Meet the Staff


Photo of Donna Gillespie

Donna Gillespie
Chief Executive Officer

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. Donna is a Board Member of Ontario East Economic Development Commission and Tourism Kingston. She is also an Advisor to the Kingston Accommodation Partners.

Donna has been involved with community associations and organizations in Kingston for over 25 years including Downtown Kingston! Business Improvement Association, 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.


Photo of Kirk Smallridge

Kirk Smallridge
Operations and Communications Officer and
Corporate Secretary to the Board of Directors

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.

Photo of Shelley Hirstwood

Shelley Hirstwood
Business Development Officer
Attraction & Aftercare

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 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.

Photo of Ian Murdoch

Ian Murdoch
Business Development Officer
Business Growth & Retention

Ian’s primary focus in his role is to provide support for the continued expansion and sustainability of local businesses. In alignment with the strategic objectives of the Corporation. Ian focuses on supporting the Kingston manufacturing community, employers and businesses poised for continued growth and expansion. As a natural connector, he provides the ability to bring community leaders and influencers together to nurture and stimulate business success in the local economy.

Prior to joining the Kingston EcDev team, Ian spent 13 years as a Senior Client Manager with a local engineering consulting firm. He worked closely with local and national clients consisting of owners/managers of multi-tenant residential assets, commercial/industrial portfolios, manufacturing and healthcare facilities, safety professionals, and educational/institutional stakeholders. This experience lends very well to his current portfolio and duties with Kingston EcDev; as he is accustomed to the high pressure and complex scenarios faced by many expanding and growing businesses. 

Throughout his 20 years of experience, Ian spent his career building local professional partnerships through various roles within the construction industry, the Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA), and supporting and assisting in the growth of local professional engineering teams. He earned his degree in Civil Engineering Technology from St. Lawrence College in Kingston. Ian volunteers his time as a Director at the Board of Directors for the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC).

Photo of Andrew Bacchus

Andrew Bacchus
Business Development Officer
Emerging Sectors

Andrew works with companies that are developing new technologies and products, supports their venture through research, piloting, and attracting demonstration projects from different sectors such as energy, cleantech, artificial intelligence, and advanced materials.

Andrew has been active in the economic development field for 10 years and is currently a director on the Board of Directors of SWITCH – an organization dedicated to improving the environmental and economic sustainability of Southeastern Ontario.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Andrew received his Master’s Degree in Local Economic Development from the University of Waterloo. Prior to that, he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economic Development from the University of Ottawa.

Photo of Yina Wang

Yina Wang
Business Development Officer
Chinese Markets

Yina assists with identifying potential business opportunities and develops leads from China to support new investment and assist local companies interested in expanding. She also acts as a liaison and facilitator to enhance the relationships between businesses, strategic partners, and different levels of government, agencies, and associations.

Before Yina joined Kingston Economic Development Corporation, she worked as the Associate Dean of the College of International Cooperation at Xi’an International University. During her years of working in China, Yina created a number of pilot projects involving people from different cultural backgrounds and brought that experience to Kingston EcDev to help establish successful international business relationships here in Kingston.

Photo of Marc Aylesworth

Marc Aylesworth
Business Intelligence Officer

Marc is responsible for managing the Kingston EcDev’s Customer Relationship Management system, Salesforce, and communications system, Pardot. He analyzes corporate and market data to develop business processes, customer service models, and marketing strategies for the company’s websites.

Prior to launching his company Stratagem Innovation Inc. in 2018, Marc held several positions with St. Lawrence College, including the Manager of Business Intelligence, where he was responsible for the College’s Customer Relationship Management system and several customer facing websites. He was born and raised in Kingston and is a graduate of St. Lawrence College’s Advertising – Integrated Marketing Communications Program.

Photo of Claire Bouvier

Claire Bouvier
Small Business Advisor

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.

Photo of Nour Mazloum

Nour Mazloum
Communications & Events Assistant

Nour was hired as a recent graduate through the Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston program. She assists in the development, writing and production of business collaterals, media strategies, and organizing events.

Nour graduated from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Philosophy and Political Studies and is currently a contributing writer for the Kingstonist. During the summer, she volunteers her time to teach running at the Running Room.

Prior to her role at Kingston EcDev, 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.

Photo of Sylvia McDermott

Sylvia McDermott

Sylvia has been working for Kingston EcDev for two years, she provides administrative support and assists in the preparation of business correspondence, internal and external reports, agendas and itineraries, and special events.

Sylvia is currently attending Queen’s University and is pursuing a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education. Sylvia has been working for two years at Kingston Panthers Rugby Club and a volunteer coach for Kingston Collegiate & Vocational Institute (KCVI) Rowing team.

Workshops + EventsView All

Oct 28

Information Session, October 28, 4 pm

Oct 29

By the end of this course you should be able to start working at creating your business and have answers to what is needed when starting.

Oct 31

Are you an employer with new staff to the city?

Nov 12

Focused on understanding cash flow and on sources and types of capital.

Nov 13

The event will include a brief information session about the program as well as the opportunity to connect with the founder Alan Rottenberg.

Nov 19

A business plan is a critical tool for outlining the strategy and developing the tactics to manage your business.