Board of Directors


Mark Zekulin 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, multi-billion dollar enterprise with over 4400 staff located across five continents.

During Mark’s leadership at Canopy Growth, its culture, products, and marketing campaigns all garnered recognition and awards, including as one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures.  In 2019, the Toronto Stock Exchange named Canopy Growth as the top-performing stock over the preceding three years on its inaugural TSX30 listing. The Company also attracted an unprecedented $5 billion investment from Fortune 500 beverage alcohol company Constellation Brands and partnered with leading cultural icons including Drake, Snoop Dogg, Seth Rogen and Martha Stewart.

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 is currently Chief Executive Officer of Decisive Group Inc. Mitchell is responsible for guiding the development, growth, and overall strategic positioning of both companies. Most recently, Mitchell worked as Senior Executive Advisor at Amazon Web Services where he partnered with client executive teams to develop approaches and strategies for the adoption of new technologies and platforms based on industry best practices. Before joining AWS, he held a number of senior leadership roles at IBM Global Business Services, including service line leader, practice leader, Canadian SAP public sector business development leader, and associate partner.

Mitchell holds an MBA from Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business; he served as an alumni mentor at Carleton University and continues to serve as a Board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa. Mitchell holds a B.A. from Queen’s University and a certificate in executive management from Harvard Business School.

Before his career leading and building technology-focused teams, he served in the Canadian Armed Forces. He retired from regular force service in 2011 and reserve force service in 2015.


Lindsay Ostrom currently works in the Finance Department at the Ottawa Hospital. She spent most of her career in Alberta, where she obtained her CPA designation. While in Alberta, Lindsay volunteered at the Calgary Drop-In Center and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. In her free time, Lindsay is an avid hiker and traveler and loves to combine the two. Lindsay looks forward to continuing on the Board as Treasurer.


Emily is a legal counsel with the Department of Justice. Throughout her undergraduate and law school degree, Ms. Villeneuve was actively involved in the community by participating in numerous pro bono projects and volunteering with various community-based organizations, including as a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa.  Emily greatly enjoyed her time as Chair of the Board of Directors and is looking forward to continuing to serve the Board and organization in the role of Past Chair.


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 level 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.


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.


Toni Francis is the Chief Human Resources Officer for the Parliamentary Protective Service. Toni is a graduate of both Carleton and York University. Combining her interest in law, communications, education, and psychology, she has enjoyed a career in Human Resources for over 20 years. 

While her experience falls across the field of Human Resources, she specialized in labour and employee relations for most of her career. Her career has spanned healthcare, policing, government and education, most recently working as the Director of Labour, Employee Relations with the University of Ottawa.

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 is also a mentor with the Afro Caribbean Cotillion, a formalized mentorship program for Afro-Caribbean youth between the ages of 15 and 22.  Toni is a recipient of the Leading Women Leading Girls Building Communities Award from the Government of Ontario and the United Way Community Builder Award.


Matt was born and raised in Windsor ON, attended St. Clair College then went on exchange to Australia for 3 years to complete his Master of Business Sport Management. He returned to Windsor and began working for the Windsor Spitfires Hockey Club where he was in Corporate Sales for 5 years and hosted and won a Memorial Cup with the Spitfires in 2017.

Matt was also involved in coaching minor hockey and volunteering with organizing committees for international sporting events in Windsor. Matt took an opportunity with Spitfires ownership group and transitioned to a Commercial Insurance Broker position with HUB International.

He began volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters Windsor Essex in 2017 as part of the In-School Mentorship program. His Little Brother was in grade 6 and Matt really enjoyed visiting him at his school every week to play board games and help him through a difficult time. Matt joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters Windsor Essex Foundation board in 2018 and assisted in the strategic planning initiative while restructuring the agency and foundation Boards to operate more efficiently and with a greater impact on the community.

Matt recently accepted a Corporate Sales position with the Ottawa Senators in October 2019 and moved to Stittsville to begin his new career. He is really loving living in the Ottawa area despite the much colder temperatures and looking forward to working alongside a board that has been enhancing the lives of youth in Ottawa for 50 years.


Mitchell E. Kutney is passionate about systems change, progressive politics and community development. Throughout his career, Mitchell has raised millions from governments and foundations for local and national institutions, including a $100+ million capital campaign for a provincially funded hospital wing. His work on charitable issues and social innovation have been featured by top-tier print and broadcast media, contributing to over a hundred thousand followers on Twitter. Mitchell participates on multiple Boards, holds a Master’s degree in public policy, and currently serves as the Director of Innovation and Development for Bruyère.


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 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 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.


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.


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.), and most recently, Canopy Growth Corporation’s Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary.

Over his fifteen years as an executive, Phil has not only been responsible for managing and growing Legal Departments, 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.