Businessman and community leader Michael Kowalson recently received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal presented by Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre Joyce Bateman.
As Joyce Bateman said on presenting the award, "Mr. Kowalson is recognized as a forward-thinking entrepreneur and community leader who has contributed and continues to make a difference in our community."
Kowalson was recently presented with the award honouring Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Ascension to the throne 60 years ago, at a ceremony held at Piazza DeNardi. (Editor's Note: Bateman also awarded the queen's Diamond Jubilee medals to David Asper, Arnold Frieman, Morley Rypp, Dr. Frank Hechter, and Sandy Shindleman and the Winnipeg Jewish review will be doing articles on these individuals in due course).
Kowalson is the owner of number of successful Subway Franchises in Winnipeg, including a recently opened Subway location in the Skywalk at 266 Graham Ave, the former Canada Post Building. In addition Kowalson is also the President and CEO of North American Franchise Services Group Ltd, a management consulting company that works with several food service brands and food service operators throughout Western Canada to develop and grow existing restaurant brands and locations.
Kowalson has a long record of community involvement. He has served for two years as a Director of The University of Manitoba Students’ Union, served for severasl years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, was the Chair for two years of YAD, the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg-Combined Jeiwsh Appeal and was the Co-Chair of the Israel Pavilion – Shalom Square at Folklorama for two years. Kowalson also ran for City Council in River Heights in the last civic election and was narrowly defeated by incumbant Councillor John Orlikow in one of the most hotly contested wards in the City. Currently Kowalson serves on the Board of Directors of Variety the Children’s Charity of Manitoba, which is dedicated to raising funds to meet the tangible needs of children of all abilities in Manitoba. Michael has served on Variety's Board of Directors since February 2009. He was also recently appointed to he City of Winnipeg's Board of Revision.
As Wayne Rogers, Executive Director of Variety told the Winnipeg Jewish Review, "We are very proud to have Michael as part of our Variety family. "Where he really excels is in his commitment to community. He's been an outstanding contributor to Variety's success throughout Manitoba. His passion for Variety is only surpassed by his love for family. That's what makes this recognition so special."
Kowalson, whose parents are Margaret and Aaron Kowalson, has two brothers, Josh and Daniel, and noted he also has “a very active 96 year old Baba Molly Kowalson who lives in the Shaftesbury retirement residence in Tuxedo.” Kowalson resides on Oak Street in River Heights with his partner Alix Kravetsky and their three and a half year old Garrey.
When contacted by The Winnipeg Jewish Review Kowalson said, "I am humbled and honoured to be recognized with this distinguished award. I am particularly humbled to be recognized alongside of community leaders such as Arnold Frieman, David Asper, and Sandy Shindleman all of whom I consider to be close friends and mentors. Giving back to our community is a top priority for my partner Alix and I and a value that we hope to instill in our son Garrey, just like our parents and grandparents instilled in us. One never thinks about this type of recognition until it happens. While it is gratifying, there are thousands of community leaders and volunteers who go unrecognized. Those are the true heroes of our community."
As Marty Morantz, a former Candidate who ran for the Conservatives in River Heights in the last civic election said, "Michael is a good friend, and very deserving recipient of the Queens Diamond Jubilee medal... Michael has worked tirelessly as a community advocate and volunteer, is an accomplished entrepreneur, has run for city council, and has been active as a campaign manager on many political campaigns (including my own!). He has also served on the executive of many community organizations. My wife Lisa and I could not be more proud of Michael, and we wish him congratulations on receiving this most prestigious award."