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.

Lois Mitchell is an accomplished businesswoman and a proud, longstanding member of Alberta’s dedicated corps of community volunteers.

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 USB 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 a12-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.

Lois Mitchell became a Member of the Order of Canada 2012 and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal the same year. She was awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005 and was named Calgary Citizen of the Year for 2008. In 1998 she received the Calgary Women of Distinction Award in the category of Arts and Culture.

Lois and Doug Mitchell maintain a home in Calgary where Doug serves as National Co-Chair with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Their 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 Sims


Andy SimsAndy Sims has practiced law in Edmonton ever since his 1974 graduation from the University of Alberta. The focus of his practice has been arbitration and mediation in labour relations matters plus administrative law, primarily acting for quasi-judicial tribunals.

Between 1985 and 1994, Mr. Sims served as the full-time Chair of the Alberta Labour Relations Board and in 1992 took on added responsibilities as Chair of the Alberta Public Service Employee Relations Board. He served a further 21 years as a part-time Vice Chair. He served three years as a Vice Chair of the Canadian Industrial Relations Board.

He has undertaken several major legislative or tribunal review projects, on behalf of both the Alberta and Federal Governments. In 1995, he was appointed to chair a Task Force to review Part 1 of the Canada Labour Code, culminating in the report “Seeking a Balance” and amendments to the Code. Andy was a member of the 1997 Advisory Committee on the Changing Workplace, under the Chairmanship of the Federal Minister of Labour. Until 2014, he sat on the Federal Minister of Labour’s Advisory Council on Workplace and Labour Affairs.

He conducted the 1994 review of the Appeals Commission under Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Act. In 2013 he completed a Construction Labour Legislation review, and in 2015 a consultation on Essential Services Legislation, both for the Government of Alberta.

During his career he has authored many hundred reported decisions in the Canadian and Alberta Labour Relations Board Reports and the Labour Arbitration Cases. He is a standing arbitrator under dozens of collective agreements and speaks frequently on labour relations and administrative law topics. He mediates or chairs interest arbitrations and conciliation panels in collective bargaining disputes across the country.

He provides administrative law counsel to a variety of administrative boards and tribunals and has appeared frequently before the Alberta Courts as well as the Supreme Court of Canada on their behalf. Volunteer and professional activities have including serving as a member and Vice Chair 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.

Mr. Sims was designated Queen’s Counsel in 1990. In 1994 he was invited to deliver the H.D. Woods Memorial Lecture for the Canadian Industrial Relations Society. In 1992 he was admitted to membership in the National Academy of Arbitrators. He is also a member of the Arbitrators Association of British Columbia. In 2005, he received the Alberta Centennial Medal and in 2011 he received the University of Toronto’s Bora Laskin Award for his “outstanding contribution to Canadian labour law”.

Mr. Sims has lived in Edmonton since 1970 and continues to maintain an active arbitration and mediation practice across Canada. 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's bio will be posted soon.

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, 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. Since 2005, Barry has been the Executive Director of the Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic District and has 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. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Plainsman Clays Ltd. group of companies.

Barry currently serves as a member of the Premier’s Council on Culture. His long résumé of community service also includes past responsibilities as President of the Alberta Museums Association, as a public member with the Alberta College of Medical Laboratory Technologists and as a member of the City of Medicine Hat Arts & Heritage Advisory Board, the City of Medicine Hat Economic Development Advisory Board, the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede, and the Alberta Healthcare Educators Association. 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's bio will be posted soon.

Rachelle Venne

Rachelle VenneRachelle Venne of St. Albert is the CEO of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women (IAAW). She has a wealth of experience in the non-profit, corporate and government sectors which results in the delivery of well-rounded, transparent and caring decisions.

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. Currently, she is leading IAAW into specialized training initiatives for Aboriginal women that acknowledge trauma and break down barriers to moving forward.

Under her direction, IAAW is building collaborative partnerships with business, government and non-profit stakeholders using innovative, common sense approaches to promote, improve and advance Aboriginal women through education. Recently IAAW has created a structure and advisory committee for conducting engagement with Indigenous women on upcoming provincial policies and initiatives.

Rachelle currently serves on the Government of Alberta’s Métis Women Economic Security Council and is a member of the Aboriginal Roundtable and Implementation Road Map Team on the City of Edmonton’s EndPovertyEdmonton Strategy.

In 2012, Rachelle received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her community service.

Rachelle has learned the value of hard work and dedication from her mother, Muriel Stanley Venne, a nationally-recognized advocate for human rights and justice for Aboriginal people. She has two married daughters; Kandis (Will) Hiscock and Kerri (Nathan) Brisson; one son: Robert Langton and four grandchildren.

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

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