The Conference includes workshops for new Heads and new Chairs, notable Guest Speakers, separate sessions for Heads and Chairs, and the CAIS Annual General Meeting. Several other presentations and workshops take place, which vary each year. Learn more & register here.
Meet the Board
CAIS Board of Directors
CAIS' identity is reflected through strong governance. The Board is a national and capable group committed to best practice in governance policies and procedures. It is committed to a thorough, consultative and transparent decision-making process while serving the best interests of member schools.
The mission and work of the not-for-profit organization is overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors. The term of office of elected Directors is one year, with the understanding that Directors will ordinarily serve for a minimum of three years and a maximum of six years. A majority of the directors are people who are independent of CAIS schools, that is not Heads of Schools, Chairs of Boards, directors, officers or employees of CAIS schools.
In addition to the two councils, Standards and Evaluation, there are three standing committees: Finance and Audit, Governance, and Executive Director Performance Review. From time to time, task forces may be formed to deal with specific projects or issues. All councils, committees and task forces report to the full Board.
Peter Jewett is senior counsel at Torys LLP practicing a wide range of corporate and securities law, with particular expertise in national and international mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance. He has participated in many of Canada’s largest acquisitions and divestitures, including privatizations of major federal and provincial enterprises. Peter is experienced in advising senior management and boards of directors of major corporations and not-for-profits on a broad range of topics, including current issues of corporate governance. Peter is the chair of the Boards of the Shaw Festival and the Canadian Accounting Oversight Council. Peter has been with Torys since 1972. A list of Peter’s recognitions, recent transactions, selected publications and presentations and media highlights can be found on Torys’ website www.torys.com.
Peter has served on numerous committees investigating securities and corporate law for the Ontario Securities Commission and the Canadian Bar Association. He has taught securities regulation in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law and is a frequent speaker and panelist at conferences on securities law, corporate law, corporate governance and legal opinions. Peter is currently the Vice Chair of the Canadian Accounting Standards Oversight Council.
Peter has been on the Board of St. Clement’s School in Toronto since 1997-2012 and served as Chair from 1998 to 2008. His wife, Robin Campbell, chaired the highly successful St. Clement’s Bigger Blazer capital campaign from 2003 to 2007. Peter is also a member of the Board of CAIS, the standard setting body and association of over 90 of Canada’s leading independent schools.
Peter graduated from Queen’s University (B.A.) in 1969 and University of Toronto Faculty of Law (LLB, gold medalist) in 1972.
Patricia McDermott joined the CAIS board after seven years serving on the Board of Halifax Grammar School, a leading independent day school in Halifax for grades JP-12, and she served as Board Chair from 2012-2014. She was employed for twenty-five years in the transportation industry, responsible for marketing and business development at the Halifax Port Authority when she retired in 2005. Patricia holds a Bachelor of Commerce and an MBA from Dalhousie University. She has been a committed volunteer with a number of local and national organizations, including the United Way of Halifax and United Way-Centraide Canada, serving as Board Chair of the national organization from 2005 to 2007. Patricia has also been active on the Board of Laing House, a peer support centre for mentally ill youth and on the Board of the YMCA.
She is the recipient of a number of volunteer awards including the United Way-Centraide Canada Andre Mailhot award, the 2002 Queen's Jubilee Medal and the 2012 Queen's Diamond Jubillee Medal. Patricia and her husband, Dr. Michael Gross live in Halifax with their teenage son Max.
Chair of the Research Committee
Marc Ayotte has worked in Independent School Education for two decades. He began as a Mathematics Teacher in 1995 at Stanstead College and became Department Head and House Director two years later. He moved to Trinity College School in 1998 to accept a Mathematics position and was Assistant Head of Brent House. This time, he became the Department Head one year later and then founded the Trinity Teachers' Institute - an educational opportunity to foster linkages between University Professors and Teachers from across North America by focusing on the renewal of passion in their academic disciplines. Marc spent seven years as Head of Senior School at Southridge School where they had the highest ranked academic program in the province in each of those years. He was appointed as Head of College at Hillfield Strathallan College in 2010. He is so very proud to be leading HSC into the 21st Century and has overseen a Transformation of their campus in his time here to better meet the needs of all students.
Ms. Bridgeman is a chartered accountant and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. Prior to her retirement, she was Vice President, Investments for Growthworks Capital, a venture capital fund, where she oversaw investment in early stage technology companies. Previously, she served as Vice President Finance for Growthworks Capital, Director of Finance and Planning with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon, and Audit Manager with Deloitte and Touche.
Ms. Bridgeman has served on the Boards of Vancouver Police Department, BC Real Estate Association, BC Technology Industries Association, Vancouver Enterprise Forum, Covenant House, and Odd Squad Productions. She has also acted as a juror for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition and New Ventures BC. She has a special interest in education and has been a Board member of St. George’s School and Shad International as well as an advisor to the Impact Entrepreneurship Group that promotes youth entrepreneurship.
Denise Burke BPHE, CPCC, CNTC, joined the CAIS Board after serving for six years (2010-2016) on the Board of Miss Edgar’s & Miss Cramp’s School (ECS), serving three years (2013-2016) as Chairman of the Board.
An executive coach and business consultant with fervor for people, business, and entrepreneurial thinking, Denise is accomplished in diverse sectors including financial, pharmaceutical, real estate, toy, food, communications, media relations, sales, and marketing. Her excellent client relationships are built on trust and integrity. A strategic, focused, and goal-driven leader, she is recognized for helping decision-makers to find minessence in challenging business issues. Denise is committed to recognizing the science behind human behaviour, and to assisting leaders with the move from relevant to essential in their businesses.
Denise is Founder and President of Full Speed Ahead On Life, a Canadian Values Coaching and Leadership Company, coaching decision-makers responsible for influencing business, people, and cultural climate.
Full Speed Ahead on Life, based in Montreal, provides a full range of services including executive, career transition, and leadership coaching, supported by Values Technology and Genos Emotional Intelligence, testing and behavior charting.
Lu is the National SME Managing Partner for Deloitte Private and is the Regional Leader of the Deloitte Private practice for Ontario. Lu has spent his 35 year career assisting entrepreneurs and their management teams create value and grow their businesses. A chartered accountant and partner since 1989, Lu has been helping entrepreneurs to overcome these obstacles. With the introduction of Deloitte Private, a practice designed to support entrepreneurs and private companies on key issues such as funding for growth, collaborating to win in new markets, going digital, and doing the right deal in M&A, Lu has been able to position his clients to take advantage of new growth opportunities.
Lu’s community involvement is extensive. He is an advisor to the board of the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools, a strong supporter of the St. Joseph's Healthcare Foundation's Annual Holiday Gala, past president of the Sons of Italy Trieste Lodge, and a former treasurer and board member of Villa Italia Retirement Home. Lu is on the annual fund raising committee for the B’nai Brith Celebrity Sports dinner. He is the past audit chair of the Sons of Italy Housing Corporation and is a current board member of the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice.
In 2015 Lu received the Professional Excellence Award from CIBPA (Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association).
Dr. Bill Jones
Bill Jones has spent more than 30 years in public and independent school teaching and administration. He was appointed the Head of Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School (Calgary, AB) in 2007 and previously served as Head of Southridge School (Surrey, BC) for 8 years. Bill holds undergraduate degrees in music and education, a Master of Education in educational administration and has earned a Doctor of Education in educational leadership and policy at the University of British Columbia. As a school head, he has been involved in the International Baccalaureate and Round Square organizations and has been a strong advocate for the development of an international perspective within students.
Deryn Lavell is a highly respected educational leader with over 30 years experience in Canada and internationally. With a Master of Educational Administration and Bachelor of Education from the University of Victoria, B.C., Ms. Lavell’s career has taken her from the classrooms of Alert Bay, Prince Rupert, and Victoria, B.C., to increasingly senior roles in the United Arab Emirates and Canada. Currently she is Head of School at The Bishop Strachan School (BSS) which is celebrating its 150th anniversary alongside Canada, making it this country’s oldest day and boarding school for girls. Deryn is a powerful advocate for equality and empowering girls with the confidence they need to thrive in an increasingly complex world, a philosophy that has distinguished her leadership at BSS.
Born in Quebec City and raised in Montreal, Gary O’Meara earned an AB degree in History from Princeton University in 1976. He has a Diplôme in French from the Sorbonne in Paris, where he also worked as an educational consultant. His career has taken him to the United States, Canada, England, and France. He was Upper School Head at Royal St. George’s College in Toronto, Founding Headmaster of Lycee Cambridge in England and Headmaster of an international Canadian school in France. Since 1996, he has been the Headmaster of Armbrae Academy in Halifax.
He wrote the Senior Economics Course Guidelines for the Ontario Ministry of Education in the 1980s; was a member of the development project for the Advanced Placement Macroeconomics course for the College Board; was a member, in the mid 80s, of the pilot project for the Canadian Educational Standards Institute, now CAIS; was the Director of summer enrichment programs in Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, and Nice; was the Founding European Director for “Global Vision”, a joint project of the Federal Government and major Canadian corporations; and he presented a paper on “Improving Education in Canada: Historical Perspectives and Lessons from Abroad” at King’s College, University of Cambridge at an annual conference of the British Association for Canadian Studies.
In Halifax, he was a member and Chair of the Advisory Committee to the Department of Education at Mount St. Vincent University until 2001 and, since 1999, has been a member of the Board and Finance Committee of Adsum House (a shelter for women and children). He has chaired and been a member of many CAIS Visiting Committees and recently presented a session on Strategic Planning at the CAIS Heads and Chairs Conference. Gary was a member of the CAIS Strategic Planning Committee.
Ms. Ritchie is a partner at the law firm of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP in its Toronto office practicing securities and corporate law, and has almost 20 years of experience advising on public and private merger & acquisition and corporate finance transactions, as well as corporate governance and securities regulatory matters. Ms. Ritchie is the past leader of the firm’s Corporate Finance, M&A and Private Equity Group (2010-2013). Ms. Ritchie’s M&A practice involves providing advice on mergers, acquisitions and divestitures for both public and private companies. She is ranked as a Best Lawyer in Canada 2016 in the area of M&A. Ms. Ritchie's corporate finance practice involves acting on behalf of public companies in public offerings and private placements of both equity and debt securities. She is currently one of 12 members on the Ontario Securities Commission’s Securities Advisory Committee. Ms. Ritchie’s corporate governance experience includes advising boards of directors and management, including not-for-profit organizations, on corporate governance structures, policies and best practices, compensation matters, and officer and director liability. Ms. Ritchie is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors.
David Robertson was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. After completing his M.A.(Hons) at the University of Aberdeen and his teaching degree (P.G.C.E.0 from Loughborough University, he began his teaching career in 1978. After 11 years of teaching English and French in Scotland, David and his family moved to Canada, where he took on the role as House Director, Head of Languages, and Senior Rugby Coach at Brentwood College School. In 1993, he moved to Shawnigan Lake School, working as a Deputy Head and Principal before accepting the position of Headmaster in 2000.
A former Chair of the Independent Schools Association of British Columbia and the current Chair of the CAIS Collaborative Boarding Project, David serves on the Board of Directors for the national organization of independent schools (CAIS - Canadian Accredited Independent Schools.
A passionate advocate of strong independent schools, David has led Shawnigan Lake School through a period of unprecedented growth and development, cementing his reputation as an exceptional educator, facilitator and leader.
Michaele Robertson has 40 years of experience in independent schools, serving at Hillfield-Strathallan College, Upper Canada College and most recently as Principal of the University of Toronto Schools (UTS). She has also consulted internationally, and served as Chair of numerous committees, including chairing a hospital board and an NFP.
Drew is in his ninth year as Head of School at Southridge. Prior to being appointed Head in 2007, Drew spent seven years as the Head of the Junior School at Southridge, two years as a division leader and one year as athletics coordinator. A graduate of McMaster and Queen’s Universities, he earned his Bachelor of Physical Education, Bachelor of Education and Master of Science degrees before beginning his teaching career in Quebec where he spent nine very fulfilling years teaching elementary aged children and leading outdoor education and athletics programs for high school students. Drew is committed to the vital role that experiential education plays in the development of a reflective mindset fully immersed in inquisition, exploration and discovery. He supports the integration of active inquiry and engaged collaboration in all elements of a school community, and was extremely fortunate to join Southridge in 1997 as it began its third year of operation. Having been with Southridge for the past nineteen years, he has had first-hand experience in all facets of the school’s operations, and has been a part of the school’s exciting growth and maturation as it has intentionally and purposefully implemented an education program devoted to the importance of balancing knowledge with goodness. In 2014, Drew attended the Heads of School Program at the Klingenstein Centre at Columbia University, and has served as a mentor for students in its Master’s degree program. As an active member of the CAIS and ISABC Boards, Drew devotes time and energy in support of a strong and cohesive network of independent schools.
Peter Sturrup has been Headmaster of Pickering College, a coeducational, K to 12 day and boarding school in Newmarket, Ontario since 1995. Previously, Peter was a Geography teacher and Dean of Residence for nine years, also at Pickering College, and taught Geography at Wilfrid Laurier University (in Waterloo, Ontario) for ten years.
Peter received his B.A. and M.A. (Geography) from Wilfrid Laurier University and his B. Ed from the University of Toronto. Peter's volunteer time includes having just completed his term as Chair of the Board of the Ontario Conference of Independent Schools (CIS) and he is the Chair of the Standards Council of the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS). In his community, Peter has served as Honourary Chair of the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life and is Chair of the Newmarket Celebrates the Arts Bursary Committee.
In addition to his duties as Head of School, Peter has presented at conferences, seminars and workshops for the National Association of Independent School (NAIS), The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), the Friends Council on Education (FCE), the Canadian Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and the Ontario Conference of Independent Schools (CIS). Topics include "The Soul of Teaching", "Leaving a Legacy of Leadership", "Schools as Sacred Places" and "Becoming the Head You Aspire to Be". Over his career he has served on or chaired nine Accreditation Visiting Committees to other schools.
Fiona Webster Mourant
Fiona Webster Mourant is the President and Co-Owner of Manrex Ltd, whose mission is to help health care providers save lives by eliminating medication errors.
Fiona is the recipient of numerous business awards including Manitoba Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in the category of International Trade and also the winner of the Overall Excellence Category. She was a finalist in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award as well as a regional finalist in the Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.
Fiona is very active in the community serving on many boards. She is currently a member of the Winnipeg World Trade Centre Board, a member of the Manitoba Patient Access Network and is a member of the executive on the Board at Women of Winnipeg. She was a Board member of The Children's Hospital Foundation since 2001 and recently completed a two year term as President. She previously Chaired the Children's Health Advisory committee and also sat on the Board of the Manitoba Institute of Child Health
Fiona served on the Board of Governors for St. John’s Ravenscourt School and also participated on the Finance, Governance and Executive Committees.
Fiona was a board member for The Women's Enterprise Centre from 2001 to 2005. During her time with the centre she also served on the loan and finance committees and also Chaired both the Audit and Human Resource committees.
Jim Nelles is currently Chair of the Board for the Conference of Independent Schools: CIS. Jim’s professional background is in the field of television and radio where he has spent almost 35 years managing various broadcast undertakings. Having held senior positions within divisions of Selkirk Communications, Rogers Communications and Quebecor Media he now manages a consultancy specializing in addressing the operational needs of clients within the broadcast, program distribution and cable network industry. He is also currently a Director of a nonprofit Canadian company that facilitates the development of devices and apps through challenges and hackathons.
Jim has been associated with independent schools for many years having attended Rothesay Netherwood School as well being a member of the first graduating class of Centennial Academy in Montreal. He holds a B.A. in Business and Economics from Bishops University as well as a M.Sc. from Boston University.
In addition to being a board member and chair of many broadcast industry associations Jim has also spent time in the nonprofit sector with a view to education and healthcare. He was Chair of The Country Day School and served on its Board for many years. He has also been a Governor of Rothesay Netherwood School and currently is a member of its Board of Directors. Jim was also a Director of CESI and is a member of the CAIS Collaborative Project. He has also been a member of the Advisory Committee for the School of Management at George Brown City College in Toronto.
With respect to healthcare Jim is currently Vice Chair and Treasurer of the Kensington Health Centre in Toronto and is also a Director of the Kensington Hospice Home.
Jim is married and he and his wife Louise live in Aurora, ON and have three children all of whom attended The Country Day School from JK through Grade 12.
Shawn O’Donnell is in his seventh year as Head of School of The Sacred Heart School of Montreal, the pre-eminent all girls English Catholic high school in Montreal. He manages a team of over 40 faculty, staff and administrators for a 225 student school. Mr. O’Donnell received his undergraduate degree at the University of New Brunswick and his MBA from Concordia’s John Molson School of Business. Prior to his current position, he was Director, Senior School, at Selwyn House High School for boys and Principal of École Bilingue NotreDame de Sion school. Mr. O’Donnell has an innovative, 21st-century vision of all girls education, as demonstrated by the introduction of one-to-one computing for all students with Chromebooks and the school-wide use of Google Apps for education. He is a member of the Board of Directors, a trustee of the City House Foundation and consults with the Parents’ Guild and Alumnae Association. Mr. O’Donnell is married with two children, a son who is a recent graduate of San Diego Mesa College in California and a daughter who is a recent graduate of Bishop’s University.
About the Sacred Heart School of Montreal The pre-eminent All Girls English Catholic high school in Montreal, with 155 years of experience graduating young women of action with solid skills and tools for success. Its mission is to nurture the mind, body and spirit of each student in a supportive and caring environment. The Sacred Heart School of Montreal is part of a worldwide network of 148 schools across 30 countries, all of which share common goals, mission and philosophy. Find out more at www.sacredheart.qc.ca Twitter at @TheSHSM or Facebook: www.facebook.com/SacredHeartMontreal
Mr. John Wray joined Mulgrave as Head of School on August 1, 2010. John and his wife, Gill relocated with their children to Vancouver from Hong Kong, where he served nine successful years as the Principal of South Island School, one of Hong Kong’s leading international schools. South Island became an International Baccalaureate World School and received CIS/WASC accreditation under his leadership.
Prior to this, John was Headteacher of Kingsmead Community School in the southwest of the UK. He led Kingsmead to achieving the UK government's highly acclaimed Beacon School status and to Language College specialist status.
John qualified as a teacher in 1979 after a short career in the financial sector in London. He taught at a variety of schools in the UK and had a period as a district educational adviser/inspector before achieving his first Headship.
John was educated in London and completed Bachelors and Masters degrees in education at the University of Exeter. He is a Geographer by training but has taught many subjects in school and especially personal and social education, a subject that he believes sits at the heart of a modern education.
John is passionate about young people, education and learning. He has a track record of innovation, high standards and developing international school links in all the schools that he has worked.