Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

MS Society Board of Directors 2016-2017

The affairs of the MS Society are managed by the MS Society Board of Directors. More specifically, the board is mandated to make, monitor and amend national policy decisions relating to all levels of the MS Society; provide overall strategic direction and monitor strategic progress; approve the annual consolidated budget; monitor and approve financial statements; oversee the work of the president and chief executive officer; and make investment decisions at the national level.

Many members of the MS Society board have MS or have loved ones with MS. The quality of the oversight provided by the board hinges on these important perspectives and many others. The MS Society values and protects the privacy of people with MS. In this spirit, we do not require our volunteers to disclose whether they have MS or have loved ones with MS.


Valerie Hussey (Ontario), Chair

Valerie Hussey has held numerous leadership roles at the MS Society at both the national and division level since 2008. In 2011, Valerie joined the MS Society of Canada board of directors and has served as vice-chair and as chair of both the government relations and governance committees. Valerie is also a member of the leadership advisory council and was a member of the Society’s renewal initiative task force and the renewal initiative oversight committee. As a past director on the Ontario Division board, she served as board chair, vice-chair, past-chair and provided leadership to the governance committee.

Valerie was publisher, president and chief executive officer of Kids Can Press from 1979 to 2006, having played a leading role in the evolution of the Canadian children’s publishing industry for more than 30 years. Under her direction, Kids Can Press developed an internationally successful publishing program.

She has served on numerous government advisory councils and industry and not-for-profit boards, including the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Women’s College Hospital and Tides Canada. She is currently on the board of Art of Time Ensemble. In 2007, Valerie received the Order of Canada for her work in publishing.

François Coupal (Quebec), Vice-Chair

François Coupal is chair of the Quebec division board. He has served on the MS Society board for the past nine years including as secretary of the board and served for four years as the treasurer. He has been active in various committees and task forces at both the division and national levels, most notably serving as a member of the strategic planning task force that culminated in the approval of Momentum 2015. He has also served on the governance review task force and its successor governance committee, which have been providing the leadership to a significant modernization of the MS Society’s governance. François also served as a member of the renewal initiative oversight committee.

John Folka (British Columbia), Treasurer

John Folka graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BA in Economics and went on to become a chartered accountant articling with KPMG LLP. He is currently a Partner in the KPMG Enterprise practice working with private companies as well as non-profit organizations.

John became involved with the MS Society in 1999 since participating in the MS 100 Hole Golf Challenge and the MS Bike Tour. John is a past chair of the British Columbia and Yukon division board and involved in various board committees. He is the Society’s Treasurer, lead director of the development committee and a chair of the audit, finance and risk management committee of the MS Society Board.

Gayelene Bonenfant (Alberta), Secretary

Gayelene Bonenfant is a volunteer with the MS Society of Canada, Alberta and Northwest Territories division and is Chair of the division board and is the former treasurer. She is the chair of the national investment committee and is a former member of the national governance committee. She is an active fundraiser, and helped to launch the endMS campaign and build support through her networks for “People Against MS” (PAMS) events, among other initiatives. In addition to her time and expertise, she has made a significant personal gift in support of the endMS Research and Training Network.

Professionally, Gayelene is the former controller of Freemount Resources and was the chief financial officer of Athena Resources. Gayelene completed her MBA at Royal Roads University with a specialization in executive management and is currently pursuing a Project Management Professional (PMP) and Charter Financial Analyst (CFA) designations.


John Clifford (Ontario)

John Clifford is a partner of the law firm McMillan LLP where he practices Corporate/Commercial and Competition law. He is an active member of the Canadian Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

John has been a dedicated volunteer of the MS Society of Canada since 2002. John served as a director on the MS Society Board of Directors (National) from 2007 – 2011. He held numerous leadership positions of Chair, Vice-chair, Honorary Legal Counsel and Secretary of the Ontario Division Board of Directors from 2002 to 2010. During his tenure on the MS Society and Ontario Division boards, John was very active on both division and national committees. He chaired both the national and Ontario Division governance committees, was chair of the national government relations committee, and was a member of the endMS campaign Ontario cabinet.

Marie Josée Comtois (Quebec)

Marie-Josée has volunteered with the MS Society since 1991. She was the founding president of the Montérégie chapter in the Quebec Division where she provided leadership on the delivery of client services programs, self- help groups, and the establishment of the first MS Walk in Montérégie. Marie-Josée served on the Services and Social Action committee of the Quebec Division as both a member and chair of the committee from 2002-2008. She was a member of the national renewal initiative task force and currently Marie-Josée serves on the national governance committee and is the lead director, programs and services. Marie Josée has been recognized for her work with the MS Society and in 2001 she was awarded the Quebec Division President’s Award and in the 2004 she received the Opal Award. Professionally, Marie-Josée earned a diploma in dental hygiene in 1982 and a certificate in administration in 1991.

Rahil Dattu (Ontario)

Rahil has been an active volunteer with the MS Society of Canada since 2007. He currently serves as Chair of the Ottawa Chapter and also chairs the Chapter’s Finance and Administration Committee. For a number of years, he has volunteered at Ottawa’s MS Walk and MS Bike events and has also participated in the MS Kilts Fore a Cure golf tournament. Professionally, Rahil has held a number of operational, management and sales roles over the course of 15 years working at Nielsen. He is currently a Client Director, specializing in market research and public opinion data collection.

Tom Feasby (Alberta)

Tom Feasby is a Professor of Neurology and the past Dean (2007-12) of the University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine. He graduated from the University of Manitoba and trained in Neurology and research at the University of Western Ontario and the Institute of Neurology, Queen Square UK. He trained in health services research at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA. As department chair, he helped build the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary into a national leader. From 2003 to 2007 he was the Vice President Academic Affairs at Capital Health in Edmonton and Associate Dean Clinical Affairs in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta.

Tom is a neurologist and specialist in neuromuscular disease and has made significant contributions to the understanding and treatment of the demyelinating neuropathies, especially Guillain-Barré Syndrome. His current research focuses on the appropriateness and effectiveness of healthcare interventions, such as carotid endarterectomy, intravenous immunoglobulin and MRI.

He has published over 100 scientific papers and has written op-ed essays in leading Canadian newspapers. His work has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the MS Society of Canada, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada. He has chaired the board of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, served on the boards of leading organizations such as the American Neurological Association and the Institute of Health Economics and currently serves on the boards of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research in BC and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health in Calgary. He received an honourary Doctor of Science degree from Western University in November 2013 and received the Medal for Distinguished Service from the Alberta Medical Association in 2014. In 2016, he was given a Rhodes Trust Inspirational Educator Award.

Bonnie Gleim (Saskatchewan)

Bonnie was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago. She has been active with the MS Society, Saskatchewan Division for 18 years. As a member of the Division Board, Bonnie is the chair and has served as vice-chair. She has acted as the coordinator for the Eastend Walk for 16 years. Bonnie has received numerous division awards including Award of Inspiration, Award of Distinction, Certificate of Merit, and Outstanding Fundraising Award. Bonnie is a member of the MS Society board Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee. Professionally, Bonnie is the owner of Eastend Agencies Ltd, an independent insurance, investment, and brokerage service. Bonnie volunteers with other community agencies including as a member of the Eastend Kinnette Club, Vice-President, Chamber of Commerce, and as the secretary of the Eastend Cemetery. Bonnie is married and has a 13 year old daughter.

Chuck Hartlen (Nova Scotia)

Chuck Hartlen was born in Summerside, PEI. He currently lives in Halifax NS with his wife Tammy. He has two grown children, his daughter Melissa and his son Charles.

Chuck is currently the Executive Vice President, Customer Experience with Nova Scotia Power. Chuck focuses on improving services for customers and advancing technology solutions to improve the overall customer experience. Chuck also helps Nova Scotia Power to improve connections with communities throughout the province to ensure that the company becomes more focused on working with stakeholders at the community level to better understand their priorities and ways that Nova Scotia Power can contribute to the economic development of the province.

Chuck is the former Senior Vice President of Customer Service with Bell Aliant. He began his career there with the former Maritime Telephone and Telegraph (MTT) and has held roles of increasing responsibility over the twenty eight years he worked with the company, through the company’s evolution to Bell Aliant. In his previous role he spearheaded the strategy to transform the customer experience and drove improvements in customer satisfaction across the region. Chuck’s prior roles include Chief Operating Officer, Aliant Mobility; Vice President, Customer Services and Consumer Marketing, Aliant; and Chief Engineer, Wireless Network Development, MTT.

Chuck graduated from the Technical University of Nova Scotia (now Dalhousie University) with a Bachelor of Engineering degree and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics degree, and has earned his Professional Engineering designation. Chuck has also participated in the Queens Executive Program.

In addition to his role on the National MS Society Board of Directors he is also a member of the Atlantic Division MS Society Board of Directors. Chuck is a current United Way of Halifax Campaign Cabinet Member as well as a former board member of the United Way of Halifax, Greater Halifax Partnership, former Chair of Nova Scotia Community College and former chair of 211 Nova Scotia Information and Referral Services Board.

Joe Healey (Manitoba)

Joe is the Office Managing Partner of the Winnipeg office of Ernst & Young. Joe volunteers with the Manitoba Division of the MS Society and is currently the Chair, Manitoba Division Board of Directors. Joe has been an active supporter and participant of MS Walk and MS Bike, serving as the MS Bike event chair in 2014.

Joe has over 20 years of transactions and restructuring experience advising clients across a wide range of industries, including agriculture, transportation, aviation, oilfield services, pipeline and facility construction, manufacturing and distribution, real estate, aquaculture, forestry, food processing, technology, and retail.

Prior to joining the EY Winnipeg office in 2008, Joe worked in the St. John’s, NL, Saint John, NB and Edmonton, AB offices of Ernst & Young, where his responsibilities included progressively senior roles delivering restructuring and corporate insolvency mandates, mergers and acquisition advisory services, and valuation advisory services.

Susan Senecal (British Columbia)

Susan is the President and Chief Operating Officer at A&W Food Services of Canada. In this role, Susan has responsibility for strategies to market and grow the business of one of the country’s top restaurant brands.

Susan joined A&W in 1992 and has held positions of increasing responsibility in Operations, Development and Marketing. She is a current Director and Past Chair of the Board of Restaurants of Canada and has also served as a Director on the Board of the British Columbia-based Coast Capital Savings. Susan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from McGill University.

Susan plays a major role in A&W’s work with the MS Society of Canada. For the past eight years, A&W and the MS Society have created a variety of fundraising events and activities leading up to Burgers to Beat MS Day in August. Since 2009 A&W has raised $8 million toward supporting the Society in its mission to find a cure for MS and improve the lives of those touched by MS.

Christiane Thouin (Quebec)

Christiane is a volunteer with the Quebec Division. She is a member the Women Against MS Committee in the Division.This dynamic, generous lady with a big heart and vision to match has made the first edition of UNIES pour la SP (WAMS) in 2006 a great success. As WAMS Committee chair, she never hesitated to call on her network of contacts to recruit most of the committee members and motivate a large group of people to sell as many tables as possible for the gala luncheon that closed the event.

Christiane also participates in many division fundraising events including the Bike Tour, Défi Golf and the MS Walk. She is a top fundraiser and if that were not enough, Christiane recruited new sponsors and new committee members. In 2008, she received the Richard and Paulette Lemire Award. Professionally, Christiane is the President of CommunicAction, a Montreal based marketing and communication agency she founded in 1989. Christiane shared her drive and passion with international companies such as Danone, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Henkel developing effective marketing strategies and implementation. She generously gave her talent at the Society's service producing effective and impactful communication tools for several events.

Jennifer White (Manitoba)

Jennifer White has been personally affected by MS since 2002. She has volunteered with the Manitoba Division board of the MS Society for close to eight years holding both the Chair of the Board and Chair of the Governance Committee position(s). Currently, Jennifer is the chair of the Governance Committee of the MS Society board.

Jennifer has extensive knowledge and experience working closely with governments and for governments in a public policy capacity. She has a Masters Degree in International Relations, in Political Science from the University of Manitoba and is the recipient of the Rahul Aggarwal Book Prize Award and the Carla Thorlakson Graduate Fellowship.

Currently, Jennifer works as the Director of Policy for the Intergovernmental Strategic Relations (ISR) branch in Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors (MHHLS). She has been employed with the health department since 2006 in policy and planning advisory roles, including supporting Ministers of Health, Deputy Ministers and the Assistant Deputy Minister(s) on federal, provincial and territorial health files as well as Indigenous Health.

Prior to working for the provincial government, she was a research and teaching assistant for both the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg in International Relations, Health and Social Policy, and Gender Studies. Jennifer also served as a Liaison Officer for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) Canada.

President & CEO, Yves Savoie