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Chair

Gérald Lajeunesse, B.Sc., B.A.P., FCSLA.

 A native of Ottawa, Gérald first studied at Carleton University, and subsequently completed a second degree at l’Université de Montréal.

He completed his long career at the National Capital Commission (NCC), as Chief Landscape and Project Director. A member of the OALA, AAPQ, ASLA, a Fellow of the CSLA and recipient of the Governor General Medal for Volunteers, his accomplishments span over three decades of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design.

He has participated on several juries dealing with design and public art and continues to be involved in his community. Contributing to the enhancement of the quality of life of his community has been his lifelong passion.

Past Chair

Monique Oaks

 Ms. Oaks is a business executive with over thirty-five years of general, sales and marketing management experience and an outstanding record of achievements including management of large projects such as the Results System for the Montreal Olympics. She specializes in strategic and business planning, interim management, personal and executive coaching, marketing and sales program design and development, and executive education. 

She had a prestigious career with IBM Canada Limited, LGS Group and Industrial-Life Technical Services Inc. Ms. Oaks is the past Chair of CBGS, the Ottawa Art Gallery, High Performance Computing Ontario, Le Cercle universitaire d’Ottawa and a past Vice-Chair of Innovation Ontario Corporation.

Vice Chair

Jean Carr 

An Ottawa native, Jean Carr graduated with a degree Mathematics and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). Jean had a rich career through successive promotions in software sales and marketing, and retired as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an asset tracking company.  Having held positions based in Ottawa, San Francisco and Paris, he has gained rare on-the-ground experience in gaining market share in many international markets.

His volunteer works over the years includes being on the board of the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation and, for many years, advisor to local high tech start up companies, some of which have grown into multi-million dollar businesses providing good jobs in Ottawa.

Jean joined Canadensis Board in 2019 and was elected Vice Chair in 2020. A regular visitor to botanical gardens, he has seen the benefits they can deliver to their communities and seeks the same for Ottawa.

Treasurer

Alex Mitrovic, CPA, CA

Alex joined the Canadensis Board in June 2018 for the exciting opportunity to combine his professional experience with personal interests. Alex is an assurance and accounting Senior Manager at Welch LLP, an Ottawa-based Chartered Professional Accounting firm which he joined in 2014. His practice is focused on non-profit organizations, including national associations and charities, and private owner-managed corporations.

Prior to joining Welch, Alex lived and travelled abroad, allowing him the opportunity to visit gardens around the world. His most recent visits include the Royal Botanical Gardens outside Kandy, Sri Lanka, and various gardens around Oahu Island, Hawaii.

As Treasurer, Alex oversees CBGS financial matters including budgeting, cash flow, financial reporting for operations and regulatory compliance. His ultimate goal is to see CBGS fulfill its vision of bringing a national botanical garden to the nation’s capital, a truly significant asset for all current and future generations of Canadians.

Chair, Marketing Communication Committee

Thomas Allgoewer 

Mr. Allgoewer is a diehard believer in the good created by civil society organizations. He has been in non-profit leadership positions for more than 30 years.

He has a Masters Degree in social anthropology from Harvard University. Thomas is an avid birdwatcher, and hardly a day goes by without a long walk on a nearby nature trail – often at the break of dawn.

Chair, Membership Committee

Steve Wilson 

Steve graduated from Algonquin College’s Electro-mechanical design program in 1969. In 2011, he retired from Optotek Limited, where he was head of Design Engineering Services producing state-of-the-art LED display systems for military and commercial applications. Steve is co-inventor of 3 different LED (Light Emitting Diode) based systems: High Density LED optical array, fabrication technique for the assembly of high resolution LED printheads and a UV LED digital imaging system for screen printing.

As Vice President of his neighbourhood community association, Steve is actively involved with local events and helping ensure that the best interests of the community are represented and defended.  Canadensis has been an exciting and fulfilling part of Steve’s life for the past 5 years.

Chair, Planning Committee

David Ballinger 

David graduated from the University of Ottawa.  He had a 33 year career with Parks Canada. When he retired, he was the Director of Operations for the Rideau Canal National Historic Site and World Heritage Site.

A  founding partner and principal of The Canals Group, a registered partnership of management consultants dealing with historic canals, waterways, corridors, natural and historic parks and trails. The group has done recent major studies and work for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports, LeBoat Co. U.K.,  the Township of Leeds and Thousand Islands. and the Delaware Canal 21, Pennsylvania.

He is past President of Inland Waterways International (IWI) and  a special advisor to the World Historic and Cultural Canal Cities Cooperation Organization, Yangzhou, China.

Directors

Chantal Biro-Schad

Chantal Biro-Schad, along with her husband, have bolstered  Ottawa’s vibrant small business community and tourist districts for over two decades.  Together, they own and operate «schad boutique, Tavern on the Hill and Tavern on the Falls.  

Her philanthropic passions include helping the homeless and women living in shelters, raising funds for AIDS and Alzheimer’s research and giving all youth access to sports.

Satya Brink

Satya Brink misses the flowers of India and she strives to maintain her garden at home, while visiting gardens wherever she can.

She earned her Ph.D. from Purdue University in the United States and has lived in Canada since 1978. She worked for the Canadian government for over thirty years and retired as the Director of National Policy Research in Learning at Human Resources and Social Development Canada.  Next she was an international consultant for ten years for international organizations such as the World Bank, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and UNICEF in countries in Europe, West Africa and the Middle East.  During her working years she maintained links with academia and the volunteer sector.

Spencer Forsythe

Spencer moved to Ottawa in 2006 where he attended the University of Ottawa. While studying fell in love with the nature Ottawa and surrounding area has to offer.

He first was introduced to gardening growing up with a Mother who had a self proclaimed ‘green thumb’ and would often help out with up keep in the garden. In his free time he enjoys golfing, slow pitch, and walking his dog through the many parks Ottawa had to offer.

Spencer is a Financial Advisor, Imperial Service at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

Michel A. Gauthier

Michel A. Gauthier has distinguished himself in the festival, tourism and garden industry, accumulating the expertise and developing leadership qualities. His long list accomplishments include leadership roles for Winterlude between 1984 and 1988; Canadian Tulip Festival from 1992 to 2005; also as Director of Operations and then as Development Advisor for Mosaïculture Montreal, Executive Director of International Flora Montreal, managing Canada’s Garden Route and Canada’s biannual Garden Tourism Conference. 

 Since 2014, he has provided management services for the Canadian Garden Council, Canada’s Garden Route, Garden Tourism Conference, Garden Tourism Awards, Garden Days and Association management. On a volunteer basis, Chair of the World Tulip Society and President of Gardens Ottawa.

Sheila A. Murray, BNSc., MPA, NDC

Sheila has had the good fortune to combine the joys and perils of family life, formal and informal education, with study and work in different fields and In many voluntary organizations. Blessed with abundant energy, curiosity and commitment, she has had increasingly senior executive positions in nursing and teaching, post-secondary and adult education, community development, public service and the voluntary sector.

As retired Chair of the Board of several Ottawa organizations including as Chair of The Canadian Association for The Club of Rome(CACOR), she was recently invited to be an Honorary Member of the Club of Rome (International). Dealing with the threats And opportunities presented by climate change through this Club and its international members has become all consuming.

Mira Olah

After joining the Canadensis Board in June 2019, Mira’s curiosity for gardens has grown and she has since visited both the Eden Project in England and the Seoul Botanical Garden in South Korea. An idealist with a passion for design and humanitarian issues, Mira brings her dedication and altruistic nature to the causes she champions.

Mira works at Global Affairs Canada where she has played senior advisor and managerial roles in governance, policy and design including with the United Nations division, and has over a decade of experience as an interior designer in the private sector. She has previously been a Board member with One World Arts in Ottawa and has recently started work on a special project with First Nations. Mira has a BSc in Economics from the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Diana Thibodeau

Diana first got involved with gardening societies 15 years ago when she needed to learn about maintaining the beautiful perennial garden at her new house.  Previously considered a “brown thumb,” her enjoyment of that garden led to trial and error with new gardens and lots of bird feeders at her next home. 

Volunteer activities, beyond various local gardening societies, include the Peer Support Program at the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre, the Ottawa Blues Society, Bluesfest and Kanata Canada Day.

After many years working in Amateur Sport she now works at Integral Coaching Canada and takes great pride in the difference graduates of their Integral Coaching® Certification Program are making, reducing suffering in the world.