PAT MCNAMARA | FOUNDER
Pat McNamara is passionate about entrepreneurship. She started her first business, APEX Public Relations, in 1998. and Ruckus Digital in 2013. Ever since, she has been involved in funding and mentoring other emerging companies including Paradigm Public Relations, CityMedia, Kinetic Café, JCM Power and Wirkn Inc. Pat founded Ignite Capital in 2013, a non-profit organization which helps aspiring Canadian entrepreneurs, who have limited access to startup capital, the opportunity to compete for funding and support program.
Ignite helps under-served communities including immigrants, indigenous, women and youth. Pat is also Chair of Business In The Streets, a charitable organization that provides not only business training and support to youth, but the funding to help kick-start new businesses, Pat is looking forward to guiding the organization as it expands to help youth and other entrepreneurs fulfill their business dreams.
MICHAEL THOMAS | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Michael has spent his career working for the benefit of students and youth.
Prior to joining Ignite Capital, he served as the Managing Director of Operations at UNITY Charity, an organization that teaches youth to use the arts as a tool to cope with and overcome challenges in their lives.
He also served as Program Director of Children First: School Choice Trust, and as the Associate Director of School Performance Studies at the Fraser Institute, from 2005 to 2012. Michael has made contributions in the public sector as a Policy Advisor in the Office of the Minister of Education of Ontario, He is a former School Trustee, who served on the Toronto District School Board from 1998 to 2000. He has also held positions with the City of Toronto, and the Ontario Ministers of Tour- ism & Recreation, and Citizenship.
Michael attended Centennial College and York University, and holds a B.A, in Political Science.
LAURA GANNON | PROGRAM MANAGER
Laura is the newest member of the Ignite Capital team. She recently completed a graduate program in Corporate Communications and Public Relations at Seneca College and prior to that she completed her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Ottawa where her focus was Business Administration. Throughout her education, Laura took an interest in marketing and brand management which led her to a career in Public Relations. After a rewarding post-secondary education, she is happy to be bringing her skills and knowledge of Business and Communications to Ignite Capital.
Since moving to Toronto in 2016, Laura has grown to love the charm and variety of small businesses in the city. She believes that small businesses have the ability to add character to any city not only by offering unique products but by building relationships with their communities. After learning about all the businesses Ignite has been able to help, she’s extremely excited to learn about this year’s group of applicants and their entrepreneurial goals.