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Meet the Judges

Ninety-eight entries were submitted from communities and organizations across Ontario for the 2019 EDCO Awards of Excellence. 

The judges - with expertise in marketing, communications, tourism, workforce development and industrial/commercial development - met in Toronto in November to evaluate each entry.  Entries were scored on the ability of the entries to meet their objectives and reach a target audience, return on investment, and uniqueness.   Entries were required to meet a minimum score threshold in order to be chosen as a finalist; as a result, awards are not necessarily given for every category. 

Throughout the judging process, judges were encouraged to watch for new, innovative and extraordinary initiatives to be considered for the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Economic Development Excellence (formerly known as the Best of Show Award).  This year, four initiatives were endorsed, and the winner will be announced at the President's Dinner and Awards Ceremony at the Marriott Downtown at CF Toronto Eaton Centre on February 6, 2020, the finale to the 63rd EDCO Annual Conference and Showcasew.


Special thank you to this year's Past President Judges:

  • Robert Brindley
  • George Borovilos
  • Kathy Weiss

Check out the 2019 EDCO Awards of Excellence Finalists!

Brian O'Connor
Reed Jones Limited

Brian has more than 30 years experience in dealing with complex public relations issues and communications management.  He has worked in stage production in Canada, United States and Englad.  He began his media career as a public affairs producer for the CTV and CBC television networks.

Brian has a wide range of experience with municipal government, working with economic development, finance and planning departments of several municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area.  His municipal marketing work has won recognition in Canada and the United States.   He was a founding faculty member of the graduate journalism program, Western University, and is involved in ongoing research on the future of work.

In his spare time, he is crowd sourcing script material for "BILL", a multi-media stage presentation on the private life of William Shakespeare.


Carl Knipfel, RPP, OAA, MRAIC
Principal, lankinhouse design

Carl is an architect and city planner with extensive experience devising and delivering strategically significant urban design and marketing strategies. He has collaborated with municipal governments, the Province of Ontario, OCAD University and the Ontario Association of Architects on award winning design initiatives and marketing campaigns as well as on organizational effectiveness. In addition to awards for unique individual projects Carl has received the President’s Award from both EDAC and EDCO


Mary L. Palmer
Operations, Programs, Solutions

Mary Palmer is a passionate, accomplished and value-driven professional economic development expert. Mary has established, implemented and managed innovative policies, programs and strategic solutions in regulated and non-regulated environments in the public sector, private organizations and not-for-profit corporations.

Mary's extensive and distinct expertise in business management, export development and program design, delivery and management, as well as in foreign direct investment are a result of her relationships with a diverse national and international network of stakeholders. Her ability to straddle the worlds of business and government provides a unique understanding of the needs and cultures of each. These demonstrated strengths highlight her knowledge of people and process development in order to achieve both short- and long-term profitability.


Peter Gingrich, PMP
Managing Director, eSolutions

With twenty two years of experience managing a wide range of website development, custom applications, graphic design, and marketing projects, Peter brings a broad perspective to each assignment. A Managing Director of eSolutions, he is responsible for the growth and development of Eastern Canada while continuing to contribute to the team as a whole.

A certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Peter has a high level of familiarity with all aspects of web development: analysis of business objectives; site architecture; site design; application development; search engine marketing; web hosting infrastructure; and content management systems. His clients include public sector (health care and municipal) as well as NGO organizations and private sector firms.

Peter’s background is entrepreneurial, having owned and operated a website development company dating back to the early days of the web. From small website projects to large custom applications Peter applies the same passion and enthusiasm for every job and every client. Priding himself on responsiveness and mutually beneficial customer relationships, he brings that extra element to each project that has resulted in the establishment of a loyal and satisfied customer base.


Sofie Andreou, M.Eng
Sofie Andreou & Associates, Digital Marketing Training Services

Sofie is the author of the Your Social Marketing Strategy & Plans series. She delivers her popular and sought-after business seminar series Leveraging the Power of the Internet to 100s of professionals monthly. Sofie's Digital Marketing Services include Digital Marketing Strategies, Plans, Training, Video Tutorials, Google 360 Tours and SEO www.SofieAndreou.com.    For the past decade, Sofie lectures to a "sold out" third-year class, Online Marketing Principles, at Trent University.

Sofie is recognized as a digital marketing leader in various groups including; Economic Development, Chambers of Commerce, small business enterprise centres, fortune 500 companies and the online business community. Her practice is focused on digital marketing training for both small, large, local and international companies. Regularly, Sofie is asked to appear on regional television shows speak as the local expert providing updates on digital marketing as it impacts business practices of all sizes.  

Sofie holds her undergraduate degree in Computer Science and her Masters of Engineering in Information Systems from the University of Toronto.

Sofie's passion is working with Entrepreneurs and mentoring University Students. She was the Chair of the award-winning Bears' Lair Entrepreneurship Competition for several years, a founding member of StartUpPeterborough, active on a Humane Society Annual Walk fundraiser name Duke Trail Tours (named after her oldest pup), a member of the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and on the Trent University Business Council.  

Tara Vinodrai, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, University of Toronto Mississauga
Director, Master of Urban Innovation

Trina Forster, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer/Chef de la direction, ONESTEP

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