Oh what a night!
What started out five years ago in Ottawa as a modest gathering of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians has grown into a grand affair, popping the rivets off one of the largest ballrooms in the city.
Among the 350 guests at the 2005 Ottawa Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador gala at the Chateau Laurier were: (L-R): Gen. Rick Hillier, Canada's chief of defence staff; Dr. Axel Meisen, Memorial's president; Premier Danny Williams; and David Reddaway, British High Commissioner.
The hottest tickets in Ottawa last November 7th where for the fifth annual Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador gala. More than 350 guests gathered in the ballroom of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier to hear featured guest speaker Premier Danny Williams, B.A.'69.
The event, emceed by Seamus O'Regan and Rick Mercer, D.Litt.(Hon.)'05, included senators, MPs, foreign dignitaries and top military brass, most notably Gen. Rick Hillier, B.Sc.'76, Canada's chief of defence staff (He's also signed on as next year's keynote speaker.). President Axel Meisen gave an update on Memorial's innovative history, growth and future.
The premier had high praise for Memorial's "exceptional graduates' and reminded the crowd that "Memorial's alumni serve as ambassadors' for Canada's youngest and coolest province.
Among the enthusiastic crowd was one alumnus with a special reason to enjoy the evening: Tom Bursey, B.Comm.(Hons.)'83, M.B.A.'84. Back in 2001 he had a vision of an annual event that celebrated Memorial and "appealed to anyone connected to the province by birth, education, business or affinity. That was the genesis of The Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador event.
Listed by the Ottawa Business Journal as one of the "Top 40 under 40 in Ottawa, Bursey has applied his considerable leadership skills to developing the Ottawa Affinity event. Successful Affinity events, based on the Ottawa model, have already been held in Toronto, Calgary and London England, raising tens of thousands of dollars for scholarships at Memorial. But the Ottawa event is the longest running with the highest profile.
Bursey says the success is due to a dedicated team of 24 volunteers mostly alumni, including advisers and a core organizing committee who, with the backing of generous corporate sponsors and the support of Memorials Office of Alumni Affairs and Development, run the event like a welloiled machine.
Among the original alumni committee members are Carol Doody, B.Comm.'82, M.B.A.'8, Dr. Maureen Woodrow, D.P.Ed'64, B.A.'67, and Lynn Cadigan, B.A.'96, B.Comm.'96, all of whom Bursey says are solid go-to players.
Cadigan flew to Ottawa for the event. She's senior account manager for The Idea Factory, an advertising agency and Affinity gold sponsor. Cadigan says she got involved to give back to Memorial because "it gave me the practical and academic education for a successful career.
She attributes the event's five-year trajectory to three simple reasons. First is the momentum created by planning a great event. Second is careful selection of great speakers."The draw of Danny Williams can't be overestimated. He delivers his message in an entertaining and captivating way. The third reason is supportive sponsors. "We created an event that offers real benefits to a broad range of sponsors, says Cadigan.
Tom Bursey encourages alumni to annualize an event where they live "to promote Memorial, to keep our image positive and to get the good news out about Newfoundland and Labrador.
"All you need to build an event like this, says Bursey, gesturing around the jam-packed ballroom, "is a team of talented alumni who enjoy the fun of making something happen. People who enjoy working with each other because of their connection and affinity for Memorial and for the province.
Affinity NL Organizing Committee & Advisors 2005
- Heidi Bonnell
- Herb Bown, Dip.Eng.'63
- Tom Bursey, B.Comm.(Hons.)'83, M.B.A.'84
- Lynn Cadigan, B.A.'96, B.Comm.'96
- Cyril Cochrane, B.Comm.(Hons.)'84
- Denis Colburne
- Jeff Dodge, B.Sc.(Hons.)'82
- Carol Doody, B.Comm.'82, M.B.A.'88
- Rod Elliott
- Andrew Foti
- John Frecker, B.A.'70
- Rob Frelich, B.A..(Hons.)'94
- Dwayne Goudie, B.Sc.'93, B.Sc.(Hons.)'94, M.Sc.'97, M.B.A.'02
- Chris Hardy, B.Eng.'94
- Joe Hickey, B.Eng.'90
- John Kelly
- Raf Khan, B.A.'94
- Iris Krajcarski, B.Sc.'64
- Keith Langille
- Ted Parsons
- Dr. Bob Roberts, B.Sc.'61
- Senator Bill Rompkey, B.A.'57, G.D.E.'58, M.A.'62, LLD'00
- Glenn Sparkes
- Dr. Maureen Woodrow, D.P.Ed.'64, B.A.'67