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National Council


National Council executive volunteers advise on and actively support fundraising efforts for the Arthritis Society Canada. Members help us raise critical funds and build long-lasting relationships with donors.

Andrew Branion
Chair, National Council

Chair

Andrew BranionCo-founded Branion Harper Advisory Inc. in the fall of 2019 and is the Managing Partner. Andrew retired from the Bank of Nova Scotia at the end of February, 2019 where he was Executive Vice President and Group Treasurer. In this capacity, Andrew was responsible for managing Scotiabank’s global treasury and investment operations, including medium-term and capital funding, asset/liability management, liquidity and public and private investment portfolios. Andrew was past Chairman of Providence Healthcare Foundation Board and a member of the Board of Directors of Unity Health Toronto. Andrew holds a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Finance from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alberta.

Jennifer Evans

Jennifer EvansJen Evans is an award-winning inventor, serial tech entrepreneur and community activist. She is the founder of SqueezeCMM, an award winning content analytics platform recently rated in the global top 5 by product review site G2 Crowd, and B2B News Network, the top ranked site worldwide for B2B News. Jen is an advisor to Canada’s Most Admired CEO, Mohamad Fakih, and Green Party leadership candidate Dr Courtney Howard. She is an accomplished artist and instructor, with a gallery show and multiple commissioned works, and has helped privately raise over $6.5 million for causes such as 650 Parliament ($150,000 in three days), Toronto homelessness $850,000 over three years, a cause in which she is also personally active, and CanadaStrong.

Sulemaan Ahmed

Sulemaan AhmedSulemaan is the Co-Founder of Servo Annex, and Principal Educator. Throughout his career Sulemaan has worked in senior positions with brands such as Apple, Sears and Air Canada. He was responsible for driving digital marketing, e-commerce and social media strategy initiatives globally. Recent speaking and teaching engagements include keynote presentations to executive education programs and Young Presidents Organization (YPO) chapters and events. In addition, he has trained senior executive members of Fortune 500, Owner-Operated and privately held companies globally.

Sulemaan served on the Board of Directors for White Ribbon for seven years. He was a regular contributor for The Huffington Post. As a result of a tweet of his that went viral, Sulemaan has also become an advocate for families whose children are affected by “no fly list” restrictions. (Ask him; it’s a great story, and one that has given him valuable first-hand experience with navigating through social media!)

He also is CEO and Co-Founder of Conquer COVID-19 which was the largest grass-roots led movement to source critical PPE supplies to front-line health care workers across Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic where the team raised $2.38 Million dollars in six months and distributed over 3 Million pieces of PPE across Canada.

He completed his Masters in Computer Science from Dalhousie University in 2003 and is fluent in English and French.

Nadia Malik

Nadia MalikNadia Malik is currently the Quality Manager for the Challenger Business Aircraft at Bombardier. Nadia started her career at Bombardier Aerospace as a summer intern and was hired upon graduation. Nadia has been extremely fortunate to have worked in many different roles with increasing responsibility throughout here 15 years including customer support engineering, project engineering, product planning/marketing, customer experience and now quality/production. Nadia graduated from McGill University with a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering followed by an MBA at HEC Montreal.

Mark Sack

Mark SackMark Sack is Vice President & Head of the Canadian Institutional Business for Mackenzie Investments. Since joining the firm in this role in 2017, Mark has added over $2 billion CAD in assets from across Canadian pension funds, endowments, foundations and investment consulting entities. Mark studied medical/biological sciences at the University of Toronto and graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) Degree in 1984, followed by two years of nephrology research at the Banting Institute. After applying to medical school three times and sitting on the waiting list, Mark launched an educational career in business at the University of Toronto, followed by executive education at the Harvard (Marketing/HR) & Wharton (Investments) business schools. Mark holds the Chartered Investment Manager Designation (CIM) and is an Associate Portfolio Manager.

Simon Lemay

Simon LemaySimon is currently a Senior Vice President and the National Manager at National Bank Financial – Wealth Management, one of the biggest investment brokers in Canada with more than 850 Wealth Advisors across the country. During the last 20 years, he played a key role in the expansion of the firm outside of Quebec and in building a strong entrepreneurial culture. Simon is known as a growth oriented leader with a transparent, collaborative and innovative approach. He is also a 2016 IIAC Top Under 40 award nominee. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Finance and IT from HEC Montreal.

Firas Abu Saleh

Firas Abu SalehFiras is the co-founder and CEO of Prep Doctors, growing the start-up to a reputable organization serving hundreds of dentists and practices every year. With an education from Harvard Business School, Ryerson University, York University and a background in engineering and business, Firas co-founded Prep Doctors with one vision – to create an inclusive learning space for dentists from all over the globe. Prep Doctors began as an idea between friends to help dentists get qualified to practice in Canada – with Firas’ entrepreneurial vision, the institute has become Canada’s largest private dental institute and is ever-expanding. His mission is to create as many opportunities as possible for healthcare professionals to thrive and pursue their passion in Canada.

Julie Cowan

Julie CowanJulie is a Partner and Relationship Lead at Grayhawk Wealth, where she helps successful Canadian families and foundations to achieve their goals as stewards of their values, wealth and legacy. Julie has over 25 years of capital markets experience across Canada, the UK and Europe. She was most recently a Managing Director at Scotiabank where she led Canadian Relationship Management for Global Capital Markets. Always client-focused, her prior experience includes 11 years at Morgan Stanley in equity derivative sales. Julie sits on the Board of Halton Women’s Place, dedicated to helping women and children live violence-free lives. She was the Co-Chair of the True Patriot Love Women’s Expedition to Baffin Island snowshoeing 100 m and raising over $1 million dollars for Canadian veterans and their families. Julie has also held leadership roles with 100 Women in Finance and Women in Capital Markets. Julie holds an MBA from London Business School (UK), an Honours Co-Op BA Economics from the University of Waterloo and the CFA designation

Keith Nugara

Keith NugaraPrior to Dye and Durham, Keith joined Emergis in 2001 and held various senior positions in the financial services sector, Keith was appointed Senior Vice-President, Financial Services Market in January 2007, in this role, he was responsible for the growth and management of the Emergis’ bank-centric business in the financial services sector, including managing the consolidated TELUS Financial Solutions portfolio after the acquisition of Emergis in 2008.  In 2014, Keith joined the TELUS Health Benefits & Payment Solutions managing Sales & Business Development and continuing on in 2020 by joining TELUS Business Solutions. In December 2021, Dye and Durham acquired TELUS Financial Solutions, where Keith continues to oversee the Financial Solutions business, helping Financial Institutions connect with their customers.

Mr. Nugara has over 30 years of experience in banking, insurance and financial services. He has held various positions with a major Canadian bank in operations, product management and sales. Previously, he managed his own consulting company specializing in technology solutions for electronic payments in the financial services sector.

Mr. Nugara holds an Honours Bachelor of Commerce in Business Administration from the University of Windsor. He received a Certificate for the completion of the Executive Leadership Program from the Rotman & INSEAD School of Business and Harvard Business School. He has Co-chaired several United Way campaigns and TELUS Cares events. He is a member of the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), the Canadian Institute of Mortgage Brokers and Lenders (CIMBL) and Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD).  Keith is a former Member of the Board of Directors of the Interac Association, Scarborough Health Network and is currently on the board for Scarborough Business Association and Arthritis Society

Alison Coville

Alison CovilleAlison is a Canadian retail leader and former President of Hudson’s Bay. Having held various Senior Executive roles over 20 years at HBC she was an integral part of the revitalization and growth of this iconic brand. Drawing on her extensive experience in merchandising, marketing, store operations and financial expertise Alison brings strategic oversight and insights that benefit the bottom-line. In a highly competitive and ever-changing industry she has ‘done it all’ with a strong sense of urgency balanced with a long-term view of where the business is going.

Alison is also an active member in the community, having served on the Board of Directors Providence Healthcare Foundation (part of the Unity Health Toronto hospital network) and is a member of Providence’s Strategic Advisory Council. As a contributor to The Collective Wisdom of High Performing Women (Barlow Publishing), Alison dedicates time mentoring and offering sage advice to young people — especially young women — about how they can move up in organizations while remaining true to themselves and to their families. Alison’s greatest joy comes from her wonderful children and husband and the success each of them has had while being her biggest fans.

Gilles LeVasseur

Gilles LeVasseurGilles LeVasseur is a University of Ottawa professor in Business and Law and as lectured in six other universities in Canada. He has been lecturing for years abroad in China and France. Over the years, he chaired several national and provincial organizations in law, business, military, language issues and health. Presently, he Chair the Federal Court Challenge Program, President of the Ingenium Foundation and President Chamberfest. Being a public representative for Ontario on the Public Accounting Licensing Board – CPA Ontario, he previously was serving on the board of directors of the CGA Ontario. He’s been a member of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, involved in providing advice regarding discrimination, protection of human rights, harassment and all forms of violence including sexual violence and past president of the Institute of Public Administration.

In addition, Mr. LeVasseur was a former legal officer in the military field (JAG Lawyer) involved in enforcing legislation following complex investigations dealing with human rights, harassment, and work violence. Being a university professor, Mr. LeVasseur, teaches courses in Management (Human Resources, Organizational Behaviour) and Law (Mediation and Arbitration, Human Rights and Investigations).

He has been honoured with more than forty-five honours and awards, including seven Fellowships and Honorary Doctorates including the Order of Ontario, the Order of Ottawa, the Sovereign’s Caring Award, the 50th and 60th Golden Jubilee Medals, Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor for Heritage Protection, the Senate Medal for the 150th Canadian Confederation, the Ontario Bar Medal and Commander of the Order of the Pléiade. Mr. LeVasseur is a member of the Ontario and Québec Bars and includes other professional corporations (CMC, PMP, CHE, ACHE).

Melanie Philip

Melanie Philip is the Associate Vice President Quality & Integrations for BGIS Global Integrated Solutions. She is responsible for the quality and continuous improvement strategy, implementation and maintenance of ISO Quality Standard 9001:2015. Melanie has built a strong team to drive value from the standard’s framework in productivity and cost effectiveness for BGIS and its customers and bring innovation to their service delivery. She is also responsible for the integration of acquisitions to BGIS technology and processes. She is passionate about driving results through building high performing teams.

Prior to this position, Melanie spent 21 years at Xerox Canada in sales, finance and continuous improvement roles. Using her finance and sales background, she became a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt leading transformational projects driving both strategic and profit focused results.

Melanie holds an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree from McMaster University. She lives in Toronto with her husband and has 2 children.

Kanish A. Thevarasa, CPA, CA

Kanish A. ThevarasaSince he co-founded Kanish & Partners in 2000, Kanish has been committed to providing high-quality consulting advice and accounting services to small and medium-sized, owner-operated businesses. Kanish is both a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant. He has more than three decades of experience in public practice focusing on Assurance Services, Tax, Corporate Finance, and Business Consulting.

He is recognized not only for his professionalism in his chosen field, but also for his entrepreneurial spirit and his dedication to finding growth-oriented solutions for clients.

Contributing to the larger community also plays a major role in his life as Kanish has donated his time to many organizations. He sat on the Providence Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors and was an advisor and counselor to the Association of Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario. In addition, he continues to be actively involved in several other non-profit charities and cultural groups.

Ashleigh Brown

Ashley BrownRecently recognized as one of BC’s Most Influential Business Leaders in Professional Services -Staffing and Development, Ashleigh brings over 17 years’ experience in senior recruitment advisory, business consulting, and strategic relationship management to her role as Group Managing Director, Western Canada for Robert Half Executive Search.

Specializing in retained search for senior-level professionals in industrial, non-profit, financial services, healthcare, consumer products and institutional sectors, Ashleigh manages executive recruitment engagements across all functions in throughout North America. On behalf of her clients, she addresses a broad array of talent management, leadership, M&A, recruitment, compensation, and succession issues. Prior to her long standing career with Robert Half, Ashleigh held numerous roles with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Alberta, eventually overseeing operations in English Television.

Ashleigh has a passion for anything golf and participates regularly in high level Ladies Amateur competition throughout Canada.

Ashleigh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce with a focus in Accounting from the University of Alberta.

Martha Harrison

Martha HarrisonMartha Harrison is a partner in the International Trade and Investment Law, and Retail and Consumer Markets Groups in Toronto. She is also the coordinator of the firm’s Advertising and Marketing practice. With industry expertise spanning retail & consumer markets, power, mining, food / agriculture, oil & gas, and the technology sector, Martha acts as a trusted business advisor to clients, balancing international trade and regulatory law, from a Canadian perspective.

Martha offers a full suite of international trade and investment services, including customs law, anti-dumping and countervail issues, import/export controls, treaty compliance, public procurement, foreign investment, and investor-state disputes. She also routinely appears before regulators at all stages of trade disputes. As part of her advertising, marketing and regulatory practice, Martha provides proactive and pragmatic advice on product regulation in Canada, including standards, packaging and labelling, importing and exporting issues, transportation, and supply chain matters. Martha guides clients through the application of product standards along the supply chain, and advises on marketing rules surrounding regulated products, such as cosmetics, natural health products, medical devices, foods, and over-the-counter drugs. An experienced and sought-after member of the trade bar, Martha is focused on results-based compliance and helps clients in regulated product markets navigate both trade and regulatory business hurdles, to optimize growth opportunities inside and outside of Canada.

Due to her unique expertise, Martha is also known in the Canadian cannabis industry as an expert on trade, advertising, marketing and regulatory issues for cannabis products, hemp, and related products.

A former adjunct professor of international arbitration at Queen’s University and MBA sessional instructor at DeGroote School of Business, Martha regularly speaks on matters related to trade, consumer regulation and international arbitration. She was also selected by the Government of Canada to be listed on the roster of arbitrators to serve on panels established under Chapter 19 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In 2013, she was named one of Lexpert’s Rising Stars: Leading Lawyers Under 40 and is recognized as a leading Canadian international trade lawyer by a number of industry and peer-review directories.

Martha received her LLM from The University of Toronto in 2005, her LLB in 2001 from the University of Windsor, and her M.A. and her B.A. from York University in 1998 and 1997 respectively. She was called to the bar in Ontario in 2002.

Dr. Kam Shojania

Dr. Kam Shojania is a rheumatologist in practice since 1995. He is a Clinical Professor at the University of British Columbia and Head of the Division of Rheumatology at Vancouver General Hospital. He is the Medical Director of the Vancouver Coastal Health’s Mary Pack Arthritis Program – the provincial arthritis program in British Columbia. He has received the UBC Faculty of Medicine Award for Excellence in Teaching, the UBC Master Teacher Award and the Canadian Rheumatology Association Educator Award. Dr. Shojania has over 100 publications and six book chapters. He has a special interest in improving the health of people with arthritis through early lifestyle measures and early intervention.

Shareef Isa

Shareef IsaDivision Director at IG Wealth Management

Diana Gazdar

Diana GazdarDiana Gazdar is a dynamic executive who connects higher purpose with customer centricity to consistently improve brand equity, capture market share, and develop new markets.

As Medline Canada’s Vice President of Marketing, Corporate Communications, and Consumer Sales, Diana is responsible for the brand, communications, and activation strategy across Acute, Long Term Care, Primary Care, and Dental channels. Diana also leads the go-to-market and P&L activities for the Home Healthcare and Retail channels.

In 2022, Diana led the integration and transformation of the Medline brand in Canada to connect to the company’s purpose of Together Improving Care™. Diana places superior customer experiences and digital innovation at the heart of Medline’s marketing strategy.

Diana is an executive sponsor for Medline Canada’s Brave Conversations and Women’s Alliance employee resource groups, which focus on starting critical conversations, unearthing biases, promoting access and inclusion, and mentoring and development opportunities for underrepresented employees.

Before joining Medline, Diana held sales and marketing leadership roles for technology and professional services organizations, including Xerox Canada and RR Donnelly. Diana currently serves on Medtech Canada’s Board of Directors and is a member of their Federal Affairs Committee. She is also proud to serve on the Arthritis Society’s National Council to help Fight the Fire of arthritis through awareness, education, advocacy, research and innovation.

Trish Barbato

Trish BarbatoPresident and CEO, Arthritis Society

Trish Barbato brings more than 20 years of experience as a senior executive in the fields of health and senior living. She has built an impressive reputation as a leader skilled at driving organizational change, guiding organizations to innovate, harnessing technology and inspiring people to achieve clear strategic objectives. Prior to joining the Arthritis Society in 2020, Trish served with senior living provider Revera Inc. for over a decade in a variety of roles, most recently as Senior Vice President, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships. She was previously President & CEO of COTA Health, a rehabilitation, mental health, and support services organization. Trish holds a degree from the University of Waterloo and is a Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant.

Jennifer Stewart

Jennifer StewartChief Development Officer, Arthritis Society

Jennifer Stewart has been a professional fundraiser for almost three decades, including 20 years as president and CEO of Providence Healthcare Foundation. She joined the Arthritis Society as Chief Development Officer in Spring 2020 to lead the national development team.  Among her many achievements at Providence, Jennifer guided the completion of the $28-million campaign to build the Cardinal Ambrozic Houses of Providence and the $5-million endowment fund that sustains it.  At the Arthritis Society, she directs a clear and compelling fundraising vision, with a goal to raise $40 million fundraising dollars annually to fund the organization’s research, advocacy, and information solutions for people with arthritis. Jennifer holds an honours BA from Western University, and a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) designation.

Al Behrouzan

President, Bosseini Living

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