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National Council

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

Andrew Branion
Chair, National Council


Andrew BranionAndrew co-founded Branion Harper Advisory Inc. in the fall of 2019 and is the Managing Partner. He retired from the Bank of Nova Scotia in February 2019 where Andrew was Executive Vice President and Group Treasurer. In this capacity, he 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 joined Scotiabank in 1997 after nine years with the Bank of Canada, and held progressively senor roles in Global Banking and Markets before moving to Global Risk Management in 2012 where he became Executive Vice President and Chief Market Risk Officer. Andrew is the Past Chair of Providence Healthcare Foundation’s Board of Directors and a past member of the Board of Directors of Unity Health Toronto. Andrew holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alberta.

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.

Jennifer Evans

Jennifer EvansJen 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.

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, driving digital marketing, e-commerce and social media strategy initiatives globally. 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. 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 about it; it’s a great story, and gave him valuable experience with navigating social media!) He also is CEO and Co-Founder of Conquer COVID-19, the largest grass-roots movement to source PPE supplies to front-line health care workers across Canada.. His team raised $2.38M dollars in six months and distributed over 3 million pieces of PPE..

He holds a Masters in Computer Science from Dalhousie University and is fluent in English and French.

Mark Sack

Mark SackMark is the Executive Vice President and Global Head of Sales and Marketing for RISE Properties. In this role, Mark is responsible for driving sales deeper in existing retail channels and expanding efforts with institutions, family offices, and endowments/foundations. Mark holds an Honours Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) Degree from the University of Toronto. 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 National Manager at National Bank Financial – Wealth Management, one of the biggest investment brokers in Canada with over 700 Investment Advisors across the country. During the last 19 years, he has 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 achieve their goals as stewards of their values, wealth, and legacy. Julie has over 20 years of capital markets experience across Canada, the UK and Europe, including a Managing Director at Scotiabank where she led Canadian Relationship Management for Global Capital Markets. 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, and was Co-Chair of the True Patriot Love Women’s Expedition to Baffin Island - snowshoeing 100 km and raising over $1 million dollars for 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.

Garth Bobb

Garth BobbGarth is Principal and Managing Director at Kedz Consulting, one of Canada's premier Diversity, Equity, and Anti-Racism consulting firms.

He is a professional consultant, specializing in senior leadership, board training and keynote addresses. He has spent his entire adult life as a social activist, with particular focus on changes to the education curriculum, increased police oversight and corporate equity and inclusion.

He served as a representative and advisor to prominent city councillors and political party leaders on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In his career as a consultant, Garth has represented Indigenous groups and community groups in their efforts to lobby the government.

Vincent Ho

Vincent HoVincent is the President of DR-HO'S Health and Wellness company. DR-HO’S is a leading Canadian supplier of consumer pain relief products with a mission to develop drug-free, clinically effective solutions that help consumers relieve their pain in order to live their best lives. Vincent has more than 10 years experience as a senior executive with a track record of driving organizational growth by focusing on passion, purpose, and people. 

Vincent is also a member of YPO, a global leadership community of more than 29,000 members who have achieved significant leadership success at a young age and are driven by the belief that the world needs better leaders. 

Vincent's purpose for joining the Arthritis Society's National Council is to help raise awareness to one of Canada's most common and debilitating diseases. Arthritis affects us all, either directly or through a loved one. Arthritic pain has such a negative effect on one's quality of life. With greater awareness and funding, we have an opportunity to advance the research needed to live in a world where Arthritis no longer robs you of your independence and most importantly, allows you to do the things that you love to do. 

Nadia Malik

Head, Customer Strategy Bombardier

Nadia Malik

Alison Coville

Retail Executive

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.

Kanish A. Thevarasa

CPA, CA, CMA, Senior Partner

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.

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.

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