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 
[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 firl, 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

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.

Norman Musengimana

Norman Musengimana
Business Development Manager
Small Business & Entrepreneurship
613-544-2725 ext. 7222
[email protected]

Norman is an experienced small business and start-up advisor, and a start-up entrepreneur. He is a 2018 graduate from the Smith School of Business at Queen's University.

Norman enjoys helping and supporting entrepreneurs, early-starge entrepreneurs, and small and medium business owners. His previous experience involved working on business plans, feasibility studies, facilitating business workshops, organizing business plan competitions, and advising small businesses.

Born in Rwanda, Norman has had the opportunity to live and work in more than seven countries on three different continents. He enjoys travelling by road, so that he can have the opportunity to meet new people in their communities.

Claire Bouvier

Claire Bouvier
Small Business Advisor
613-544-2725 ext. 7222
[email protected]

Claire is a Kingston-based influencer and serial entrepreneur. She believes that life should be about dedicating moments of your day to building and supporting meaningful relationships in your community.

Claire has a background in teaching, music, eco fashion, art directing, and photography. She has dedicated the last decade to helping women reach their full potential through creativity, photography, and entrepreneurship. Claire’s goal is to help entrepreneurs with their passions by encouraging them to celebrate their creative and professional selves.

Claire enjoys traveling the world, photography, and public speaking to help others gain confidence in their talents so they can live the life they most desire.

Kirk Smallridge

Kirk Smallridge
Operations and Communications Officer 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.

Nour Mazloum

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

Nour is the Communications & Events Officer, in her role, she leads the development, writing and production of business collaterals, media strategies, and organizing events. Nour is also the Co-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.

Chris Morris

Chris Morris
Digital Business Advisor
613-539-8438
[email protected]

Chris Morris joined Kingston EcDev in the fall of 2019 as the local lead on the Digital Main Street program, and as a digital marketing advisor. He is available for one-on-one consultations on all things digital for small business: websites, social media, SEO, search engine marketing, operations (point of sale, cloud-based systems, etc.), Google products, and more. 

Chris is also an experienced event manager, copywriter and marketer. Working around the globe from Kingston, he has organized successful festivals, delivered strong social media strategies, along with highly effective e-commerce and lead generation websites, influencer campaigns, marketing plans, blogs, and much more. In his spare time, he is a busy local musician and event planner, and enjoys hiking and biking.

Sylvia

Sylvia McDermott
Project Coordinator
613-544-2725 ext. 7261
[email protected]

Sylvia has been working for Kingston EcDev for three years. She manages the WE-CAN project, provides administrative support, assists in the preparation of business correspondence, internal and external reports, agendas and itineraries, as well as the execution of special events.

Sylvia recently graduated from Queen’s University with a Bachelor Degree in Physical and Health Education. Sylvia has been working for two years at Kingston Panthers Rugby Club and is a volunteer coach for the Kingston Collegiate & Vocational Institute (KCVI) Rowing team.

Carissa Cosgrove

Carissa Cosgrove
Digital Service Squad
613-214-9723
[email protected]

Carissa Cosgrove has enjoyed more than 15 years supporting the development of all varieties of business. Communicator/storyteller by trade, and ecommerce maven by practice. Carissa is keen to help support your business goals using her generalist knowledge and personal experience as an entrepreneur. When not helping design content and marketing strategy for developing or growth-minded brands, she can be found in the forest or almost anywhere trying new things.

Dejhana

Dejhana Waite
Digital Service Squad
613-539-3992
[email protected]

Dejhana Waite 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. 

Danielle

Danielle Forget
Digital Service Squad
613-449-7553
[email protected]

Danielle Forget is a freelance social media manager for Kingston and the surrounding areas. She joined Kingston EcDev to advise local businesses on the Digital Main Street program and digital marketing. 

Danielle graduated in 2020 from St. Lawrence College Kingston with an Advanced Diploma in Advertising and Marketing Communications Management. She has won several campaign awards and has since worked in Public Relations before transitioning into freelance work. 

Raised in Kingston her entire life, Danielle developed a passion for helping small businesses. She understands the hardship these businesses have experienced during these historic times and wants to provide help where she can. When Danielle isn’t working, you can find her volunteering her time at YGK Thrift or hanging out with her cat, Zeus, and the kittens she fosters from the Kingston Humane Society.

Emma

Emma Hewitt
International Projects Assistant 
613-544-2725 
[email protected]

Emma joined the Kingston EcDev team for the summer as a recent graduate of Western University’s Honours Specialization in International Relations. Her role as an International Projects Assistant focuses on supporting the reinvigoration of the Kingston-Syracuse Pathway through research, strategic planning, and content creation.

In the fall, Emma will be returning to her hometown of Ottawa, where she will continue her studies at the post-graduate level. She will be pursuing a Master of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. She intends to focus her research on economic development policy in emerging nations.

Prior to working with Kingston EcDev, Emma had the opportunity to complete a research project and host a workshop with The Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion in London, Ontario. She also served in a variety of executive roles via Western’s Clubs and Associations.

Simon Denford

Simon Denford
Economic Development Intern
613-544-2725
[email protected]

Simon is a second-year Co-Op student at Brock University, pursuing a Business Administration degree with a major in entrepreneurship. As an avid competitor, he has participated in many clubs and organizations at Brock, 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 economic development intern, he will be working with the team to deliver programs while learning new skills and aptitudes.

He will be participating in an exchange program this coming September to Europe for two years, studying at the NEOMA School of Management in Reims, France.

Workshops + EventsView All

Oct 20

As a follow-up to the successful Pitch Preparation workshops, we are pleased to present Pitch Practice.

Oct 20

The From Lab to Fulfillment workshop is a purpose-driven workshop teaches women researchers, engineers, scientists and innovators how to transform research and discoveries into

Oct 21

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

Oct 21

In this workshop you will start to craft your enterprise vision.

Oct 21

How to prepare your e-commerce store for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and more.

Oct 21

Join