Crowds pack Rockcliffe residence to celebrate upcoming AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards on Nov 10th, announce 2022 recipients and open ticket sales

People congregate in a private home around some dinner tables for a fundraiser
Nearly 100 people packed a Rockcliffe residence last Thursday to celebrate the giving season, culminating in the 28th Annual AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards, affectionately known as The Phils. Photo by Anabel Bane

By: Jeff Todd

“This feels like family, doesn’t it?” asked Jacqueline Belsito, co-chair of the upcoming Ottawa Philanthropy Awards. 

There was a collective laugh, and judging by a sea of nodding heads and warm smiles, it was hard to disagree. 

Belsito welcomed nearly 100 people at a Rockcliffe residence last Thursday to kick off the giving season, which will culminate in the 28th Annual AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards on November 10.

Affectionately known as The Phils, the event will be once again held at the National Arts Centre. After a fully virtual event in 2020, and a more limited group in 2021, more than 300 attendees are now expected. The Phils will also be live streamed on and once again hosted by Sam Laprade, host of CityNews’ hit show, “Hour to Give”.

A woman gives a speech from a staircase to the audience below
Jacqueline Belsito and Jennifer Gray, Co-Chairs of the AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards, welcome attendees to the Nicholson family home in Rockcliffe. Photo by Anabel Bane

In a year full of returns to the “new normal”, enthusiasm for The Phils was palpable.

“We have missed the last two years being together, but in some ways we never skipped a beat,” said Peter Nicholson, president and founder of Foundation WCPD, who has served as title sponsor of the Phils for the last eight consecutive years. “This is like the Academy Awards for giving, I really do believe that. We are here to acknowledge our finest and our best.” 

Before announcing the winners, Nicholson first motioned to his wife, Anabel, their four children, and a “clan” of extended family members. In the other room, a steaming spread of authentic Filipino food was available, a nod to Nicholson’s diverse family background. 

While Foundation WCPD has been a mainstay at The Phils for nearly a decade, a pre-party at the Nicholson family residence has also become somewhat of a tradition.  

Nicholson said this was at least the fifth time he has hosted this party, which was created to spark interest in the upcoming event, acknowledge the winners publicly and encourage ticket sales. 

“Thank you for taking the time to join us here this evening,” announced Jennifer Gray, development officer at Carleton University and the other co-Chair for the event. “We are so excited to officially celebrate and acknowledge our 2022 philanthropy Award recipients.”

An audience watches a woman give a speech
The crowd listens to speeches at the “Pre-Phils Party”, which was created to kick off the giving season ahead of the AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards on November 10th. Photo by Jeff Todd

The 2022 winners include a remarkable group of community leaders, many of which were in attendance on Thursday evening. 

David Gourlay: Outstanding Fundraising Professional 

Richcraft Homes: Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist 

Michael Wilson: Outstanding Individual Philanthropist

Thomas d’Aquino & Susan Peterson d’Aquino: Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist 

La Serata Italiana: Outstanding Philanthropic Group

Zaiana Karaki: Outstanding Youth Philanthropist  

Gray also made special mention of The Phils volunteers, along with the event’s esteemed selection committee, including Rachael Wilson, CEO at the Ottawa Food Bank (past Award recipient), Glenn Sheen, regional director of marketing and citizenship at RBC, Dan Greenberg, president and owner of Ferguslea Properties Ltd. (past Award recipient), Derek Noble, partner at Huntington Properties (past Award recipient), Joe Thottungal, chef, author & restaurateur (past Award recipient) and Rob Gottschalk, associate vice-president at The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

A woman and two men pose for a photo
From left: Michael Rankin, Partner at McMillan LLP, Nahaja Black, First Secretary at The Bahamas High Commission, and Peter Nicholson, President of Foundation WCPD and Title Sponsor of the awards. Photo by Anabel Bane

Also in the room was past winner Logan Hussein, the 2019 recipient of Outstanding Youth Philanthropist, who cheered on the latest winner with his parents, Wael and Sue.

“What makes this event so special, and why we are so happy to support it for so many years, is this sense of continuity and community. It’s special,” Nicholson added. 

“Now more than ever, we need events like this to bring us together and remind us of our collective commitment to making positive contributions to the city.” 

In addition to Foundation WCPD as Title Sponsor, RBC has announced it will serve as the event’s Dinner Sponsor.

Canada Forest Trust, led by local entrepreneur Gary Zed, is sponsoring Outstanding Individual Philanthropist.

AFP Ottawa is a non-profit organization representing, supporting and uplifting the fundraising sector in our nations’ capital. With nearly 300 members, its network touches every industry and boardroom in the city. 

 To learn more about The Phils and purchase tickets, visit AFP Ottawa’s website at