emerging business leader, an innovative problem solver and a veteran entrepreneur with a streak of community spirit a mile wide were recently recognized by New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) at the 2019 Alumni Recognition Awards ceremony.
NBCC alumni Ashley Ritchie, Kerri Gaskin, Marc Albert and Laura O’Blenis will be honoured for their contributions to social and economic growth in New Brunswick. NBCC President and CEO Mary Butler will present the awards alongside Lindsay Bowman, Vice Chair of the NBCC Board of Governors.
“You can visit almost any workplace in New Brunswick and find NBCC Alumni transforming lives and communities,” said Butler. “Ashley, Kerri, Marc and Laura have all made significant contributions to New Brunswick’s society, culture and industry, and we’re proud that they got their start at NBCC.”
This year marks the fifth annual Alumni Recognition Awards. Recipients are selected by a committee of NBCC staff and alumni. Nominations are welcomed year-round and can be submitted by anyone who knows an outstanding NBCC Alumni. The nomination forms can be found at www.nbcc.ca/awards.
With over 90 programs and six campuses across New Brunswick, New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) provides relevant skills training to more than 9,000 learners annually, with an ambitious goal of reaching 11,000 learners by 2022. For more information, visit: www.nbcc.ca.
Ashley Ritchie, Class of 2009, Carpentry, Woodstock; Class of 2013, Bricklaying, Woodstock
Ask about role models for women in the trades in New Brunswick and Ashley Ritchie’s name is sure to come up.
With not one, but two trades diplomas from NBCC under her belt, Ritchie is one of the province’s most vocal advocates for advancing women in trades. Her work with New Boots, an organization which promotes and progresses women in trades, is an inspiration and an example for any young woman considering a career in the skilled trades.
She’s a Red Seal Bricklayer, a Red Seal Carpentry and a gold, silver and bronze medallist at Skills Canada. She’s a former carpentry instructor, both with NBCC and the College of the North Atlantic, a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and a mother of three.
For the past 10 years, Ritchie has volunteered her time and energy to promoting gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace with the Women’s Equality Branch of Government of New Brunswick, serving as a mentor at the branch’s Trades & Technology for Girls Career Exploration events.
Kerri Gaskin, Class of 2005, Hospitality Tourism Management, St. Andrews
As an emerging business leader in southeastern New Brunswick, Kerri Gaskin has built a reputation for herself as a tireless advocate for raising awareness of mental health issues in the community.
Gaskin graduated from the Hospitality Tourism Management program in 2005, but that wasn’t the end of her educational journey. She went on to obtain a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from Yorkville University and has post-graduate training in developmental trauma, compassion fatigue, and equine assisted therapies.
She’s now the owner of Coverdale Counselling & Consulting, specializing in women and girls’ mental health, compassion fatigue, and trauma. Gaskin also offers equine programs for trauma survivors and delivers custom corporate programs.
Gaskin partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick to offer its first free walk-in mental health clinic, reaching more than 100 individuals in the Greater Moncton area.
An active member of the community, she was named “Emerging Business of the Year” by the Albert County Chamber of Commerce. She has also volunteered with 4H, IronWill NB and Delta Kappa Gamma Society International.
Marc Albert, Class of 1997, Computer Engineering Technologist, Moncton
Since discovering computer programming at the age of 14, Marc Albert has been pushing himself to achieve lofty goals.
Shortly after graduating from the Moncton Campus in 1997, Albert went to work for DPL, which at the time was a New Brunswick industrial engineering firm. Twenty-one years later, he’s the CEO of DPL Wireless, which manufactures wireless connectivity equipment for ATM machines across North America and beyond.
He continues to break new ground by leveraging his education to develop unique solutions for global markets. When his company has positions to fill, he remembers where he got his start and calls NBCC. More than half of DPL’s current workforce are NBCC alumni.
DPL Wireless has offices in Moncton, Rothesay, and Fredericton and employs 24 New Brunswickers.
Albert is a proud family man, with wife Stéphanie, daughter Mélodie, and son Nico inspiring him to keep working hard.
Laura O’Blenis, Class of 1995, Business Administration: Marketing, Moncton
With a 20-year history of working with the Fredericton business community, Laura O’Blenis exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurship and leadership.
As the President and CEO of Stiletto: Make a Point, she specializes in facilitation, strategic planning, export plans, market development, contract negotiations and government relations. She’s the Chair of Start-up Canada Task Force and has a long history of giving back to her community.
O’Blenis’ impact on the business community is evident from her resume. As the founding Executive Director of Knowledge Park, she led the expansion of the park. She is the Co-Founder of the Canadian Association of University Research Parks of which she was the Managing Director for over a decade. She’s also a former President of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, former Chair of Can WIT – Women in Information Technology and past Chair of the United Way. She currently serves as a director of the Fredericton International Airport.