Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

MS Society Board of Directors 2018-2019

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.

Officers

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 has served on the MS Society Board for the past 10 years, including as secretary, treasurer and vice-president. He is the past chair of the Quebec Division Board. He has been active on 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 leadership related to a significant modernization of the MS Society’s governance policy. François has also served as a member of the renewal initiative oversight committee. He is a technology consultant.

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, chair of the finance, audit and risk management committee and a member of the compensation; executive; and investment committee.

Gayelene Bonenfant (Alberta), Secretary

Gayelene Bonenfant is a volunteer with the MS Society of Canada, Alberta and Northwest Territories division and is the past chair and former treasurer to the division council. She is the past 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. She is a longtime supporter of the endMS network and training school, and a recent inductee to the Opal Society.

Professionally, Gayelene is the President and CEO of KuSu Inc. and the CFO of Growbotix AgTech Inc., former controller of Freemont Resources and was the CFO of Athena Resources. Gayelene completed her MBA at Royal Roads University with a specialization in executive management with a focus on Sustainability and Innovation. Additionally, Gayelene is a Project Management Professional (PMP) candidate, has completed work in Future Studies with Foresight Canada, and is a member of Cambridge University’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).

Directors

John Clifford (Ontario)

John is a senior partner of McMillan LLP (Toronto), where he focuses his practice on M&A transactions. He has extensive experience advising a diverse group of clients on domestic and cross-border acquisitions and divestitures and the legal requirements for establishing new businesses in Canada. John also is a recognized expert on antitrust/competition matters.

John has been a dedicated volunteer of the MS Society of Canada since 2002, when he was first elected director of the Ontario and Nunavut Division. While on the board (from 2002 – 2014), John held numerous leadership positions including chair, vice-chair and honorary legal counsel. From 2007 to 2011, he also served as a director of the National board of the MS Society of Canada. During his tenure on the MS Society and Ontario and Nunavut Division boards, John was very active on both division and national committees. He chaired both the national and Ontario and Nunavut Division governance committees, was chair of the government relations committee, and was a member of the endMS campaign Ontario cabinet.

John rejoined the board of the MS Society of Canada in 2016 and currently is chair of the governance committee.

Marie Josée Comtois (Quebec)

Marie-Josée has volunteered with the MS Society since 1990. 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 the 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 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 2004 she received the Opal Award for the province. 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 council. 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. At a national level, Rahil has been a Director of the MS Society of Canada since 2015 and is a member of the governance committee. Professionally, Rahil has held a number of operational, management and sales roles over the course of 20 years working as a researcher in the private and public sector. He is currently a Senior Survey Manager specializing in custom research in the area of victimization.

Tom Feasby, CM BSc(Med) MD DSc(Hon), FRCPC
Professor of Neurology, University of Calgary

Dr. Tom Feasby was Dean of Medicine at the University of Calgary from 2007- 2012. He received an MD from the UManitoba and trained in Neurology at the Western University, and the Institute of Neurology in London, UK, RAND Corporation. He was Head of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the UCalgary from 1992-2002 where he founded the Calgary Stroke Program and the Neuromuscular and ALS Clinics. He was VP of Academic Affairs at Capital Health in Edmonton and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Medicine at the UAlberta from 2003-07.

He now serves on the Boards of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Strategic Advisory Board of the O’Brien Institute for Public Health. He chaired the Board of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada. Past research focused on diseases of peripheral nerves with major contributions to the understanding and treatment of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Current research focuses on quality, appropriateness and overuse of medical interventions. His work has been supported by the CIHR and other agencies. He has published over 100 scientific papers as well as op-ed articles in leading Canadian newspapers. Recent awards include an honourary DSc from Western University, the Medal for Distinguished Service from the Alberta Medical Association, a Rhodes Trust Inspirational Educator Award. In 2017, he was named to the Order of Canada. He is currently leading a project to improve the mental health of the city of Airdrie, Alberta.

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 the past 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. Joe is currently the chair of the investment committee and a member of the finance, audit and risk management committee.

Susan Senecal (British Columbia)

Susan is the President and Chief Executive 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 ten 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 $12 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 MS 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. Christiane is currently a member of the governance committee.

Tracey Wahba (Saskatchewan)

Tracey graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor’s of Nursing in 2003. Her nursing practice has taken her to Thailand, rural Alberta, Calgary, Regina and Haiti. Tracey presently works as a registered nurse in the Emergency Department in Saskatoon.

Tracey lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband and their three young children. She spends her spare time volunteering at their children’s school and has served on the preschool board of directors for 5 years.

She became involved with the MS Society not long after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2011. She formed a cycling team, The Remyelinators in 2012 for a provincial MS Bike Event. Since that time the team has raised over $194,500 for MS Bike. As a top fundraiser, Tracey has been fortunate to attend various MS Bike events across the United States.

Since her diagnosis Tracey has mentored several other young women with MS along their journey.

Kim Wilson (New Brunswick)

Kim Wilson has been a dedicated volunteer with the MS Society since 1989. She is currently a volunteer with the Atlantic division and is chair of the division board. She is also a member of the Community Facing Task Force and is an active fundraiser and participant in the annual New Brunswick MS Bike Tour.

Professionally, Kim has worked in management roles in both the telecom and gaming industries. She is a graduate of Mount Saint Vincent University’s Public Relations Program and of The University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto’s Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility program.

Dr. Sean Wiltshire (Ontario)

Sean is first and foremost a scientist. He has served as Director of Data and Analytics for the Liberal Party of Canada, which recently went from holding 34 seats (11%) in Canada’s parliament to 184 seats (54%). As noted by The Atlantic, this historic win was “...one of the most surprising upsets in Canadian electoral history. Never before has the third-ranked party in one Canadian parliament won a majority government in the next one.” Sean is largely credited with transforming the LPC into a data-driven organization. Sean received his PhD in the department of Human Genetics at McGill University in Montreal, where his research focused on the genetic determinants of the immune response to viral infection. As a published author of several scientific manuscripts and one book chapter, Sean came to believe that science needed more friends in Government. He decided to get involved with the Liberal Party, because his local LPC representative was an astronaut and therefore he had a reasonable indication that the LPC was pro-science. More recently, Sean co-founded a research, data, and analytics consultancy where he works now as a senior partner and Vice President. When he is not science-ing, Sean and his wife Amelia spend their time looking after their sons Felix and Oskar.

President and CEO, Pamela Valentine