Biographies of Board Members

 

Neil Bissoondath

Neil Bissoondath

Neil Bissoondath is the award-­‐winning author of five novels, two short-­‐story collections and a book length essay on multiculturalism and is currently a professor of creative writing at Université Laval. He has worked as a host and interviewer on Markings: An Anthology of Ideas and on a documentary series examining issues of justice and development around the world. He has also been writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa, Concordia University, and the University of Toronto Summer Writing Program. In 2010, he was awarded the Prix Olivier­‐Le-Jeune and named to the Ordre national du Québec with the rank of “Chevalier.”

Michael Bookman

Michael Bookman

Michael is an associate at Norton Rose Fulbright, with a general practice in civil and commercial litigation, with particular experience in assisting broker-dealer clients in contract disputes and professional negligence matters. Mr. Bookman has appeared before the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario, including the Commercial List, and before the Supreme Court of Canada. He is qualified to practice in Ontario and Quebec and is bilingual. In 2012-2013, Mr. Bookman clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada for Justice Andromache Karakatsanis. Prior to law school, Michael worked as a political risk consultant for financial institutions in London, UK. Mr. Bookman also served as an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy (reserve).

Valerie Connor

Valerie Connor

Valerie is a graduate of the Ivey School of Business. Formerly serving as an officer with the boards of Kingsway College School and the Young Presidents Organization, and as a Marketing Director for Mattel-Fisher-Price, Valerie Connor is a short fiction writer.  Her work has been featured in Parents Canada Magazine and long-listed for the Writer’s Union Contest for Developing Writers, as well as in various online literary magazines.  She lives in Toronto with her husband and three children.

Suzanne DePoe

Suzanne DePoe

Suzanne DePoe is a literary, theatrical, and film and television agent, owner of her own independent agency – Creative Technique Inc. – representing producers, writers, directors and cinematographers in Canadian film and television, writers and directors in Canadian theatre and authors of non-fiction and fiction books. A member of the Talent Agents and Managers Association of Canada, Toronto Women in Film & Television, and Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, Ms. DePoe has had a hand in many seminal events in the development the theatrical and film and television industries in Canada over the last decades.

Nancy Jamieson

Nancy Jamieson is a leading public affairs consultant of long standing, providing public policy and strategic communications advice to leaders in both the political and business communities throughout Canada. She operates her own consulting enterprise, first established in the 1990s and offers communications, branding and policy counsel to a wide range of private sector clients. She is also involved in many philanthropic and volunteer activities, including initiatives to support parliamentary internships for young Canadian students, refugee resettlement and childhood literacy. She has served on a number of boards, including Telefilm Canada. Ms. Jamieson holds a Masters’ Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University.

Emily Keeler

Emily Keeler

Emily M. Keeler is a writer, editor and the founder of Little Brother, a National Magazine Award-winning print publication of fiction and essays. From 2014 to early 2016 she served as books editor at the National Post. She was also a “day one” contributing editor to Hazlitt, a senior editor at the Walrus, a fiction editor at Joyland, and books editor at the New Inquiry. Emily has written for the Globe and MailToronto Life, Maisonneuve, the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Los Angeles Times. She frequently appears as a guest on CBC Radio’s q, and hosts literary events for organizations such as the International Festival of Authors and the Toronto Public Library’s Appel Salon.

J. Lanthier

Jennifer Lanthier

Jennifer Lanthier is the author of the award-winning picture book, The Stamp Collector, published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside in 2012. A former newspaper and wire service reporter, Lanthier also served as a communications strategist and speech writer in the Office of the Premier of Ontario. She is the author of two children’s novels published by Harper Collins Canada and a picture book to be published by Penguin Canada in 2015. Lanthier works at the University of Toronto where she serves as Editor of news.utoronto.ca.

Elise Moser

Elise Moser

Elise Moser is a writer, editor, anthologist, and book reviewer. Her YA novel, Lily and Taylor, appeared from Groundwood and was named to the Best Fiction for Young Adults 2014 list by the ALA. Her most recent book, What Milly Did, is also from Groundwood. For kids 8-12, it tells the amazing true story of the Wisconsin woman who invented plastics recycling.

Omar Mouallem, PEN Canada board member, author of Inferno: A Firefighter’s Story of the Brotherhood that Saved Fort McMurray, writer for the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The Guardian and Wired

Omar Mouallem

Omar Mouallem is a National Magazine Awards winning writer whose stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, the Guardian, WIRED and more. He’s the founding editor of UAlberta Business and coauthor of Inside the Inferno: A Firefighter’s Story of the Brotherhood that Saved Fort McMurray (Simon & Schuster). Omar initially came to writing as a film critic, but has since become a generalist, writing on food, fashion, science, business, memoir and everything in between. In 2013, he was honoured with the Edmonton’s Northlands Emerging Artist of the Year award. He lives in Edmonton. (Photo Credit: Curtis Comeau)

Marina Nemat

Marina Nemat

Marina Nemat is the author of two memoirs centred on her experiences as a political prisoner in Iran. Arrested at the age of sixteen, Marina spent over two years in Evin Prison where she was tortured and almost executed. She came to Canada in 1991, and in 2007 her bestselling memoir Prisoner of Tehran was published by Penguin Random House Canada. Marina is the recipient of the European Parliament’s inaugural Human Dignity Award, the Grinzane Prize, and UN Watch’s Morris Abram Human Rights Award. In 2008/2009 she was an Aurea Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Massey College, where she wrote After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed. Marina regularly speaks at high schools, universities and conferences, and advocates for political prisoners through her work with the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture and the Norwegian charity Vigdis. She currently teaches memoir writing at the University of Toronto’s School for Continuing Studies.

Carolyn Poirier

Carolyn Poirier

Carolyn Poirier is the Finance Manager for the Canadian headquarters of Arup, an international engineering consulting firm based out of London, UK. She received her professional designation as a Chartered Accountant in 2009 after working in audit in the Retail, Manufacturing, and Distribution group at Ernst & Young LLP for three years. She graduated with honours from McMaster University with a degree in Commerce, specializing in accounting, and a minor in Economics.

Elana Rabinovitch, board of directors, PEN Canada, Executive Director of the Giller Prize

Elana Rabinovitch

Elana Rabinovitch received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from Concordia University in Montreal and continued her postgraduate studies at Carleton University’s School of Journalism. Elana worked in broadcast journalism as a writer, reporter, and producer at CBC Television News, CBC National News and CBC Television’s The Journal. After a decade working in the music business at Sony Music Canada and PolyGram, Elana took over the running of the Scotiabank Giller Prize.Elana lives in Toronto with her son, Luca. She is President of Propaganda Ink, a marketing and media relations company, and serves on the board of World Literacy Canada. .

Peter Showler, PEN Canada, Writers in Prison Chair, Director of the Refugee Forum, Former Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Lawyer

Peter Showler

Peter Showler is the Director of the Refugee Forum, located at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa. The Refugee Forum undertakes various research and law reform initiatives dealing with refugee law. Peter teaches Immigration and Refugee Law and Advanced Refugee law. Peter is the former Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (1999-2002) and is the author of Refugee Sandwich: stories of exile and asylum. He frequently speaks and writes on refugee issues. Previously Peter sat as a member of the IRB (1994-99) and practiced immigration and refugee law (1986-94) while serving as the Co-Director of Ottawa-Carleton Community Legal Services, a community legal clinic providing free legal services in traditional poverty law areas.

Richard Stursberg

Richard Stursberg is a Canadian Media Executive. He has been head of all English services at the CBC, Executive Director of Telefilm Canada, Chairman of the Canadian Television Fund, President of Starchoice and Cancom (now Shaw Direct), President of the Canadian Cable Television Association and Assistant Deputy Minister of Culture and Broadcasting for the Government of Canada. He is currently President of Aljess, a boutique consulting firm. He is the author of The Tower of Babble (2012), named one of the best books of the year by the Globe and Mail.

Russell Wangersky

Russell Wangersky

Russell Wangersky is a writer, editor, and columnist from St. John’s, Newfoundland. A five-time finalist for Canada’s National Newspaper Awards (winning for editorials in 2002 and 2011), he works at the St. John’s Telegram as the news editor. His six books include Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself, a memoir of his eight years as a volunteer firefighter that examines the personal toll of firefighting and accident rescue, a novel, The Glass Harmonica, and two short story collections. His short story collection, Whirl Away, was a finalist for the 2012 Scotiabank/Giller Prize. His first short story collection, The Hour of Bad Decisions, was a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Prize and was also long-listed for the Scotiabank/Giller Prize. A new novel, Walt, has just been released.

Grace Westcott

Grace Westcott

Ms. Westcott is a commercial lawyer with a boutique practice focusing on copyright, media and the cultural industries. She has a particular focus on publishing and electronic media. Ms. Westcott has acted for a number of trade associations, collectives and organizations in those industries, as well as for a corporate and individual clientele.

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