Board of Directors
David Bronskill - Chair
David Bronskill is a partner with the law firm of Goodmans LLP. He is a three-time graduate of the University of Toronto (Hons B.A., 1996; M.A., 1997; LL.B., 2000).
His practice focuses on municipal law matters for private and public sector clients throughout Ontario with appearances before various tribunals and courts. His work has brought him into close contact with staff and politicians in all levels of government but most especially the City of Toronto.
He recently served for three years as the Chair of the Executive Association of the Alumni Association of Trinity College at the University of Toronto. He currently chairs the Advisory Board for the Toronto Lords Basketball Association, which is an elite basketball program for teenage girls in downtown Toronto providing mentoring and post-secondary school scholarships to its players. On Sundays mornings, he supervises the Law Society of Upper Canada's Feed the Hungry Program.
He lives in downtown Toronto with his veterinarian partner. They are the proud owners of three dogs and three cats.
Elizabeth Cabral - Vice President, Spay/Neuter
Elizabeth Cabral is a talented Gemini Nominated Editor. In the fast paced environment of television, she is sought out by the industry for her creativity, communication and management skills, but especially her strong leadership expertise. Elizabeth's professional experience will truly benefit the Board of Directors.
Elizabeth has long been an advocate for better animal care; from fish and turtles to budgies and hamsters to dogs and cats. She has always appreciated and understood the incredible part animals play in deeply enriching people's lives.
An advocate for all animals, Elizabeth has become increasingly involved in helping combat Toronto's overwhelming feral and homeless cat problem, managing three feral cat colonies in Toronto. Her Trap-Neuter-Return efforts have resulted in over 200 cats sterilized. From condemned buildings, ravines and busy streets Elizabeth has helped many people in our community, preventing and solving animal homelessness.
Elizabeth has fundraised for Annex Cat Rescue, and volunteered in the feline behaviour department at the THS. Elizabeth has spent hundreds of hours volunteering at the Toronto Street Cats Spay/Neuter Clinics that operate in partnership with the THS.
The Toronto Humane Society provides an essential service to our city and Elizabeth sees the bigger picture - by working together we can build a world class shelter where all animals have a place in the human heart.
Jennifer Downe has spent the last 12 years volunteering at the THS; as a dog walker, feline behaviour volunteer, and - her passion - nursing orphan kittens so small they fit in the palm of your hand. Currently Vice President, in the past three years she has served on the Animal Welfare Committee, the Advocacy Committee and has advised the CEO on sensitive HR issues.
Professionally, Jennifer is a National Sales Manager with RBC, and has managed more than $500 million in bank business. Through her various leadership positions, she has developed exceptional people management skills and strong business acumen. She has used these skills to help THS improve its operational efficiency, develop core animal care policies and enhance training and support for staff and volunteers.
Jennifer's love of animals and commitment to the THS' mission drives her to seek creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems. She was a champion for the kitten nursery and overcame obstacles to make sure it re-opened in time for kitten season. She continues to advocate for animal welfare, working with staff, volunteers and her fellow Directors to find new ways to help better the lives of all animals.
Jennifer wants to see THS become a world class shelter which offers high quality care and finds homes for animals in our community, educates people on responsible pet ownership, and is at the forefront of preventing and solving animal homelessness.
Jennifer lives in the Beaches with her husband Eric, daughter Samantha and their three cats.
Lisa Gibbens, BA, MISt - Secretary
Lisa brings a balance of animal welfare and business experience to the boardroom table. Currently Secretary of the Board, Lisa is also a member of the Animal Welfare Committee, the AGM Committee and a THS foster parent. Previously, she was Vice President of the Board of the Animal Aid Foundation.
Inspired by her epileptic dog Pepper, she is an advocate for special needs animals. In fact, Pepper attends most Board meetings! At home, Lisa is supervised by Dickens and Cheeky - two former THS cats.
Lisa has her Master's degree in information systems and marketing and more than 15 years of communications experience in health care, education and non-profit organizations.
While working for the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, Lisa helped co-ordinate the response to Hurricane Katrina - getting vets to where they were most needed. She also ran public relations, member communications, edited the magazine and managed the Farley Foundation fundraising campaign.
Now, when she dons a suit (with at least some fur on it) to go to the office, it's to manage million dollar marketing campaigns for the Ontario government.
Lisa readily admits that the past year on the board has been incredibly challenging and rewarding - and a ton of work! But animals are her passion. "By being on the Board, I can make a difference not just for one or two animals, but for hundreds, even thousands of animals. That's worth every ounce of energy I have."
A long-time volunteer with the Toronto Humane Society, I've dedicated myself to dog-walking, cat grooming, photographing cats for the website, and chairing the THS Adoption Committee.
I've also spent 11 years in cat rescue, three as Director on the board of Annex Cat Rescue. In my rescue work, I've actively participated in Trap Neuter Return (TNR) - the humane trapping of feral cats in order to spay/neuter them.
In my hundreds of hours spent trapping, I've seen, firsthand, the rampant feral and stray cat issue in our city. With effective TNR initiatives and low-cost spay/neuter, we can successfully tackle the massive overpopulation problem and prevent animals from being euthanized in staggering numbers each year.
My greatest lessons in life have come from my cat Buster. His injuries have left him in a diaper, with limited mobility in his hind legs. Despite this, Buster has a remarkable spirit and unwavering confidence. He's a symbol to me of the inherent worth of each animal.
My 20-year career in banking has taught me patience and the ability to work collaboratively.
Cathy Kinloch, BA
Cathy grew up in the country surrounded by pets - a budgie who chattered "Good Morning, Stupid", a hound that sang along with Elvis, two pet rabbits that rapidly conjugated into twenty and a much loved horse. After university, Cathy moved to Toronto to teach high school but soon changed careers to the travel business and has spent thirty-five years as owner/manager of a successful travel company. Outside the office she has a different passion - animal welfare.
In 2001 she made the heart-breaking discovery of a huge feral cat colony. Wanting to help, she learned about trap/neuter/release (and what to do when one accidentally traps a skunk). Once that colony was sterilised and well-fed, Cathy worked to aid other animals by fundraising for Toronto Cat Rescue. She organised gala events called "The Furball" that each made over $20,000 for cats. She has helped the Wildlife Centre and now is working on a dog rescue benefit.
Marcie Laking - President
Marcie knows the Toronto Humane Society well, having spent more than a third of her life there - whether as a volunteer, employee or Board member.
She's spent countless hours finding foster homes for THS animals and been a foster parent herself. She's bottle fed kittens, walked dogs and used her extensive rescue contacts to get animals out of the shelter and into loving homes. Her compassion and first-hand experience will continue to keep the welfare of the animals in the forefront of every Board decision.
Previously Vice President, Marcie is now the President of the Board of Directors. A proud representative of the THS, she has spoken at rallies to repeal the pit bull ban, urged all three levels of government to improve animal welfare, and forged partnerships with like-minded groups. She's met with members, politicians and animal welfare leaders, like Bill Bruce of Calgary Animal Services.
Always willing to listen, Marcie has worked closely with the staff and volunteers to make the THS a vibrant and sustainable organization. But there is much left to do, and she is eager to continue to rebuild the THS and help it reach its full potential.
When she's not in the shelter, Marcie serves on her local parent council. She's also a proud mom to her senior pit bull Lexus, two cats that were adopted from the THS, and her five year old daughter Kylie.
Dean Maher - Vice President, Community Outreach & Adoptions
Born and raised in St. John's, Newfoundland, Dean pursed his post secondary studies in business management marketing and authored a children's book, Frederick the Fisherman under the Sea.
After moving to Toronto, he volunteered with Rogers Television before starting his own production company and for many years freelance produced. He later established the City Place Residents' Association to strengthen his neighbourhood and give residents a voice, then ran for election to Toronto City Council in 2010.
A leader and community organizer with a proven record, Dean led the charge to ban the sale of cats and dogs in Toronto pet stores. First recruiting support from City Councillors and animal wselfare organizations (including the THS), Dean then convinced the media to promote the cause. When it finally came before Council on September 21, 2011, Council voted - unanimously - to make it a law. Now, stores can only adopt out cats and dogs from rescues, shelters and humane societies, like the THS.
Building on that success, he brought together many animal rescues to form the Toronto Cat Committee, which he Chairs. The Committee's goal is to develop strategies to address Toronto's overwhelming cat population.
Dean believes in Toronto, and is excited to see rescues, Toronto Animal Services and the Toronto Humane Society work together to advocate for better animal care, whether they are companion pets or feral cats. As a member of the Board, Dean would continue to build on these partnerships and make sure the animal's voices are heard at City Hall.
Colette grew up in an animal centric household in Zimbabwe with a black lab and several pet chickens that became her shadow. Her family moved to France (where she refused to eat chicken) and then Colette went to Oxford University in England. Here, she developed an interest in animal rights and became a vegetarian. But meatless cooking was not all she learned - Colette graduated from Oxford with an MBA.
Five years ago (accompanied by a dog rescued from Reunion Island and a pet chinchilla) she moved to Toronto as a corporate money-trader with an international company. Before long she encountered a feral cat colony, instantly became passionate about their plight and volunteered to help Toronto Cat Rescue. Her first task trapping feral cats at a slaughterhouse wasn't a great start but she persisted. She applied her business skills to recruiting and training volunteers. Her motto is "Volunteers don't just do the work ~ they make it work!" She started a volunteer newsletter. By organising a team of volunteers in the Scotiabank Charity Marathon (wearing whiskers and cat-ears) she raised $31,400 for feral cats.
Working in a fast paced finance environment has taught Colette patience and tenacity. Her problem-solving ability is brilliant. She would like to bring a balance of animal welfare ideals and logical business experience to the THS boardroom.
Peter Newell, BA, MA, JD - Vice President
Peter's life continues to be enriched by his many beloved animal friends, past and present. In appreciation of them, he has been a dedicated Board member at THS and has volunteered at other shelter/rescue groups. A member of the Faces of Change slate, Peter was elected to the Board in 2010 and has served ever since. Over that period, he has been a member of many THS committees, a Vice-President, and is currently a member of the Board Animal Welfare Committee, the "Committee of Committees" (a new committee dedicated to improving THS committee effectiveness), the AGM Committee, the Advocacy Committee, and the Nominating and Governance Committee (Chair). Peter has represented THS in presentations to City Council and the province.
A lawyer and senior partner in Norton Rose Canada LLP, an international law firm, Peter regularly leads teams of professionals through complex transactions, both in Canada and internationally. As a veteran director of both charitable and business boards, Peter has helped organizations overcome challenging situations to become revitalized and successful. Peter participates in a number of local community organizations and is Chair of UforChange, an organization dedicated to helping newcomer youth in the St. James Town/Regent Park area develop marketable skills.
Peter believes THS has accomplished much in the past three years and is confident that it is now poised to play a leadership role in making Toronto a true no-kill community.
Jason Peetsma, BA, MA
At the tender age of five, Jason convinced his parents to rescue a black lab named Molly, and he hasn't looked back. As a teen he spent hundreds of hours working in an animal shelter (where he found his next best friend, a yellow lab named Joey), and as a young adult he worked in a rural vet clinic. In his late twenties, Jason and his wife rescued Winston - a scruffy lab-husky from a remote Quebec kill shelter - mere hours before Winston's time was up; a few years later Semper Fi joined the family (another rescued lab mix).
In addition to his ongoing lab addiction, Jason has two university degrees and is Hogan-Certified by the American Psychological Association. He started his career as a management consultant, then spent a decade working in executive search. Today he is Managing Director at Canada's largest executive search firm, helping Fortune 500 companies from around the world to find their future leaders.
Nominated as one of the top 40 under 40, Jason interacts with senior leaders at major corporations on a daily basis - and those contacts have helped him raise thousands of dollars for various charities.
But Jason never lost his love of animals. For the last year, Jason has served on THS' Member Outreach and Fundraising Committees. He would like to bring his corporate experience and fundraising connections to the boardroom table, to help THS continue its essential and inspiring work - saving animals and finding them loving homes.
Ferne Sinkins, BA, MEd
Ferne Sinkins seeks your support for a second term on your Board, along with the forward looking "NEXT STEPS" team.
In her first term Ferne led the charge to establish the first high-volume Spay Neuter Clinic in Toronto, which opened one year ago. She wants to finish what she started and make it become the great success it was promised to be.
On a $20,000 grant from Petsmart Ferne worked on the front lines of the Regent Park project, which has sterilized over 450 animals, thus alleviating the plight of unwanted and suffering animals.
Previously, Ferne was President of a large, well-run rescue group for over 15 years, and has developed finely tuned leadership and interpersonal skills. She has brought strong animal welfare partnerships to THS and all animals benefit from this.
Ferne served for many years as a senior executive officer in the educational field, and was presented with the North York Woman of the Year award.
Skills as a Chartered Financial Planner have also taught Ferne to be fiscally responsible in running an organization as large as our multi-million dollar THS.
Stephen Steele, B. Comm., M.B.A. - Treasurer
Stephen Steele, B. Comm., M.B.A.
Stephen brings to the THS over thirty years of Finance and Treasury experience with a major multinational automotive company. With ten years as the Director of Finance and Treasurer, he was responsible for all treasury, corporate finance, accounting and tax functions. Stephen has extensive Canadian and International board experience as a director and chairperson of both, business and not-for-profit boards.
In his spare time, Stephen is a volunteer tutor and teacher at Frontier College, working with new Canadians to improve their English skills and to help them adapt to the culture of their new home. Stephen is presently the volunteer Treasurer at the THS.
Stephen has been extremely fortunate to have had many special animals be a large part of his life, from his first, a turtle named Tommy, to the pleasure of caring for a number of incredible horses. There were, of course, dogs and cats, most memorable was a unique Cocker Spaniel named Shannon that brought joy to so many people especially his dear Mother at every visit.
Stephen realizes, very personally, the incredible part that cats, dogs and all animals can play in enriching the lives of people. He believes passionately that every animal is special and deserves our utmost care. He knows that the THS is dedicated to the care of, and to providing a voice for, all animals. Stephen hopes that his experience will assist the THS in the achievement of its mission.
The Toronto Humane Society is an amazing place and we, as members, should be proud of all the great work that it does.
I joined the Board of Directors in 2010, serving as Vice President this past year. I bring a sound understanding of the THS through my years of volunteering in the shelter - as a dog walker, cat groomer, and foster parent. I also bring my experience with managing volunteers - in my professional life I regularly work with volunteers to improve Toronto's parks. It's why I have been a member of the Volunteer Committee for the past two years; because I know the essential role THS' 600 volunteers play in the shelter and I want them to feel part of the organization.
This year I celebrated my eighth year as a volunteer dog walker. Every week I work with fantastic dogs that, despite past neglect, abuse or plain bad luck, have an amazing drive to trust again and move forward into their new lives. They are an inspiration for me as a Director - I strive to match their drive and determination and help the THS move forward into a new life as amazing and successful as it can be.
If I am re-elected, I will work to keep the THS as a haven for all homeless pets, including those with medical or behavioural special needs. I will also continue to champion rehabilitation programs for the animals and ongoing improvements to the volunteer and foster programs.
New Shelter adoption hours are:
Monday to Friday - 11am to 6pm (animal viewing until 7pm)
Saturday and Sunday - 10am to 5pm (animal viewing until 6pm)