Contributors Bios

Catherine Swift

Catherine Swift is currently President and CEO of Working Canadians (www.workingcanadians.ca. Prior to that, Catherine Swift had been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business since September 1987, initially as Chief Economist. She became Chair in June 1999 after being named Chief Executive Officer in July 1997 and President in May of 1995. Her various responsibilities included coordinating policy issues at federal, provincial and municipal levels of government, representing CFIB with politicians, government, business, media and other groups.

Ms. Swift has worked with the federal government in Ottawa holding several positions with the Departments of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Industry and Communications. Her areas of specialization included corporate and industrial analysis and international trade. Catherine Swift has a MA in Economics.

She has published numerous articles in journals, magazines and other media on such small business issues as free trade, finance, entrepreneurship and women small business owners. Ms. Swift is a Past President of the Empire Club of Canada, a former Director of the C.D. Howe Institute and past President of the International Small Business Congress. She was cited in 2003 and again in 2012 as one of the top 100 most powerful women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network.

Janet Ecker

Janet Ecker is a former Ontario Finance Minister, Minister of Education, Minister of Community and Social Services and Government House Leader in the governments of Premier Mike Harris and Premier Ernie Eves. After her political career, she served as the founding CEO of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, a public-private partnership dedicated to building Toronto region into an international financial centre. She currently sits on a number of corporate and non-profit boards, agencies and advisory committees.

Ms. Ecker received the Order of Canada for her public service contributions and was recognized as one of the “Most Influential People in the World’s Financial Centres” by Financial Centres International. She also received a “Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award” from the Women’s Executive Network and the Richard Ivey School of Business, among other awards. She is also one of the founders of Equal Voice, a national, multi-partisan organization working to elect more women.

Rod Mawhood

Rod Mawhood is a lifelong Niagara native who has had the pleasure of working in all three mediums - Radio, Print and TV - for over 20 years. His first announcing gig was with the then St. Catharines Stompers. Since then he's worked in radio and TV in Toronto, and currently is the announcer for the Niagara IceDogs and Niagara River Lions.

Rod also covers the Buffalo Bills for FOX Sports and the Buffalo Sabres for NBC Sports.

Kate Harrison

Kate Harrison is the Vice-Chair of Summa Strategies Canada, one of the country’s leading public affairs firms. She is a regular political commentator on CTV, CBC, Sirius XM, and other talk radio stations, as well as a contributor to various news outlets. She has been involved in conservative politics for over fifteen years, and an active member of the country’s conservative movement.

Chris George

Chris George is an advocate, government relations advisor, and writer/copy editor. As president of a public relations firm established in 1994, Chris provides discreet counsel, tactical advice and management skills to CEOs/Presidents, Boards of Directors and senior executive teams in executing public and government relations campaigns and managing issues. Prior to this PR/GR career, Chris spent seven years on Parliament Hill on staffs of Cabinet Ministers and MPs. He has served in senior campaign positions for electoral and advocacy campaigns at every level of government. Today, Chris resides in Almonte, Ontario where he and his wife manage www.cgacommunications.com. Contact Chris at chrisg.george@gmail.com.

Sheryl Johnson

Sheryl L. Johnson brings a proactive, creative, and vibrant attitude to her labour, employment and human resource law practice. Sheryl has extensive experience in representing clients in both the provincial and federal jurisdictions on all matters relating to employment and labour law, including for example construction labour law, employment related civil wrongful dismissal, human rights, and labour board litigation; privacy, governance, statutory and regulatory compliance, and executive compensation matters; as well as conducting workplace training and workplace investigations. Sheryl is also an avid educator and writer, including authoring a bi-weekly business column in The Niagara Independent and the text: Sexual Harassment in Canada: A Guide for Understanding and Prevention. Sheryl enjoys in her free time giving back to the Niagara community. She is a member of the WIN Council, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Niagara Jazz Festival, Vice-President of the Board of Directors for the YWCA Niagara Region, Secretary of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara Falls Board of Directors, a board member of the Niagara Home Builders Association, and a board member of the Women in Construction group of the Niagara Construction Association.

You can connect with her on LinkedIn or contact her at sljohnson@sullivanmahoney.com.

Kevin Vallier

Kevin has spent over two decades as a public relations professional in a variety of sectors including professional sports, the arts, industry and healthcare. After tiring of the daily commute to Toronto he returned to Niagara and launched The Niagara Independent, an online news source published twice weekly. In less than a year The Niagara Independent has 12,000 subscribers and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

He is a graduate of Brock University, Niagara College and the Richard Ivey School of Business. He was named one of Niagara’s 40 Under Forty in 2005.

Kevin is most proud of his twin daughters. He is also a triathlete and four-time Ironman finisher.

Ian McLean

Ian McLean is President and CEO of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce and Chair of McLean and Associates. He is the host of ‘Business to Business’ on 570 News and was previously a columnist at the Waterloo Chronicle. McLean served as City of Waterloo councillor from 2003 to 2010, chairing the finance and strategic planning committees during his tenure.

Don Rickers

Don Rickers’ career in education spanned over three decades, and included stints as a teacher, student recruiter, coach, boarding school housemaster, enrollment management director, and headmaster. He has travelled extensively and visited hundreds of schools around the globe, and served for almost ten years on the governing committee of the Association of Boarding Schools based in Washington, DC. Now a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, his freelance articles have been featured in newspapers, blogs, and educational journals. A former national team lacrosse player, he holds a masters degree from Brock University, and is a member of the board of directors of the South Niagara Rowing Club. He resides in Fonthill.

Kelly Gallagher

Kelly Gallagher has been a partner with Martin Charlton Communications in Saskatchewan since 2005. From 2006 to 2007 Kelly took leave from the company to serve as Director of Regional Affairs for the federal regional minister for Saskatchewan. Following this, he served as Chief of Staff to four provincial Cabinet Ministers from 2007 to 2012.

Kelly also has years of experience working in communications with the Government of British Columbia and Environment Canada as well as experience in the Saskatchewan media.

Dasha Androusenkov

'Passion for Politics' is Dasha's motto. Dasha currently works at Summa Strategies, one of the country’s leading public affairs firms. She is also finishing her Master of Political Management degree at Carleton University. Having recently graduated from Glendon College, York University, Dasha holds a trilingual degree in international studies and communications. While an undergraduate, she completed an exchange at Sciences Po Bordeaux. Over the years, Dasha has been involved in various elections and campaigns. Prior to starting at Summa Strategies, Dasha had the pleasure of working for the Hon. MP Peter Kent, Shadow Minister for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship. With four languages under her belt, Dasha has worked and studied all around the world. She recently moved to Ottawa to be closer to the action but remains a proud Torontonian.

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