Board of Directors

Our board is the leader of change. 


The Education Foundation of Ottawa’s board brings together expert knowledge of the academic system, a deep understanding of the importance of education, and a passionate commitment to children.

Through their leadership and guidance, the Education Foundation of Ottawa continues to provide for the well-being of our school board’s 15,000 students living in poverty.

Jenna AuCoin – Interim Chair, Educational Assistant, Summerside Public School, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

I’ve been working with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board as an Educational Assistant since 2017. I started working at Carson Grove, and then I moved to Blossom Park to work in the Generalized Learning Program, then as a virtual EA with Ottawa Carleton Virtual. I’m currently working in one of the ASD classes at Summerside Public School. Working front-line with children has been my passion for many years. I first learned of the Education Foundation of Ottawa while working as an EA.

I saw firsthand how important it was for students in the Ottawa area to have access to consistent food, school supplies, clothing, etc. After working front-line, I decided I wanted to play an important role behind the scenes as well. I’m thrilled to be a part of the ongoing effort and dedication that the EFO serves to Ottawa-area students. I hope to bring my knowledge and experience of working in the schools to the Board and also to be able to advocate for the EFO as a front-line worker. I truly believe all students in Ottawa should have the same quality of education and I’m honoured to be a part of the team that helps to close that gap.

Ridwana Quarnain – Chair (on maternity leave), Training Consultant at Cornerstone University-CSOD

Second chances matter more than first impressions. Having worked with students in different countries from across the entire socioeconomic spectrum, I have realized that most children just need another opportunity to be successful in their own capacity. My exposure to local, national, and international populations, led to the creation of a toolkit comprised of lessons from teachable moments and distinctive methodologies that can be tailored to the specific needs of students. Typically agnostic of traditional models of education, it is important to me that I choose or develop ones that work best.

Being experienced in starting up secondary school programs overseas, it is important to me that students are at the forefront of our minds when building initiatives. We are educators and our first priority should always be the student-which is why I am thrilled to be on the EFO Board. Time and time again, The Education Foundation has been exemplary in demonstrating that it has the best interests of students at heart. Having been a part of a demographic where first impressions could also be counted as last, I am looking forward to working with EFO and securing access to those first chances for our future generations.

Lee-Anne Feltham – Treasurer, Elementary Consultant, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Lee-Anne has always had a passion for supporting at-risk students and those in need. Working in education for over 20 years, Lee-Anne has been a Special Education Learning Centre, Behaviour Intervention Program and Learning Resource teacher.  As a classroom teacher, Lee-Anne was able to see firsthand the positive impacts the Education Foundation makes in the lives of students by providing equity of opportunity and removing barriers to learning and wellbeing. 

In recent years, Lee-Anne has been working in health and safety and is Co-Chair of the OCDSB’s Joint Health & Safety Committee. In this role, Lee-Anne continuously looks for ways to support safe and healthy learning and working environments for all students and staff. Being of service to the community has been a lifelong value and Lee-Anne has volunteered with a number of non-profit and charitable organizations. This has included a Volunteer Coordinator for the YMCA-YWCA and a chaperone for Dreams Take Flight Ottawa. Lee-Anne also served as Co-Chair and on the Board of Directors for the former Ottawa-Carleton Inner City Education Association supporting economically and socially disadvantaged children and families. Lee-Anne has supported and promoted the Education Foundation since it was created and is excited by the opportunity to be directly involved in looking for innovative ways to provide access to opportunities and reduce barriers to success for all students in the OCDSB.

Michèle Giroux – Ex-Officio Director, Director of Education, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Michele will serve in the role of Director until a permanent candidate is selected by the Board of Trustees later in 2023. The Board will be announcing plans for a comprehensive search for a new Director of Education in the coming weeks.

Michele has been a very active member of the senior team for over 17 years and brings a wealth of skills and experience to the role. As Executive Officer (Corporate Services), Michele has a demonstrated track record in communications, corporate strategy, board governance, project management, research, and privacy and information management. Michele is recognized as a thoughtful and caring leader, known for building empowered and diverse teams.

A graduate of Carleton University, Michele studied Political Science and Canadian Studies. She started her career as an Education Advisor with the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and has worked for many years in municipal government. Prior to joining the OCDSB, Michele owned her own consulting practice, providing education, training, and implementation strategies to clients including municipalities, provincial and federal organizations.

At the OCDSB, Michele has been instrumental in supporting the organization’s ability to move from strategy to practice. This was demonstrated in her role as the Executive Project Champion of “Valuing Voices – Identity Matters! “ a research project to collect identity-based data where she was able to balance the legislative, research, policy, and operational requirements of the data collection, while ensuring the focus of the work was built on the lived experiences of students, staff, and families.

Michele’s additional training and certifications include the Osgoode Certificate in Human Rights for Education Professionals; Diversity and Inclusion and Unconscious Bias Training; Cultural Proficiency, and an Emotional Intelligence for Personal Leadership & Facilitator Accreditation.

Michele’s appointment to the role of Director of Education brings stability, credibility, and continuity to the important work of the school district.

Lyra Evans – Ex-Officio Director, Chair, Board of Trustees, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Michelle Bailey – Director, Senior Policy Advisor, Government of Canada

Michelle is a senior policy advisor for the Government of Canada and holds a Master’s of Public Policy from Simon Fraser University. She has a particular interest in social policy and has experience working on a variety of policy files including mental health, pharmacare, youth employment, and intergovernmental affairs. Michelle is committed to community involvement and has volunteered with the Royal Ottawa Foundation and as a Sunday school teacher for several years.

She firmly believes that all children have the right to education and is passionate about issues of equity, diversity and social justice. As a former OCDSB student, Michelle is honoured to serve on the Board of the Education Foundation of Ottawa and help advance the Foundation’s mission to remove economic barriers to successful learning and participation at school. She brings experience in strategic planning, policy development, and stakeholder engagement to the role.

Geoff Best – Director, Executive Director, Ottawa-Carleton Education Network

Geoff Best is the Executive Director of the Ottawa-Carleton Education Network (OCENET), a non-profit organization established by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) that represents the board internationally.  Geoff has been involved in international education for 30 years and has a wide variety of experiences in the field.  He has served on the EFO Board since 2011 and has a very strong interest in the areas of intercultural communication and cross-cultural exchange. OCENET has established bursaries for staff and students in the OCDSB interested in engaging in global learning. Information on student bursaries and the application can be found on the EFO website.




Neha Issar – Corporate Lawyer, Dentons Canada LLP

Neha is a corporate lawyer with Dentons, the world’s largest leading law firm. Her practice encompasses advising technology startups and emerging growth companies on day-to-day issues and challenges, providing practical experience and perspective to her clients.

Having volunteered at elementary and high schools in different countries throughout law school, Neha has frequently engaged with and assisted students from various socioeconomic backgrounds. As such, she has always been committed to providing strategic guidance to educators in the development of innovative ideas that may foster change and promote student well-being.

As a board member, Neha is eager to use her legal and business acumen to support the Foundation in its charitable initiatives and in its mission to provide children with an equal opportunity for success.

Zofia Jurewicz – Director, President, Edward J. Cuhaci and Associates Architects Inc.

Zofia JurewiczDesigning better schools is what I do. As an architect, my work lies in creating spaces that are conducive to learning. I invest my time and my heart in visualizing new ways to help young minds flourish. As a board member, I get to invest directly in our children. I get to help imagine schools where all children are included, no matter where they come from or what they have. We work to remove barriers for children living in poverty, creating a system that not only reaches out to help but also encourages and teaches other children to care for each other. The Education Foundation of Ottawa shows all students that they are worth investing in and that changes lives!

Paula Marinigh, Director, Retired Educator

Drawn to the work of the Foundation by its commitment to ‘level the playing field’, I share a vision of caring schools providing children with equitable opportunities to learn, grow and fulfil their potential. To reach this goal, I believe that all students need to feel they belong and that minimizing hardships and barriers is critical in order to achieve equity.  I came to public education from a background in child welfare and have held the role of the classroom teacher, guidance counsellor, vice-principal and principal over the course of my thirty-year career with the OCDSB.  Working in schools allowed me to see firsthand the positive difference the work of EFO made for students and their families.  As a first-generation Canadian, volunteer English Language tutor, and observant traveller, I hold a particular interest in supporting immigrant families. Public education continues to be the means by which so many children can realize the hopes and dreams their parents hold for them.  An engaged retiree, I continue to work as a contract and casual Principal in the district and am concerned about the impact of the pandemic on widening the gaps in our district. I appreciate diverse perspectives in tackling the challenges children face and look forward to continuing to collaborate with the EFO Board of Directors on this important work. 

Tracy Shapiro – Director, Principal, Brookfield High School, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Tracy has been working in education for twenty-three years as a teacher and administrator, she believes that every decision made on behalf of students should be student-centred. She is a strong proponent for ensuring equity in opportunity to programs for our most at-risk students. While working as a vice-principal at Woodroffe High School and Glebe Collegiate Institute, she has had the opportunity to work with community organizations that have partnered with our schools to support at-risk students in socio-economic disadvantaged areas of Ottawa. These include Pathways to Education in the Pinecrest Community and SWAG (Students Will All Graduate) in the Carlington Community.

She has also been in charge of Toonie Tuesday events at her previous schools and knows and understands the work that the Education Foundation of Ottawa does. Her volunteer experience has extended beyond the OCDSB by helping with Shepherds of Good Hope and participating in annual fundraising activities for the Jewish Federation of Ottawa. The Education Foundation of Ottawa has supported many students and families she has worked with within her schools.

Steve Spidell – Director, Principal, Lisgar Collegiate Institute, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Steve currently serves as Principal at Colonel By Secondary School in Ottawa. He has been an educator for over 20 years in schools representing the diversity of lived experiences and personal circumstances for the learners of the OCDSB. For four years, Steve was an administrator at an Urban & Priority High School, where he focused on identifying the socioeconomic circumstances that impacted students’ well-being and academic achievement. He believes schools are meant to be places of safety, comfort and happiness. Targeting resources toward English Language Learners, students with special education needs, Indigenous students, and those who were living in poverty became a priority for the program. Steve is an advocate and partner for various community organizations, including the Ottawa Network for Education, for whom he delivered the keynote address at its record-breaking 2019 fundraising gala.

As Principal, Steve strives to establish mutual trust and respect within his community and ensures that the diversity of his students is reflected in his decision-making. As a school leader, he believes in building relationships with all of the school’s stakeholders and strategically allocating resources where they will have the greatest impact. Steve’s personal circumstances have taught him the value of resilience and compassion, and they have made him more globally aware. Steve also serves on the Board of Directors for a large downtown condominium corporation.

Sandra Walker – Director, Principal, Vimy Ridge Public School, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Sandra came to education as a second career. She started her teaching career at Queen Elizabeth PS. Sandra taught 5 years at this high needs school, created lessons on economic shopping and cooking for a family as part of her math curriculum, and she introduced financial literacy lessons on the value of education through the ONFE Junior Achievement program. Sandra has always been a strong advocate for a Caring Adult program, a program that has proven how one caring adult can make a difference in a student’s life. She advocates for this program in all her schools and is seeing a turnaround in student behaviour. Believing that students need to know how to learn, she has modelled for and supported other educators to maintain high expectations, create safe spaces, and recognize strengths so students can start to be in charge of their learning and advocate for themselves.

As a central educator, vice-principal and principal, Sandra has taken these beliefs into her position of education leadership. She always listens first, will stand beside her teachers to inspire, encourage them to take risks, and learn from failures and successes. She understands and implements the board’s vision of creating cultures of innovation, caring and social responsibility in the service of building tomorrow’s leaders


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