Our Board

The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes is a publicly accountable not-for-profit corporation with charitable status.

Trustees are elected by the Museum Membership at the Annual General Meeting in May and together they form a Board of Directors. The Board of Trustees is responsible for the conduct of the Corporation and the achievement of its objectives by exercising its due-diligence responsibilities through regular meetings of the Board, Executive Committee, Standing and Special Committees.

Our Board is a dedicated, passionate and professional group of volunteers who believe in the value of community organisations and the potential for the Museum to create meaningful engagement and contribute to the future of its community.

We are forever grateful for their time, expertise and passion - both past and present.

 

 

Our Officers of the Board are:

Chris West

Chris West

Chairman

Chris has been an Investment Advisor with 3Macs, a division of Raymond James, since 2007, advising clients from a background of practical entrepreneurial experience. With a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Philosophy from Queen’s University, Chris went on to build a 25-year career as a private investor and entrepreneur, owning and operating companies in Canada, the US and the UK ...

He attributes his success as an entrepreneur to a knack for seeing opportunity; the discipline and the patience to realise it; a natural ability to connect and communicate. In his current role at 3Macs/Raymond James in Kingston, he combines his skills in finding opportunity in the markets with his ability to communicate with individual investors. Chris relies primarily on well-chosen dividend stocks and bonds in order to build wealth for his clients, a traditional approach that bypasses industry gimmicks and expensive products.

Chris is active in the community and is currently the Museum’s Chair of the Board of Directors, in addition to being the Chair of the Advancement and Executive Committees.

Serge Labbe

Serge Labbé

Vice-Chair

Serge retired from the Canadian Army as a Brigadier General in 2008 after nearly 40 years in the regular force. Over the years, Serge’s appointments have included; regimental command and staff appointments (Royal 22ième Régiment and Canadian Airborne Regiment); Plans and Policy Advisor at NATO Headquarters, Brussels; Deputy Chief KFOR Joint Implementation Commission (2000-2001) ...

and Commander, Canadian Strategic Advisory Team Afghanistan. After retiring, Serge returned to Afghanistan working alternatively for both the Afghan Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, and the Office of the NATO Senior Civilian Representative as Senior Political Advisor until 2013. He continues to consult for NATO, overseeing the preparation and execution of high-level exercises. Serge has a B.Eng. Hon. in Chemical Engineering from RMC 1974; attended the UK Royal Military College of Science in 1983 and Canadian National Defence College from 1988-1989; and completed the US Armed Forces Senior Joint and Combined Warfighting Course in 1994.

At the Museum, Serge is the Vice-Chair and the Chair of the Governance and Planning Committee.


 

Jay Sheff

Jay Sheff

Treasurer

Jay is a professional accountant (CPA, CA) with over forty years of experience in business, manufacturing and the public sector. This includes extensive experience in the TIER II automotive sector. Throughout his career Jay has managed a number of different functional areas including accounting, finance, human resources, purchasing, scheduling and logistics, manufacturing operations, information technology ...

This varied career has led Jay to do business across the globe in countries that include China, Mexico, the US, Germany and of course Canada. Jay’s TIER II experience introduced him to Lean Manufacturing and Quality systems. Jay led a team that introduced Lean Principles to a major Canadian manufacturer, and he did extensive training throughout Canada and the US introducing these concepts. Jay was heavily involved with the introduction of Quality Standards (ISO/QS/TS16949/ AS Aerospace) at a number of manufacturers in Canada. Other skill sets for Jay include Strategic Planning, evaluation systems (Metrics), Health and Safety, Computer Systems implementation, Continuous Improvement, Cost Accounting. Early in his career Jay received extensive training in Team Skills, Coaching Skills, Problem Solving and as a trainer he spent the rest of his career spreading this knowledge. Jay’s volunteer positions include stints on a Hospital Board, Teen Drop-in Center, Church Boards, Industrial Associations, Skills Development, Community Revitalization, Chamber of Commerce President, local EDC, Association for Community Living and locally with Agnes Etherington Center. Jay continues to consult in the local business sector.

At the Museum, Jay also serves as Chair of the Finance and Human Resources Committees.

 

John Plant

John Plant

Secretary

John joined the Board in 2013 with a distinguished naval and academic career. He began as a cadet at RMC that soon took him to the UK where he trained as an engineer and reached the rank of Engineer Officer. After 3-years of service at sea, John was selected to study naval architecture at MIT. This set him on the path to meeting a group of systems engineers who encouraged him to complete a PHD (without the completion of an earlier degree) ...

His thesis was published by MIT press as a research monograph series on systems engineering. John, now a Lieutenant, returned to Canada where he took up the post of Lecturer and several administrative posts before becoming Principal at RMC. His service with the RCN continued to the rank of Captain following his 9-year appointment as Commanding Officer at HMCS Cataraqui. John also has a long history of volunteering with engineering and military associations, but he would say he is most proud of the family he shares with his wife Kay; their 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren.

 


Our Board Directors are:

Dave Casson

Dave Casson

Dave is a retired executive manager and entrepreneur who has been involved in business management, environmental science and engineering since 1971. His work also includes numerous other projects in ecotoxicology and waste treatment engineering. Dave serves or has served on several corporate boards over his career and has been President/Vice President ...

of a wire manufacturing company, an electrochemical company, a financial holding company and an environmental consulting company. Further, he has been chair of a private school board in Ottawa and currently sits on several not-for-profit and small corporate boards in Kingston. Dave has a B.Sc. in Microbiology from McGill University and a M.Sc. in Marine Physiology from the University of Guelph and a business diploma from York.

At the Museum, Dave is the Chair of the Nominations Committee.

 

Ron Kowalczyk

Ron Kowalczyk

Ron has a long history of construction and project planning, and management throughout the region. He has recently retired from the very busy role of managing the Queen’s University construction projects over the last number of years. He employs value engineering and cost saving techniques, working directly for clients to ensure their projects are completed on time and on budget ...

with excellent client satisfaction. He was also the Vice-Chairman of Ethics for the Toronto Real Estate Board and a Member of the Board of Directors of the North York Chamber of Commerce. Ron’s background and successes fill a long existing gap in the Museum Board’s capabilities, and has been immensely useful in the preparation of complex infrastructure grant applications for the new museum.

At the Museum, Ron is the Chair of the Projects Committee working on its $18M redevelopment project.

 


Rob Mazza

Rob Mazza

Rob has over 40 years in the marine industry, designing for C&C Yachts, Mark Ellis Design, and Hunter Marine, before transitioning to sales and marketing with ATC Chemicals in Ontario, and Baltek, Inc. in New Jersey. Returning to Canada in 2011, Rob is currently semi-retired, acting as a contributing editor to Good Old Boat magazine, and Chair of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club Heritage Committee ...

He continues to follow his interest in the history of yachting, while racing and cruising his C&C Corvette Trillium IV with his wife Za at the helm. Rob has a B.Sc. Hon. in Mechanical Engineering from Queens University and a M.Sc. in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering from University of Michigan.

At the Museum, Rob was co-curator of its New Age of Sail exhibit in 2014 and is Chair of the Canadian Sailing Hall of Fame Management Committee.

 

James McDonald

James McDonald

James is a partner and member of the Litigation Group at Cunningham Swan LLP. An advocate by nature, James has a broad-spectrum litigation practice that includes municipal, corporate, commercial and contractual disputes. Among other areas, James has direct experience with municipal zoning and by-law litigation, commercial lease and real property litigation, and construction disputes and liens ...

In 2017, James retired from Naval Reserve of the Canadian Armed Forces into the Supplementary Reserve, having previously served as a Marine Engineering Systems Operator with HMCS Prevost in London, HMCS Brandon in Esquimalt, BC, and most recently Kingston’s HMCS Cataraqui. In recognition of his community involvement and efforts, James was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and has twice successfully challenged the International Four Days’ March and received the Vierdaagskruis Cross (2008 and 2019). On weekends, when he is not exploring the outdoors with his daughters, James can be found puttering in his workshop and experimenting with different woods and finishing techniques.

 


Anita Mercier

Anita is a dynamic, respected, Senior Development professional with national and international experience in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. She has superior relationship management, negotiation, communication and change management skills. Anita is a trusted advisor to senior decision makers in areas focusing on business development, change leadership and event planning ...

Anita has served in a number of executive level positions including Vice President with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce; Director of Development for Confederation Centre of the Arts and Director Business Development for Malibu Engineering; and Business Development Manager for Xerox Global Services. As an experienced entrepreneur, Anita has successfully led a number of assignments with large corporations within sectors including oil and gas, technology, utilities and not-for-profit sectors in Canada and internationally. Anita graduated with a Bachelor of Arts for the University of Regina in 1977 and holds an Executive Master in Business Administration from Royal Roads in 1988.

 

George Merry

George Merry

George is a retired physician who has lived most of his life on Wolfe Island. He began his medical careers as a general practitioner and later became a member of the Medical Faculty at Queen’s University and of the medical staff at St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital. George’s keen interest in the environment and years serving as a volunteer with Ducks Unlimited resulted in the award of ...

a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in recognition of his contribution to conservation in Canada. He recently received a lifetime achievement award from Ducks Unlimited for his 40-years of service. George has a long history of boating on the waters of Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence. He has been a CORK volunteer and operated a VIP press boat during the Sailing Olympics.

 


Holly Mitchell

Holly Mitchell

Holly holds three degrees from Queen’s University [B.A. Honours Political Science (1977), B.Ed. (1993), M.Ed. (1997)]. Her professional and volunteer initiatives have embraced sustainability, education, strategic communications and public engagement in science literacy, environmental technologies, cultural, indigenous, and social justice issues ... 

Her long career working in multiple sectors and as a consultant has focused on creating and managing collaborative research partnerships that link together academics, industry funders, government policy-makers and civil society stakeholders. Working with the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes Board combines her keen knowledge of climate change and sustainability issues, and deep interest in thriving cultural/artistic community spaces, history, global exploration and life-long learning.

At the Museum, Holly serves as Chair of the Programs Committee.

 

Kelly Pope Wiley

Kelly Pope-Wiley

Kelly brings over 20 years of progressive marketing and communications experience across education, media, fundraising, and provincial and municipal government roles. During her career she has led teams to develop successful communication and marketing strategies. She has also contributed and led highly successful teams in the development of detailed financial plans to support clients ...

organisation-wide strategic plans, and the development and launch of brands; the growth of college enrolment; the creation of communication strategies and issues management. Kelly has an Advanced Diploma in Business Marketing from St. Lawrence College (1995) and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Laurentian University (2016). Currently, she is a Consultant with IG Wealth Management. Prior to joining the Museum’s Board, Kelly served as a director on the Community Foundation of Greater Kingston's board, a trustee for the Davies Foundation and a member of many community committees supporting the arts, sports, tourism, innovation and marketing initiatives.

 


John Summers

John Summers

John has been involved with boats and maritime heritage throughout his career. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a Master of Museum Studies, he spent more than a decade as Curator of the Marine Museum of Upper Canada, followed by stints as the Curator of the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, RI, Chief Curator of the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY, General Manager of the Canadian Canoe Museum and Manager of Heritage Services for the Regional Municipality of Halton... 

In his current position as Manager of Heritage Resource Management for the City of Hamilton, he directs the operation of eight civic museums.
He is actively involved in the Ontario museum community and teaches at the University of Toronto, where he is an Adjunct Professor in the Museum Studies program. As a freelance writer, he has published book reviews and feature articles in WoodenBoat and maritime history journals. A lifelong sailor, he builds and restores traditional wooden boats and sails his 23’ Westerly Pageant Patience out of the Oakville Yacht Squadron.

At the Museum, John is the Chair of the Collection Committee

 

Hans Westenburg

Hans Westenberg

Hans has been a major player in Kingston’s medical, public and political life for many years. He has a remarkable legacy of service in our community. For example, over time, he has chaired the Kingston Area Planning Board and KEDCO. He has also led the Agnes Etherington Art Gallery Association, the Kingston Rowing Club, the Architectural Review Committee and the Frontenac Hunt Club ...

He is a sailor, horseman, rower, British car buff and farmer. Born in Holland, Hans came to Canada in 1961 for a career in medicine where he worked for 50-years as a Family Physician. He also has a strong interest in the Great Lakes and its maritime history that owes its origins to the shores of the Netherlands where he learned to tack and gybe on a 13-foot bowsprit. Now, he sails Kingston's waterfront with his wife Marion and their family.