Notable Alumni

NJC graduates take on the world

Barry Lando (NJC ’58)

"My trip to Morocco with NJC gave me the first glimmer that journalism might be what I really loved doing." Barry Lando (NJC ’58)

Barry Lando (NJC ’58)
Award-Winning Investigative Reporter

A graduate of Harvard and Columbia University, Barry Lando spent over 26 years as an award-winning investigative producer with 60 Minutes. Barry was born and raised in Vancouver and attended NJC, Class of 1958.

“My parents heard about NJC and thought it would be great for me,” Barry recalls. “At that time it was kind of incredible for anyone, for Canadians, to go overseas to study. It was less expensive then because the exchange rate was five Swiss francs to the dollar. We were travelling through Europe on a bus trip when my parents found out about it, and we thought I could stay there and join the incoming class, but it turned out I was too young. I had to go back to Vancouver, complete another year of high school and then return.”

Barry lived with a pension family,headed by Mme Gidondet. “There were about 30 of us – students from NJC, but a mix of international students as well – Greeks, Cypriots, Italians, Scandanavians, Turks. It was a great experience,” says Barry. “I remember it was the first time I ate anything other than red meat. We were served fish, chicken and so on – all very good, and all things I had decided I didn’t like when I lived at home - but we had to eat what was put in front of us! My eating habits changed from then on.”

The trip that Barry remembers most vividly was the Christmas journey to Morocco. “ We travelled by bus for three weeks through southern Spain and Morocco. I was blown away by the exotic nature of the places we were visiting – remember this was some 50 years ago! I took notes every day, keeping a detailed diary of the trip. When I got back to NJC, I started writing letters home about each day of the journey and I found I was obsessed with describing what I had seen, typewriting 10 to 15 pages about each day! My trip to Morocco with NJC gave me the first glimmer that journalism might be what I really loved doing.”

“Another trip that was important to me came at Easter time. Most of the other students travelled to Italy. I am Jewish, so I decided to go to Israel instead. I was, on my own there for about three weeks, just as Israel was celebrating its tenth anniversary. I loved what I saw there, and became an active supporter of Israel. I went on to become President of the Zionist Society at Harvard. To this day, I am a strong supporter of the country but I have come to understand that one of the ways of backing Israel, is also to be willing to recognize its shortcomings. Over the years I produced stories critical of Israel for 60 Minutes, as well as on my blog (.xn–ivg]].xn–ivg

After NJC, Barry Lando studied at Harvard College, “After that I did Harvard Law for one year and hated it, so I transferred to Columbia University. I was accepted to the Canadian Foreign Service, but decided I did not want to become involved in bureaucracy,” he says. “In the meanwhile I had become fascinated with Latin America, and began freelancing, writing articles about it for the U.S. and Canadian press while I was still in university.
However, I still had no intention of becoming a journalist. That only happened in 1963 when I received a surprise offer from *Time Magazine *to start working as a reporter in Brazil, covering stories throughout South America, in places like Argentina, Peru and Ecuador.

After six years, I came back to New York, went to work for CBS News and then 60 Minutes, which was just in its infancy. After six years doing investigative pieces out of Washington with Mike Wallace, I decided I wanted to try living in Europe. so I talked them into letting me be based in Paris in 1979. From there, I covered the world—most of the time with Mike Wallace–from the revolution in Iran, to the breakup of the Soviet Union, the opening up of China, the desperate problems of Africa. We interviewed many of the leaders who shaped the century.”

Barry blogged about his memories of working with 60 Minutes’ groundbreaking journalist Mike Wallace when Wallace passed away on April 7, 2012, aged 93. Please read Barry’s blog, from the Huffington Post, on our NJC Alumni facebook page.

Today, Barry Lando continues to blog, write and speak about the things that upset him, outrage him, and drive him to his computer. A few years ago,he produced a documentary about the trial of Saddam Hussein and subsequently wrote a book, Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush. He also produced a documentary of the same name that can be viewed on youtube. (

“Through the internet,” he says “people have more access to information than ever before in the history of mankind, but we do not seem to be any more informed. Fox News is widely followed in the USA and yet studies have shown that Fox viewers are less informed about what’s going on than people who don’t watch TV at all. People are able to access more facts, but we have a tendency to use twitter, blogs and websites that reinforce our own views and prejudices, rather than listening to opposing views and learning from them.I used to have a sign over my desk at 60 Minutes that read ‘The deeper you dig, any story collapses.’ You may think you know something but the more you dig, the more you will find that things are seldom black and white, and it’s the grey area that’s really interesting. That’s where you are going to discover and learn. Stay open and don’t feel you have all the answers. You have access to all views and a credible range of facts so don’t wind up like most people, just listening to things that comfort you because they coincide with your own beliefs. You might learn something and may even find that others are right!”

NJC is proud to include Barry Lando amongst our distinguished alumni.

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George Puziak (NJC ’59)

"NJC made it possible for me
to move anywhere in the world with ease.” George Puziak (NJC ’59)

George Puziak (NJC ’59)
Globe trotting consultant was inspired by NJC

Born in Ukraine, George Puziak grew up in Toronto, where he attended Runnymede PS, North Toronto Collegiate and De La Salle College. “I heard about NJC while I was at De La Salle,” George recalls. “There was a big weekend article about the College in The Toronto Star, with compelling photographs.” A few weeks later, George and his mother met with Leonard Wilde.

Leonard Wilde founded NJC in 1956. He was killed in a tragic automobile accident in 1965. George remembers him fondly. “Mr. Wilde was a gentle person. He was so caring. He really listened to everything we had to say and always gave a thoughtful and considered response,” he says. “When Leonard Wilde listened to you, you felt as though you were the most important person in the room – he was giving you his full attention. My mother, a research scientist at the Louis Pasteur Institute, set a high standard and rated only a few people very highly. I know that Mr. Wilde was at the top of her list.”

Members of the Class of 1959, whose Student Body President George later became, traveled by ship to Europe and then by a memorable land excursion to Neuchâtel where they were assigned to their pension family upon arrival. George lived with Mme. Thorens in her large apartment at 1 Promenade Noire (now, sadly, an office) with two NJC classmates and three foreign students from the Ecole, one of them, Marco Pfeiffer, the scion of the German sugar family. “We soon settled in, as all of the NJC newcomers did, as part of their extended Swiss family,” George says. “I remember how much I enjoyed walking along the lakefront Promenade on warm summer evenings with my new friends. The best times with my classmates and local and international students were at the Beau Lac, where we would gather of an evening to share a beer or two. I will never forget one occasion when I just scraped together enough to fund one glass of beer, drank it and left. The Swiss waitress actually followed me out into the street to demand her tip! It was not so much the 15 centimes; it was more that her Swiss proper order had been violated and it was her duty to teach me some manners. I have never neglected to leave a tip ever again!”

George’s favourite trip was to Obergurgl, a village in the Ötztal Alps in the Austrian state of Tyrol. Obergurgl became famous in 1931, when the Swiss explorer Auguste Piccard was forced to land on the nearby Großer Gurgler Ferner glacier during his historic balloon flight, which made him the first man to fly into the stratosphere. It was “historic” for George because it was here that he learned to ski!

“I did not know how to ski when I arrived at NJC,” he says, “and they divided us into two groups –beginners and skiers. I decided I would join the group who could ski because, at that age, I was sure that, with my sense of hockey balance, I would master it quickly. It worked, and I did learn to ski in just one day at Obergurgl.” Since then, George has skied at most of the great runs in Europe, Canada and the USA and continues to enjoy the sport to this day.

“After NJC, in my pursuit of an engineering and management education, I attended the Universities of Toronto, Victoria, San Francisco, Washington, George Tech and St. Martin’s,” says George. “Between studying and teaching, it has been a fascinating ride, the most memorable of which was my time at NJC, which helped prepare me for many things, including teaching mountain climbing in the Rockies at the University of Washington.”

The most enduring friendship George established in Neuchâtel is with Max Mueller and his family, owners of the sporting goods store under the Arcades. “I needed some ski boots, and chose the most expensive pair. Max’s unsolicited comment on my choice was, ‘That would be like buying a Ferrari to drive to the grocery store’, and proceeded to sell me a much less expensive and durable pair. How different from a salesperson in North America! But his honesty, so typically Swiss, really impressed me. My wife, Kathleen, and I continue to exchange Christmas cards with the family, some 53 years, possibly a record!”

Immediately on returning from NJC, George landed as summer job with Kaiser on the iron ore concentrator project in Lac Jeannine, north of Sept Iles, Quebec. Within a few days, the sector manager was unable to continue in his role, so George was asked to step in because he spoke French. “Thanks to my time at NJC, I spoke French and, since virtually everyone on the project spoke only French, that earned me, at age 19, my first project management position, which led to my career,” George recalls. In addition to his BSCE, George holds a PMP (Project Management Professional) certification and is a member of Order of the Engineer (an American version of the society founded in Canada). He is also an Adjunct Professor of Management at the University of Denver.

George and his wife Kathleen have moved nearly 40 times during their marriage. Their careers have taken them from the exploring “Eve’s Tomb” in the desert sands of Saudi Arabia to piloting small aircraft over the frozen plains of Alaska and working in most of the provinces, states and countries in between. At one stage, George was working in Ukraine, dismantling nuclear warheads in the aftermath of the Cold War and later working with the EBRD and the World Bank after the Chernobyl disaster. George credits his NJC school trip to Yugoslavia with helping to prepare him for the 14 years he later spent working in the Former Soviet Union. He was also prepared by a fascinating course at the University of Washington.

“Like the serendipitous practice of French at NJC, my graduate work at the University of Washington included an experimental course where I, along with several other Canadian students, was completely immersed in the Russian language, literature and humor for several months,” George remembers, “and it reminded me of our intercultural NJC experience. NJC gave me the confidence to operate in foreign languages. I now speak several, some better than others! NJC also made it possible for me to move anywhere in the world with ease. Living with a Swiss family among the Swiss and international student population made me feel comfortable living somewhere I had never been. It was the perfect transition from my family environment in Toronto to the liberating but protected, though not stifling, oversight of Mr. Wilde at NJC.

“I am convinced that it is not enough for young people to travel to a place for a few weeks, as tourists,” he continues. “To live in the environment, to speak the language, and to be accepted by the community gives one a very special experience that really opens up the world. I just wish there were NJC derivatives available in China, India and the Middle East! I am gratified to learn that current NJC students have the chance to travel to Nepal and China – that will be tremendously helpful in future years.”

Today, as President of Davai International, Inc., George is focused primarily on management projects, some with investors from China, related to solar and wind power, which he feels is an important direction for the North American industry. Of all the projects he has worked on, however, he is still most proud of his first one: the Gorge Bridge between Victoria and Esquimalt, British Columbia, which the government has surrounded by a beautiful park, returning it to the gorgeous picnic area that it once was, reached by streetcars from Victoria.

Today George and his wife, Kathleen, make their home in Las Vegas, Nevada. “We made a list of criteria: a warm climate and close to an international airport. Las Vegas fit the bill. We can fly anywhere in the world from here, and have all the amenities of the world’s smallest, fully-cosmopolitan city.” George and Kathleen now have a program to visit the finest museums and art galleries in the world. So far, Toronto, Victoria, New York, Kiev, Amsterdam, Moscow, London, Athens and Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Santa Fe – with more to follow!

Looking back over his life and career, George says, “To think, all this began with the inspiration and support of Leonard Wilde, math teacher Jim Thayer and French teacher M. L’Eplatenier during my unforgettable Neuchâtel Junior College experience!”

NJC is proud to include George Puziak amongst its distinguished alumni.

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Peggy Butterfield-Couper (NJC ’62)

“NJC gave me a love for European culture that has been a source of inspiration and happiness for me ever since” Peggy Butterfield-Couper (NJC ’62)

Peggy Butterfield-Couper (NJC ’62)
Memories of NJC from Bermuda

Lifelong Bermuda resident Peggy Butterfield-Couper is a graduate of NJC and her two daughters also chose to attend the College. “NJC changed me for life and I have never looked back,” she says of her experience there. “Sidney Robinson, a close friend of my mother, had a younger sister, Martha, who went to NJC and absolutely loved it. That was how I found out about NJC, from Martha, who eventually became my sister-in-law.” (Martha Robinson married George Butterfield and together they established Butterfield & Robinson, the luxury adventure travel company, in 1966.)

“In those days, all the NJC students went over by boat. That was magic – you get to bond with a lot of people when you are on a boat together for four days. We felt we were on an adventure together,” Peggy remembers. “I stayed with the Marcel Courvoisier family. They became like parents to my roommate, Judy, and me. We kept in touch with them for years. It was a wonderful experience – such a warm family. My husband and I went back to visit them every three or four years. I remember taking Madame to lunch at the Beau Rivage and then going back to the house to show my husband my old room.”

When asked about her favorite experiences at NJC, Peggy replies without hesitation, “I went skiing for the first time at Christmas and adored it!” A moment later she adds, “Then there was the foray to Italy at Easter Time - that was fantastic. The cathedrals – the art and architecture – the energy behind those magnificent buildings opened doors for me that stayed open for the rest of my life, inspiring my interest in languages, culture and food. In a word, it was fabulous.”

“Because we could not see our family for a whole year, I was homesick, but it led me to feel very self-reliant. I went through a tough time that year, as many young people do at that age. I was questioning everything – what is life all about? I personally weathered a lot of storms at that time and I did it with friends, rather than family, for the first time. We worked out our problems together and it created a bonding and understanding that enabled us to help each other. That experience gave me a feeling of independence I had not had before. I always say you are the strongest person when you are down, because nobody can help you but yourself – you pull yourself out of it. I learned that at NJC.”

Heather and Ashley, two of Peggy’s three daughters, also attended NJC. “Heather struggled a bit at first, but came to value the incredible experience of living in Europe. Ashley just loved it – she had a Jewish-Swiss boyfriend who spoke nothing but Hebrew and French – to this day she is absolutely fluent in French,” says her proud mother, who speaks French and Italian.

“NJC gave me a love for European culture that has been a source of inspiration and happiness for me ever since,” says Peggy. “It is a great joy to return on a Butterfield & Robinson bike tour and spend some time in Italy or France.”

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Bly Kaye (NJC ‘61)

“…to be the age that one is, with a wonderful group of people that you become such close friends with – and, of course, the traveling! Unforgettable.” Bly Kaye (NJC ‘61)

Bly Kaye (NJC ‘61)
Renowned Canadian Artist Says NJC Changed Her Life

Canada boasts many places of natural beauty and perhaps one of the most treasured is Salt Spring Island, part of the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Salt Spring is internationally recognized for its gifted population of artists and Bly Kaye (NJC ’61) is among the best. For over 35 years, Bly and her husband Garry Kaye (also a renowned artist) have lived on this extraordinary island, reflecting and capturing its wild beauty in their work.

Bly was born in Montreal and when she was 13 years old, her father bought an orchard in the Okanagan Valley and became a farmer. When Bly was 17, her grandmother in Montreal sent her to Neuchâtel Junior College, to give her a taste of Europe.

“It was an amazing experience,” says Bly. “I have only been back once, but I can still remember it so well. It was such a rich experience – to be the age that one is, with a wonderful group of people that you become such close friends with – and, of course, the traveling! Unforgettable.”

Bly went on many excursions throughout Europe. For her, one of the most memorable trips was to Austria during the December break. “We were high up in the Alps somewhere,” she recalls, “in a tiny little village with the traditional chalets, the snowfall, the twinkling lights – it was real storybook stuff! And I learned how to ski there.”

Before attending NJC, Bly had decided to become a teacher. “Being at Neuchâtel really changed my whole life,” says Bly. “There were several artists on my mother’s side of the family and my time at the College awakened that desire in me. I think it was the landscapes – just breathtaking! Plus all the galleries we visited. It was very inspiring. I remember my friend Mary Edgar and I sitting in cafes, sketching and people-watching. I could sit in my bedroom window at my pension and watch the passing scene on the street. But most of all, I remember the countryside and the sweeping landscapes of the Alps. At NJC, it was as if the whole world opened up for me, and I knew I wanted to be an artist.”

After graduation, Bly attended the Vancouver School of Art (since renamed the Emily Carr University of Art & Design), where she met her husband, Garry, a fellow artist and native of Salt Spring Island. She did earn a Teaching Certificate from the University of British Columbia and taught for four years, but “I knew I did not want to be inside – Garry and I decided to move back to the land, to live and work on Salt Spring,” she says. Their son, Graham Kaye, is also a graduate of Emily Carr.

“Over the years, I have moved through many mediums,” Bly explains. “My early works used painting, drawing and printmaking. Later I incorporated weaving, paper mache and fabric-based materials. About ten years ago, I began experimenting with collage and have developed techniques of working that I continue to explore today.”

You can view Bly Kaye’s remarkable work on her website and at – and if you are lucky enough to be visiting Salt Spring Island, be sure to stop by the Kaye’s Studio for a tour!

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Robert Fung (NJC ’85)

“NJC gave me a chance to open my mind to everything that's out there but at the same time I was in a safe environment.” Robert Fung (NJC ’85)

Robert Fung (NJC ’85)
The Salient Sense of Space

Robert Fung (NJC ’85), was born and raised in Etobicoke, Ontario. It was Robert’s father who suggested he attend NJC for the final year of high school and Robert was happy to go. “I have always been open to new experiences so I found the idea of going to NJC very exciting and wasn’t concerned about leaving my friends at Richview Collegiate to go and have this different experience.”

“Right from the start, it was fresh, new and exciting,“ he recalls. “We were all in the same boat and so there was an immediate kinship. We didn’t go straight to the College. I remember we flew to London and spent some time there, then visited Oxford and Canterbury, and then took the hovercraft from Dover to France to see the sights before ending up in Neuchâtel. That trip took almost two weeks overland so by the time we got to NJC, we were all good friends.”

There were four NJC boys in his pension so they tended to bond with each other, rather than with the pension family. “We had a good relationship with our pension, but it wasn’t a ‘you’re part of the family’ thing that I know some people experience,” he said. “I guess with four boys in the house – maybe there were just too many of us!”

The Class of 1985 did a lot of travelling throughout Europe with school trips to Spain and Morocco, for example, plus lots of independent travel on weekends. The trip that Robert found most memorable was the ski trip to Val Thorens in the Tarentaise Valley, Savoie in the French Alps. The highest ski resort in Europe at 2300 m altitude, Val Thorens forms part of the Trois Vallées linked ski area that, with over 600 km of piste, is the largest linked ski area in the world. “I will never forget that trip,” says Robert, “The skiing was phenomenal and we were snowboarding on Burton and Winterstick prototypes in the first years that the sport was invented!”

“I certainly caught the travel bug that year at Neuchâtel,” he adds, “and that’s why I took a year off from university between first and second year to travel all over the world with my NJC classmate, Ian Collombin (NJC ’85). We went to every continent but South America, and most places in between – just everywhere and anywhere we wanted to go.” Robert graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a BA in Anthropology.

Today Robert Fung is President of The Salient Group, a development company that specializes in revitalizing Vancouver’s heritage buildings and the neighbourhoods that surround them. He founded the company in 2000 after eight years of experience with Concord Pacific developing False Creek North, and then three years heading the development arm of Narland Properties.

“Through my business and community work, I have helped bring recognition to the importance of our heritage in revitalizing neighbourhoods and bolstering local economies and social health,” says Robert. “Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is our most dynamic and exciting neighbourhood because of its cultural social and economic diversity. However, it has only been through significant private investment and public discussion that the cultural and economic value of this area to our City has been recognized.”

When asked, Robert agrees that his time at Neuchâtel probably started the thought process that led to his career choice. “Heritage buildings, the history of space, is ingrained in Europe,” he says. “There is a deep understanding there of the importance of preserving community and the identity of space. During my time at NJC, I remember being struck by the inequities in many of the countries we visited, and realizing how fortunate we are in Canada. However, as fortunate as we are, there is still an imbalance here and I find that building the community and preserving our heritage is my way of doing something about that.” Robert is almost as well known as a philanthropist as he is a developer, supporting a number of Vancouver’s charitable institutions.

A couple of years after graduation, Robert visited NJC briefly but he hasn’t been back since. “I will go back again someday,” he says, “but for now I enjoy showing my daughters the Google Earth street view of Neuchâtel. My wife asked me the other day if I plan to send our three daughters to NJC. I think it is a good idea because I know NJC gave me a chance to open my mind to everything that’s out there but at the same time I was in a safe environment. It’s a way to enjoy exploring the world at a young age, and I would like my daughters to have that opportunity.” Since Robert’s daughters are all under the age of ten, we will have to wait awhile to see the next generation of Fung’s graduating from NJC!

To view some of Robert Fung’s extraordinary development projects online, visit his company’s website

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Robert Carsen (NJC ‘72)

“Life is about addition, not subtraction. Challenging yourself is the most important thing to learn.” Robert Carsen (NJC ‘72)

Robert Carsen (NJC ‘72)
One of Opera’s Greats Made His Directorial Debut at NJC

Opera director Robert Carsen (NJC ’72) was born and raised in Toronto, the son of German immigrants Clementine Nahm and Walter Carsen, whose name today adorns a room at the Art Gallery of Ontario and after whom the National Ballet of Canada headquarters are named.

Robert studied at Upper Canada College from his first year through to Grade 12, and then was sent to Neuchâtel Junior College. He was reluctant to leave all his UCC friends behind, but his parents insisted, and so he decided to throw himself into the experience, trying to speak as much French as possible, striving to learn all he could about Switzerland.

“A school is only as good as its teachers,” he says, “and we had some excellent teachers. Claude Treil, our French instructor, was a very special person with a good sense of humour, who was very involved in classical music. After I left the College I remained in contact with him until his death a few years ago.”

Classmate Karin Vaarsi Rannala remembers Robert very well, as he directed her in the class theatre production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – a remarkably ambitious undertaking for a group of young teenagers. “It was ambitious,“ Karin concurs, “but Robert was so sure of himself and knew just what he wanted from us. We got very good reviews! I have read magazine interviews where Robert says he did not know he wanted to be a director until a few years later, but I distinctly remember him telling us that his dream was to direct opera someday.”

Robert chuckles when reminded of the “Virginia Woolf” production. “That was my directing debut,’ he says. “The first time I directed was at NJC! I had forgotten that…” A few minutes later, Robert recalls that somewhere, perhaps at his home in Paris, he has the photos and reviews from that production. “I am surprised I said I wanted to be a director, as I was so determined to act at that time, “ he says.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Click the image above to read the original NJC review of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf featuring Robert Carsen’s directorial debut

After graduating from NJC, Robert returned to Toronto to enroll in York University’s Theatre Program. “It was there that I did the only truly brave thing I have ever done, “says Robert. “I wasn’t very happy there. It was no one’s fault – they had terrific teachers and so on. It was more about me wanting to immerse myself in a conservatoire acting training, rather than the wide-reaching liberal arts education involving studying subjects that I knew were not for me. I was half way through writing a second year exam, and I stood up, threw the paper in the bin and walked out. I drove home and told my astonished mother that I had quit university and would be leaving the next day for London, to go to theatre school. And I did it!”

Unfortunately, as it was half way through the term for British theater schools, Robert had missed the application deadlines. Some acting students he met in a pub helped him to get an audition at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He also managed to get an audition at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Admitted to both, Robert chose the two-year acting course at Bristol. One of his teachers, Rudi Shelly, advised Robert to consider going into directing, rather than acting. This struck a chord with Robert, and he spent the next decade refining his skills as an assistant director of operas, working with prominent directors like John Cox, Trevor Nunn and Ken Russell.

His big break came in 1986, when Robert staged Mozart’s* La Finta Giardiniera* at the Camden Festival in London. Hugues Gall, then director of the Grand Theater in Geneva, was in the audience. Gall entrusted Robert with a series of new productions, beginning with Boito’s Mefistofele. The success of this production led to a tour of the United States that helped launch Carsen’s international directing career. Productions of Bellini’s “Romeo and Juliet” opera, I Capuleti e I Montecchi, Wagner’s Lohengrin and Gounod’s Faust followed in Geneva. Later, he was asked to do a Puccini cycle for the Flanders Opera in Belgium, Verdi’s early Nabucco in Paris (the first of eleven productions for that company), and several productions for the festival at Aix-en-Provence. Robert also made his debut at the New York Metropolitan Opera with a staging of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.

Robert’s career has not stopped at the opera stage. He directed the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, The Beautiful Game in 2000 and since then has directed numerous stage productions to great acclaim.

When asked about the differences between directing opera versus theatre, Robert says staging an opera is a much longer process, due to the cost and building of the set and design, which means everything must be prepared a year in advance. “When you are directing a play, you are often working on the set and design whilst rehearsing. That’s just not possible with opera, “ he explains. “Something I insist on is that the singers see the opera as a play first. We are telling a story. Sometimes singers have a tendency to look only at their own part and, if they are singing in a language they do not understand, that adds another layer of distance for them. I have everyone read the text together like a play and help them understand their role within the context of the overall story. As far as acting goes, what I try to get people to understand is that just as in real life, we do not always say exactly what we mean – likewise, characters are the same and therefore good acting presents that genuine attempt at expression, with its inherent hesitancy and pauses.”

Most people think “diva” when think of opera performers. Have their been particularly difficult people to work with – and who would he say is the most remarkable person? “It took me many years to understand this, but when people are difficult it is always to do with insecurity on their part,” Robert says, “and it my task to gain their trust and help them relax. Once I understood that, I seemed to encounter fewer difficult people! I’ve had the chance to work with the best – Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli – these people are all gems who understand that star behavior is a kind of foolishness that involves vanity and selfishness, and they don’t waste their time with it. The most remarkable artist I have ever worked with is Julia Várady, “ he says. “Tormented, impossible, difficult, but not capricious, Julia was simply burnt up with the flame of her passion. She has retired from singing but it would be marvelous to hear her perform again.”

In 2008, Robert was invited to serve as artistic director and stage designer of an exhibition devoted to Marie-Antoinette at Grand Palais in Paris. In 2010, he was invited to stage an exhibition at the École des Beaux-Arts about Charles Garnier (1825-98), the architect of the Paris opera. These experiences have encouraged Robert to try his hand at something new – he is designing his first opera, Britten’s Turn of the Screw, later this year in Vienna (in addition to directing and lighting it).

“Life is about addition, not subtraction,” says Robert. “Challenging yourself is the most important thing to learn. Going to a school like NJC teaches you what it is like to be immersed in something you know nothing about. It’s pushing yourself to try something new.”

Robert Carsen has received countless awards throughout his career, including a Chevalier des Arts et Des Lettres in 1996, and Officer in the Order of Canada in 2007. NJC is proud to include him amongst our distinguished alumni.

Robert Carsen will direct opera in Toronto for the first time in almost 20 years at the Canadian Opera Company: Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice in May and, later in the year, Iphigénie en Tauride, featuring mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, one of the music world’s top divas. NJC will be organizing “A Night at the Opera” events for our alumni to celebrate Carsen’s return to Canada.

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Yeti Agnew (NJC ‘67)

“I was one of two women in most of my classes, but my time at NJC had given me the confidence to go after what I wanted.” Yeti Agnew (NJC ‘67)

Yeti Agnew (NJC ‘67)
Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

A testamentary trust fund made it possible for Yeti Agnew (NJC ’67) to attend NJC – a fund established by her British grandfather who left the money in his will for the education of his Canadian grandchildren, whom he hardly knew.

Yeti lived in a pension outside of Columbier and was the only student living there. “It was a dramatic time to join the household,” Yeti recalls, “Monsieur was dying of cancer – he died in July after I graduated. Monsieur came from an aristocratic family in Fribourg. Madame was very un-aristo but she had a warm heart. There was tension because his family disapproved of Madame and now that he was dying, they had to visit and interact more. There were concerns about finances and how Madame would keep going after his death.” Switzerdeutsche was the language spoken in the home among family members for private conversation and this taught Yeti a valuable skill: “How to ‘surf’ a language and follow a conversation without actually knowing the vocabulary!”

Years later, living in Toronto’s Queen Street West neighbourhood, Yeti and her husband bought a Victorian boarding house and rented the flat on the main floor to a refugee family of “boat people”. Yeti hired the grandmother of the family as the “PoPo” (or Chinese grandmother) to her infant son. The grandmother was looking after her own three granddaughters as well, and when Yeti returned home from work, she and PoPo would have conversations, one speaking English and the other Cantonese – using logic, intuition and interpreting the gestures, to understand one another almost perfectly.

Running her own law firm in Toronto, one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities, Yeti often has clients that do not speak English very well – and her language “surfing” skills often come into play. “I don’t have to dumb it down, “ she says. “They are doing their best to follow along and I speak with them in a respectful manner with the confidence that we are going to understand each other. One day it just struck me that I had learned this from my pension family in Neuchâtel!”

Yeti had already completed Grade 13 when she arrived, age 17, at NJC, so she took the McGill Senior Certificate program. After graduating NJC, she went to the University of Waterloo to study Applied Chemistry. “Waterloo offered a Co-op program where students worked for four months and studied for four months,” she recalls. “Money was a concern for me and this gave me a way to earn and learn.”

“I was one of two women in most of my classes,” she recalled, “but my time at NJC had given me the confidence to go after what I wanted.” Despite standing third in her class and being bilingual, Yeti found it hard to get a job in the male-dominated scientific community of the late 1960s. “I remember applying for one Co-op job and being told that they could not hire me because there were no washrooms for female scientists. I asked them what facilities their female secretaries used I was met with silence,” she says, chuckling. “I never did get an answer. I had also applied for another Co-op placement working in French to provide online analysis of aluminum and tell the workers when to pour the aluminum to make ingots. I was told they could not hire me because men would not take instructions from a woman.”

Yeti realized that even if she continued her studies and earned a Doctorate in Chemistry, she would not be able to find work of her choosing. A Co-op Coordinator at the University of Waterloo suggested that she write the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and she scored 99.6%. “So I went to law school at the University of Toronto,” she says. “My family didn’t even know any lawyers! There was so much writing to do – and I had never even written an essay in university. Science and engineering had been about formulas and doing calculations.”

After finishing law school, being called to the bar, and then completing her BSc from Waterloo, Yeti practiced law on Bay Street, where some of Canada’s most elite law firms are located. “It was fantastic experience and I was there from 1973 to 1986.”

Over time, Yeti noticed that because the emphasis is on time billing, clients tend to censor themselves to “save money.” Yeti felt there had to be a more people-focused approach to law, and she found it at a conference of the International Alliance of Holistic Lawyers. “Nobody was passing out business cards,” she recalls. “Many of the people I met there are now recognized as American legal pioneers. I realized this is my tribe. I get these people!”

Yeti decided to put her own twist on holistic law. Her firm, Yeti Law, is inspired by the Himalayan landscape and offers “legal sherpas” for clients. Yeti is the French name for the abominable snowman and it is a nickname that the Swiss boys at the tram station in Columbier gave to her because she wore a fake fur parka. “I much preferred Yeti to my given name, Ella, so I kept it all these years!” she says.

Sherpas are the local guides of Nepal who know the terrain and assist climbers to conquer challenges and attain their goals. “This is not unlike clients who arrive in a foreign legal landscape and need a guide,” Yeti says.

These days, Yeti is striving to change her approach to law, creating systems that enable her Legal Sherpa team to better take care of clients’ needs with a focus on the whole person, not just legal documents and advice.

Despite the demands of her busy practice, Yeti still finds time to volunteer. She is a founding director of the Musagetes Foundation, exploring how artistic practices can improve society. “My love for art and architecture dates back to my NJC experience,” she says. Yeti is also an avid skier. “I did not know how to ski when I was at NJC,” she says, “but I was determined to learn. I later joined the ski patrol at Osler Bluff Ski Club and learned to ski ‘on the job’ before becoming a member.”

It’s interesting to note that Yeti’s law practice involves a lot of estate planning – “forward planning” as she prefers to call it –and it was her grandfather’s will that financed Yeti’s journey to Neuchâtel, a journey that has shaped so many aspects of her life. NJC is proud to include Yeti Agnew amongst its distinguished alumni.

Yeti Agnew drinking Chianti in Italy, 1967

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Anthony Lacavera (NJC ’93)

“NJC added a lot to my life. I played junior hockey and I was confident – but it was cocky, young-kid confident – not real, personal confidence. NJC gave me that.” Anthony Lacavera (NJC ’93)

Anthony Lacavera (NJC ’93)
Named a CEO of the Year by Report on Business

On November 26, 2010, Anthony Lacavera (NJC ’93) of Globalive Communications Corp. was named one of three CEOs of the Year by Report on Business Magazine. It’s just the latest in a series of honours and awards bestowed on the affable 36-year-old, who is Chairman of WIND Mobile as well as Chairman/CEO of Globalive.

Anthony started Globalive in 1998, after graduating with an Engineering degree from the University of Toronto. Since then, the company has been recognized as a leading Canadian corporation, ranked No. 1 in Profit Magazine’s listing of Canada’s 100 fastest growing companies in 2004, named among Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies for five consecutive years, among Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 and among Canada’s 50 Hottest Start-Ups, and one of Canadian Business Magazine’s Top 30 Workplaces in Canada. Anthony was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2006.

“I travel a lot on business,” says Anthony, “especially as my main investor in WIND is based in Cairo. Just a couple of months ago, I went through the Zurich airport and thought how different it felt to be walking through there the first time, 16 years ago. This time I had three cell phones on the go and a laptop, but back then, I was walking through that airport alone and feeling scared about living away from home for the first time.”

Growing up in Welland, Ontario, Anthony and his friends loved skiing and in Grade 12, instead of going for a beach vacation, they saved up for a ski trip to Switzerland. His love of skiing and a desire to learn French was the motivation for persuading his parents to let him return to Switzerland to study at NJC for a year. “There was no internet back then but somehow I did the research and found out that it is easier to learn French in Neuchâtel than it is in Montreal or Paris, because the French is so pure,” he says, “and that persuaded my parents. My sister got the benefit too because my parents allowed her to go for one semester in my year, so we were there at the same time.”

“Mine was not the typical pension family,” Anthony recalls. “Claude and Katrine Lacaille owned a small bar/restaurant and lived in the flat above it. We became good friends right away, and I helped out with the business, met all their friends and was immersed in the French language from the first day. We were quite close and I went back to stay and visit with them twice after graduating from NJC.”

“NJC added a lot to my life,” he says. “It added a lot of personal confidence and independence. I played junior hockey and I was confident – but it was cocky, young-kid confident – not real, personal confidence. That’s what NJC gave me. I developed a sense of self, of independence. The administration at that time was great – they let us have fun but they also kept the reins reasonably in place.”

Despite his demanding career, Anthony still finds time to have fun. He has his pilot’s license and owns a Columbia 400, a low-winged four-seater. He also has a passion for professional theater and recently his London production of Tennessee William’s Cat On A Hot Tin Roof earned a coveted Olivier Award as the West End’s outstanding revival, following a similar success on Broadway.

Anthony is also busy with philanthropy, primarily through the Shamba Foundation, of which he is both founder and chairman. Since 2007, Shamba has provided charitable groups with free venue space on the rooftop of Globalive’s headquarters in downtown Toronto. “Shamba is a charity for charities,” explains Anthony. “It is so difficult for small charities to be organized. We donate our staff, the food and refreshments, so when they have a fundraising event here, there are no overheads. All the charities have to do is sell the tickets and 100% of the proceeds come back to them.”

Anthony is a founding contributor to Galleria Italia, a Frank Gehry designed atrium at the heart of a newly renovated Art Gallery of Ontario. In recognition of his support of the AGO project, Anthony was given the designation of Commendatore in the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity by the Italian government in 2008.

The Next 36, a new initiative designed to find Canada’s next generation of entrepreneurial leaders, is another passion for Anthony Lacavera. “I got involved early on in this project, to provide the software support, to be the back office to help get these kids’ businesses off the ground. It’s very exciting to be part of the team giving them the mentorship I did not have when I was starting out…”

Lack of a mentor did not stand in his way, as Anthony has started a new business every year for the last 15 years. Start-ups are a tough business and doing this continuously must feel like climbing a mountain, year after year. “I don’t feel like I am climbing a mountain,” he says with a smile. “Coasting along would feel like climbing a mountain to me! Some people say I am not balanced in my approach to life, but I feel I am. There are hours at a time when I am flying the plane, for example, and everything is off. You are thinking about one thing – no phones, no blackberry, no laptop – no distractions – just concentrating on one thing – flying – that is two hours of real downtime. Gym for an hour everyday – that is all I think about – work is not in my mind. I have got myself disciplined in that I don’t let those activities spill into each other so that I get stressed and feel rushed all the time. I insist on going to the gym no matter how busy I am. I insist on going skiing even when I don’t have time for it. I insist on making time for friends and family – always.”

With so much already accomplished, Anthony Lacavera has even more ambitious plans in the works for 2011 and beyond. NJC is proud to include him amongst our distinguished alumni.

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Bill McCaig (NJC ‘92)

“NJC took me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to cultures all over Europe. It was a year to examine what it is to go out and live life to the fullest.” Bill McCaig (NJC ‘92)

Bill McCaig (NJC ‘92)
Cordon Bleu Trained Chef Brings Authentic Pizza to Gastown

Many NJC students are homesick when they first arrive in Switzerland, but that wasn’t the case for Bill McCaig (NJC ’92). He grew up in St. Thomas, Ontario, but, “I always felt a bit like a fish out of water there,” he recalls. “ I remember our first stop on the trip over to Switzerland was London, and 70% of the class made a beeline for McDonald’s! I headed straight for a pub and ordered a local ale and steak-and-kidney pie. For me, this experience was going to be all about exploring local cuisine and customs – and I couldn’t wait to get started!”

Bill credits his Italian mother’s side of the family with giving him his great love of food, and it was his father who had the idea of enrolling Bill in NJC. “He had heard about the College when he was a teenager but did not have the funds to attend, so he wanted me to have what he wasn’t able to experience,” says Bill. “It means so much to me. It’s a bit of a cliché, but it really was one of the best years of my life.”

Upon returning, Bill attended Conestoga College and the University of Waterloo, acquiring skills to join the management team of his family’s business, a waste management firm and associated trucking companies in St. Thomas, Ontario. Several years ago, the company, which owned and operated a landfill located two hours away from Toronto, was granted a license to expand and service all of Ontario. “I was proud to be part of the company, providing a useful service and doing it well, meeting lots of government officials and other business owners, “ says Bill. A few years later, the City of Toronto made a generous offer to buy them out, and the family accepted. Suddenly, Bill found himself in a position to do anything he wanted – so it was a question of deciding what would be next.

“Our family life had always revolved around food,” says Bill. “We are the kind of people who finish breakfast and ask what’s for lunch! I have always enjoyed cooking, so I decided to enroll in the Cordon Bleu School in Ottawa.”

Upon graduating, Bill moved to Calgary to work as a chef for a major hotel, but soon found the menu and atmosphere of a big hotel was not the right fit for him. He moved on to work for a few other Calgary restaurants, including a steak house and Capo, a high-end Italian restaurant that was voted #2 in best new restaurants in the country. It was there that he met Giuseppe Genaro, the hot- headed chef who became his mentor.

“Giuseppe taught me about the level of commitment that’s required to make great food – that you have to have a love for it and put your passion into the food,” remembers Bill. “My time in Calgary was useful because I had exposure and experience in a variety of restaurant businesses, and the one that impressed me the most was the pizzeria. I realized that if you put your passion into it, you can do something common like pizza, uncommonly well – and the customers will be there.”

Bill decided to move to Vancouver and soon realized he could not find a pizza restaurant that met his standards, and gradually realized what he wanted to do was start his own. He made the decision in January 2009 and by Valentine’s Day he was already enrolled in a certificate program to learn how to make authentic Neopolitan pizza – Vera Pizza Napoletana. The program is taught in three locations: Naples, California and Japan. “The largest number of Neopolitan pizzas consumed outside of Naples is in Japan,” says Bill.

Since California was the closest location, Bill took the certificate course there. The locations for teaching it are selected for their resemblance to the microclimate of Naples because the elevation and humidity levels affect the dough and the temperature levels required to cook it. There are strict requirements for making authentic Neopolitan pizza as you can see on the website:

With the certificate completed, the search was on for the right location in Vancouver. Bill’s father urged him to buy a building, rather than lease, so that he could be sure to retain a good location for the long term. But finding a building in downtown Vancouver’s burgeoning real estate market was proving difficult. One day, Bill and his wife were diverted down a side street due to construction, and saw the “For Sale” sign on the building in Gastown that they now own. Originally constructed as a horse stable about a century ago, the red brick building’s interior has been gutted and completely renovated for the spacious new restaurant, which will be called Nicli Antica Pizzeria. “Nicli” is the Italian name of his mother’s family, “antica” means authentic.

Bill has imported an Acunto wood-burning oven from Gianni Acunto’s factory in Naples. “It’s the same oven they use for the annual pizza fest in Naples,” he says, “so it has to be good! It was a challenge to buy it online with my limited Italian and Gianni’s non-existent English, but we managed it.”

Bill attributes his ability to seize opportunities and run with them to his time at Neuchâtel Junior College. “That experience took me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to cultures all over Europe. It was a year to examine what it is to go out and live life to the fullest,” he says. “I remember there was a great little Italian sandwich shop in Neuchâtel where I ate all the time. Then we went on our Easter trip to Sorrento and the island of Capri – it was a wonderful time, fantastic food and amazing places. NJC definitely educated my palate!”

When Bill and his wife married last year, they travelled to Italy. Bob planned the trip “…by the seat of my pants, with this great book, Italy for the Gourmet Traveller.” His intention was to take his bride to Capri but they had a chance meeting with a local who advised them to go to Iscia instead, where they had a marvelous time off the beaten track, away from the tourists. “That’s what NJC taught me – life hands you opportunities, and you have to be ready to embrace them,” says Bill.

Many more adventures lie ahead for Bill as he opens Nicli Antica Pizzeria in 2011. NJC alumni and friends are invited to visit and assured of a warm welcome!

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Robert Blackburn (NJC ‘61)

“By all odds, that year I spent in Neuchâtel was the best year of my life.”
Robert Blackburn (NJC ‘61)

Robert Blackburn (NJC ‘61)

If you dream of a career that takes you to countries around the globe, then you will want to trade places with Robert Blackburn (NJC ’61). He is Senior Vice President at SNC-Lavalin International, responsible for relations with Government and International Development Institutions and for markets in Africa. SNC-Lavalin is one of the leading groups of engineering and construction companies in the world and a global leader in the management and ownership of infrastructure. Robert is also Founding Chair and a Board member of the Canadian Council on Africa. In addition, he is a member of the Boards of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, the Energy Council of Canada, the Defense Science Advisory Board (DSAB), the Trade Facilitation Office Canada. He has also been involved in the Board of the Commonwealth Business Council based in London since its founding in 1998.

Previously, Robert had a 30-year career in the Canadian federal public service from which he retired in 1996. In government his assignments included Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Priorities and Planning in the Privy Council Office, Assistant Deputy Minister for Policy at the Department of Industry Science and Technology, Deputy Administrator of the Canada Oil and Gas Lands Administration and Assistant Deputy Minister for Policy at the Department of Public Security. Starting his career in the Canadian Foreign Service in 1966, Robert served in the Department of External Affairs in Ottawa and on assignments in Paris and twice at the Canadian Embassy in Washington. His current portfolio has taken him to many countries in Africa, including Cameroon, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Algeria and Nigeria.

In a lifetime spent traveling to all these exotic destinations, what stands out the most for Robert?

“By all odds, that year I spent at Neuchâtel was the best year of my life,” he says. “I will never forget the travel, the people I met, the cultural richness of Europe. The experience shaped a series of things in my life afterwards. I have made a point of going back to many of the places I visited while I was at Neuchâtel. I remember pulling out of Neuchâtel that last time on the tour bus after the end of exams in June 1961, looking back and wondering if I would ever see all this again. In those days, people traveled less and there were many Canadian kids who just never left the country.”

In Grade 13 English class, he wrote an essay assigned by Miss Grace MacNaughton, who moved to Neuchâtel to teach after retiring from a long career as the Head of The Bishop Strachan School in Toronto. “She was a terrific old dame,” recalls Robert. “I wrote an essay about how I wanted to have a diplomatic career. I forgot all about that until the final year of my M.A in History at the UofT when I came across the essay again, re-read it and realized it was what I wanted to do. I spent the next 15 years working in the Canadian Foreign Service.”

“Many of us came from all boys schools or all girls schools, so the opportunity for socialization for the first time was terrific! I made sure I shared a double desk with a girl in every class There were three times as many girls as boys, so wherever we traveled, each of us boys would have a harem – the girls stuck close to us because we Canadians were a bit of a curiosity, and the girls would have crowds of Italians, Moroccans and Spaniards following them.”

“I vividly remember one of our first trips – setting off for Morocco and going through France. The stand-up toilets caused a sensation and my mother had warned me about bad water in France. Observing this warning my roommate and I at the hotel in Montlucon bought a half bottle of Beaujolais and after brushing our teeth – you can imagine all the pink foam and mess! – drank the rest, only to find a pickled cockroach in the bottom.“

“It was wonderful to be given great independence, the chance to think for one’s self,” he recalls. “I remember when I told the Headmaster at my high school, UTS (University of Toronto Schools), that I was thinking of going to Neuchâtel, he told me I would be wasting a year of my life! In the last Grade 12 math test my marks were the highest in the class and had written to Leonard Wilde (the founder of NJC) listing the 12 courses including the long list of Science and Math courses which I wanted to study in Grade 13 at NJC. He replied that if that’s what I wanted, he could schedule them all – but he wondered why I would bother coming to Switzerland if I was going to be working all the time without time to profit from the Neuchâtel experience. It made sense to me! I reduced my courses to the basic 9, dropped all of the tougher sciences and math then and there, and never took another math course in my life! What’s more, I achieved the highest grades I had ever had – and that year, Neuchâtel achieved the best Grade 13 results of all the high schools in Ontario! I wrote to the UTS Headmaster to share the good news – but I never did hear back from him…”

To recognize the Neuchâtel experience which meant so much to him, Robert gives every year to the NJC Fund. NJC is proud to include Robert Blackburn amongst our distinguished alumni.

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Jennifer Stoddart (NJC ’67)

“NJC opened my mind to different
languages and cultures.”
Jennifer Stoddart (NJC ’67)

Jennifer Stoddart (NJC ’67)

Appointed Canada’s Privacy Commissioner by the Governor in Council, effective December 1, 2003, on unanimous resolutions adopted by both the House of Commons and the Senate, Jennifer Stoddart (NJC ’67) has earned international acclaim for taking on Internet giants Facebook and Google to protect privacy.

After graduating from Neuchâtel Junior College, Jennifer earned a Master of Arts in History from the Université du Québec à Montréal, and a License in Civil Law from McGill University. Her career has spanned the Federal and Québec public services, including her first job out of law school working for the now-defunct Advisory Council on the Status of Women. She then went on to work for both the Canadian and Québec human rights commissions before becoming President of Québec’s Access to Information Commission.

“One of the interesting things about her was that as an Anglophone from Toronto, she so immersed herself in Québec society,” says David Flaherty, former B.C. Privacy Commissioner. While most English-speaking Canadians at the time looked to the West for a career, Jennifer’s exposure to French, living with a pension family in Neuchâtel, resulted in a move to Québec, where she became a member of the Québec bar and has lived ever since.

“NJC opened my mind to different languages and cultures. I came to really respect and appreciate the values that exist in other cultures,” she explains.

“Toronto at that time was not as cosmopolitan as it is now, and the contrast back then between Toronto and Europe was mind blowing. It was a fascinating time to be there, a unique time to see Europe, barely 20 years after the end of the Second World War, and there were still a lot of vestiges of that experience around. It was very intense and life shaping. The whole experience helped me feel very much at home in Europe, and to deal with my European colleagues in a more relaxed way.”

Since taking on her role as Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer has overseen a number of important investigations, including those concerning the privacy policies and practices of the popular social networking site Facebook and a massive data breach at U.S. retail giant TJX, which owns Winners and HomeSense stores in Canada. The Commissioner also led efforts to help private sector organizations understand their obligations under the Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in the first years after the legislation came into force. She is working to promote online privacy for young people through the Office’s new website,

Attracted by the convenience and fun of on-line social interaction, many people do not realize the risks they are taking if they do not check the privacy settings. In Canada, Jennifer has demanded that telecom, financial and retail companies stop tracking or sharing customers’ digital footprints without permission. It’s interesting to note that in the USA, where the head offices of many of these corporations are based, there is no national privacy act or regulator. The persistent Privacy Commissioner from Canada must have caught them by surprise when, in 2008, she launched the world’s first investigation into Facebook’s privacy safeguards. The regulator also slowed Google’s plans to send cars armed with cameras to capture and post images of the country on its Google Street website.

In more recent months, the Internet companies appear to be pushing back. In March, Jennifer travelled to Paris to urge her European counterparts to take a public joint stand against Google Buzz, which launched in February with a rollout that revealed the g-mail habits of millions of customers. In April, she and nine other regulators held an unprecedented press conference in Washington warning that Google Buzz was “the last straw”. “I realized that if we continued only to deal with the paper world we would lose our relevance to Canadians,” Jennifer says of her decision to take on Facebook in 2008. “We can’t continue to accept willful disregard or needless disregard of the privacy rights of citizens.”

Her work is demanding and her career has been very much focused on public service, which is sometimes a thankless task. “I guess when it’s all said and done, one of the important things about life is what you’ve contributed, what you’ve done for your society, what you’ve added to it in a positive way,” she says.

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Christina Sutherland (NJC ‘03)

Following NJC, Christina Sutherland (NJC ‘03) went on to study Political Science at Queen’s University and worked in various capacities ranging from a role at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City to an Associate in Institutional Equity Sales at Caris & Company in Los Angeles. Following these experiences, Christina obtained her MBA from the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Christina reflected upon her NJC experience and the lessons learned:

“My NJC experience gave me the confidence to go at things on my own and never be afraid to step out of my comfort zone. It also taught me a new level of independence and the importance of always challenging oneself. Since NJC, I’ve never forgotten that there is a whole wide world out there, and so I should never be afraid to explore it!”

In 2012, Christina launched a new business that provides responsive concierge solutions. Just as Uber has revolutionized how you access taxis in Toronto, My Stewards is revolutionizing the concierge industry. My Stewards offers services ranging from household help such as interior design, property management and relocation services to errand running and event planning. The company has launched an easy-to-use online platform that allows users to create a profile, place a request, receive notifications, and pay for their services using their mobile or tablet.

My Stewards mission is to help individuals simplify their lives by providing a convenient, mobile responsive platform for them to utilize so that they can spend their precious time doing what matters most to them. Currently, My Stewards operates in Toronto and Oakville and looks forward to expanding to other areas within Canada. Check out her interview with Canadian Business, the company at, and contact Christina at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Don’t forget to mention your NJC alumni connection!

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Kyla Zanardi (NJC ‘05)
Young creative is carving her niche in photography and film

Kyla Zanardi (NJC ‘05) is freelance food photographer and filmmaker based in Toronto and is also co-creator of Third Way Productions. After graduating NJC, Kyla attended Queen’s University, completing a BAH in Gender Studies. During that time, she co-founded Youth RISE (, an international youth-led harm reduction organization. “My experience with the Model United Nations program at NJC really did prepare me for the advocacy work I would go on to do at Youth RISE, with international partnerships such as UNICEF.”

One of Kyla’s most recent passions has been to co-develop alongside Ayah Norris, The INSIGHT Project, a digital media platform sharing stories, insights and workshops from grassroots creative game-changers. Kyla describes INSIGHT as a project that “provides a deeper look at people who followed their passions, brought ideas to life, and are pushing their communities forward in creative new ways.” Their focus “…is to use the stories, insights and skill sharing from these real-life catalysts to inspire and equip others to bring their own ideas to life.” Recently, Kyla reflected on her NJC experience, vis à vis her career, in this way:

“As a storyteller, I often find myself in unpredictable and unfamiliar situations, telling incredible stories of people from all walks of life. As a result of my experience at NJC, I was able to travel the world and be independent at such a young age, which in turn taught me how to perfectly balance between being adaptable and comfortable in any situation.”

In fall 2012, the INSIGHT project was featured in The Huffington Post Canada, which highlighted the power of these stories to catalyze change for Gen-Y. Kyla and Ayah recently launched a workshop series featuring premium video content from game-changers and creative experts sharing their industry insights and advice. Series 2 of game-changer videos will debut Fall 2013. Learn more about the INSIGHT Project at

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Dr. Daniel Andreae (NJC ‘72)

Dr. Daniel Andreae (NJC ‘72)
Award-winning, distinguished academic, experienced philanthropist and outstanding community advocate and leader in Toronto.

Dr. Daniel Andreae ’72 is an award-winning, distinguished academic, experienced philanthropist and outstanding community advocate and leader in Toronto.

Among the impressive list of honours bestowed upon Dr. Andreae are the Callwood Award for inspirational leadership, the Champion of Change Award for his work to advance Alzheimer education, the Ontario Medal of Good Citizenship and the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers. With two doctorate degrees, one in Neuroscience and the other in Education, Dr. Andreae serves as a Professor of Comprehensive Health Studies at the University of Waterloo and teaches Psychology at the University of Guelph-Humber. His teaching accolades include several prestigious teaching awards including the Distinguished Teaching Award at the University of Waterloo as well as the Faculty Mentoring award at the University of Guelph Humber, and he is a two-time recipient of the Faculty of the Year Award at Guelph Humber – an award given by the students.

He is passionate about lifelong education. He believes that education is “most effective when the head meets the heart” and that the genius behind Neuchâtel Junior College lies in the blend of providing cultural possibilities and a rigorous curriculum that melds social possibilities with academic achievements.

During his time at NJC, he lived in Auvernier alongside a beautiful vineyard and says that his favourite part of day to day life in Switzerland was sharing meals with his pension family and learning about Swiss culture. Even though there was a routine with school every day, and travel or day trips on weekends, each day was different and stood out on its own as a unique experience.

Today, Dr. Andreae says he is able to appreciate what he learned more than ever, and that his experience at Neuchâtel Junior College resonates with him now as a “bridge from childhood to adulthood.” He describes his experience at Neuchâtel Junior College as a transformative year in terms of maturity, growth and exposure to new opportunities and a new understanding of the world. For him, it was a chance to become a citizen of the world and the year was “broadening in so many ways, no matter where you come from or what you are looking for, because the benefits go on for a lifetime.”

Neuchâtel Junior College is honoured and proud to have had alumnus Dr. Dan Andreae, Class of 1972, as our Lead Patron for the 60th anniversary celebrations this year.

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