Board of Directors
The CanadaHelps Board of Directors represents experts in their respective fields, drawn from both the public and private sectors. Over the years their expertise and guidance has helped us to continue our work to increase charitable giving across Canada.
Our directors serve as volunteers because they believe in our mission and our purpose. We’re deeply indebted to their support and the invaluable gifts of their time and knowledge.
Ruth MacKenzie, Chair
Canadian Association of Gift Planners, Ottawa
Ruth MacKenzie is the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners, a position she has held since April 2013.
Ruth has a 30-year background in the nonprofit sector, working at the local, provincial and national levels. For 12 years she was with Volunteer Canada, serving as its President and CEO from 2007-2013, and previously held the position of Director, Volunteer Development with the Canadian Cancer Society, Nova Scotia Division.
Ruth also has experience running a small business, having established and ran her own microbrewery for which she was recognized with an Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Ruth is, of course, a committed volunteer. In addition to the CanadaHelps board she currently serves on two international Boards: the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration and the International Association for Volunteer Effort. Ruth also Chairs the eastern region Grant Review Team for the Ontario Trillium Foundation – Canada’s largest granting agency. Ruth also served on the Governor General of Canada’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Advisory Committee. In acknowledgement of her contribution to volunteerism, Ruth was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in April 2012
Ashu Avasthi, Grant Thornton LLP
Ashu is a Partner with Grant Thornton LLP in their Business Consulting and Technology practice. Over the past 20 years, Ashu has held senior management positions leading Product and Sales teams with the goal of helping organizations grow their revenue through the development and execution of innovative sales strategies. Ashu’s journey has taken him through assignments in Product Development & Management, Marketing, Sales Operations, Direct Sales and Management Consulting. At Grant Thornton Ashu’s key responsibilities are the development and execution of business transformation initiatives for clients in key areas such as technology, revenue growth and operational optimization.
Trusted advisor, mentor, and facilitator
Denise Baker is the former Executive Director of Vantage Point, a not-for-profit that delivers learning opportunities focused on governance and leadership. Currently semi-retired, Denise now offers capacity-building pro bono and consulting work to build not-for-profit capacity, including strategic planning facilitation, board governance training, and leadership support.
Denise has had the opportunity to create high performance teams and organizations in a career that has spanned international for-profit, higher education, and not-for-profit. Before coming to Vantage Point she was an Assistant Dean at the Sauder School of Business and prior to that spent 10 years at Crystal Decisions/Business Objects. Denise is a skilled facilitator, leading discussions on the topics related to board governance, leadership, women in leadership, strategic planning, and mentoring. Denise has an Honours English Degree and a Masters of Library and Information Science from UBC.
Malcolm is a philanthropic advisor who has worked with charities and donors since 1990.
He is Head, Philanthropic Advisory Services at Scotiatrust and founder/head of Aqueduct Foundation, a public foundation with donor advised funds based in Vancouver.
He is a member of CAGP’s Government Relations Committee, President of The Muttart Foundation, and member of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Indigenous and Canadian Curatorial Committee. Previously, he was a member of the CRA Charities Directorate’s Technical Issues Working Group, director of CAGP, board member of the Canadian and Barcelona sections of MSF/Doctor’s Without Borders. He is an active writer, teacher and public policy volunteer in the charitable and social impact sector.
Matthew Choi co-founded CanadaHelps along with his friends Aaron Pereira and Ryan Little. He has remained actively involved in the organization since its inception, serving the longest term as a Director for over 13 years before joining the Advisory Council.
Matthew currently practices academic and clinical medicine as an Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at McMaster University, focusing on pediatric reconstruction and craniofacial surgery.
Matthew obtained his MD from Queen’s University and his MPH from Harvard University.
Anita Ferrari, FCPA, FCA
Anita recently retired as a partner with Grant Thornton LLP after a career spanning almost 34 years, including over 15 years in senior leadership and management roles and where she negotiated several successful mergers. As a client service practitioner, she provided audit, assurance and business advisory services to a variety of clients that ranged from small, entrepreneurial, growth-oriented owner-managed businesses, to multinational organizations. She developed a large real estate practice over the years which she transitioned to others, and she grew and embraced a significant and high profile charity and not-for-profit practice towards the end of her public accounting career. In addition to financial and reporting requirements, Anita has also advised clients on governance, structure, control and sustainability matters.
Anita has held a number of Board and Advisory roles with various organizations over the years including the Toronto and Region Board of Trade, Sick Kids Hospital Foundation, the Aphasia Institute, and the University of Toronto, and she was a founding member of the Grant Thornton Foundation. She is currently an elected member of the Board, Treasurer and Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee of CPA Ontario, which serves 90,000 chartered professional accountants and 20,000 CPA students in Ontario.
Leen is the Chief Executive Officer at Wealthsimple Foundation, a charity with the mission to enable a brighter future for everyone in Canada through access to post-secondary education. Previously Leen was the Chief Financial Officer at Wealthsimple, a leading financial technology company on a mission to help everyone achieve financial freedom by providing products and advice that are accessible and affordable.
Previously, Leen was part of the founding team and led finance and operations at Influitive, a marketing technology startup in Toronto. Prior to Influitive, Leen held a number of positions at HSBC Canada, Eloqua (acquired by Oracle in 2012) and China Construction Bank.
Leen is actively involved in the community and has a passion for education, healthcare, technology, and advocating for women and people of colour. She sits on the board of the George Brown College Foundation, and the advisory board of MoveTheDial and Medchart.
Leen holds an MBA in Finance from Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University.
Lawrence Mandel is a Director of Engineering at Shopify.
Lawrence specializes in building and running high performing and globally distributed software development teams. His career has spanned IBM enterprise technology to consumer technology such as Firefox. He has been active with not-for-profit, open source technology organizations including Mozilla, the Eclipse Foundation, and the Apache Software Foundation.
Lawrence volunteers as a coach for youth hockey and baseball with the North Toronto sports organizations, he mentors at the University of Toronto, and he has chaired events and fund-raised for The Canadian Shaare Zedek Hospital Foundation.
Lawrence was recognized with an Arbour Award for outstanding volunteer contributions to the University of Toronto and with a Volunteer Recognition Award from the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. He is the author of Eclipse Web Tools Platform: Developing Java Web Applications and holds a M.Sc. in Computer Science from Western University.
Ryerson University, Toronto
Krishan Mehta is the AVP of Engagement at Ryerson University where he oversees alumni, community and volunteer development, as well as special institutional fundraising projects. Previously, he held a variety of senior fundraising, alumni and marketing roles at Seneca College and the University of Toronto. Krishan is also the coordinator of Ryerson’s fundraising management program and an adjunct professor in Carleton University’s graduate program in Philanthropy and Non-Profit Leadership. He has served as the President of the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter and is currently a member of the TELUS Community Board.
He holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and his research focuses on the philanthropy of high net-worth immigrants in Canada.
Alan C. Middleton, PhD
Dr. Alan Middleton recently retired from almost 20 years as the Executive Director of the Schulich Executive Education Centre (SEEC), an executive management training group training 10,000 +/year executives and managers domestically and globally/, as well as being a Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Marketing, Schulich School of Business, York University.
His career in marketing spanned 23 years with UOP Inc. Chicago, USA; Esso Petroleum Oslo, Norway and J. Walter Thompson Advertising London UK, Toronto, Canada and Tokyo, Japan. He then had a 28-year academic career with Schulich School of Business, York University and Rutgers School of Business, US as well as leading Universities in Argentina, China, Russia and Thailand.
He is the author of numerous reports, articles and books on marketing, as well as the recipient of many awards, including: Canadian Marketing Hall of Legends inductee; ACA Gold Medal Award; Queen Elizabeth Il Diamond Jubilee Medal for services to literacy; and Toronto Communicator of the Year Award from International Association of Business Communicators.
Dr. Middleton is currently on the Boards/Board Committees for ABC Life Literacy Canada MarCom Committee (having been Board Chair for 6 years and having a workplace literacy award named after him), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto Finance International Education Committee, Destination Ontario Metrics Committee and the AMA Mentor Exchange Group.