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Board

ECFTA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sheila Koop
Co-Chair
Sheila is keen to offer her skills in administration, organization and communication to the interim board for the Elora Centre for the Arts. In her work life Sheila has held the post of General Manager for the Mariposa Folk Festival (including coordination of arts programs in Toronto schools during the academic year); General Manager of Sheep Focus, an annual weekend promotional event for the Ontario Sheep Association; and an educator with the Upper Grand School Board for 25 years. In her role as a teacher her leadership was recognized through receipt of the Humanitarian Teacher Award (ETFO, 2003) and the Mike Elrich Environmental Award (Upper Grand District School Board, 2011). Volunteer work in Centre Wellington has included support of visiting Katimavik and Canada World Youth students, a founding member of the Centre Wellington Project Ploughshares chapter, a liaison person with Centre Wellington District High School for student and public meetings with Stephen Lewis and Maude Barlow, and helping with set-up and program delivery in the early years of the Elora Centre for the Arts.

Sheila lives in Elora with her husband, Al, who has a small business, Older Voices, that is rooted in the history and heritage of Centre Wellington. She believes she is a particular asset for future programming.
Matt Ladner
Co-Chair
Matt Ladner is a proven leader with over 20 years’ experience in the areas of senior management, project development, project management and administration. Through his consulting company Beausoleil Consulting Group, Matt is currently collaborating with and providing consulting services to various First Nations in Ontario. Current professional areas of focus include working on strategic planning, cash flow forecasting, project management and business development. Prior to opening his consulting firm, Matt was the Canadian Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Engie, a global independent power producer, utility and asset management company.

Matt has managed due diligence on large infrastructure transactions and corporate transactions, led business development initiatives for multiple projects in Canada and the United States, acted as Project Manager for a $280 million energy project and secured regulatory approvals on projects across the country.

Matt was instrumental in the organic growth of AIM PowerGen Corporation, a start-up renewable energy company which was acquired on three separate occasions – ultimately becoming the renewable energy presence in Canada for Engie (formerly known as GDF Suez). During his ten years with this organization Matt was a key contributor to the development, construction and operation of over 580MWs ($2 billion Canadian) of new renewable energy projects in Canada.

Other areas of expertise include; contract negotiation, project development, liaising with various stakeholders, agencies and suppliers, management of project construction activities including adherence to schedule, quality, environmental requirements, cost, and ensuring office and site safety.

Matt resides in Elora with his family and has a Bachelor of History degree from Queen’s University.
Berry Smith
Secretary
Berry received his bachelor and doctoral degrees from the University of Cambridge, England. He joined the University of Toronto where he was a professor of Zoology and then Cell and Systems Biology until his recent retirement. He considers himself multi-faceted, having been successful in research, teaching and university administration during his career, while also helping raise two sons and pursuing interests in music, photography, gardening, old houses, computer programming, dogs, wine and craft beer. He brings considerable creative and administrative experience to the board, having served while at the University of Toronto as Vice-Dean, Sciences in the Faculty of Arts and Science, Interim Chair of his Department, Director of the undergraduate Human Biology Program, and Vice-Dean, Students in the School of Graduate Studies, as well as numerous University, Faculty and Departmental committees. His creative achievements include rescuing the Faculty Club from financial ruin, establishing a major undergraduate computing facility, introducing computerisation to the Dean’s Office in the Faculty of Arts and Science, redesigning the 2000-student Human Biology program, and establishing a new program in professional skills development for graduate students. Retiring to Elora in 2012, he helps his wife Gail Richardson foster golden retrievers, gardens, and works on various projects at home and cottage. He is also honing his photography skills; his portfolio may be seen at Berry Smith Images.
Berry Smith Images
Lee Bonnell
Treasurer
Lee Bonnell is currently the co-founder of Transformation Labs, a technology consultancy focused on software product management. Lee has been in technology his entire career, successfully developing, launching, and marketing & selling technology products.

After obtaining a Bachelors and Masters degree in Applied Physics & Engineering, Lee started in high technology by building a lab that researched, designed and manufactured specialty optical fiber at the National Optics Institute in Quebec City, and then went on to design and build a new automated manufacturing system for optical fiber components at Alcatel Canada. After obtaining an MBA, he went on to sales and marketing at Hewlett-Packard Canada, and then to m-Cube Canada, a company developing mobile-based storefronts. When the software sector boomed, he moved to the software space, launching numerous consumer and enterprise software applications at Blackberry, Nuance Communications, and PTC.

Lee has extensive experience developing new products, go-to-market strategies, competitive positioning, and building business relationships. Lee has built up expertise in Enterprise & Consumer software, Product Management, Product Marketing, Agile Processes, Market Research, and Competitive Analysis.

Lee is driven by innate curiosity, and a desire to build new things. Creativity as a key element of these endeavours, and he sees the ECFTA as a wonderful environment where creativity can be nurtured and inspired for the community and its visitors.

Lee first discovered Elora while studying for a Bachelor in Applied Physics at the University of Waterloo, and was a continual visitor until he moved to Elora permanently with his family in 2008.
Renate Karger
Board Member
Owner, President of Karger Gallery, Elora, Ontario — 1993 to present (23 years) . Responsible for all buying, merchandising and operations of the business, with a focus on connection with individual and companies with ethical manufacturing practices leaving a softer foot print on the environment. Franchise consultant, assistant to the buyer, Supervisor of 18 stores across Canada. Previously worked at Angelo Retail Corporation — 1985-1992 (7 years). Education: Sheridan College, Toronto — Business and Retail management, Retail Management and Design. Studied fine art and silver smithing with various artisans across Ontario.
Jon Ralston
Board Member
Jon is the President, Artistic Director and one of the owners of Riverfest Elora. He has been growing the festival from its modest beginnings in 2009 on the ECFTA grounds since its founder, Marilyn Koop, passed away in April of 2012.

Music has been a huge part of Jon’s life. He studied music from the age of 8 and continued these studies at Humber College before deciding to shift directions academically. Aerospace engineering was followed by Political Science at Carleton University. After obtaining his degrees, Jon returned to Elora in 2008.

He is an active member of the Elora community, running and participating in music, fundraising, and awareness events on top of the growing Riverfest and its winter counterpart, Ice Jam. He brings a strong ability in project management as well as creative thinking concerning fundraising and programming. As a local business owner he is able to help highlight the concerns of the community. Additionally, coming from a musical background and working with artists and musicians on a daily basis, Jon has a first hand view of the needs and concerns of the music and artist community, which will be helpful in shaping the conversation related to the future of the ECFTA.

You will find Jon, in his spare time, scuba diving, canoeing, enjoying a pint at the Shepherd’s Pub or Elora Brewing Co. or having breakfast at Box Social!
Melissa Seagrove
Board Member
Centre Wellington is my home and I know it well. My husband and I have kept our roots here to raise our family because we believe this community has so much to offer. With Wellington County surrounding us, we have the best of both worlds: rural and urban. We have so many vibrant programs, schools, events and people! I have been fortunate to have lived in Elora, Fergus, and for a short time, Guelph since 1986. I have 2 children, Chloe 15 and Ethan 13. They have been involved in many programs over the years and I believe have benefited from growing up in CW.

I have been working as a Real Estate Professional in Centre Wellington for 10 years. I started my career with young school-aged children. I found my schedule full yet rewarding. Taking care of clients during any hour of the day and managing a functional, happy, family life with my partner, Terry, who also runs a local business. This was a busy time for us!

My dedication, work ethic, knowledge of Real Estate and love for this community will I believe contribute much to the Board.
Danielle Marks
Since her call to the Bar in 2008, Danielle has worked extensively in the areas of commercial litigation and tort law, including personal injury. She has represented clients at all levels of court in Ontario and before various administrative tribunals, including the Ontario Court of Appeal, the Divisional and Superior Courts, the Health and Professional Discipline Proceedings, the Ontario Child and Family Service Review Board, and Coroner’s Inquests. She is a member of the Ontario Bar Association, the Advocates Society and the Wellington Law Association. Danielle is experienced in Employment Law and the preparation of employment or independent contractor agreements. She is currently on the Board of Directors for the Wellington Law Association.

Now an Associate at SV Law in Guelph, Danielle is co-chair of the civil litigation practice group at the firm. She moved to Elora with her family in October of 2017 and is looking forward to being more involved in the community.
Deepti Celetti
Board Member
Deepti Celetti brings a passion for volunteerism and community building to the ECTFA. Born and raised in India, she came to Canada at age 12. She brings an immigrant’s global perspective in everything she does. She is a strong proponent of social justice, equity and human rights, especially as they pertain to Canada’s indigenous people. Deepti obtained a B.A.Sc. in Child Studies from the University of Guelph and her B.Ed. from the University of Prince Edward Island. She taught Early Childhood Education courses to adults in P.E.I. and Alberta and worked as an Executive Director at an Inner-City Community Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan. As secretary on the board for the Immigrant Women’s Group of P.E.I., she helped women who were new to Canada understand the myriad rules and regulations. In her role as the Resources Coordinator for the World Citizen’s Centre in Lethbridge, she recruited, trained and supervised volunteers to help with fundraising activities. In Ontario, she taught all grades from Kindergarten to grade 6 before retiring 2 years ago. Having lived, studied and worked in four provinces, she has a good understanding of the diversity in our vast country, and as an educator espoused values that she believes make Canada a great, inclusive country. She presently volunteers at the New to You shop to help our community obtain a first-class hospital. Deepti hopes to apply her knowledge and organizational skills to help the Elora Centre for the Arts to be an agent of change for our growing community!
Kathryn Giffen
Board Member
Kathryn has had a number of careers and has served on several boards throughout her life-long learning journey. She completed a Masters Degree in Psychology and holds a Juris Doctorate from Osgoode Hall Law School. After practicing Civil Litigation in Kitchener for several years, she became in-house counsel for an insurance company and later served as President of a life insurance company. She subsequently held senior positions in the financial services industry including head of the strategy and performance management team at a major Canadian bank. She received an ICD.D designation from Rotman School of Management and has served on several financial services boards and as Chair of Women's College Hospital in Toronto. She is the current Chair of the Canadian Sports Institue of Ontario. As part of her "retirement" career, Kathryn is the owner/operator of Oz Farms, an equestrian facility in Wellington County, where she rides, boards horses and hosts equine facilitated learning sessions. When she has some leisure time, she enjoys traveling, including bareboat sailing in the Caribbean, and of course, horseback riding. The ECFTA plays such an important role in bringing the Arts and Community together in Elora and Wellington County, and Kathryn is very much looking forward to bringing whatever experience and talents may be useful to ensure its continued success.
Geoffrey Wild
Board Member
With 20 years of experience spanning 4 continents Geoffrey has successfully managed multicultural teams in many of the most competitive resort and luxury hotel markets in the world. Seasoned in hotel openings Geoffrey has opened new hotels in 4 different countries to critical acclaim, achieving financial success whilst maintaining excellent levels of customer and employee engagement. Setting service trends in global hospitality has always been at the forefront of Geoffrey’s operations, this drive and commitment to innovation and has led to Tripadvisor number 1 rankings in three major tourism hubs. Guest acclaim culminated in winning Best Hotel in the United Kingdom for two successive years. In addition to fantastic guest reviews scores Geoffrey has also won critical acclaim in the forms of multiple Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Worlds Best awards, most notably listed as one of the 100 Best New Hotels in the World as well as recipient of Best Serviced Apartments in the world. Geoffrey attributes most of these successes to his teams, he strongly belies in driving innovation through employee engagement. This drive to engage and create an innovative work environment helped in being ranked number 2 in the Sunday Times best 100 companies to work for in the UK. Geoffrey recently completed the opening of the Elora Mill Hotel & Spa setting up the hotel service standards setting the hotel on the path of becoming the premier boutique resort destination in South Western Ontario. Following the successful opening of the Elora Mill, Geoffrey purchased the former Secret Garden Tea house building and set about creating The Wild Tart, a European Patisserie in the heart of Downtown Elora.
Shirley Al
Board Member
An award winning design professional, Shirley Al is also an illustrator and sculptor. She holds a BFA from the University of Waterloo and an MA in design from Stanford University. Prior to starting her own design company, Shirley was Art Director at Thompson Printing in Paris, ON, for ten years. She also was Creative Director at Liberty Graphics in Elora, a designer at Darien, Russell, Hill & Dahl in San Jose, and Cassidy Design in Santa Clara, California. Shirley’s backgound in fine art lends a sophisticated flair to her design work, but she is equally adept at introducing humour or corporate formality to a job. Her work is well known in music circles for her collectible poster designs. Shirley works with a creative team whose diverse talents enable them to develop strategic individual solutions for a wide variety of clients. Originally moving to this region after earning a Bachelor of Education at the University of Regina; Shirley attended the U of W, and frequented Elora and was part of an artist collective. After completing her BFA, Shirley opened an art gallery in Elora, named ‘Nepenthe’. She later returned to Elora after leaving California in the late eighties making it her permanent home. As a member of the Centre Wellington Advisory Committee, Shirley was a strong voice for the support of the arts in the region. She is an active member of the Elora Fergus Studio Tour, Elora Centre for the Arts, the Elora Festival, and the Elora Arts Council. She is a firm believer that the arts add a richness and vibrancy that profoundly affects the ability of a community not only to survive but to thrive.
Ellen Helps
Board Member
Ellen hopes her epitaph reads "Lover of good food, good drink, good fun and good grammar” (although she also hopes that won't be soon). As a life-long fan of the arts - music, fine art, ballet among others - Ellen is pleased to have been asked to join ECFTA's Board. In addition to her quirky sense of humour, she brings to the organization over 20 years of experience with the Ontario government developing, implementing and delivering policy and programs. She has also sat on on several volunteer boards, including a term as co-chair of the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. Ellen holds a BSc (Agr) in Agricultural Economics and a M.Ag. in Agricultural Business Management, both from the University of Guelph, and is a graduate of the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program. As a lover of travel, horses and wine, Ellen considers herself very lucky to have had the opportunity to take several exotic vacations that have allowed her to incorporate these passions. Locally, she and her Scottish Terrier Archie - named after the somewhat obscure Scottish folk singer and songwriter, Archie Fisher - can often be found at the Fergus Dog Park, where Archie has become famous for his unlimited energy and feisty personality.