2014/15 Board of Directors
Richard Cook spent much of his professional career at Grant MacEwan University (formerly College), and was the dean of university advancement at the institution. First and foremost a fundraiser in that position, he was also responsible for the overall financial management of the department, policy development in fundraising, university endowment management, and advising on charitable receipting and valuations of gifts. In addition, he has been a professional clarinetist in Edmonton and Toronto, as well as being associated with a number of fine arts associations in Edmonton, Canada and internationally.
Irving Kipnes founded Liquor Depot in 1993 and served as its managing director and chief executive officer throughout its first 11 years. Irving is also the president and managing director of Delcon Development Group, which he founded in 1962. He is active in many charitable endeavours and has served on the board of directors for several charitable and community organizations, including the University Hospital Foundation, co-chair of the University Hospital Foundation Campaign for Prostate Health, the Campaign Cabinet of the Alberta Heart Institute and the Campaign Cabinet of the Capital Care Foundation. Irving was inducted into the Alberta Business Hall of Fame on May 13, 2009. He was also granted an honourary doctorate of law by the University of Alberta on June 8, 2009.
As a partner with Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer LLP, Francis Price acts as an arbitrator and mediator in various fields of disputes and relationships. He lectures in his areas of practice across Alberta, Canada and internationally, and has been recognized for his work both professionally and in the community. He was awarded the Canadian Petroleum Law Foundation Fellowship in 1974, and both the Law Society’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Community and the University of Alberta’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011. He is also involved in the legal community’s annual fundraising play, is part of Toastmasters International, and participates in various cultural, church, charitable and sporting organizations.
Currently the treasurer and director of finance for Delcon Group of Companies, Ken Keenleyside is responsible for the group's cash management and investment, and negotiating of project financing as required. With a bachelor of commerce, finance major from the University of Alberta, Ken has worked in commercial banking for 35 years, the last 24 years with HSBC Bank Canada. He was part of the board of directors for the Goodwill Industries of Alberta, as well as a member of the finance and audit committee for six years; he has chaired the committee for the past three years. Ken has also volunteered for the United Way and Junior Achievement.
Robert Bessette and his wife Michelle have deep roots in Edmonton, and are active with a number of local organizations, charities and initiatives. From 2005 to 2010, Robert was part of the fundraising committee for the Support Network, and became a board member of the University Hospital Foundation in 2010. Since 1997, he has been an investment advisor with RBC Dominion Securities, when he graduated from the University of Alberta with a bachelor of commerce, and became a vice-president of the firm in 2009. In 2004, he founded Bessette Wealth Management of RBC Dominion Securities. He and Michelle have four children.
John Cameron is CEO of KELLERDENALI Construction and the president of John Cameron Entertainment. In both roles he has found ways to be regularly involved in volunteer activities and charities, including being part of the Stollery Radiothons and the Sourdough River Raft Race. He has also been a part of the following boards: the Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern Alberta, Global Family – India, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Edmonton Construction Association and Alberta Construction Safety Association.
Mary Clonfero is a chartered accountant with experience in industry, public accounting and teaching. She has worked at Stantec Inc. for the past 11 years and is currently the director of external reporting. Prior to her current role she was the regional controller of Western Canada West. Mary graduated from the University of Alberta with a bachelor of commerce degree and received her chartered accountancy shortly thereafter. In her spare time, Mary has assisted with various volunteer positions with the Alberta Institutions of Chartered Accountants and Junior Achievement, and has had held positions on the board of directors of L’Arche. She enjoys running, singing, ballroom dancing and golf.
Currently, Craig Corbett serves as the vice-president of legal, general counsel and corporate secretary for Liquor Stores N.A. Ltd. He has worked in various legal capacities in both Edmonton and Calgary, as well as overseas in the United Kingdom. His responsibilities with Liquor Stores N.A. Ltd. include acting as lead counsel on business acquisitions in Canada and the United States, as well as a variety of legal, business and operational matters in the two countries. He has also acted as counsel for underwriters and issuers in both Canada and the United Kingdom.
Ashif Mawji is the CEO of NPO Zero, a social impact enterprise focused on helping not-for-profit organizations operate more efficiently and increase their fundraising abilities. He has been named as one of the top 100 pros globally to know by Supply and Demand Chain Executive Magazine (2008-12), and has also helped Upside Software attain the prestigious ranking of being one of Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies three years in a row. Ashif received NAIT's Alumni of Distinction award and was also recognized as one of the Top 50 Graduates in 50 Years. He has received the Queen's Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals, and serves/served on several boards, including Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation, Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, Kids Kottage, Alberta's Promise, Economic Development Edmonton, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Corent Technology and others.
Melanie was born and raised in Edmonton, and has been involved with many local organizations. Currently, she is the chair of Fashion with Compassion, supporting Sorrentino’s Compassion House, along with sitting on the Honens Piano Laureate Circle committee. She is involved with The Works International Visual Arts Society (VP of Community Programs), Chrysalis: An Alberta Society for Citizens with Disabilities, and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation (Lois Hole Hospital for Women’s Harvest Gala Committee). Some of her past activities include being a past president of the Junior League of Edmonton, a community member of the City of Edmonton’s Next Gen committee, and a member of the Light It Up Campaign for the Art Gallery of Alberta.
Bernie Robitaille, owner of the Press Gallery, has lived in Edmonton since 1976 and entered the dry cleaning businesss in 1987. He is a director of the Alberta Textile Care Association and is often asked to give presentations on behalf of the industry. He was awarded Drycleaner of the Year (2011) and recognized with the Shining Star Award (2012) for his work with the Certified Restoration Drycleaning Network of Detroit. The Press Gallery has been a sponsor of Edmonton Opera for 14 seasons and has been a member of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce for 20 years, in addition to supporting the arts, numerous charities and the military community.
Robert Rock is a manager with Advanced Education and Technology, with over 28 years of experience in the provincial public sector. His expertise in Aboriginal, disability, language and consultation issues has been sought throughout the department and by other ministries and stakeholders. He has been awarded the Premier’s Award of Excellence for his work in these areas. He has received the honour of an eagle feather by Alberta Treaty First Nations and a Métis sash from the Métis Nation of Alberta and Alberta Métis Settlements. He is currently enjoying his 24th season as a member of the Edmonton Opera Chorus with the last 14 seasons serving as one of two chorus stewards with the company.
Stella Varvis graduated with her bachelor of laws from the University of Alberta in 2001, along with completing a bachelor of arts with honours in political science. She currently works as legal counsel for the Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton. In addition to being a member of the Edmonton Opera board of directors, she has also been involved with the Alberta Law Conference, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada, the Rotary Club of Edmonton Urban Spirits Chapter, Law Day with the Canadian Bar Association and the University of Alberta Model Parliament.