Meet the Staff


Donna Gillespie

Donna Gillespie
Chief Executive Officer
613-544-2725 ext. 7270
[email protected]

Donna is an experienced leader who has managed a variety of small and medium enterprises in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. She has overseen significant community economic development initiatives in investment attraction, strategic planning, brand development, and corporate restructuring.

Under her leadership as CEO, Kingston realized the highest levels of new foreign direct investment in the city’s history with the establishment of Portuguese fruit processer Frulact and Chinese infant formula manufacturer Feihe, Canada Royal MIlk. Donna is a Board Member of Tourism Kingston, Advisor to the Kingston Accommodation Partners, and sits on the City of Kingston’s Planning and Climate Leadership  Advisory Groups, and the Kingston Immigration Partnership Steering Committee.

Donna has been involved with community associations and organizations in Kingston for over 25 years including Downtown Kingston! Business Improvement Association, Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce, Kingston Arts Council, Kingston Symphony Association, and the United Way of KFL&A. Currently, she volunteers her time as a Board Director of the Kingston Kid’s Triathlon, Thousand Island Playhouse, and Theatre Kingston.


Shelley Hirstwood

Shelley Hirstwood
Director of Business Development
613-544-2725 ext. 7232
[email protected]

Shelley focuses on Business Attraction and Aftercare support by seeking potential business opportunities and foreign direct investment to encourage businesses to relocate to Kingston. She coordinates those opportunities with government, realtors, site selectors and stakeholders to facilitate site selection and business development for businesses that are interested in relocating to Kingston.

Prior to joining Kingston EcDev team, Shelley spent the past 13 years working as an Economic Development Manager in Gravelbourg, SK and Gananoque, ON.  Her work has focused on investment attraction, business retention and expansion and community development.

Shelley graduated with Bachelor of Science from Trent University, has an Economic Development Certificate from the University of Waterloo, Training for Small Business Counsellors from Acadia University, and completed the Queen’s Executive Program at Queen’s University. Shelley is the past president for Ontario East Economic Development Commission for the term of 2018 - 2020 and has been sitting on the Board of Directors for seven years.

Abdul Jendi

Abdul Razak Jendi
Investment Manager, Sustainable Manufacturing
613-544-2725 ext. 7242
[email protected]

Abdul Razak Jendi is a seasoned international business development professional with expertise in international trade and FDI in North America, Europe & Asia.

Prior to joining the Kingston EcDev team, Abdul Razak held the position of Economic Development Manager at ROI, a Montreal based consulting firm, playing a pivotal role in managing and delivering lead generation programs, in-market representation and industry analysis for domestic and international clients in Canada, the USA, and Europe. In the UAE, he managed over 100 contracts worth $6.5 billion while working with Tabreed, closing many deals including a Turkish steel mill deal to India worth $14 million. Abdul Razak also acted as the Deputy Director for the Global New York Canada Office assisting companies expand and grow in the State of New York.

Abdul Razak was brought up and raised in the United Arab Emirates and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Accounting and Finance with a minor in Economics from the American University of Sharjah. He is currently completing his Masters in Economics at Concordia University.


Ben McIlquham
Investment Manager, Health Innovation
613-544-2725 ext. 7248
[email protected]

Ben has spent the last seven years working in the healthcare industry – a seasoned contract management specialist who has focused on strategic sourcing initiatives, most recently focused on healthcare innovation. Ben led projects for the hospitals in the South East Local Health Integration Network (SELHIN) and managed various contract portfolios in the health care sector. 

Prior to joining the Kingston EcDev team Ben has worked at Shared Support Services Southeastern Ontario (3SO) and The Ministry of Government Services in various roles. Most recently, at 3SO Ben worked directly with over 100 vendors and 7 member hospital sites, leading innovative projects for better healthcare outcomes. Ben provided strategic solutions for healthcare equipment, services, and consumables through complex contract negotiations.

Born and raised in Kingston, Ben graduated from the University of Western Ontario where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and Psychology.


Rob Tamblyn
Business Development Manager
Small and Medium Enterprises
613-544-2725 ext. 7261
[email protected]

Rob has more than 25 years of project management experience, and an extensive knowledge of the small business, real estate and development community within the city. During his nearly 20 years with the Downtown Kingston! Business Improvement Area, Rob’s focus was on maximizing economic development opportunities for Kingston’s downtown core by encouraging, supporting and initiating activities that were beneficial to both businesses and property owners.

Rob’s current role is to oversee the many programs which support Kingston area SMEs, including We-CAN, Digital Main Street, Queen’s Career Apprenticeship, and My Mainstreet.  He is also working to advance activities related to the Small Business Enterprise Centre.  He is always happy to chat with local business owners on a wide variety of topics to help foster growth within the greater Kingston community. 

Nour Mazloum

Nour Mazloum
Marketing & Communications Officer
613-544-2725 ext. 7225
[email protected]

Nour is the Marketing & Communications Officer, in her role, she leads the development, writing and production of business collaterals, media strategies, and organizing events. Nour is also the Chair for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee at EDCO.

Nour graduated from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Philosophy and Political Studies.

Prior to her role at Kingston Economic Development, Nour worked as a Project Intern at Queen’s University and as a Communications Associate for Queen’s IT Services. Nour was the Chair of the Policy Committee at Sexual Assault Centre Kingston and had been on its Board of Directors for two years and was also a Director and Secretary on the Sustainable Kingston Board.

Kirk Smallridge

Kirk Smallridge
Operations Manager and
Corporate Secretary to the Board of Directors
613-544-2725 ext. 7223
[email protected]

Kirk serves as the corporate secretary to the Board of Directors in addition to his role as the operations officer. He is responsible for providing administrative support to the CEO and Board of Directors as well as assist with all corporate communications and office management.

Kirk is a graduate from the General Business program offered at St. Lawrence College. Before joining the organization, he worked at St. Lawrence College as a peer tutor and a business mentor for a year. Prior to that, he has a vast experience in customer relation and retail working as a Team Leader and Sales Associate with Adidas Group for 6 years. Kirk volunteered as a coach at Kingston Clippers Soccer Club for two years.


Dejhana Sandes
Administration & Program Assistant
613-544-2725 ext. 7222
[email protected]

Dejhana Sandes is a digital marketer who finds great joy in helping the underdog shine. She has 10 years experience working in and fostering connections with the community and when she’s not doing that, she is most likely eating her way through Kingston. 

Simon Denford

Simon Denford
Small Business Centre Assistant
[email protected]

Simon is a third-year Co-Op student at NEOMA Business School in Reims, France. He is pursuing a Business Administration degree with a major in entrepreneurship. As an avid competitor, he has participated in many clubs and organizations at university, competing in many case competitions. 

Born and raised in Kingston and its neighbouring counties, Simon developed an interest in small businesses and community development. In his role as small business centre assistant, he will be working with the team to deliver programs while learning new skills and aptitudes.

He is currently participating in an exchange program between Brock University and NEOMA BS in Reims since September.

Workshops + EventsView All

Sep 15

Starting a small business? Learn how Kingston Economic Development can help!

Sep 21

Maximizing Value: How to improve on the current valuation of your business and realise a higher return

Sep 21

Join Claire Bouvier and Pam Fountas who will share inspiration, insight and resources available to women in business in our area.

Sep 22

Starting a small business? Learn how Kingston Economic Development can help!

Sep 29

Starting a small business? Learn how Kingston Economic Development can help!

Oct 6

Starting a small business? Learn how Kingston Economic Development can help!