NACO names Claudette McGowan, Mohamad Fakih among ‘Nation Builders of the Year’

The inaugural award highlights business leaders who are "driving positive change" in Canada.

In the inaugural launch of a new award from the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO), Claudette McGowan, Mohamad Fakih, Carol Anne Hilton, and John Stackhouse have been singled out as business leaders who are “driving positive change” in Canada.

NACO created the award this year in celebration of its 20th anniversary.

Claudette McGowan is the global executive officer for cybersecurity at TD Canada, and an active member of the Canadian innovation ecosystem. She is the chair of the Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism (CILAR), a group of senior business leaders committed to fighting anti-Black and systemic racism within the innovation economy. McGowan also recently helped launch the women-focused angel fund, Phoenix Fire.

Mohamad Fakih is the CEO and president of Paramount Fine Foods. He created the Middle Eastern Halal food chain after coming to Canada as an immigrant. Last year, he was recognized as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce CEO of the year, and the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business ‘Corporate Citizen CEO of the Year’ for work he has done supporting local organizations and businesses.

In 2020, Fakih dipped his toe into the Canadian tech space, putting forth a proposals to acquire the then-shuttered OneEleven incubator. While he did not win that bid, Fakih was recognized that same year for launching Box’d, said to be Canada’s first fully automated “safe” restaurant.

Carol Anne Hilton is the founder of the Global Centre of Indigenomics, a virtual collective facilitating Indigenous economic leadership. Hilton currently serves on the BC Emerging Economy Task Force as an adviser to the minister of jobs, trades, and technology. She also sits on the BC Indigenous Investment Council for the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, and was appointed as a senior advisor to the federal finance minister on the Canadian Federal Economic Growth Council.

John Stackhouse is the senior VP in the office of the CEO at RBC. He often provides thought leadership on economic, technological, and social change. Stackhouse previously served as editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail, and is a senior fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. He also sits on the boards of Queen’s University, the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada, and the Literary Review of Canada.

“This award signals an important shift in the way NACO is approaching ecosystem-building, by focusing on future impact and transforming systemic failures into areas of opportunity for economic growth and social progress,” said Claudio Rojas, CEO of NACO.

The Nation Builder award was revealed at the NACO Global Capital Summit, which is taking place on March 22nd and 23rd.

NACO has been working to grow its national presence over the last few years – penning partnerships with local organizations and striking financing deals with governments. Most recently, NACO and Angel Investors Ontario were promised a combined $5.4 million CAD from the federal government as part of a collaboration to increase the amount of angel capital available to Ontario startups.

NACO has also received around $710,000 from regional development agencies (RDAs) in the past couple of years as its focused on expanding in Atlantic Canada, Alberta, and the Yukon.

Feature image courtesy NACO.

Meagan Simpson

Meagan Simpson

Meagan is the Senior Editor for BetaKit. A tech writer that is super proud to showcase the Canadian tech scene. Background in almost every type of journalism from sports to politics. Podcast and Harry Potter nerd, photographer and crazy cat lady.

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