MARK ZEKULIN, PRESIDENT
Mark is a Founding Partner at The Greater Return, a mission-oriented private investment firm focused on investing in early-stage companies looking to change the world. He is also the Chairman of Invert Inc., an Ottawa-based company that funds and supports projects that reduce or remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
Mark is the former President & CEO of Canopy Growth Corporation. With Canopy Growth since its inception, Mark was instrumental in building one of Canada’s most successful start-ups over the past decade, growing to become a NYSE-listed, $20 billion dollar enterprise with over 4400 staff located across five continents. He holds law degrees from the University of Ottawa and the University of Cambridge and was selected as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2018. Currently, Mark serves as a Fellow at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University, Chair of the Board of Directors of Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa, and is a founding director at Happy Roots Foundation, a private charitable foundation committed to supporting the healthy development of children’s minds and bodies.
Mark is also a Co-Founder and Director of Happy Roots Foundation, a private charitable foundation committed to supporting the healthy development of children’s minds and bodies. Mark holds a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo, a Bachelor of Law from the University of Ottawa, and a Masters in Law from the University of Cambridge, where he specialized in International Law. In 2018, Mark was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40.
MITCHELL CARKNER, VICE-PRESIDENT
As CEO of Decisive Group Inc., Mitchell is responsible for the strategic direction and operation of the organization. Reporting to the board of directors, Mitchell is accountable for creating a great customer experience, delivering on objectives, and leading a team of outstanding professionals.
Before joining DGI, Mitchell held the role of Senior Executive Advisor at AWS, where he worked with c-suite leaders to build strategic and operational plans for the adoption of cloud. Before AWS, Mitchell held several leadership roles at IBM, including service line leader, practice leader, and associate partner.
Mitchell holds a B.A (honours) from Queen’s University. Mitchell holds an MBA from Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, and a certificate in executive management from Harvard Business School. Mitchell is currently the Vice President of the board of directors at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa. Lastly, Mitchell was awarded a member of the 2022 class of the Ottawa Business Journal Top 40 Under 40.
Before his career leading and building technology focused teams, Mitchell served in the Canadian Armed Forces. Mitchell retired from regular force service in 2011 and reserve force service in 2015.
LINDSAY OSTROM, TREASURER
Lindsay Ostrom works in the Finance Department at the Ottawa Hospital, although spent most of her career in Alberta, where she obtained her CPA designation. While in Alberta, Lindsay volunteered often at the Calgary Drop-In Center and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. In her free time, Lindsay is an avid hiker and traveller and loves to combine the two. Lindsay looks forward to continuing on the Board as Treasurer.
LESLIE RAE FERAT, SECRETARY
Leslie Rae Ferat is currently the Executive Director of the Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control (FCA) in Ottawa. She manages the day-to-day operations of the organization and leads a diverse team spread across the world. She also leads the organization’s work on key policy issues such as financing for development, sustainable development, and non-communicable diseases. She is currently a member of the World Health Organization’s Civil Society Working Group on non-communicable diseases, sits on the Board of Directors of the NCD Alliance, and is a member of various Advisory Boards and Scientific Committees.
Leslie has over a decade of international experience, mainly working with low and middle-income countries to collect and use data to drive sustainable development. Before moving to Ottawa and joining the FCA, Leslie lived in Paris, France for almost 15 years where she worked for several international organizations including the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data at the United Nations Foundation.
In addition to sitting on the Board of BBBSO, Leslie also serves as Vice-President of the Board of Directors of St. Mary’s Home in Ottawa. She holds an MSc in International Development (Poverty and Inequality) from the University of Birmingham and is fluent in English and French.
COLIN ANDERSON, MEMBER AT LARGE
Colin is an experienced educator who has worked in Ottawa schools for the last 30 years. Beginning as a secondary school teacher in 1990, Colin taught Math and Computer Science in several high schools across the city before moving into school administration in 2002.
Currently, Colin serves as the System Principal for Safe Schools with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board where he works with educators, police, public health, and other community professionals to support youth and their families dealing with challenges related to safety and well-being.
Colin holds degrees from the University of Waterloo (Bachelor of Mathematics, Honors) and the University of Western Ontario (Bachelor of Education), and is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers and of the Ontario Principals Council, where he spent 8 years representing Ottawa as a Provincial Councillor. This is Colin’s second year on the BBBSO Board.
Colin spent over 20 years coaching basketball at the high school, club, and provincial levels and still loves to spend time with players and coaches in the gym whenever possible. Colin enjoys spending lots of time outdoors, including occasionally spoiling a good walk by combining it with playing golf.
IAN CASCAGNETTE, MEMBER AT LARGE
Ian is the Chief Financial Officer at Pythian following seven years as a Manager with Deloitte & Touche. As a financial expert, Ian is excited by the chance to help businesses around the world transform and win in the data economy.
Ian is a Chartered Professional Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Commerce with the highest honours from Carleton University.
KEITH EGLI, MEMBER AT LARGE
Born in Montreal in 1962, Keith Egli moved to Nepean while still in high school. He graduated from St Pius X high school and then attended the University of Ottawa for both his BA and LLB degrees. As a lawyer for twenty years, Keith had filled a number of roles. He was a partner with the law firm of Radnoff Pearl. He acted as a labour relations officer for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board during its post-amalgamation phase and negotiated collective agreements on its behalf with a number of different union groups. He taught both at the Bar Admissions course and Carleton University. Just prior to coming on as a city councillor, Keith was mediating disputes and heading up the civil litigation department of Langevin Morris Smith.
Keith and his wife Kristen have resided in the neighbourhood of Craig Henry for 20 years. They have 3 children, Ben, Sam, and Noah. Councillor Egli has served as the Chair of the Transportation Committee for 6 years. Over two terms of Council, he has served on the Transit Commission, Library Board, Board of Health, Finance and Economic Development Committee as well as Community and Protective Services Committee.
For the current term of Council, Keith is serving as the Chair of Ottawa Public Health Board, Vice-Chair of Community and Protective Services Committee as well as a member of the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management.
ANTONIA FRANCIS, MEMBER AT LARGE
Toni Francis is the Chief Human Resources Officer for the Senate of Canada. Toni has enjoyed a career in Human Resources for over 20 years, working in healthcare, policing, government and academia. She most recently held the position of Chief Human Resources Officer with the Parliamentary Protective Service. Toni is a graduate of both Carleton and York University.
An avid believer in the importance of leveraging and echoing messages about the role of community for the betterment of our society, she has consistently shared her voice and time with a number of community organizations and formed part of advisory committees in areas of equity and diversity. She has worked to raise awareness about sickle cell disease and is a founding member of the Brent Louis Research Fund, dedicated to raising funds for sickle cell research. Toni has also been a mentor with the Afro-Caribbean Cotillion, a formalized mentorship program for Afro-Caribbean youth between the ages of 15 and 22. She is a recipient of the Leading Women Leading Girls Building Communities Award from the Government Ontario and the United Way Community Builder Award.
MATT HADDAD, MEMBER AT LARGE
Matt is in Premium Seating Sales with the Ottawa Senators. He is from Windsor and attended University in Australia graduating with a Master of Business Sport Management. He worked for the Windsor Spitfires in corporate sales, and hosted and won a Memorial Cup with the Spitfires in 2017. He began volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters Windsor-Essex as part of the In-School Mentorship program. Matt then joined the BBBSWE board and assisted in board restructuring & strategic planning initiatives. Matt has been part of BBBSO since 2019, lives in Stittsville, passionate about hockey, golf, BeaverTails & hiking with his rescue golden retriever Rip. He is really loving living in Ottawa despite the much colder temperatures and enjoying working alongside a board that has been enhancing the lives of youth in Ottawa for over 50 years.
FEYIFUNMI OLUNUGA, MEMBER AT LARGE
Feyifunmi is an experienced Project Manager, she manages projects at the intersection of education and technology. Feyifunmi holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Leeds, an MBA from Leeds Beckett University and upon completion of her research thesis on AI Ethics she will obtain an MSc. in Technology Innovation Management from Carleton University. She is a certified PRINCE 2 Project Manager and a Certified Scrum Master (CSM). While at Carleton, she is serving on the Student Mental Health Committee contributing to Carleton University Student Mental Health Framework 2.0.
MICHAEL QAQISH, MEMBER AT LARGE
Michael Qaqish is currently Manager of Government Relations and Special Advisor to the President at Algonquin College. Prior to joining Algonquin, Michael served as City Councillor for Ward 22 – Gloucester-South Nepean in the 2014-2018 term. He was Vice-Chair of the Transit Commission and a member of the Community and Protective Services Committee, Environment and Climate Protection Committee, Transportation Committee and the Ottawa Board of Health. Mayor Jim Watson, as the City’s Special Liaison, appointed him in January 2016 for Refugee Resettlement and helped lead city efforts to integrate close to 3,000 Syrian newcomers to Ottawa. Michael served as Council Co-Chair for the City’s United Way Campaign.
During his term in office, Michael secured land and funding for a new police station in Barrhaven and a Community Centre, library and pool for Riverside South. He was also instrumental in advancing infrastructure upgrades for his community including the LRT extension to the heart of Riverside South.
A skilled communicator and trusted policy and political advisor, Michael has extensive media background, including a past contributor to CTV National, 580 CFRA News Talk Radio, 1310AM and a former columnist with The Hill Times. He currently hosts a morning show at CHIN Radio Ottawa.
Born in Toronto, Michael graduated with a degree in Psychology from Carleton University. Michael enjoys running and is a former certified Ontario Tennis Association instructor.
PHILLIP SHAER, MEMBER AT LARGE
Phil has been a lawyer for over twenty years, commencing his career at McCarthy Tetrault, where he was part of the M&A/Corporate Finance Group, then moving inhouse to eventually become both General Counsel and Chief Licensing Officer at MOSAID Technologies Inc. (formerly Conversant Intellectual Property Management Inc.). HE THEN JOINED Canopy Growth Corporation WHERE HE WAS Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary. He is currently General Counsel at Invert Inc.
Over his fifteen years as an executive, Phil has not only been responsible for managing and growing Legal Departments, but he’s also had responsibility for Advocacy, Business and Market Research, Chief Medical/Product Safety, Government Relations and Human Resources Departments. He’s also been directly responsible for tens of millions in revenue generation and has overseen billions of dollars in mergers and acquisitions, and investments spanning several dozens of deals.
Phil obtained his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Windsor in 2000 and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature (with a minor in French) from Université Laval. Phil received the Ottawa Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40 Award in 2008, was a finalist in Lexpert®’s Rising Stars—Leading Lawyers Under 40 in 2011, received the Dealmakers (Small Department) Innovation Award in 2017 and received the CGCA Deal Maker of the Year Award in 2019.
Phil is an avid crossfitter, and spends most of his time hanging out with his wife and two teenage daughters.
MICHELLE ALFIERI, MEMBER AT LARGE
Michelle Alfieri is a Senior Managing Partner with Gartner Consulting. In her twenty years of experience working at the world’s largest consulting firms, including Gartner, Deloitte, Accenture and CGI, Michelle is proud to support her public sector clients in implementing technology-powered business transformation programs to drive the execution of critical government priorities and transform how citizens are served. Michelle also worked directly in the public sector as the Director of an enterprise-wide business and technology transformation at Canadian Blood Services to modernize the way the organization attracts, recruits and retains donors.
Michelle holds a degree in Engineering from Western University and has obtained certifications related to project management and information technology. She is a member of the Ottawa chapter of the Project Management Institute.
Michelle is committed to giving back to her profession and community. She is the chair of the Program Advisory Committee for Algonquin College’s Project Management graduate program, a former big sister with Big Brothers and Big Sisters Ottawa and a supporter of various charitable organizations in Ottawa. A passionate champion of women in STEM, Michelle provides mentorship in both informal and formal mentorship programs and is a former Chair of the National Capital Regional Board of Directors of the Women in Communications and Technology organization.
Michelle has called Ottawa home since 2004 and lives in Manotick with her husband and two young sons. She enjoys staying active, reading and spending time outdoors and at the cottage with her family.
MICHAEL S. PURCELL, MEMBER AT LARGE
Michael S. Purcell is an Assistant Crown Attorney in the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG). He prosecutes all manner of offences at the trial and appellate levels before the Ontario and Superior Court of Justice. Prior to joining MAG, Michael served as defence counsel and appeared before all levels of court in Ontario, as well as the Ontario Review Board and Federal Court of Canada.
Michael is a Professor (Part-Time) at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, where he teaches in the areas of criminal and national security law. He previously served as a Contract Instructor in the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University.
Prior to joining BBBSO, Michael sat on the Board of Directors for the John Howard Society of Ottawa and served as a volunteer Ambassador for the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto, which resulted in his receipt of The Counselling Foundation of Canada award for volunteer service.
Michael is a graduate of the University of Ottawa (JD, 2012) and the University of Toronto (Hons. BA, 2008). While in law school, he was a Criminal Division Leader of the Community Legal Clinic. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 2013.