Board of Directors and Advisory Council
Board of Directors
Empowerment Squared’s dedicated board of directors provides fiduciary oversight and leadership, strategic guidance, expert advice, and active ambassadorship to the organization in support of our mission.
Andrew Spurgeon – Chair
Andrew Spurgeon is a Partner of Ross & McBride LLP. He received his LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School, his B.A. and M.A. from York University. Andrew is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Western University where he teaches Insurance Law. In the community, Andrew serves on the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board and is Board Chair of the Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company. Andrew is a former President of the Hamilton Law Association, a former Director of the Advocates Society, and a recipient of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association’s Distinguished Service Award. Andrew is an Elected Bencher of the Law Society of Ontario. Andrew is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Lawyers Professional Indemnity Company (LawPRO).
Rebecca O’Connor – Vice-Chair
Rebecca O’Connor is Vice President of Commercial Insurance at Liberty Mutual Insurance. She has taken on progressively more senior leadership roles over the past 25 years in the commercial insurance industry. She has excelled at consistently driving profitable growth with oversight of an increasing number of products. Her success in providing risk management solutions across a full spectrum of Canadian mid to large clients stems from her proven leadership skills coupled with an aptitude for business development and exceeding customer expectations. Rebecca is a graduate of McMaster University’s Bachelor of Arts program in Hamilton.
Krystena Wan, CPA, CA – Treasurer
Krystena Wan is a Tax Manager at Brownlow Partners Chartered Professional Accountants. She works with clients to build tailored solutions to enhance the success of privately held businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Krystena’s expertise includes tax compliance, corporate reorganizations, succession and estate planning, and acquisitions and divestitures. After earning her CPA, CA designation, she completed CPA Canada’s In-Depth Tax Program. Krystena has an Honours Bachelor of Accounting Degree from Brock University and graduated with First-Class Standing. She is very involved in the community and volunteers her time for many worthwhile causes. Krystena has been an Empowerment Squared board member since 2015 and is Chair of the Finance Committee.
Hana Abraham – Secretary
Hana Abraham is a graduate of the Bachelors of Science in Nursing from McMaster University and went on to specialize in Dialysis care receiving a certificate in Nephrology from Humber College. She currently works for St. Josephs’ Healthcare as a Dialysis Nurse. Hana has held the secretary position on Empowerment Squared’s Board of Directors for the last 4 years. When Hana is not working and serving her community, she is busy reading/writing and providing a lavish lifestyle for her beautiful cat Hermès.
Dr. Anne Pearson – Director
Anne Mackenzie Pearson holds a PhD in religious studies and taught at McMaster University for over 25 years. She has served on numerous community non-profit boards including the United Nations Association in Canada Hamilton Branch, the Gandhi Peace Festival, the Hamilton Interfaith Peace Group, and Pearson College of the Pacific in Victoria, BC. She is a recipient of the Order of Hamilton and the World Citizenship Award. As a teacher, and mother, and having lived in several countries, including India for five years, Anne has a strong interest in education and in supporting the wellbeing of newcomers and children.
Trevor Jaundoo B.Acc.(Hon), CPA, CA, LPA – Director
Trevor Jaundoo holds a Bachelor of Accounting (Honors) from Brock University and is both a Chartered Professional Accountant and a Chartered Accountant. He has worked in public accounting since 2004, with a focus on owner managed businesses in a wide variety of industries. In 2011, he started investing in real estate with joint venture partners and launched his own public accounting practice servicing personal tax clients, for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations, and charities. Trevor became the CFO of a Toronto based charity in 2012; a role which spanned Canada and other destinations around the world. In 2015, Trevor dedicated himself to public practice full-time, and is now the owner of diversified accounting firm WJ CPA.
Anju Joshi – Director
Anju Joshi is an engaging educator in the field of aging, and has extensive experience in facilitating workshops on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Client Centred Care Coordination/Case Management and System Integration. Recently retired, she served as an Associate (Teaching) Professor at McMaster University teaching Continuum of Care, Death and Dying in Later Life, and Perspectives on Disabilities, Chronic Illness and Aging. Anju continues to participate in projects in different faculties related to gerontology curriculum development that improve understanding and care of older adults. She is also pursuing her passion for inclusion and social justice and contributing to the Hamilton community by teaching in the McMaster Discovery Program on the theme of Human Diversity and Resiliency.
Francis Hinnah – Director
Francis Hinnah is an experienced administrator and currently works as Administrator and Records Management Coordinator for Huron County where he supports the Deputy Clerk with research, drafting and reviewing of by-laws, and developing new and improved records management policies and tools based on changing legislation. He has over 10 years of experience in local government and is also the former president of the Liberian Association of Canada, the umbrella organization for Liberians across Canada. He is an active member of the Association of Records Managers and Administrators International. Francis has developed vast expertise working with communities to promote the program of activities for the International Decade for People of African Descent under the United Nations Declaration.
Ryan Rosko – Director
Ryan Rosko is the Co-founder of Ryte Development Corp and Construction Group, and Co-Founder of Hammer Real Estate Investments. He has over 20 years of experience in the construction industry and has worked to provide state of the art residential and commercial developments to Hamilton and surrounding communities. Ryan loves the process of bringing a concept into reality, building relationships and buildings that clients are able to call home. He is passionate about giving back through Ryte Development Corp which donates a portion of their annual earnings to local nonprofits to help make a difference in the Greater Hamilton community.
JoAnne Barresi – Director
For more than 35 years JoAnne has held managerial roles as an entrepreneur and a senior executive with national and international retail organizations including her most recent role as SVP, General Merchandise Manager with TJX Canada (Winners, Marshalls and Homesense). JoAnne has managed large teams with an emphasis on international buying, logistics, recruiting, store operations and organizational design. Throughout her career her passion has come from creative problem solving responsibilities to grow the business and develop people. In each organization JoAnne had active leadership roles as a liaison with community organizations and national charities determining ways to give back to communities and the environment. JoAnne strongly believes that personal well being starts with a commitment to health, diet and exercise. She has completed many triathlons and marathons and is a passionate member of F45 Hamilton Downtown. JoAnne has an Honours Bachelor of Arts and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Queens University.
Toyemi Opeoluwa-Calebs – Director
Toyemi Opeoluwa-Calebs is a second-year medical student at the University of Toronto. She graduated from McMaster University in 2019, with a Bachelor of Science in Honours Molecular Biology & Genetics. In her time at McMaster, she volunteered with several equity focused initiatives including Empowerment Squared’s Homework Circle and Soccer Program. Following graduation, she worked as the Coordinator of Strategic Initiatives at Empowerment Squared before starting medical school in August 2021. She is passionate about changing the narrative and experience of Black and other racialized groups as they interact with the Canadian healthcare system. At the University of Toronto, she sits on the Medical Society Executive Council and the executive team of the Black Medical Students Association. In her free time, she enjoys playing basketball, reading, exploring the city of Toronto, and engaging in new experiences.
Kate Lazier – Director
Kate Lazier is the Director of Philanthropy and Legacy Planning at CIBC. As part of the CIBC Family Office team, Kate supports people in making thoughtful and impactful charitable gifts. Kate is a lawyer called to the Bar in Ontario and is a certified financial planner. Prior to joining CIBC, she spent 15 years practicing charity and non-profit law at a national law firm. Kate has been recognized for her expertise by the Canadian Legal Expert Directory and Best Lawyers in Canada.
Empowerment Squared’s Advisory Council is a non-governing group of committed community leaders who provide ongoing support, counsel, and connections to the organization in support of our mission.
Dr. Alex Sévigny – Advisor
Dr. Alex Sévigny, APR is an associate professor of communications management and communication studies at McMaster University. Dr. Sévigny received his accreditation in public relations in 2011. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Professional Communication and director of the McMaster Communications Metrics Research Lab. He is currently National Chief Examiner of Accreditation for the Canadian Public Relations Society. Dr. Sévigny is involved in issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, having co-authored a dictionary of the Mìgmag language and served as a founding board member of Empowerment Squared. He has also created a scholarship through Empowerment Squared that supports a young person to study at McMaster University every year.
Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh – Advisor
Dr. Bonny Ibhawoh is Professor and Senator William McMaster Chair in Global Human Rights at McMaster University. With over 30 years as human rights educator and practitioner, he is the Director of the McMaster Centre for Human Rights and Restorative Justice. He also Chairs the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development in the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva. Bonny was previously Associate Dean and Acting Associate Vice-President (Research) at McMaster University. He is a member of the College of Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada. He is a renowned author and the recipient of the McMaster Student Union Teaching Award and the Nelson Mandela Distinguished Africanist Award.
Liem Vu – Advisor
Liem Vu is the General Manager of CF Lime Ridge Mall. He is a strategic, award-winning leader with over 25 years of experience in the retail industry. Liem fled Vietnam following the end of the Vietnam War as part of a group of Vietnamese who took to the ocean in tiny overcrowded ships dubbed the “boat people.” In search of a new life he settled in Canada after 15 months in a refugee camp. Liem is a relationship builder and a passionate leader who loves to give back to the community and encourage his team to pay forward and foster community building. His proudest accomplishment so far are his two children raised by him and his wife as proud members of the broader multicultural Canadian family.
Matthew Green – Advisor
Matthew Green serves as federal Member of Parliament for Hamilton Centre. He previously made history when he became the first person of colour elected to Hamilton City Council in 2014. During his time as Ward 3 Councillor, Matthew’s policy initiatives focused on ecological, equity, and economic justice. Matthew has a Political Science and Legal Studies degree from Acadia University and continued his education at McMaster University, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Harvard Business School. Prior to his political career, Matthew owned a small business in Hamilton and most recently, served as the Executive Director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion. Matthew is the NDP Critic for National Revenue, Public Services and Procurement, Public Ownership, Treasury Board, Deputy Critic for Ethics.
Board Members (Empowerment Squared Liberia)
Empowerment Squared Liberia is an independently nonprofit organization registered in Liberia committed to the furtherance of Empowerment Squared’s mission. The directors of the organization includes members of Empowerment Squared’s Canadian board of directors, as well as the local leaders below.
Dr. George Fonderson, CPA, CA – Director (Liberia)
George Fonderson is the current Board Chair of the Liberia practice of international accounting firm, Baker Tilly. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Canada and the United States, George has had an active professional career as an international business consultant, strategic advisor, and educator for over 30 years. Previously, George was a Partner at a ‘Big Four’ accounting firm and held senior roles in North America and the emerging markets of West Africa, East Africa, and Southern Africa. As a Fulbright Scholar, George studied finance and international business in the USA and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from William Howard Taft University. He has been a lecturer at the College of Business and Public Administration at the University of Liberia. George is a past Secretary-General of the Liberian Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He has been a member of the Technical and Standard Setters Forum of the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA).
Reverend Emmett Dunn – Director (Liberia)
Reverend Emmett Lafayette Dunn is the Chief Executive Officer of the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention. Over the past two decades, he served in key executive staff roles of the Baptist World Alliance, a fellowship of 228 Baptist unions and conventions with a membership of more than 42 million and a community of more than 110 million people globally. Reverend Dunn has over 25 years of senior level leadership experience including working in and traveling to over 100 countries encouraging and empowering faith – based communities. He recently served as Chair of the Board of Advisors of the Ricks Institute in Liberia, member of the Board of Trustees of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary and member of the NAACP International Affairs Committee.
Decontee King – Sackie – Director (Liberia)
Decontee King-Sackie is a Chartered Accountant, lawyer and a trade, tax, customs and forest governance expert. She has over 16 years of cumulative experience in macroeconomic revenue and sustainable forest governance including trade, tax, customs policy making, administration design, management of regional and national projects and programs. Decontee is the Deputy Commissioner General of Technical Affairs at the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and held senior level positions in the Department of Revenue at the Ministry of Finance (now Ministry of Finance and Development Planning – MFDP). Decontee has graduated from Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, the University of Liberia, Cuttington University Graduate School and A.M.E Zion Community College (now A.M.E. Zion University) in the Republic of Liberia.