Conference Leadership

2017 National Executive Committee

 

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston PortraitHis Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston Honorary Chair
His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston Portrait
His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
Honorary Chair

Governor General of Canada


David Johnston began his professional career as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University in 1966, moving to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law in 1968. He became dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario in 1974. In 1979, he was named principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University, and in July 1994, he returned to teaching as a full-time professor in the McGill Faculty of Law. In June 1999, he became the fifth president of the University of Waterloo.

Mr. Johnston has served on many provincial and federal task forces and committees, and has also served on the boards of a number of public companies. He was president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and of the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec. He was the founding chair of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and chaired the federal government’s Information Highway Advisory Council.

His academic specializations include securities regulation, information technology and corporate law. Mr. Johnston holds an LL.B. from Queen’s University (1966); an LL.B. from the University of Cambridge (1965); and an AB from Harvard University (1963). While at Harvard, he was twice selected for the All-American hockey team and was named to Harvard’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He was the first non-American to chair Harvard’s Board of Overseers.

He is the author or co-author of 24 books including new editions, holds honorary doctorates from over 20 universities and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.

He was born in Sudbury, Ontario, and is married to Sharon Johnston. They have five daughters and 12 grandchildren.

Sworn in on October 1, 2010, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston is the 28th governor general since Confederation.

Photo credit:
Sgt Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall
© 2010 Office of the Secretary to the Governor General of Canada

Donald Lindsay PortraitDonald Lindsay Conference Chair
Donald Lindsay Portrait
Donald Lindsay
Conference Chair

President and CEO, Teck Resources Limited


Don Lindsay was appointed President of Teck in January 2005 and assumed the additional responsibility of Chief Executive Officer in April 2005. Before joining Teck, Don was President of CIBC World Markets and led the bank’s Investment and Corporate Banking Division as well as the Asia Pacific Region. Earlier in his career he was responsible for CIBC’s Global Mining Group. Don holds a B.Sc. (Hons.) Mining Engineering from Queen’s University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Don is a member of the Board of Directors of Manulife Financial Corporation and recently completed eight years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. He is Chair of the Board of Governors for Mining and Metals for the World Economic Forum and, most recently, was appointed Chair of the 2017 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference. Don is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation in Vancouver and served as Chair of the successful $200-million capital campaign to build a new acute care hospital. Additionally, he serves on the Board of York House School and is a Heritage Governor of Royal Ontario Museum.

Don has previously served as a member on both the Economic Advisory Council for the Canadian Minister of Finance and the Advisory Council for Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan for the Canadian Minister of International Trade. As well, he has served on the Board of the Canada China Business Council, the Executive Committee for the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference in 2012 and 2015 and the Board of the Vancouver Aquarium. Earlier in his career, he served on the Board of St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation in Toronto and was Co-Chair of the Heart Health Campaign. He was also Vice Chair of the Greater Toronto Scout Foundation and Chair of the Investment Committee, and was a member of the Board of Governors of Royal Ontario Museum. Additionally, he was a member of the United Way’s Major Individual Giving Cabinet in Toronto and has been the division chair for Natural Resources for the United Way of the Lower Mainland in British Columbia.

As Chair of the International Zinc Association from 2007 to 2011, Don led the development and launch of the Zinc Saves Kids campaign, a program developed in partnership with UNICEF to address zinc deficiency, which claims the lives of approximately 450,000 children annually around the world. Under his leadership, Teck also launched its Zinc & Health program, which to date has helped improve the health of more than ten million children worldwide.

In 2014 Don received a number of awards including the British Columbia Community Achievement Award, the CIM Distinguished Service Medal, the Nature Trust of British Columbia Conservation Champion Award, the Business in Vancouver CEO of the Year Award and was named to the Order of British Columbia. Don was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee medal in 2002 and was honoured again a decade later with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal. He was named the Mining Association of British Columbia’s Mining Person of the Year in 2009, and in 2012, he received the Kathleen Beaumont-Hill distinguished alumni award from Queen’s University. In 2013, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Technology from the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

Michael Wernick PortraitMichael Wernick Vice Chair, Government
Michael Wernick Portrait
Michael Wernick
Vice Chair, Government

Clerk of the Privy Council


Michael Wernick was appointed Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet on January 22, 2016.

He was Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet from October 2014 to January 21, 2016. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Wernick was Deputy Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada from May 2006 to July 2014, and Senior Advisor to the Privy Council Office from July to September 2014.

Since joining the federal public service in 1981, Mr. Wernick has worked at the Social Policy Division of the Department of Finance, Consumer and Corporate Affairs Canada, the Economic and Regional Development Policy Secretariat of the Privy Council Office, and the Constitutional Affairs Secretariat of the Federal-Provincial Relations Office. From 1996 to 2003 he served as Assistant Deputy Minister and then as Associate Deputy Minister at the Department of Canadian Heritage. From 2003 to 2006 he served three Prime Ministers as Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Plans and Consultations, at the Privy Council Office.

In an eight year tenure at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development from 2006 to 2014, Mr. Wernick assisted four Ministers in advancing the Government’s Aboriginal and Northern agendas. Highlights include the passage of 23 pieces of legislation, as well as parts of five Budget Implementation Acts; the approval and ongoing implementation of the Indian Residential Schools settlement; conclusion of several modern treaties and new self-government arrangements; creation of the Specific Claims Tribunal; rapid expansion of the First Nations Land Management Act; deep structural reforms to child and family services, income assistance, and water/wastewater; extending human rights protections and matrimonial property protection to reserves; and an initiative to reform on-reserve education. Northern highlights include International Polar Year, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station; devolution of federal land management responsibilities to the Government of the Northwest Territories; reform of northern regulatory regimes; and replacement of “food mail” by the Nutrition North program.

Mr. Wernick has the unique distinction of having been deeply involved in the transition process and start up of three new governments, and attending the swearing in and first Cabinet meeting of three Prime Ministers (Martin in 2003, Harper in 2006, Trudeau in 2015).

Mr. Wernick has developed many public service leaders. Fifteen members of his management teams have been promoted to or within the Deputy Minister community.

Mr. Wernick received B.A. and M.A. degrees in Economics from the University of Toronto. Mr. Wernick is member of the Board of Governors of Carleton University, and the Board of Directors of the Institute on Governance.

In November 2012 Mr. Wernick was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Roberta L. Jamieson PortraitRoberta L. Jamieson Vice Chair, Community
Roberta L. Jamieson Portrait
Roberta L. Jamieson, C.M.
Vice Chair, Community

President & CEO, Indspire


Roberta L. Jamieson is a Mohawk woman from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in Ontario, where she still resides. In November of 2004, she was appointed CEO and President of the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. In February 2012, the Foundation changed its name to Indspire and incorporated its new tag line, “Indigenous education, Canada’s future.”

Under Roberta’s leadership, Indspire is flourishing. Bursary and scholarship funding has dramatically increased to over $49 million to 14,000 students, more than doubling since Roberta’s 2004 appointment.

She has extended Indspire’s career conferences to all regions of Canada. Roberta is leading the development of the Indspire Institute, an online laboratory of learning focused on increasing high school completion rates and K-12 success.

Roberta has enjoyed a distinguished career of “firsts.” She was the first First Nations woman to earn a law degree; the first non-parliamentarian appointed an ex-officio member of a House of Commons Committee; the first woman Ombudsman of Ontario; and in December 2001, she was the first woman elected Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.

Roberta was also Commissioner of the Indian Commission of Ontario and for ten years, Ombudsman of Ontario.

She has earned numerous awards, including the National Aboriginal Achievement Award (Law and Justice 1998), the Indigenous Bar Association’s highest award, Indigenous Peoples Council Award (IPC) and 22 honorary degrees. She has been named three times to the Women’s Executive Network’s Top 100 list. She is a Member of the Order of Canada.

David McKay PortraitDavid McKay Vice Chair, Business and Finance
David McKay Portrait
David McKay
Vice Chair, Business and Finance

President and CEO, Royal Bank of Canada


Dave McKay was appointed President of RBC on February 26, 2014 and Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Board on August 1, 2014.

In his previous role as Group Head, Personal & Commercial Banking, which he held from November 2012 to February 2014, Mr. McKay was responsible for RBC’s banking businesses in Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean, including personal and commercial financial services, credit cards and payments, as well as RBC’s sales and branch distribution, operations and advice centres.

Prior to this, he served as Group Head of Canadian Banking, Executive Vice President of Personal Financial Services, and Senior Vice President of Financing Products, respectively. Mr. McKay started his career at RBC in 1988, and has held progressively senior roles in Canada and Japan in retail and business banking, group risk management, and corporate banking.

In 2012, Mr. McKay received the “Retail Banker of the Year” Award by Retail Banker International.

Mr. McKay holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at University of Western Ontario and a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo. He serves on the Board of Trustees for the Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) in Toronto and is the Chair of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council. He is also a director of The Conference Board of Canada and a member of the Catalyst Canada Advisory Board and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

A passionate advocate for helping children to build the confidence to be active and healthy for life, Mr. McKay has also coached children’s basketball and hockey for many years.

Hassan Yussuff PortraitHassan Yussuff Vice Chair, Labour
Hassan Yussuff Portrait
Hassan Yussuff
Vice Chair, Labour

President, Canadian Labour Congress


Hassan Yussuff is President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). He has come from the factory floor of automotive manufacturing plants to the highest position in the country’s labour movement.

Hassan has a long history of remarkable achievements, becoming the CLC’s first person of colour elected to an executive position in 1999 as Executive Vice-President. He was then elected to the first of his four terms as Secretary-Treasurer in 2002, and elected President in May 2014.

As CLC President, Mr. Yussuff holds key positions with a number of organizations, including the Trade Union Technical Advisory Council (known by its Spanish-language acronym, COSATE), the trade union advisory committee of the Organization of American States (OAS) and has been a Governor of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).

Mr. Yussuff has also been a highly active union leader in the international arena, leading to his recent election as president of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) for a four-year term.

He is also a member of the Advisory Committee on the International Labour Affairs known as ACILA, which advises Canada’s Minister of Labour on international labour matters.

Mr. Yussuff complements his labour roles with deep community involvement, including being active with the United Way, where he has served on the National Board of Directors, and with the National Institute of Disability Management.

Riel Bellegarde PortraitRiel Bellegarde
Riel Bellegarde Portrait
Riel Bellegarde

President and CEO, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies


Riel Bellegarde is a proud member of Treaty Four and the Peepeekisis First Nation.
He currently serves as President and CEO of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies.

Riel started his career with the Peepeekisis First Nation and subsequently with the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council. He joined the federal Public Service in 1994, moving to the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in 1997. He held several executive positions across diverse portfolios and, in March 2003, was appointed to the senior executive position of Regional Director General, Saskatchewan.

Riel joined the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies as President and CEO in 2013.

Riel is a graduate from the University of New Hampshire, Whittmore School of Business and Economics with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He was a member of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference in 2008. He is married with two children.

Barbara Byers PortraitBarbara Byers
Barbara Byers Portrait
Barbara Byers, C.M.

Secretary-Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress


Everything you need to know about Canadian Labour Congress Secretary-Treasurer Barbara Byers can be summed up in just two words: “Prairie populist”.

From her early years as a social worker to heading first the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union and then the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) before being elected as a CLC Executive Vice-President, Barb’s life has been spent fighting for the underdog. Barb was elected Secretary Treasurer of the CLC in 2014.

Barb was a social worker for 17 years, addressing issues of poverty, youth unemployment, aboriginal concerns, equality for all and labour rights. Those strong beliefs turned her towards political activism within her union.

Barb led her union through four turbulent years, opposing privatization, the weakening of labour laws for both unionized and non-unionized workers, reductions in social services and attacks on the public sector.

Barb’s inspired leadership led to her being elected President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour in 1988 for the first of 14.

Moving from the SFL to the Canadian Labour Congress in 2002, Barb is responsible for labour education; medicare and health care; workplace training and technology; employment insurance; apprenticeships; and issues of concern to women workers, workers with disabilities and gay, bi-sexual, lesbian and transgender workers.

She also represents Canada as one of 14 worker delegates on the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization, the United Nations agency that brings together governments, employers and workers in common action to promote decent work throughout the world.

Barb’s strong community roots led her to become founder of the SFL Summer Camp for Youth in Saskatchewan and co-founder of the Prairie School for Union Women.

Johanne Deschamps PortraitJohanne Deschamps
Johanne Deschamps Portrait
Johanne Deschamps

Political Advisor, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec


Johanne Deschamps is a Political Advisor for the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), reporting to FTQ President Daniel Boyer.

From 2008 to 2012, she was the FTQ Regional Representative for the Laurentides and Lanaudière regions.

From 1982 to 2008, Johanne worked in progressively more senior positions in union education. She was responsible for labour training at the FTQ Montreal Metropolitan Regional Council, overseeing labour law courses and development of union trainers. She also developed the local and regional socio-economic development curriculum.

Johanne has been a member of the Coordination Committee for Collège FTQ-Fonds and sat on the Board of Directors for l’Institut de coopération en éducation des adultes (ICÉA).

Johanne has a Master’s degree in sociology from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

Nezhat Khosrowshahi PortraitNezhat Khosrowshahi
Nezhat Khosrowshahi Portrait
Nezhat Khosrowshahi

Voluntary Sector


Nezhat Khosrowshahi was born in Iran and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia with her family in 1981.

As an entrepreneur and a business woman, Mrs. Khosrowshahi founded City Trading Company, an importer and distributor of safety equipment in Iran. In addition she served on the boards of Melli Industrial Group, Alvand Investment Company and Minoo Industrial Group.

After relocating to Canada, she co-founded Inwest Investments Ltd., a holding company with interests in real estate and retailing. Mrs. Khosrowshahi currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Persis Ltd., the successor to Inwest, with interests in healthcare, music publishing and real estate.

Mrs. Khosrowshahi is an active volunteer, fundraiser and community builder. She was a founding Board member of the B.C. Women’s Foundation and the Vancouver Symphony Foundation. She has served on the Boards of Directors of Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation at Columbia University, Vancouver Museum, CBC/Radio-Canada, the Board of Governors of Simon Fraser University, and the Board of Trustees of Pearson College, a United World College. She is a former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. In 2001 Mrs. Khosrowshahi was elected as Honorary Life Vice President of the VSO.
She presently serves on the board of the National Gallery of Canada.

In 2012 Mrs. Khosrowshahi founded the LIFT post- secondary scholarship program which so far has helped more than 20 students. In addition, she has actively supported SHARE Family & Community Services Society in Coquitlam, British Columbia, and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

She is the recipient of the “Outside Lines” B.C. Arts & Culture Award in 1991 and Queen’s Jubilee award in 2012.

Harvey Locke PortraitHarvey Locke
Harvey Locke Portrait
Harvey Locke

Environmental Sector


Harvey Locke is a conservationist, writer, and photographer who is a recognized global leader in the field of parks, wilderness and large landscape conservation and is co-founder of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and the global Nature Needs Half Movement. Harvey also practised law for fourteen years in Calgary, worked in philanthropy for a private foundation in Boston, and is a trustee of the Eleanor Luxton Historical Foundation in Banff. He has been involved in electoral politics and consults to organizations on vision–based organizational effectiveness. Named one of Canada’s leaders for the 21st century by Time Magazine, Harvey has been awarded the Fred M. Packard International Parks Merit Award by the IUCN, the J.B. Harkin Award for Conservation by CPAWS, the Gold Leaf Award by the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, a member of the University of Calgary Faculty of Arts Dean’s Advisory Group, and a distinguished alumnus of Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School.
Lili-Anna Pereša PortraitLili-Anna Pereša
Lili-Anna Pereša Portrait
Lili-Anna Pereša

President and Executive Director, Centraide of Greater Montreal


Lili-Anna Pereša is an engineer by training and a graduate of the École Polytechnique de Montréal (1987). She is President and Executive Director of Centraide of Greater Montreal since 2013. Through its annual fundraising campaign, Centraide supports a network of more than 350 agencies and projects that in turn help 1 out 7 people in Greater Montreal every year. Centraide’s work depends on the commitment of more than 80,000 volunteers.

From 2009 to 2012, Ms. Pereša served as Executive Director of ONE DROP. Prior to that she directed several community and humanitarian organizations, including Les Petits Frères, YWCA Montreal and Amnesty International France.

She had her first experience as a volunteer aid worker at the age of 25 when she accepted an assignment from World University Service of Canada to teach in Malawi. This was followed by an assignment from Oxfam-Québec to act as management consultant to Burkina Secours in Burkina Faso. In 1994, Ms. Pereša joined CARE Austria and packed her bags again to head for Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, where an armed conflict was under way.

Ms. Pereša’s involvement in humanitarian aid has earned her numerous distinctions, including the Meritorious Service Award for Community Service from the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, an honorary doctorate from the Université de Montréal and an Engineers Canada Fellowship.

In addition to her degree in electrical engineering, Ms. Pereša holds a graduate degree in management from McGill University and a master’s degree in political science—with specialization in international cooperation and humanitarian aid—from the Sorbonne in Paris.

Ms. Pereša is a member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, of the International Women’s Forum and of Les Amies d’affaires.

She is a board member of the Mobile Giving Foundation Canada and was also involved on the board of several organizations, including École Polytechnique de Montréal and its retirement committee.

Dr. Martha C. Piper PortraitDr. Martha C. Piper
Dr. Martha C. Piper Portrait
Dr. Martha C. Piper, O.C., O.B.C., Ph.D.

Interim President and Vice Chancellor, The University of British Columbia


Dr. Martha Cook Piper is Interim President and Vice Chancellor of The University of British Columbia. She also served as the 11th President of the University of British Columbia from 1997 to 2006.

Dr. Piper has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Montreal, Shoppers Drug Mart, TransAlta Corporation and Grosvenor Americas Ltd. She has also served as a board member of CARE Canada, the Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education, and the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation. She was Chair of the Board of the National Institute of Nanotechnology and served as a member of the Trilateral Commission.

Dr. Piper, received her B.Sc. degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Michigan, her M.A. degree from the University of Connecticut, and her PhD in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill University. She has served as Director of the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University (’79-’85), Dean of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta (’85-’93) and Vice President, Research and External Affairs, University of Alberta (’93-’97).

The recipient of 17 honorary degrees, Dr. Piper is an officer in the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of British Columbia. She was named Educator of the Year by the Learning Partnership in 2004, was appointed an Honorary Fellow of Merton College, Oxford University in 2007 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2008.

Janice Price PortraitJanice Price
Janice Price Portrait
Janice Price

President, The Banff Centre


Janice Price became President of The Banff Centre on March 16th, 2015. She most recently served as CEO of the Luminato Festival, Toronto’s Festival of Art and Creativity, an organization she led since its inception in 2006. As the Festival’s Founding CEO, Price helped Luminato become one of the world’s largest and most respected annual multiarts festivals. The Festival reaches over 800,000 audience members annually, and in its first eight seasons the Festival commissioned 75 new works. Previous to Luminato, Price was the President and CEO of The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia from 2002-2006, and prior to that position she was Vice President of Marketing and Communications and then Interim Executive Director at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Prior to her professional engagements in the United States, Price held senior positions at a number of Toronto arts organizations, including the Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts and The Corporation of Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall. From 1992 – 1996, Price was the Director of Marketing and Special Projects for the Stratford Festival.

Janice Price also served as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Festivals and Major Events (FAME) coalition of large Canadian festivals, and as a member of the board of Festivals and Events Ontario where she served on the advocacy and education committees. She is also a member of the National Board of Culture Days.

Michael E. Roach PortraitMichael E. Roach
Michael E. Roach Portrait
Michael E. Roach

President and CEO, CGI Group Inc.


Michael Roach was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of CGI in 2006. Prior to this, he had served as President and Chief Operating Officer of CGI since 2002.

Under Mr. Roach’s leadership, CGI has experienced significant growth through the execution of the company’s “Build and Buy” profitable growth strategy. Following the August 2012 acquisition of Logica, CGI’s global footprint expanded to 40 countries with global delivery centers on four continents and 65,000 professionals worldwide. In 2014, Mr. Roach was named the Most Innovative CEO of the Year by Canadian Business magazine in recognition of CGI’s business model, strategy and ways of fostering efficiency.

Prior to joining CGI, Mr. Roach served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Bell Sygma Inc., a Bell Canada subsidiary formed to provide services to Canada’s full-service telecommunications companies. In 1998, he spearheaded the merger of Bell Sygma with CGI, effectively doubling the size of CGI. Mr. Roach’s earlier career with Bell Canada spanned 25 years.

Mr. Roach sits on the board of directors of CGI and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation. He is also a member of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science, as well as an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario.

Mr. Roach maintains an active involvement in the Montreal community by lending his support to various charitable projects and events.

Linda Silas PortraitLinda Silas
Linda Silas Portrait
Linda Silas, RN, BScN

President, Canadian Federation of Nurses Union


As President to the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) nearly 200,000 members, Linda is the foremost advocate on behalf of nurses in Canada. The CFNU, under Linda Silas’s leadership since 2003, seeks to improve nurses’ workplaces and working conditions, defends and extends Canada’s publicly administered and delivered health care system, and promotes greater understanding and action on the social determinants of health.

Linda’s commitment to nurses’ unions began early in her work life as a nurse. She held volunteer positions with her provincial union in New Brunswick as soon as she began her nursing career at L’Hôpital Dr. Georges-L.Dumont in Moncton. She was president of her union local three times, served on the provincial negotiating committee, and was the regional representative to New Brunswick Nurses Union’s (NBNU) executive board, before her election as President of NBNU from 1990-2000.

Whether local, provincial or national president, Linda Silas works with great pride to improve the working conditions of nurses, embodying the CFNU motto “Where knowledge meets know-how.”

Jim Spatz PortraitJim Spatz
Jim Spatz Portrait
Jim Spatz

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Southwest Properties Ltd.


Jim Spatz is the Chairman and CEO of Southwest Properties Limited, one of Atlantic Canada’s leading real estate developers. Southwest owns, operates and develops residential and commercial real estate in Atlantic Canada, extended stay accommodations across Canada, as well as a multi-unit residential portfolio in four Florida cities.

Southwest has successfully expanded their business by constructing real estate assets from the ground up as well as the acquisition and repurposing of real estate assets with major redevelopment potential. Southwest has accumulated an extensive and balanced portfolio of properties and investments. Its interests include more than 1,250 high quality apartments and condominium units situated in the best residential areas of Halifax, more than 600 condominium units in Florida, nearly 500 hotel rooms in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Southwest redeveloped and is the owner of Atlantic Place, the largest office building in Newfoundland. It is also the majority shareholder in Premiere Suites, with over 1500 suites. Premiere is Canada’s largest coast-to-coast provider of furnished extended-stay accommodations, and is the fourth largest in North America. Southwest has four major multi-unit and mixed use projects in the planning and construction phase in Halifax, which will double the size of its Halifax portfolio in the next several years.

Jim has led the company for the past 25 years. His first career was as a physician. Jim practiced Family and then Emergency Medicine for 15 years.

Along with his responsibilities in the office, Jim is actively involved in a number of community activities. He serves on the Board of Directors of CJPAC (Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee) and Blue Line Innovations Incorporated. He is a member of the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank Advisory Board and serves as a Life Director of Neptune Theatre. Jim also served on the Board of Governors of Dalhousie University, Atlantic Canada’s largest university, from 2001 – 2015, and served as Board Chair from 2008 – 2014. In 2007, Jim along with his late father, Simon, were inducted into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame. In 2013, Jim received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his significant achievements and contributions to the community. In May 2015, Jim was named Atlantic Business Magazine’s CEO of the Year for Atlantic Canada. Jim is a member of WPO and CEO.

Martin Thibodeau PortraitMartin Thibodeau
Martin Thibodeau Portrait
Martin Thibodeau

President, RBC Royal Bank Quebec


Martin Thibodeau is responsible for carrying out RBC Royal Bank’s strategic objectives and managing business priorities in Quebec.

Mr. Thibodeau joined RBC Royal Bank in 1989 and has worked in most regions of Canada. Most recently he held senior management positions as Regional Vice President, Eastern New Brunswick and P.E.I.; Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Quebec Headquarters; Regional Vice-President, Commercial Financial Services, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Ontario; and Vice-President, Canadian Banking, National Office, Toronto.

Recently, he became a member of the Young President Organization (YPO).

A native of Joliette, Mr. Thibodeau has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and an MBA from Université du Québec à Montréal. He also holds the Fellow, Institute of Canadian Bankers designation.

Mr. Thibodeau is actively involved with community service, including sitting on the board of Canadian Cancer Research Society and serving as honorary president of the Canadian Red Cross 2013 gala fundraising event in Quebec. He is an Associate of the Asper School of Business in Manitoba, on the board of directors of Manitoba’s Bilingual Trade Agency (ANIM) and the St. Boniface Hospital, and served as chair of the board of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Mr. Thibodeau and his wife, Caroline, have three school-age children.

Tamara Vrooman PortraitTamara Vrooman
Tamara Vrooman Portrait
Tamara Vrooman

President and CEO, Vancity


As President & Chief Executive Officer of Vancity, Canada’s largest community credit union, Tamara Vrooman believes that banking has a vital role in developing a healthy society—building the well-being of people and, at the same time, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the communities in which they live and work. This summarizes Vancity’s vision of redefining wealth.

Under Tamara’s leadership, Vancity has gained international recognition for its values-based banking model—from becoming the first Canadian financial institution invited to join the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, an independent network of the world’s leading sustainable banks and banking co-operatives, to an invitation from the Vatican to participate in a summit about creating a more inclusive economy.

Tamara’s achievements include leading Vancity to become the first carbon-neutral financial institution in North America, the largest private-sector living wage employer in Canada, and one of the first mainstream financial institutions to launch an alternative to predatory payday loans—the Vancity Fair & Fast Loan™.

Before joining Vancity, Tamara served as Deputy Minister of Finance for B.C. from 2004 to mid-2007, and as Secretary to the Treasury Board, as well as Deputy Minister and Executive Financial Officer for the Ministry of Health.

Tamara lends her voice and leadership experience to issues related to women, families and children with a particular focus on issues related to equality, inclusion and empowerment. She has been recognized for her leadership with multiple awards and honours and is a frequent speaker at local, national and international conferences and symposia.

Daniel Watson PortraitDaniel Watson
Daniel Watson Portrait
Daniel Watson

Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada Agency


Born in Saskatchewan, Daniel Watson graduated from the University of British Columbia in History and French Literature. He started his career as a supervisor at a Canada Employment Centre for Students in East Vancouver. After working in the area of privacy, access to information and human rights for the former Employment and Immigration Canada, he spent the following ten years with the Government of Saskatchewan, where he led policy and research on postsecondary education and training issues and later the Government of British Columbia, where he was responsible for Cabinet mandates for treaty implementation and settlement legislation. He was a negotiator on the Nisga’a Final Agreement and was responsible for developing the first settlement legislation in Canada for a First Nation treaty that included self-government.

He returned to the federal government in 1999 as Director of Aboriginal and Territorial Relations with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). He was appointed Director General of the Aboriginal Justice Directorate at the Department of Justice in 2001, where he served until being named Assistant Deputy Minister at Western Economic Diversification Canada in Saskatchewan in 2003. In 2006, he became the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Strategic Direction at AANDC. In March 2009, he was appointed Associate Deputy Minister for Western Economic Diversification followed by his appointment as Deputy Minister in July of the same year. In 2012, he was appointed Chief Human Resources Officer of the Government of Canada and then Chief Executive Officer for Parks Canada in 2015.

Daniel is a passionate speaker, in English, French and Spanish, about the public service, public servants and the extraordinary contributions that they make to Canada and to the lives of Canadians. He is also a pilot, a former member of the Regina Philharmonic Choir, an avid reader, has been a firearms safety instructor, and regularly rides his Harley-Davidson across the country.

Stephen Wallace PortraitStephen Wallace
Stephen Wallace Portrait
Stephen Wallace

Secretary to the Governor General


In January 2011, Stephen Wallace was appointed Secretary to the Governor General.

Stephen Wallace’s career has largely focused on international affairs and development cooperation including experience with non-government organizations, fieldwork in Africa and Latin America, and over 25 years with the federal government. Mr. Wallace joined the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in 1984. Successive positions within the Africa, Americas and Multilateral Affairs Branches, interspersed with fieldwork in Central America and graduate work in business administration, led in 1994 to a secondment as policy advisor to the Special Joint Committee of Parliament Reviewing Canadian Foreign Policy. From 1995 to 1997, he was senior departmental advisor in turn to four cabinet Ministers.

From 1997 to 2001, he was a Director in CIDA’s Central and Eastern Europe Branch with special responsibility for the conflict areas of Bosnia and Kosovo. Following a two-year assignment as Director-General in CIDA’s Africa and the Middle East Branch, he was appointed to the Treasury Board Secretariat with principal responsibility as Assistant Secretary for Government Operations. Mr. Wallace returned to CIDA in 2005 as Vice-President of CIDA’s Policy Branch. In March 2007, he was appointed Vice-President of the CIDA Afghanistan Task Force. In 2009 he was named Associate Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage.