What is the AVA Gala?

The Algoma Visionary Awards go to young professionals recognized for their incredible efforts to achieve greatness in leadership, community engagement, professional achievement, volunteerism, and mentoring in our community.

The 1st Annual AVA Gala celebrates the top 20 young professionals (YPs) under 40 in the Algoma region.  Since Strive Young Professional Group’s inception, we have witnessed inspiring people doing incredible things and we want to recognize that!  Any young professional under 40 is eligible for the awards (with the exception of our 4 Strive specific awards).

The 2018 AVA Gala will recognize 20 individuals who have excelled as YPs in Algoma according to the following distinctions:

  • Community Champion
  • Leadership
  • Business/Professional Development Achievement
  • Civic Pride
  • Excellence in Entrepreneurship
  • Striving Star
  • Strive Game Changer*
  • Strive Member of the Year*
  • Strive Male Young Professional of the Year*
  • Strive Female Young Professional of the Year* 

To learn more about these distinctions click here.
*Awarded to Strive Members in good standing

The Top 10
10 AVA Awards will also be presented to individuals who have excelled in their field.  Candidates demonstrate excellence in all aspects of their jobs, including but not limited to leadership, initiative, innovation, growth, mentoring, dedication, and volunteerism.  The Top 10 industries include:

  • Arts & Culture
  • Business Administration
  • Environment
  • Hospitality & Leisure
  • Science & Technology
  • Education
  • Health & Wellness
  • Public Service
  • Sales & Retail
  • Trades

The Strive Executive will review all entries and select the winners, following our Conflict of Interest Policy.

All selected individuals will be publicly acknowledged at the 2018 Algoma Visionary Awards Gala on January 13, 2018 at The Grand Gardens Downtown.

View the AVA Selection Conflict of Interest Policy

Join us and host Tim Murphy for a night of celebration as we recognize the Top 20 young professionals under 40 in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma.

Event Schedule

6 00 pm
Guest Check-in & Cocktail Lounge
6 45 pm
Opening Remarks
7 00 pm
Dinner & Awards Ceremony
9 30 pm
AVA After-Party feat. Masi Entertainment
10 pm
Pizza Buffet
11 pm
Door Prize Draw

Dinner provided by The Grand Gardens Downtown will include:

Chicken Pastina Soup

Caesar and Garden Salad

Beef Rolls

Sundried Tomato, Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Garlic Mashed Potato

Green Bean Almondine


Complimentary Wine with Dinner 


…and don’t miss the late night pizza buffet!

To ensure the safety of our guests, shuttles will be available throughout the night. 

Ife Akintunde
Katie Blunt
Angela Caputo
Paul Caputo
Connie Carello
Dr. Lucas Castellani
Jamie Coccimiglio
Natasha Colak
Kristen Cupido
Candace Day Neveau
Lauren Doxtator
John Duke
Erinn Esklisson
Stephen Findlay
Katrina Francella
Stephanie Francella-Stephen
Jamie Franklin
Ashlee Gerard
Jeff Greco

Jillian Ingribelli
Emily Hillstrom
Amanda Jabbour
Allison Kantovaara
Jason Kern
Karen Lefave
Lincoln Louttit
Beth MacMillan
Micaela Mansfield
Jane McGoldrick
Patti McGonigal
Alysia Mitchell
Simone Mitchell
Miranda Moffatt
Dan Nogalo
Vincent Palumbo
Julia Piskiewicz
Michael Pratt
Tyler Rains
Kramer Rousseau
Jasmyn Rowley
Matthew Shoemaker
Christine Smith
Sonny Spina
Luke Stillin
Rihkee Strapp
Robin Sutherland
Katrina Thibodeau
Christine Thomas
Kristen Trembinski
Nic Turco
Brianne Veale
Tessa Vecchio
Joshua Verdelli
Stacey Watson
Megan Wigmore
Alex Zalewski
Kris Zanatta

You can purchase your tickets using the form below.


Your sponsorship is an investment in the future stars of our region, and the next leaders of your business!

  • Gain brand exposure at the newest Awards celebration in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma
  • Strengthen your connections by networking with over 300 young professionals doing business in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma
  • Enhance your company’s public profile among an established, enthusiastic demographic

Download the AVA Gala Sponsorship Package

Congratulations to each of our award recipients.
To learn more about each of the 2018 AVA recipients, follow the links to their bios.

Top 10 Industry Leaders

Arts & Culture
Julia Piskiewicz, Sault Ste. Marie Museum

Business Administration
Luke Stilin, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation

Michael Pratt, BioForest Technologies Inc.

Hospitality & Leisure 
Erinn Esklisson, Starbucks

Science & Technology
Jeff Greco, Cavera Inc.

Micaela Mansfield, Huron Superior Catholic District School Board

Health & Wellness
Jillian Ingribelli, Algoma Public Health

Public Service
Tessa Vecchio, Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie

Sales & Retail
Allison Kantovaara, Superior Nissan

Tyler Rains, S&T Group/Good Sense Group

Awards of Distinction

Community Champion
Katie Blunt, NORDIK Institute

Matthew Shoemaker, Wishart Law Frim LLP

Business/Professional Development Achievement
Angela Caputo, The Breakfast Pig

Civic Pride
Jasmyn Rowley, Village Media

Excellence in Entrepreneurship
Katrina Thibodeau, Discover the Canvas

Striving Star
Brianne Veale, United Way

Strive Game Changer
Robin Sutherland, Thinking Rock Community Arts

Strive Member of the Year
Nelson Grant, Freedom 55

Strive Male Young Professional of the Year
Paul Caputo, PAC Construction

Strive Female Young Professional of the Year
Karen Lefave, Superior Nissan