Biographies of Board Members


Aaron Berhane

Aaron Berhane is an award-winning journalist and professor at George Brown College. Before he found his new home in Canada, he was co-founder and editor in chief of Setit, the first and largest independent newspaper in Eritrea until it was closed down by the government in September 2001. He fled to Sudan, then Kenya. Through the UNHCR, International PEN helped him find political asylum in Canada. Since finding refuge in Canada, he founded the Eritrean-Canadian Newspaper, Meftih. In 2009, his publication won the Best Editorial and Visual Presentation by the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC), an honour bestowed on Aaron by the then Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. He has been awarded a Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett grant, was selected for the prestigious Donner/CJFE Journalist at Risk Fellowship at Massey College, University of Toronto; and awarded the PEN-Lecturer-in-Residence. After eight years of separation, he was finally reunited with his wife and three children in 2010 in Toronto, Canada.

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).

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 of the theatrical and film and television industries in Canada over the last decades.

Marcello Di Cintio

Marcello Di Cintio is the author of five books, including Walls: Travels Along the Barricades which won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Palestine in the Present Tense, winner of the W. O. Mitchell City of Calgary Book Prize. Di Cintio’s magazine writing has appeared in publications such as The International New York Times, The Walrus, Canadian Geographic and Afar. Di Cintio has served as a writer-in-residence at the Calgary Public Library, the University of Calgary and the Palestine Writing workshop. His newest book is Driven: The Secret Lives of Taxi Drivers.

Anouchka Freybe

Anouchka Freybe is a visual arts researcher and creative non-fiction writer based in Toronto, Canada. She has an academic background in Art History and Literature and is an active supporter of various arts initiatives across Canada. She is a current Foundation Board member of Griffin Art Projects, Vancouver, and a former board member of artist-run centre Gallery TPW. Freybe has a BFA from Bishop’s University and an MA from York University; has received Art History awards, and internships at the Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy, and Neues Museum Weserburg in Bremen Germany. She worked in education and exhibition research at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. She is currently writing and sketching a series of stories tied to esoteric dream lives, identity construction, and barricades.

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.

Scott McIntyre

Scott McIntyre is best known for his role as co-founder and retired CEO of the pre-eminent Canadian publisher Douglas & McIntyre. His career also embraced over 40 years of government relations and industry association experience. Between 1986 – 2005 he was involved in Canada’s international trade negotiations as a member of the Cultural Industries Sectoral Advisory Group on International Trade (SAGIT), and was influential in the development and implementation of the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity. Scott has remained an active member of BC’s arts and culture community since his retirement from D&M in 2012.

Dina Marques

Dina Marques is a director at Deloitte, within Financial Advisory, and the lead of Deloitte’s M&A Analytics practice. She has more than 15 years of professional services experience, including merger and acquisition advisory and assurance roles. In the last seven years, Dina has worked on M&A projects across a broad range of industries throughout Europe and, since March 2017, in Canada. She received her professional designation as a Portuguese Chartered Accountant in 2009. She graduated from Porto University with a degree in Economics. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.

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)

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

Mr. Showler served as Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) from 1999-2002 and sat as a member of the Refugee Protection Division for six years. He was Director of Community Legal Services in Ottawa where he practiced and taught immigration law. Mr. Showler was the Gordon Henderson Chair in Human Rights and subsequently the Director of the Refugee Forum at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa (2005-2013), where he also taught Advanced Refugee Law for 10 years. He has worked on the design and implementation of an RSD system for Malawi and frequently provided training and workshops on refugee law for the UNHCR internationally. Mr. Showler was a founding member of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and served as the Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee. He is the author of two books, Refugee Sandwich: Stories of Exile and Asylum and Fast, Fair and Final: Recommendations for Improving Canada’s Refugee System. More recently, he has written film and television scripts about refugee dramas.

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.

Tanya Tallaga

Tanya Talaga is an Anishinaabe journalist and speaker. She was a journalist at the Toronto Star for over 20 years, was nominated five times for the Michener Award in public service journalism, and has been part of teams that won two National Newspaper Awards for Project of the Year.  She is now a columnist at The Globe & Mail. Her two books, Seven Fallen Feathers, and All Our Relations: Finding The Path Forward are national bestsellers. The former winning the RBC Taylor Prize, the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, and the First Nation Communities Read Award: Young Adult/Adult. It was also a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize and the BC National Award for Nonfiction. The latter was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize and a finalist for the British Academy’s Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding. Talaga was the 2017/18 Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy and the 2018 CBC Massey Lecturer. She is the head of Makwa Creative Inc., a production company focused on amplifying Indigenous voices through the media. She holds an honorary doctorate from Lakehead University.

Ziya Tong

Award-winning broadcaster Ziya Tong is best known as the anchor of Daily Planet, Discovery Channel’s flagship science program. Her book The Reality Bubble was shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize in 2020 and earned praise from luminaries including Naomi Klein and David Suzuki who calls Tong’s book “required reading for all who care about what we are doing to the planet.” Tong also hosted the CBC’s Emmy-nominated series ZeD, PBS’s national prime-time series, Wired Science, and worked as a correspondent for NOVA scienceNOW alongside Neil deGrasse Tyson on PBS. In the spring of 2019, she participated in CBC’s annual “battle of the books”. After a national four-day debate, she won Canada Reads. Tong received her Masters degree in communications from McGIll University and graduated with Dean’s Honors. She serves as a trustee at WWF International, and served as the Vice Chair of the World Wildlife Fund Canada.

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.”

Randy Boyagoda

Randy Boyagoda, a former president of PEN Canada, is a professor of English at the University of Toronto, where he is also Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, in the Faculty of Arts and Science. He is a novelist, critic, and essayist.

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.

Douglas Coupland

Novelist and artist Douglas Coupland is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. He is also a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.

David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg has established his reputation as an authentic auteur through his uniquely personal body of work as both a director and writer. Beginning with his nascent career in underground filmmaking, Cronenberg has developed a dramatic oeuvre of outstanding depth and breadth and consequently has been lauded as one of the world’s most influential filmmakers. Recognition of Cronenberg’s contribution to art and culture has included the Order of Canada and France’s Légion d’Honneur.

Ronald Deibert

Ronald J. Deibert is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto. The Citizen Lab undertakes interdisciplinary research at the intersection of global security, ICTs, and human rights. Deibert is the author of Black Code: Surveillance, Privacy, and the Dark Side of the Internet (Random House: 2013), and RESET: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society (House of Anansi, 2020) as part of the CBC Massey Lecture series. In 2013, he was appointed to the Order of Ontario and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal, for being “among the first to recognize and take measures to mitigate growing threats to communications rights, openness and security worldwide.”

Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan is the author of the novels The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, Half-Blood Blues, and Washington Black. Half-Blood Blues won the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her latest novel, Washington Black, also won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Omar El Akkad

Omar El Akkad is an author and journalist. The start of his journalism career coincided with the start of the war on terror, and over the following decade he reported from Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and many other locations around the world. His work earned a National Newspaper Award for Investigative Journalism and the Goff Penny Award for young journalists. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, Le Monde, Guernica, GQ and many other publications. His debut novel, American War, is an international bestseller and has been translated into thirteen languages. It won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award, the Oregon Book Award for fiction, and the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. It was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, Washington Post, GQ, NPR, Esquire and was selected by the BBC as one of 100 novels that changed our world.

Charlie Foran

Charlie Foran is the author of eleven books, including five novels. A past president of PEN Canada, he is a senior fellow at Massey College and an adjunct professor in the Department of English at the University of Toronto.  He is currently Executive Director of the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

Adam Gopnik

Adam Gopnik has been writing for The New Yorker since 1986. During his more than thirty years at the magazine, he has written more than a million words throughout hundreds of essays, from personal memoirs to reviews and profiles, along with much reporting from abroad, along with fiction, humor, and art criticism. His books, ranging from essay collections about Paris and food to children’s novels, include Paris to the Moon, The King in the Window, Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York, Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life; The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food; Winter: Five Windows on the Season (Fiftieth Anniversary Massey Lecture); At The Strangers’ Gate and most recently A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism. Gopnik has won the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Criticism three times, as well as the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting.

Mark Kingwell

Mark Kingwell is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto and a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine. In addition to many scholarly articles, his writing has appeared in more than 40 mainstream publications, among them Harper’s, the New York Times, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and the Toronto Star. His recent books include the companion essay collections Unruly Voices (2012) and Measure Yourself Against the Earth (2015); Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters (2017); and Wish I Were Here: Boredom and the Interface (2019), which won the 2020 Erving Goffman Award for Scholarship in Media Ecology. His pamphlet On Risk appeared in 2020; a new volume, The Ethics of Architecture, was released in early 2021 from Oxford University Press.

Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, columnist, and author of eight books including the New York Times and international bestsellers No Logo, The Shock Doctrine, This Changes Everything, No Is Not Enough, and On Fire, which have been translated into over 35 languages. Naomi’s writing has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world. She is Senior Correspondent for The Intercept, Puffin Writing Fellow at Type Media Center, and a contributor for The Nation and The Guardian and the inaugural Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. She is co-founder of the climate justice organization The Leap. Her new book How to Change Everything: The Young Human’s Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other is being published worldwide in 2021.

Rohinton Mistry

Rohinton Mistry is the author of three novels, all of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and a collection of short stories. His books have won, among other awards, the Giller Prize, the Governor-General’s Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, and the L.A. Times Book Prize. Born in Bombay, he has lived in Canada since 1975. He was awarded the Trudeau Fellows Prize in 2004 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2009, he was a finalist for the 2011 Man Booker International Prize and winner of the 2012 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. In 2016, he was invested into the Order of Canada. His work has been published in more than thirty-five languages.

Anna Porter

Anna Porter is the award-winning author of ten books, both fiction and non-fiction, most recently, In Other Words, How I Fell in Love with Canada One Book at a Time and Buying a Better World, George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy, and mystery novels, including The Appraisal, the first Helena Marsh book.  She co-founded Key Porter Books, an influential publishing house she ran for more than twenty years. In addition, she writes book reviews, opinion pieces, and stuff about Central Europe. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and has received the Order of Ontario.

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.

Devyani Saltzmann

Devyani Saltzman is a Canadian writer, curator, and journalist. She is the author of Shooting Water. She is the Founding Curator, Literary Programming, at Luminato, Toronto’s Festival of Arts and Creativity and the 2014-18 Director of Literary Arts at the Banff Centre. In 2018 she was appointed Director of Programming at the AGO with a mandate to create a cultural hub in the city of Toronto, programming across all disciplines. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Atlantic and Tehelka, India’s weekly of arts and investigative journalism amongst other publications. She sits on the advisory committee for Project Bookmark Canada and has been a juror for the National Magazine Awards, Canada Council for the Arts and The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Michael Wernick

Michael Wernick retired in 2019 after a 38-year career as one of the key leaders of Canada’s world-class federal public service, which culminated in his appointment in 2016 as the 23rd Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to Cabinet. As Clerk he helped the Prime Minister and his new government implement its agenda and as head of the public service drove a renewal agenda, tabling four annual reports on the state of Canada’s public service. With 28 years as an executive in the federal public service, including 17 years in the community of Deputy Ministers, and three as Clerk, Michael is one of Canada’s most experienced and influential public sector leaders. He appeared frequently at Parliamentary Committees, participated in dozens of intergovernmental and international meetings, and spoke at many conferences. Michael worked closely with three Prime Ministers and seven Ministers and attended close to 300 meetings of Cabinet and its committees. He was the key public servant at Privy Council Office in three transitions of Prime Minister. As a Senior Strategic Advisor to MNP Inc and a Fellow and Adjunct Professor of the Carleton University School of Public Policy and Administration, Michael now provides advisory services and mentorship to emerging leaders and to new generations of students.

Ken Whyte

Kenneth Whyte is owner and publisher of Sutherland House Books. He was editor of Saturday Night, editor of the National Post, editor, and publisher of Maclean’s, president of Rogers Publishing, president of Next Issue Canada, and Senior VP at Rogers Communications. Mr. Whyte is a senior fellow of the CD Howe Institute, Senior Fellow at Massey College, and honorary lifetime alumnus of McGill. He has been chair of the Donner Canada Foundation, a director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and governor of The Aurea Foundation.  Mr. Whyte’s The Uncrowned King: The Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst was a Washington Post and L.A. Times book of the year. Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Sack of Detroit will be published by Knopf in 2021.

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