Students & Parents


School & Community

Board of Governors

Mike Shaikh
Chair, EducationMatters

Community Member

Mike Shaikh is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants. He is a Director of various private, public and not-for-profit organizations including a Board Member for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation as well as a past Chair of Calgary Police Commission. As an entrepreneur and businessman, Mike is aligned with the goals of EducationMatters in ensuring students succeed in school and are ready for adult life.


Nancy Close
Vice Chair, EducationMattersNancy_1
Community Member

Nancy Close is the Community Relations Coordinator in Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s office where her primary responsibility is supporting the importance of civic engagement and the success of the Enough for All Poverty Plan, along with liaising with the non-profit sector. Nancy has been inspired and grateful to have participated in all three Team Nenshi municipal election campaigns.  Previous to being an elected school board trustee for the Calgary Board of Education from 1999-2007,  she was involved in her children’s schools as a volunteer school council chair, as well as being on the executive of the Calgary Council of Home and School Association (now CAPSC) and the grassroots advocacy group SPEAK (Support Public Education – Act for Kids). Nancy’s current volunteer efforts focus on the importance of public education, the arts, and building community through voter engagement initiatives.


David McKinnon
Secretary, EducationMatters

Associate, Bennett Jones LLP

1244_DavidMcKinnonDavid McKinnon is an associate at Bennett Jones LLP, where he conducts a broad litigation practice. Born and raised in Calgary, David passed through the halls of Chinook Park Elementary, Bishop Pinkham Junior High and Western Canada High schools before going east to attend the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University in Halifax, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Combined Honours) in Contemporary Studies and Political Science. He returned to Calgary to attend law school. David has travelled to various countries including Japan, France, Spain, Thailand and Turkey, bringing back to Calgary a wealth of cultural knowledge from his experiences. A father and an avid believer in building and fostering relationships, David supports community efforts that enhance public education for Calgary students.


Mark Saar
Treasurer, EducationMatters

Managing Director and Head, North American Energy Project Finance, RBC Capital Markets

Mark Saar’s career in corporate finance with RBC Capital Markets has seen several positions in both Ontario and Alberta. In his current position he leads a team providing structured debt financing and project advisory services to energy sector corporations and financial sponsors across North America. Mark holds an M.B.A. from Queen’s University, a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Waterloo and is a registered Professional Engineer. Prior to joining RBC, Mark worked in engineering and business development roles in the energy infrastructure sector focusing on new pipelines and independent power projects. To EducationMatters, Mark also brings the experience of his past volunteer commitments supporting students with Junior Achievement, sports coaching and parent council activities and as Chairman of an academic fraternity.


Liana Appelt, PhD
Governor, EducationMatters
System Principal, Calgary Board of Education

Liana’s work as an educator, in a variety of capacities, has been devoted to the improvement, promotion and protection of public education. Since 2001, Liana has been a proud employee of the Calgary Board of Education where she is currently the System Principal in the department of Planning & Transportation. As a student, she attended several CBE schools including; Mayland Heights, Erin Woods, Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Western Canada High School. Liana is the recipient of an Excellence in Teaching Award for her work as a sessional instructor at the University of Calgary, an Avenue Magazine Top 40 under 40 alumni and a parent of a CBE High School student.  As Chair of Calgary’s annual ‘Walk so Kids Can Talk’ event she assists in raising funds for Kids Help Phone as well as volunteers on the Educational Advisory Committee for Calgary Urban Projects Society. Liana’s unwavering commitment to public education resides in the value she places on equitable access to high quality instruction for all students.


Steve Aubin
Governor, EducationMatters
Partner, Assurance and Advisory, Deloitte

Steve Aubin is the current leader of a dynamic and diverse team of professionals in Deloitte’s Western Canadian Practice and also the Western Canadian Accounting & Transaction Advisory Practice. With over 19 years’ experience, primarily in the audit practice, Steve has served audit and advisory clients ranging from owner managed organizations to publicly traded multinationals in various sectors. Having worked in Deloitte offices in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, London and having worked internationally on engagements in the United States, France, England, Ireland, Holland, Australia, Colombia, Yemen, Azerbaijan, Portugal, Germany, Hong Kong, and Singapore, Steve has a distinctly international view. Steve is also a dynamic speaker and facilitator, having spoken often both externally and internally on the subjects of Finance and accounting. He is affiliated with various professional organizations including the Institute of Chartered Professional Accountants, CPA Canada IFRS and the Canadian Electricity Association.


Martin Cej                                                                                                                       
Governor, EducationMatters
Assistant Vice President Public Affairs and Communications, Canadian Pacific Railway

Martin Cej is the Assistant Vice-President of Public Affairs and Communications at Canadian Pacific Railway. He grew up in Calgary and attended Bishop Grandin High School before heading east to St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. Martin spent more than 20 years as a financial journalist, including serving as an Anchor and Managing Editor at BNN – The Business News Network, an editor at The Globe and Mail and CBS MarketWatch, and as a reporter and editor at Bloomberg News. His postings included London, Stockholm, Madrid, San Francisco and Toronto. Now residing in Calgary with their two children, he and his wife, former National Ballet of Canada Principal Dancer Jennifer Fournier, are committed to supporting and growing the performing arts in the city, and integrating them more fully into the education system. Martin is also passionate about incorporating exercise, movement and play in support of active learning.

Dr. Gene Edworthy
Governor, EducationMatters
Optometrist, Edworthy Vision Centre

Dr. Gene Edworthy is an optometrist practicing in downtown Calgary. He enjoys sharing his passions for important causes including health care, sports, the arts and education. His sport involvement has included being president of the Canadian Luge Association and Chairman of the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA). He is currently a Director of the Canadian Olympic Committee and chairs the Olympic Legacy Coaching Fund. Gene chaired the committee which established the National Sport School, a joint venture between the CBE and CODA, of which 20 graduates competed for Canada at the Turin Olympic Games. Gene has been a member of the Board of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Fort Calgary Preservation Society and the Board of the 2009 (40th) WorldSkills Championship. Gene has been a member of the Calgary Rotary Club and has actively served on several committees of the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede since the 1980’s. As a father of three children, Dr. Edworthy understands the value of building excellence in Calgary’s public education system.


Amanda Field
Governor, EducationMatters
Legal Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Statoil Canada Ltd.

Amanda Field is the in-house Legal Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Statoil Canada Ltd., and sits on the senior management team. She was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 2006 and the Alberta Bar in 2007, and prior to joining Statoil, worked in Toronto, New York City and Calgary in private practice with large national law firms, with a practice focused on corporate finance, securities, and mergers and acquisitions. She is also an engaged member of several professional associations, including as part of the Executive of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators, Canada Chapter, winning a member of the year award in 2016. Amanda is a native Calgarian, and a graduate of the CBE system, having attended the French immersion programs at Chinook Park Elementary School, Bishop Pinkham Junior High School and Western Canada High School.  She is, and has been, actively involved in the Calgary community in numerous volunteer capacities in a variety of organizations, including Alberta Ballet, National Music Centre and Calgary Opera, and has been a member of the EducationMatters Student Award Selection Committee since 2012.


Greg FrancisGregory Francis
Governor, EducationMatters

Superintendent, Human Resources and General Counsel, Calgary Board of Education

Greg is currently General Counsel for the Calgary Board of Education. During his twenty-three year career as a lawyer, Greg has been a Crown Prosecutor, a defence lawyer, and a Justice of the Peace in the Provincial Court of Alberta. His labour and employment law experience includes work for both a trade union and a large public sector employer, as well as serving as Equity Ombudsperson for the Law Society of Alberta and as an arbitrator of labour relations disputes under the Alberta Labour Relations Code. Greg is active in the community volunteering with the Law Society of Alberta and as a member of the Board of Directors of the The Old Trout Puppet Workshop.


Hanif Ladha
Governor, EducationMatters

Managing Director, Corporate Living Suites

Hanif manages Corporate Living Suites which provides corporate housing for executives.  He was a senior oil and gas professional with over 10 years of progressive management experience and held various leadership positions with Hatch Ltd, CCS Midstream Services (Tervita), Pengrowth Corp, Quicksilver Resources and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) specializing in environmental management, stakeholder relations and regulatory compliance. Hanif served as a member on the Operations Regulatory Committee and the Compliance Assurance Task Group with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). A passionate community volunteer and an advocate for the youth, Hanif currently serves as the Chairman of the Settlement Portfolio on the Ismaili Council for Canada and has previously served as the Chairman on the Ismaili Aga Khan Youth & Sports Board and Chairman on the Ismaili Aga Khan Education Board. He also volunteered as the Schools Team Lead with the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, a non-denominational charitable organization that aims to alleviate global poverty. Hanif has an MBA from the Ivey School of Business from Western University in London, Ontario and is a strong proponent of quality education for all students and passionate about assisting the under-privileged.


Dr. Richard Sigurdson 
Governor, EducationMatters

Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Calgary

Dr. Richard Sigurdson has spent almost three decades in academic and administrative roles in universities across the country. Immediately prior to his move to Calgary, Sigurdson served as Dean, Faculty of Arts and Acting Provost, University College at the University of Manitoba where he also held the Duff Roblin Professorship of Government. A political scientist by training, Dr. Sigurdson has published on a variety of topics, from the history of political theory to the Charter of Rights in Canada. As an administrator, his focus has been on internationalization, indigenous teaching and learning, and improving the student experience. The son of two public school educators and father of five children (including one currently enrolled in a CBE school), Dr. Sigurdson has a long-standing commitment to public education and promoting its value to the community.


Dr. Charles Webber
Governor, EducationMattersWebberC
Dean, Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension, Mount Royal University

During his career as an educator Dr. Webber has served as a classroom teacher, curriculum consultant, principal, professor, associate dean, and dean. Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Webber was Dean of the Faculty of Human, Social, and Educational Development at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia, and, previously, he was Professor and Associate Dean in the Faculty of Education at the University of Calgary.

He also holds an appointment as Faculty Fellow in the Faculty of Education at Western University in London, Ontario. He has been a Guest Professor, Visiting Scholar, and Adjunct Senior Fellow at universities in Mexico, China, Thailand, Tanzania, and New Zealand.

Dr. Charlie Webber is married to Margaret, also a teacher, and they have three adult children and one grandchild. As a life-long teacher and researcher in public and Catholic education, and as a volunteer for many years in a variety of community initiatives, he is pleased to support the important work of EducationMatters.

Honourary Ambassadors

Joanne Cuthbertson
Community Member

Joanne Cuthbertson was the first elected Board Chair of EducationMatters, the founder of SPEAK (Support Public Education – Act for Kids) in 1997 and the recipient of the Calgary Award in Education that same year. Joanne is a passionate and unrelenting advocate for young people, public education and issues of quality of life in the community. She has been involved in organizations with similar values as a volunteer, board member, mentor and champion. Presently, Joanne serves on the Alberta Bone & Joint Health Institute Board of Directors and as a Director of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation, and continues on Glenbow Museum’s Development Committee. She is a Co-Chair of the Calgary Consortium for Peace Studies and a founding member of the Dean’s Circle in the Faculty of Environmental Design and of the advisory committee for the O’Brien Centre for the Bachelor of Health Sciences Program. Joanne continues her association with the University of Calgary as Chancellor Emeritus through the Faculty of Education and is a proud recipient of the 2008 CBE Distinguished Alumni Award.


David Pickersgill
Community Member

David Pickersgill served five years as a CBE Trustee, stepping down in 2004. A long time community volunteer, he has served as Vice-Chair of EducationMatters, Co-Chair of Calgary Rocky View Child and Family Services Authority, Co-Chair of Calgary Rocky View Steering Committee for redesign of Children’s Services, President of Big Brothers and Big Sisters Society of Calgary, Director of Mountain Plains Community Services Society, Director of Street Teams Society and Advisor of Rocky Mountain Y.M.C.A. Youth Leadership program. The former chairman of a Calgary-based precast concrete structures manufacturer, he is currently Chair of the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada and Vice-President of Safe Haven Foundation of Canada.