Meet the Team

Team photo


Meet The Team

Kingston is an innovative and growing 21st-century city. Our Economic Development Team is here to make your transition to this beautiful city seamless. 

Donna Gillespie

Donna Gillespie

Chief Executive Officer
613-544-2725 x 7270
Cell: 613-329-4671

Donna is an experienced leader who has managed a variety of small and medium enterprises in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. She has overseen significant community economic development initiatives in investment attraction, strategic planning, brand development, and corporate restructuring.

Under her leadership as CEO, Kingston realized the highest levels of new foreign direct investment in the city’s history with the establishment of Portuguese fruit processor Frulact and Chinese infant formula manufacturer Feihe – Canada Royal Milk. Donna is a founder of the Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston program which received a gold-rank award by the International Economic Development Council for partnerships with post-secondary educational partners and the Kingston-Syracuse Path which is one of four cross-border economic corridors in Canada with a focus on health innovation.  In 2021, Donna was recognized as the Economic Developer of the Year by the Ontario East Economic Development Commission for her contributions to the region and leadership in supporting businesses during the pandemic.

Donna is a Board Member of Tourism Kingston, Advisor to the Kingston Accommodation Partners, sits on the City of Kingston’s Planning and Climate Leadership  Advisory Groups, the Kingston Immigration Partnership Steering Committee and the International Advisory Committee for the International Economic Development Council.  Currently, she volunteers her time as a Board Director of the Kingston Kid’s Triathlon, Theatre Kingston and Sydenham District Association.

Connect with Donna!

Shelley Hirstwood

Shelley Hirstwood

Director of Business Development
613-544-2725 x 7232
Cell: 613-331-1692

Shelley Hirstwood specializes in Investment Attraction and Business Growth. Her core responsibilities encompass the identification of prospective business opportunities and the facilitation of foreign direct investment to encourage enterprises to establish a presence in Kingston. In her capacity, she engages various stakeholders, including all levels of government, real estate professionals, site selection experts, and key industry partners, to streamline investment opportunities.

With a career spanning 18 years in the field of economic development, Shelley brings a wealth of experience to her role. Prior to joining the Kingston team, she served as an Economic Development Manager in Gananoque, ON and Gravelbourg, SK. Throughout her career, her focus has remained centered on investment attraction, business retention and expansion, entrepreneurship and community development.

Shelley’s academic background includes a Bachelor of Science degree from Trent University, complemented by the EDAC Economic Development Certificate from the University of Waterloo. Furthermore, she has honed her expertise through Training for Small Business Counsellors at Acadia University and completed the Queen’s Executive Program at Queen’s University, Smith School of Business.

In addition to her professional commitments, Shelley is actively engaged in the industry as a board member of the Economic Development Association of Canada. She has also served as the past president of the Ontario East Economic Development Commission.

Connect with Shelley!

Abdul Razak Jendi

Abdul Razak Jendi

Investment Manager,
Sustainable Manufacturing
Cell: 613-532-4858

Abdul Razak is a seasoned international business development professional with expertise in international trade and FDI in North America, Europe & Asia. He also serves on the SWITCH Board of Directors. Throughout his career, Abdul Razak gained experience working in organizations that are publicly traded, privately held, family-owned, and non-profit.

Before joining the Kingston Economic Development team, Abdul Razak held the position of Economic Development Manager at ROI, a Montreal based consulting firm, playing a pivotal role in managing and delivering lead generation programs, in-market representation, and industry analysis for domestic and international clients in Canada, the USA, and Europe. In the United Arab Emirates, he managed over 100 contracts worth $6.5 billion while working with National Central Cooling Co PJSC (DFM:TABREED). Working in the steel industry, Abdul Razak closed several deals including a landmark steel pipes deal from Turkey to India worth $14 million to build a chemical processing plant. Abdul Razak also served as the Deputy Director for the Global New York Canada Office assisting companies to expand and grow in the State of New York, as well as supporting New York based companies enter the Canadian market.

Brought up and raised in the United Arab Emirates Abdul Razak graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance with a minor in Economics from the American University of Sharjah and is currently completing his Master’s in Economics at Concordia University.

Connect with Abdul Razak!

Ben McIlquham

Ben McIlquham

Investment Manager,
Health Innovation
613-544-2725 x 7248
Cell: 613-532-1853

Ben has spent the last seven years working in the healthcare industry – a seasoned contract management specialist who has focused on strategic sourcing initiatives, most recently focused on healthcare innovation. Ben led projects for the hospitals in the South East Local Health Integration Network (SELHIN) and managed various contract portfolios in the health care sector.

Prior to joining the Kingston EcDev team Ben has worked at Shared Support Services Southeastern Ontario (3SO) and The Ministry of Government Services in various roles. Most recently, at 3SO Ben worked directly with over 100 vendors and 7 member hospital sites, leading innovative projects for better healthcare outcomes. Ben provided strategic solutions for healthcare equipment, services, and consumables through complex contract negotiations.

Born and raised in Kingston, Ben graduated from the University of Western Ontario where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and Psychology.

Connect with Ben!

Rob Tamblyn

Rob Tamblyn

Business Development Manager,
Small & Medium Enterprises
613-544-2725 x 7261
Cell: 613-540-1843

Rob has more than 25 years of project management experience, and an extensive knowledge of the small business, real estate and development community within the city. During his nearly 20 years with the Downtown Kingston! Business Improvement Area, Rob’s focus was on maximizing economic development opportunities for Kingston’s downtown core by encouraging, supporting and initiating activities that were beneficial to both businesses and property owners.

Rob’s current role is to oversee the many programs which support Kingston area SMEs, including WE-CAN, Digital Main Street, Queen’s Career Apprenticeship, and My Mainstreet.  He is also working to advance activities related to the Small Business Enterprise Centre.  He is always happy to chat with local business owners on a wide variety of topics to help foster growth within the greater Kingston community.

Connect with Rob!


Norman Musengimana

Business Development Manager,
Start-Ups & Entrepreneurship
613-544-2725 x 7230
Cell: 613-217-0932

Norman is an experienced small business and start-up advisor, and a start-up entrepreneur. He is a 2018 graduate from the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University with a Master of Management Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Norman enjoys helping and supporting entrepreneurs, early-starge entrepreneurs, and small and medium business owners. His previous experience involved working on business plans, feasibility studies, facilitating business workshops, organizing business plan competitions, and advising small businesses.

Born in Rwanda, Norman has had the opportunity to live and work in more than seven countries on three different continents. He enjoys travelling by road, so that he can have the opportunity to meet new people in their communities.

Connect with Norman!

Judith Pineault

Business Coach,
Finances & Business Transition

Judith is the former CEO & Co-Founder of Eastern Fluid Power Inc, she successfully sold her business of thirty years in 2019, and is current principal at Judith Pineault Consulting.

Connect with Judith!

Daniel Solorio Marketing and Communications Manager Headshot

Daniel Solorio

Marketing & Communications Manager
613-544-2725 x 7225
Cell: 613-329-9270

Daniel is the Marketing & Communications Manager, in his role, he leads the development, writing and production of business collaterals, media strategies and public relations.

Daniel Solorio is a Creative Marketing Strategist with 15 years of experience in advertising. Throughout his career, Daniel has been leading projects in the creative industry in diverse roles from graphic designer, photographer, creative director, project manager, and video producer.

In 2021, he earned his MBA from the Universidad de Guadalajara, producing research on Media Entrepreneurship. In the last and current year he earned graduate certificates in Project Management and Digital Marketing Communications from St. Lawrence College.

Connect with Daniel!

Ghazal Abdullah

Investment Outreach Coordinator
613-544-2725 x 7242
Cell: 613-328-5698

Ghazal is the Investment Outreach Coordinator at Kingston Economic Development. In her role, Ghazal identifies high potential companies to attract investment in the sectors of sustainable manufacturing and life sciences. Her role includes lead generation and maintaining communication with decision-makers to collect information.

Ghazal is a recent graduate of a Double degree masters’ program in International Business and Management from Queen’s University and University of Mannheim. Prior to this, Ghazal has interned with UNICEF, Apollo International Ltd. and led the Korean Film Festival Canada’s tour in Kingston.

Connect with Ghazal!

Simon Denford

Simon Denford

Business Programs & Community Outreach Coordinator
613-544-2725 x 7222
Cell: 613-328-5613

Simon is a recent graduate of a Double-Degree Honours Bachelor’s in Business Administration with specializations in International Policy and Entrepreneurship from Brock University, as well as a Certificate in the Sciences of International Management from NEOMA Business School in Reims, France.

Originally from Kingston, Simon has a love for entrepreneurship instilled by the vibrant economic community found here, which led to his interest in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. He is entering the workforce, doing what he always wanted to, supporting programs for youth and young entrepreneurs like Summer Company and Starter Company Plus.

Connect with Simon!

Micah Imomotebegha

Digital Programs Coordinator
613-544-2725 x 7663
Cell: 343-422-7305

Micah, an immensely talented creative marketing professional with over 7 years of industry experience, brings a distinctive fusion of technical expertise and strategic guidance to the forefront. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and a Graduate Certificate in Digital Marketing Communications, he currently holds the position of leading the Canada Digital Adoption Program at Kingston Economic Development. In this role, he leverages his extensive knowledge to propel digital transformation within Kingston’s business community.

Prior to his tenure at Kingston Economic Development, Micah made a lasting impact on the marketing landscape in Nigeria. There, he orchestrated groundbreaking marketing strategies and executed highly impactful advertising campaigns for an impressive roster of clients. His notable achievements include significantly enhancing the brand visibility of industry titans such as Maybelline, Hennessy, Belvedere Vodka, Moët & Chandon, and L’Oréal, resulting in remarkable success in expanding their market presence.

His journey continued at Spark Creative Agency at St. Lawrence College, where Micah held the role of Marketing Account Manager, further solidifying his reputation as a marketing luminary. His international engagements exemplify his commitment to providing exceptional service and his talent for strategic digital empowerment. Micah is always poised to assist the next business or individual seeking a boost in their digital strategy.

Connect with Micah!

Abby Fitzhugh

Operations Coordinator
613-544-2725 x 7223
Cell: 613-530-5894

Abby currently serves as an Administrative Assistant at Kingston Economic Development and simultaneously works as an E-commerce Advisor for the Canada Digital Adoption Program. Starting with an Esthetician Diploma from St. Lawrence College in 2020, Abby pivoted to achieve a Digital Marketing Certificate from York University School of Continuing Studies in 2023. Prior to her current roles, Abby worked in retail and assisted small business owners with social media marketing, web design and graphic design.

Outside of work, Abby is a dedicated advocate for individuals with invisible disabilities. She has shared her insights as a volunteer speaker at events like RBC’s 2023 Women’s Day Luncheon and Girls Inc. Annual General Meeting 2022, shedding light on self-advocacy in the workplace and the elimination of discrimination against employees with disabilities.

Connect with Abby!

Giani Itegeli

Gianni Itageli

Health Innovation Assistant
613-544-2725 x 7248

Gianni Itegeli is currently entering his third year of studies in Applied Economics at Queen’s University. Alongside his academic pursuits, he is also an active member of the Queen’s men’s basketball team.

Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Gianni’s passion for supporting small businesses was sparked by his experiences both in Ottawa and Kingston. Witnessing the vibrant economic community in both cities , he is passionate about understanding the intricacies of the economy, and how it affects the world we live in.

As Gianni continues his academic journey and commences his career, he is committed to leveraging his academic background and his firsthand experiences to contribute to the growth and success of businesses and entrepreneurs.

Connect with Gianni!