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Board of Directors

Updated October 2014

2014 Annual General Meeting

Contact information:
Lynne Pollard
905-378-4647, ext. 43110

Board Executive:
Dr. Barry Wright -
Chair, Board of Directors

Marti Jurmain -
Vice-Chair, Board of Directors

Cathy Sutherland – Treasurer

Dr. Suzanne Johnston – Secretary (ex officio role held by the President)

Board Committees:
Bernice Alexander -
Chair, Quality Committee
Catherine Mindorff-Facca
Vice-Chair, Quality Committee

Murray Paton
Chair, Governance Committee
John Bragagnolo - Vice-Chair, Governance Committee

Cathy Sutherland – Chair,
Resources & Audit Committee
Ken Kawall – Vice-Chair, Resources & Audit Committee

John MacDonald – Chair, Strategic Planning Committee
Frank Vassallo – Vice-Chair,
Strategic Planning Committee

Dr. Tom Stewart, Interim Chair, Medical Advisory Committee
(ex officio role always held by the Chief of Staff)

Our Board of Directors is comprised of dedicated volunteers from across the Niagara region. This diverse group is dedicated to ensuring the Niagara Health System delivers high quality, safe, sustainable care and is accountable to the community. 

The Board is made up of the following individuals.
Please see below for photos and bio information.

Bernice (Bunny) Alexander

Larry Boggio

John Bragagnolo

Marti Jurmain

Ken Kawall

John MacDonald

Catherine Mindorff-Facca

Murray Paton

Cathy Sutherland

Frank Vassallo

Barry Wright

Dr. Suzanne Johnston(ex officio, non-voting member)*

Dr. Thomas (Tom) E. Stewart (ex officio, non-voting member)*

Dr. Satish Kumar Chawla (ex officio, non-voting member)*

Derek McNally (ex officio, non-voting member)*


Board of Directors, Niagara Health System – Biographies

Volunteer Community-based Directors:


Bernice (Bunny) Alexander is a retired human resources professional, specializing in organizational development, as well as a registered nurse, having worked many years as a clinical manager at the Welland Hospital prior to the amalgamation of the Niagara Health System in 2000. Bunny then worked as Senior Consultant, Organizational Development with responsibility for employee and leadership development, employee recognition, performance development and student and volunteer resources. In her retirement, Bunny has held numerous volunteer positions, and most recently served as Vice-Chair of the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Community Care Access Centre Board of Directors. She is currently a member of the City of Welland Senior Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Chair of the City of Welland Market Square Advisory Committee, and Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for Palliative/Hospice Care Planning for South Niagara, in addition to volunteering with Hospice Niagara. Bunny and her family reside in Welland.

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Larry Boggio is a practicing community Pharmacist and owner of Boggio's Pharmacy Ltd. A graduate of the University of Toronto's Pharmacy Program, Larry has a 32-year history as a Pharmacist and business owner, having grown his business from one to four stores in four communities across Niagara - Fonthill, Niagara Falls, Ridgeway and Port Colborne. He now proudly employs over 100 individuals across these communities. His volunteer governance experience includes Past President of the Ontario College of Pharmacists, Elected District Member of the College of Pharmacists' Council, Board Member of Bridges Community Health Centre, and Board Member and Past Chair of Port Colborne Community Living. Larry supports many community organizations, including the South Niagara United Way and Port Cares. Larry and his family reside in Port Colborne.
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John Bragagnolo is the General Manager of Pen Centre in St. Catharines and has twenty five years’ experience in the property management industry. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology (Physiology and Pharmacology) from the University of Western Ontario and has completed many Master in Business Administration level courses. He holds a certificate in Human Resource Management from Queen’s University and a certificate in Performance Excellence from the Disney Institute. John has a particular interest in the areas of customer service, human resources and performance excellence. John has served in many senior volunteer positions, including past Chair of the Board of the Timmins and District Hospital, past executive member of the St. Catharines General Hospital Foundation and was Chairman of the New Garden City Complex Advocacy Committee. He currently serves on the New Garden City Spectator Facility Fundraising Committee and is a member of the Niagara Labour Market Planning Committee. John and his family reside in St. Catharines.
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Marti Jurmain is an experienced educator and administrator with over thirty-five years in the Ontario College system. Marti is recently retired as the Director of Research and Innovation at Niagara College, and has proven experience and interest in strategic planning, quality assurance and performance measures. She was founder and Director of the New Product Development Division at Niagara College, which involved the development of new academic programs and the opportunity to work with several regional health service agencies. She holds a Master of Arts, English Language and Literature from the University of Western Ontario. Marti has served as a volunteer on numerous committees and fundraising initiatives in the Niagara Region, including Chair of the Niagara Region Cancer Campaign, President of the St. Catharines YMCA, and member of the United Way Executive for St. Catharines and District. Marti and her family reside in St. Catharines. (back to top)


Ken Kawall has over twenty years’ experience in the private and public sector, specializing in the areas of customer service, operations, technology and change management. He is currently the Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Information Officer, Enterprise Financial Services and Systems with the Ministry of Government Services, Ontario Public Service, providing financial management services to all Ministries of the Ontario Government. He formerly worked as Chief Information Officer with the Ministry of Transportation, providing strategic and operational information management and information technology leadership to the Ministries of Transportation, Labour, Economic Development and Trade, Research and Innovation and Consumer Services. Ken holds a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Western Ontario and is a Certified Management Accountant. Ken has served as President and Chair of the Board of the Oakville Arts Council and Treasurer and Director of the Trafalgar Township Historical Society. He and his family now reside in Vineland.
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John MacDonald is the former Chief Administration Officer for the City of Niagara Falls, having been responsible for the planning, control and management of City government initiatives, and all Corporate and Administrative Divisions. John’s professional career with the City of Niagara Falls spanned over a period of 32 years. Prior to becoming CAO, John was the Executive Director of Community Services. In his retirement, John remains active as the National Director with the Anglican Network in Canada, providing leadership and oversight to all operational and administrative activities. John holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Western Ontario, and a Bachelor of Recreation and Leisure Studies from Brock University. He has been involved on various community board service and fundraising organizations. John and his family reside in Niagara Falls. (back to top)


Catherine Mindorff-Facca is a retired Registered Nurse and Epidemiologist from Hamilton Health Sciences. She holds a Master of Science (Epidemiology) from McMaster University and has completed advanced training in Surveillance, Prevention and Control of Nosocomial Infections, Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. In her professional career, Catherine provided hospital and community infection control services, and completed a secondment to the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control with Health Canada, where she was Acting Chief. Over the past 10 years, Catherine has devoted her efforts to groundbreaking volunteer service, with a focus on building community capacity for collaborative action toward a stronger Niagara. She led the move to bring Community Health Centres to Niagara, was founding Chair of Niagara Connects (formerly known as the Niagara Research and Planning Council), served as a trustee for Brock University, was Chair of FACS Niagara, and served on the Steering Committee for the Clinical Services Planning Project of the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN. Catherine and her husband Jack reside in Ridgeway, Fort Erie. (back to top)


Murray PatonMurray Paton is a lawyer serving as Counsel to Walker Sorensen LLP. , Toronto, a business law firm focused on the financial services industry and corporate governance. He spent most of his career as a Partner of McCarthy Tetrault, Toronto, advising major public companies principally in the financial services industries on business transactions and financings, joint ventures and regulatory and corporate governance matters. Murray has also served as General Counsel of the 407 ETR Group, advising on, among other things, infrastructure, policy development, corporate governance and government relations matters. Murray also has extensive governance experience through his role as a Director of two federally-regulated Canadian insurance companies (Munich Reinsurance Company of Canada and Temple Insurance Company), as a member of the Independent Review Committee overseeing conflicts of interest for The Bank of Nova Scotia’s public mutual funds and as Board member and past Chair of Halton Healthcare Services, a multi-site Ontario public hospital. Murray is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and holder of the Professional Director designation. He and his wife reside in Niagara-on-the-Lake. (back to top)


Cathy Sutherland is a Financial Executive and Chartered Accountant. Cathy’s professional experience lead her to Home Capital Group Inc/Home Trust Company, where she spent several years in the finance division, and later becoming the Senior Vice President, Finance. Her responsibilities included chief financial advisor to the Chief Executive Officer, President and Audit Committee of the Board. Cathy is a guest lecturer at Brock University, speaking on issues related to women in business, financial services, human relations and job recruitment. In addition to achieving her CA designation with the Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, Cathy holds an Honors Business Administration degree from Brock University. Her community activities include volunteer participation at The Hope Centre in Welland, a committee member with the Hamilton YWCA Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Board member with Hamilton Health Sciences Volunteer Association where she currently sits as Chair of its Board Development Committee. Cathy is retired and she and her husband reside in Welland. (back to top)


Frank Vassallo is Vice-President, Physician IT Adoption, OntarioMD, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ontario Medical Association that is focused on assisting Ontario’s community-based physicians adopt information technology. In his 23-year career in health services administration in both the public and private sectors, Frank has served in various senior management roles spanning clinical and information technology management, performance measurement, government relations and business development. Frank holds a Master of Health Services Administration as well as a post-graduate Fellowship in Hospital Administration. Frank has recently completed a Master of Communications Management (Public Relations). Frank has served in various volunteer capacities, including Board member and Chair of the former Niagara District Health Council. Frank is a long-time resident of Niagara, currently residing with his family in St. Catharines.
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Barry Wright is Associate Professor, Goodman School of Business, Brock University. Barry holds a Ph.D. from Queen’s University (specializing in organizational behaviour), a Master’s degree from Queen’s University, and a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of Alberta. Barry’s academic research focuses on understanding and solving leadership challenges, change and its influence on organizational members, and creating effective work environments. Prior to joining Brock, Barry was Associate Professor at the Schwartz School of Business and Information Technology at St. Frances Xavier University in Nova Scotia. Barry is a member of the board of Leadership Niagara. Barry and his family reside in St. Catharines. (back to top)


Ex-Officio Non-Voting Directors:

Dr. Suzanne Johnston President of Niagara Health SystemSuzanne Johnston – President, Niagara Health System is originally from New Brunswick. She has more than 25 years of leadership experience in health care and government. Before taking on her current role with NHS, Dr. Johnston served as Vice President, Clinical Programs, and Chief Nursing Officer at Northern Health Authority, an organization serving northern B.C. with over 24 hospitals, 14 long-term care facilities, and community services providing specialized services to diverse populations including aboriginal Canadians.

Dr. Johnston was also Chief Operating Officer for Northern Health Authority’s northwest region, and has worked at the NHA since 2000.

Dr. Johnston obtained both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from the University of New Brunswick and completed her doctoral studies at the University of Arizona. She participated in executive education at the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania.  (back to top)


Dr. Thomas StewartDr. Thomas (Tom) E. Stewart Chief of Staff and Executive Vice President completed his MD with honors at the University of Ottawa in 1988. He went on to do a fellowship in Internal Medicine and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Toronto followed by research training in Paris, France and Toronto. He was a Professor of Medicine and Anaesthesiology at the University of Toronto where he worked as a Critical Care Physician at Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network. Dr. Stewart has held a number of leadership roles including: Physician-in-Chief (2009-2013) and Chief Clinical Officer (2010-2013) at Mount Sinai Hospital, Director of Critical Care Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital (1998-2009) and the University Health Network (2002-2009).  He was a key developer and implementer of Ontario’s Critical Care Strategy, having served as Chair of the provincial Critical Care LHIN Leader Table for several years while it underwent significant change. He has received multiple honors, awards and grants and has published numerous peer-review articles and book chapters. He is a regular invited presenter nationally and internationally. Dr. Stewart’s research focuses include ARDS and ALI, lung protective modes of mechanical ventilation, unconventional approaches to mechanical ventilation, leadership skills, implementing change and system design. In his role as Physician in Chief and Chief Clinical Officer at Mount Sinai, Dr. Stewart championed a number of innovative initiatives to improve efficiency, patient experience, safety, cost-control and flow. Dr. Stewart has also led an initiative to train leadership and management skills to clinicians nationally and internationally. Dr. Stewart is also a committed family man, and has a wife and two children aged 17 and 14.
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Dr. ChawalaDr. Satish Kumar Chawla was elected President of the Medical Staff in October 2013. He joined the Niagara Health System as a Staff Pathologist in December 2005 after moving here from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Dr. Chawla worked as a Pathologist in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, for 15 years. He held various leadership positions while in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan: Chief of Staff, Vice President of Medical Affairs, Interim CEO and member of the Hospital Board. In Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Dr. Chawla also worked as a Coroner. Dr. Chawla has a keen interest in being involved in activities related to providing excellent patient care in a fiscally responsible manner. He was a council member of Ontario Medical Association Lab Section, a Board member of Ontario Association of Pathologist (OAP), and Vice President of the NHS Medical Staff. He is presently Secretary Treasurer of OAP, a member of OMA P2Q committee, NHS representative for Cancer Care Ontario, and he sits on the provincial Forensic Pathology Advisory Committee. Dr. Chawla did his residency in Anatomic Pathology at Dalhousie University and holds certification from Royal College and American Board of Pathology in Anatomical Pathology. 
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Mr. Derek McNallyAs Executive Vice President,  Clinical Services & Chief Nursing Executive, Derek McNally is the executive lead for the clinical portfolios at the Niagara Health System.

He has an excellent track record for implementing sustainable change, and his personal style and approach engender a great deal of team buy-in and a great work environment. Working with all members of the NHS team, Derek’s focus is on optimizing performance of the NHS team, striving for a great patient experience and excellence of culture, quality and safety, staff and physician engagement, and financial stewardship.

Derek rejoined the NHS in early 2014 after serving as Executive Vice President, Clinical Programs at Markham Stouffville Hospital. Previously at NHS, Derek distinguished himself in the role of Vice President, Patient Services & Site Lead and Chief Nursing Officer at the Greater Niagara General Site. Derek has also held senior leadership positions at Trillium Health Centre, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and the Hospital for Sick Children.

Derek began his career as a front-line nurse and continues to be a strong and vocal advocate for great patient care.  
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Non-Board Committee Members:

In addition to the 15-member Board, five community individuals were invited to participate on one of the standing committees of the Board. Committees are an important element of the Board’s governance processes that aid in the fulfillment of its governance role. These individuals are:

Sean Keays, Chief Administrative Officer, Foyer Richelieu, Welland

Michael Lethby, Executive Director, Niagara Resource Service for Youth, St, Catharines

Ashleigh Miatello-Skrubbeltrang, Manager, Advancement Research, Brock University

Domenic Ventresca(retired), former Director, Seniors’ Services, Regional Municipality of Niagara


History of the Supervisor’s appointment and Board selection

The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care appointed Supervisor Dr. Kevin Smith (blog) to the NHS on Aug. 31, 2011. Dr. Smith, in his capacity as Supervisor, acts as the Board for the Niagara Health System.

In October 2012, Dr. Smith struck a Community-Based Nominating Committee (CBNC) to aid in the selection of the new Board for the Niagara Health System. This committee was made up of dedicated community leaders with governance experience including:

  • Mr. Gary Burroughs, Chair of Niagara Regional Council
  • Mr. Art Frank, President of Casino Niagara
  • Ms. Cathy Hopkins, local business owner and frequent volunteer
  • Mr. John Marsh, retired CEO and philanthropist, Port Colborne
  • Ms. Tamara Paton, management consultant and frequent volunteer
  • Mr. Doug Rapelje, advocate for seniors and healthcare quality
  • Dr. Karl Stobbe, leader of the McMaster Medical School’s Niagara campus
  • Mr. John Suk, retired CEO, management consultant, and governance expert

Following a call for expression of interest, the committee convened a series of meetings and undertook a thorough interview process to review the nearly 60 applications received from highly skilled and experienced individuals from across the Niagara Region. The CBNC took on the difficult challenge of striking the balance between the necessary skills and abilities along with diversity and geography against the number of exceptional candidates.

In April 2013, Dr. Smith publicly announced the names of the 12 community individuals who as volunteer leaders from our community were to be elected to the new Niagara Health System Board of Directors. The new NHS also includes three ex-officio members appointed consistent with the Public Hospitals Act requirements.