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About The Royal Canadian Geographical Society

Board of Governors 2014-2015

The Society’s Board of Governors is comprised of 5 Officers and up to 24 Governors from across Canada.


Dr. Paul R. Ruest
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Dr. Paul Ruest has worked in the field of education for more than 30 years as a public school teacher, school principal, school superintendent and university president. He holds a Ph.D. in educational administration and his publications have been mostly in the fields of educational administration and language learning. He has co-authored a novel, Le pensionnaire, and a play, Les manigances d’une bru, and been a guest speaker at numerous conferences. Dr. Ruest is a recipient of the Governor General’s 125th Anniversary of Confederation of Canada Medal for his outstanding contribution to education. He was awarded the médaille d’or de la Renaissance by the president of France for his contribution to the French language and culture. He is a chevalier de l’Ordre des palmes académiques and has been admitted to l’Ordre du Conseil de la vie française en Amérique. He is also a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for his contribution to Canada. Dr. Ruest is president and CEO of PJR Action, a private consulting firm specializing in education, health and public policy.

Gavin Fitch
Calgary, Alberta
Gavin Fitch practices in the areas of environmental and energy regulatory law at McLennan Ross LLP in Calgary. He represents clients before administrative tribunals such as the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB), the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), the National Energy Board, the Alberta Environmental Appeals Board, the Surface Rights Board and the Land Compensation Board. Mr. Fitch has extensive experience acting in environmental approval and energy permitting processes for oil and gas facilities, mining projects and electric power facilities. He also has expertise in the field of aboriginal law, including the duty to consult, land claims, expropriation, and surface rights. Mr. Fitch has been widely recognized for his achievements within his field, awarded the title of Calgary Environmental Law Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers 2012 and recognized in the area of Environmental Law by Who's Who Legal - Canada. He completed his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Alberta, his master’s degree in communications at Syracuse University and his law degree at Dalhousie University.

Elisabeth Nadeau
Ottawa, Ontario
Elisabeth Nadeau is a former senior federal public servant with over 34 years of experience, including 15 years at the level of Assistant Deputy Minister.   She worked in several departments and agencies, including the Privy Council Office, Public Safety Canada, Transport Canada, Consulting & Audit Canada, and Public Works and Government Services.  Her responsibilities included the provision of financial and other corporate services, as well as the provision of policy advice and support to the Prime Minister, Ministers and Commissions of Inquiry.  From 2001 to 2006, she served as Director of Queens Quay West Land Corporation, a then federal Crown Corporation. She completed a Bachelor of Arts with specialization at the University of Ottawa, majoring in geography with a minor in economics.  She also completed the Corporate Governance Training Program for Directors of Crown Corporations at the Schulich School of Business, York University. She has been a fellow of the Society since 1997 and served as Governor between 2003 and 2009.  She is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal on the recommendation of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Jim Lewis
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Jim Lewis joined the board of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society in November 2010. He is owner, President and Managing Consultant of Lewis Communications Inc., a Manitoba-based public communications company he founded in 1988, providing communication services for leading national, international and Manitoba-based companies, Crown corporations, governments, First Nations and not-for-profit organizations. Mr. Lewis currently serves as Vice President of Literacy Partners of Manitoba supporting efforts to improve literacy and essential skills in Manitoba, and raise awareness of the importance of those skills. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba and training in marketing, communications theory and media relations. He has also taught public communication courses at the University of Winnipeg and speaks on communications topics to business, academic and not-for-profit organizations.

Keith Exelby
Ottawa, Ontario
Keith Exelby is currently a senior business advisor with MDS Aero Support Corporation, an Ottawa-based supplier of test facilities for gas turbine engines. He has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, having extensive knowledge in the areas of commercial banking, risk management and business analysis. Mr. Exelby is the chairman and treasurer of Canadian Environmental Test Research and Education Centre, “EnviroTrec,” a not-for-profit organization that is partnered with other businesses to stimulate and perform research and technology development for aviation and gas turbine operations. Mr. Exelby also serves as Treasurer of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and sits on the management board of Canadian Geographic Enterprises, the publisher of the Canadian Geographic magazine. His career started with Lombard Banking in the U.K. Prior to his retirement from HSBC Banking Group in 2008, Mr. Exelby held the position of Vice President and Manager in Ottawa. He was educated in the United Kingdom and has a Higher National Diploma in Business Studies from Swansea College.


James Boxall
Halifax, Nova Scotia
James Boxall is the Director of the Dalhousie GISciences Centre, with a career of nearly 30 years as a geographer and educator. He has travelled and worked on spatial information endeavours around the world, including projects in Vietnam, Mexico and most parts of Canada, the US and Europe. He has also been closely involved with local projects related to sea level rise and access to health services. James serves as the co-chair at the Canadian Geomatics Community Round Table and sits on the review board for several journals. He was awarded the Geomatics Association Award for Service to the Private, Public and Academic Sectors in Nova Scotia in 2009 and the RCGS’s Geographic Literacy Award in 2012. In 2013, he helped organize the meeting that led to the Declaration Advancing Geographic Education for Canadians which has been endorsed by the RCGS and several other national and regional groups. In his spare time, James has helped organize many local and national conferences and continues to work towards improving geography and geomatics in public schools.

Wendy Cecil
Toronto, Ontario
Wendy M. Cecil C.M. is one of the pioneering women to serve on boards of directors in Canada, and currently serves as the 13th Chancellor of Victoria University, in the University of Toronto.

Cecil is chair and president of Brookmoor Enterprises Ltd. During her business career, she held a number of positions at the Toronto Stock Exchange and then at Brascan Ltd., now Brookfield Asset Management, including Vice-President of Business Development.

Cecil has made a lifelong commitment to public service. For more than 30 years, she has lent her leadership skills and passion to a variety of different organizations within the education, health care and arts sectors. She has been instrumental in Board work, strategic planning, and fundraising for a number of institutions, including The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the University of Toronto, St. Michael’s Hospital, the Toronto Public Library, Trinity College School, The Dancer Transition Resource Centre, the YMCA of Toronto, Branksome Hall, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Opera Company, Canadian Stage, the Fraser Institute and the Royal Ontario Museum. She was a member of the University of Toronto’s Governing Council from 1993 to 2002, and its chair from 1998 to 2002.

In 2010, she was elected Chancellor of Victoria University, in the University of Toronto. She is the first woman in the university’s history to hold the office. A graduate of Victoria College, Cecil holds an honorary doctor of laws degree from U of T and is an Associate Senior Fellow at Massey College. On Dec. 4, 2009, the Government of Canada recognized Cecil for her many years of voluntary service and extraordinary contributions by naming her a recipient of the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award. Cecil was named a Member of the Order of Canada in December 2014.

Allen B. Clarke
Toronto, Ontario
Allen Clarke is a consultant on matters of corporate governance and the design implementation and marketing of financial products. He is a member of independent review committees for the Bank of Montreal, Ridgewood Capital Asset Management and Enervest/Canoe. Prior to this, Mr. Clarke has held senior management positions in the financial services industry, including at Opus 2 Financial, AGF Funds, Richardson Greenshields, Central Guaranty Trust and McLeod Young & Weir. Mr. Clarke has been an Honorary Trustee of the Royal Ontario Museum since 2001. He completed his Bachelor of Arts at Minnesota State University, received his master’s degree from Carleton University and completed executive courses from the Wharton School of Business.

Beth Dye
Kamloops, British Columbia
Beth Dye is a geography educator with 26 years of teaching experience at the secondary level with the British Columbia and Ontario jurisdictions. She served as the National Chair for the Canadian Council for Geographic Education (CCGE) from 2004 to 2010. Ms. Dye is currently the Chair of the Great Canadian Geography Challenge, having been appointed to this position in 2002. As Chair of the CCGE, Ms. Dye has accompanied Canadian teams to four National Geographic World Challenges, where the Canadian team has won Bronze twice, Silver once and Gold in 2009 in Mexico City. She will be accompanying the team to the next world challenges in the summer of 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. She has been active in education initiatives and professional development throughout her career, including serving on various committees for curriculum and exam development and taking students on field trips to locations throughout Canada and Europe. In 2004, Ms. Dye received the Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s 75th Anniversary Medallion for Volunteer Service. In 2000, she received the Nystrom Innovation and Social Studies Education Award. Most recently, Ms. Dye was nominated to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Ms. Dye received her Master of Education degree from Simon Fraser University in 2004.

Joseph Frey
In addition to being a Governor Joseph is Chair of the Fellows Committee, a Member of the Policy and Planning Committee and was on the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition which discovered Sir John Franklin’s flagship HMS Erebus. He is a past Director and Vice President of The Explorers Club, New York City and former Chair of the Club’s Canadian Chapter. Joseph served as a commissioned officer in the Canadian Armed Forces.

He has written widely on science, exploration and travel subjects and has been published in Canada, Britain and the United States in numerous publications, including The Globe and Mail, National Post, Medical Post, Canadian Geographic, Travel & Escape, DIVER, Geographical, TIME, The Explorers Journal and others. As well as contributing polar research materials to The Economist, Science and three books on polar topics.

Joseph has been on scientific field expeditions to the Canadian High Arctic, Greenland and the Antarctic dealing with polar history, paleoglaciology, paleoclimatology and atmospheric studies. He has engaged in marine archaeology projects on Lake Ontario and Vancouver Island, as well as the biodiversity mapping of coral reefs in the Bahamas and Cuba.

He was awarded the 2006 Citation of Merit by The Explorers Club, the Stefannson Medal by the Club’s Canadian Chapter, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Canadian Decoration. Joseph holds a Combined Honours B.A. in geography and history from York University and a B.Ed. from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Alison M. Gill
Burnaby, British Columbia
Dr. Alison Gill is a professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., with a joint appointment in the Department of Geography and the School of Resource and Environmental Management. Dr. Gill holds geography degrees from Hull University, U.K. (BA); University of Alberta (MA) and University of Manitoba (Ph.D.). Dr. Gill’s research has for many years focused on issues of growth and change and related policy and planning issues, especially in the context of mountain resort communities. Institutional arrangements and the politics of place are important theoretical constructs underpinning much of her work on tourism and the transformation of place. Dr. Gill recently served as the President of the Canadian Association of Geographers and is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the International Academy for the Study of Tourism. She has also served terms as Chair of the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University and as Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She serves on the editorial boards for a number of academic journals, including: Tourism Geographies, Journal of Travel Research, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Journal of Architectural and Planning Research and the Annals of Tourism Research. Dr. Gill has published over 70 academic articles and book chapters.

Lt. Col. Brian Hodgson
Edmonton, Alberta
Lt.- Col. Hodgson is the Sergeant at Arms and Director of Visitor, Ceremonial and Security Services with the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. Following active service in the British Army’s Gordon Highlanders, he had a long and varied career in the Canadian Army Reserves, serving latterly as a Deputy for the Commander’s Advisory Group, Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan, an assistant chief of staff, 41st Canadian Brigade Group and as Commanding Officer, South Alberta Light Horse (Royal Canadian Armoured Corps). From 1986 to 1992 Mr. Hodgson was Intelligence Officer in the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. His community leadership has seen his involvement on the Edmonton boards of the Salvation Army, CARE Canada, Capital Health Foundation, Royal Commonwealth Society, the Loyal Edmonton Regiment Museum, Canada West Military Museum Society, Nancy Fairley Scholarship Committee, Sir Winston Churchill Society and the Edmonton Police Foundation. His contributions have been recognized with the awards of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals, the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal and the Alberta Centennial Medal. He graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelors of Arts, majoring in history and political science.

David Mitchell
Ottawa, Ontario
David Mitchell is President and CEO of the Public Policy Forum in Ottawa, Ontario. The Forum is an independent non-governmental organization dedicated to improving the quality of government in Canada through multi-sectoral dialogue and research on governance and public service. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Mitchell has served as Vice President at three Canadian universities: Queen’s University, the University of Ottawa and Simon Fraser University. He has held senior positions in both the public and private sectors. Serving as a member of the British Columbia Legislature from 1991 to 1996, Mr. Mitchell oversaw a broad range of issues including parliamentary reform and advanced education. In the private sector, he has held executive positions within Canadian resource industries. Mr. Mitchell holds a master’s degree in Canadian and American history from Simon Fraser University. He is a regular contributor to several magazines and newspapers and serves as a frequent public affairs commentator on television and radio.

Jim S. Murray
Montréal, Québec
Jim Murray is retired after a lifetime spent working in the shipping industry. He served as Vice President of Fednav Limited, whose ships traded to the High Arctic, allowing Mr. Murray to make unforgettable visits to Nanisivik, Resolute, Little Cornwallis Island, Grise Fjord, Axel Heiberg Island and Eureka in Nunavut. Mr. Murray’s past leadership roles in the shipping industry include the position of Director at Denholm Ship Management Ltd. He served as a lieutenant in the Highland Light Infantry from 1950 to 1952. Mr. Murray has been the Chairman of multiple organizations, including the Maritime Employers Association, Liberian Shipowners Council and the St. Lawrence Valley Natural History Society. Mr. Murray was educated at Glasgow Academy in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Robert J. D. Page
Calgary, Alberta
Dr. Robert Page is the Director, Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability, in the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary. Dr. Page is also an Adjunct Professor at the Haskayne School of Business. He is known at home and abroad for his work in areas of environmental risk management, climate change policy and regulations, carbon capture and storage, international environmental standards and energy systems. In addition to his position with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Dr. Page holds an executive position with Enmax Corporation, serves on the Management Committee with the International Environmental Standards in Geneva and is a board member of both Pollution Probe in Toronto and the Canadian Water Network at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Page is Former Chair of the Board for the International Emission Trading Association in Geneva and a Past Chair for the National Round Table on Environment and Economy. Previous to his position at the University of Calgary, Dr. Page served as the Vice President of Sustainable Development at TransAlta Corporation in Calgary.

Paul VanZant
Amaranth, Ontario
Paul VanZant is the Department Head of Geography and History at Mayfield Secondary School in Caledon ON. A geography educator for over 25 years, Paul is a graduate of Queen’s University, he holds both a BAH and an MA in geography. He has been involved in a number of initiatives to promote geographic education at the national, provincial and local levels. Most notably, from 1999 to 2013 Paul was an executive member of the Ontario Association for Geographic and Environmental Education, serving in a number of capacities including four years as the association’s President and another four as Vice-president of curriculum. During his tenure with OAGEE, Paul was a liaison with the Ontario Ministry of Education, and played a significant role in three provincial reviews of the Canadian and World Studies and Social Studies curricula. He also wrote course curriculum for several secondary geography courses in the recently released Ontario curriculum. Paul was awarded the Geographic Literacy Award by Canadian Council for Geographic Education in 2006, in recognition of his contributions to the development, enhancement and promotion of geographic education in Canada. In 2013, Paul’s employer, the Peel District School Board, recognized his “unique and exemplary contributions to public education in Peel and the Peel community” with an Excellence in Education Award.

Connie Wyatt Anderson
The Pas, Manitoba
Connie Wyatt Anderson has been teaching high school social sciences, including grades 10 and 12 geography, on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, a progressive First Nations community adjacent to The Pas, Manitoba, since 1992. She has been involved in the creation of student learning materials and curricula and has contributed to a number of textbooks, teacher support guides and school publications. She has written educative materials for several non-profit groups and recently co-authored the Grade 11 History text used in Manitoba schools. Ms. Anderson is Chair for the Canadian Geographic Education. In this role, Ms. Anderson represents the entirety of the Can Geo Education as a national organization. She completed her Bachelor of Education from the University of Winnipeg in 1992. Ms. Anderson received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal presented by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.


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