Change at the helm of the Dawson Foundation

Earlier in February, Steve Hatajlo (Class of 1981, Computer Science) handed over the presidency of the Dawson College Foundation to Sean Smith (Class of 2001, Pure and Applied Science). Steve has served as a volunteer on both the Dawson Foundation Board of Directors and Dawson’s Board of Governors for many years. He remains a member of both boards.

Dawson’s Communications Office interviewed the outgoing and incoming president.

  1. What do you like best about Dawson? Or in other words, why do you so generously give your time and expertise to the Dawson Foundation?

Steve: I like the community at Dawson and the fact that it is diverse and representative of the population of the island. Dawson also provides access to varied educational opportunities from the social sciences to the scientific and ensures that its graduates are prepared for the challenges of higher education or the working sector.  As I am currently a member of the Board of Governors, my interest in Dawson is to help the stakeholders in the College make a difference in the educational sector.  As a member of the Foundation, my original interest was to participate in a group where the goal was to establish an alumni community and help in fundraising campaigns to benefit the various student programs.

Sean:  Steve said it well and I echo what he said. I like the community at Dawson. The College is open to people from all walks of life and provides them with the opportunity to succeed post-graduation. And it is this diversity which makes the college unique. My first reintroduction to the college was through the Foundation, where my initial interest was to support the College in fundraising campaigns that would help improve the students’ lives at college so everyone has an equal opportunity for success. My work with the Foundation led to me becoming a member of the Board of Governors, where it is my goal to help align with the College’s stakeholders to make a difference in providing a world class academic program.

  1. Steve, tell us about where the Foundation was when you began and where it is now. What are the highlights of this period?

Steve: I had been asked by Richard Filion if I could participate in the setting up of the Foundation and its regeneration. I was happy to meet several spirited individuals both at the College and in the community who shared my interest in contributing my time and business resources to establish the Foundation.

As time passed, the participants changed and the Foundation lost its step for a bit.  As the changes occurred, I was nominated as interim President to help until a reorganization happened. The next thing you know- Pandemic – and the Foundation went into a stasis mode. I continued to hold the position of interim President through the two or so years and coming out of the pandemic, helped organize the first fundraising event – Golf Tournament – with the help of Donna Varrica.

As new members to the board were added last year, I thought it was time for me to look at handing over the reigns to a collection of individuals who were younger and could relate more to the needs of the students.  As well, I have never been more excited about interviewing someone until I met Mitchell Rae Yang for the position of Director of the Foundation.  His energy is unbounding, and I am certain he will be a high-impact person at the College.

I value my involvement in the Foundation as it has helped me understand philanthropy to a greater degree and how much it means to a community. I wish Sean Smith the best of luck during his term at the helm as I think he is an outstanding choice. The Mitchell and Sean tandem and the current board members are well positioned to carry on the Foundation mandate and excel in providing exceptional results in the near future.

  1. Sean, what do you think are the biggest opportunities and challenges ahead for the Foundation?

Sean: Under Steve, the Foundation has been able to grow with an excellent footing. We are in a great position to take what we have built over the last five years and to capitalize on our ability to raise funds and in turn have a great impact on student life at the College.

We are currently working on internal projects that will increase our donor list and programs on how people can donate, while providing value to donors and the students. This year we will be hosting the golf tournament at Whitlock in Hudson where we are planning to have a record number of attendees and a record goal for money raised.

  1. About yourself: what do you feel you brought/are bringing to this role?

Sean: Throughout my career I have been known to build and to grow organizations, paired with my experience of sitting on other charitable organizations we can bring in a new practice and accelerate our opportunities for fundraising.

  1. Sean, what would you like to say about Steve’s service?

Sean: I would like to thank Steve for what he has done as the Foundation President and what he is still doing for the College. Steve took over as President right before the pandemic and had to lead us during so much uncertainty and low morale. It was his leadership which got us to this stage for the Foundation.

  1. Please tell us briefly about yourself.


  • Graduate of Dawson 1981 Data Processing Program
  • Professional developer, analyst project manager and consultant for 10 years
  • President – CEO (Owner) of Faxinating Solutions – E-commerce company for over 32 years
  • Interests include music, arts, comedy, travel and sports.


  • A senior leader with the vision to strategically plan, motivate teams and align organizations to scale and capitalize on emerging business opportunities
  • In 2015, founded VOZWIN INC., a R&D and design engineering firm offering AI Development, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Design Engineering, Industrial Design Engineering, Software Design Engineering, Innovation Strategy, and Innovation Coaching.
  • Leads a passionate team and is a trusted business thinking partner for solving some of the toughest problems VOZWIN’s customers face in implementing strategic initiatives, creating new products, opening new markets and continuing to disrupt the established norms effectively. For over 9 years VOZWIN has been designing RPAS solutions and advising organizations on RPAS adoption with the last five years being at the forefront in developing AI for RPAS and advanced air mobility applications.

Last Modified: February 22, 2024