Board of Directors
Director, Iniskim Centre, Mount Royal University
John Fischer is Nehiyaw and a member of Cowessess First Nation. He is the Director of the Iniskim Centre at Mount Royal University where he serves on the President’s EDI Advisory Committee, as an MRU Ashoka Change Leader, and on the Ashoka Canada Indigenous Advisory.
John is Vice-chair of the Board of the Calgary Foundation serving on Community Grants Committee, Investment Committee, Governance Committee. He Chairs the Impact Investment Committee and he is Chair-elect. John has volunteered with the Indigenous Gathering Place for several years and has been Co-chair of the Indigenous Gathering Place Society of Calgary since 2017. He sits on the Advisory Committee of Dignity Forum to support human rights education at the systemic and grassroots level. He has sat on the Turtle Island Institute Steering Committee and was a founding Director of the Connections Education Society.
Regional Vice President & Portfolio Manager, Jarislowsky Fraser Limited
Blaine Lennox is Regional Director and Portfolio Manager at Jarislowsky, Fraser Limited. He joined the firm in 2001 and is responsible for the management of institutional and private portfolios in Western Canada and the United States. His clients include individuals, foundations, university endowments and pension plans. Prior to joining the firm, he spent six years with the investment arm of TD Bank Financial Group managing investment portfolios for individuals, estates and trusts.
Blaine earned a B. Mgmt. (with Distinction) from the University of Lethbridge, is a CFA charter holder and holds the Institute of Corporate Directors ICD.D designation. He is a past president of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Society of Calgary, has been a member of Calgary Foundation’s Investment Committee since 2011, and has served on several other not-for-profit boards in the community.
Partner, Bennett Jones LLP
Financial Services Executive
Jim Brownlee, CFP, CLU, CHFC, is an executive with Great-West Lifeco. Based in Calgary, he oversees the Canadian distribution operations of subsidiary Canada Life Assurance Company. Jim is also a licensed financial advisor, and has an established practice in guiding clients through the fields of financial, retirement, estate, and philanthropic planning. Over his 34 years in financial services, Jim has also held many senior management and executive roles in Calgary, Toronto and London.
Jim joined the Calgary Foundation Board in 2014 and also sits on the Foundation’s Audit and Investment Committees. He currently holds a position on the Alberta Insurance Council’s Life Council. Past volunteer work includes University of Calgary’s faculty of business, Insurance & Risk Management advisory board, and National Planned Giving Advisory Board with Ducks Unlimited Canada. Jim is a native Calgarian.
Retired Principal, Calgary Board of Education
Cathy Cochrane (B. Ed., M. Ed.) is a recently retired Sessional Instructor at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Prior to teaching at U of C, she was the co-founder and Principal of Cochrane Urban Learning Associates Ltd. where she developed education resources, designed inquiry-based curriculum and provided professional development to educational organizations. Cathy was a Principal with the Calgary Board of Education and a teacher for 34 years.
Cathy is an active member of the volunteer community having served with the Rotary Club, as a Director of the Calgary Stampede Foundation, a committee member on the Calgary Foundation’s Arts & Heritage committee and Chair of the Education & Lifelong Learning committee.
Cathy has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Calgary Foundation since 2019.
Nonprofit Management Consultant, Ex Animo Consulting
Sherry Ferronato is a nonprofit management consultant with Ex Animo Consulting. Much of her work has involved helping nonprofit organizations explore and undertake mergers, co-locations and other alternative ways of working, as well as offering training, guidance and facilitation regarding such issues as deep organizational partnerships, board training, strategic planning and program development.
Before establishing her consulting practice, Sherry led Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Calgary and Area for eight years, initially as a Co-Director and later the Executive Director. Prior to this, she was the Executive Director of Aunts at Large, one of the three organizations that merged to form Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Calgary and Area. She was honored to receive a Muttart Fellowship Award, enabling her to write a series of articles on issues of concern to the charitable sector. She has also held several other non-profit, public and private sector positions.
Sherry has a passion for charitable foundation work, initially inspired by her long-time volunteer service on Calgary Foundation's Grants Advisory Committees. She has been involved in a number of projects with Calgary Foundation, such as the research and community consultations that informed the Foundation's "Vital Priorities." She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Kahanoff Centre for Charitable Activities, and chairs its Management and Marketing Committee.
Sherry has a Bachelor of Social Work degree from University of Western Ontario, and a Master of Social Work degree from University of Toronto.
Narmin is a Principal of [email protected] inc. consulting, training, and facilitating, since 1992, she brings a package of commitment, motivation and skills in creating highly effective training and consulting with a depth of experience working across the three sectors, locally & globally. Narmin’s areas of expertise include: Inclusion, Pluralism, Cultural Competence & Unconscious Bias; Building Foundational Trust with and amongst Leaders and Organizational Culture Alignment with Strategy.
Narmin is an active member of the community. She currently serves as Board Trustee with the Canadian Museum of History (Gatineau), Board Member with Canadian Forces Liaison Council, as Chair of the Board for Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, as Senator at University of Calgary. She recently finished her term as a Board member and as Board Chair with YMCA Calgary. Her past work has included working with the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance in Switzerland, Famous 5 Foundation, Theatre Calgary, Vertigo Theatre, and several other Calgary based organizations.
Retired Minister, Parkdale United Church
Murray received his Doctor of Ministry degree from St. Stephen’s College in 2003, has worked in church ministry since 1983 and is currently the minister of Parkdale United Church.
His work experience includes facilitating strategic planning with faith based and community organizations, leading major capital fundraising programs and coordinating comprehensive church building renovation projects.
Murray has been an active volunteer with Calgary Foundation Community Grants Committees since 2003. His volunteer experience includes St. Stephen’s College, the University of Calgary Child Care Society, Board of Directors and the University of Calgary Institute for the Humanities, Advisory Council.
President & CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area
Regional Director, Estate and Trust Services (Western Canada), BMO Trust Company
Melanie McDonald is the Regional Director, Estate and Trust Services (Western Canada), with BMO Trust Company. In this role Melanie provides expertise and technical leadership for trust and estate solutions, as well as overseeing strategy, products and policies for BMO trust professionals.
Before joining BMO Trust Company, Melanie was a partner at a national Canadian law firm advising business owners and executives with respect to their estate, tax, business, and philanthropy planning. In addition, Melanie has assisted executors, trustees and beneficiaries to manage estates and trusts and resolve related disputes.
Among Melanie’s extensive board and community experience, she is a member and past Chair of the Calgary branch of STEP – Society of Estate and Trust Practitioners, member of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, and a founding member and director of WINK – Women Investing in Knowledge. In 2012, Melanie received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for community service and in 2013 she was voted one of Calgary’s
“Top 40 under 40” by Avenue Magazine.
Michael Mezei Retired former President, Mawer Investment Management
Vice President Government Relations, Shaw Communications
Vice President, Investments at Wawanesa Insurance
Mr. Peters is Vice President, Investments at Wawanesa Insurance.
Prior to Wawanesa Insurance, Mr. Peters was Managing Director in charge of Pension Plan Management at Canadian Pacific.
Past roles include Senior Partner at Mercer, providing investment advice and portfolio management services to institutional investors across western Canada. Prior to joining Mercer, Mr. Peters was Superintendent of Pensions for the Province of Manitoba.
Mr. Peters holds a B.Comm (Hons) from the University of Manitoba. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst, Past President of the Calgary CFA Society, and a member of the Foundation’s Investment Committee since 2008.
Chief Executive Officer, Miskanawah
Retired CFO and Oil and Gas Senior Executive
Partner and Head of Investment Strategy, Investment and Risk, LifeWorks
Retired Partner and former Managing Partner, Borden Ladner Gervais, LLP
Mr. Williamson practiced law as a partner with Borden Ladner Gervais, LLP until his retirement. Mr. Williamson was admitted to the Alberta Bar having graduated with a Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of British Columbia. Mr. Williamson served as Managing Partner of the Calgary office and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1992. Following his retirement, Mr. Williamson enrolled in the Institute of Corporate Directors, Directors Education Program, graduating with ICD.D designation.
Mr. Williamson is actively involved in a number of Calgary non-profits including the United Way Calgary and Area, where he has served in a number of capacities including as past Chair of the Portfolio Advisory Committee and as a founding member of the Gain Initiative, employing highly skilled volunteers to assist funded agencies and their Boards of Directors with issues of strategic, business, and succession planning. Mr. Williamson has served as a member of the Calgary Foundation’s Education and Life Long Learning Grant Committee and currently chairs the Children, Youth and Families Grant Committee.
President & CEO
Widely respected in the Calgary community, Ms. Friesen has an extensive background in providing effective leadership. She has been the President and CEO of Calgary Foundation since 2005. Prior to joining the Foundation, Ms. Friesen was CEO of the Calgary Health Trust for 4 years, and had a 22 year career with the YWCA spanning three cities: Winnipeg, Yellowknife, where she was CEO for five years, and then Calgary where she was the CEO for 12 years.
Ms. Friesen has served on a variety of Boards including the Calgary Police Commission, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, and the Calgary Rotary Club (Downtown). Eva was the recipient of the 2011 Haskayne School of Business MAX Award, an award given annually to an alumni in recognition of outstanding success.
She has an MBA from the University of Calgary and a Bachelor in Physical Education from the University of Manitoba. Eva also holds an ICD.D designation through the Institute of Corporate Directors and ICD-Rotman, Directors Education Program.