Scroll down for bios of our current board members. Are you interested in joining our board to provide leadership in equitable systems transformation? Apply here.
Mary Ellen Gurnham (Chair)
John Gunn (Treasurer)
Shantia Russell Stubbs
Fadi Al Qassar
Since 1997, Mr. Robert Bernard has been a successful owner of a number of Indigenous owned companies focused on creating sustainable and “mutually beneficial” relationships with the mainstream world. Most recently his newest business, “Indigenous Guide Consulting Services”, has brought together all of his expertise under one company, one focus, one vision… and that is to help create capacity-building opportunities for Indigenous people, businesses and communities across Canada and around the world.
Over the past 30 years, Mr. Bernard has supported Indigenous communities, organizations, businesses and individuals across Canada in such areas as business, tourism, cultural development, environmental services, sports and recreation, recruitment & retention, employment training as well as diversity & inclusion for multiple industry sectors trying to connect with contract/procurement opportunities. His focus has always been community.
A fluent Mi’kmaw speaker, Mr. Bernard has delivered dozens of workshops, presentations and has facilitated sessions from the community level to national levels involving grassroots, governments, multiple industry and political levels. He truly believes that in order to achieve any level of true Reconciliation in Canada and around the world for Indigenous people, Indigenous people need to be front and centre in the development of a strategic plan that focuses on Reconcili-ACTION based initiatives from the grassroots up. Mr. Bernard lives in his home community of We’koq’ma’q (Weh-go-km-ahg) Mi’kmaw Nation along with his beautiful wife Kelly and four daughters Jordynn, Kaylyn, Kassidy & Karmin and one grandson, Rory. He continues to operate his businesses on a full time basis and continues efforts to educate mainstream society on cross cultural awareness.
Kenisha Gordon (She/Her) is a high-performing professional with a passion for helping organizations foster inclusive work culture and deliver high-quality services through development, operationalization, monitoring and evaluation of equitable human resource policies, diversity and inclusion action plans; and inclusive communication frameworks.
Kenisha’s areas of expertise include: diversity, inclusion, human equity, corporate governance and gender equality policy development, action plans, monitoring and evaluation frameworks.
Kenisha brings over 10 years professional experience in government, and social justice frameworks at the national, regional and international levels. She is the current Chair for Kingston/Greenwood Community Health Board (NS), Vice Chair of the Commonwealth Women in Local Government Network (UK), and was responsible for the development of the Municipality of the County of Kings Diversity Implementation Plan. She has recently joined the Worker’s Compensation Board of Nova Scotia in the role of Diversity and Inclusion Advisor.
Her values are trust, collaboration, high-performance, integrity, empathy, kindness, transparency,
accountability, high-quality service delivery and adaptability.
What excites you about the year to come at IC?
I am excited about Inspiring Communities focus on building trusted relationships with the
amazing diverse community of communities within Nova Scotia; modeling equitable, effective
and sustainable processes; and connecting communities. These action developments align well
with my values of trust, high-performance, social justice and equitable service delivery; and spark
my interest in the year to come at Inspiring Communities.
John Gunn (Treasurer)
John Gunn has been a dedicated professional accountant for more than 40 years. His most recent professional roles included National HR Partner with Grant Thornton and CEO with CA School of Business in Western Canada, following which he served more than three years helping oversee and guide the rationalization of the accounting profession. In addition to his dedicated work leading the professional education program for accountants, John has served on not-for-profit boards throughout the last 20 plus years, for organizations including Saint Andrew’s United Church, environmental charity Clean Foundation, MPA Society, a non-profit service agency that supports people living with mental illness and ACCORD, the Association for Creative Change in Organization Renewal and Development.
John notes that part of what has drawn him, in retirement, to Inspiring Communities, is leaning into his emerging personal mission:
“Our province (and our world) can use all the impactful social innovation and creative change making efforts we can muster, to tackle the complex problems burgeoning around us. How can I help?”
Mary Ellen Gurnham (Chair)
Mary Ellen is a Registered Nurse who recently retired from the position of Senior Director Interprofessional Practice and Learning, with the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
Mary Ellen’s career spanned 44 years holding positions in clinical practice, operational management, professional practice and learning. Mary Ellen has experience in strategic planning, policy development and implementation, change leadership, program development, implementation and evaluation. She has served on a number of professional and volunteer boards, such as the United Way, YMCA, and Canadian Nurses Protective Society, and her current role as the Chair for the Victoria Hall Society.
Sue LaPierre has worked for United Way Halifax for 20 years and holds the role of Director of Community Impact. In joining Inspiring Communities’ board, Sue says for her, social innovation “means nurturing relationships, keeping values at the front, and a belief that we can do better.”
Determined is a word often used to describe Sue: Sue sets bold goals for herself and in service of community, bold goals rooted in the belief that we can do better and getting uncomfortable is good and stretches us to new places. Sue has helped transform United Way Halifax into an organization committed to alleviating the impacts of and finding solutions to poverty, and committed to equity. Outside of United Way, Sue can often be found outdoors; running, walking, cycling, and swimming. Her greatest inspiration is her husband’s unwavering integrity, and she believes the true meaning of love is wanting to be a better person because of it.
Sue cites Marathon: You Can Do It! By Jeff Galloway as a book that has influenced her greatly:
I have 14 years of experience in the financial services industry, currently serving in a senior leadership role at my firm. I bring an extensive understanding of financial reporting, project management and change management.
I enjoy working with my team to solve immediate problems and implement strategic solutions. I look forward to bringing the same strategic and collaborative mindset to the Inspiring Communities board and contribute to its governance the best I can.
If I could instantly become an expert at something, it would be renewable energy. It’s a timely, heavily debated topic with a variety of widely held beliefs. I believe it’s essential to our wellbeing and earth’s future as the population and life expectancy continues to grow. I am a person who enjoys the process of things so I wouldn’t want to instantly become an expert at any of my hobbies – this would take away some of the enjoyment for me.
Find me on Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/desmond-miller-9242a532
Fadi Al Qassar
Fadi has come a long way from his Native Jordan. And he’s made a lot of stops along the way.
He leads Venture 2 Impact, a charity organization focused on creating innovative digital experiences to advance social impact and the SDGs around the world. The organization virtually connects nonprofits and skilled-volunteers from across the world to partner on solving social issues.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fadi’s work helped 29,000 children in Uganda receive better care through a data management and digital design hackathon in collaboration with Salesforce and Mircorsoft Employees. He also supported emergency digital training and upskillment of organizations in 9 different countries benefiting 1.5 million indirect beneficiaries, and provided digital entrepreneurship training and e-commerce training to women victims of human trafficking to reduce their risk of revictimization.
Prior to the pandemic, Venture 2 Impact facilitated physical skilled-based volunteer programs around the world. Fadi has experience facilitating digital innovation projects globally, including in: Uganda, Rwanda, Romania, India, Ecuador, Indonesia, among other countries.
Fadi’s work on digital innovation and social impact has been featured in many media outlets including: NASDAQ, Google, Salesforce, CBC and Entrevestor.
Add me on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fadialqassar/. On a lighter note, If I could live in any sitcom or tv show I would probably choose Suits.
Perry is a self-directed Operations Management professional with broad acumen, informed by diverse experiences in Health Care, private sector OEM, and non-government organizations.
Perry holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BTech). Starting as an industrial engineer working in the manufacturing sector, Perry developed an expertise in LEAN quality improvement and change management working for companies ComDev Honeywell, John Crane and Ford Canada.
For the last decade, Perry has applied that expertise to improve the design of human services. His experiences range from social services to health care research with senior roles in occupational health and safety, community-based care, emergency health services and public drug plans.
An experienced leader and change agent, Perry is driven by a fundamental belief in the values of public service, community activism and socially responsible enterprise through continuous quality improvement.
Perry and his wife are aspiring homesteaders, and along with their two children enjoy gardening and tending to a motley cast of chickens, pets and other random forest creatures.
Shantia Russell Stubbs
Shantia currently serves as the chair of the Governance Committee.
Shantia has always had a strong desire to help others; therefore, she is no stranger to giving back to her community. During her undergraduate studies in Business Management at the University of The Bahamas, she joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., where she solidified her personal mission of helping those in need. While completing her studies, she balanced working full time in the customer service industry and working within her community tutoring youth and working in food kitchens. Shortly after completing her undergrad, she moved to Nova Scotia in 2013 for family reasons and returned to school to complete an advanced diploma in Human Resource Management at NSCC.
Shantia’s background has afforded her the opportunity to work in a variety of industries which include telecommunications, technology, hospitality, alcohol, cannabis, and dentistry. These experiences have allowed her to operate in a manner that meets people where they are and help them develop to their fullest potential.
What I enjoy most about the work I do aside from helping people, is to see people grow and develop in a way that gets them to where they want to be. Sometimes growth or development may not be at the pace you want it to be, compared to your colleagues, but with a willing attitude, diligence, and hard work it will get there if one stays the course. I love to see that progress! I hope to share my insights regarding how the IC network can help others to stay the course to get to where they want to be, whether that’s personally or professionally.
Peggy is the consummate problem solver and strategist. Her facility for development and implementation of truly actionable plans – strategic, business and tactical – has benefitted both government and public-private partnerships. Successfully leading programs and projects that require collaboration between industry groups and government stakeholders at all levels has earned her national recognition.
Peggy’s background and diversified experience has taken her from public policy through to research, strategy and analysis. Notably, she spearheaded and managed a unique national information resource for arts, culture, heritage and sports. Working with people, her teamwork, communication, creativity, enthusiasm and infectious laugh are a win/win for clients and boards alike.