Our board members

We are truly grateful for the time and efforts of the high-calibre members of our Board of Directors. They offer proven wisdom and experience in a range of areas, including finance and accounting, business, government relations, corporate communications, technology development and transfer, IP and engineering, to name a few.

  • Ron Keefe (Chair), LL.B, MBA, CPA, CA, ICD.D

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    Ron Keefe is Counsel to Stewart McKelvey and Managing Partner of Island Capital Partners. He is President of Regis Duffy Bioscience Fund Inc. and sits on numerous boards of private entities. Ron has a business degree from University of Prince Edward Island along with LL.B. and MBA degrees from Dalhousie University. He holds CPA, CA and ICD. D designations. He was the President and CEO of BioVectra Inc. and Diagnostic Chemicals Limited.

    Ron is past chair and a current member of the PEI BioAlliance. He is a member of the UPEI board of governors and chairs the finance and audit committee of the board. He is Chair of Synapse, UPEI’s technology transfer company. He is a member of the Holland College Foundation and the Chair of Island Advance, a committee established by the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce to advance the economy of Prince Edward Island. Mr. Keefe is a past chair of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.

    Ron has a keen interest in advancing economic development in the Atlantic region and views science-based businesses as one of the pillars to grow our economy.

  • Steve Armstrong, PhD

    President and CEO, Genome Atlantic

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    Steve’s unwavering commitment to help Atlantic Canada reap the benefits of genomics-based innovation has made him an invaluable part of the Genome Atlantic team since its inception in 2000.

    He has a strong scientific background as well as extensive experience in both the public and private sectors -- expertise that is highly beneficial as he helps connect industry, academic institutions and funding agents around strategic genomics R&D collaborations.

    Steve is driven by the opportunities for economic and social impact in a diverse range of sectors in the region. As such, he demonstrates a willingness to ‘roll up the sleeves’ and work with partners to make things happen in everything from strategic consultations with industry about sector challenges that can be addressed by genomics, to deriving new R&D funding mechanisms to reduce administrative loads on industry/academic research teams.

    Steve filled other key roles at Genome Atlantic before being named CEO, including project manager and VP Research and Business Development. Prior to that, he worked at a number of innovation-focused organizations, including Innovacorp, CanTox Inc and the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation. Steve has a PhD in pharmacology from Dalhousie University.

  • Dave Finn, M.Eng.

    Chief Executive Officer, Energy Research & Innovation Newfoundland and Labrador

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    Dave is Chief Executive Officer for Energy Research & Innovation Newfoundland and Labrador, Operating Officer for Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador, an organization that facilitates and manages collaborative research, development and demonstration opportunities on behalf of the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore oil and gas industry.

    He has over 25 years of experience in various facets of the innovation and commercialization process, from applied research and technology development, proposal development, project development, financing and management, consulting, and business development on the “supply side” to managing an organization responsible for identifying R&D needs, securing alignment, negotiating joint investments and managing complex projects and programs on behalf of an industry consortia on the “demand side”.

    Dave has worked in Houston, Ottawa and St. John’s in large and small public and private organizations, including the National Research Council Canada, xwave (now part of Bell Canada), ZeddComm, and Aliant Energy Services.

    Dave is a graduate of Memorial University where he completed both a Bachelor (Naval Architecture) and a Masters of Engineering (Ocean Engineering). He is a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.

  • Patricia Hearn

    Deputy Minister, Intergovernmental Affairs, Province of Newfoundland and Labrador

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    Patricia Hearn
    Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Deputy Minister of Labrador Affairs, Province of Newfoundland and Labrador

    Patricia Hearn has over 20 years’ experience as an executive with the Government of Canada and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, contributing to economic development, science, technology and innovation. In 2017, she was named the Province’s Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Deputy Minister of Labrador Affairs. In her current portfolio as Deputy Minister, Ms. Hearn works to develop and strengthen strategic networks with other provincial governments and federal government departments and to support the economic and social development of Labrador and its residents.

    Prior to this, she was the Atlantic Executive Director of the federal department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (formerly Industry Canada) where she oversaw the operations of the Federal Government's economic program and policy agenda in the four Atlantic provinces. She also served as Provincial Director of Industry Canada, NL for four years.

    Through several senior management roles in areas of innovation, trade and economic development, Ms. Hearn has developed strong networks at the federal and provincial levels. In addition to her Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Education degrees, she also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Memorial University.

  • John Knubley, BA, MA, MPA

    Senior Advisor to McKinsey and Company and Longview Communications, and a Senior Fellow for the Brookfield and C.D. Howe

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    John Knubley is a corporate director, strategic advisor and former senior civil servant and is widely regarded as a leader in Canada’s innovation space. From 2012 to 2019, he served as the Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada, and previously was Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs at the Privy Council Office, Associate Deputy Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, as well as Associate Deputy Minister of Natural Resources.

    John Founded InnovAction Advisory Services, which provides strategic counsel to organizations across various sectors, and is currently a Senior Advisor to McKinsey and Company and Longview Communications, and a Senior Fellow for the Brookfield and C.D. Howe institutes.

    John holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University, a Master’s of Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University. A resident of Ottawa, John serves on the Board of Directors of the Conference Board of Canada, the Asia-Pacific Foundation, the Ontario Energy Board, and the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute and also sits on the selection committee for the Governor General’s Innovation Awards.

  • Surita Maddox, BSc, MBA

    Atlantic Regional Executive Director, Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED)

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    Surita Maddox became the Innovation Science and Economic Development (ISED) Atlantic Regional Executive Director in January 2018.

    This new appointment is in many ways a return home for Surita who was born and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador, and who has spent more than 17 years working at ISED.

    Surita first joined the public sector in 2000 as a commerce officer with Industry Canada, ISED’s predecessor department. Since then, she’s held various policy and program positions with increasing responsibilities within the department, including: Senior Advisor to the Assistant Deputy Minister, Industry Sector; District Director, Spectrum Management; Deputy Executive Director, Atlantic Region; and A/Senior Director with the Industrial Technologies Office. Surita recently returned to the Department from Infrastructure Canada where she worked as the Senior Director of the Canada Infrastructure Bank Transition Office.

    She holds a Bachelor of Science from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Masters in Business Administration from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

    During her off time, Surita enjoys yoga, running and taking spin classes, as well as traveling to Newfoundland to spend quality time with her family.

  • Sarah McLean

    Vice-President, Communications and Corporate Affairs, Maritime Launch Services

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    Sarah is a highly regarded public affairs and corporate communications practitioner in Atlantic Canada. She is Vice-President, Communications and Corporate Affairs with Maritime Launch Services in Bedford, N.S. , where she draws on her vast experience in both government and the private sector to lead Maritime Launch’s communications, public affairs and community engagement strategies.

    Previous to joining Maritime Launch, Sarah was Associate Vice President, Corporate Affairs at NATIONAL Public Relations. During her ten years at NATIONAL, Sarah led Corporate Affairs and Indigenous engagement and she was considered a trusted advisor for client seeking to secure social license in the communities in which they operate. Sarah provided strong, seasoned counsel to a wide range of clients in the financial, natural resources, energy, retail, health and economic development sectors.

    Previous to joining NATIONAL, Sarah led policy development and provided issues management counsel to high profile federal Cabinet Ministers in Ottawa. Sarah has served as Director of Policy to the President of the Treasury Board, Policy Advisor to the Minister of International Trade and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

    Sarah is Incident Command System (ICS) and IAP2 certified. She serves as director of the board of the Canada Games Centre and serves on the Executive Committee. Sarah is a graduate of the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University, where she studied Finance and Political Science.

    In 2022, Sarah was selected to attend the Governor General Canadian Leadership Conference, a conference that brings leaders together from across Canada to strengthen policy, decision making and community building.

  • Mark Ploughman, B.Eng., MBA

    Mark Ploughman Consulting

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    Mark Ploughman has over 30 years of engineering, innovation and leadership experience in the private and public sectors. He works with leadership and senior management teams on strategy, innovation, R&D and organizational development. Mark has experience with a broad range of industrial sectors; from mining to life science research.

    A specialist in manufacturing, Mark’s roles in industry focused on quality, productivity and technology investments with a view toward boosting firm competitiveness. He has overseen research and development helping deliver “new-to-the-world” products to market. Mark has served in executive roles within the provincial government; all with focus on expanding the province’s innovation ecosystem.

    He has a Master of Business Administration and an undergraduate degree in (mechanical) Engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

  • Paul Preston

    Chief Marketing Officer, Genoa Design International

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    Paul is the Chief Marketing Officer of Genoa Design International, a leading 3D design and technology company with offices in St. John’s, Halifax, Ottawa, Vancouver, and New Orleans.

    He was formerly the CEO of techNL, where he and his team worked to develop and grow the technology and innovation sector of Newfoundland and Labrador. This included driving the mandate of Bounce, a med-tech accelerator with more than 40 partner companies. Paul was previously the Director of Science, Technology and Innovation at The Conference Board of Canada in Ottawa, where he led a team that delivered advice to industry, academia and governments on innovation strategy. He has travelled extensively to understand how different jurisdictions drive their innovation systems, has presented to leaders in places such as Israel, Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston, and has been called as an Expert Witness to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

    Paul has worked in finance, providing services to help technology companies grow and compete internationally, and was Director of Business Development with Plato Group/Camouflage Software in both St. John’s and Ottawa. He is active on numerous Task Force groups, Boards, and Committees and has completed the ICD.D designation from the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. He was co-Chair of Atlantic Canada’s ICT Committee (ACOA), and is Chair of the Digital Technology Committee of the Health Accord Task Force.

    After working for 15 years out of Ottawa, Paul currently resides in St. John’s with his wife and two kids, where he volunteers as a hockey coach and spends his time building outdoor rinks in winter!

  • Rob Annan, PhD (ex officio)

    President & CEO, Genome Canada

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    Dr. Rob Annan is a science policy leader driven by the transformative potential of genomics. Combining policy expertise, executive leadership and a background in genomics, Rob leads the Genome Canada team and is responsible for developing and leading Genome Canada's overall strategic direction. An innovation strategist and skilled communicator, Rob works closely with business leaders, policy-makers and researchers, inspiring a shared effort to translate research into impact.

    Prior to joining Genome Canada, Rob helped build a Canadian success story at Mitacs through executive leadership on corporate strategy, stakeholder relations, research and evaluation, and policy. Rob has also served on the Board of Let's Talk Science and spent several years as a fellow of he Public Policy Forum.

    Rob has a PhD in biochemistry from McGill University and two undergraduate degrees: one in English from Queen's University and another in biology from the University of Victoria.

  • Ian Thompson

    Executive in Residence, Cox & Palmer

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    Ian Thompson
    Ian is a senior business person accredited by Canada’s Institute of Corporate Directors, with particular expertise in communication, public policy and board governance. Currently Executive-in-Residence at Cox & Palmer, Halifax, he has been a Canadian business owner, a senior executive in a publicly traded energy utility, a senior newspaper executive and journalist, and a senior bureaucrat.

    As a volunteer, Ian is a past president of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and of the International Cystic Fibrosis Association, as well as past chair of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce and of the Atlantic Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization. He also served on the boards of Dalhousie University, IWK Hospital, Neptune Theatre, CAA Maritimes, Nova Scotia Business Inc.

    Ian has received many awards for his professional and philanthropic work. He is a member of the College of Fellows of the Canadian Public Relations Society, has an Honourary Doctorate from Dalhousie University (his alma mater), and is a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General. In 2013, after rejoining The Chronicle Herald, he received an Atlantic Journalism Award for “best commentary all media”.