Board of Directors

Current Directors

Verna J. Kirkness, Honourary Chair – Member of the Fisher River Cree Nation
A lifelong advocate of Indigenous education, Verna Kirkness created new learning opportunities for Canada’s Indigenous people through her work as a teacher, counselor, consultant and professor. As the first education director for what is now the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Assembly of First Nations, she played a pivotal role in the development of the MIBs position paper, Wahbung: Our Tomorrows and the 1972 landmark policy of Indian Control of Indian Education. As a professor at the University of British Columbia, she worked to extend new programs, support services and cultural enrichment to Indigenous students. Verna has written and edited eight books and is published extensively in academic journals. She has received numerous awards, including the Order of Canada in 1998.

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Gerry Brach
Gerry graduated from U.B.C. in 1990, with a M.Ed. in Counselling Psychology. He is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who has worked extensively as a school and private clinical counsellor. Passionate about working with First Nations youth, Gerry works to help students recognize and develop their strengths and to find ways to highlight and share their talents. It has been with this focus that he has developed and facilitated numerous programs for Tla’amin Nation in and around the Powell River, B.C. area.

DeDe DeRose
DeDe was British Columbia’s first Superintendent of Aboriginal Achievement, and is a prominent advocate for Aboriginal student success. Born in Williams Lake to a Secwepempc family and as a member of the Esketemc First Nation, DeRose graduated from UBC’s Indigenous Teacher’s Education Program (NITEP) with a Bachelor of Education in 1981. She also earned a Diploma in Education in 1990, and completed the UBC Ts”kel Master’s Program in 1993. DeRose taught in the Cariboo Chilcotin School District for nine years, and then served as principal for various elementary schools in the Kamloops/Thompson School District for nearly two decades. In 2012, DeRose was appointed to the BC Ministry of Education as the first ever Superintendent of Aboriginal Achievement. The position was created to improve the rates of high-school graduation for Aboriginal youth, which is on average 30% lower than non-Aboriginal students.

Morgan Laboucan, Verna J Kirkness Program alumna (2016)
Morgan attended the program as a grade 11 student in 2016 and is now in 3rd year Philosophy at  the University of Calgary with a goal to study Law.  Joining the Board of Directors in October 2019, Morgan brings an important student perspective to the board and will assist in increasing our social media presence and help better connect program alumni .  Morgan is a member of the Driftpile Cree Nation near High Prairie Alberta. During the Month of the programs Morgan is acts as a program coordinator on site.

Patrick Lauzon, Vice-President
Mr. Lauzon is a resident of White Rock, British Columbia.  He graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree from UBC in 1978 and did advanced studies at Simon Fraser University.  From 1981 to 2010 he held a range of positions in Western Canada.  In 2001 he was appointed Manager for Corporate Affairs and Policy for Merck Frosst Canada in BC with responsibility for liaison with the academic health research community, the business and biotechnology sector, patient and disease advocacy groups and the BC government.

Tyson MacGillivray, President
Mr. MacGillivray is a resident of Winnipeg, Manitoba. He received his BSc. from St. Francis Xavier University in 1996. Tyson is the Area 3 Superintendent of the Frontier School Division. Prior to this, he was a teacher, vice-principal and a principal in the Shamattawa Education Authority. He chairs the School Advisory Committee for the Foundation and was also instrumental in the recruitment of Program participants from Winnipeg high schools.

Tony Williams, Chairman
Mr. Williams is an alumni of the U of M Faculty of Science where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Mathematics. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries. He is a founder and former president of PBI Actuarial Consultants, Ltd. with head office in Vancouver. During his career he has provide actuarial and consulting advice to organizations in the private sector and public sector across Canada. His clients included First Nations, whom he advised regarding risk and investment management of their land claims settlement funds.

Ron Woznow, Executive Director
Dr. Ron Woznow is a resident of Powell River, British Columbia. He founded the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation in 2008 along with Susan O’Brien. He has served in executive positions in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors.  Ron Woznow has 30 years of board experience with Canadian charitable organizations including Science World BC, the BC Children’s and Family Research Institute and the North-South Institute.

Past Directors

Allan Bonner
Dr. Allan Bonner is a resident of Toronto, Ontario.  He is an author, journalist and founder of Allan Bonner and Associates a media relation’s consultancy.  Allan Bonner has coached approximately 30,000 people to deal with some of the most controversial and public issues of our time.

Mark Fattedad
Mr. Fattedad joined Jarislowsky Fraser in 2006 and is a Partner in the firm’s Vancouver office. He is a registered portfolio manager and advises both institutional and private clients on investment strategy, investment policy and portfolio management. He serves on the Board of the Down Syndrome Research Foundation and is a member of the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee.

Ethel Gardner
Dr Stelómethet Ethel B Gardner is Stó:lō, and a member of the Skwah First Nation in B.C., with a PhD from Simon Fraser University, an Ed.M. from Harvard, a M.Ed from the University of British Columbia (UBC)’s Tsk’‘kel Program, and a B.Ed. from UBC’s Native Indian Teacher Education Program (NITEP). Her career in the field of Education spans over 30 years, and includes a passion for Indigenous language revitalization. Dr Gardner has led the design and development of unique Indigenous teacher education programs at Simon Fraser (Stó:lō DSTC) and Lakehead Universities (Honours B.Ed (Indigenous ) and at the University of Alberta, Dr Gardner assumed a leading role in Indigenous Language Education (ILE).

Barry Jones
Dr. Barry Jones is a resident of Fredricton, New Brunswick.  He has over 30-years’ experience working with government, industry and as a consultant in both fisheries’ research and management positions.  Barry Jones has served on the boards of community organizations including the Canadian Red Cross Society/Fredricton Branch and the York Credit Union.

Susan O’Brien
Ms. O’Brien is a resident of Powell River, British Columbia. She co-founded the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation in 2008 along with Ron Woznow. From 1979 until 2001 she held the position of Administrative Analyst in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego Center for Molecular Genetics. Additionally, from 1992 to 1996 she was the operations manager for Myelos Neurosciences. She is also co-founder of the Verna J. Kirkness Science and Engineering Education Program.

Emőke J.E. Szathmáry
Dr. Szathmáry is a resident of Winnipeg, Manitoba. She was President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manitoba between 1996 and 2008. As president emeritus and professor she is continuing her academic appointments in the Department of Anthropology as well as in the Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics. Earlier she served as Provost and Vice-President (Academic) at McMaster University, Dean of Social Science at the University of Western Ontario, and Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at McMaster.

Ulandi Teubes, Treasurer
Ulandi Teubes is an Associate and the BC Region Operations Manager at Golder Associates Ltd., a global employee-owned engineering and environmental consulting services company with approximately 100 offices worldwide. Ulandi works in Golder’s Vancouver office as a part of a small senior leadership team that collaborates with the Principals and Associates of the region to develop and implement strategy, and manage the operations. Ulandi has been active in supervisory and management positions for 30 years and this is mostly attributable to her sincere interest in identifying and providing opportunities for people, mentorship to support their career growth and confidence development.

Diana Palmerin Velasco
Dr. Diana Palmerin Velasco is a resident of Guelph, Ontario where she is the Cultural Diversity Specialist at the Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo YMCA. She graduated with an MSc. in Social Psychology from the London School of Economics and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO). Her research work focused on the impact of immigration on women and family. She will lead the development of a survey to measure the impact of the Kirkness Program on the participants’ career choices and their roles as mentors within their communities.

Mark Whitmore
Dr. Mark Whitmore was Associate Dean of Science at Memorial University of Newfoundland for three years, and Dean of Science at the University of Manitoba for a 10-year term, where he continues as Professor of Physics. He has served on several boards of directors, including the University of Manitoba and a number of not-for-profit research organizations. He has a particular interest in supporting the success of all students and educating all citizens in the value and importance of science to society and to them personally.