Test out UPEI’s new website!
Our new UPEI.ca is launching soon. Get a sneak peek now with this demo version.

UPEI announces recipients of the Distinguished and Inspiring Young Alumni Awards

Friday, October 5, 2018
Laura Archer, Dr. Peter Hooley, Jo-Anne Doyle Knysh, and Thilak Tennekone

UPEI recently held a ceremony to recognize the recipients of the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards and the 2018 Inspiring Young Alumni Awards.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to one or more of our alumni for their outstanding contributions to knowledge, the arts, the community, the university, or humanity. The criteria for these awards are based on the University of Prince Edward Island’s motto, faith, knowledge, service. The two recipients for 2018 are Jo-Anne Doyle Knysh (Business, 1980) and Thilak Tennekone (Adult Education certificate, 2001; Master of Education in Leadership and Learning, 2006).

The Inspiring Young Alumni Award was established in 2011 to honour alumni under the age of 40 who have shown outstanding determination in achieving success at a young age. The two recipients for 2018 are Laura Archer (Nursing, 2001) and Dr. Peter Hooley (Science, 2000).

Following graduation, Jo-Anne Doyle Knysh moved to Toronto to work for Clarkson Gordon (now Ernst and Young) and became a Chartered Accountant in 1982. She continued to work in public accounting until moving to the San Francisco Bay area in 1988. She joined Apple’s finance team in early 1989 and worked in a variety of positions. After some turbulent years at the company, she participated in the dramatic transformation that took place when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, becoming a ‘change manager’ with the sales and marketing teams as they launched the Bondi Blue iMac, the Think Different campaign, the iPod, and iTunes, all cutting-edge technology at the time. Jumping off of the amazing success in the iPod market, Knysh was part of the team that launched iPad in the United States to overwhelming success.

Knysh is currently the Senior Finance Manager responsible for the Beats by Dr Dre business unit. Apple purchased Beats Music and Beats Electronics in July 2014 and she was an integral member of the due diligence and integration team. Beats Music has since been integrated into iTunes as Apple Music while the headphone business has maintained the separate Beats by Dr Dre brand, which she continues to help lead.

Outside of work, Knysh is a committed community volunteer and breast cancer awareness advocate. Following a family health scare in 2015, Jo-Anne and her family have dedicated themselves to raising the awareness of breast-cancer screening and women’s health. She recently became a member of the board of directors with the US Friends of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation and has been a dedicated member of the home and school foundation in her local community for many years.

She has spoken about her experiences to students of UPEI’s EMBA program and is readily available to offer any mentorship she can to UPEI students. 

Knysh currently lives with her husband Brian in Saratoga, California while her two daughters Sara and Alison live in Chicago, Illinois. Although they are so far away, they all consider PEI to be home and can be found here every summer at their Stanley Bridge cottage.


Thilak Tennekone arrived in Prince Edward Island from Sri Lanka in 1992. As the first Sri Lankan family on the Island, the Tennekones saw firsthand the need for diversity and inclusivity in our communities. He has spent the better part of the last 25 years doing something about it. In 1993, he was one of the founders of the International Tea House on PEI, which was a series of multicultural education programs intended to promote cultural diversity in our community and designed to raise awareness across the Island. Tennekone continued to lead and build upon these programs until 2015.

Tennekone is a dedicated community volunteer, undertaking roles such as chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee with the Town of Stratford, member of the PEI Immigration Task Force, president of the PEI International Friendship Association, a founding member of the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada, member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO Advisory Committee on Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination, and many other groups and organizations representing local, provincial, and national interests.

Since 2000, Tennekone has worked diligently as the diversity consultant for the Government of Prince Edward Island, strategically developing policies, practices, and programs on diversity and inclusion management in the public service.

During his time with the PEI government, Tennekone completed his diploma in Adult Education from UPEI in 2001 and completed his Master of Education in Leadership and Learning in 2006. His educational training has helped in the design, development, and facilitation of the diversity training and cultural awareness education he has been creating over the past 18 years.

Tennekone’s efforts have been widely celebrated over the last number of years. In 2014, he was the recipient of the Community Appreciation Award presented by the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada. In 2015, he was recognized with the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award for being a diversity champion, and in 2016, he received the PEI Human Rights Excellence Award for the Advancing of Human Rights in PEI.

Away from his volunteer and professional work, Tennekone is often found onstage sharing his unique Sri Lankan music at one of the many cultural events taking place throughout the year. Tennekone lives in Stratford with his wife Hema, and sons Gayan and Jayoda, both UPEI alumni.

Laura Archer from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island graduated from UPEI in 2001 with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  From 2001 to 2004, Archer honed her skills in emergency rooms and hospitals across North America. In May of 2004, Archer sold all of her belongings, bought a backpack and a plane ticket, and took off on a global adventure that would change the course of her life.

After visiting several countries in Asia, India, the Middle East, and Africa and experiencing a natural disaster in Thailand, Archer knew she wanted to make a difference in some of the most devastated parts of the world. When she returned home in 2005, Archer applied and was accepted to work for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Her work with MSF took her around the world and back again. She provided emergency medical humanitarian services responding to natural disasters, epidemics, famine, conflict, and other complex health emergencies. Working in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, North Darfur, Sudan, Niger, and many others, there was always danger present, whether from disease or local groups that didn’t support the work of MSF. Despite the dangers she faced, Archer continued to work with MSF until 2012 when she was the Emergency Medical Team Leader in southeastern Chad.

Since 2016, she has been with the Global Health Unit of the Canadian Red Cross in Ottawa as the Health in Emergencies Advisor, providing operational and technical support to a wide variety of emergency medical humanitarian programs.  She has been deployed to Haiti following Hurricane Matthew, Somalia during the recent cholera outbreak, Antigua and Barbuda following Hurricane Irma, and Uganda in response to the South Sudanese refugee crisis. Archer is an experienced keynote speaker and facilitator and is often found in the front of a room filled with people looking to learn from her experiences and expertize.

When Archer is not providing humanitarian services around the globe, she will most likely be found in her art studio. Archer uses her art as a medium to tell the stories of the people she meets through her work and travel. She has appeared in many solo art exhibitions as well as juried group art exhibitions. One of her works is permanently on display in UPEI’s Applied Health Sciences building, which is home to the Faculty of Nursing.

Archer is currently completing her Advanced Master of Science in Disaster Medicine.  She lives in Ottawa with her husband Sjors and her two children Calvin and Adele.

Dr. Peter Hooley from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, graduated from UPEI in 2000 with his Bachelor of Science degree. He received the UPEI Class of 2000 Spirit Award, which is given to the student who made an outstanding contribution to the graduating class. Following his time at UPEI, Dr. Hooley proceeded to Dalhousie where he completed his medical degree in 2004 and was also awarded the Lourdes Embil prize for the top medical student in cardiovascular research.

Dr. Hooley completed his residency in June of 2006 and immediately began taking regular shifts in the emergency department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. In July of 2006, he took over for Dr. Harry Callaghan at the Parkdale Medical Clinic with a patient load of more than 2,500 Islanders.

As an associate professor in the family medicine departments at both Dalhousie University and Memorial University of Newfoundland, Dr. Hooley has been a mentor and teacher to many doctors completing their residency programs on PEI. In 2010, he was named Preceptor of the Year by the Dalhousie University Department of Family Medicine’s residency program. In 2011, Dr. Hooley was named PEI Family Physician of the Year by the College of Family Physicians.

In 2014, he was the co-founder of the Queen Street Recovery Centre offering support services for Islanders struggling with addictions. He currently serves as the medical director and is a practicing physician at the Recovery Centre. In 2015, Dr. Hooley was the recipient of an Award of Excellence from the College of Family Physicians for his role in leading the establishment of the addiction clinic. He is a leader and highly sought after speaker on addiction as well as sport medicine.

In Dr. Hooley’s spare time, he is a community volunteer serving on several boards and government committees. He is heavily involved in the Pownal Minor Hockey Association, and has served as the team physician for the Charlottetown Islanders since 2007. Outside of the rink and office, you’ll most likely find Dr. Hooley spending time with his wife Melissa and three children Jack, Elise, and Brennen.

Dave Atkinson
Research Communications Officer
Marketing and Communication
(902) 620-5117
Contact UPEI