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About The Royal Canadian Geographical Society

Board of Governors 2019-2020

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


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.

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 Th�r�se Casgrain Volunteer Award. Cecil was named a Member of the Order of Canada in December 2014.

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.

Joseph Frey

Joseph Frey is an Officer of the Executive Committee of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, a Governor and the Chair of the Fellows Committee. He is a former Director and Vice President of The Explorers Club, New York City. Joseph has participated in major expeditions including the 2014 discovery of Sir John Franklin’s flagship HMS Erebus. He is an accomplished science writer published in TIME, The Globe and Mail, Geographical and others. Through volunteer work with the Society he has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Camsell Medal, the Erebus Medal and the 90th Anniversary Medal.


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.


Glenn Blackwood
Portugal Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador
Glenn Blackwood is the Vice-President of Memorial University (Marine Institute) and has more than 35 years� experience in working in the oceans and fisheries and marine sectors in his home province, throughout Canada and around the world. He is currently the Chair of the International Association of Maritime Universities, is a member of the Executive Board of the World Maritime University and also sits on the Boards of One Ocean and the Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network.

Glenn is fascinated by the development, protection and exploration of the oceans. In the past ten years he has lead the creation of a new School of Ocean Technology, new degrees and master programs in ocean mapping, underwater vehicles, maritime management and marine spatial planning at the Marine Institute. He believes that our three oceans, the longest coastline in the world and the longest contiguous continental shelf will be the basis for the next wave of geographic discovery in Canada and that we, as a country, can play a major role in the global oceans sector.

He holds a Masters Degree in Geography and a Bachelor of Science (honours) in Marine Biology from Memorial University and has completed the Institute for Educational Management Program at Harvard University.

He is also a member of the St. John�s Rotary Club and a Paul Harris fellow.

Carl Gauthier
Ottawa, Ontario
Lieutenant-Colonel Carl Gauthier is a historian by formation and an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces specialized in the field of recognition.

He joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1994 as Cadet Instructor after serving in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets for five years. Upon completion of his academic degree in 1997, he transferred to the Primary Reserve and served as Wing Heritage Officer at 3 Wing Bagotville, Québec, contributing to the opening of the Bagotville Air Defence Museum and its management for five years.

In 2002, Lieutenant-Colonel Gauthier joined the Honours and Awards Section of the Directorate of History and Heritage, later reorganized as the Directorate of Honours and Recognition in Ottawa. That organization is responsible for all recognition issues for the Canadian Armed Forces including honours policy and promotion, honours committee work as well as medals distribution. In February 2013, he became Acting Director – Honours and Recognition and was confirmed as Director in November 2015 having been promoted to his current rank earlier that same year.

He was seconded to the Chancellery of Honours at Government House in Ottawa from June 2002 to April 2003 to manage the national program of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Gauthier also regularly provides honours advice to several committees and organizations, acts as master of ceremonies for various military and state events, both in Canada and abroad, and, in 2009, he was appointed Canadian Equerry to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for the Royal Tour of Canada.

Lieutenant-Colonel Gauthier is a Member of the Order of Military Merit, an Officer of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem and a Knight of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is an Honorary Aide de Camp to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

John Hovland
Toronto, Ontario
John Hovland is a director in the Bank of Montreal's Corporate Real Estate department, where he is responsible for information management with respect to the Bank's global real estate portfolio and for the financial analysis of real estate transactions.

During his time at the Bank, John has also served as the lead financial officer for the Corporate Real Estate group and was involved in analytical and government relations work with respect to bank regulatory capital and outsourcing issues.

Before joining the Bank, John worked as a litigation lawyer with a large Toronto law firm, specializing in competition law, insolvency and auditors’ liability issues.

John has been a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society since 2011 and serves on the Society’s Finance Committee and on the management board of Canadian Geographic Enterprises. He has worked extensively with several other volunteer organizations in the past.

John obtained his B.A. and M.B.A. from the University of Toronto and his LL.B. from Dalhousie University. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Claire Kennedy
Toronto, Ontario

Claire Kennedy is a partner of Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto.  She provides corporate tax and transfer pricing advice and represents large taxpayers during tax and transfer pricing audits and disputes with the Canada Revenue Agency. Claire is also a seasoned board director and a professional engineer.  Claire was law clerk to the late Honorable Mr. Justice Charles D. Gonthier of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Claire is a director of the Bank of Canada, the nation's central bank, and she serves on the Audit & Finance and HR committees, and is Chair of the Corporate Governance Committee, Claire is also a director of Alamos Gold Inc., which is listed on the TMX and NYSE. From 2010-2012, Claire was a director of Neo Material Technologies Inc., a publicly-listed producer of rare earths and magnetic powders. Claire received her ICD. D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors and she has completed the Making Corporate Boards More Effective program at Harvard Business School. Claire is currently enrolled in the Advanced Management Program at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.

Claire is a government appointee to the University of Toronto's Governing Council, serving as Chair of the Business Board and past Chair of the Pension Committee. She is also a member of the Dean's Advisory Committee at Rotman. Claire has also been extensively involved at UofT's Faculty of Engineering, including as past President of the Engineering Alumni Association and founder and Chair of its Biz Skule ™ committee.

In 2015, Claire received the Citizenship Award from the Professional Engineers of Ontario, In January 2016, Claire participated in the True Patriot Love expedition to climb Vinson Massif, the highest peak in Antarctica, with a combined soldier and civilian team and raised record funds.

Kathryn McCain
Toronto, Ontario
Kathryn is a native of Florenceville, NB and a proud graduate of the University of New Brunswick with a BA in Sociology.

She has made a career out of volunteering and service and has served on several not for profit boards.  Most notably, Kathryn was Chair of The McCain Foundation for 20 years.  The McCain Foundation is the philanthropic arm of McCain Foods Limited.  The Foundation mandate has been focused largely on Atlantic Canada and those places in Canada where McCain has factories. 

Kathryn also spent 20 years at The University of New Brunswick serving on the Board of Governors.  She has acted as Chair of several committees including Advancement, Audit, Finance and Nominating and Review, and ultimately served as Chair of the Board of Governors for three years.  Shortly after her term ended she was named Governor Emerita (2017).

Kathryn has also actively served on boards such as The Nature Conservancy of Canada and Pathways to Education where she was a member of the founding board.   The Pathways program supports disadvantaged youth to help them get through high school and on to postsecondary education.  The program now operates in several disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Canada.

Currently Kathryn is a Governor of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Chair of their Advancement committee.  In 2008 she was made a Fellow of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and received the Captain Joseph-Elzear Bernier Medal for exemplary deeds.

Kathryn was deeply honoured to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal 2012.

Lynn Moorman
Calgary, Alberta
Lynn Moorman (Ph.D., University of British Columbia) is a Professor at Mount Royal University, in Calgary, Canada. Lynn's experience in the remote sensing industry in Canada and abroad fueled an interest in how people think spatially, interpret geographic information, and use geographic technologies. She brings this interest to her teaching, currently offering courses in spatial analysis (Mapping, Remote Sensing, and GIS), spatial innovation (Digital Earth), and physical geography in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Her research includes spatial cognition in Digital Earth and Geographic Information Systems use, geospatial citizen science applications, and visualizations and virtual reality for geography education. Lynn is a Killam Scholar and has recently received her university's Research Recognition award for Knowledge Mobilization, the Distinguished Faculty Award, Canadian Association of Geographer's President's Award, and was recognized in 2018 as the Influencer of the Year by Tecterra for contributions to Canada's geospatial sector. She is a regional representative for the International Geographical Union Commission for Geographical Education and recently served on the Task Force of the International Geography Olympiad.

Janis Peleshok
Janis Peleshok, P.Eng. ICD.D FRCGS is an independent Corporate Director, currently serving on the Board of Empower Pharm.  She also serves on the Board of the Ontario Science Centre and Opera Atelier. Her strengths are in strategic planning, governance and risk, bringing international experience in innovative regulated sectors. She was on the Board of Directors of Pele Mountain Resources (TSX-V:GEM) and worked in Special Initiatives, Risk Management, Office of the CRO at CIBC. She graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto and from the Directors Education Program (DEP) at the Rotman School of Business. She is a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) licensed with the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) and received her ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. In 2014, the Canadian Board Diversity Council (CBDC) selected her as a Diversity 50 Board eligible candidate. She is a proud Activator with SheEO.  In 2019, she became a Fellow and Governor of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), and currently serves on Advancement Committee.  

John Pollack
Bonnington, British Columbia
John C. Pollack is a retired natural resources research scientist and manager for the BC Provincial Government, with an M.Sc. from the University of Alberta. Since the late 1960's he has participated in more than 70 speleological and underwater archaeological expeditions around the world, and specializes in total station and GPS mapping of foreshore and land sites, and side scan surveys. He has been the survey chief / cartographer for numerous multi-year projects including Sevilla la Nueva near St. Ann Jamaica, the NEVA project at Sitka Alaska, the Yukon River Steamboat Survey in the Yukon, and the Bach Dang Battlefield project in Vietnam. He is a Research Associate with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, a PIfA with the Institute for Archaeologists (England), and specializes in stern wheel steamboats. John has served on a variety of non-profit boards and now lives near Nelson BC.

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.



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