The Founders Story
Working together in the year leading up to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, synchronized swimming coach Debbie Muir and national team swimmer Mark Tewksbury would not only push the boundaries of convention and possibility, they would shock the world with a come-from-behind victory in the 100 meter backstroke. Post-games, Debbie and Mark asked themselves, “What did we do that transcended our individual sports and was fundamental to success?”
That was the beginning of the Great Traits.
Debbie Muir | Founder
Debbie Muir is one of the greatest coaches, ever, but you probably don’t recognize her name right away. That’s because Coach Debbie wouldn’t want all the fuss; she prefers to be behind the scenes creating the environment for everyone around her to be successful and, more importantly, have fun along the way.
Debbie first rose to international acclaim as Head Coach of the Canadian national synchronized swimming team. Over a ten-year period, Debbie’s athletes won seven out of a possible nine world championship titles. In the debut of the sport at the 1984 Los Angeles, Debbie’s swimmers left with 2 Olympic silver medals. Four years later, in Seoul, they came home with 2 Olympic gold medals and a place in history.
Debbie was named by the Coaching Association of Canada as one of the top-ten all-time coaches in Canadian history, the only woman at that time to receive this remarkable distinction. She has been inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Debbie has a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Calgary, with a focus on curriculum design, training and performance. Debbie draws from her international experience and education background to design programs, tools and tips that put high performance skills into action, equipping people with practical tools they need to succeed.
Mark Tewksbury | Founder
Mark Tewksbury first came to prominence as a record-breaking backstroke swimmer. His sixteen-year athletic career included 21 national titles, 7 world records, Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals, inductions into the Canadian Olympic and Canadian Sport Halls of Fames, and a cover appearance on TIME magazine.
In 1988, following his return from the Seoul Olympics, Mark began his acclaimed speaking career. A born storyteller, Mark has inspired millions of people around the world for over 30 years. Mark’s career has been vast; from presenting in boardrooms and stadiums; hosting the Dalia Lama; speaking at the United Nations; leading an Olympic Team; providing primetime Olympic Swimming analysis; and even hosting season one of Discovery’s How it’s Made.
In 1998, Mark was one of the first openly gay Olympic Champions in the world and has been a leader with the global LGBTQ+ movement ever since. In 2019, Mark was awarded a Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for his work in gender inclusion and sexual diversity. Most recently, in 2020, Mark was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Currently, Mark is Vice President of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Lorraine Segato | Program Faculty
Our “star” pupil and alumni of the first Corporate Champions Program, Lorraine Segato, became Great Traits first Program Faculty member in 2019. She has taken hundreds of VCCP participants through their own professional development journeys.
For over 40 years, Lorraine has fuelled an impressive and diverse career as a respected songwriter, filmmaker, artistic director, producer and social justice activist. She has choreographed award-winning projects from inception to financing and completion, working extensively with grassroots communities, organizations and corporations to produce some excellent and compelling cultural work.
Of course, Lorraine is best known as the lead singer/guitarist and co-founder of the political pop group The Parachute Club. Among their numerous international and national awards is the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame Award for their enduring empowerment anthem Rise Up, an iconic Canadian song. As a multi-disciplinary creator and cultural innovator, Lorraine has spent a several decades building bridges between communities, and business. Great Traits is thrilled to have her passion leading our programs.
Lorraine is a dedicated life-long learner and traveller who can often be found bike riding on Toronto Island with her arms spread open or in nature hanging out with the big old trees.
Gene Valaitis | Program Faculty
Gene Valaitis is an ACTRA award-winning broadcaster for best morning radio show in Canada and a two-time runner-up for best morning show in North America at the New York City Radio Festival. Children of the 1990s in the GTA area fondly remember Gene as one half of the hit morning radio team Jesse and Gene on Q107, and Gene brings that same charm, humor and amazing radio voice to the Corporate Champions Program.
This accomplished writer, speaker, and international C-level business consultant has also trained thousands of Independent Business Consultants for companies in Hong Kong, Thailand, the United States, Canada, Dubai, and the United Kingdom. A champion result getter, Gene has a proven track record developing fully integrated creative marketing initiatives to drive both business opportunities and brands into sustained periods of explosive multi-million-dollar growth. He brings that rich history along with his commitment to success to the Great Traits team.
Gene is widely traveled and has worked and lived in Dubai, Hong Kong, Thailand, China, Canada, U.S.A., Korea, and the United Kingdom. Gene has a proven ability to motivate, energize, and inspire others to success – combining experience, knowledge, and technique, with creativity, tenacity, quick wit, and humor.
Enza Cignarella | Program Faculty
Great Traits is excited to have Enza Cignarella, a graduate of the Corporate Champions Program, join our Faculty and bring her enormous business experience as well as her coaching skills to the team. As a Professional and Personal Certified Coach (PPCC) at Grand Heron International, Enza is an active listener that uses the power of questions to enhance performance.
Over the course of her career in pharmaceuticals she built project teams, brands, and capabilities in life-sciences organizations, both in Canada and in Europe. She has more than 10 years of direct people management experience and more than 20 years of working in global and local environments in roles ranging from strategic planning, sales & marketing, and operations. Enza developed a penchant for distilling and synthesizing information and believes that the connections between people, information, and systems are the keys to successful business outcomes.
Enza has also led continuing education and training and development departments, in addition to occasionally lecturing at the university level. She has a knack for languages; speaking Italian, French, English and Spanish. She brings her reputation for building high performing teams, leading change, both at the individual and enterprise levels, to the Great Traits team.
Michelle Cameron Coulter | Program Faculty
Meet our newest facilitator, and our other Olympian, a synchronized swimmer with six World Championships and an Olympic gold medal, Michelle Cameron Coulter.
Michelle has always embraced life’s challenges with strength and courage and has become a strong and compassionate leader. She values family above-all and has raised four kids alongside husband, Olympic volleyball player, Al Coulter.
Michelle brings insight, compassion, depth, and inspiration to every table, and she currently chairs the honoured member selection committee for Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame, where she is also on the Board of Governors. She also maintains a successful inspirational speaking career and is CEO of her own workshop/retreat company, Inspiring Possibilities. Michelle has received the highest honours; inducted into Canada Sports Hall of Fame, and recognized for her significant contribution to the community with the prestigious Order of Canada.
Michelle’s passion is to inspire and support people both professionally and personally in a real, meaningful and authentically sustainable way. Michelle says, “Being a Champion is not about being the best in the world – it’s about being the best we can be and being real in the process”. She knows how to build community, and is that rare mix of kindness and results-driven. We are thrilled she is part of our team.
Cynthia Goold | Executive Assistant
Cynthia is responsible for the day-to-day administrative operations at Great Traits. She’s our Executive Assistant extraordinaire with over 20 years of experience managing client-centric office operations. When you sign up for a Great Traits program, Cynthia will be the first one you meet to get you set up for a successful journey with us.
When she’s not keeping us running in ship-shape, Cynthia loves to travel and enjoys experiencing different countries. Learning about diverse cultures is her passion and has taught her both how diverse we are, and yet how much we all have in common. Cynthia’s stand-out moment was in New Zealand where the local Māori performed traditional dances, shared food, and in return, Cynthia was able to share aspects of our Canadian culture while visiting a local Māori school – a natural cross-cultural exchange ambassador.
Cynthia believes that the key to success in business is hard work, opening yourself to new challenges that enable you to grow and develop mentally, spiritually, and professionally. Clearly, Cynthia’s own personal mantra makes her a great fit for Great Traits!
Rob Mabee | Brand Specialist & Designer
Rob Mabee is the guy that keeps us looking sharp. This Calgarian graphic designer, marketer, and former art gallerist finds his wheelhouse merging the worlds of culture and community. From coordinating Great Traits photoshoots, social media posts, or website to the three eye-catching Corporate Champions Program Playbooks, Rob is our go-to-guy for all things branded Great Traits. Thanks Rob!
A born connector, Rob has a passion for his home city and has played a critical role in establishing some of Calgary’s noted arts and cultural landmarks including Axis Contemporary Art, Art Central, and Artspace where Rob led a team to transformed a former abattoir into a cutting-edge arts marketplace and incubator for entrepreneurial businesses that became one of the cities hippest event venues.
Ready for a change, in 2014 Rob leveraged his experience in business and the arts and collaborated with the Toronto firm, Republic, contributing to communications, media and brand campaigns for clients that included UNICEF Canada, Canada Company, and Giorgio Armani.
Mabee was cited by Avenue magazine as the local expert in how to gracefully enter and exit a party conversation and considers among his career highlights being interviewed in his bathtub by an Andy Warhol impersonator.