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Our organization

The McConnell Foundation is a registered Canadian charity. To help fulfill our mission, the Foundation has set up a governance structure based on organizational wise practices, that also pays tribute to the legacy of our founder, J.W. McConnell. On this page you will find more information about the Foundation’s governance structure and Board Committees.

Our governance

The McConnell Foundation was established in 1937 by our founder, John Wilson (J.W.) McConnell. It was run in the early years by Mr. McConnell with the help of a secretary. After Mr. McConnell passed in 1963, a Board of Trustees composed of family members was established to select and oversee the Foundation’s charitable funding. Today, the Foundation’s Board consists of three generations of J.W. McConnell’s descendants and meets around five times a year.

Just as with any non-profit organization, the Trustees’ first responsibility is to make sure that the mission and vision are well defined and to regularly review, approve, and revisit the strategies used to fulfill those objectives. In addition, Trustees have several key responsibilities, including ensuring that financial and legal responsibilities are carried out effectively assets are protected, competent leadership is in place, and risks are managed adequately.

The three core areas of governance for philanthropic foundations are:

  • Investment: the investment of assets for the purpose and sustainability of the endowment in alignment to the Foundation’s philanthropic vision, inclusion principles and sustainability orientation;
  • Administration: the management of the foundation so that it is in compliance with its legal and regulatory requirements; and
  • Philanthropic contributions: the distribution of foundation income to charitable partners in compliance with all legal requirements concerning philanthropic contributions.


Board committees

The Foundation’s governance body also consists of several committees reporting to the Board that help to guide the Foundation’s operations and strategy. They are comprised of Board members and volunteers who are experts in their fields.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee assists the Board by providing guidance, advice, and support to the executive team in carrying out its operational duties.

The advisory responsibilities of the Executive Committee include:

  • Provide guidance and suggestions to the executive team on matters that the Board is called upon to address.
  • Provide advice to the executive team and the Board Chair in performing their duties and responsibilities.

Governance, Nominating and Human Resources Committee

The Governance, Nominating and Human Resources Committee assists the Board in exercising its responsibilities for developing governance practices and policies. It is also responsible for nominating potential Trustees, officers, and committee members, as well as human resources duties.

The Governance, Nominating and Human Resources Committee responsibilities include:

  • Ensure that governance and organizational policies align with current best practices and oversee their application.
  • Review and approve human resources priorities, succession plans and compensation recommendations
  • Evaluate of the board and its committees
  • Monitor the mandates, competencies and appointments of Committee members.
  • Make recommendations to the Board regarding the selection of potential Trustees, officers, or committee members, in compliance with corporate regulations.

Audit, Finance and Information Technology committee

The Audit, Finance and Information Technology Committee (AFIT) assists the Board in performing its responsibilities of monitoring the financial information disclosure process and fair presentation. It also monitors financial risks and oversees IT matters. The AFIT Committee is composed of members of the Board, staff and experts in the field of finance and technology.

The responsibilities of the AFIT committee include:

  • Assess the quality of accounting policies and ensure financial statements comply with generally accepted accounting principles.
  • Recommend auditors, act as a liaison between the Board and external auditors and assess yearly audits.
  • Review and recommend annual budget alongside a regular review of the Foundation’s accounting and finances.
  • Oversee the Foundation’s financial risk management.
  • Oversee IT governance, risk management and finances.

External committee members

Andrea Nicholls: a woman wearing a black blazer and a bright blue shirt.

Andrea Nicholls

Audit, Finance and IT Committee Chair, Chief Financial Officer, Dentons Canada LLP - Montreal

Andrea Nicholls is a Canadian and US CPA, CA and is currently the Chief Financial Officer of Dentons Canada LLP. Andrea leads the Canada Region Finance Team, comprised of over 100 Finance professionals throughout the country.  She has the responsibility for driving the Firm’s Finance strategy and operations. Andrea is a member of Dentons’ Canada National Management Committee; the Executive 

Sponsor and co-founder of Dentons Canada’s Black Professionals Network; and a member of their Inclusion & Diversity Council. She is a seasoned finance professional with expertise in both private and public companies spanning various sectors including legal, high-tech, finance, multimedia, digital, pharma and shared services. She started her career at PwC Montreal and has held senior-level Finance positions in various public and private companies including GE Capital, Otera Capital (subsidiary of Caisse de Depot de Quebec), Triton Digital and Metso Corporation. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of HSBC Bank Canada, Centraide of Greater Montreal (United Way), Four Brown Girls and is a member of the Advisory Board Subcommittee – EDI at Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University. She is a member of the audit committee of the first 2 organizations.  She is very passionate about encouraging diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace and society at large. Andrea has recently completed the ICD-Rotman Directors Education Program in order to increase her governance knowledge and effectiveness as a Board Member. Andrea has been a member of the Foundation’s AFIT Committee since 2022.

Behrad Bayanpour wears glasses and a crisp white button down shirt.

Behrad Bayanpour

Head of Product Strategy, Ceridian

Behrad Bayanpour is a seasoned executive in the technology sector, currently leading Product Strategy & Incubation for Ceridian HCM Holding Inc., a global human capital management software company. Behrad has more than 20 years of experience in corporate strategy, product management, and sales & marketing strategy in the technology sector. Behrad holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Simon 

Fraser University and a Master of Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business. Behrad has been a member of the Foundation’s AFIT Committee since 2022.

Mark-Anthony Serri has a beard and wears a suit an tie, he smiles and looks at the camera.

Mark-Anthony Serri

Managing Director, RBC Royal Bank Mid-Market M&A

As both an entrepreneur and advisor, Mark Anthony has over 25 years of experience including assisting companies with respect to mergers, acquisitions and capital raising. He has advised Canadian companies regarding both North American and European transactions. Having bought, restructured and sold his own company, his unique entrepreneurial experience inspires creative solutions that assists business owners plan, execute and 

successfully sell their businesses. Prior to joining RBC in 2015, Mark Anthony spent 15 years in mid-market M&A and financial advisory services at a Technology Public Company and at the largest accounting firms in Canada, most recently as Partner and President of their Corporate Finance and M&A Group. He also spent almost 5 years as an entrepreneur having successfully restructured and divested a sales and services transportation business. His extensive studies include a graduate diploma from McGill University and the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, Quebec), Certified Public Accountant (CPA, Michigan), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA, Montreal), Chartered Business Valuator (CBV, Canada) and Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF, AICPA) designations. Mark Anthony believes strongly in supporting childhood education, community and health initiatives. Since 2014, he is a Board Member of The Priory Elementary School and Treasurer since 2015. He is also a Board Member of the Loyola Foundation since 2020 and on its Investment Committee. He is also a Board Member of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada since 2012, on the Executive Committee since 2018 and on the Governance Committee since 2020. He is a Governor of the Italian-Canadian Community Foundation since 2017 and a Cabinet Member of the Dream Big Campaign of the McGill University Health Centre Foundation. Mark-Anthony has been a member of the Foundation’s AFIT Committee since 2022.

Investment Committee

The Investment Committee makes recommendations to the Board regarding the management of the Foundation’s endowment, investment policy and impact investments. The IC is comprised of members of the Board, staff, as well as external investment professionals with extensive investment management expertise and experience with endowments, foundations or pensions.

The advisory responsibilities of the Investment Committee are:

  • Investment philosophy, objectives and constraints
  • Investment policy and strategy
  • Meeting grant-flow needs and capital growth requirements
  • Impact investment considerations
  • Manager selection and mandates

External committee members

Robert Feathersonhaugh smiles at the camera. He is wearing a suit and tie.

Rob Fetherstonhaugh

Investment Committee Chair, Chief Operating Officer, Belvoir Investments Corporation

Rob is President and Chief Operating Officer of Belvoir Investments Corporation, the holding company for the Paul Desmarais Jr Family. He was previously Chief Operating Officer and Chief Investment Officer for a prominent Silicon Valley Family where he was instrumental in setting new philanthropic strategies and programs. Rob previously served as President of Claridge Inc and developed investment strategies that 

led to the creation of the Claridge Food Group. Earlier in his career Rob was Deputy Chairman for the Trader Classified Media Company, based in Paris and prior to that a Partner at KPMG. He currently serves as Director on the Board of  the McCall MacBain Scholarships at McGill, as head of the Investment Advisory Committee.  Rob also serves on the Boards of Nunavut Trust, based in Ottawa and the Environmental Working Group, San Francisco and Washington DC based, that lobbies for the elimination of toxins in our environment. Rob has received the Canadian Meritorious Service Award for his cycling philanthropic efforts and was recognized as a Fellow CPA for his work in finance. He is a graduate of McGill University and serves on the Advisory Board of the Faculty of Management. Rob has been a member of the Foundation’s Investment Advisory Committee since 2016.

Photo of Stephanie Emond

Stéphanie Émond

VP and Chief Impact Officer, FinDev Canada

Stéphanie Émond is VP and Chief Impact Officer at FinDev Canada’s, overseeing the Impact Enablement team responsible for development impact, technical assistance, environmental and social risk management and thought leadership. Stéphanie is chair of the Canada Forum for Impact Investment of 

Development (CAFIID). She is also a member of the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation Board of Directors. Prior to joining FinDev Canada, Stéphanie served as the Executive Director of FINCA Canada, a microfinance organization with the mission to alleviate poverty through lasting solutions that help people – women in particular – build assets, create jobs, and raise their standard of living. Before FINCA, she worked as a management consultant with Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, on business and strategic planning, market analysis and marketing strategies, and for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA – now Global Affairs Canada) as an economic advisor focusing on private sector development and financial inclusion. Prior to that, Stephanie worked with FINCA Peru, a Peruvian microfinance institution, and for Newad, a Canadian place-based media company, as Director of Marketing. She holds a MBA from HEC Montreal

Robert Greenhill wears a suit and tie and smiles slightly at the camera.

Robert Greenhill

Executive Chairman, Global Canada Initiative

With a strong interest in global issues, Robert Greenhill has combined a career in international business with a commitment to public policy. Robert Greenhill is Executive Chairman, Global Canada Initiative, and Professor of Practice at the Institute for the Study of International Development, McGill University. Previous roles include Managing Director and Chief Business Officer of the World Economic Forum, Deputy 

Minister and President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and President and Chief Operating Officer of the International Group of Bombardier Inc. Robert started his career with McKinsey & Company. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organisations (IGOPP), the KBF Canada Foundation and of the Advisory Board of the Banff Forum. Robert has a BA from the University of Alberta, MA from the London School of Economics, and MBA from INSEAD. Robert has been a member of the Foundation’s Investment Advisory Committee since 2021.

Hager Osman wears a jeweled hijab and leans with both arms over a top edge of a desk.

Hager Osman

Hager was until February 2023 Director at the CAAT Pension Plan where she led a team of investment professionals focused on investing and managing their Real Assets (private equity) portfolio.  Hager brings over 15 years of capital markets experience including prior roles in Sales and Trading and Investment Banking with the Big 5 Canadian banks. Hager is a Chartered 

Professional Accountant and holds a Hons. B. Comm from Smith (Queen’s) School of Business. Hager has been a member of the Foundation’s Investment Advisory Committee since 2022.

Barbara Zvan wears a blue blazer over a black shirt and a necklace with a handful of pearls.

Barbara Zvan

President and Chief Executive Officer, University Pension Plan (UPP)

Barbara Zvan is President and Chief Executive Officer of the University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP). She is responsible for realizing UPP’s strategies to deliver valuable, lifelong pension security, and service excellence to UPP’s over 37,000 members while establishing UPP as the pension solution of choice for Ontario’s university community. Formerly the Chief Risk and Strategy Officer for the Ontario Teachers’ 

Pension Plan, Barb is globally recognized as a leading voice on sustainable investing and an ambassador for defined benefit pensions. She was recently named Canada’s CEO of the Year and Corporate Citizen of the Year 2022 by the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine in honour of her contributions and leadership in both areas. A sought-after responsible investing expert, Barb was appointed to the Government of Canada’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance in 2018 and is an inaugural member of the Sustainable Finance Action Council, which launched in 2021. On the global stage, Barb played a significant role in creating the G7 Investor Leadership Network and was named one of 26 Climate Champions by British High Commission in Canada and the Canada Climate Law Initiative ahead of COP 26 in 2021. She also serves on the boards of various organizations including the Global Risk Institute, Responsible Investment Association, Climate Engagement Canada, and the advisory board of the Institute of Sustainable Finance at the Smith School of Business. She holds a master’s degree in Math and Statistics from the University of Waterloo and a Bachelor of Science degree from McMaster University. She is a Fellow of the C.D. Howe Institute, a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors, a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA), and a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA). Barbara has been a member of the Foundation’s Investment Advisory Committee since 2023.