Governance at the Gardens
Royal Botanical Gardens, a registered charitable organization, is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, comprised of community members, appointed representatives of four levels of government, and the Gardens’ volunteer group.
Governance is accomplished by ensuring that the Gardens fulfills its legislated mandate, and that its mission, policies and strategies are appropriate and current. The Board also ensures financial responsibility in asset management, future resources, and capital project spending. In addition, the Board approves the Gardens’ annual budget, paying close attention to serving the public’s interest and trust.
The Board advocates the Gardens’ interests to the political and corporate sectors, and the community. Each member of the Board is committed to contributing his or her time, energy, ideas and support to Royal Botanical Gardens.
RBG Board of Directors
Kevin Brady – Director
About Kevin Brady
Kevin Brady has been on RBG’s Board since 2013 and was appointed as an additional member in place of appointments by the Governor-General-in-Council. He is currently Chair of the Ad-hoc Campaign Committee in support of the recently approved RBG 25-year Master Plan. Kevin is Managing Partner, NFP Canada and Chairman and Founder. Advica Health. He is a leader in the health and benefits field. His vast experience includes holding a senior management position within one of Canada’s largest insurance companies as well as starting his own employee benefits company. ln addition he saw a need to help companies and employees with health solutions and therefore founded Advica Health. This organization assists companies and individuals by improving their health and providing health and wellness solutions. Kevin shares his expertise in the area of health and wellness through volunteering and giving back to his community. He has served on many boards in the health and wellness field including Board Chair for both the YMCA and his local hospital, where he led a multi-million $ campaign. He is also a sought-after speaker on the topic of how companies can improve their profits through employee health and wellness. Kevin holds a B.Com. (Hons) degree from Laurentian University. He has been recognized as Citizen of the Year in 2OO7 and Philanthropist of the year in 2010 for his philanthropic work in his city. He has also received the esteemed Queen’s Jubilee Medal that is awarded by the Queen in recognition for being an outstanding community member. Kevin leads a very active life and has qualified a number of times for the Triathlon World Championships representing Canada.
Marlis Butcher – Director
About Marlis Butcher
Marlis Butcher joined the Royal Botanical Gardens Board of Directors in 2021 as a Board appointee. She is an environmental conservationist, author, and photographer who has been published in various magazines and websites. She has visited all of Canada’s National Parks and has written a book on her experiences “Park Bagger – Adventures in the Canadian National Parks”. Marlis is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and sits on the Membership Committee of the International Explores Club promoting field research. She is a Chartered Director (McMaster University
2015) and CPA/CMA (Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada 1992).
Marlis holds a B.Comm (McGill University 1986) and an MBA (Concordia University 1986). She has served on the board of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, their Finance and Risk Committee, their Environment Committee, and as a Trail Maintenance Director. She enjoyed a 28 year career at TD Bank, including being the Finance Lead on many large, internal technology projects. She retired in 2013 as Manager, Financial Portfolio Management Office, Process Improvement. Marlis is currently Director and CEO of MB Management Consulting Inc., Burlington, Ontario.
Dr. David W. Conrath – Chair, Audit & Finance Committee
About Dr. David W. Conrath
After spending many years as a volunteer member of the Audit and Finance Committee, David joined RBG’s Board of Directors in 2015 as a RBG Board appointee and currently serves as Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee. He retired as Dean of the College of Business at San José State University. David started his academic career at the University of California at Berkeley, and held permanent positions at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo (Canada). He has had extensive teaching and research relationships with the Université d’Aix-Marsaille III in France and Nanyang Technical University in Singapore. Immediately prior to joining San Jose State, David was Professor of Management Science-Information Systems and Dean of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University, Canada. He holds a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. in economics and Ph.D. in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley, and a M.Sc. from Carnegie-Mellon University. He is a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario. David has published over 100 articles in refereed academic journals and conference proceedings. He is also co-author of several books and book length manuscripts. His teaching and research interests include: the analysis, design, implementation and evaluation of information/telecommunication systems; telemedicine; organizational structure and design; and electronic commerce. He has been active as a consultant in his areas of expertise and has served on a number of boards of directors, including three privately held telecommunication companies. Past clients include: A.T. & T., Bell Canada, Bell-Northern Research, Commission of the European Communities, Dept. of Communication (Canadian Gov’t), Gulf Oil, l’Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique (French Gov’t), Ministry of Government Services (Ontario Gov’t), Motorola, Nortel, P.T. & T. (French Gov’t), Rome Air Development Center, U.S. Army Electronics Command.
Dr. David Farrar – Director
About David H. Farrar
David H. Farrar joined RBG’s Board of Directors in 2019 Ex-Officio, appointed by virtue of Office. He is the President and Vice-Chancellor at McMaster University and a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. David took up the position of Acting President in July 2019, having served as Provost and Vice-President (Academic) since October 2017, and was appointed President in December 2019. He joined McMaster from the University of British Columbia where he served as Provost from 2007 to 2015, and subsequently as Advisor to the Interim President and then as Interim President and Vice-Chancellor. Prior to that he served as Deputy-Provost and Vice-Provost Students at the University of Toronto, where he had responsibility for all central enrolment, student affairs and student service activities. David received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Toronto, and his doctorate from the University of Western Ontario. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge and then a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Toronto for 26 years. During that time he also served as Chair of the Department. He has authored or co-authored over 80 technical papers, holds five patents, and has supervised more than 25 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Dr. Farrar has also served on several external Boards.
Larissa Fenn – Director
About Larissa Fenn
Larissa Fenn has been on RBG’s Board of Directors since 2015 appointed by Council, Regional Municipality of Halton. She served as Vice Chair of the Governance Committee from 2019 to 2020 and became Chair of the Governance Committee in 2020. Larissa is Director, Public Affairs & Corporate Secretary for the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority and previously held positions with Credit Valley Conservation, Canadian Bankers Association, and the Regional Municipality of Halton. She holds a B.A.(Hons) in Political Science from Queens University, completed the Senior Public Sector Leader program at the Ivey Business School at Western University, and holds the APR designation from the Canadian Public Relations Society. Larissa is an active member of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Policy Council and Chamber of Marine Commerce. She is a past recipient of the American Association of Port Authorities Overall Award of Merit, CVC Innovation Award, Alberta Consumer Champion Award of Distinction, and the Canadian Public Relations Society Award of Merit. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications.
Councillor Lloyd Ferguson – Director
About Lloyd Ferguson
Councillor Lloyd Ferguson has been on RBG’s Board since 2019 appointed by Council, City of Hamilton. He is currently Councillor for Ward 12, City of Hamilton and has previously served as an Ancaster Town Councillor and on Wentworth County Board of Education. Lloyd is a life long Ancaster resident and has served his community in a variety of roles with not-for-profit groups and organizations: including Hamilton Regional Conservation Authority; Hamilton Utilities Corporation; and Hamilton Health Sciences. He spent 33 years with Dufferin Construction, the last 13 years as general manager with full profit and loss responsibilities. Lloyd has served on many corporate boards: including Canadian Highways International Corporation; TCG Asphalt and Construction Ltd.; Cayuga Materials & Construction Co. Limited; Labourers International Union – AGC Education and Training Fund; Total Roadway Engineering Corporation; Strabag Inc.; and Regional Sewer and Watermain Ltd. He received a Canadian Construction Association Award of Excellence and held leadership positions in many other industry associations. Lloyd completed the Senior Management Program at McGill University, Montreal, graduated from a four-year C.I.M. Program at McMaster University, Hamilton, Graduated with an Industrial Management Diploma from Mohawk College, Hamilton; amongst many other courses.
Frank Ferragine – Director
Councillor Kelvin Galbraith – Director
About Kelvin Galbraith
Kelvin Galbraith has been on the RBG’s Board since 2018 appointed by Council, Regional Municipality of Halton. He was sworn in to Burlington City Council and Halton Regional Council in December 2018 and currently serves as Ward/Regional Councillor of Ward 1, comprised of the Aldershot, Tyandaga and Maple Communities. Kelvin was born and raised in the Aldershot community and currently lives and works within the boundaries of the Aldershot mobility hub. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons) from Brock University. Applying his business training, hard work and a passion for serving people, Kelvin has successfully owned and managed several businesses in Aldershot including a property holding company and The Fitness Firm Inc., for the past 20 years. He has volunteered and served as Chairman of the Aldershot Village Business Improvement Association for the past 11 years and was a founding member. Kelvin assists in coaching several of his children’s hockey teams and is a committed player on several teams throughout the year and the family cottage is his favourite getaway.
Ingrid Hann – Director
About Ingrid Hann
Ingrid Hann was appointed to RBG’s Board in 2020 as a Board appointed member. She is a driven, committed and highly respected Executive Human Resources leader with extensive multi-industry experience creating value-add through organizational development and executing on strategic human resource initiatives that enable business excellence. Ingrid retired from De Beers Canada as Vice President, Human Resources after spending 10 years in that position. She has also held senior positions within manufacturing, facilities management and service, aerospace and electrical distribution industries. A graduate of the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Relations and Counselling Studies, having earned the designation of Certified Human Resources Executive (CHRE). She received the University of Waterloo Alumni Achievement Award in 2010. Ingrid has extensive Board experience having served on the Boards of Sheridan College (Chair HR Committee), Hydro (Chair HR Committee), Blue Hills Family Services (Vice Chair) in Aurora, Mining Industry Human Resources Council (Chair), Ontario Mining Association (Chair Education Committee), Living Arts Centre (Chair HR Committee), Mississauga, Oakville Senior Citizens’ Residence (Vice Chair), and Crime Stoppers of Halton, Oakville. In addition to RBG’s Board she currently serves on the Board of Nucleus Independent Living, Oakville. In addition to RBG’s Board, she currently serves on the Halton Regional Police Services Board through a Regional Council re-appointment, and the Board of Nucleus Independent Living, Oakville.
Deborah Harasym – Board Vice-Chair
About Deborah Harasym
Deborah Harasym was appointed to RBG’s Board of Directors in 2021 as an RBG Appointee. She previously served a one year term in 2018 on RBG’s Board and has also served on numerous board committees in addition to her past role as President of RBG’s Volunteer Council. Deborah is an innovative, results oriented business leader with 36 years of experience managing operations, business turnarounds and strategic change initiatives. Senior positions held include Vice President Business Transformation for Pitney Bowes Canada, Vice President Organization Effectiveness for MDS Inc., and Vice President Operations for Denco. She is a graduate of Western’s Ivey School of Business. A committed volunteer, Deborah has served the community in a variety of positions including Regional Director, President and Scholarship Foundation chair for CFUW Burlington, President and District Interact Chair for the Burlington North Rotary Club and Board Member and Allocations Chair for the United Way of Oakville.
Matt Johnston – Director
Alexandra Lawson – Chair, Governance Committee
About Alexandra Lawson
Alexandra Lawson has been a member of RBG’s Board of Directors since 2020 appointed by the Lieutenant- Governor-in-Council, Province of Ontario. Alexandra has over two decades of experience in public affairs. She joined McMaster University in August 2011 as Executive Advisor Public Affairs. Before joining McMaster she worked for almost twelve years advising both not-for-profit clients and businesses in strategic communications and public affairs. At McMaster she leads a public affairs team who work across the university to develop and enhance external relationships in support of the University’s mission and vision. Alexandra was elected by her peers to serve on the volunteer board for university government relations officers for the past several years. The group focuses on key issues impacting the sector across the country, and professional development for all members. Alexandra received her undergraduate degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Masters Degree from McMaster University.
Lisa Marcuzzi – Director
Robert Norman – Director
Gloria Onishenko – Director
Keith Scott – Chair of the Board of Directors
About Keith Scott
Keith Scott has been on RBG’s Board of Directors since 2015 appointed by Council, City of Hamilton. He was appointed Vice Chair in 2019. During his career, Keith excelled by providing strategic leadership in public accounting as well as in the financial services, real estate, zoo and aquarium, tourism and animal welfare industries. As a retired not-for-profit professional with 40 years of experience he has held numerous senior executive positions which includes Chief Executive Officer of Hamilton/Burlington SPCA, Vice President Strategic Alliance and Planning for Tourism Calgary, Interim Managing Director for Travel Alberta International, and Director Business Operations for the Calgary Zoo. He has volunteered extensively throughout his career including stints as vice chair of the American Zoo Association Business Operations Committee, Chair and Director of Tourism Calgary, Director and treasurer of the Calgary Mental Health Involvement Society, a member of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, and many more.
Gavin (Guy) Sheppard – Director
About Guy Sheppard
Guy was reappointed to RBG’s Board of Directors in 2021. He previously served on the RBG Board member from 2011 to 2019 as a Halton Region Representative. He was Chair of the Capital and Master Planning Committee (later the Master Plan Report Committee), and at various times as a member of the Governance, Biodiversity, and Marketing Committees. Guy developed a passion for the RBG through taking weekend morning excisions with his Dad. Guy retired from (ArcelorMittal) Dofasco Inc., in 2013 as Manager, Corporate Projects and brought his considerable skills in project management to RBG by providing Board project oversite to the Rock Garden Rejuvenation Project, Rose Garden Renewal and other RBG capital projects. He holds the following degrees: B.Sc. Hons (Mech. Eng.) Queen’s, M.Sc. (Automation Eng.) City University, and MBA McMaster. Guy holds the following designations P. Eng., CPA/CMA, and CFA. He has attended Director’s College (McMaster University). He has served a number of professional and community groups including: CMA Ontario – Board of Governors, Finance and Audit Committee, and Marketing & Communications Committee; CMA Canada – Board of Directors and Chair of the Audit Committee; Burlington Sustainable Development Committee served as Committee Chair, and Chair of Awareness and Policy & Development Sub-Committees at various times; Member of the Region of Halton Inter-Municipal Advisory Committee on Sustainability; Vice Chair and Project Manager of his Church Building Committee.
Kathy Thomas – Director
About Kathy Thomas
Kathy Thomas was appointed on RBG’s Board in 2021 as a Board appointee. Kathy’s horticulture knowledge was gained through osmosis. Growing up on a farm near Rockwood, crop yields and plant health were everyday language around the dinner table. A great learning environment.
Morphing into a career at the head of Green Thumb Landscaping Limited was a natural progression. It is humbling to Kathy to know that she is one of the earliest “pioneer” females in the landscape industry. Integrity, reliability, and constant learning along with pride in training staff to do the best they could possibly be, created a solid basis for the company.
Landscaping was not Kathy’s chosen career. In 1971, her late husband, John Thomas was the instigator. John passed away suddenly in 1993, leaving Kathy to continue to build a very strong and well recognized residential landscape company. Although there were many times when the challenge was brutal, it has been an amazing journey. So much so, Kathy had a lot of trouble retiring!
Green Thumb Landscaping Limited was sold in December 2020. Kathy continues to consult with the new owners, from time to time as needed.
In 2003, Kathy decided she wanted a new challenge. The Bronze Frog Gallery in Oakville was opened. The plan was to connect retail to service. A good cross over of sales and services for customers. The gallery closed ten years later when the lease came up for renewal. The gallery still exists online.
Kathy has been a Rotarian for 25 years. She has served on the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation Board since 1971 and as Chair for the 2020-2022 term.
Luke Wilson – Director
Nancy Rowland – Chief Executive Officer
About Nancy Rowland
Nancy Rowland was appointed by RBG’s Board as Chief Executive Officer effective 1 January 2021. She joins RBG after serving as General Manager of Ontario Place Corporation for four years, where she was responsible for leading the provincial landmark through a period of transition and increased public use of a key public space. Prior to working at Ontario Place, Nancy’s past roles have included Chief Operating Officer & Vice President Corporate Services and Operations at Ontario Science Centre, Director of Cultural Agencies for Ministry of Tourism and Culture, and Director, Corporate Services at Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation. Nancy grew up in Hamilton, Ontario. Her goal is to continue to build on the RBG’s successes to ensure that it continues to be a place that inspires, connects, restores and amazes people for years to come.