Board of Directors
Vice President of Strategy
Zain Velji is the Vice President of Strategy at Northweather — a communications technology and branding firm specializing in branding, custom development and engagement. Prior to joining Northweather, Zain spent three years at Hill+Knowlton Strategies as a Senior Campaign Strategist specializing in campaign strategy, grassroots advocacy and behavioural economics. Prior to that, Zain was a Senior Public Policy Analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society and the Principal of a sole-proprietorship communications and strategy firm called Canspring Strategies.
Zain has just completed a term as the Volunteer Vice-Chair of External Relations for the Ismaili Council for the Prairies, and will now be taking on the new role of Special Projects Lead. In 2013, he was nominated to sit on the board for Calgary Reads, and became Chair of the organization in 2014. Furthermore, he sits on the board for the YMCA Calgary and co-founded the political podcast, “The Strategists.”
Urve is a strategic thinker and creative problem solver with over 25 years of leadership and management experience in both the public and private sectors in strategic planning, business development, sales and marketing, and financial feasibility analysis. Organizations include Fortune 500 company, hospitals, CCAC, home care, and start-ups.
Urve is also a published children’s author writing historical fiction about little-known events during World War II and the Cold War. She has been an active member of CANSCAIP, SCBWI, TWUC for many years.
She has served on various boards including Canadian Physiotherapy Association, and Peel Community Care Access Centre, and currently serves on the board of the Estonian House in Toronto, and the Estonian Arts Centre. Most recently, she led the fundraising and communications campaign for the International Estonian Centre project where they successfully hit their capital campaign target and increased the fundraising goal.
Ayden has over 10 years of experience in the technology, finance and non-profit sectors, most recently advising clients on CSR at Benevity and helping the company grow from a small start-up to a unicorn when it sold its majority stake for 1.1 billion in 2021. Her client portfolio has included small, midsize and S&P 500 clients, exposing her to diverse corporate strategies and structures. Prior to this, Ayden was a Senior Associate with Ernst and Young (EY) in the audit practice, specializing in power & utilities and small enterprise.
In her spare time, Ayden advises non-profits, most recently holding the position of Chair of Dress for Success Calgary. In this role, Ayden successfully merged the charity with another local non-profit in Calgary to enhance impact in the community. She now serves as the Vice Chair of the merged organization, Making Changes Association.
Ayden is a Chartered Accountant and holds her Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Calgary.
Jane Kilburn Boyle
Founder and Principal
Jane Kilburn Boyle is the founder and Principal of Kilburn Communications. Established in 2007, Kilburn Communications is a full-service boutique communications and project management firm assisting both public and private sector clients in achieving their communications and event management goals.
Prior to launching Kilburn Communications, Jane worked at TD Bank Group for 15 years, most recently as the National Community Relations Manager overseeing corporate donations and sponsorships, and as the Chief Diversity Officer at TD Waterhouse, where she focused on finding employment opportunities for underrepresented groups and fostering leadership opportunities for women within the bank.
Jane holds a BA from McGill University and a MA from the University of New Brunswick. She lives in Toronto, with her husband and two sons, and is actively involved in the community.
Orca Book Publishers
Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore
Heather Kuipers is the founder and owner of Ella Minnow Children’s Bookstore in Toronto which celebrated ten years in business in 2016. Ella Minnow serves both the public as a retail storefront and schools through sales to libraries and in-school book fairs. Prior to this, Heather spent ten years at home raising three young children and volunteering in the community. Heather has a Masters of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Heather is currently on the Board of Directors of Beginnings Family Services which supports families through infant and embryo adoption and family care centres across Ontario. She is also on the Family and Children’s Leadership Team at Little Trinity Church providing oversight and hands on assistance to all aspects of planning and programing. Heather values idea sharing and collaboration and is therefore involved with a group of independent book sellers re-building an association to support bookselling in Canada.
Martin and Associates Sales Agency
Michael Martin and Margot Stokreef founded Martin and Associates Sales Agency in 1999. The agency’s core business is representing trade book publishers and distributors in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. They sell to a diverse customer base including bookstores, toy stores, gift shops, garden centres, tack shops, museums, public and school libraries. Martin and Associates Sales Agency attend the Toronto Gift Fair, Ontario Library Association Expo in Toronto, and regional book fairs in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Prior to entering the book business, Michael worked for a direct marketing company that sold office supplies through a catalogue across Canada. The experience acquired in customer service and sales in both French and English has proven to be a valuable asset in creating opportunities for growth in the book trade.
Senior Strategy Member
Gabriela is a Senior Strategy Manager, Government Relations with Telus based in Calgary. She has eleven years of government and consulting experience, leading communications, advocacy, strategic planning and stakeholder relations in the technology, insurance and non-profit sectors. Prior to working in consulting, Gabriela worked for a Member of Parliament and for the Government of Ontario as a senior advisor. She is a currently a Public Affairs Association of Canada Alberta Chapter Board Director. She was a board member with Parkdale Community Legal Services in Toronto and was the Co-Chair of the Latin American Working Group for the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. Gabriela has a bilingual Honours Bachelor of Arts and a bilingual Master’s in Public and International Affairs from York University in Toronto. Gabriela experienced firsthand the importance of child literacy when she moved to Canada from Cuba with her family at the age of thirteen and learned English and French. She is fluent in English and Spanish and has a working knowledge of French. When she’s not volunteering or working, she is spending time in the Rocky Mountains with her young family.
Karen McMullin is the national publicist for Nimbus Publishing, working out of Toronto. Previously, she was the Publicity Manager for Dundurn Press, Publicity and Marketing Manager (Kids) for Penguin Group Canada, Promotions Manager for Stoddart Kids, and Promotions Coordinator for Owl Books (now Owlkids.) Karen has appeared on BTV, and Canada AM, and has given presentations at CANSCAIP, Humber College, and most recently appeared as a panelist at the Eastbound conference in St. John’s, NF.
Anne Remmel is an organization development specialist with over thirty years experience in both public and private sectors. She holds a PhD. from University of Toronto focused on leadership and she has taught at the Rotman School of Management in both the Executive Education and MMPA programs. Her extensive experience includes senior roles in Fortune 500 companies, health care, government, and with major consulting firms.
She has been a board member of several arts organizations and has chaired committees with a focus on strategy development, sponsorship and community engagement. Her life-long commitment to the arts is expressed through her own art practice as well as in organizing exhibitions and supporting cultural initiatives in her community.