Claudia Hepburn, CEO
Claudia Hepburn became Windmill Microlending’s first Chief Executive Officer in February 2017, when it was known as Immigrant Access Fund Canada. She was hired to lead the national scale up of this innovative microlending organization supporting the financial inclusion of skilled newcomers from coast to coast. Since then, new loan acquisition has more than doubled, repayment rates and client income growth have remained high, and the organization has embraced numerous efficiencies and innovations to enable scaling. Windmill was named one of Canada’s ten most innovative non-profits by The Logic in August 2019.
Before joining Windmill, Ms. Hepburn was co-founder and founding executive director of The Next 36, now Next Canada, a national charity devoted to the development of high impact entrepreneurs. Before that, she spent ten years working on education policy and building innovative education programs at The Fraser Institute. Children First: School Choice Trust, which she founded to improve educational opportunities for children living in poverty, was the only Canadian program ever to win the international Templeton Award; her first book was shortlisted for the international Fisher Award for public policy writing, both from the Atlas Institute.
Claudia has been named one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence and is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. She serves on several boards and councils including Kids & Company, Canada’s largest private childcare company, the C.D. Howe Institute’s Human Capital Council, and is a strategic advisor of Impression Ventures. Claudia earned a BA from Amherst College and an MA and B.Ed from the University of Toronto.
Mary Ellen Armstrong
National Director, Marketing & Communications
Mary Ellen is a senior communicator and social marketer with a background in consulting, media, publishing and journalism. Her specialty is strategic communications in service of high-priority business and social objectives.
As Director of Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs at Trillium Gift of Life Network, an agency of Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, she dramatically increased the number of Ontarians registered as organ and tissue donors.
National Director, Client Success
Originally from Colombia, Paula has spent her career leading workforce development projects that support the economic integration of newcomers to Canada. In the past, she pioneered ESL programs, worked on paid internship programs and oversaw various employment services and bridging programs supporting internationally trained professionals. She has also worked as a professor in the Career Development Practitioner program at George Brown College, has served as a mentor to newcomers and is the former President of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Colombian Professional Association. In 2018, Paula completed the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunity program and became an Aspen Institute Economic Opportunity Fellow.
National Director, Operations
Carrie joined Windmill in March 2014, and was appointed as the National Director, Operations in April 2015. Carrie’s passion and experience for ensuring that the right people are in the right position, and have access to the appropriate tools to meet the needs of our clients, are the driving force behind her work at Windmill.
Prior to her work with Windmill, Carrie spent more than 20 years in the charitable sector in Saskatchewan; leading team development projects; supporting CEOs and Board members; facilitating technology directives; and aligning operational and human resource strategies.
Jon Lam, CFA
National Director, Finance & Risk
Jon is a finance professional with deep operational experience in the start–up software and non-profit sectors. His entrepreneurial spirit has driven him to build companies that range from tutoring high school kids in math to building video games that have been played by over 4 million people. Most recently, he has been focusing on giving back to the community – volunteering on the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary for 9 years, and then as their Director of Finance for the 2 years before he joined Windmill in 2017.
National Director, Development
Jeni joined Windmill in January 2018 to lead the development, implementation and management of our fundraising strategy with the aim of enabling growth in the number of new loans approved per year and long-term organizational sustainability. Jeni was most recently the Director of Development for the National Music Centre. She led the team that raised over $135 million for the construction of Studio Bell. She has served as a lead fundraiser on several political campaigns, and currently serves on the Board of Directors at Calgary’s Centre for Sexuality.
Board of Directors
Chair | Partner, JSS Barristers
Carsten is one of the founding partners of JSS Barristers, a Calgary based litigation law firm. Carsten’s practice focuses exclusively on civil litigation, with an emphasis on corporate and commercial litigation including commercial class actions, oil and gas disputes, shareholder disputes, multi-party litigation and arbitrations. In 1998, Carsten commenced a two-year leave of absence during which time he acted as senior legal officer and eventually team leader at the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) in Geneva, Switzerland. The UNCC was established to process and resolve compensation claims arising from Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait. Carsten is a past bencher (director) of the Law Society of Alberta, which is the governing body for lawyers in Alberta, and in that role he served at various times as Chair of Finance, Chair of Credentials and Education, and Chair of Conduct. Carsten is also a past-President of the Law Society of Alberta, and is now the Law Society’s representative to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. Carsten has served on the board of the Alberta Lawyers Insurance Exchange, which provided regulated professional negligence insurance coverage to lawyers in Alberta. Carsten joined the Windmill board in 2017 and assumed the role of Chair in May 2019.
Vice Chair | Community & Social Justice Advocate
Vanessa is a passionate social activist who has a broad range of experience in the areas of community development, immigrant integration, anti-racism, family violence, and children and youth. A strategic thinker with the ability to foster and build collaborative and strength based initiatives, Vanessa has worked as an employee and consultant in both the public and not for profit sector, and has also volunteered with numerous organizations including the Edmonton Community Foundation, Edmonton Women’s Shelters, the Africa Centre, the Edmonton Out of School Time Programs Collaborative and Brander Gardens ROCKS. In 2009 Vanessa was honoured with a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for her advocacy work around immigrant and refugee children and youth. Vanessa joined the Windmill Board in 2010.
Drew Thomson, MBA, FCPA, FCMA
Treasurer | Part-Time CFO
Drew retired at the end of 2018 after 12 years as the Chief Financial Officer of the Law Society of Alberta and the Alberta Lawyers Insurance Association. Prior to joining the Law Society, Drew was Vice President of Business Development for the Certified Management Accountants of Alberta. His career experience includes senior financial management roles in radio and television broadcasting and the retail fashion clothing industry. In addition to his professional accounting accreditations, Drew holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta and a Masters of Business Administration from Athabasca University. In addition to serving as Windmill’s treasurer, Drew is on the boards of Carbon Management Canada Research Institutes and the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education. Drew joined the Windmill Board in June 2015.
Secretary | Social Innovator
He’s been called Canada’s Chief Gamification Officer for figuring out how to influence the behaviour of millions in remarkable ways. He simply calls himself a misfit in his bestselling memoir about turning his autistic, gay, immigrant edges into a changemaker’s toolkit. Andreas Souvaliotis is a globally recognized social innovator. He created the world’s first wellness rewards platform, the hugely popular Carrot app. A decade earlier he had built Green Rewards, the first-ever eco loyalty points program. He is an unconventional and disruptive pioneer of social change, an incurable lover of real, measurable, mass scale impact, and an outspoken promoter of diversity, inclusion, wellness and climate action. He proudly serves on the boards of a number of impact-centric organizations, including the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), and Windmill Microlending since June 2015.
Director | Senior Vice President, Operations & Business Transformation, Canadian Western Bank
Vlad is an experienced international banker specializing in turnaround, sales, service and operations. He is currently the Senior Vice President, Operations and Business Transformation, at Canadian Western Bank. From 2014-2018, Vlad was the Chief Operating Officer of Alberta Pensions Services Corporation (APSC), a Crown Corporation providing administration related services to more than 500 participating employers across Alberta and pension-related services to over 342,000 members and pensioners. Before joining APSC, Vlad established a new greenfield bank in Eastern Europe and prior to that spent 22 years with HSBC, one of the largest banking institutions in the world, where he held various SVP, EVP and CEO level positions in a variety of roles and locations such as Hong Kong, Mauritius, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. Vlad is fluent in Serbian, Arabic, and English and comfortable in Russian. Vlad is passionate about freedom, equal rights and education. Vlad joined the Windmill Board in June 2016.
Director | Senior Manager, Risk Advisory, Deloitte
Leanne, a Chartered Accountant, is currently with Deloitte in Vancouver. Leanne has had 15 years of combined experience in the field of accounting and audit with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., WestJet Airlines, Ernst & Young LLP, Canada Revenue Agency and Alberta Teachers’ Association. Leanne joined the Windmill Board in November 2012 and has volunteered with other organizations, including the Edmonton Food Bank and True Vision Ghana. Leanne joined the Windmill Board in 2012.
Director | Vancouver Managing Partner, Bennett Jones LLP
Radha Curpen is the managing partner of Bennett Jones’ Vancouver office and co-head of the firm’s Aboriginal and Environmental Law practice. She has worked in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta, the Atlantic Provinces and in the United States. She specializes in Environmental, Aboriginal and Regulatory matters, and the transportation of dangerous goods. Radha provides strategic counsel to clients with regards to regulatory compliance, the management of environmental risks, the defense of environmental litigation, the avoidance and defense of environmental related prosecutions, crisis prevention and management, mitigating business disruption and providing reputation management. Radha was an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law for the Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility course. She is an executive committee member of the board of directors of the Vancouver Board of Trade. Radha joined the Windmill Board in February 2019.
Director | Managing Director and Deputy Executive Director, World Education Services
Shamira Madhany joined World Education Services (WES) in 2018 after more than two decades of public service. She has extensive experience working with licensing bodies, settlement agencies, and higher education and post-secondary sectors in Ontario. She served as the chief architect of several government programs that enable highly skilled immigrants to obtain employment in their fields. Shamira played a key role in the launch of WES Canada in 2000 during her tenure at the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration as Provincial Lead, Access to Professions and Trades. Shamira is a high-energy, transformative leader who is passionate about making innovative public policy, breaking down barriers to equality, and advancing opportunities for all. Shamira holds a degree from York University, an advanced certificate in Managing Change from the Rotman School of Management, and a certificate from Queen’s University’s Public Executive Program. She is a frequent guest lecturer at Queen’s, Ryerson University, and the School of Public Policy at the University of Toronto (now the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy). Shamira joined the Windmill Board in May 2019.
Director | CEO, Fondaction
Geneviève Morin is the CEO of Fondaction, a Quebec labour-sponsored fund with assets in excess of two billion dollars collected as retirement savings from more than 175,000 shareholders. She returned to Fondaction as CEO in January 2020 after working from February to December 2019 as CEO of Anges Québec Capital, a venture capital fund which invests in innovative Quebec startups alongside the members of Anges Québec, the largest angel network in Canada. Geneviève played a key role in building Fondaction, which she joined in 1996, when it started up. She began as Coordinator of Administration and Finance, then Chief Financial Officer and Head of Corporate Development and finally Chief Investment Officer. In this last role, she was responsible for growing from 500 million to 1.2 billion dollars Fondaction’s portfolio of investments into sustainable development projects, companies and investment funds, increasing both its financial and societal returns. Previously, Geneviève worked for the Mouvement Desjardins, notably in communications, in cooperative development and in business financing. Geneviève is a member of the Board and the Executive Committee of CVCA, Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association. She also sits on the Board of Directors of Investissement Québec since 2011 and was a co-president of Réseau Capital, the investment capital network of Quebec, from 2010 to 2012. In 2019, Geneviève received the Inspiration-Andrée Corriveau Award from the Association of Quebec Women in Finance, for her achievements. Geneviève holds an MBA in Finance from HEC Montréal and a B.A. Honours in Economics from Concordia University. Geneviève joined the Windmill Board in September 2019.
Sheila O’Brien, C.M.
President | Belvedere1 Investments
Sheila O’Brien is a corporate director and business consultant specializing in workforce and leadership capacity with over 30 years of experience in the oil and gas, pipeline and petrochemical sectors in Canada, USA and Europe. She is currently the President at Belvedere1 Investments and Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Board of the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking. Sheila has held executive positions in the areas of human resources, investor relations, public affairs and government relations with Amoco International, Petro-Canada and NOVA Corporation. She created and implemented an innovative workforce restructuring program, based on the dignity of the employee, which was designated a World Wide Best Practice by Watson Wyatt International Consultancy. Her contributions in the areas of women’s issues, human rights, education and health and welfare, have been recognized through the receipt of the Order of Canada (Feb. 1999), the Women of Distinction Award in the Advancement of Women, a Citation for Citizenship-Government of Canada Award for Community Leadership, The Presidential Citation from the Students Union in recognition of her passion and commitment to Students (2007), and The Diamond Jubilee Medal for her significant contributions to Canada. Her board experience includes chairing Human Resources and Compensation Committees for Advantage Oil and Gas, Alberta Energy Regulator, Gildan Activewear, MaRS, Transforce Income Fund and Skye Resources. Sheila served on the Board of Governors of Alberta College of Art and Design (2008-2014), and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Art Gallery of Alberta, the Board of Careers: The Next Generation, and is a Trustee of the Calgary Zoo. Sheila joined the Windmill Board in February 2020.
Director | Lawyer/Partner, Sarrazin+Plourde
A Université de Montréal law graduate called to the Bar in 1993, Nicolas Plourde has over 25 years of experience in civil and commercial litigation. He is an accomplished and versatile litigator with expertise in a wide range of areas. He is highly recognized for his skill in helping parties reach mutually beneficial solutions to their disputes. Over the years, Nicolas has developed a particular expertise in complex commercial litigation, including insurance matters, banking litigation, injunctions, seizures and other urgent and extraordinary procedures, such as Anton Piller orders and Mareva injunctions. Nicolas also has a thorough understanding of bankruptcy and insolvency matters, and routinely advises creditors, debtors and trustees. He has represented a number of clients from a variety of economic sectors, in reorganizations, receiverships and bankruptcies under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA). Through his dealings with clients experiencing financial difficulties, Nicolas has also developed an expertise in the area of director and officer liability. Recognized by Lexpert as one of Canada’s best lawyers in the field, he has given several conferences on these topics. In the last few years, he was Bâtonnier (President) of the Bar of Montreal (2009-2010) and Bâtonnier of the Quebec Bar (2012-2013). As such, he has acquired knowledge and solid credibility in both professional and political spheres. He currently acts as the attorney for the Committee on the remuneration of judges and justices of the peace appointed by the government of Quebec. Nicolas is actively involved in his community. He has sat on various boards of directors for charitable organizations, including the Quebec Special Olympics. He currently chairs the Board of Directors of the Accueil Bonneau Foundation. Nicolas joined the Windmill Board in September 2019.
Director, Past Chair | Assistant Deputy Minister, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Transformation, Service Alberta
Laura is currently working for the Government of Alberta as Assistant Deputy Minister, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Transformation, Service Alberta. Prior to joining the Windmill board in June 2009, Laura was a management consultant focused on systems transformation serving the energy industry. Laura held the position of Vice President and Chief Information Officer with UFA Cooperation Limited after working in the Fortune 100 energy sector as a senior advisor and leader of global business transformation and technology initiatives. She spent a decade delivering technology and consulting services abroad and has worked in many worldwide locations including the US, Canada, Europe, South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia and The People’s Republic of China. Laura has a passion for social and economic development and social change and is focused on the application of technologies to advance change programs. Laura served as Windmill’s Board Chair from September 2014 to May 2019.
Director | Chief Strategy Officer, MindBridge Ai
Miyo Yamashita is a market driven executive with a superior track record in generating sustainable profitable growth, particularly in rapidly changing environments. She currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for MindBridge Ai, a global artificial intelligence company whose software detects anomalies in financial data. An entrepreneur by background, having founded and managed her own consulting firm before it was acquired by Deloitte Canada. Miyo has also served on Deloitte Canada’s Executive Committee as the former Managing Partner of Talent and Workplace and on the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) Board of Directors (Deloitte’s global Board of Directors). She has also worked in major enterprise leadership roles in some of Canada’s biggest organizations in healthcare and banking. In 2017, she was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women and she has appeared on BNN and written for the Globe and Mail’s Leadership Lab series on engaging millennials. Miyo has a PhD in media studies and communications from McGill University. Miyo joined the Windmill Board in February 2019.