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Our Team


Marilyn Field

Executive Director

Marilyn has more than two decades of fund development experience within the areas of post-secondary education, arts and culture and social services. Previous employment included YWCA of Calgary, Glenbow Museum and Wilfrid Laurier University. Prior to contributing to the non-profit sector, Marilyn worked in the world of corporate sales and administration. Volunteerism has always played an important role in Marilyn’s life and has included involvement with Calgary Folk Music Festival Society and a variety of other cultural and community organizations as well as participating on various public school councils including terms as co-chair and education coordinator.

Monica Bryan

Director, Finance & Administration

Monica Bryan graduated from the University of Alberta in 1981, with a Master of Business Administration degree. Her next goal, while working in the commercial banking industry, was to complete the requirements for the Certified Management Accounting program. As a Certified Management Accountant, she started her own consulting practice where she gained experience, over a twenty year period, in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Monica has volunteered for many types of organizations over the years, including education and sports. She values education for youth and recognizes the importance of enhancement programs to facilitate each student in maximizing their potential.

Helen Nowlan-Walls

Director, Donor & Community Engagement

Helen has been working in Alberta’s not for profit sector since her arrival in the province in 2003. Originally from the UK, she spent several years in Fredericton before heading west where she lived and worked in both YYC and YEG before finally settling in Calgary.  Her career has seen her working to further the mandate of organizations focused on the arts, healthcare, and education, while her volunteer work has focused heavily on animal welfare.  Public education has always been a passion of Helen’s, even before her own family came along, but with 2 young children embarking on their own educational journeys in CBE schools there is  a deeply personal connection to her work at EducationMatters.  Helen was hit by a double decker bus while cycling, struck by lightning twice while cycling, and broke both kneecaps while cycling.  Helen no longer owns a bicycle or engages in any 2-wheeled activities.

Kathryn Schilman

Grants and Stewardship Officer

Kathryn comes from a large family of 6 children and several nieces and nephews.  She graduated from the University of Lethbridge in 2004 with a undergraduate degree in Psychology, where she also volunteered with the Campus Women’s Centre.  Since graduation, she has worked in retail management, interior design and most recently, spent the last 7 years working in the non-profit sector.  Education and helping others have always been passions of Kathryn’s and she is excited to apply these passions to her work with EducationMatters. Kathryn is also a graduate of Central Memorial High School.

Evelyn Martinez

Administrative and Special Events Officer

Evelyn was involved in the field of medicine for 20 years in the Philippines before she decided to immigrate to Canada in 2010 and start a new life and career with her family. As a new immigrant, she took advantage of government programs like the Office Administration Program (OAP), offered by the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA). She did her practicum as an administrative assistant with the Heart & Stroke Foundation (HSF) and eventually became a full-time employee in their Fund Development and Community Engagement department. She loves learning new skills and working with databases; if you need to translate data, she’s your gal! Since working with HSF, Evelyn discovered her passion in working with non-profit organizations and helping other people achieve their full potential. You could say that, because of her transition from medicine to non-profit, Evelyn likes to re-invent herself and take on new challenges.

Board of Governors

Nancy Close

Board Chair, EducationMatters
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.

Hanif Ladha

Vice-Chair, EducationMatters
Managing Director, Corporate Living Suites Management Inc.

Hanif Ladha is the Managing Director at Corporate Living Suites, which provides residential short/long term corporate housing for executives in Calgary and Edmonton. Hanif has an MBA from the Ivey School of Business from Western University in London, Ontario. He has years of management experience in the oil and gas industry, and held various senior leadership positions specializing in environmental management, stakeholder relations and regulatory compliance. As a passionate community volunteer and an advocate for education, arts, and youth, he currently serves on the Board of Directors of Alberta Theater Projects and as a board Member on FOCUS Humanitarian Canada.  Hanif previously served in various volunteer positions as the Member for Settlement Portfolio on the Ismaili Council for Canada, Chairman on the Ismaili Aga Khan Youth & Sports Board and the Aga Khan Education Board, and Aga Khan Foundation Canada. As a strong proponent of quality education for all students, he believes in supporting the under-privileged and those in need.

Steve Aubin

Treasurer, 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.

Amanda Field

Secretary, EducationMatters
Legal Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Equinor Canada Ltd.

Amanda Field is the in-house Legal Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Equinor 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 Equinor (formerly 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.

Althea Adams

Governor, EducationMatters
Calgary Board of Education Trustee

Althea Guzman Adams is a mother of two boys, both in CBE schools, and passionate about education.
This passion includes increasing STEM education available to students.  The benefits of this became clear during her time in communications at the Association of Professional Engineers, Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA).  Her responsibilities included organizing, planning and running the Calgary Science Olympics. This popular, city-wide event is designed for students from Grades 1 to 12 to showcase their science and technology knowledge and skills. Althea has been an avid volunteer on her children’s school council, and as chair, was a strong advocate for positive actions to enhance the quality of student learning at the school.
Althea is also a talented musician. She is currently in a leadership position as the assistant director for Vocal Motion Chorus, an internationally awarded all female a Capella group. In October 2016, they competed in Las Vegas and placed 4th at an international competition. Most recently, this past April, they placed 1st in their regional competition. Althea was also one of the founding chorus members serving as their team leader for their first three years.

Martin Cej

Governor, EducationMatters
Partner, Longview Communications and Public Affairs

Martin Cej is a partner at Longview Communications and Public Affairs. He grew up in Calgary and attended Bishop Grandin High School before heading east to St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. Martin is the former Vice-President of Public Affairs and Communications at Canadian Pacific Railway. Prior to that, he 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.

Richard Hehr

Governor, EducationMatters
Calgary Board of Education Trustee

Richard Hehr is a Calgary Board of Education Trustee representing Wards 8 and 9. Richard was involved in Alberta public education for 41 years – 30 of them with the Calgary Board of Education (CBE). Richard’s children Kent and Kristie are proud graduates of Sir Winston Churchill High School. He has three grandchildren presently attending Calgary public schools. Jackson and Parker are at Earl Grey while Marshall has entered the late French Immersion program at Elboya. Richard is totally dedicated to Calgary public schools and the students and families they serve. He believes strongly every student attending a public school deserves the very best education Alberta’s society can provide. Parents must feel confident that their child is being provided this opportunity to maximize their potential for a happy, rewarding and successful life.

Kirk Johnson

Governor, EducationMatters
President, ConocoPhillips Canada

Kirk Johnson is president of ConocoPhillips Canada. Kirk grew up in Colorado within the public school system, attended the Colorado School of Mines, and began his career with BP in Anchorage, Alaska where he held a series of operations, engineering, and project management roles. Upon transitioning to ConocoPhillips, Kirk held a number of leadership roles in projects, business development, operations, and corporate planning and strategy before assuming his current role.

A frequent volunteer instructor for the NEED (National Energy Education Development) project and his children’s schools, Kirk is passionate about the role of STEAM in early education, and the importance of high quality public education systems.

Marla Martin-Esposito

Governor, EducationMatters
CBE, Chief Communications Officer

Marla Martin-Esposito is the Chief Communications Officer for the Calgary Board of Education. In this role, Marla leads all aspects of communication and engagement services.  This includes media relations, community engagement, internal communications, government relations, management of websites and other communication tools. Her past experience also includes more than 25 years in various roles including marketing, advertising, community investment and investor relations in large corporations and consulting firms. Over the past 10 years, Marla has been active volunteer in minor soccer. She has recently accepted a director position on the Calgary Minor Soccer Association Board.

David McKinnon

Governor, EducationMatters
Associate, Bennett Jones LLP

David 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

Governor, 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.

Mike Shaikh

Past 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.

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.

Melanie Sortland

Governor, EducationMatters
Owner & Founder, XO Ice Cream & Waffles

Mélanie and her husband Darren opened XO Ice Cream & Waffles in March, with the vision of bringing high-quality products to the S.E. suburbs and being a place where families can build memories. As a new entrepreneur, Mélanie is involved in all aspects of the business, from operations and supply management to promotion, human resources and finance. With extensive experience delivering best-in-class communications plans, marketing activities, community investment programs and events, Mélanie previously worked at Canadian Pacific where her career highlights include championing the CP Holiday Train, a fundraiser that has collected more than $14M for local food banks since 1999. In 2014, she participated in the creation of CP’s new community investment program, CP Has Heart and managed multi-year sponsorships – CP Women’s Open, Spruce Meadows, CFL – as platforms to increase the brand reputation and raise more than $12M for heart health in North America. Mélanie was born and raised in France. Prior to her move to Canada in 2006, she travelled around the world with a year-long educational project to teach children about the riches of cultural diversity. A mom of two children, Mélanie is a long-time believer that education is the fundamental precondition for strong societies and understands the value of having the best public education system possible in Calgary.

Honourary Ambassadors

Gerry Burger-Martindale

Community Member

Gerry Burger-Martindale has been a member of EducationMatters Student Awards Selection Committee and Grants Committee since 2009. Gerry actively participates in various EducationMatter functions and events held by schools who have been provided with grants and student awards. She was previously involved in school activities during her daughter’s 13 years within the Calgary Board of Education (CBE). Her positions range from President and Key Communicator within school councils, to leading a city-wide parent advocacy group (that work closely with CBE and Alberta Education), to organizing several Municipal Trustee election forums. She has over 30 years’ experience at the Calgary Public Library and is currently the Central Library’s Senior Transition Lead. In 2001, her passion in education and literacy led her to volunteer within a high school library in South Africa, and in 2007 she and her family worked on an elementary school library project in Tanzania. This is Gerry’s 10th year volunteering with EducationMatters, and she continues to play an active role in advocating the vision and mission of this organization.

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.


Audit & Finance

  • Steve Aubin (Chair)
  • Dr. Gene Edworthy
  • Mark Saar
  • Mike Shaikh

Fund Development & Communications

  • Martin Cej
  • Nancy Close
  • Hanif Ladha
  • Marla Martin-Esposito
  • Melanie Sortland

Governance & Leadership

  • Amanda Field (Chair)
  • Dr. Gene Edworthy
  • David McKinnon
  • Mike Shaikh


  • Melanie Sortland (Chair)
  • Gerry Burger-Martindale
  • Shiv Ganesh
  • Kirk Johnson
  • Hanif Ladha
  • Scott MacNeill
  • Anu Nijhawan
  • Jason Ribeiro
  • Mark Saar
  • Dr. Richard Sigurdson

Student Award Selection

  • Gerry Burger-Martindale (Chair)
  • Joy Bowen-Eyre
  • Nancy Close
  • Donna Crawford
  • Louise Fernandes
  • Shannon Giroux-Wong
  • Leslie Newton
  • Glen Ong
  • Linh Tran
  • Annie Wong