A biography is available for indicated Board Members.
- Mark Pecen, Chair
- Catherine Copp,Vice Chair
- Glen Dyrda, Treasurer
- Rachel Smith-Spencer, Secretary
- Michael Callaghan
- James Chmiel
- Kurt Christie
- Ron Craigen, Past Chair
- David Crozier
- Connie Deckert
- Sandy Delamere
- Vic DiCiccio
- Ginny Dybenko
- Linda Fabi
- Councillor Diane Freeman
- Raymond Laflamme
- James Newell
- John Tennant
- Katherine Robertson, ex-officio
- Edwin Outwater, ex-officio
- Ruth Harris, ex-officio
- Robert Astley, Past Chair, ex-officio
- Sue Moskal, ex-officio
- Judy Morton, ex-officio
- Genevieve Twomey, ex-officio
Board Member Biographies
Mark Pecen, Chair
Mark Pecen serves as Sr. Vice President, R&D for Research in Motion Limited (RIM), makers of the BlackBerry wireless devices, systems and services. He is responsible for RIM’s Advanced Technology Research Centre and broad-based R&D strategy and holds a position on RIM`s Innovation Council as an advisor to the Board of Directors.
Pecen established RIM’s Research Centre in 2005. The centre’s focus is wireless communication research, including all aspects from radio frequency hardware and antennas to core network technology and wireless-specific services. Topics include signal processing, information theory, cryptography, audio/video codecs, data compression, radio system protocols, mobility control, electromagnetics, advanced services and application platforms, prototyping of hardware and software and new technology trials.
He is an inventor of a number of technologies adopted by global standards bodies, including the Global System for Mobile Telecommunication (GSM), Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS), High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+), 4th Generation Long-Term Evolution (LTE/LTE-Advanced) and others. A past Distinguished Innovator with Motorola, Pecen also managed consultation work for firms in North America and Europe.
Pecen serves as an advisor to the Canadian government on wireless communication and research. He holds board positions on 4G Americas, École Polytechnique, Wilfred Laurier University School of Business, Quantum Works academic network for quantum information research, Canadian Digital Media Network, the Communication Research Centre (CRC) of Industry Canada and others.
As a veteran of the wireless industry, he holds more than 100 fundamental patents in areas of mobile communication, networking and computing, and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Catherine Copp, Vice Chair
Catherine Copp is the Vice President for Knightsbridge Human Capital Solutions in Waterloo, Ontario. She has a 20 year history with the firm, leading a team of consulting professionals, building business relationships and managing regional financial results, as well as delivering coaching services to executives. She has also led business teams within the GTA region, and prior to joining Knightsbridge spent several years in the marketing division of a professional services firm and research department for an investment firm.
An active interest in the performing arts includes past Board work with The Elora Festival and enthusiastic member and subscriber with The Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Shaw Festival, Toronto Symphony and Canadian Opera Company. In her youth she performed with the Toronto Gilbert & Sullivan Society and longed for a better talent with piano and voice. Other Board work includes the KW-YWCA, and a Toronto environmental organization.
Catherine has an Honours BA from Trent University, a Masters in Library Science from the University of Toronto and is a Certified Management Consultant. She is also a certified trained Executive Coach. She was born in Kitchener and now lives back in her home town with her husband, David McBride.
Glen Dyrda, Treasurer
Glen Dyrda was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. After graduating high school, he went on to complete an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Manitoba. Glen was admitted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba to membership in June of 1981, and later elected a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba.
Glen joined Price Waterhouse in June of 1978 and over the next 12 years he held a variety of managerial positions until he was admitted as a partner of the firm in 1990. In July of 2007, Glen then relocated to the Waterloo office of PricewaterhouseCoopers as the Managing Partner, Southwest Ontario Region and Managing Partner, Waterloo office; a position which he still holds today. Glen served on the Canadian Leadership Group for PwC Canada from 2005 to 2009, and has served as Chair of PwC Canada's Partnership Board since 2009.
Glen has always maintained connections to the community in which he grew up. Glen was an Associate of the Asper School of Business (University of Manitoba), Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors from 2001-2006. He has also been involved in the Manitoba Theatre Centre- Treasurer and various Executive positions including Chair of the Board of Trustees for two years, from 1999-2007 inclusive.
Rachel Smith-Spencer, Secretary
Rachel Smith-Spencer joined the Stratford Shakespeare Festival as Director of Advancement in October 2003. In that role, she is responsible for overseeing the all aspects of the Festival’s fundraising activities including annual support of $11M, the completion of the first $50M phase of the endowment campaign, and the Festival’s planned giving program.
Prior to coming to the Festival, she was the Assistant Dean, Alumni and Development for the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto and participated in the completion of Canada’s first $1 billion campaign in support of the university.
She has spent over 17 seasons as Director of Development for symphony orchestras in Canada, including tenures at the Toronto Symphony and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.
She was born and raised in Preston, a small community about 45 minutes from Stratford, and received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Waterloo.
James is a Partner at Erb and Erb Insurance Brokers Ltd., and has served as President of the firm since 2006. Established in 1919, Erb and Erb provides independent professional advice on a broad suite of Personal and Commercial Insurance coverages, as well as Life Insurance and Financial Services products.
An active volunteer, James feels very fortunate to be involved with the United Way of Kitchener-Waterloo and Area, originally as a Loaned Representative, then an Account Executive, and most recently as the 2011 Campaign Chair. He is a Governor General's Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award recipient, a Waterloo Region 40 under 40 recipient; former Chair of the Downtown Kitchener Business Improvement Association; sits on various Insurance Company advisory councils; and is an occasional Guest Speaker at the University of Guelph and Conestoga College. He was named as one of Kitchener Centennial's Top 100 People, Past, Present, Future making a difference in our community. James is also pleased to serve on the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Board, and as a Regional Reviewer for the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Awards.
James was born in Hamilton, began his insurance career in Mississauga, and has been calling Kitchener-Waterloo "home" since 2004. In 2009 James completed the New York City Marathon, running with "Team Fox" to raise funds for Parkinson's research. He and his lovely wife, Tara, live near the Pioneer Tower.
I have worked with BMO Financial for 23 years, the last 6 with BMO Harris Private Bank as a Senior Private Banker, servicing the needs of high net worth families in the Waterloo and surrounding area.
I have always had a passion for the arts and theatre and believe above all else that music has the ability to connect us in ways words simply cannot. To that end I am truly looking forward to my new role on the KWS Board, and look forward to the upcoming year.
Kurt Christie was born and raised in Guelph, ON. After attending Guelph CVI he enrolled in Waterloo's fledgling co-op engineering program in its inaugural year of 1957, graduating from the University of Waterloo with a degree in electrical engineering.
After living and working in Kitchener and Waterloo, he returned to Guelph to become a founding brother (one of six) and Vice-President of business forms producer Fastforms Inc. He semi-retired in 2001. He also serves on the Board of a Guelph real estate investment firm and a Mississauga business to business sales company.
Kurt has been active over the years in volunteer organizations in Guelph and Waterloo Region. He serves on church committees and has just completed two years as Council Chair. He continues to serve as Chair and President of Lutheridge. He has also been involved in a variety of local charities. Kurt is a director and an active participant in Canadians Aiding Nicaragua (CAN), a Guelph and Listowel area group that travels annually to Nicaragua.
Kurt has enjoyed forty-six years of married life with Sandra, his high school sweetheart. His two children and three grandchildren bring great joy.
Ron Craigen, Past Chair
A partner in Gowlings Commercial Litigation Group, Ron Craigen practises exclusively in the area of civil litigation and is Head of Gowlings Waterloo Region Advocacy Department.
For many years prior to joining Gowlings Waterloo Region office in 1997, Ron Craigen was a partner with a respected Toronto litigation firm. Called to the Ontario Bar in 1984, he received his Law Degree from Osgoode Hall Law School.
Mr. Craigen represents and advises a broad range of corporate, institutional and private individuals on civil litigation matters, and has acted as an advocate in all levels of the Ontario Court system, appearing on behalf of clients before numerous tribunals and administrative boards.
Frequently retained by other counsel, Mr. Craigen has extensive experience in commercial litigation matters including civil injunctions, the problems associated with departing employees, breach of confidence and breach of fiduciary duties, contractual disputes, shareholder disputes, banking litigation and professional liability issues concerning financial advisors and stockbrokers. In addition to representing clients in court, his practice includes advising clients about the most effective means of avoiding litigation.
An avid supporter of alternative dispute resolution initiatives, Mr. Craigen was instrumental in the establishment of one of Ontario's first private ADR forums.
A graduate of the University of Guelph Arts (English) honours program, Dave is an enthusiastic supporter of the written, fine and musical arts.
Most recently, Dave was the Senior Vice President of Operations for Economical Insurance; Economical Insurance is proud to be a sponsor of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, and title sponsor of the Signature Series. Dave moved to the Kitchener-Waterloo area in 2007 from Calgary, where he was Vice President of the Chubb Insurance Company of Canada, overseeing the prairie provinces. He was a co-founder and member of the board of directors of Slingshot Communications Inc. of Toronto, vice-chairman of the boards of Family Insurance Solutions Inc., of Vancouver, and Mattei Insurance Services Inc. of Seattle, and is the founder of .bcc Consulting Services.
Born in Leamington, Ontario, Dave has also called Guelph, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary his home. His two sons and daughter enjoy the Family Series and Kinderconcerts, and look forward to making their own music one day.
Connie Deckert's father bought Connie her first set of clubs when she was 11 years old. At 18 she was Runner-up Ontario Junior Champ and at 21 participated in the LPGA Tour. It appeared that golf was where she was heading. Yet, a year later she would choose to go in a completely different direction: into the world of business. She chose to join her father's automotive parts company, Motivair Canada Ltd. and at the age of 34 she became its president.
As President of Motivair Canada Ltd. her astute strategic, business and financial skills placed Motivair among the most notable "custom" muffler contenders and the industry's most respected. Her ability to motivate, energize and lead enabled her to successfully transition Motivair to a second generation company while at the same time expanding its customer base and increasing annual sales from $200K to $1.5M.
In 2008 Connie sold Motivair to her plant manager and started Fore U Enterprises. Fore U Enterprises works together with individuals, organization and corporations to increase their skill and comfort level in golf whether they are playing for fun, business or competitively. Today, she is a member of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals as well as the Canadian Golf Teachers' Federation. She also teaches at Max's Golf Centre in Waterloo and conducts seminars she has developed on golf etiquette, course management, and using golf as a business tool.
Sandy is Vice-President, Human Resources for SLF Canada. Sandy is responsible for consulting with the Canadian Executive Team and translating the SLF Canada business strategy into HR strategies. In this role, Sandy draws on her wide-ranging experience within Sun Life working in different areas of the business and Human Resources over the past 20 years.
Sandy has lived in the Waterloo Region all her life and is married with three sons. Sandy was the Chair of the Sun Life Financial National United Way Campaign for 2007 and will continue with this position for 2008. Sandy was on the Board of Directors for the Kitchener-Waterloo YWCA and on the Allocations Committee for KW U-Way for a few years.
Vic DiCiccio directs the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Computer Research (ICR), which he help found nearly 30 years ago to increase interaction and relationships between companies and academic researchers, to transfer ideas and students, and encourage the exploitation of research results. ICR now has over 150 faculty members from eight academic departments at Waterloo, as well as fifteen mission-oriented research groups.
Much of the research fostered in ICR has formed or aided companies that have spun-off from the University of Waterloo, including Dalsa Inc., Open Text, Certicom Corporation, Sirific Wireless, Maplesoft, Slipstream Data, RapidMind, and Bioinformatics Solutions. Most of these companies have now joined others through mergers and acquisitions. Vic is involved with several professors working in topics related to new media, digital humanities and computers in the arts.
Vic is also the Director for Research Partnerships for the GRAND NCE, a federal network of over 100 researchers at 25 universities collaborating with companies and user groups in the areas of graphics, animation, games, new media and social networks.
Previously, Vic was the director of advanced technology at SOMA Networks, a 250-person start-up developing fixed broadband wireless technology, and the vice-president of research for Communications and Information Technology Ontario (CITO, now OCE) which funds industry-relevant research at Ontario's universities. He has been an applicant for Canarie grants which have accelerated local industry and brought higher-bandwidth networking to southern Ontario universities and colleges. He is a director of Rhetoritech Inc., a start-up that commercializes persuasive language technology, arising from a multi-university research project in the health domain.
Ginny Dybenko comes to the role of Executive Director of University of
Waterloo’s exciting new Stratford Campus with five successful years as the Dean of the Wilfrid Laurier School of Business & Economics and over 30 years of corporate experience.
The Waterloo Stratford Campus is a think-tank, integrator and training
institute devoted to collaboration between digital media, international
commerce and culture. This high-tech facility currently houses the Master of Digital Experience Innovation (MDEI) Program launched in September 2011.
While Laurier Business Dean, Ginny’s leadership role set the strategic direction for one of the largest Business Schools in Canada including introducing a unique Management of Innovation curriculum platform, developing a strong international agenda, establishing Canada’s first MBA in Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Executive Masters in Technology Management, and successfully introducing the Blackberry into the university classroom.
Ginny previously held a number of senior executive roles in both Bell Canada and a high tech startup including a five year period as President and CEO of Bell Advanced Communications. In that role she contributed to Bell Canada’s pursuit of Canada’s first broadband initiative, Canada’s Information Highway, CA*net; the formation of a Professional Services business unit within Bell Canada and the
pioneering of Bell’s first successful Electronic Commerce service offering.
Ginny is a member of SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada),
Institute for Chartered Accountants, Canadian Safety Association, Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, Kitchener Waterloo Symphony and the Waterloo North Hydro Boards.
Ginny is a long-standing adjudicator for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, the Fulbright Scholarship Foundation and RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. She is one of the founding members of the Canadian Board Diversity Council – Women’s Executive Network. Ginny is also President and Founder of the Waterloo Chapter of the International Women’s Forum and was recently named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women.
Linda Fabi is currently the Director of Education and Secretary to the Board of the Waterloo Region District School Board. Linda holds positions with a variety of groups within this community. For example, she is an Instructor with the Supervisory Officers’ Qualification Program (SOQP), on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Public Supervisory Officials’ Association (OPSOA) and the President-Elect for the Ontario Public Supervisory Officials’ Association.
Linda has been a teacher of student choirs and music, both vocal and piano. She has a very diverse educational background including both a Bachelor and a Master of Arts degree, as well as qualifications in advanced leadership, Principal qualifications and her Supervisory Officers’ Certificate.
Linda has a variety of professional interests including: Educational Leadership Development, Team and Educational Culture Building, Organizational Social-Emotional Intelligence, Building Educational Partnerships, and Strategic Planning and Organizational Development.
Her personal interests include travel; the history, culture, religion and archaeology of ancient civilizations, music, wine and cooking, and fashion design.
Raised in Woodstock, Ontario, Diane enrolled in Civil Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 1986. Upon graduation, she accepted employment as an engineer with Conestoga-Rovers & Associates Ltd. (CRA). Today, as a licensed professional engineer, she works as a Senior Project Manager with
CRA in the air and noise department.
Diane believes in volunteering, and serves as Vice President of the Professional Engineers of Ontario. She was the founding President of the Butterfly Learning Centre, a not-for-profit childcare facility located in North Waterloo. Since 1999, Diane, her husband Peter, and her two children, Scott and Adam have resided in Ward 4. Both boys attend the neighbourhood public school and are active participants in Waterloo Minor Hockey and Soccer. Diane enjoys cheering for her two boys and can be found at many of their games. She also shows Old English Sheepdogs.
Raymond Laflamme is Executive Director of the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo. He was born in Quebec, studied at Laval and then in Cambridge as a graduate student of Stephen Hawking. He then worked at UBC in Vancouver, back in Cambridge and finally Los ALamos National Laboratory for 9 years before coming back to Canada attracted by the Perimeter Institute and the University of Waterloo.
He is a physicist working in many areas from fundamental issues in the field of quantum mechanics and its applications to novel technologies.
He is an Associate and Founding member of the Perimeter Institute, has received many awards and amongst others Canada Research Chair in Quantum Information, Premier of Ontario Discovery Award recipient and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Raymond is married to Janice Gregson and has two children, Patrick and Jocelyne.
He has a passion for the arts, its influence on science and its impact on society.
Jim Newell is Chief Financial Officer of Icynene and has provided financial leadership to various public and private companies for more than 25 years. Prior to joining Icynene, Jim was Chief Financial Officer at Armtec Infrastructure Inc, a Canadian-based infrastructure and construction materials company. From 2005 until 2008, Jim was Chief Financial Officer at Grafikom LP, a commercial printing company. Jim has also been CFO of Star Data Systems, NetStar Communications and Gandalf Technologies. Jim is currently a director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and a director of Westmount Storefront Systems Inc. Jim is a Chartered Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Carleton University, Ottawa.
John Tennant heads W2N2 Partnership, a strategic consulting, policy and advisory firm focused on international relations, economic development, international trade, investment, innovation, and governance.
From 2002 through 2008, John was CEO of Canada’s Technology Triangle Inc (CTT Inc), the public-private regional economic development partnership for Waterloo Region, including the cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo.
Prior to coming to Waterloo Region, he had a distinguished Canadian foreign service career which culminated as Canadian Consul General in Detroit (1998 to 2002). Earlier US assignments were in New York and Chicago. In addition he represented Canada in Japan, West Africa, Central America, the Eastern Caribbean and Australia.
John has a B.Comm. from McGill University and the ICD.D certification from the Institute of Corporate Directors.