The Board of Governors is responsible for the overall stewardship of York House School
The Board of Governors is composed of 12 elected Board members, as well as three Advisors: the President of the Parents’ Association, the President of the Alumnae Association, and the Chair of the YHS Foundation. The Immediate Past Chair is also a member of the board for the duration of his/her two-year term.
All Board members are unpaid volunteers who give generously of their time and resources in support of the school. Most Board members have already participated extensively in school activities as volunteers prior to joining the Board. Previous Board members have come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences; most are parents, past and current, and some are also alumnae. They are united in their desire to see York House School as the best place for educating girls. They wish to see the school empower girls to achieve their full potential, and be prepared to be effective in a rapidly changing world.
The Board of Governors is responsible for the overall stewardship of York House School. The Board sets policy directions through strategic planning and goal setting to ensure the financial stability of the school and to advance the school’s mission and vision. The Board is also responsible for appointing the Head of School to whom it delegates authority over the administration of the school and matters of curriculum and staffing. In keeping with the membership requirements of the Canadian Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), the Board oversees the school and remains at arm’s length from the administration.
Board of Governors 2019-20
List of 15 items.
Neil Menzies, Board Chair
Chair, Head Evaluation Committee
Member, Governance Committee Member of all Board committees (ex-officio)
Neil was elected to the Board in 2013 and was Co-Chair of the YHS 2030 Strategic Planning Steering Committee. He is currently Board Chair and Chair of the Head Evaluation Committee. He was Chair of the Risk Management Commitee and served on the Governance Committee. Neil is President of Arbutus Financial Services Ltd., a comprehensive financial advisory firm with offices in Vancouver and Nanaimo. He is a born and raised Vancouverite who graduated from St. George’s School and UBC. Actively involved in the community, Neil served for many years at St. George’s on the Society Board of Directors. He is a Past President of the Georgians (St. George’s Old Boys Association) and a Past President of the St. George’s Parents Association. Neil has served as a Board Member of the Downtown Eastside Youth Activities Society (DEYAS). Neil was very active in the Parkinson’s Disease volunteer sector and is the Past Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of Parkinson Society Canada, a national organization headquartered in Toronto, and a Past President of Parkinson Society BC. Neil was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for contribution to Canadian communities. In his local community, Neil coaches youth sport. He and his wife Martine Blier have a son (St. George’s Grad ’15) and two daughters: Sophie who graduated from York House in 2016 and Adele who is currently in Grade 12.
Michelle Ostrow ‘89, Board Vice-Chair
Chair, Governance Committee Member, Head Evaluation Committee
Michelle was elected to the Board in 2015 and is the Board Vice-Chair and Chair of the Governance Committee. She is a lawyer in Vancouver and a York House alumna from the Class of 1989. After graduating from Dalhousie Law School, she was called to the bar in British Columbia in 2001 and started her legal practice in corporate commercial law with the Vancouver firm Lawson Lundell. Michelle left private practice to take on the challenge of a general corporate counsel role with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority where she developed a wide breadth of experience in both contract law and policy development. She later joined the in-house legal team at the University of British Columbia. It was at UBC where Michelle developed a niche practice involving drafting contracts for philanthropic donations to the University and providing charity law-related advice to the University. Michelle is currently practising with KazLaw Injury Lawyers where she provides legal research and drafts arguments for civil litigation claims. Michelle is a strong believer in education and teaching children to be part of a community. She and her husband Marc Kazimirski have one daughter at York House: Sophie in Grade 10.
Markus graduated from St. George’s School and after obtaining his UBC Commerce degree had a career in corporate and institutional financial advisory, with a focus on real estate, through to his last role as a partner in the Financial Advisory practice of Deloitte Vancouver. In 2008, he formed a private investment company with interests in real estate and healthcare start-ups that he actively manages and continues to grow. He has served on the York House Finance Committee since 2007. He has been actively involved with St. George’s since he graduated, having had various roles within the Old Boys Association, Foundation, and Society Boards. He has been a Society Board member since 2008 and the school’s Foundation Chair since 2015. He also serves on the Finance Committee of the Arbutus Club. Markus and his spouse, Janet, a physician specializing in functional medicine, have two children, Alexandra, who graduated from YHS in 2016, and Zach, a 2012 St. George’s graduate.
Shamir was appointed to the Board in November 2017 to fill a casual vacancy. Shamir B. Alibhai, MBA, Harvard Business School, and HBA, Ivey School of Business at Western University, has been Senior Vice President, Investments & Operations, Larco Investments Ltd., for the past 10 years. Larco is a private, multi-billion dollar global real estate company with interests in multiple operating and real estate platforms in the US, UK, and Canada. In this role, he has oversight for investment and finance decisions as well as operational oversight of hotels and gaming in North America and serves on the Executive Committee. Prior to Larco, Shamir was Managing Director of Soros Real Estate Partners/Westmont in Tokyo. Earlier in his career, he was also Chief Financial Officer & EVP, Corporate Development at UniHost Corporation, then the largest public hotel company in Canada.
Shamir is Chair of Admissions at Harvard University for British Columbia. He is also on the board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, BC Region, where he is Vice-Chair and Chair of the Finance Committee. He has two daughters at York House, Mishal in Grade 9 and Ava in Grade 7.
Kate Furber is an assurance partner at PwC with over 20 years of experience working in diverse global PwC offices including London, Frankfurt, Washington DC and now Vancouver. She leads audit teams and assists companies with their risk assurance, internal audit, internal controls, and corporate governance requirements. Kate is passionate about diversity and has been a mentor under the PwC Women in Leadership program for the past 10 years where she is a formal coach to a number of partners and staff. Kate graduated from the University of Warwick (UK) in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts. She is also a Chartered Professional Accountant (BC), Certified Public Accountant (Colorado), Chartered Accountant (UK), and an Internal Audit Practitioner (2017). Active in the local community, Kate has been a board member with Canuck Place Children’s Hospice for the past six years and is currently the Vice Chair, Audit Committee Chair and Treasurer. She is a past director of Zing Children’s Choir and currently sits on the Finance Committee at York House School. Her daughter Zoe is in Grade 10 at York House.
Murray was appointed to the Board in 2017 to fill a casual vacancy. He is a well-respected educational technologist, an entrepreneur in eLearning, and an innovator who has founded numerous technology and education companies. Murray began as a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science at UBC in 1993 and was awarded tenure there in 1998. In 1994, his first year as a faculty member at UBC, Goldberg won the Killiam Teaching Prize at UBC. His primary research focus was examining the effectiveness of web-based learning environments. In 1998, he founded the company WebCT, a platform to enable the simple and rapid creation of web-based learning environments. WebCT grew to serve 14 million students annually at 4,000 universities and colleges in 80 countries. He launched Marine Learning Systems in 2010, a company that provides enterprise eLearning infrastructure to safety-critical, capital-intensive industries such as the maritime and mining. Over the years, Murray has received much recognition for his contributions to education through eLearning and digital technologies. In 2011, Murray was named as one of the top 15 Canadians in Digital Media; in 2004, he was awarded the $100,000 National Manning Innovation Awards Principal Award; in 2004, he was granted an Honorary Ph.D. at Southern Cross University in Australia; in 2001, he received the New Media Hyperion Award; and in 2000, he was awarded the National CANARIE IWAY Award. Although Murray has not been a YHS parent, he is passionate about education. He and his wife, Ann, have two daughters attending 2nd and 4th-year university, studying Science and Math, and Biology.
Mike was elected to the Board in 2013. He is Chair of the Major Gifts Committee and sits on the Governance Committee. He was Chair of the YHS From Local to Global Excellence (L2G2) capital campaign. Mike was a professional hockey player who played in the NHL for nine years. Since retiring in 1999, Mike has been actively involved as member and chair of many boards including Camp Good Times Golf Classic and the University of Guelph Athletics Centre fundraising committee. He has served on the boards of numerous business ventures. Mike and his wife, Lisa, have been involved with York House since 2006 when they were new parents and have been major contributors and active supporters of the school ever since. They have four Yorkie daughters: Emily in Grade 8, Abigail in Grade 10, Lauren in Grade 11, and Samantha who graduated in 2019.
Joanne was elected to the Board in May 2019. She served as an ex-officio board member and Advisor since 2017 in her capacity as President of the Alumnae Association and has served on the Alumnae executive since 2014.
Joanne is a journalist in Vancouver and previously worked as a foreign correspondent in Asia. An alumna from the Class of 1990, Joanne graduated from Queen’s University and started her career as a news assistant at The Globe and Mail’s Beijing bureau. Later, as a Hong Kong-based staff reporter/contributor at various regional and American business publications, she covered job culture/management at start-up companies, as well as investment banking and consumer trends. For over a decade, she has been on staff at The Vancouver Sun, where she has focused on BC companies, Asia-Pacific trade, as well as local community issues. She specializes in telling the stories of individuals to better understand change.
At York House, Joanne has volunteered in different roles to bring together new families, current students, and alumnae. She and her husband Philip Tulk have two daughters at York House: Frances in Grade 10 and Pippa in Grade 9.
Donald R. Lindsay
Member, Governance Committee and Head Evaluation Committee
Don was elected to the Board in 2014 and serves on the Governance Committee and the Head Evaluation Committee. He was on the Board’s L2G2 Committee during its first campaign and has been a major contributor and active supporter of the school. Don is President and CEO of Teck Resources Limited. Before joining Teck, Don was President of CIBC World Markets and led the bank’s Investment and Corporate Banking Division as well as the Asia Pacific Region. Don holds a BSc (Hons.) Mining Engineering from Queen’s University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Manulife Financial Corporation and was recently appointed Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Business Council of Canada, formally known as the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. He is Chair of the 2017 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference and recently completed a two-year term as Chair of the Board of Governors for Mining and Metals for the World Economic Forum. In the community, Don is Chair of the Board of Directors of the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation in Vancouver and served as Chair of the successful $200-million capital campaign to build a new acute care hospital. He is an Honorary Governor of the Royal Ontario Museum. As Chair of the International Zinc Association from 2007 to 2011, Don led the development and launch of the Zinc Saves Kids campaign, a program developed in partnership with UNICEF to address zinc deficiency. In 2014, Don received a number of awards including the Nature Trust of British Columbia Conservation Champion Award, the British Columbia Community Achievement Award, the CIM Distinguished Service Medal, the Business in Vancouver CEO of the Year Award and was named to the Order of British Columbia. Don was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee medal in 2002 and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012. He was named the Mining Association of British Columbia’s Mining Person of the Year in 2009, and in 2012, he received the Kathleen Beaumont-Hill distinguished alumni award from Queen’s University. In 2013, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Technology from the British Columbia Institute of Technology. He has three daughters: Julia who graduated in 2016, Charlotte who graduated in 2017, and Sienna in Grade 4 at York House.
Jonathan was elected to the Board in 2014. He was appointed Board Secretary in 2016 and serves on the Major Gifts Committee, and the Neighbour Relations Committee. In addition to acting as a YHS class parent, Jonathan has been involved in many other York House initiatives, including emceeing Bid Night and organizing the Blackwatch Golf Tournament. Jonathan, who spent more than two decades as a senior editor and writer at The Province and Vancouver Sun, where he has been a nominee for both the National Newspaper Awards and Michener Award, now serves as director of the office of the president at the BC Cancer Agency. He has had longtime volunteer associations with B.C. Children’s Hospital and Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver, as well as a trifecta of youth sports leagues including soccer, hockey, and baseball. Jonathan and his wife, Andrea, have a daughter, Isabel, in Grade 11, and a son, Matthew, in Grade 9.
Dr. Indira V. Samarasekera
Member, Risk Management Committee & Head Evaluation Committee
Dr. Indira V. Samarasekera served as the 12th President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Alberta, from 2005-2015. Prior to that, from 2000-2005, she served as Vice-President of Research at the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Samarasekera is internationally recognized as one of Canada’s leading metallurgical engineers for her groundbreaking work on process engineering of materials and in 2002 was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for her outstanding contributions to steel process engineering. She is currently a Senior Advisor for Bennett Jones LLP and also serves on the boards of the Bank of Nova Scotia, Magna International, TransCanada as well as the Asia-Pacific Foundation, the Rideau Hall Foundation, and now York House School.
Dr. Samarasekera has also devoted her career to advancing innovation in higher education and the private sector. In 2014, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in the US, the professions highest honour. Dr. Samarasekera was Chair of the World-wide Universities Network, consisting of nineteen universities from around the world. She has also served on numerous committees including the Prime-Minister’s Advisory Committee for Renewal of the Public Service; a Presidential Visiting Committee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); the Conference Board of Canada; Canada’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Council; the Minister’s advisory committee on Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy and the Public Policy Forum.
Vandana was elected to the Board in 2014. Within the York House community, she has been an active and involved parent and was the Chair of the 2016/17 Annual Fund campaign. Vandana was a Senior Investment Advisor at Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management where she worked for 19 years within a large corporate environment, building relationships with clients and managing their investment portfolios. She currently serves on the Board of Cause We Care Foundation, a Vancouver-based charity that supports single mothers and their children living in poverty in the Greater Vancouver area. She obtained her Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia in 1994 and for past three years, she has been a member of the Alumni UBC Achievement Awards committee, honouring inspiring members of the UBC community. She emceed UBC's Centennial Celebration, a milestone event in recognition of the University's supporters and large donors. Vandana and her husband, Patrick Lecky, have supported both capital campaigns the school has undertaken. They are the proud parents of three children: Julia in Grade 7 at York House; Lauren, who graduated from York House in 2019; and a son, Carson in Grade 10 at St George’s.
Farrell Eckman, President, YHS Parents’ Association (Advisor)
Farrell is currently the President of the YHS Parents’ Association. She has been a YHS Class Parent, a volunteer in the classroom, and organized the very first Welcome Back BBQ in 2015 for families, which has since become an annual tradition. She joined the PA as Vice-President in 2016.
Farrell grew up in Vancouver just down the street from York House School. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from UBC and has continued studies in Human Resources. During her career, she has worked in both administration and HR policy and planning for a health services consulting firm.
Since having children, Farrell has become inspired by volunteerism. She began fundraising for the MS Society in 2005 and has served the local community as Secretary and then President of the Savary Island Property Owners’ Association.
Farrell is honoured to support York House School and its students, teachers, and administration by liaising with parents, organizing events, working with volunteers, and fundraising for scholarships, school projects, and equipment. She has two daughters at York House: Georgia in Grade 7 and Jamie in Grade 5.
Courtney (Smith) Cousineau '99, President, YHS Alumnae Association (Advisor)
In 2017, Courtney joined the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine as the Alumni Engagement Manager and is currently seconded into the role of Associate Director Alumni Engagement. Having previously worked with the Alumni Engagement team for UBC’s Faculty of Applied Science for four years, the part of her job she enjoys the most is having the opportunity to chat with alumni and hear their stories about their connections to the school and to each other. In between her years at UBC, Courtney had the pleasure of working at Vancouver College in the role of Communications Officer.
A graduate of Queen’s University (BAH’03) and York House School, Courtney has fond memories of her time at both of her alma mater schools and enjoys spending time giving back and volunteering. Most recently, she co-chaired the 2017 York Rose Ball and has been involved in helping to organize Alumnae Day. During the summer months, she can be happily found most evenings on a baseball field playing slo-pitch with her husband Matt Cousineau VC ’95.
Stevie Bryson Mitchell '61, Chair, YHS Foundation (Advisor)
After attending UBC, Stevie pursued a career in the investment business in Vancouver, Montreal, and New York before returning to Vancouver where she first worked in advertising. Stevie later became a writer and columnist for a variety of local and national publications and then a partner in an international award-winning multimedia production company specializing in corporate and special event communications. She was also Executive Director of a local non-profit dedicated to raising funds for the arts, sciences, and health communities in the lower mainland. Stevie has maintained strong ties to York House School as Past President of the Alumnae Association, Alumnae Co-Chair of the L2G Capital Campaign, Past Co-Chair of the 2007 and 2012 York Rose Ball, and as a Trustee of the YHS Foundation.