our people

Our board of directors

Governance, leadership and public accountability. Establishing priorities and acting as a trustee on behalf of Canadians.

A message from the co-chairs of our board of directors

Last year was transformative for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS). The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the people and communities we serve and created challenges in how we work, fundraise, drive research, advocate and provide support. Guided by our mission, we relentlessly pursued bold, innovative solutions to best serve people affected by cancer and funded research that will benefit future patients. Thanks to proactive planning and the unwavering support of the CCS community, we ended the year in a stable financial position and ready to push forward new, ambitious projects to help save and improve more lives.

We know we can achieve remarkable things when we work together in pursuit of a common goal. A great example of this is the opening of the Centre for Cancer Prevention and Support (CCPS), a hub for researchers to collaborate with our program staff, volunteers and clients to help bring their work to life in real time. We will work with partners to increase awareness of new discoveries, support pilot innovations and help spread those innovations nationwide at an accelerated pace.

We have also developed a bold strategic plan that will further focus our efforts, guide our decisions and continue to drive CCS forward. This strategy will enable CCS to push much harder against cancer and will enable new broad ranging collaborations with other cancer focused organizations. It’s an extraordinary time of opportunity for CCS to make a difference today and far into the future. With the unstoppable determination of our team, donors and volunteers, we will work to save and improve lives with life-saving research, transformative advocacy and compassionate support services. Together, we can change the future of cancer forever.

Dr David Hunstman & Valerie Steele

Dr. David Huntsman

Dr David Huntsman (Co-Chair)

Vancouver, BC

Dr David Huntsman is a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Columbia, where he is the Canada research chair in molecular and genomic pathology. He also directs OVCARE, BC’s multidisciplinary ovarian cancer research team, and conducts his research at the BC Cancer Agency and Vancouver General Hospital. Dr Huntsman leads several Canadian and international collaborative networks and founded Contextual Genomics to increase the clinical and economic impact of his work. He has an MD from Memorial University.

Valerie Steele

Valerie Steele, (Co-chair)

Toronto, ON

Valerie Steele is an audit, IT and risk executive capable of leading strategy and driving change. She currently heads the professional practice centre of the corporate audit function for a major Canadian financial institution. Before joining the bank, she spent 6 years building and leading the risk department for a Canadian regulator. She began her career with an international professional services firm, where she became a partner.

Ms Steele is recognized as a trusted advisor to C-level executives, audit committees, boards and regulators. She was on the board of directors of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) from September 2009 until January 2017. In 2017, when she served as CBCF’s chair of the board, she helped facilitate the amalgamation of CBCF and the Canadian Cancer Society.


Rob Assimakopoulos

Rob Assimakopoulos

Toronto, ON

Rob Assimakopoulos is a seasoned executive who has held several senior roles in multiple industry sectors. Most recently, he was senior vice president and chief marketing officer at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), one of Canada’s leading banks. His career has taken him from Ford Motor Company to Procter & Gamble, Molson-Coors, the Canadian Football League and General Motors. Mr Assimakopoulos graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a BA in economics and went on to obtain an MBA from the University of Windsor with a concentration on finance and marketing. He is also on the board of directors of the Canadian Marketing Association, where he serves as a member of the education committee.


John Boynton

John Boynton

Toronto, ON

John Boynton is the vice chair of NordStar and past president and chief executive officer of Torstar and publisher of the Toronto Star. Before joining Torstar in 2017, he served as Aimia Inc.’s chief marketing officer and was an executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Rogers Communications for 12 years. Mr Boynton has international work experience in both the UK and the US. He is a board member of Dynamic Brands, GRB Restaurants and MobilityView. He was until very recently the vice chair of the board at both the Toronto Region Board of Trade and the Canadian Marketing Association. Mr Boynton is currently a board member of the International News Media Association. He is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business.

Donna Carbell

Toronto, ON

Donna Carbell is responsible for the individual insurance business at Equitable Life of Canada. She is a collaborative leader who brings a wealth of financial services industry knowledge, with more than 25 years of experience in progressively senior roles. Prior to joining Equitable in 2021, Ms Carbell spent 20+ years with Manulife and most recently was the head of group benefits in Canada as well as the international group program, a global business that supports multinational employers across 50+ countries.

Ms Carbell is passionate about all aspects of health including financial, physical and mental. She develops financial solutions to protect the health of Canadians by connecting people with technology and creative products and solutions during critical life events.

Ms Carbell is on the board of directors of Special Olympics Canada and holds an MBA in finance from Wilfrid Laurier University and a degree in political science from Carleton University.


Dr Nadine Caron

Prince George, BC

Dr Nadine Caron is a member of the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation. She is a practising surgical oncologist in northern BC, where she provides cancer screening, diagnosis and surgical care for mostly Indigenous people in rural, remote and northern BC. Within BC Cancer, Dr Caron is the sole Indigenous physician as well as a senior scientist at Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre. At the University of British Columbia (UBC), she is the only Indigenous member of the faculty of medicine. She is also the inaugural First Nations health authority chair in cancer and wellness and a professor in its northern medical program and department of surgery. Dr Caron is a founding co-director of the UBC Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health and a consultant in the development of BC’s first-ever Indigenous cancer strategy to improve Indigenous cancer outcomes and experiences in BC. Dr Caron currently leads the development of the Northern Biobank Initiative and is a co-lead investigator on the Silent Genomes project.
Philippe Couillard

Philippe Couillard

Saint-Félicien, QC

Philippe Couillard is currently a consultant. He practised neurosurgery for 20 years before serving as minister of health and social services in Quebec from 2003 to 2008. In 2014, Mr Couillard became the 31st premier of Quebec, a position he held until his retirement from politics in 2018. During his political tenure, he led important structural reforms, banned smoking in public places and significantly improved Quebec’s public finances and economic outlook.

Mr Couillard holds a doctor of medicine and diploma in neurosurgery from the University of Montreal. He also holds specialist certificates from the Quebec College of Physicians and from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Dr Chen Fong

Dr Chen Fong

Calgary, AB

A radiologist by training, Dr Chen Fong is currently a professor emeritus of the faculty of medicine at the University of Calgary. He is also the co-chair of the global strategy board of the Creative Destruction Lab, a platform for mentoring young entrepreneurs. Dr Fong has 18 years of experience building start-ups. He has also participated in philanthropic boards in the healthcare sector.

Dr Fong holds an MD from the University of Manitoba and an honorary doctor of laws from the University of Calgary. He was invested into the Order of Canada, inducted into the Junior Achievement’s Alberta Business Hall of Fame and elected a fellow of the American College of Radiology.


Diane Gosselin

Diane Gosselin

Laval, QC

Diane Gosselin has over 25 years of experience in financing innovative biomedical research. She is currently president and chief executive officer of CQDM.

During her tenure at CQDM, Ms Gosselin has engaged a national network of over 2,000 researchers across Canada and raised over $80 million in funding from 14 of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

Prior to CQDM, Ms Gosselin worked for the Fonds de solidarité and PROCREA BioSciences, where she led the research team that developed the first non-invasive diagnostic test for endometriosis and the world’s largest tissue bank for endometriosis research.

Ms Gosselin sits on the boards of various research and science organizations.

She holds a PhD in microbiology and immunology from the University of Montreal as well as an executive MBA from Université du Québec à Montréal and Université Paris-Dauphine. More recently, she completed a university certification program in corporate governance from Université Laval.

Chan Hon Goh

Chan Hon Goh

West Vancouver, BC

Chan Hon Goh is the director of the Goh Ballet Academy and has spent over 20 years on stage as a principal dancer for the National Ballet of Canada. She is also a founding member of Vancouver’s Arts and Culture Policy Council, which advocates for the creative arts community.

Ms Goh has received several prestigious awards, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal and the YWCA Women of Distinction award. In 2019, she was appointed a member to the Order of Canada for her excellence in ballet as a principal dancer, artistic director and cultural ambassador.


Arthur Heinmaa

Toronto, ON

Arthur Heinmaa is the chief executive officer and chief information officer of Cidel Asset Management. He is responsible for Cidel’s asset management operations and chairs the investment committee. He oversees the trading, research, operations and compliance activities of the firm.

In addition to his duties at Cidel, Mr Heinmaa was a director of several Canadian mutual fund companies, a member of the University of Toronto’s governing council, chair of the Integra Foundation and past director of the CFA Society Toronto.

Mr Heinmaa is a chartered financial analyst (CFA) with a 30-year career in the financial services industry. He frequently lectures on capital markets at seminars and has been a contributing subject matter expert for industry textbooks.

He currently serves on the board of the Scarborough Health Network Foundation, is a member of the investment committee at the Terry Fox Foundation and chairs the financial services program advisory committee at George Brown College. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto.

Dr Jonathan Irish

Toronto, ON

Dr Jonathan Irish is professor and division head of the head and neck oncology and reconstructive surgery division at the University of Toronto. He is a surgical oncologist and reconstructive surgeon with a particular expertise in oral cancer, melanoma and skin cancer, and thyroid cancer.

Dr Irish served as the chief of the department of surgical oncology at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre from 2000 to 2016. Since 2004, he has been a major health policy advisor and responsible for access to care, quality improvement and healthcare funding for the surgical oncology program at Cancer

Care Ontario. In 2008, Dr Irish was appointed as the provincial head of the surgical oncology program at Cancer Care Ontario and is currently vice president, clinical, cancer care at Ontario Health.

As the Kevin and Sandra Sullivan chair in surgical oncology at the University of Toronto, Dr Irish leads a multidisciplinary program in guided therapeutics, developing novel nanomedicine-based contrast agents, which, in combination with near real-time navigation and tracking systems, can create innovative solutions for minimal-access surgical approaches in cancer therapy.


Yolande James

Yolande James

Beaconsfield, QC

Yolande James is a political commentator for various CBC-Radio Canada programs and a lawyer-mediator. She also gives frequent public talks on various topics such as immigration, diversity and gender equality in society and in politics.

Ms James was elected to the Quebec National Assembly in 2004. She was its first Black female member as well as Quebec’s first Black cabinet minister.

In 2007, Ms James was appointed Quebec’s minister of immigration and cultural communities. In 2010, she was appointed minister of families. During her tenure, she overhauled the governance for subsidized daycare, a service that is critically important to working families. She was also deputy house leader for the official Opposition from 2012 to 2013.

Ms James founded the valorisation jeunesse program, which offers young people access to professional job opportunities and ensures companies have a more diverse workforce.

Ms James has a degree in civil law from the University of Montreal and a degree in common law from Queen’s University.

Shachi Kurl

Shachi Kurl

Vancouver, BC

Shachi Kurl is executive director of the Angus Reid Institute, a not-for-profit research and public opinion polling organization. Ms Kurl works to further public knowledge, debunk myths and contribute to debate and discussion in meaningful ways, enhancing the understanding of issues that matter to Canada and the world. She has nearly 2 decades of public policy experience and spent the first part of her career as a political reporter. Her expertise has been sought by policy-makers and she has been invited to testify before parliamentary committees at the House of Commons. She holds a degree in journalism and political science from Carleton University.

Rex Lee

Rex Lee

Toronto, ON

Rex Lee is the chief information officer of Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC), accountable for all aspects of technology strategy, architecture, development, operations and cyber security. Before joining CTC in 2012, Mr Lee held senior technology leadership roles at BlackBerry, Bell Canada and Bell Mobility, leading efforts in innovation, digital transformation, e-commerce, advanced analytics, social computing, enterprise resource planning (ERP), automation and architecture.

Mr Lee has a passion for continuously advancing technology systems, agile processes and operating models and has been featured in various publications including the Wall Street Journal. He holds an MBA in marketing and technology management from McMaster University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Western Ontario.

Christine McCourt-Reid

Christine McCourt-Reid

Edmonton, AB

Christine McCourt-Reid is a communications consultant specializing in not-for-profit organizations with a focus on strategic communications, media relations and fund development. She also works in community advocacy, stewardship and engagement, and believes in the importance of maintaining an active connection with her communities of interest.

Ms McCourt-Reid has been the recipient of the Top 40 Under 40 award, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal and the sovereign’s medal for volunteers.

Virginia McLaughlin

Richmond Hill, ON

Virginia McLaughlin has had extensive experience in governance in the not-for-profit and crown corporation sectors for more than 35 years. She currently serves as the chair of the board of trustees at the University of Guelph and vice chair of the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope, Ontario. Recent positions include chair of the Cancer Quality Council for Ontario, member of the board of trustees of the Museum of Science and Technology and honorary colonel of the 25 (Toronto) Field Ambulance.

Ms McLaughlin is a past chair of the board of directors of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the Governance Leadership Council of the Ontario Hospital Association, Trinity College at the University of Toronto and several other organizations. In 2016, she was awarded an honorary doctor of sacred letters from Trinity College for her services to the college and to the community and for philanthropy.

She is also the president of Helmhorst Investments Limited and Ferdinand Holding Limited, 2 family-owned investment companies.


Susan McPeak

Susan McPeak

Verdun, QC

Susan McPeak is co-founder of the McPeak-Sirois Group for Clinical Research in Breast Cancer, a unique private initiative bringing together public health institutions. Today it is one of the most important breast cancer clinical research consortiums in Canada.

Ms McPeak is a breast cancer survivor who participated in a life-saving clinical trial. Capitalizing on her 10+ years of experience in key management positions in marketing and business development, she decided to get involved in making clinical research more accessible in Quebec.

In 2019, Ms McPeak was recognized for her contributions to breast cancer research by the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer at the University of Montreal. The same year, she was named personality of the week by La Presse+. In 2018, she received the prix innovation dans la communauté from the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.

She has an MA in German literature from the University of Montreal.

James Moore

James Moore

Port Moody, BC

James Moore is the chancellor of the University of Northern British Columbia, a senior business advisor at the multinational law firm Dentons and a public policy advisor at the global firm Edelman. An MP for 15 years, Mr Moore was the youngest MP and cabinet minister in British Columbia’s history. He served as Canada’s minister of industry, minister of Canadian heritage and official languages, and secretary of state for the Asia Pacific gateway, as well as minister for the 2010 Olympics. Fluently bilingual in French and English, Mr Moore holds a BA from the University of Northern British Columbia and an MA from the University of Saskatchewan.

Hilary Pearson

Hilary Pearson, C.M., LL.D. 

Westmount, QC

Hilary Pearson has over 20 years of experience in foundation philanthropy in Canada. She currently serves on the advisory committee to the masters in philanthropy and nonprofit leadership program at Carleton University.

From 2001 to 2019, Ms Pearson was the founding president of Philanthropic Foundations Canada. She also served on the governor general’s advisory committee on volunteerism and philanthropy and co-chaired the advisory committee on the charitable sector, advising the federal minister of revenue on charitable policy and regulatory issues.

In 2018, Ms Pearson was appointed a member to the Order of Canada for her contributions to building the field of philanthropy in Canada. In October 2020, she became chancellor of Brock University.

She holds a BA and an MA in political economy from the University of Toronto and was awarded honorary doctorates from Carleton University and the University of New Brunswick.

Christopher Wein

Christopher Wein

Toronto, ON

Christopher Wein is currently the chief operating officer of Lanterra Developments and president of Lanterra Construction Management. Mr Wein has over 20 years of experience in the real estate development industry, including his previous position as president of Great Gulf Residential, a Toronto real estate developer and builder. Building off of his extensive experience, Mr Wein is an innovator in utilizing new technologies, sustainable eco-friendly building solutions and engineering ingenuity in the development industry.

Mr Wein also acts as chair of the Design Exchange and has been chair of Prostate Cancer Canada. He was previously a governor of the North York General Hospital Foundation as well as a member of many other health, philanthropic, arts and community boards. He was also the recipient of Calgary Inc.’s Top 40 Under 40 award in 2004.


Ontario Board

  • John Trang (Chair), Toronto, ON
  • Kal Amery, Toronto, ON
  • Mathieu Lupien (Research Representative, ex-officio), Toronto, ON
  • Sandra Aversa, Toronto, ON
  • Lauren MacDonald, Burlington, ON
  • Adriana Bitonte-Recourt, Markham, ON
  • Garth Matheson (Cancer Care Ontario Representative, ex-officio), Toronto, ON
  • Sharon Chandler, Toronto, ON
  • Laura Money, Toronto, ON
  • Nancy Drynan (Regional Representative), Oshawa, ON
  • Brian Rosen, Brampton, ON
  • Jonathan Fraser, Toronto, ON
  • Roxana Sultan (Vice-Chair), Toronto, ON
  • Joseph Kirk, Oakville, ON
  • Cola Xia, Markham, ON