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OUR TEAM

Background

The Veteran Friendly Transition Program (VFTP) was the result of a number of years of work and study with Veterans, by Veterans and experts in the field of education and training to determine the career, education, and training approach best suited to help Veterans effectively transition to civilian life. From this work, it was learned that Veterans have unique career, education, and training needs grouped into three areas: social; environmental; and, support.

To address these needs, the Veteran Friendly Transition Program was born.

Mission 

The mission of the Veteran Friendly Transition Program is to create a Veteran friendly career and learning environment that provides the flexibility and support that Veteran students look for and need in order for them to succeed following their service to Canada. 

Vision

To create a flexible and supportive Veteran friendly career and learning environment that will enable Veterans to find meaningful and gainful employment following their service to Canada.

Principles 

The principles that guided the establishment and guide the conduct of the VFTP are:

  • Veteran Centric - the Veteran is at the centre of all decisions.

  • Compassionate - the Veteran is treated with compassion and respect.

  • Support - the Veteran is provided with the necessary support services to succeed while at the College and in the program.

  • Partnerships - the College works with all partners to help the Veteran succeed.

Rima

Rima Aristocrat, B.M.A., M.Ed
Founder
Veteran Friendly Transition Program

As a business woman, philanthropist, mentor, and author, Rima Aristocrat has been bridging the skills gap between education and industry for more than 35 years. Since 1989, Rima Aristocrat has been President and CEO of Willis College, a 151-year old Canadian Career College, enabling adults to transition into careers in business, healthcare and technology.

Ms. Aristocrat is the founder of the Canadian Association of Immigrant Professionals, founder of TeKnoWave Inc., Canada’s First National Aboriginal IT Training Initiative, and founder of the Veteran Friendly Transition Program (VFTP) initiative, enabling seamless transition for Canada’s Veterans. She has established numerous scholarships including women in technology and A Soldiers Hero scholarship for military spouses. She has established Canada’s first and only multivendor Cybersecurity Academy and implemented the first inter-provincial partnership between a university and a private career college. She is the only Canadian represented on Microsoft’s Education Advisory Council. She is an appointed Member on the National Association of Career Colleges. She has received numerous local, national and international recognitions for her contribution to education.

Walter

Lt.-Gen (Ret’d) Walter Semianiw
National Director
Veteran Friendly Transition Program

Lieutenant General (Ret'd) Walter Semianiw began his military service with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s). He then joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and for the next 32 years served in various command and staff appointments at home and abroad, including service at the Privy Council Office of Canada. His last overseas mission was in Afghanistan in 2005, where he commanded the Canadian Mission. He ended his military service as the Commander of Canada Command, responsible for the military defense and security of North America, including search and rescue. His final two years in uniform were spent at the Department of Veterans Affairs where he served as the Assistant Deputy Minister for Policy, Communications and Commemoration. He has served on the Board of the Kaiser Foundation for Mental Health. He also volunteers at the Perley Rideau Veterans Hospital in Ottawa.

Bruce

Commander (Ret'd) Bruce Lazenby
Director Industry Program Support
Veteran Friendly Transition Program

Commander (Ret'd) Bruce Lazenby started his professional life as a military officer when he served for 20 years in the Royal Canadian Navy and Air Force. He graduated from the Royal Military College and the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College. During his service, Bruce managed the financial management and accounting systems for the Department of National Defense worldwide. Before that, he was a Navy Diver and underwent jet pilot training before retiring as a Commander in the Logistics Corp. He served at sea, in United Nations peacekeeping missions, and the Canadian Arctic.

As founding President and CEO of Invest Ottawa, Bruce was responsible for designing and implementing job creation strategies for Invest Ottawa, and the city of Ottawa as the independent economic development agency from 2011 to 2016. Bruce has held senior technology executive positions including six years as CEO with FreeBalance Inc., an enterprise software company where he raised millions in venture capital and debt financing. He helped grow the company by 300% while moving into new international markets.

Robert

Robert Dupuis
Director Career and Employment Program Support
Veteran Friendly Transition Program

Robert Dupuis spent over 30 years in the Ontario Public Service in Toronto and Ottawa until his retirement in January, 2015. Most recently, Robert was the Director of the Eastern Region for the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities.  Robert’s career focused primarily on employment and training policy and programs. He has significant experience in strategic planning, organizational change, funding policy, and program implementation.

Bernard

Bernard Doyle
Director Outreach and Stakeholder Program Support
Veteran Friendly Transition Program

Bernard Doyle began his professional career in Provincial Government in Hampshire County Council, UK as a pension officer. He later served as a police constable in the Hampshire Constabulary, UK before returning to his homeland of Ireland, where he worked for a Global Insurance Company in their Pension Administrative Department and finally with a Software Development Company.  In 2005, he immigrated to Canada, where he worked for Nortel Networks, as part of the service delivery team for Hewlett-Packard. In 2010, Bernard joined Willis College, Canada, holding numerous positions, most notably, as Financial Controller. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Conservative party of Canada in Renfrew, Nipissing, Pembroke. He is an active participant in current affairs in his community.

Fred

Fred Nesrallah
Executive Director
Veteran Friendly Transition Program

With more than 20 years of experience within the career, employment and education sectors, Mr. Nesrallah has focused his work on providing leading edge program design to private sector, government, education and the greater employment services sector. In 1999, Mr. Nesrallah was one of the key developers of the Information Technology Orientation Program (ITO) which had been attended by more than 25,000 job seekers, including senior managers, business professionals, new graduates and individuals in the process of education and career transition.  Mr. Nesrallah has acted as subject matter expert advisor and keynote speaker providing critical Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) to national employment service providers and career practitioners. For the past 2 years, Mr. Nesrallah has been working with Veterans in transition providing career and education support as well as consulting with Vets to gain insight into their unique needs and the complex challenge of the military to civilian career transition. Mr. Nesrallah has been deeply engaged with Vets, facilitating their role and input to the design of the Veteran Friendly Transition Program.

Michael

MCpl (Ret’d) Michael McBride
National Ambassador
Veteran Friendly Transition Program

MCpl (Ret’d) Michael McBride began his career in the military in 2003 as a Signals Operator in Edmonton, Alberta. He spent the next three years as a radio operator for 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. It was recognized that he had an aptitude for IT and was posted to Canadian Forces Joint Signals Regiment. There, he spent the next seven years working as a network and systems administrator. Michael was deployed to Afghanistan in 2006, 2010, and 2012 as a Tactical Local Area Network administrator for the Canadian National Command Element and as a File and Application Specialist for the Regional Command South multinational Headquarters. His final three years of service was with the Canadian Forces Network Operations Centre located in Ottawa. This is where his passion for Cyber Security was established. After his release in 2016, Michael returned to school at Willis College. He chose the Advanced Network Security Professional program that would round out the training he received in the military.  He is currently working with the staff of the Veteran Friendly Transition Program (VFTP) to ensure Veteran needs are being met.

Carolyn

PO2 (Ret'd) Caroline Matthews, CD
Veteran Support Coordinator
Veteran Friendly Transition Program

Petty Officer 2nd class (Ret’d) Caroline Matthews has spent her military service as a Communicator Researcher. For the past 25 years she has served at 770 Communication Research Squadron Gander, NL, CFS Alert NWT, CFS Leitrim Ontario, Trinity HQ Halifax, NS. She also spent three years on an out of country posting to Oahu, Hawaii working with the United States Navy. Caroline has served on Her Majesty’s Canada ships Iroquois and Athabaskan. She has also completed a tour with the Canadian Heron Unmanned Air Vehicle detachment in Kandahar, Afghanistan.