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Alumni awards honour innovators, community contributors

September 24, 2018
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This September SFU and the Alumni Association are recognizing four inspiring alumni: an award-winning TV journalist, a business leader and philanthropist, an executive search professional and community leader, and an internationally renowned SFU research chemist.

The annual awards recognize alumni whose accomplishments and contributions reflect the university’s mandate to engage the world. Alumni, faculty, staff, students and SFU’s many community friends submit nominations for these awards.

The four will be honoured at the association’s Outstanding Alumni Awards event in Vancouver on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 5:30 p.m.

This year’s recipients are:

PETER AKMAN, BA ’99 (English/communication)

Toronto Bureau Reporter, CTV National News

Outstanding Alumni Award for professional achievement

Known for his unflappable manner, Peter Akman’s passion for telling stories to foster understanding and positive change has taken him across Canada and around the world. An award-winning journalist with the technical skills to write, report, shoot and edit his own stories, he has leveraged his broad interests to break news across multiple channels. Filing stories with CBC and now CTV from some of the world’s top conflict zones, Akman spent more than two months embedded with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan. He also covered the fall of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, the Egyptian revolution and the Rohingya refugee crisis. At the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, he broke the story of the government’s plan to cull hundreds of stray dogs.

Akman volunteers his time to help raise awareness and funds to support returning troops and emergency responders impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder. He regularly speaks to young people about his experiences as a journalist and as a top swim athlete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

BETSY GIBBONS, EMBA ’87, BA ’68 (economics)
Charter alumnus

Retiree, chair of the Health Employers Association of B.C., member of the Public Sector Employers’ Council of B.C. and director of the Kay Meek Centre

Outstanding alumni award for professional achievement

During her 30-year career in the human capital and executive search profession, Betsy Gibbons made a transformational contribution to her clients, employers and colleagues. In senior roles with global search firms such as Korn/Ferry and Caldwell Partners, she placed hundreds of executives and managers in diverse positions in financial services, health care, the public sector and academia, and coached and mentored emerging professionals. She played an instrumental role in establishing Korn/Ferry’s mining practice and singularly helped to create and build the leadership teams of many well-known mining companies.

Gibbons’ reputation for exceptional service, energy, integrity and approachability extends to her community leadership. She has brought her passion for progress to the boards of directors of public sector, professional, community-based and charitable organizations. In 2013 the Association of Executive Search Consultants presented her with its Eleanor H. Raynolds Award for excellence in executive search and for her strong commitment to volunteerism. In 2015 she received an Honorary Life Member Award from the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon.

RYAN BEEDIE, BBA ‘91

President, Beedie Development Group

Outstanding Alumni Award for Service to the Community

As a business leader and philanthropist, Ryan Beedie is helping to shape Metro Vancouver’s landscape, as well as the future of its citizens and communities. As president of Beedie Development Group, he oversees one of the most successful industrial and residential property development companies in Western Canada.

Beedie has always believed that one has a responsibility to give back to the community in which one lives and works. Over the past decade he has generously donated his time and more than $35 million to a variety of organizations dedicated to health care, humanitarian efforts and the arts. In 2011, he and his father Keith contributed $22 million to SFU to establish the Beedie School of Business and support students, professorships and research chairs. It was the largest donation ever to SFU, and Ryan calls it the best accomplishment of his career. He also co-chaired the university’s 50th anniversary Power of Engagement campaign and, in 2016, created the Ryan Beedie Leadership Award.

In 2018 the Beedie Development Group received the Rix Award for Engaged Corporate Citizenship from the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and, in 2016, was inducted into the Burnaby Business Hall of Fame. Beedie has been recognized with numerous awards for his business and community leadership.

STEVEN HOLDCROFT, PhD ’87 (chemistry)

Professor, Canada Research Chair in Electrochemical Materials

Simon Fraser University

Outstanding Alumni Award for Academic Achievement

Over his 28-year career at Simon Fraser University, professor Steven Holdcroft has distinguished himself as an exceptional researcher, community leader, innovator, collaborator and educator. A world-leading research chemist working in the area of fuel cell technology and alternative energy, his expertise is highly sought after by both academic and industrial sectors. During a 12-year part-time secondment to the National Research Council of Canada, Holdcroft helped build research and development capacity in Metro Vancouver and also helped develop Canada’s emerging hydrogen economy. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed research articles and holds 14 patents. With former students, he recently co-founded Ionomr Innovations Inc. to commercialize one of his groundbreaking clean-energy technology inventions.

Highly regarded in the classroom—he holds an SFU Excellence in Teaching award—Holdcroft has provided a rich training environment for graduate and undergraduate students. He serves on numerous national and international boards that develop strategic directions for science funding. He has received numerous national and international awards for his contributions. He is a former chair of the Department of Chemistry and is currently vice-president of the Canadian Society for Chemistry.