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.

  • Diane Botelho, PhD

    Chief Science Officer, Research and Productivity Council (RPC) New Brunswick

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    Diane is the first ever Chief Science Officer (CSO) at New Brunswick’s Research and Productivity Council (RPC), a research and technology organization located in Fredericton, N.B. She earned her PhD in bioanalytical chemistry from Dalhousie University and has several publications spanning the fields of proteomics and pharmaceutical drug design.

    Diane is involved in the complete innovation cycle from concept through to commercialization by providing scientific guidance to government, academic and industry partners. She also provides internal guidance to the team of scientists she leads at RPC. As a member of the executive, Diane plays a significant role in strategic planning and budgeting, with regular reporting to the Board of Directors.

    Prior to her role as CSO, Diane was the Director of RPC’s Air Quality Laboratories where she consulted with stakeholders and designed analytical methods to support heath and safety initiatives. Diane strongly believes that youth mentorship is crucial for securing generations of scientific leadership in Atlantic Canada and as a result, leads several student mentorship initiatives at RPC.

    Diane is a chartered chemist with the Association of Chemical Profession of Ontario, a registered biosafety officer with the Canadian Association for Biological Safety, an adjunct professor with the University of New Brunswick and a registered highland dance instructor with the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing. She is also a proud mother of two daughters.

    Diane’s three favourite words are Connection, Collaboration and Communication. With these “three C’s” and some grit, she believes almost anything can be achieved.

  • 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 institutes

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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.

  • 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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    Rob Annan has more than a decade of success leading research and innovation organizations. As President and CEO of Genome Canada, he combines a background in genomics research with deep knowledge of science and innovation policy and a proven track record in corporate strategy. Rob is committed to translating ideas into impact. A strong believer that science and innovation - when equitably applied - can make life better, he works with researchers, policy leaders and industry across Canada and internationally to help realize the economic, environmental, and social benefits of genomics.

    Rob has been involved in Canadian science policy in numerous capacities, including through executive leadership at Mitacs where he served as Chief Research Officer. Rob has also served as a fellow of the Public Policy Forum as well as a Director of Let's Talk Science.

    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.