York grads headline Canadian alumni gala in Atlanta

This year’s third annual Pan-Canadian Alumni Gathering hosted by the Canadian Consul General to Atlanta boasted a special York presence with alumni Jonathan Mann and Steve MacLean headlining the event. The gala, which took place on Feb. 8 at The Four Seasons Hotel in Atlanta, Ga., was hosted by Brian Oak, Canada’s consul general to Atlanta. 

Right: Astronaut Steve MacLean (left) with alumnae Sandra Levy (BA ’90) and Teljya Oka-Pregel (BA ’06)

The annual gala includes alumni from colleges and universities across Canada who are living and working in the United States. This year’s gathering featured a strong showing from York with many alumni attending the event. Jonathan Mann (BA ’80), news anchor on CNN International, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies and Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean (BSc ’77, PhD ’83) was the special guest speaker.

Prior to the gala, Lorna R. Marsden, York president & vice-chancellor, and Naguib Gouda, executive director, alumni and advancement services, hosted a private reception for York alumni. The reception offered an opportunity for those present to catch up with one another and to meet the evening’s special guests. MacLean was kept busy signing photos from his latest mission aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. Guests at the reception also had an opportunity to meet Oak and his wife Lydia. For good measure, an RCMP officer in full dress regalia joined the group to keep everyone in line.

Left: RCMP Cpl. Sylvain Tessier (centre) watches over York grads Steve Awadalla (left, BA ’78, MBA ’83) and Crystal Awadalla

The York guests moved from the reception to the gala, where Mann kicked off the dinner with his annual "roll call" of universities, encouraging lots of spirited rivalry amongst the tables – guests were asked to make themselves heard by imitating the noise of their university mascot. The roar of the York Lions outdid all the tables, although some are still wondering what a University of Toronto Blue sounds like.

MacLean then wowed the crowd with photos and video from his latest mission and his personal account of space travel. Photos of the International Space Station and the shuttle and countless shots of the Earth from space drew an appreciative response. Knowing his audience, MacLean talked about all the Canadian technology aboard the shuttle – everything from the Canadarm2 to light bulbs and battery packs.


Left: Naguib Gouda (left) with Jonathan Mann

The evening provided an opportunity for York’s alumni who live in Atlanta to celebrate their Canadian roots. Organizers hope to continue to make the event an annual affair.