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
Awarded to the most dedicated volunteer, activist, and altruist, this young professional donates their time and resources to charitable causes and non-profit initiatives. They lead, guide, and inspire others and are the driving force behind positive change through activism.

Awarded to a well-rounded young professional who most strongly exemplifies characteristics of a great leader, is engaged in their communities, and who mentors others.

Business/Professional Development Achievement
Awarded to the most significant mover and shaker in his/her field, this young professional excels in business and/or their career. This individual’s work is impactful – creating jobs, improving quality of life, drives innovation, and propels advancement.

Civic Pride
Awarded to the young professional who shows the most ‘heart’ for their community through their efforts in community improvement and instilling civic pride in others.

Excellence in Entrepreneurship
Awarded to an entrepreneur who has demonstrated determination, resilience and growth throughout their entrepreneurial journey.

Striving Star
Awarded to a dynamic up-and-comer under the age of 30. Someone who demonstrates huge potential; this is one to watch!

Strive Game Changer (Member Exclusive)
Awarded to STRIVER who is a real game changer; disrupter; someone who is unafraid to challenge the norm. This young professional is making waves by doing things differently.

Strive Member of the Year (Member Exclusive)
This Striver has not only been a dedicated member attending many events throughout the year, they are also a true representation of the vision and mission of Strive as an organization.

Strive Male Young Professional of the Year (Member Exclusive)
The Strive Male Young Professional of the Year Award recognizes an exceptional young man who successfully demonstrates excellence in their field in addition to maintaining a positive contribution and commitment to the community.

Strive Female Young Professional of the Year (Member Exclusive)
The Strive Male Young Professional of the Year Award recognizes an exceptional young woman who successfully demonstrates excellence in their field in addition to maintaining a positive contribution and commitment to the community.

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:

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

Details for the 2019 AVA Gala are coming soon! Check out what we did for the 2018 Gala below:

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. 

The nominations for the 2019 AVA Gala will open soon!

Tickets for the 2019 AVA Gala will be available soon!


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