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Board of Directors 2015 | 2016

Douglas KnightDouglas Knight (Chair) is chair of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards and a member of the selection committee for the Martin Wise Goodman Canadian Nieman Fellowship in journalism at Harvard University. One of Canada’s leading publishers, he has run newspaper, magazine and digital companies in Canada and the United States for 40 years. He has also served on the boards of public and private companies and numerous arts, cultural, and community organizations in Canada and the United States.

Al-Solaylee, KamalKamal Al-Solaylee is an associate professor at the School of Journalism at Ryerson University. He recently won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award in Nonfiction for his book Brown: What Being Brown Means in the World Today (to Everyone). His first book Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes won the Toronto Book Award and was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, a Lambda Literary Award, and CBC’s Canada Reads. Born in Yemen, Al-Solaylee was the national theatre critic for The Globe and Mail and holds a PhD in Victorian literature from the University of Nottingham. He lives in Toronto.

Denise ChongDenise Chong is best known for her family memoir, The Concubine’s Children, a Globe and Mail best seller for 93 weeks. She followed that with The Girl in the Picture about the Vietnam War’s most famous casualty; Egg on Mao: A Story of Love, Hope and Defiance, which pivots on a young bus mechanic’s act of defiance, which branded him a counterrevolutionary, of throwing paint at the portrait of Mao in Tiananmen Square during the 1989 democracy protests; and, in an exploration of the immigrant experience of looking in the rear view mirror while travelling toward an uncertain future, Lives of the Family, intimate stories of early Chinese who ended up in small town Canada. Recognized for writing books “that raise our social consciousness,” Denise was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2013

Catherine ClarkCatherine Clark is a nationally respected broadcaster, public speaker, emcee, and writer, and the President of Catherine Clark Communications Inc. She was recently named as one of Ottawa’s Forty Under 40 by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. Through her work in television and radio, Catherine has interviewed Canada’s most influential people to reveal the personal, human side of public life. She also hosted and co-produced The Residences, a television documentary series offering an unprecedented look behind the scenes at the homes of Canada’s leaders at Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex Drive. Catherine is the Giving Back columnist for Ottawa at Home Magazine, has written for the Toronto Star and The Ottawa Citizen, and been published in The Globe and Mail, Canadian Living and Magazine FORCES. Catherine is a member of the national board of CARE Canada and sits on the organizing committee of the Politics and the Pen Gala benefitting The Writers’ Trust.

Kari CullenKari Cullen (Vice Chair) is a committed supporter of Canadian artists. Her career in the arts has spanned the creative and strategic sides of film and television production as well as the performing arts. Associated closely with the National Arts Centre (NAC) since 2001, Kari was the Producer and Executive Director of the NAC’s inaugural Scene Festival, creating a model for a national celebration of the arts that continues to be one of the most successful ever produced by the NAC. Also at the NAC she executive produced the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Gala for ten years, served on the financial restructuring team, and was an advisor on the recent architectural rejuvenation of the NAC. Kari began her career with Andersen Consulting in France and Toronto before joining TVOntario as their in-house Strategic Planner. In the late 90s she lived in England where she was a partner in the Emmy Award winning film and television production company Double Exposure. She holds an International MBA from the Schulich School of Business and a Journalism degree from Carleton University.

Janet EgerJanet Eger spent a decade with Indigo, Canada’s largest book retailer, as the Vice President of Public Affairs, and, as a board director with the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. Prior to joining Indigo, Janet spent six years at Holt Renfrew, where she oversaw Advertising and Public Relations, and five years at Canadian Pacific/Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, where she gained global communications experience while supporting 40 hotels in six countries. She has also worked in broadcast media. Born and raised in Calgary, Janet is an avid skier, traveller, and book lover.  

Allen-Garson-(5).jpgAllen Garson is General Counsel at the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario. Previously a Partner at Dentons' Toronto office, Allen is a graduate of Osgoode Hall. His practice is focused primarily on corporate finance transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, and public and private equity and debt financings. As a member of the Corporate Practice group, Allen has represented and worked closely with major companies in energy, biotechnology and life sciences, financial services and banking, as well as with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Haward-Laird_SharonSharon Haward-Laird was appointed Senior Vice President and Head, North American Treasury and Payment Solutions at BMO Financial Group in June 2016. Sharon is accountable for defining and executing the strategy for BMO Financial Group’s North American Treasury & Payment Solutions business, including Treasury Management and Corporate Cards. Sharon joined BMO Financial Group in 2000 and went on to serve in a number of roles within the Legal Group, including Vice-President, Deputy General Counsel, BMO Capital Markets & Assistant Corporate Secretary.  In May 2012, Sharon was appointed Head of Investor Relations and in November 2014, she was appointed Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Communications, Government and Investor Relations. Prior to joining BMO, Sharon was a litigator with Torys LLP, an international law firm, and obtained her LLB from the University of Toronto.

Kate Hilton is the bestselling author of The Hole in the Middle and Just Like Family. Before turning to fiction, Kate worked in law, higher education, public relations, fundraising, and publishing. She is a seasoned major gift fundraiser, with a particular focus on capital campaigns. In addition, Kate has significant experience in public sector management, including strategic planning, crisis management, and communications. Kate is a lawyer, and holds a J.D. from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and a B.A. in English Literature from McGill University. She lives in Toronto with her two sons.

Patrick KennedyPatrick Kennedy is a principal at The Earnscliffe Strategy Group. Patrick has over a decade of experience in and around federal politics and policy, having served as a policy analyst in the civil service, as Chief of Staff to the Speaker of the House of Commons, and in government relations roles for the Canadian Bankers Association, and CIBC. Patrick obtained his B.A. (Hons) in Political Studies from Queen’s University, and his MSc in Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. In Ottawa, Patrick sits on the Board of Directors of the Government Relations Institute of Canada, and is active in fundraising for the National Arts Centre as Vice-Chair of its Gala Committee, and for the Writers’ Trust’s annual Politics and the Pen gala dinner.

Marla LehbergMarla Lehberg has been committed to Canadian literature for many years, an avid reader and sponsor of the Writers’ Trust’s Matt Cohen Award since 2010 with her husband David, she remains dedicated in her support of literature.  Marla has been selling Toronto homes since 1987 and has been recognized by each of the firms where she has worked as a sales leader. A previous winner of Chestnut Park's President's Award and Vice Chairman's Award for sales volume, Marla was also the 2014 recipient of the Chairman's Award, the highest accolade the company presents to its most successful agents. She was 2004/2009 co-chair of the SickKids Toy Drive, and as a rider and fundraiser has helped raise over $850,000 as a member of Team Knightstone for the Princess Margaret Ride to Conquer Cancer. Marla, David and their three children live in Toronto.

Ana-Lopes.jpgAna Lopes is a Toronto-based social innovator and entrepreneur who has led numerous not-for-profit transformations. She has worked for 25 years in senior positions in both the private and public sector and is current Director of the Tapscott Group – a privately held business strategy-consulting firm. The immediate past chair of the CAMH Foundation, Ana is also the former chair of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and a former director of many organizations including the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Foundation and Women’s College Hospital Foundation. A leader and mentor in the Portuguese-Canadian community, Ana was awarded the country’s Order of Merit by the President of Portugal in 2014. She was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2011.

Steve-Maich-(4).jpgSteve Maich is the Senior Vice President of Publishing at Rogers Communications. He was appointed as the editor of Canadian Business in July 2009 and was previously a business columnist at Maclean's magazine. In 2011 he was founding Editor and Publisher of Sportsnet, Canada's first magazine dedicated to long-form sports storytelling. In 2006 he co-authored the book The Ego Boom, with Lianne George. He obtained a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of King's College in 1998. Prior to joining Maclean's, Maich worked for the National Post, Bloomberg News and the Halifax Chronicle-Herald.

Brad-Martin.jpgBrad Martin is the president and chief executive officer of Penguin Random House Canada. Before his current position, Brad served as President and CEO of Random House of Canada, where he led the company to record success and oversaw the organic growth of its Canadian publishing program. Brad began his publishing career in 1981 at McClelland & Stewart as a sales representative. He moved to Penguin Books Canada in 1984 where he held a variety of sales and marketing positions and was appointed President in 1996. Brad joined Bantam Doubleday Dell as Vice President and Director of Sales and Marketing in 1998. When the company merged with Random House of Canada, he oversaw the integration of the sales and marketing teams. He was named President and CEO of Random House of Canada in 2007. On July 1, 2013, the merger of Penguin and Random House was completed, and Brad was appointed President and CEO of Penguin Random House Canada. Brad is a Past President of the Canadian Publishers' Council and is a member of the board of Ludia, Inc., a Fremantle company based in Montreal. He was educated at McGill University and the University of Toronto.

Amreen OmarAmreen Omar is the co-founder and co-CEO of Toronto restaurant Bombay Street Food. Before entering the restaurant industry, Amreen worked in law as a Crown Attorney for Ontario and later as a law professor to the paralegal students at Seneca College. Amreen holds an L.L.B. from the University of Toronto, and a B.A. in English Literature from McGill University. Her restaurant hosts a successful book club dinner on the last Wednesday of every month, drawing a crowd of book lovers for hearty discussion and delicious food. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three children.

Panossian, HratchHratch Panossian (Treasurer) is Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Development at CIBC. He holds a joint Master’s degree from the Graduate School of Business and School of Engineering at Stanford University, and a B.Eng from McGill University. Prior to joining CIBC he was in Strategy and Corporate Development at TD Bank Financial Group. His career started in management consulting with Oliver Wyman’s global Financial Services division, where he advised senior executives from leading Canadian, US, and international financial institutions on issues related to strategy, corporate finance, and risk management across retail and corporate banking, capital markets, asset management, and insurance businesses.

Neve PericNeve Peric (Secretary) is a consultant to a handful of arts and cultural organizations on issues related to strategic planning, communications, and outreach. She has served as Board President of Ontario’s only independent playwright development centre, Pat the Dog, since 2011. From 2008 until 2012, she was Vice President of Operations at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, and was responsible for the restructuring of CIGI’s International Board of Governors and the building of its new research campus. Neve has also provided communications support to the Canadian International Council in Toronto and, before joining CIGI, worked as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator at an innovative not-for-profit technology firm delivering online software platforms and services to academic research communities. She is a graduate of the Nick Bollettieri Sports Academy in Florida and the University of Toronto. 

Chris SextonChris Sexton is a Senior Tax Partner in KPMG’s tax practice in Toronto. He joined KPMG in 1986 and has served in a number of leadership positions over his career, including Partner in Charge of the Toronto tax practice and the Partner in Charge of the Telecommunications, Media and Technology tax practice. Chris is a Chartered Professional Accountant and has over 25 years of experience providing tax advisory services to public and private corporate clients and to high net worth families. He is broadly experienced in Canadian taxation matters including income tax and estate planning, corporate reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, tax efficient structures and financial restructuring. Chris has lectured and tutored on various corporate reorganization topics for the Canadian Professional Accountants of Canada.

Kirstine StewartKirstine Stewart currently serves as the President and Chief Revenue Officer at TribalScale, an innovation firm that delivers product strategy, design, and development for mobile, web, and emerging technologies. She was previously Chief Strategy Officer at Diply, which is ranked as one of the top one hundred popular websites globally, Vice President Media North America at Twitter, and head of English Language Services at CBC. During her term at Twitter, Kirstine oversaw the social network's media activities and partnerships in television, sports, music, fashion, news, and government. Her tenure with CBC Television was noted for reviving the network's prime time ratings with popular series such as Little Mosque on the Prairie, Dragons' Den, Murdoch Mysteries, and Being Erica. Kirstine currently sits on the board of Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone, digital animation firm WOW Unlimited Media, and mobile sports network TheScore.

Wake_HalHal Wake has been engaged with the literary community in Canada for more than 30 years. He has conducted on-stage interviews with Alice Munro, Richard Ford, Rohinton Mistry, and Michael Chabon, amongst many others. In the mid 1980s he was the book producer for CBC Radio’s Morningside with Peter Gzowski. His last position at CBC Radio was as host of the Vancouver morning program, The Early Edition. He has hosted or moderated hundreds of literary events at Festivals in Vancouver, Victoria, Sechelt, New York, London (UK), Auckland, Melbourne, and Sydney. His reviews have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Georgia Straight, and the Vancouver Sun. He is an honorary member of The Writers' Union of Canada and was the Artistic Director of the Vancouver Writers Fest for twelve years.


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