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.
Jennifer Downe - Vice President
A veteran THS volunteer, Jennifer has spent hundreds of hours feeding and caring for immature kittens, trained and mentored new volunteers and helped create the THS Kitten Nursery Feeding Manual.
Professionally, Jennifer has been with RBC for 12 years. In her current role as Bank Branch Manager, she manages a team of 20 people, has a portfolio of 10,000 clients and is responsible for about $500 million dollars in business. She is recognized for her business acumen and extensive problem management experience.
Jennifer shares her home with 3 amazing cats, Kobie, Scout and Emma, two of whom were adopted from the THS.
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Karen Nasir, HBSc, DVM
Dr. Karen Nasir is a veterinarian with experience in both emergency and shelter medicine. Upon graduation she spent two years in a private practice that also served multiple rescue organizations prior to moving on to a busy urban emergency clinic. Despite the stress and sometimes sadness, she has always felt privileged to care for all pets and the families who belong to them while continuing to be a passionate voice for the voiceless.
Dr. Nasir has been published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal and has been involved in global conservation and ecological research in Cusuco National Park, Honduras - one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. She has held executive positions with Global Vets and the Pet Loss Support Hotline.
After volunteering her services to the sheslter in 2009-10, Dr. Nasir was elected to the THS' Board of Directors. Under the watchful eyes of two rescued feline friends, she is proud to be involved with a THS that now puts the animals first, ensures they receive the best medical and behavioural care, and truly believes that a cage is not a home.
As a native Torontonian, Dr. Nasir appreciates the need for a humane shelter in our city. With her enthusiasm for animal welfare and community, she will use her diverse medical background and focused work ethic to continue to strengthen the THS while acting as an advocate for the shelter and its occupants.
Peter Newell, BA, MA, JD
Because she was a big dog (and pretty feisty!), nobody wanted to adopt Annie. She was on death row. With help from Peter, she became a beloved family member. In her memory and in appreciation of many beloved animal friends, Peter has been a dedicated volunteer at THS and other shelter/rescue groups.
A senior partner in the business law group of Norton Rose LLP, an international law firm, Peter regularly leads large 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 and his family live in Riverdale with their dog and cat family members, Daisy and Pepperpaws.
I dragged my first stray dog home when I was thirteen. Sheba, a Husky mix, was by my side through high school, university and my first few years of work as an aerospace engineer. I lost Sheba when a friend who was walking her one day lost control of her and she was hit by a car.
I traveled for a few years, taught, learned, came back. I launched myself into photography and then eventually settled on computer animation. I got Stella, my Great Dane, after meeting her for about five minutes at a kennel where she was up for adoption. And then there was Rocky, my Doberman, who came a few years later, already old and somewhat crotchety, adopted from Toronto Animal Services where I've been volunteering for over five years now. I write a blog for them called “Pound Dogs”.
Stella died from heart disease and Rocky from cancer and of course they took a part of me with them. They always do. But then Smitten, a Bearded Collie came home one day and then Simone. Maybe it's a little crazy but the eras of my life can be defined and delineated by my dogs.
As a Director, I hope to be able to help make rational but compassionate decisions with regards to the direction of the THS. I believe I have some insight into animal welfare with regards to humane treatment but also, and perhaps more importantly, some understanding of an animal's place in the human heart.
Ferne Sinkins, BA, MEd
In the last 15 years, Ferne has placed more than 4,000 cats in loving homes. As the President of Toronto Cat Rescue, she expanded the organization to nearly 100 volunteers, established more than 225 foster homes, and found homes for an average of 120 cats (of all ages) every month. Ferne supports a strong spay/neuter program at the THS and thinks it's the only humane and lasting way to prevent future generations of homeless puppies and kittens.
A retired high school teacher and financial planner, Ferne was featured in the recent documentary Cat City, shown on national television and in several cinemas.
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.
Crystal Tomusiak, BA, MA, LLB
Crystal is a criminal defence lawyer who has represented clients in trial and appeal matters at all levels of the Ontario court. An experienced advocate for marginalized people, she will give the animals a voice – animals that might otherwise be overlooked. She has volunteered at several animal shelters, including the THS, and is devoted to animals that need special protection and care.
Crystal will help the THS live up to its promise of doing "whatever it takes" for the animals in its care, including those who face obstacles on the road to adoption.
New Shelter adoption hours are:
Monday to Friday - 11am to 7pm
Saturday and Sunday - 10am to 6pm