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Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer
James P. Crowley
James (Jim) Crowley brings over fifty years of business, educational and flying experience to the VAA Board. His early professional career was as a faculty member first at Selkirk College and at the University of Calgary from 1969 through 1980. At Selkirk College, he was a co-founder of the Selkirk Aviation Technology program, the first college-based pilot training program in Canada and he supervised the first inter-disciplinary Ph.D. ever granted at the University of Calgary in 1974 which focused on the economic and environmental advantages of STOL (short take-off and landing) aircraft in Canadian “short-haul” air corridors. He has also logged several thousand hours in military and civilian flying, the latter as a corporate pilot for a Calgary-based environmental research company.
From the mid-1980s on, Jim’s primary focus has been on various forms of alternate energy development and he was employed for many years by one of Canada’s largest engineering firms as a project manager and corporate director in that field. Prior to settling permanently in North Saanich in October 2009, his efforts in the preceding ten years were devoted to the development of unconventional natural gas reserves in central Alberta. In various business related capacities, he has travelled extensively throughout all of North America, Central America, SE Asia, New Zealand and Australia.
In stepping out of his roles as an inveterate commuter and exploration geologist in Calgary, Jim finally joined his wife, Gillian, a resident of North Saanich since early 2007.
Board Vice-Chair and Chair, Airport Consultative Committee
A native of Victoria, Eric Donald began his 30-year business career with Bank of Montreal working in BC and Ontario in a variety of managerial and executive roles before retiring in 2000.
Eric is currently the President and General Manager of the Danzo Group of Companies, Victoria BC, whose holdings include a wide variety of real estate, brokerage, commercial property management and hospitality.
Eric has been active in his community with past Board memberships including University of Victoria (past Chair), Science World BC, David Foster Foundation, Pacific Sport Training Centre, Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation. Eric has been on a number of fundraising cabinets for Island Health hospitals and served on task forces for various local governments.
Eric is a graduate of University of Victoria (B.A. Econ) and holds certificates for Advanced Management and Finance from a number of academic institutions.
Board Secretary and Chair, Governance Committee
A native of the Saanich Peninsula, Marilyn is recently retired after 15 years as Councillor for the Town of Sidney. She brings a lifetime of commitment to her community, including advocacy and leadership roles in arts, sport and agriculture.
Marilyn worked professionally in her early career as an educator, and after raising her family she returned to work with the seniors community. She is past Chair of Saanich School District Board #63 and former member of the Saanich Peninsula Water and Wastewater Commissions, Peninsula Agriculture Commission, and the CRD Arts and Housing Committees.
Marilyn has travelled widely in Canada serving on the National Seniors Council, providing advice to the Minister of Employment and Social Development, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of State for Seniors. She is the recipient of the Governors General's Award for Community Service and is a member of a team inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame.
Marilyn and her husband Chuck continue to live in rural Saanich. They have five sons and nine grandchildren.
Chair, Audit and Finance Committee
Gordon Safarik has held a number of executive positions in the cruise ship, food, shipbuilding and repair industries as well as the oil and gas sector. With over 35 years experience both domestically and internationally (Europe, Asia and Mexico), his expertise has been utilized in the private and public sectors.
Gordon is past President of the Cruise Industry Association of British Columbia. He has held a variety of directorships including the BC Shipbuilding and Repair Association and the Fisheries Council of BC. He co-founded the Esquimalt Drydock Company, developing international relationships with shipping companies. He has served on a number of Federal committees and currently sits on the Board of Variance for the District of North Saanich.
Gordon graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Economics.
Chair, Planning and Development Committee
Lynne was born and raised in Victoria. She is a director and partner of Carolyn Developments Ltd., a property and development company in Victoria since 1983 and was a licensed realtor for 12 years. She also served as Special Assistant to the Honourable David Anderson P.C., MP from 2001 to 2006.
Rod Dewar, ICD.D
Nominated by the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce
Rod Dewar is the past President and Chief Executive Officer of Island Savings, a retail and commercial banking, insurance and wealth advisory services business, with a portfolio of $2.8B, employing 450 staff and operating 16 branches throughout southern Vancouver Island. Island Savings has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Best Employers in Canada five consecutive years.
Prior to joining Island Savings, Rod was the Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer for the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) and Vice-President, North American Airports for Canadian Airlines International, where he spent 30 years in the aviation industry.
Rod is past chair of Credential Financial Inc., a $17B national wealth management and insurance products and services provider.
He is current Chair of the B.C. Ferry Authority Board, and the Vice Chair of BC Life & Casualty Company, a subsidiary of Pacific Blue Cross.
Former board positions include Calm Air International, the Canadian Professional Sales Association, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Executive Board, Fundraising Chair, Canadian Cancer Society Manitoba, and the Calgary Airport Executive Advisory Board.
Rod’s community work includes serving on the Victoria Hospitals Foundation Board, chairing the Bayview Place/Island Savings Open PGA Golf Tournament, and he is a member of the Advisory Council of the Royal Roads University, School of Leadership Studies.
He recently completed his ICD.D accreditation with the Institute of Corporate Directors, Rotman School of Management Directors Education Program.
Rod lives in Victoria, is married and has two adult sons.
Nominated by the Town of Sidney
Before entering law school, Wendy worked with Transport Canada and Winnipeg International Airport as a project manager from 1992 to 1995. As a manager of commercial development, Wendy was responsible for groundside development and management of commercial retail projects, negotiation of commercial lease and license agreements, overseeing ground transportation initiatives and a participant in, and with, the development of an overall marketing plan for the Airport.
Today, Wendy maintains a private legal practice, Wendy L. Everson Law, and provides legal services and advice to clients in the areas of real estate, development, business law, general corporate and commercial law and wills and estate planning. Wendy has a long history of community involvement and has volunteered with a number of organizations and foundations throughout her career, both at the executive level and with general membership. Her past participation includes being an elected member of the Provincial Council of the Canadian Bar Association, Chair of various committees and educational sections of the Canadian Bar Association, President & Director of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, and a past member of the granting committee for the Victoria Foundation.
Wendy obtained her Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce Honours (Finance) degrees from the University of Manitoba, and her Juris Doctor of Laws (J.D.) from the University of Victoria in 1998. Wendy is a recipient of the National Trust – Donovan and Maryla Waters Award in Trusts and Estate Planning.
Wendy is a resident of the Town of Sidney and is proud to also have her legal practice part of the local business community.
Appointed by the Government of Canada
Frank Leonard comes from a family business background, having managed Victoria Tire Ltd.’s three Kal Tire stores prior to their sale in 1996.
Frank Leonard was Mayor of Saanich from 1996-2014 after serving as a Councillor since 1986. While in public office, Frank chaired the Municipal Finance Authority of BC, the Capital Regional District and was President of the Union of BC Municipalities.
Frank is a past Director of the BC Chamber of Commerce, past President of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, and a former board member on a number of local tourism and economic development groups.
Frank Leonard is currently Chair of the Agricultural Land Commission, Chair of Parkbridge Lifestyles Communities and Chair of the Municipal Pension Plan. He has previously served as a Director of the BC Investment Management Corporation.
Frank has a B.A. (Honours) and M.A. from the University of Victoria, and has completed the Institute of Corporate Directors Program (ICD.D).
Nominated by the District of Central Saanich
Cathie has been a resident of Greater Victoria for the past 30 years, and of the Saanich Peninsula for the past 20. Cathie has been active on several local boards including the Central Saanich Police Board serving as Chair of Finance, the Island Catholic School Board, and the Peninsula Co-op Board of Directors serving as Chair of Finance, Planning and Nominations Committee.
Cathie is a former Councillor with the District of Central Saanich where she served as Chair of the Finance and Administration Committee and the Planning and Development Committee. She has owned and operated several businesses in Greater Victoria and held senior executive positions for a large local grocery chain. She has spent a significant amount of time volunteering for local community and high school football.
Cathie and her husband Chris operate Ounsted & Company, Chartered Professional Accountants. They reside in Central Saanich with their two teenage sons.
Nominated by the Town of Sidney
Mel Rinald is currently retired and living in the Town of Sidney. He has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia and worked 30 years in Canadian industry including 10 years at MacMillan Bloedel and 20 years at Xerox Canada Inc.
Mel moved to Victoria in 1993 to assume ownership of Red Apple Foods Inc. He operated nine A&W franchise restaurants in greater Victoria as a family enterprise until selling the businesses in 2007.
Mel has been an active participant in the communities, serving in numerous capacities in sports related activities while his family was young. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Vancouver Playhouse and the Board of Advisors to the University of Victoria School of Business.
Since moving to the Town of Sidney in 1999 Mel has served on the Economic Development Committee, three terms on the Advisory Planning Commission and was Chair of the Steering Committee for the Town’s Downtown and Waterfront, and Local Area Plan 2007-2008.
Colin Smith, P.Eng, PE, FCAE, FEC
Nominated by the Capital Regional District
Colin Smith received his BASc. in Mining Engineering from UBC in 1965; an MS in Mineral Engineering and an MBA from Stanford in 1972; and an Executive Program Diploma in International Business from the National University of Singapore in 1986. His career has included operations and corporate management responsibilities with major international mining companies in Nevada, California and British Columbia; private practice consulting; and over 15 years of public service with the Province of British Columbia in assistant and deputy minister equivalent positions including CEO of Forest Renewal BC; President and Project Director of Rapid Transit 2000 Limited (Millennium Line SkyTrain Project); and Corporate Secretary and CFO of the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Project.
Sharlene Smith, APR, FCPRS, LM
Nominated by the District of Saanich
Sharlene Smith is the owner/operator of CommPlan Canada, a Victoria-based communication management consulting firm she established in 1997 after a 20-year career in communications, public relations and management in senior positions largely in the public sector.
Sharlene is a founding member of both the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University’s public relations programs, where she has taught hundreds of public relations practitioners from across Canada. She is a life member of the Canadian Public Relations Society, was inducted into its College of Fellows in 2003, and is a recipient of the Society’s Lamp of Service - Canada's most coveted public relations honor for an individual member.
Sharlene has sat on the board of national, provincial and local organizations. She is currently the Chair of the Lymphoma Canada, is a past-chair of the Broadmead Care Society, Greater Victoria Police Victim Services and the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association. She has served as a board director for the Saanich Police, Tourism Regina and Craigdarroch Castle.
Sharlene is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors, and a graduate of Leadership Victoria and the ICD Governance Essentials program.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Geoff Dickson became President and Chief Executive Officer of the Victoria Airport Authority in 2011.
As President and Chief Executive Officer, Geoff is responsible for the strategic planning, operations and financial performance of Victoria International Airport. During Geoff's tenure, Victoria International Airport won the prestigious Airport Council International Service Quality Award for best regional airport in North America in 2012 and 2014.
Geoff has over twenty five years experience in the airline and marine transportation industries with a background in marketing, business development, operations, customer service and finance.
Geoff began his career with Canadian Airlines where he ultimately led the international marketing team in the development and expansion of the Airline’s global network. He returned home to Victoria, BC where he joined BC Ferries as Vice President of Marketing and Business Development where he oversaw all aspects of their commercial operations.
Geoff is a past member of the Canadian Tourism Commission's Asia and Europe Committees and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Airports Council (CAC) and Tourism Victoria.
Geoff is a graduate of the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business.