Finalists Judging Panel


Gus Kotsiomitis

Vice President Commercial Banking, RBC Royal Bank

Gus currently heads Royal Bank’s Commercial Banking group in London and St. Thomas Region and has responsibility for banking relationships in the Region. He has been involved and supported a number of not-for-profit organizations throughout his career. Gus is the past-President of the London Chamber of Commerce, past-Chair of the London/Middlesex Immigrant Employment Council and past cabinet member of the United Way. He was awarded the Newcomer Champion Award by the Province of Ontario for showing leadership in developing and advancing strategies that effectively link London’s newcomers with relevant employment opportunities and was invited by the Province of Ontario to be on the Expert Advisory Panel on Immigration. He has received RBC’s Spirit Award for his Community Involvement, the WIL Skill Centre’s Leadership and Innovation Award in support of Newcomers and the City of London/LEDC Award for Community Leadership.

In 2016, he was invited to attend London’s Community Economic Road Map Action Team in support of the City’s 5-year Economic Strategy and joined the YMCA Western Ontario Board and the Greater London International Airport Authority. Gus is a mentor to many and active in a number of community organizations, such as the Children’s Hospital Foundation.


Martha Powell

President & Chief Executive Officer, London Community Foundation

As President and Chief Executive Officer of London Community Foundation, Martha oversees over $80 million in assets and granting in excess of $3.4 million annually. She works with donors, allied professionals and volunteers to further the mission of London Community Foundation in building community capacity, convening, and developing philanthropic leadership.

Martha has worked exclusively in the non-profit sector for over 25 years, specifically in education, health care and community development. Her areas of expertise include endowment building, capital and major gift campaigns, stewardship, strategic granting and program evaluation. Having begun her career in the non-profit sector as a volunteer, she continues to volunteer in her spare time today. She currently sits as a co-chair on the new Mayor’s Economic Council. Martha is a graduate of the Executive Leadership Program at the Richard Ivey School of Business. Accelerating Management Talent is an intensive and comprehensive learning experience specifically developed for leadership development.



President & COO, Freed Developments

Shael is President, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of Freed Developments, one of Toronto’s most prominent real estate developers. As General Counsel, he has primary responsibility for proactively and reactively managing the legal, strategic and regulatory aspects of the business. A life-long volunteer and believer in the power of community, Shael volunteers with several charities, organizations and non-profits and is a member of the Board of Directors of a hospital foundation. His volunteer work includes fundraising, event planning and education initiatives.


andrew murray

Partner, Lerners LLP

Andrew is a partner in our London office, with a practice focusing on civil litigation, with an emphasis on motor vehicle, personal injury, and LTD litigation. He also maintains a small quasi-criminal law, practice, acting as defence counsel and often as a “prosecutor-for-hire” on behalf of municipalities for by-law and provincial offence prosecutions.

Andrew has been helping plaintiffs for over 20 years and mentoring young lawyers in the legal community. He spends much of his time supporting local charities including Courthouse Rocks, where he performs with his band to raise funds for the London Lawyers Feed the Hungry program. He has also given his time as chair and board member for charities such as the Children’s Safety Village of London Area and SARI Therapeutic Riding. Andrew is currently the leader of our United Way Lawyer Leadership Challenge where lawyers compete with other firms to secure the most pledges. Funds help support communities across Canada. Finally, he is an active member of the Brain Injury Association of London & District.


Cherie Vlahos

Law Clerk, Lerners LLP

Cherie is a law clerk in our Toronto office and a volunteer on our Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Cherie has been involved with multiple charitable organizations, including volunteering for over 7 years, along with her 4 children, at a non-profit charity which provides assisted animal therapy for people with special needs. She has also run in the Sporting Life 10K event in Toronto in support of a camp for kids with cancer and has been involved in her community through various other organizations, including parent teacher associations and community library events. Cherie believes that you should never be too busy to give back to your community and always look for opportunities to be charitable.


cynthia kuehl

Partner, Lerners LLP

Cynthia is a partner in our Toronto office, with a practice focusing exclusively on litigation and dispute resolution, including appellate advocacy, in a wide range of areas including commercial litigation and arbitration, health law, public and administrative law and professional regulation. She has extensive trial and appellate experience at all levels, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

An ardent advocate for diversity and inclusion, as well as the power of giving back, Cynthia is very active in the larger community. She is the former President of the Board of Directors of Bond Child and Family Development, then a not-for-profit nursery school and resource centre for children from the Regent Park and St. Jamestown communities. She also sat on the Safe Schools Committee of her sons’ school, working on initiatives ranging from physical and internet safety, to those aimed at increasing acceptance of diversity among children, and volunteers for a number of community-minded firm activities aimed at connecting with and giving back to the communities that support the firm’s growth and success.



Associate, Lerners LLP

Jacob is a litigation associate in our London office who is passionate about helping people, businesses, non-profits, and charities solve difficult problems. He is growing a legal practice with purpose, and he has a particular interest in environmental issues, human rights, and other public interest matters. Jacob was born and raised in London, he serves as an Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve, and has been involved as a volunteer, board member, or contributor to dozens of non-profit organizations, charities, community associations, and youth sports leagues across the city.


Associate, Lerners LLP

Lindsay is litigation associate in our Toronto office who is passionate about helping others. She is an active volunteer with Safehaven Project for Community Living, a not-for-profit organization that provides respite and residential care to children with multiple disabilities and complex medical needs. Lindsay sits on the Board of Directors for the Bad Dog Theatre Company.


Ginny Lacasse, CEDS

Former Litigation Support Specialist with Lerners LLP

Ginny has worked in our London office for the last 15 years and is a volunteer on our Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In her role as law clerk, she has worked with legal teams and clients in various practice areas, including Plaintiff Personal Injury, Insurance Defence and Health Law. Transitioning to the role of Litigation Support Specialist was an amazing opportunity! Being a part of the team transitioning the firm to digital file management has provided her with an opportunity to develop new skills, learn new software, and work with legal teams in both the Toronto and London offices. Receiving her eDiscovery certification, with the support of Lerners, is a proud accomplishment. Ginny has been a mentor at Fanshawe College, and has great satisfaction helping graduates find their potential.