Board of Director Candidate Biographies

Sierra Club Canada Foundation

Updated: November 18th, 2014

Nick Bakish (Quebec – At Large)

Since 2002, Nick has consistently been one of Investors Group's top Consultants and has received numerous awards of distinction. In the best interests of each client, Nick has also set himself apart with a tireless devotion to continuing education, having obtained the coveted CFA designation, recognized as the gold standard for the global investment industry, along with the Trust and Estate Practitioner, Chartered Life Underwriter and Financial Planner designations. Nick is a member of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, the Financial and Estate Planning Council of Montreal and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. He is a Million Dollar Roundtable participant and was a part of the prestigious Court of the Table and is Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute. He graduated first class, in the joint honours economics and finance program at McGill University.

Michael Bernard (Ontario – At Large)

Michael Graduated from the University of Windsor in 2005 with an M.A. in Communication and Social Justice. He moved to Ottawa shortly thereafter to work as a communications strategist for ENGOs. He has worked as a Communications Officer for Climate Action Network, Media Relations Director for Sierra Club Canada and as a Press Secretary for Elizabeth May and the Green Party of Canada. He currently sits as President of Sierra Club Canada Foundation and has been involved with the Club, in one way or another, for almost a decade. He loves backcountry camping, hiking with his dog Farley, and all kinds of music. Michael currently works for Humane Society International/Canada, part of one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, as HSI/Canada’s Political Officer.

Alexandra Bly (Sierra Youth Coalition Representative)

I'm a second year Masters student, studying Peace and Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel University College, affiliated with the University of Waterloo. I'm originally from Ottawa, and have a Bachelors in Conflict Studies and Human Rights from the University of Ottawa. I spent my final semester abroad in Hanoi, Vietnam working at a vocational college as a student services officer. I'm very passionate about social justice. I am interested in many things, including: gender studies, social movements, empowering civil society, and the interconnection between the environment and human rights. I love coffee, pizza, baking, travel and, of course, my dog.

Jeremy Gawen (Ontario - At Large)

I was born in the UK and emigrated to Canada with my wife in 1966, having completed a PhD in Chemical Engineering. For many years, I worked for CIL Inc, eventually becoming Group President responsible for the Explosive and Agricultural businesses. Following that, I was President of two Agricultural Biotechnology businesses. I retired in 2001. I have served on a number of private sector Boards and the Boards of not-for- profit organizations. I was on the Board of Open Studio, Canada’s largest artist print making organization for 14 years, 10 years as Chair. I was on the Board of the Georgian Bay Association for about 10 years, am President of West Carling Association, a cottagers’ association in central Georgian Bay, am on the Board of the Moore Park Residents’ Association where I deal with planning matters and am on the Steering Group of the Great Lakes Section of Sierra Club Ontario (of which I am also Treasurer). I am also a Board member of Restore Our Waters International (ROWI), a relatively new bilateral organization, dedicated to restoring the St Clair River between Lake Huron and Lake St Clair, to as close as possible to its natural state to offset the dredging and gravel mining activities during the 20th century. From the organizations in which I am currently involved, you will see that I have a strong interest in environmental issues, particularly as they relate to maintaining Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes as a whole in as pristine a state as possible. I have also got a strong background in agriculture from both an animal and a crop perspective.

Mary Kainer (Ontario – At Large)

I have been active in environmental issues for more than twenty years. Currently I serve as Environment Chair of a lake Association. In the past two years, I successfully fought particulate and noise pollution from a nearby mine. Eight years ago I brought about changes in aggregate extraction regulations for the area From 1990 – 2000 I was very active in environmental transportation groups including: Environmentalists Plan Transportation., Co-Chair of a Auto-Free Cities Conference; City of Toronto’s Automobile Emissions Committee, RailWays to the Future. I have extensive experience in non-profit management serving as the Executive Director of national, regional, and local non-profits. Additionally I have served on numerous boards of directors, community and school associations. For the past decade I have been a professional artist. This year I won a prestigious contemporary drawing award for my political drawings on Fracking. Other political drawings have examined Monsanto, Bio-Steel, Aggregate Extraction, Arms Trade, Urban Development, Wealth Distribution, Overpopulation.

Deirdre King (Québec - Representative)

Deirdre King taught English and Media Studies at John Abbott College in Montreal for many years before retiring in 2013. She participated in the College’s Environmental Studies Program, contributing to the program by offering a course exploring how the media covers environmental issues.

Gordon Mair (Ontario – At Large)

Gordon Mair has been Amensty International Canada’s Director of Finance and Administration since March 2008 after holding similar positions with Sierra Club Canada, CARE International in Zambia, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in New Caledonia, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in Costa Rica. Previously he had worked for Forestry Canada and for the Office of the Auditor General.

Graham May (Atlantic - Representative)

Graham is an undergraduate student in Environmental Studies and International Relations at Mount Allison University. He hails from the rainforest of coastal British Columbia, where his interest in environmental issues was founded during a childhood of wet, cold hikes. At 22, Graham has spent more than half his life advocating for environmental causes – from biking across Canada leading climate change workshops, to founding an eco-pledge program that engaged more than 15,000 students on four continents. In the last three years, Graham has led a successful fundraising campaign of more than $19,000 and balanced a budget of $40,000 as executive director of the Youth Arctic Coalition.

Peter R. Smith (Ontario – At Large)

After 40 years working in the electricity sector, I retired last year and am now doing a little energy consulting work, but more importantly spending time on the things that are important to me like the environment. I have been very active locally on environmental issues, specifically global warming. I’ve given after dinner speeches, presentations, been on radio call in shows, debated climate deniers, and generally talked about the issue at every opportunity, sometimes to hostile audiences. I have about 20 years of board experience in other organizations, including several years as President or VP. My other passions include Children’s Mental Health where I chaired a committee that successfully advocated for increased funding from the province; human rights, where I have led the local Amnesty International group for about 15 years. I’m also media coordinator for the Lambton County Science Fair, and recently joined Adopt a Scientist, which puts retired scientists and engineers into the classroom to demonstrate science. I want to help the Sierra Club make a difference. Google me at “peter smith sarnia” for more info.

David Snider (Québec - At Large)

With a life-long interest in the environment, I am looking for an opportunity to support the important work being done on environmental issues by the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation. I am a strong believer in ecological wisdom, respect for diversity and sustainability. My post-secondary education in science, physical geography and law provided me with a broad-based understanding of environment issues. My intention was to pursue a career in environmental law but I ended up following another path in the federal public service. During my career I developed, implemented and managed tax compliance strategies through research, innovation, education, communication, information sharing and compliance activities. I worked with provincial, territorial and international partners to share information on emerging risks and best practices. I believe that the knowledge and skills that I acquired through my education and work experience will help me to make a significant contribution to the Board of Directors.

Ralph Torrie (Ontario – At Large)

Mr. Torrie is a partner Torrie Smith Associates Inc. is a well established consulting firm based in Cobourg, Ontario that specializes in the ecological, technical and socio-economic aspects of resource management. We have been working in the energy and environmental fields since our firm’s inception in 1979. We bring a unique mix of quantitative analytical capability and advanced conceptual approaches to the energy and environmental field and have made a number of important contributions to the definition, understanding and promotion of sustainable development in Canada and internationally.