Honorary diploma recipients
Meet our 2022 honorary diploma recipients.
Saeed A. El-Darahali, ONS, MBA, BSC, CHR
President and CEO, SimplyCast
Chair, Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia
Canadian Armed Forces Veteran
A successful entrepreneur and thought-leader in Nova Scotia’s technology economy, Saeed A. El-Darahali brings a wealth of experience in business and leadership to Nova Scotia.
Saeed is the President and CEO of SimplyCast, a leading provider of automated engagement services which empower businesses of all sizes to create, manage and track their engagement use cases. Saeed is the driving force behind SimplyCast, which has grown to serve clients in over 150 countries. He has led SimplyCast to consistently solid year-over-year growth and many awards and accomplishments.
His vision and strategic thinking help many organizations achieve their goal. As the current chair of the Workers Compensation Board of Nova Scotia, he supports increased worker safety across the province. As the past chair of Youth Retention and Immigration for the OneNS Coalition, he helped develop Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians, which proposes visionary goals to encourage Nova Scotians to aim for change.
Saeed serves on the Board of EduNova, an international student organization mandated to support post-secondary institutions and language schools to attract students to the region. He has served as a Board member for the National Research Council of Canada - IRAP program, the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Immigration Association of Nova Scotia, the Black Business Initiative, Digital Nova Scotia, and many others. Saeed has also provided advisory and consulting support to various organizations and programs, such as the Government of Canada’s Federal Innovation Round Table, the Wage Standard Survey, and the Bank of Canada. Saeed was also member of the Canadian Armed Forces for five years.
His career spans more than 20 years of experience in corporate financing, strategic growth, operations, sales, and marketing management. In 2021, Saeed was appointed to the Order of Nova Scotia and inducted as a Paul Harris Fellow. An innovator by nature, Saeed’s many awards include recognition as a top 50 Atlantic Canadian CEO three years in a row. More recently, SimplyCast was a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Diversity and Inclusion Employer Partnership Award and, among many other honours, has also been recognized for leadership in youth employment and experiential learning.
Fiercely devoted to his work with youth in his community, Saeed is involved in various organizations and is an alumni, coach and supporter of Junior Achievement Nova Scotia, a member of the advisory committee for the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University, and a mentor for various organizations including the Canadian Youth Business Foundation and the Entrepreneur with Disabilities Network.
School of Technology & Environment – Institute of Technology Campus
Past Director of Programs for the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS)
Past Executive Director for the Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (MISA)
When Claudette Legault graduated from high school, she was already on track to inspire change and make the world a kinder, more welcoming place for all.
After graduation, she built homes in Métis communities while earning her undergraduate degree at Laurentian University. She then attended Dalhousie University to launch her career as a social worker.
Fluent in several languages, Claudette travelled throughout Central America, the Caribbean and the South Pacific, using her skills to lead international development projects for Oxfam Canada, Canada World Youth and International Centre for Ocean Development (ICOD). The transformative experience would shape her world view, underpinning all future endeavours.
In 1999, Claudette became the founding Executive Director of the Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (MISA) — which would merge with the Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre ten years later to form the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS).
Under her leadership, MISA and ISANS achieved many successes that have immeasurably impacted Nova Scotia’s future. This includes welcoming 300 refugees from Kosovo in 1999 and 1,500 from Syria in 2015; expanding the breadth of services for immigrants; launching a transitional health clinic for refugees; achieving Sponsorship Agreement Holder status for ISANS; and developing the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program with the Government of Canada.
Claudette also worked to establish the Nova Scotia Immigration Partnership Conference which brought together leaders from government and stakeholder groups to discuss ways to work together to help immigrants build a home in Nova Scotia. The conference laid important groundwork for the creation of the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration. 20 years later, this work continues to inspire discussion and formulation of policies and partnerships that enrich the immigrant experience, improve retention and celebrate broader benefits of diversity and inclusion.
Claudette’s leadership and enduring contributions have directly contributed to a substantial growth in the number of newcomers who choose to remain in Nova Scotia after arriving — including many who choose to learn at NSCC. Today, students from 77 countries are contributing to Nova Scotia's immigration and workforce needs while learning at the College.
With the launch of the innovative Immigrant Youth Employability Project in 2017, Claudette and her colleagues created a unique program that allows immigrant youth to explore career options, gain local experience and better understand the Canadian work environment. Since its launch, more than 100 immigrant youth have visited an NSCC campus to complete career exploration and skills-finding workshops, and several have continued onto further studies at the College.
School of Access, Education & Language – Ivany Campus
Retired Executive Member, NSCC
Catherine MacLean began her career at NSCC in 1988 as a faculty member with the Hants Campus. She remembers it clearly. Her mother drove with her to the interview and stayed with Cathy’s infant son in the car, waiting with fingers crossed. Working at NSCC was important to Cathy. She wanted to make a difference – and her family was there, rooting for her. Little did Cathy know on that day she would begin a career that would grow and evolve with her and her family for the next 31 years.
Cathy worked at NSCC as a faculty member, a vice-principal, department head and the College’s first PLAR Coordinator. She served as Principal of Lunenburg Campus and as the first Principal of Ivany (then Waterfront) Campus. She first joined the Executive Team as Vice President, People and Planning then transitioned to VP, Learner and College Development before taking on her final executive portfolio, Campuses and Communities.
Cathy was part of major milestones in the evolution of NSCC – the introduction of tuition, the development initiative to modernize our learning environments, the “greening of NSCC”, the opening of the first, purpose-built campus and more. It was early in her career, where she developed a lens that she would carry with her through all of these roles, inspired by her experience in the classroom. She was still at Hants Campus when she proposed the development of NSCC’s first academic policy. She saw it as an avenue of fairness and transparency for students. As she worked to develop it, she continually asked herself the question, “How will this impact students?”
Cathy’s roles immersed her in Nova Scotia’s rural and urban communities. To this day, she holds a deep appreciation for the unique social and economic circumstances that shape the culture of a place, and how students bring this with them to the classroom. This perspective, and her unwavering focus on how decisions impact students, are leadership legacies she brought to her work each day.
True to form, Cathy retired at the conclusion of the 2018-19 academic year to round out her exemplary service to the College. She has since returned to add her memories and voice to the College’s 25th anniversary celebration and continues to be willing to offer her support to the organization. Her legacy is in the impact she made over her more than three decades with the College. Her body of work is truly reflective of her commitment to NSCC’s vision of transforming Nova Scotia one learner at a time.
School of Business & Creative Industries – Lunenburg Campus
Sylvia Parris-Drummond, CEO
Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute
Sylvia Parris-Drummond is CEO of the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute which is dedicated to fostering change and creating opportunities for Black/African Nova Scotian learners and communities. Sylvia provides leadership through the identification of opportunities, awareness and capacity building and the implementation of initiatives designed to improve the educational environment for African/Black Nova Scotian learners and educators.
Sylvia has over 30 years of experience in the field of education. She has extensive public sector involvement through which she has gained a deep understanding for what it takes to conduct meaningful policy analysis, implement research-informed initiatives, strengthen community engagement and develop relevant education and capacity building projects.
Both Sylvia’s educational background and work experience are rooted in core Africentric principles. She holds a Master of Arts in Lifelong Learning (Africentric Leadership), a Master of Education (Curriculum) and taught in the public school system for almost 15 years. She was a Senior Consultant with the Province of Nova Scotia focused on providing policy advice and analysis and developing and delivering training. She served as Manager of the African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office with the Halifax Regional Municipality and was Department Head (now Academic Chair) for Access Programs at NSCC from 1999-2002.
In addition to serving as CEO of the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute, Sylvia has run her own consulting company – SVParris Consulting – since 1993. In 2009, through her work as a consultant, she was part of a team that carried out an evaluation of the three-year pilot of the NSCC’s African Canadian Transition Program – the first Africentric Adult Learning Program of its kind in the country. Recommendations from that report helped to move the program from pilot status to a regular, on-going offering at the Akerley Campus.
Several years later, Sylvia reached out and offered to work collaboratively with the then Dean, School of Access, to conduct research and focus groups in the African/Black Nova Scotian community to work together to revitalize the African Canadian Transition Program. The Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute was also a critical partner in the new Nia program being offered through the School of Access, Education and Language and with Mount Saint Vincent University. The program, to be delivered at the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute, was designed to help African/Black Nova Scotians upgrade and transition into post-secondary study.
Sylvia’s passion and commitment to Nova Scotian communities and her ongoing commitment to enhancing the quality of life for African/Black Nova Scotian communities is evident through various volunteer commitments, such as, FEEDNS Board Chair, Black Business Community Investment Fund Ltd Chair, Akoma Family Centre and Holding Past President, as well as a Board member for both the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Sylvia has delivered Africentric Parenting Workshops and African Nova Scotian Supporting Your Child Workshops and developed an African Nova Scotian Community Engagement Strategy for ACOA.
Sylvia is a well-respected leader within the African/Black Nova Scotian community known for getting things done in a thoughtful, respectful and engaging manner. She has dedicated her entire career to mobilizing a cultural shift in the province to advance transformational change. Her experience, knowledge and expertise are highly regarded throughout the province. She is passionate about making a positive impact in Nova Scotia, with particular focus on African/Black Nova Scotian communities. She credits her parents, Joseph and Viola Parris (deceased) for teaching her and her 14 siblings the importance of family and faith and giving to community. She is proud to see that her adult children have embraced that way of being as well.
School of Access, Education & Language – Akerley Campus