Expect The Best


Heads & Chairs Conference

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.

Leadership Institute

Prepare for senior leadership roles in independent schools with our Leadership Institute. Learn More

Online PD Webinars

Each year, we host webinars on national topics that are most relevant to our leaders. Access previously recorded webinars in CAIS Connect.

New PD model

Anne-Marie speaks to moving forward with a new national PD model with the creation of one national conference. Watch the Video

2015 CAIS Accreditation Guidelines

Review the new CAIS Accreditation Guidelines that are being piloted this school year. We welcome your feedback!

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.

Patricia McDermott


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 served 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 Jubilee Medal. Patricia and her husband, Dr. Michael Gross live in Halifax with their son Max.

Peter Jewett

Past Chair

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.

Marc Ayotte

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.

Donna Bridgeman

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

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 Cacioppo

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).

J. Colin Dodds

Dr. J. Colin Dodds is President Emeritus of Saint Mary’s University and Professor of Finance, Sobey School of Business.

Dr. Dodds served as President and Vice Chancellor of Saint Mary’s University from 2000-2015; having served as Vice President Academic and Research and Dean of the Sobey School of Business at the University. Following his transition from the President’s Office, he is enjoying a return to the classroom as a Professor of Finance.

Born in Great Britain, Dr. Dodds is President Emeritus of Saint Mary’s University, and is a Professor and Director in the Master of Finance Program - Sobey School of Business.

Dr. Dodds’ teaching career has spanned over 40 years in Financial Economics, Investments and Portfolio Management and Corporate Finance. More recently he has focused on teaching International Capital Markets and International Finance and Banking to graduate students in the Executive MBA and Masters of Finance programs. He has published many books, journal articles and conference papers, particularly on financial markets.

He was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Bank of Canada in October 2013, and is on the Board of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. He is a current Board member and Past-Chair of the Board of the Better Business Bureau for Atlantic Canada and is Past-Chair of the Greater Halifax Partnership. He also judges the Canadian Investment Industry Hall of Fame awards through the Investment Industry Association of Canada. He was inducted to the Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEO Hall of Fame, and holds the Queen Elizabeth Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals.

Dr. Dodds is a strong community supporter devoting his time and expertise to a number of local organizations in both formal and informal capacities. He has been called upon, by the Province of Nova Scotia, to advise on a variety of immigration matters.

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

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 Saltus Grammar School and former Head of school at The Bishop Strachan School (BSS). 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.

Kevin McHenry

Kevin R. McHenry was appointed the 8th Headmaster of St. Andrew’s College on July 1, 2009. Founded in 1899, St. Andrew’s is an independent all boys’ day and boarding school for 650 students in grades 5 through12 located in Aurora, Ont.

Kevin earned his B.B.A. (Hons) from Wilfrid Laurier University, his B.Ed. from Western University, his M.Ed. from the University of Toronto. He holds additional qualifications in law and co-operative education, earned both parts of his Principal’s Qualification Program through York University, and his diploma in Independent School Leadership through the CAIS Leadership Institute.

Kevin continues to be actively involved in many CIS and CAIS committees and initiatives. He has taught the Academic Administrative module for the CAIS Leadership Institute on four separate occasions; was co-chair of St. Andrew’s CAIS internal evaluation team; served and chaired numerous external CAIS accreditation teams; and is a member of the CAIS Standards Council. He was co-chair of the CIS Curriculum Network, chair for the CAIS Online Learning Steering Committee, and on the committee for development of the last two CAIS strategic plans. As well, Kevin has presented at a number of international conferences on a variety of topics over the years.

Kevin was at the helm for the St. Andrew’s College Not An Ordinary Place Campaign, which over six years successfully raised $46M for additions and improvements to the St. Andrew’s College facilities.

Kevin, his wife Karan, and their three children–William ’18, Caden ’21, and Hadley– reside in the Headmaster’s House on the SAC campus.

Kathleen Ritchie

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

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

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 Stephens

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

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.

Martha J. Tory

Until her retirement in June 2015, Martha had spent 39 years at Ernst & Young LLP where she was a partner specialized in serving not-for-profit organizations.

Martha is a member of the board and chairs the Finance Committee of several not-for-profit organizations including George Brown College, MaRS Discovery District and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. She is also a member of CPA Canada’s Accounting Standards Oversight Council and the Standards Council of Imagine Canada.

Martha is the past Board Chair of St. Clement’s School and Trinity College at the University of Toronto, was a member of the Board, Finance Committee and Chair of the Governance Committee of Crescent School, and was a Board member and Treasurer of the Conference of Independent Schools.

Martha holds a B.Comm from the University of Toronto. She has an FCPA, FCA and an ICD.D designation.

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.

David Thompson

CIS Ontario, CAIS Board Advisor

David Thompson received his Bachelor of Arts from Trent University in history, his B.Ed. from Queens University, and his law degree from University of Windsor. He taught at Lakefield College School, and ran the Outdoor Education program at Upper Canada College Prep. After this he attended law school and practiced corporate and environmental law. He returned to education as Director of Guidance and Academics at Crescent School then moved on to assume the role of Assistant Head of the Upper School at Upper Canada College. Mr. Thompson then became the founding Principal of Greenwood College School. He moved to Lakefield College School to become the Head of School and more recently has been Head of School at Montcrest School for the past six years. He has volunteered on a number of independent school boards, is currently the Chair of the Board of CIS Ontario, and works very closely with the Canadian Loran Scholarship program.

Michel Lafrance

QAIS, CAIS Board Advisor

Michel Lafrance is a passionate educator and school leader who has been making a difference in the lives of youth for nearly 25 years. He is described as a leader, a coach, an innovator and a visionary.

Michel is currently enjoying his 5th year as the Headmaster of West Island College (WIC) in Montreal and prior to that was the Executive Director of the Quebec Association of Independent Schools (QAIS). Michel earned his Bachelor of Education degree from McGill University and his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership at l'Université de Sherbrooke and completed both the CAIS Diploma and CAIS Next Step Diploma in Independent School Leadership. Michel currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Priory School and the GMAA (Athletics) and is a long-standing member of the selection committee for the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Michel is a member of the CAIS Research Advisory Committee and also a frequent guest speaker within the Faculty of Education at McGill University.

Michel is devoted to helping others succeed, dedicated to having a positive impact on the lives of students, parents, and teachers, committed to continuous learning, and driven to contribute to the development and implementation of a vision for the next generation of schools.

John Wray

ISABC, CAIS Board Advisor

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.