Past Recipients

In 1957, the first KW Citizen of the Year Award was presented to a businessman and one of the University of Waterloo principal founders Mr Ira Needles. Identifying a resident from the Kitchener and Waterloo area to receive this esteemed honour was carried out by the Twin City Jaycees for another 49 years. The list of past recipients is located under the “History” tab of this section of our website. In 2007 the Lions Club of Kitchener was asked to continue this tradition and the club received many nominations in their first year with Mr. Dennis Watson being chosen. So we continue this gala event with the help of various sponsors and assistance from the community to recognize deserving citizens.

KW Citizen of the Year 2018

Jim Hallman

Local businessman, philanthropist, community leader, mentor, sports enthusiast, volunteer and family man Jim Hallman was recognized as the 62nd Kitchener-Waterloo Citizen of the Year.

“I am deeply humbled,” shares Jim. “Creating a supportive community for our friends and neighbours has long been a priority for our family. My grandfather taught my father who in turn mentored his children to give back, something that I hope I have instilled in my children too.”
Jim has been an integral contributor of time, talent and treasure to a number of organizations and initiatives strengthening Waterloo Region. He has quietly made a difference in the lives of many – personally and through his role as Chair of the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation in support of children and families, healthcare and post-secondary education.
The local fastball scene has been the recipient of Jim’s generosity as well. His support of the Kitchener Hallman Twins fastball team, International Softball Congress World Tournament, the annual Peter Hallman Memorial Fast Pitch Tournament and the Peter Hallman Ball Yard has paved the way for many provincial, national and global fastball championships.
As President of the respected development company, Hallman Construction Limited, Jim has provided a model for local businesses looking to give back to their community.
Building a caring and supportive community has been key to Jim’s lifetime work. Often described as humble, smart, innovative and compassionate, he continues to leave an unforgettable mark on the citizens of Waterloo Region.
“It’s hard to believe that Jim hasn’t already received this award, given his incredible community support,” adds Dr. Jack Bishop, Citizen of the Year Committee Co-Chair. “The Lions Club of Kitchener is pleased to pay tribute to this dedicated and outstanding community leader.”

KW Citizen of the Year 2017

Ron Schlegel

Local professor, philanthropist, community leader, business owner, farmer, land developer and family man Ron Schlegel was recognized as the 61st Kitchener-Waterloo Citizen of the Year.
“What an absolute honour this is,” shares Ron. “My parents instilled in me a strong sense of “community” and I’ve made a point of continuing that tradition during my lifetime through hard work, collaboration and innovation.”
Ron Schlegel’s busy and inspiring career has made a significant impact – here in Kitchener-Waterloo and around the world. He has found innovate ways to invest in our local communities such as the development of Schlegel Villages which include many retirement and long-term care residences across Ontario, Schlegel-University of Waterloo Research Institute for Aging (RIA), Homewood Health Centre and Homewood Research Institute (HRI) both of which assist people with addictions and mental health issues, farming operations and leading-edge neighbourhood developments through Schlegel Urban Developments.
A true community builder, Ron was instrumental in the development of the Williamsburg Town Centre, which established a much-needed hub in the South end of Kitchener. In keeping with his vision of community, the development was planned to create the concept of a small town in Ontario, a “Village within a City,” to inspire social interaction and a sense of belonging. This is but one of several innovative, urban projects that adds to the success of Schlegel’s Seniors Villages.
Ron’s accomplishments are many, as witnessed by his long list of awards and recognitions including an Officer Level – Order of Canada, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year (Ontario) Award. Locally, he is a member of Communitech’s Entrepreneur Hall of Fame and Waterloo Region’s Hall of Fame. He has received the Barnraiser Award Waterloo Region, Mayor’s Dinner Recognition, Philanthropist of the Year and Outstanding Alumni at the University of Waterloo. Ron has also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Waterloo – further enhancing his existing B.A. (Hon) from the University of Western Ontario, M.Sc. from the University of Illinois and Ph.D. in social psychology from Ohio State University.
“Ron is an incredibly generous and caring person who has done so much to help others in our community and beyond,” adds Dr. Jack Bishop, Citizen of the Year Committee Chair. “The Lions Club of Kitchener is pleased to pay tribute to this exceptional and outstanding community leader.”


KW Citizen of the Year 2016

Mandy Bujold

Proud Olympian, Accomplished Athlete, Local Volunteer. Mandy Bujold was recognized as the 60th Kitchener-Waterloo Citizen of the Year.

“What an incredible privilege it is to be the recipient of such a long-standing and respected award,” shares Mandy. “This community has supported me throughout my career journey and I can’t think of a better honour than this.”

Known for her courage, strength and determination, Mandy is a role model for exceptional citizenship through volunteering for the KW Art Gallery and “Screw Cancer” initiative and as an advocate for Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart program where she speaks to many students in our local schools. She was also an enthusiastic member of the local Canada Games 2021 Committee with its recent bid to host the Games in K-W.

As one of the most decorated female boxers in Canada, Mandy has won 10 Canadian National Championships and is the first female boxer to win two gold medals at the Pan American Games. Representing Canada and her hometown of K-W at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, Mandy’s incredible determination was acutely demonstrated when she competed in her fight, despite battling a severe virus that resulted in hospitalization.

As an ambassador for women in sports, Mandy’s trailblazing has not gone unnoticed. Last year she was honoured with the Woman of the Year, Sports and Recreation Award through Oktoberfest and was nominated for a 2016 WowtheWorld – Waterloo Region award. Twice she has been named Waterloo Region’s Athlete of the Year. She is also an ambassador for Fast and Female – a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to empowering young women through sport.

“Mandy has accomplished so much already and we are so pleased to recognize her many accomplishments,” shares Dr. Jack Bishop, Citizen of the Year Committee Chair. “Once again, the Lions Club of Kitchener is pleased to pay tribute to this outstanding community champion.”


KW Citizen of the Year 2015

Neil Aitchison

“Community service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy,” is a phrase often shared by the 2015 Citizen of the Year for Kitchener-Waterloo – Neil Aitchison. The local celebrity received close to 20 letters of support from key leaders in the community.

“I am truly humbled and honoured to be the recipient of this prestigious award,” shares Neil. “I love K-W and it has been an incredible privilege to live in and serve this community.”

Neil began his community involvement over 40 years ago. With his deep, recognizable voice and quick wit he is often sought after to emcee events. Along with being a founding member of the Kitchener Westmount Rotary Club, his numerous volunteer roles have included the K-W Symphony, K-W Musical Productions, Gilbert & Sullivan Society, RAISE Home Support, Waterloo Regional Police Service, Twin City Harmonizers, the Working Centre and K-W Oktoberfest.

Neil’s many contributions have not gone unnoticed and over the years he has received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award and the Waterloo Award. Neil has also been honoured three times with the Paul Harris Fellow – Rotary’s highest award for community service.

The self-described first graduate of Conestoga College (alphabetically), Neil has two scholarships in his name and served for seven years as a Board Governor.

His significant contributions to the arts sector through his dedication to Drayton Entertainment as a founding Board member, employee, performer and volunteer has greatly impacted the arts communities in both Waterloo Region and Wellington County.

“Neil has contributed a lifetime of public service and has made an incredible impact in our community and around the country,” shares Dr. Jack Bishop, Citizen of the Year Committee Chair. “The Lions Club of Kitchener is pleased to pay tribute to this remarkable community champion.”

KW Citizen of the Year 2014

Dr. Walter McLean

The Honorable Reverend Dr. Walter McLean, former Member of Parliament (MP), past Secretary of State of Canada, long serving Rotarian, delegate to the United Nations, Knox Presbyterian Minister, humanitarian, local community leader and mentor has been selected as the 2014 Citizen of the Year for Kitchener-Waterloo. Reverend McLean received more than 28 letters of support from key leaders in the community.

“It has been an incredible privilege to serve my country and my community,” shares Walter. “I am both humbled and honoured to be recognized as this year’s Citizen of the Year.”

The past Canadian Secretary of State has led an exemplary life, with a record of service beyond compare. Locally, his contributions include initiating the University of Waterloo’s Canada Day celebrations, starting a grief counselling service and hospital chaplaincy program and serving on advisory boards for KW Oktoberfest, Big Sisters, Wilfrid Laurier University and Habitat for Humanity to name but a few.

Walter’s work and tireless commitment to Waterloo Region and the countless hours he has devoted to organizations home and abroad for 60 years has provided significant global exposure for our community.


KW Citizen of the Year 2013

Elizabeth Witmer

For more than 30 years, Elizabeth served the K-W community as a school board trustee and as an MPP for Waterloo North and Kitchener-Waterloo. She is a former Deputy Premier and held several cabinet posts as Minister of Labour, Minister of Health and Long-term care, Minister of Environment and Minister of Education. During her time as Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Elizabeth helped to establish the Cardiac Care Centre at St. Mary’s Hospital and the Regional Cancer Centre at Grand River Hospital – both impressive additions of much needed and vital healthcare services in our community.

She is the longest serving female MPP and is now Chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board – helping the organization improve the quality of service it provides to Ontario workers and employers.

Known as having a heart for public service and caring deeply for those around her, Elizabeth continues to offer advice, friendship and mentorship to others – locally, nationally and internationally.

KW Citizen of the Year 2012

Jim Erb


Jim Erb, local businessman, philanthropist, community leader, loving father, husband and adoring grandfather, has been selected as the 2012 Citizen of the Year for Kitchener-Waterloo!

Devoted to his career in funeral service, Jim has served many individuals and families where his authenticity and compassion has been felt during extreme times of need. Over the past four decades, Jim has made enormous contributions of time and talent to our community as a city of Waterloo councillor, committed church contributor and a member of the Kitchener-Conestoga Rotary Club where he has lead projects like the annual Turkey Drive and Rotary Dream Home. A passionate community builder, Jim’s generosity and giving spirit has also been felt by a number of organizations including the United Way of Kitchener-Waterloo, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, Kitchener Waterloo Council of Churches, Centre for Family Business, Wellesley Apple and Cheese Butter Festival, The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation, Shalom Counselling Services, and the KidsAbility Foundation.

Most recently, Jim Erb’s tireless dedication and love for our community was recognized when he received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and at the 2013 Greater KW Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards when he was honoured with the Michael R. Follet Community Leader of the Year Award.

“Jim has made an incredible impact in our community and is such a deserving individual,” shares Dr. Jack Bishop, Citizen of the Year Committee Chair. “The Lions Club of Kitchener is pleased to pay tribute to this remarkable community leader.”


KW Citizen of the Year 2011

Steve Bienkowski

Bienkowski_Steve34429.jpgChief Operating Officer (COO) for the Kitchener Rangers was selected as the 2011 Citizen of the Year. His professional and business acumen combined with his enthusiasm for the sport has helped guide the Kitchener Rangers leadership team through successful operational and organizational transformation. Under Steve’s direction, the Kitchener Rangers have both won and hosted the coveted Memorial Cup. He has brought a strong community focus to the hockey club that has resulted in generous corporate sponsorships and donations to a number of charitable and non profit organizations including: St. John Ambulance, Kitchener Sports Association, Children’s Wish Foundation, Kitchener Minor Hockey Association, House of Friendship, Kitchener Panthers Baseball Club, Waterloo Region Food Bank, THEMUSEUM, Waterloo Regional Boxing Academy, and the Royal Highland Fusiliers. In recognition of his many years of volunteer service to St. John Ambulance, Steve was honoured with the Order of St. John from the Governor General of Canada.

KW Citizen of the Year 2010

Mike Collins

IMG_9000_high_res_for_printing.jpgThe General Manager of the Rogers Radio Group, was selected as the 2010 Citizen of the Year. A natural-born broadcaster, Mike has worked in the media industry for close to 22 years. Most of his career has been devoted to CHYM FM and 570 News as Sales Manager, Promotions Manager, and since 2005 as General Manager. He has sat on numerous boards, councils, and committees of organizations including Mosaic Counseling and Family Services, KidsAbility, Conestoga College, K-W Oktoberfest, YMCA, and is an active member of St. Jerome’s Parish and the Kitchener-Westmount Rotary Club. Mike was recently awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship Award, the highest honour a Rotarian can receive. He is also a recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellowship from Lions Clubs International for his community dedication.



K-W Citizen of the Year 2009

Rosemary Smith

IMG_0280_Rosemary-2.jpgAwarded the 2009 Citizen of the Year grew up in Owen Sound and developed a strong spirit of community involvement. She first became a resident of Kitchener-Waterloo in 1970. Rosemary joined The Mutual Life of Canada (now Sun Life) in 1971 thus began a very successful thirty year career. By the time Rosemary was chosen to lead the Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation in 2001, she had created a track record of connecting with her community by way of: The Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, Recipient of the YWCA’s Woman of Distinction Award for Business (2000), Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, The United Way Volunteer, Founder, Cambridge Women in Networking, K-W Women in Networking, K-W YWCA, Steering Committee, Leadership Waterloo Region and Member, Zonta Club of Kitchener-Waterloo, Steering Committee, Waterloo Region Immigrant Employment Network and Leadership Roundtable, Opportunities Waterloo Region.


K-W Citizen of the Year 2008

Mac Voisin

COY_Mac.jpgSelected as the Citizen of the year on 2008. He founded M&M Meat Shops in 1980 and it has become one of Canada’s most successful franchise operations. Born and raised in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Mac’s philosophy of “Act Big Even when you’re medium” has driven the M&M chain’s remarkable growth and its fundamental focus of giving back to the community. Mr. Voisin always finds time to assist the local Food Bank, Junior Achievement, and the St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation. He also serves as the Honourary Chairperson for the Local Chapter of the CCFC. Mac actively supports local philanthropic projects, including The Canadian Veteran’s Memorial in Waterloo, Canada’s first multi-dimensional tribute to veterans; and Waterloo Region Mission Services, Charles Street Campus, Southern Ontario’s first addictions treatment centre focusing on youth.



K-W Citizen of the Year 2007

Dennis Watson

dwatson.jpgVice President & General Manager, CTV Southwestern Ontario. Some of Dennis Watson’s contributions to our region include his work with Junior Achievement of the Waterloo Region Inc, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation, Centre in the Square, Skills Canada, The United Way, Chamber of Commerce, Conestoga College, Cambridge Memorial Hospital and the list continues.






Citizen of the Year History

1957 Mr. Ira Needles

1958 Mr. Hugh J. Heasley

1959 Mr. Ewan Cameron

1960 Mr. Gordon Hamblin

1961 Mr. Donald Roberts

1962 Dr. Joseph Connell

1963 Mrs. Mabel Krug

1964 Mr. Alvin Kaufman

1965 Mr. Arthur W. Sandrock

1966 Mrs. Edith MacIntosh

1967 Dr. Walter Downer

1968 Dr. J. Gerald Hagey

1969 Dr. Finlay G. Stewart

1970 Mr. Vincent L. Scherrer

1971 Mr. William Cowls

1972 Mr. Walter Bean

1973 Mrs. Elaine Cole

1974 Mr. William P. Pernfuss

1975 Mr. Jack Harper

1976 Mr. Russ Buie

1977 His Honour Judge Ross Fair

1978 Mr. Charles Greb

1979 Mr. Owen Lackenbauer

1980 Mr. F. Clay Hall

1981 Mr. William E. Renaud

1982 Mr. Frank Hoddle

1983 Mr. Don Weber

1984 Dr. Jack D. Bishop

1985 Mr. Murray J. Haase

1986 Mr. James Beingessner

1987 Mr. James F. Robertson

1988 Mr. Edward J. Hayes

1989 Mr. Bob Wagner

1990 Mr. David E. Graham

1991 Mrs. Betty Thompson-Bauman

1992 Mrs. Susan Harkins

1993 Mrs. Elaine Rees

1994 Mr. Don Craig

1995 Mrs. Barbara Cochrane

1996 Mrs. Jacqui McFarlane

1997 Mr. Don Willcox

1998 Ms. Mary D’Alton

1999 Mr. Peter Hallman

2000 Mr. Shawky J. Fahel

2001 Mr. Bill Weiler

2002 Mr. Brian Ruby

2003 Mr. Terry Reidel

2004 Mr. Joe & Mrs. Stephanie Mancini

2005 Mr. Tom Jeary

2006 Mr. Tom White

2007 Mr. Dennis Watson

2008 Mr. Mac Voisin

2009 Ms. Rosemary Smith

2010 Mr. Mike Collins

2011 Mr. Steve Bienkowski

2012 Mr. Jim Erb

2013 Ms. Elizabeth Witmer

2014 Dr.Walter McLean

2015 Neil Aitchison