Council

The Alberta Order of Excellence Council considers the nominations of candidates to the Alberta Order of Excellence.

Current members of council

The Council is made up of prominent volunteer representatives appointed by Order-in-Council from across Alberta. Below are brief biographies of the council members.


Her Honour, The Honourable Lois Mitchell, CM, AOE

Lieutenant Governor of Alberta

The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta serves as the Chancellor of the Alberta Order of Excellence. Her Honour, The Honourable Lois Mitchell has been sworn in as Alberta's eighteenth Lieutenant Governor.

The Honourable Lois MitchellLois Mitchell is an accomplished businesswoman and a proud, longstanding member of Alberta’s dedicated corps of community volunteers. She began her duties as the 18th Lieutenant Governor of Alberta on June 12, 2015. Her Honour has chosen to make history education a focus during her tenure in office and is Founding Patron of the History and Heroes Foundation.

Lois Mitchell (née Boulding) was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. A passion for sport in general, and for team sports in particular, led her to studies in Physical Education at the University of British Columbia and a position teaching Grade 6 Phys Ed and English in Vancouver.

In 1960, Lois met Calgarian Doug Mitchell who was studying law at UBC and playing with the B.C. Lions Football Club. The couple were married in 1961. A year later, the Mitchells moved to Calgary where Doug began articling with a local firm. It was a natural move for Lois whose Alberta connections reach back to her grandfather, Tom Mackie, a Calgary Chief of Police in the early days of the province. The Mitchells settled in the city to build their careers and raise their four children.

In 1970, an opportunity emerged for Lois to use her natural skills as an entrepreneur. After observing a lack of team apparel available to fellow football fans, she began a business that grew over the decade to become a successful merchandising and sports marketing firm. Lois then created Amherst Consultants, a corporate training firm which allowed her to merge her teaching background with her business and communications strengths. She continued the business in Toronto for five years while Doug took on duties as the Commissioner of the Canadian Football League before returning to Alberta in 1990. In 2007, Lois became a founding partner of Rainmaker Global Business Development, a Calgary-firm dedicated to connecting companies with business opportunities around the world.

Lois Mitchell has maintained a firm commitment to community service and volunteerism throughout her life. Her belief in the value of amateur sport, to both individuals and the community as a whole, prompted volunteer service as a Director of the Hockey Canada Foundation, Ambassador and Governor of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Co-Chair of the Gold-Medal Plates dinner in support of aspiring Olympians and a board member for the inaugural World Women’s Under-18 Hockey Championships. She has long been a proud patron of the Special Olympics Canada Foundation. The Mitchells have extended generous patronage over the years to a variety of programs and scholarships to support Canada’s athletes and to foster opportunities for women in amateur sport.

Lois Mitchell has shared her business acumen on the boards of UBS Bank (Canada) and Mitacs, an organization that promotes scientific and business innovation among emerging leaders. She is past Chair of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and Vice-Chair of the Global Business Forum. Her commitment to regional and national endeavours includes a 12-year tenure as Honourary Consul of Colombia for Alberta and Saskatchewan, contributions as a Governor of the Canadian Unity Council and duties as Co-Chair of the 2014 True Patriot Love dinner to support Canada’s men and women in uniform.

Her interest in education led to volunteer service on the board of Canada World Youth and as Chair of the Advisory Board of the Latin American Research Centre at the University of Calgary. Her great love of music and the arts can be seen in past volunteer duties as Chair of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, board member of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the National Youth Orchestra, the American Symphony Orchestra League Council and Co-Chair of Calgary 2012 as a Cultural Capital.

Her Honour is Chancellor of the Alberta Order of Excellence. In 2016, The Canada Institute presented the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service to Her Honour and His Honour as a team. In 2015, Her Honour received Honourary Doctor of Laws degrees from the Universities of Alberta and Calgary. That same year she became a Dame of Justice of the Order of St. John. In 2012 she was named a Member of the Order of Canada and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. She was named Calgary Citizen of the Year for 2008 and received the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005 In 1998 she received the Calgary Women of Distinction Award in the category of Arts and Culture.

His Honour, Doug Mitchell currently serves as National Co-Chair with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Their Honours’ family includes four children and spouses: Shelley (Mike Boehm), Steven (Barb), Scott (Annette) and Sue Ann, and seven grandchildren: Spencer, Shelby, Sasha, Shannon, Jake, Rhyan and Bo.

Andrew C.L. Sims, QC

Chair

Andy SimsAndy Sims has practiced law in Edmonton since graduating from the University of Alberta in 1974. His practice focuses on arbitration and mediation in labour relations matters plus administrative law for quasi-judicial tribunals.

Andy served as the full-time Chair of the Alberta Labour Relations Board for 9 years, with a further 21 years as a part-time Vice Chair. He also served three years as a Vice Chair with the Canadian Industrial Relations Board.

He has undertaken major legislative or tribunal review projects, on behalf of both the Alberta and Federal Governments. In 1995, he chaired a Task Force to review Part 1 of the Canada Labour Code. Major reviews for the Government of Alberta have dealt with WCB Appeals, Construction and Post-Secondary Labour Relations and Labour Code reforms.

He has authored many hundreds of reported labour law decisions. He is a standing arbitrator under collective agreements across Canada. He frequently mediates or chairs interest arbitrations and conciliation panels in collective bargaining disputes. Andy provides administrative law counsel to tribunals and has appeared frequently before the Courts on their behalf.

Volunteer and professional activities have included serving as a member of the Alberta Law Reform Institute for 9 years, a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta Law School for 14 years and as a board member of both the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice and the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals.

Andy was designated Queen’s Counsel in 1990. He is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators. He received the Alberta Centennial Medal and the University of Toronto’s Bora Laskin Award for his “outstanding contribution to Canadian labour law.”

Andy has lived in Edmonton since 1970. He has two sons, Peter, an instructor teaching at the London School of Economics, and David, a criminal lawyer with Royal and Co. in Edmonton.

Melissa Blake

Melissa BlakeMelissa Blake of Fort McMurray was elected six consecutive times to serve the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo starting in 1998. She was elected Mayor from 2004 – 2017. Being the top elected official in one of Canada’s largest municipalities brought with it tremendous challenges and opportunities. Wood Buffalo is the heart of Canada’s energy industry, and is often subject to global scrutiny. Melissa led her community during the 2016 Horse River Wildfire that forced the evacuation of 88,000 people.

Melissa has served on numerous organizations including the Northern Mayors and Reeves Association, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and others related to development, protective services, community services and affordable housing.

Prior to her elected service, she spent 10 years with Syncrude Canada Ltd in multiple roles including public affairs, materials and services and human resources.

Melissa has received many awards over the years including the Global Television’s Woman of Vision, Alberta Venture’s 50 Most Influential People in 2005 & 2016, Athabasca University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Keyano College’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Circle of Honour for the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women. She has been honoured with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Alberta Centennial Medal.

Melissa currently serves as a federal representative on the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments. She continues to live in Fort McMurray with her husband Peter Jurak and their two sons.

Sharon Carry, AOE

Sharon CarrySharon devoted more than four decades to a career rooted in her passion for creating opportunities for access and student success at four Alberta postsecondary institutions. Now President Emerita of Bow Valley College, Sharon was hired to lead the college through a transition from a provincially-administered institution to a board-governed college. Over the two decades of her tenure as President and CEO, Bow Valley became the largest and fastest growing college in Alberta, welcoming some 18,000 students from 142 countries each year, while expanding campuses in the region surrounding Calgary and extending educational services to more than 20 other countries.

Building on three degrees from the University of Calgary (BA, BEd., and Masters of Communication Studies), Sharon’s career has led her through progressively more responsible academic and administrative roles at Bow Valley College, Olds College, Mount Royal College (now University) and the University of Calgary. When honoured with a Blackfoot name and headdress, her ceremonialist chose the name Niipaitapiaissksinimatstohki, which translates to Lifelong Educator.

A lifelong committed volunteer in her profession and community, Sharon has been recognized with the Alberta Order of Excellence, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Alberta Centennial Medal, Calgary Award for Education, as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, and with her profession’s national Distinguished Service Award. She has received honourary degrees from Olds College and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

A resident of Cochrane, where she is still close to her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren in Calgary, Sharon also serves as a Director of the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation and as Chapter Chair on the National Board of the International Women’s Forum.

Barry Finkelman

Barry FinkelmanBarry is a specialist in cultural heritage, not-for-profit fund development, media and education. His professional career has included service to the Medicine Hat Public School District, Olds College and Medicine Hat Regional Hospital. He has also been a private sector business co-owner in the entertainment and tourism industry.

Between 2005 and 2017, as Executive Director of the Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic District, Barry led the re-development of the Medalta Potteries, the Medicine Hat Brick & Tile and the Hycroft China factories in the creation of a major museum, arts, education and tourism complex for Southern Alberta, and the establishment of the Shaw International Centre for Contemporary Ceramics. From 2015 to 2017, he also served as Chair of the Board of the Plainsman Clays Ltd. group of companies, which mines and processes clays for artisanal and industrial use across North America.

Barry’s community involvement includes past roles as President of the Alberta Museums Association and as a public member on both the Premier’s Council on Culture and the Alberta College of Medical Laboratory Technologists. He also has served as chair of the City of Medicine Hat Arts & Heritage Advisory Board, the City of Medicine Hat Economic Development Advisory Board, and the Alberta Healthcare Educators Association, as well as a member of working committees of the Alberta Teachers’ Association and the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede.

Barry was both a board member and regular contributor to the award winning Expression magazine and wrote a weekly independent column for the Medicine Hat News from 2001 to 2008. He is a past president of the Medicine Hat Kiwanis Club and is a Mel Osborne Fellow, awarded by the Kiwanis Foundation of Canada.

Colleen Pound

Colleen PoundColleen Pound of Calgary is the CEO and Head Strategist, of Pound Consulting. Her boutique consulting firm focuses on corporate turn arounds, transitions and transformations. The team of seasoned consultants at POUND work with organizations who are committed to identifying and executing high value strategic initiatives.

Colleen has spent more than 15 years as an Executive Advisor on Strategy, Leadership, and Change; advising CEOs and Boards. Her clients include come of Canada’s best-known businesses. She has worked with TransCanada PipeLines, ATCO, Bell Canada, Fortis, Plains Midstream, Devon Canada and Talisman (Repsol) just to name a few. Over the years Colleen’s engagements and board work have become progressively larger and more complex. She is called upon during the most strategic scenarios a business can face and advises her clients with bold thinking, strong governance and risk management in mind.

Colleen also has extensive experience in the energy sector, professional services, technology and utilities.

A curious and avid learner, Colleen has an International MBA spanning Canada, Denmark and France, and completed her Corporate Directors designation (ICD.D) through Rotman in 2015. She is proud to be part of the Alberta Order of Excellence Council, the University of Calgary Senate, the Management Advisory Committee at Haskayne School of Business, and on a private, Denver-based start up board.

Rachelle Venne

Rachelle VenneRachelle Venne is the CEO of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW). She has over twenty years of experience with building collaborative partnerships in the non-profit, corporate and government sectors. Rachelle has held a variety of positions to prepare her for her current role, including Contract Analyst for Children’s Services, Project Officer for the Urban Aboriginal Strategy in Edmonton and small business owner.

IAAW is a provincial non-profit organization with a focus on eliminating barriers and creating opportunities for Aboriginal women in Alberta.

In 2012, Rachelle received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her community service with REACH Edmonton. In March 2017, Rachelle was selected as one of six Canadian NGO delegates to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York. Her other accomplishments include being appointed to the Government of Alberta’s Métis Women Economic Security Council, Alberta Order of Excellence Council, and the City of St. Albert Community Services Advisory Committee.

Using innovation and common sense, Rachelle is guided by her own experience as a 22-year-old Metis single mom going back to school after fleeing violence. Her 3 children are now 34, 32 and 30 years old and a great source of pride. Rachelle enjoys spending time with her 4 grandchildren and travelling when she is isn’t working or volunteering.


Former Chancellors

The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta serves as Chancellor of the Alberta Order of Excellence. Chancellors automatically become members of the Order. In addition to the current lieutenant governor, the following seven former lieutenant governors have held the position of Chancellor since the Order’s inception in 1979:

The Honourable Donald Ethell
Chancellor 2010-2015


The Honourable Norman L. Kwong *
Chancellor 2005-2010


The Honourable Lois E. Hole *
Chancellor 2000-2005


The Honourable H.A. “Bud” Olson *
Chancellor 1996-2000


The Honourable Gordon Towers *
Chancellor 1991-1996


The Honourable Helen Hunley *
Chancellor 1985-1991


The Honourable Frank Lynch-Staunton *
Chancellor 1980-1985


* deceased

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