Profiles

The grande dame of heritage architecture
One of Montreal’s defining characteristics is its architecture. Julia Gersovitz has devoted much of her career to preserving and repairing the city’s distinctive buildings.
Reinventing medical outreach for the 21st century
Dr. Mike Evans, BA’85, got millions of people to think about medical issues through a series of popular animated videos on YouTube. Now he’s using his talents to support Apple’s health innovation efforts.
High-level help for Canada’s next entrepreneurs
Reza Satchu always felt like he wanted to do something for Canada. Enter Next Canada, the Toronto-based non-profit that aims to boost national prosperity. We talked to Satchu about Next Canada, artificial intelligence and mistakes made by budding entrepreneurs.
Bridging the divide between enemies
Adam Kahane, BSc’82, helps spur discussions between people who ordinarily would have nothing to do with one other. Is he good at his job? Nelson Mandela thought so.
Educating the world about sex
Sexual health specialist Laurie Betito, BA’86, BSW’87, recently partnered with the world’s most popular porn site to launch the Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center. She says the world is rife with sexual anxiety.
Can she engineer a comeback for the Bloc?
Martine Ouellet, BEng’92, the new leader of the Bloc Québécois, faces two formidable challenges – building up support for her party and for the notion of Quebec independence.
Paving the way for women on Bay Street
Things might be better than they used to be, but the world of Canadian finance still isn’t particularly welcoming to women. Jennifer Reynolds, BA’94, MBA’98, is working to change that.
Photographer of the impossible
Photographer Benjamin Von Wong, BEng’08, has attracted plenty of attention for his otherworldly images. The man Popular Photography calls a “mad scientist” now focuses on environmental themes.
The ancestry sleuth
After running an internationally successful business, Stanley Diamond, BCom’54, moved on to his next challenge – launching one of the largest genealogical resources in the world, an effort that has helped change some peoples’ lives.
A rising star at Hockey Night in Canada
Hockey Night in Canada's new co-host David Amber, BA’93, says the program “might be the most scrutinized TV show in the whole world.” After a year of disappointing ratings, Amber is seen as part of the solution.
Aiming for a touchdown for gender equality
Only a handful of women are coaches or scouts for NFL teams. The league has hired Samantha Rapoport, BEd’04, to change that. The former Montreal Blitz quarterback firmly believes the NFL “is a great place for women.”
Carving a niche for Canadian content in a global market
Can Canadian broadcasters survive in a globalized world? TVO president Lisa de Wilde, BA’77, LLB’80, came up with one model that works.
Mentoring a key issue for new MAA president
As the new president of the McGill Alumni Association, Bob Babinski, BA’86, hopes to nurture tighter connections between graduates and current McGill students.
Generating plenty of buzz with urban beekeeping
With hundreds of clients in three major cities, Declan Rankin Jardin, BA&Sc’14 and his partners at Alvéole are busy spreading the word about the joys of tending to beehives.
A computing pioneer look back
Les Vadasz, BEng’61, DSc’07, was a vital player in some of the most important innovations in the history of computing. He recently returned to his alma mater and reflected on the role that McGill played in his life.
Meet Pikachu’s lawyer
As the general counsel for Pokémon Company International, Don McGowan, BA’92, DipEnvironmentalStudies’94, LLB’97, BCL’97, got to be one of the first to play Pokémon Go, the game that took the world by storm this summer.
Urging action on pandemics
Victor Dzau, BSc’68, MDCM’72, has worn many hats: top-notch researcher, accomplished academic, influential policy advisor and international leader.
A shoe insole that could save lives
Calgary-based entrepreneur Breanne Everett, BSc’06, has developed a valuable new tool for people who develop peripheral neuropathy as a result of diabetes.
The sweet taste of success
Perhaps it's no surprise that Juliette Brun, BA'02, the founder of chocolate specialty chain Juliette & Chocolat, was "brought up on chocolate."
The rigours of The Revenant
A geology degree helped get Michael Diner, BSc'87, hired as the supervising art director for The Revenant, a recent Hollywood blockbuster starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
This hockey agent gets his elbows up
Hockey agent Allan Walsh, BA’87, and his client, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, have broken the hockey world's code of silence.
A church leader for the 21st century
Mary Irwin-Gibson, BTh’79, the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal, loves connecting what she knows with people she cares about.
The woman behind the world's best whisky
As blending quality manager for the iconic Crown Royal brand of Canadian whiskies, Joanna Zanin Scandella, BSc(Agr)’82, is always planning ahead.
A fighter for First Nations
At 75, James O’Reilly, BCL'63, still puts in full weeks with O’Reilly & Associes, a law firm that specializes in aboriginal law. Lately, O'Reilly has had no shortage of projects.
The man behind Canadaland
For journalist, humorist and Canadaland founder Jesse Brown, BA’00, “life has gotten relentlessly hectic” in the past year.
Steering eBay Canada through challenging times
As managing director for eBay Canada, Andrea Stairs, BA’96 is leading the online retailer through a mobile revolution.
Frank, funny and unapologetically feminist
Elizabeth Plank's job, essentially, is to make feminism go viral. A senior editor with Mic.com, Plank, BA'10, has received much of the credit for the site's growing influence.
A Parliamentarian to be proud of
Irwin Cotler, BA'61, BCL'64, likes to refer to himself as an “accidental MP,” yet there is little that's accidental about his reputation on Parliament Hill.
An eye out for danger
When a gunman stormed Parliament last October, Richard Fadden, BA'72, was attending a meeting of senior officials on national security across the street.
There's something funny about Virginie
It’s safe to say that no other franco Québécois comic followed the same route into the stand-up biz as Virginie Fortin, BA'08.
Behind the scenes at Jeopardy!
Clue: The career of this McGill alumnus spans 25 years at a legendary television quiz show. Answer: Who is Billy Wisse, BA’84, MA’94.
The finance minister's right-hand man
What does a Deputy Finance minister buy to prepare for a new budget? Minister Paul Rochon, BA'83, suggested a bottle of scotch might be best.
Can this
Caesars Interactive Entertainment CEO Mitch Garber, BA'86, may be part of a group of Montreal business leaders who hope to resurrect the Montreal Expos.
Fashion house's esthetic rooted in nomadic youth
What was supposed to be a temporary detour has taken Jamil Juma, BSc(AgrEng)'02, to fashion runways around the world.
A school for spies and saboteurs
Stephanie Morgenstern, BA’88, is at ease in front of the camera and behind it. But she readily admitted to having some jitters when her latest television project premiered on CBC.
How Samir became Sugar Sammy
McGill can take some small credit for its role in the Sugar Sammy phenomenon -- it's where Samir Khullar picked up his nickname.
Running with the Bulls
An avid sports fan, Ram Padmanabhan, BA’90, has found a job he calls a dream come true -- vice president of financial and general counsel for the Chicago Bulls.
The elective that led to a Tony Award
Linda Cho, BA’95, is attracting a lot of attention for her ability to transform the way people look as an award-winning costume designer.
McGill grad is Canada's youngest premier
Brian Gallant, LLM’11, the new premier of New Brunswick, has a long to-do list to attend to. At the top of the list: repairing his province’s economy and bringing civility to politics.
Bringing movie magic to Montreal
A veteran of the Harry Potter film franchise, Chloë Grysole, BA’98, is the general manager for visual effects powerhouse Cinesite’s new Montreal branch.
The man NHLers trust with their bodies
Sportsnet calls Matt Nichol, BEd’98, “hockey’s best trainer” and his clients include NHL stars like Tyler Seguin. Pretty impressive for a guy who “felt like a fraud” when he began working in hockey.
Making noise about the ‘silent crime’
When violence hits home, Sarah Flatto, BA’09, is there to help victims and survivors of abuse find life-changing support.
She runs the joint
Chances are, Julie Cobb, BA’87, doesn’t match the picture in your mind of what a prison warden looks like. The straight-talking psychology grad takes her job very seriously — and loves it.
Internet entrepreneur hits the world stage
CloudFlare co-founder Michelle Zatlyn, BSc’01, was recently named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum along with Tumblr founder David Karp and boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko
“Dog catcher” has pooches’ best interests at heart
Wild dogs on First Nations reserves in Alberta have a champion in award-winning veterinarian Judith Samson-French, BSc(Agr)’81.
Changing lives with music
Music educator Dantes Rameau, BMus’05, recently found himself in exclusive company when he was named to Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 list along with Barack Obama, Beyoncé and Oprah Winfrey.
This grad isn’t a dropout (he just plays one on TV)
With two university degrees under his belt, actor Dillon Casey, BSc’05, is a far cry from the troubled character he plays on the new TV drama Remedy.
Top cop in Nunavut
Lindsey Brine's impressive RCMP career has seen him leading international policing efforts in Haiti and pursuing terrorists in Africa. Now he finds himself the top Mountie in Nunavut – and it’s exactly where he wants to be.
A daughter’s determination
She’s only 24, but Ti-Anna Wang, BA’12, already has 10 years of experience as a human rights activist. Her campaign to free her father from a Chinese prison was the inspiration for a recent novel.
Director's short works pack a big punch
Award-winning video director Wendy Morgan, BA’98, has worked with Janelle Monáe and Gnarls Barkley. “I have zero interest in doing videos about girls in skimpy bikinis,” she says.
She suffers for her art
Stuntwoman Ruth Chiang, BA’06, makes a living by getting blown up, thrown from buildings and being bounced off speeding cars. Who says making movies isn’t glamorous?
Doctoring in the danger zones
Joanne Liu, MDCM’91, the newly elected president of Médecins Sans Frontières International, has practiced medicine in some of the most turbulent regions on the globe.
The Willy Wonka of denim
Raspberry-scented scratch-and-sniff jeans? Going the unconventional route has been the key to success for Naked & Famous jeans founder Brandon Svarc, BCom’04.
The bilingual globetrotter
Heidi Hollinger, BA’90, visits the world’s great port cities and shares her adventures with TV viewers in both of Canada’s official languages on Ports d’attache and Waterfront Cities of the World.
New CRTC chair is no pushover
Jean-Pierre Blais, BCL’84, LLB’84, the new chair of the CRTC, vows that Canada’s communications companies will be under pressure to prove that their activities serve the public interest.
The street kids' champion
Life is rough and frequently dangerous for homeless youth. Montreal’s Dans la rue, led by Aki Tchitacov, BA’82, offers a ray of hope for those in desperate straits.
Sharing her passion for science
Ziya Tong, MA’99, co-host of the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet, loves exploring the weird and wonderful world of science for her TV viewers.
The transformative power of sports
Even after you strip away the jingoism and the sponsorships and—­heaven forfend—the Spice Girls, the Olympic ideal of humanity coming together in sport remains as appealing as it was when the modern Games began in 1896.
UN mediator: Don't take peace for granted
UN mediator Diego Osorio, BA’96, has worked in some of the world’s most volatile conflict zones. He warns against complacency. “I’ve seen how little it takes for things to turn ugly.”
Tales from the (not so) dark side
Jon Asher, CertPRMgmt’07, says the death metal bands he helps promote are often misunderstood. Opera can be pretty violent too, you know.
From worst to first
It’s been another banner year full of accolades for Windsor University women’s basketball head coach Chantal Vallée, MA’02, after winning the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship for a second consecutive time.
The consummate concierge
Once a month, 40 influential Montrealers meet behind closed doors to exchange inside information that will affect many local businesses. Nope, it’s not the city’s executive committee, but rather the concierges at Montreal’s poshest hotels.
A man of the world
When Morris Rosenberg, BA’72, was appointed Canada’s deputy minister of foreign affairs in 2010, Embassy, the Ottawa-based newspaper that covers foreign policy, wondered about “his apparent lack of international experience.”
Diamonds aren't her best friends
Human rights campaigner Annie Dunnebacke, BA’01, targets the illicit trade in blood diamonds and rare earths that cause havoc for the lives of too many Africans.
The lawyer that comic companies fear
Marc Toberoff, BA’77, is one of North America’s most influential intellectual property lawyers — and to DC Comics, he’s scarier than the Joker and Lex Luthor combined.
No hell in this kitchen
Guillermo Russo, BA’05, may have a degree in industrial relations and international development, but he’s been keeping busy reinventing a Montreal culinary landmark.
No shrinking violet
Anne-France Goldwater, BCL’80, is a one-of-a-kind presence on the Quebec legal scene. Her frank manner and shoot-from-the-hip style stand out in a world soaked in protocol and civility.
A cancer patient’s best friend
Sheila Kussner, BA ’53, LLD’90 now, nearing 80, she works up to 19 hours a day, seven days a week, giving guidance to people battling the disease, overseeing her organization, Hope & Cope, and fundraising tirelessly.
She officiates, she scores
Carol Anne Chenard, BSc’01, PhD’08, is making her mark on the international scene as one of the soccer world’s most respected referees.
A champion for your right to know
As Canada’s information commissioner, it’s Suzanne Legault's,BCL’88, LLB’88, job to investigate complaints by citizens aggrieved at being denied federal government documents under the act.
A date with the Queen
Sandra Horley, BA’79, applied for a job as the director of the Haven Project at Wolverhampton, a house for homeless and abused women. 28 years later she finds herself an invitation to meet the Queen.
No ugly cars on his watch
BMW makes some of the most beautiful cars in the world. It is up to Karim Habib, BEng’93, to make sure it stays that way.
Scout CEO is a happy camper
Scouts Canada has ambitious goals. After taking a clear-eyed look at its operations, the organization reached some tough conclusions. “We have allowed ourselves to become boring.”
Off the Map, but thinking of home
There are few professions more demanding than medicine. Actress and former McGill student Rachelle Lefevre recently discovered that being a pretend doctor isn't all that easy either.
He’s in the big leagues now
Thirty-nine-year-old Guy Boucher, BA’95, BSc(AgrEng)’96, was pursued by at least two teams before he signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning to become the NHL’s youngest head coach.
The aspiring Apprentice
Stephanie Castagnier, BCom’98, overcame a troubled youth to build a successful life. Now can she win Donald Trump’s stamp of approval?
In her father’s footsteps
One of Bermuda’s most respected politicians, Paula Cox, BA’80, could be on the verge of earning its top job.
Is there a doctor in the clubhouse?
A seasoned doctor with a love for baseball, Allan Pont, BSc’68, MDCM’70, has been tending the medical needs of the Oakland A’s since 1984.
She’s got game
As one of the creative forces behind the blockbuster Assassin’s Creed games, Jade Raymond, BSc’98, has carved out a spot as one of the top producers in the booming industry.
Prescribing for a province
When André Corriveau, MDCM’81, was in his third year of medical studies at McGill, a senior surgery resident took note of Corriveau’s interest in experiencing life as a general practitioner in a rural community.
Grateful for a Gleeful gig
Actress Jessalyn Gilsig, BA’93, gives her spin on playing Terri Schuester on the highly successful show Glee.
Cooking with Cameron: Chef’s time in India inspires film
Meet chef Cameron Stauch, BCom’97, and his family, whose lives form the basis of Cooking with Stella, a comedy directed by filmmaker Dilip Mehta.
Being the brains behind Being Erica
How Jana Sinyor, BA’98, turned a rotten job experience into a hit TV show.
Orchestrating the march of the Penguins
When Ken Sawyer, BSc’71, was asked by Pittsburgh Penguins part-owner Mario Lemieux to take over as the team’s chief executive officer in 2006, he knew he’d have his work cut out for him.
From Romper Room to the boardroom
Generations of Canadians spent their preschool mornings waiting breathlessly for the lady on television to “see” them through her magic mirror: “I see Jenny, and Tommy, and Billy, and Dan…”
For Whom the Bells Toll
Andrea McCrady, MDCM’80, left behind a 30-year career in family medicine to become Canada’s newest Dominion Carillonneur—the live musician behind the bells.
Adventures in Antartica
Kevin Valley BSc(Arch'87), BArch’88, part of a three-man team, led by Ray Zahab, in the midst of setting a new record for the fastest unassisted trek across Antarctica to the South Pole.
Grace Under Fire
Tony Proudfoot MA'90, a former Montreal Alouette, was diagnosed in May 2007 with the neurological disorder ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Alumni Profile - Michael Glazer
Sending trained "mystery shoppers" into retail establishments posing as real consumers and reporting their findings, Michael Glazer's multi-million-dollar ven helps companies see their businesses from their customers' point of view.
Alumni Profile - Marc Mayer
Marc Mayer, BA'84, director of the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, practically radiates with enthusiasm."There's something going on in Montreal right now, there's a new spirit here. Everyone's talking about it in Canada!"
How the tsunami changed two world travellers
James Caddell, BA'97, and Tara Newell, BA'98, have kept in touch with the News since setting off on a global trek in June 2004. Discover how the catastrophe in Asia changed their travel plans - and their lives.
Traveling Out of the Comfort Zone
Tara Newell, BA'98, and James Waddell, BA'97, are a couple of adventurous grads who embarked this summer on a two-year global trek, determined to take life as they find it and to experience the local culture in every country they visit.
In the News: Desmond Morton
Historian and military expert professor Desmond Morton has written several dozen books on this nation's military and social history, labour and industrial relations, and politics.
The exit interview
The News editors sat down for a conversation with Principal Bernard Shapiro prior to his departure from McGill.
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En route pour les étoiles
Médecin, physicien, ingénieur, astronaute canadien… et, à compter de 2018, chercheur à bord de la Station spatiale internationale. Le parcours du diplômé David Saint-Jacques n’a rien de banal!
Principal Fortier reappointed for second term
Principal Suzanne Fortier will begin a second five-year term as McGill’s principal and vice-chancellor in 2018, while Chancellor Michael Meighen starts his second term as McGill’s chancellor on July 1.
A sister act worth the wait
Juno award winning jazz composer Christine Jensen, BMus’94, MMus’06, partners with a familiar collaborator on her new CD – her sister Ingrid, an acclaimed jazz musician in her own right.