Kent MacDonald and Peter Tilley holding the Alumnus of the Year award.

By: Arielle Follett

Kent MacDonald and Peter Tilley holding the Alumnus of the Year award.
Kent MacDonald and Peter Tilley holding the Alumnus of the Year award. Photo from Algonquin College Alumni Foundation.

To be respected and admired within your career is one thing. But to be awarded by the school that made your success possible is quite another.

Algonquin graduate Peter Tilley could not agree with this statement more. This summer he was awarded Alumnus of the Year at the School of Police and Public Safety convocation ceremony.

Tilley’s career began when he graduated from the business administration program in 1984. He soon acquired a job as a night auditor at a local hotel, a job he says he couldn’t have done without his college education.

Over the course of five years, he was promoted five times, ending up a front office manager.

He left that job to work at Quantam Management Services as a placement manager for the next four-and-a-half years.

“At this point, I was 34-years-old and I was on a bit of a spiritual search,” he said. “So on a whim, I left my beautiful corner office in the heart of downtown to become a driver for the Ottawa Food Bank.”

It was a tough decision, leaving Tilley working three to four jobs at a time just to make ends meet but he slowly worked his way up the ranks. He was promoted to operations manager and executive director soon after.

Michael Adams, a chairman of the Ottawa Food Bank’s Board of Governors when Tilley was executive director, speaks highly of him.

“He was a pleasure to work with,” Adams said. “He was a hard worker, effective spokesmen, good with people and fundraising. He was very dedicated to his job.”

Tilley’s track record at the Food Bank speaks for itself, however. The Food Bank saw a 300 per cent increase in food distribution during his 19 years there. With a budget of just $4 million per year, the Food Bank was able to ship out eight million pounds of food every year to over 140 programs.

Eventually, it was time to move on and in 2013 Tilley took on his next challenge as executive director of the Ottawa Mission. The Mission holds 235 beds, all of which are full each night. They also serve an average of 1,200 meals per day.

Tilley now manages a staff four times the size of the Food Bank’s with double the budget. The Mission also offer countless programs for addiction treatment, help finding employment, getting people back on their feet and more.

“Peter is an exceptional community leader,” said Brenda Rothwell, executive director of the Algonquin College Foundation. “He lives Algonquin’s values every day and he is a life-long learner.”

“It’s excellent to be recognized for my journey,” Tilley said. “It’s invigorating, a welcome surprise and a wonderful privilege.”