Board of Governors 2021-2022
The Society’s Board of Governors comprises 5 Officers and 9 Governors from across Canada.
President Gavin Fitch
President Gavin FitchCalgary
Gavin Fitch practices in the areas of environmental and energy regulatory law at McLennan Ross LLP in Calgary. He represents clients before administrative tribunals such as the Alberta Utilities Commission, the Alberta Energy Regulator, the Canadian Energy Regulator and the Alberta Environmental Appeals Board. Fitch has extensive experience acting in provincial and federal environmental approval and energy permitting processes for oil and gas facilities, mining projects and electric power facilities. He also has expertise in the field of Indigenous law and has been a Chief Negotiator for Canada at a number of modern treaty negotiation tables in B.C. and Yukon for over 10 years. Fitch has been widely recognized for his achievements within his field by organizations such as Lexpert, Chambers Canada, Who’s Who Legal – Canada and Best Lawyers in Canada. In 2015 Fitch was awarded his Q.C. (Queen’s Counsel). He completed his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Alberta, his master’s degree in communications at Syracuse University and his law degree at Dalhousie University. He is also a map geek and wannabe explorer who undertakes extended backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies every summer.
Vice President Wendy Cecil
Vice President Wendy CecilToronto
Wendy Cecil is chair and president of Brookmoor Enterprises Ltd. During her business career, she held positions at the Toronto Stock Exchange and Brascan Ltd., including Vice-President of Business Development. In 2010, she was elected Chancellor of Victoria University in the University of Toronto.
Cecil has lent her skills and passion to The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the University of Toronto, St. Michael’s Hospital, the Toronto Public Library, Trinity College School, The Dancer Transition Resource Centre, the YMCA of Toronto, Branksome Hall, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Opera Company, Canadian Stage, the Fraser Institute and the Royal Ontario Museum. She was a member of the University of Toronto’s Governing Council from 1993 to 2002, and its chair from 1998 to 2002.
A Victoria College graduate, Cecil holds an honorary doctor of laws degree from U of T and is an Associate Senior Fellow at Massey College. Cecil was named a recipient of the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award in 2009, and a Member of the Order of Canada in 2014.
Vice President Connie Wyatt Anderson
Vice President Connie Wyatt AndersonThe Pas, Man.
Connie Wyatt Anderson has been teaching high school social sciences, including grades 10 and 12 geography, on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, a progressive First Nations community adjacent to The Pas, Man., since 1992. She has been involved in the creation of student learning materials and curricula and has contributed to a number of textbooks, teacher support guides and school publications. She has written educational materials for several non-profit groups and recently co-authored the Grade 11 History text used in Manitoba schools. She completed her Bachelor of Education from the University of Winnipeg in 1992. Anderson is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal presented by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
Governor Deborah Apps
Governor Deborah AppsCalgary
Deborah Apps is a charitable sector leader with more than 30 years’ experience in health care, education, the arts, and government.
For 15 years, until March 2020, Deborah served on the Board of Directors of the Trans Canada Trail (TCT), being appointed President and CEO in 2008. During her tenure, TCT made remarkable progress, raising over $130 million in support of Trail initiatives for communities across Canada. In 2017, Canada’s Sesquicentennial, TCT celebrated the connection of 24,000 kilometres of trail.
Earlier in her career, Deborah served as Senior Vice President of Communications, Community Relations and Philanthropy for the Calgary Health Region, and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. She also held senior executive leadership positions with the University of British Columbia, Pearson International World College, and Girl Guides of Canada.
Throughout her career, Deborah has been an active volunteer and board member. She was recently appointed by the Government of Alberta to serve on the Alberta Review Board and the Alberta Health Services Board, and she has completed terms with the Health Quality Council of Alberta and the Rick Hansen Foundation Board of Directors.
In recognition of her extensive and ongoing work in the charitable sector, she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012. In 2016, Deborah was elected a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), and, in 2019, was awarded the RCGS 90th Anniversary Medal. Under Deborah’s leadership, Trans Canada Trail was awarded the 2018 RCGS Gold Medal. Deborah is a proud champion of the Trebek Initiative.
Governor Janis Field
Governor Janis FieldToronto
Janis Field, P.Eng. ICD.D FRCGS is an independent Corporate Director with experience on For-Profit and Non-Profit Boards. Her strengths are strategic planning and partnering, governance and risk. In addition to serving of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society Board of Governors, she serves on the Board of Trustees of the Ontario Science Centre, chairing its Strategic Oversight Committee and serving on Executive Committee.
Janis served on the Board of Directors of Empower Pharm, Pele Mountain Resources (TSX-V:GEM), Opera Atelier and Microskills. She worked in Special Initiatives, Risk Management, Office of the CRO at CIBC. She graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Toronto and from the Directors Education Program (DEP) at the Rotman School of Business. She is a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) licensed with the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) and received her ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. In 2014, the Canadian Board Diversity Council (CBDC) selected her as a Diversity 50 Board eligible candidate. She is a proud Activator with SheEO.
In 2019, she proudly became a Fellow and Governor of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and currently serves on the Advancement and Nominations Committee. She co-led the update of the RCGS strategic plan 2020-2025.
Governor Carl Gauthier
Governor Carl GauthierOttawa
Lieutenant-Colonel Carl Gauthier is an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces specialized in the field of recognition. He joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1994. In 1997, he transferred to the Primary Reserve and served as Wing Heritage Officer at 3 Wing Bagotville.
In 2002, Lieutenant-Colonel Gauthier joined the Honours and Awards Section of the Directorate of History and Heritage. In 2013, he became Acting Director – Honours and Recognition and was confirmed as Director in 2015.
He was seconded to the Chancellery of Honours at Government House in Ottawa in 2002 to manage the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. In 2009, he was appointed Canadian Equerry to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for the Royal Tour of Canada.
Lieutenant-Colonel Gauthier is a Member of the Order of Military Merit, an Officer of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem and a Knight of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is an Honorary Aide de Camp to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
Governor Claire Kennedy
Governor Claire KennedyToronto
Claire Kennedy is a partner of Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto and a professional engineer. Kennedy was law clerk to the late Honourable Mr. Justice Charles D. Gonthier of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Kennedy is a director of the Bank of Canada. She is also a director of Alamos Gold Inc. From 2010-2012, Kennedy was a director of Neo Material Technologies Inc. Kennedy received her ICD. D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors and has completed the Making Corporate Boards More Effective program at Harvard Business School. Kennedy is currently enrolled in the Advanced Management Program at the Booth School of Business.
Kennedy serves on the University of Toronto’s Governing Council and is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Committee at Rotman. She is Past President of the Engineering Alumni Association at U of T.
In 2015, Kennedy received the Citizenship Award from the Professional Engineers of Ontario. In 2016, she participated in the True Patriot Love expedition to climb Vinson Massif, the highest peak in Antarctica.
Governor Nellie Kusugak
Governor Nellie KusugakRankin Inlet, Nunavut
Nellie Taptaqut Kusugak is a retired professional bilingual teacher with an extensive background in traditional and cultural education, teaching English as a second language and working with community Elders.
Fluent in Inuktitut and English, Nellie has been a prominent member of the education community since 1986. Nellie has held teaching positions in both the public school system and Nunavut Arctic College, a post-secondary institution. In these educational positions, Nellie has taught a range of grade levels and a variety of college courses with a focus on the Nunavut Teachers Education Program, a program of which she herself is a graduate, receiving a Bachelor of Education degree in 1996.
Nellie served as the fifth commissioner of Nunavut from June 2015 to June 2020.
Born in a tent in Rankin Inlet, Nellie attributes her passion for preserving and strengthening her Inuit culture, traditions and language to her parents, Rhoda and Johnny Karetak, and her late husband Jose Kusugak, with whom she raised four children. She has 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Governor Akaash Maharaj
Governor Akaash Maharaj
Akaash Maharaj is CEO of the Mosaic Institute, and leads its work strengthening pluralism within societies and peace between nations. Mosaic brings together people, communities and states to foster mutual understanding and to resolve conflicts.
He also serves as Ambassador-at-Large for the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, and has addressed the United Nations on international prosecution of Crimes Against Humanity.
A frequent contributor to international debate, his articles have been published by newspapers in every populated continent, he was a broadcast essayist with TVOntario’s “The Agenda” and Maclean’s magazine named him one of Canada’s 50 “most well known and respected personalities.”
Outside of his professional life, he is a national athlete, and was a triple gold medallist at the International Championships of Equestrian Skill‑at‑Arms. He subsequently led the Canadian Equestrian team and federation as CEO, to the team’s most successful Olympics and Paralympics of all time.
Maharaj earned his Master of Arts from Oxford University, in philosophy, politics, and economics, and was the first overseas student elected President of the student government in the history of the 900 year-old university. He completed further studies at the United Nations University and the Sorbonne Université.
An active volunteer, he has taught adult literacy and has served as on a range of international and local community boards. He is fluent in English and French.
Maharaj’s personal web site is www.Maharaj.org.
Governor Kathryn McCain
Governor Kathryn McCainToronto
Kathryn McCain is a native of Florenceville, N.B., and a graduate of the University of New Brunswick with a BA in Sociology. She has made a career out of volunteering and service. Most notably, McCain was Chair of The McCain Foundation for 20 years.
McCain spent 20 years at The University of New Brunswick serving on the Board of Governors. She has acted as Chair of several committees including Advancement, Audit, Finance and Nominating and Review, and ultimately served as Chair of the Board of Governors for three years. She was named Governor Emerita in 2017.
McCain has served on boards including The Nature Conservancy of Canada and Pathways to Education where she was a member of the founding board.
Currently McCain is a Governor of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Chair of their Advancement committee. In 2008 she was made a Fellow of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and received the Captain Joseph-Elzear Bernier Medal for exemplary deeds.
In 2012, McCain received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Governor Lois Mitchell
Governor Lois MitchellAlberta
The Honourable Lois Mitchell is a career businesswoman and a proud, longstanding member of Canada’s dedicated corps of community volunteers. She served as the 18th Lieutenant Governor of Alberta from June 12, 2015, until she completed her five-year term on Aug. 26, 2020.
During her tenure in office, she chose to make history education a priority and became founding Patron of the History and Heroes Foundation, of which she is now the Chair. Mitchell is one of the founders and currently Vice-
Chair of the Global Business Forum, an annual conference held in Banff, Alta., founded in 2000, which provides an opportunity for international executives, academia and government leaders to discuss and debate crucial global economic issues.
In 2015, Mitchell received Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, became a Dame of Justice of the Order of St. John and received the Alberta Order of Excellence. In 2012, she was named a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2018, she received the Louie Kamookak Medal from The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
Governor John Pollack
Governor John PollackBonnington, B.C.
John C. Pollack is a retired natural resources research scientist and manager for the B.C. provincial government, with an M.Sc. from the University of Alberta.
Since the late 1960’s he has participated in more than 70 speleological and underwater archaeological expeditions around the world, and specializes in total station and GPS mapping of foreshore and land sites, and side scan surveys.
He has been the survey chief/cartographer for numerous multi-year projects including Sevilla la Nueva near St. Ann Jamaica, the NEVA project at Sitka Alaska, the Yukon River Steamboat Survey in the Yukon, and the Bach Dang Battlefield project in Vietnam.
He is a Research Associate with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, a PIfA with the Institute for Archaeologists (England), and specializes in stern wheel steamboats. Pollack has served on a variety of non-profit boards and now lives near Nelson, B.C.
Governor André Préfontaine
Governor André Préfontaine
André Préfontaine served as President of Canadian Geographic Enterprises and publisher of Canadian Geographic from 2006 to 2011.