Board of Directors

Brian Smeenk, President & Chairman

Brian is a partner in the Fasken Martineau Demoulin’s Labour, Employment & Human Rights Group.  Since 1981, Brian’s practice has focused on management-side labour and employment law.

Brian represents both private sector and public sector employers in all aspects of labour relations and employment law. He appears regularly before tribunals such as arbitration boards, labour relations boards, employment standards adjudicators and human rights boards of inquiry. Brian also acts as counsel in employment-related civil actions, judicial reviews and appeals at all levels.

He has extensive experience in labour negotiations for a wide variety of employers in the private and public sectors. In 1995, he was named to national mediation-arbitration panels chaired by Mr. Justice George Adams to resolve national railroad strikes involving CP Rail and five of its unions.

Brian is the firm’s primary representative on the North America-wide Employers’ Counsel Network. He is the editor-in-chief of Fasken Martineau’s new weekly bulletin, HR Space, as well as Northern Exposure – Employment Law for US Companies with Operations in Canada, a blog published by HR He was also the editor of Canadian Employment Law For U.S. Companies, published in the US by M. Lee Smith Publishers (1993-2001). He was granted the designation of Certified Human Resources Professional (C.H.R.P.) by the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario (HRPAO). He is a past director of HRPAO and past-president of both the Toronto Human Resource Professionals Association and the Toronto Area Industrial Relations Association. He is also a National Board Member for Breakfast for Learning. Brian was named Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary Foundation of Rotary International (2014).  In 2015, Brian was named a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.


Annie Finn

Annie is a lawyer with broad litigation and dispute resolution experience. She has provided advice and acted as counsel in all aspects of civil, commercial and administrative law disputes. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the administration of, and access to, justice. At present Annie is a senior program lawyer at The Advocates’ Society, where she is responsible for designing and presenting skills-based advocacy education programs and workshops for lawyers.  Annie was called to the Ontario bar in 1997.  She articled at and joined Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP where she became a partner in 2002 and practiced until 2014.  Annie received an M.A. in Political Science from McGill University and an LL.B from Dalhousie University in 1995. She is a published author and speaker on current legal issues.


Inge Van den Berg, Communications & Strategic Planning

Inge van den Berg is the VP, Strategic Insights for Cadillac Fairview Corp., responsible to support management in achieving their strategic plan and annual objectives that will drive growth and value in the business through market and consumer research, strategic asset management plans, and business model impact insights.

Prior to Cadillac Fairview, Inge worked at Loblaw Companies Limited for eight years, where she held a number of leadership positions across corporate strategy, merchandising, corporate affairs, and investor relations. She was a board member of President’s Choice Children’s Charity for five years and most recently was SVP, Corporate Strategy, Loblaw’s in-house strategy group that led major strategic initiatives in partnership with the business, as well as M&A opportunities and the annual strategic planning cycle. Prior to joining Loblaw, Inge spent thirteen years with global management consulting firms A.T. Kearney Limited and Accenture, as well as Canadian Tire Corporation.

Inge holds both her Masters and Honors in Business Administration degrees from the Richard Ivey School of Business, at the University of Western Ontario.​


Jeff Harvie, Fundraising

Jeff is Vice President of Sales for Sensibill.  He has more than 18 years of experience in Wealth Management and Capital Markets, and has a proven track record for building client focused teams that result in profitable relationships for all involved.  Jeff spent many years with TD Waterhouse, most recently as VP National Sales, where he lead the strategy to grow TD Waterhouse Institutional Services to #1 market share in Canada.

Jeff did his undergraduate studies at Acadia and completed his executive MBA from Rotman in 2005.

Jeff has volunteered with Merit Award Program since 2008 with a primary focus on Fundraising.

Jeff is originally from Ottawa but has lived in Toronto since 1995.


Jennifer Yost, Alumni Outreach


Nelson Fryer

Nelson worked in the broader public sector in Human Resources for many years before retiring from St. Michael’s Hospital as Director of H.R. and Employee Relations in the summer of 2011. Subsequent to that, he has worked in assignments at the Rouge Valley Health System and Humber River Hospital focusing on solving labour relations problems.

His education has all been in the GTA – starting in the old City of York at Vaughan Road Collegiate followed by York University, post-grad H.R. courses at Seneca and Humber Colleges, Alternate Dispute Resolution and Mediation courses, and finally leadership training at the Niagara Institute.

Before joining the Board, Nelson began volunteering on the selection process with Merit in the spring of 2012 and continues to find it a very rewarding experience.


Peggy Hornell, Fundraising

Peggy has more than 20 years in senior leadership positions in the not-for-profit sector, most recently as Senior Director, Community Investment and Executive Director for the President’s Choice Children’s Charity at Loblaw Companies Limited.   Her past work experience includes Toronto Zoo Foundation and Toronto Hospital Foundation.  Peggy has been a Certified Fundraising Executive and is active in the nonprofit sector – most recently as a Board member of ArtHeart, puppy raiser for National Service Dogs and a member of Toronto Chapter Association of Corporate Grantmakers and the Toronto Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  Currently Peggy is on contract with the Community Funding Unit at the City of Toronto.


Ron Watts, School Outreach

Ron is from Montreal.  He spent 14 years in advertising and 16 years in education.  He is married with three children and three grandchildren with a fourth on the way.


Sabina Ghose, Treasurer

Sabina is an accounting professional with a focus on IT audit, compliance and risk management. She is a graduate from the University of Western Ontario and a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA). Sabina has over 10 years of professional experience and is currently a Senior Manager at Deloitte in their Risk Advisory practice in Toronto.

Sabina has been the Treasurer for Merit Award since 2015. She volunteered with Merit for the first time in 2015 as part of the selection committee and found the experience to be incredibly inspiring and admires the unique mission of the Merit Program and how it has reached so many young students in Toronto.

Sabina’s other community involvement includes being a child-life volunteer for SickKids Hospital in the Emergency Department and pro-bono auditing services for the Church of St. Andrew since 2008.


Sonia Fung, Board Secretary

Sonia has volunteered with the Merit Award Bursary Program since the Program was started in 1996. She is involved with administration, the application, selection and bursary distribution processes.  Sonia is a devoted supporter of the Merit Award.  Sonia lives in Toronto and enjoys singing.


Tabitha Aquino, Events Coordinator

Tabitha is Senior Manager, Customer Experience Internet Gaming at OLG and formerly was the Director of Product Marketing and Business Development at a social CRM start up company. Prior to the start-up venture, Tabitha was a Sr. Marketing Manager at Deloitte & Touche LLP, managing marketing initiatives for the Tax and Technology, Media, Telecom (TMT) practice.

Tabitha has contributed in many ways as a volunteer with The Merit Award Bursary Program since joining in 2007. She organized and implemented the first Merit Awards Annual Ceremony in 2008 as a way to recognize and commemorate Merit Award recipients from across the GTA. This annual event allows recipients to share their accomplishments with their families and is a great networking opportunity. Tabitha has also organized the annual Bowling for Bursaries Fundraiser which has raised over 150K for The Merit Award.

Tabitha is passionate about design and manages an interior design business. She is also adventurous and enjoys riding on two wheels (motorcycles) and was formerly a motorcycle instructor with Rider Training Institute.


Tim Robertson RGD

Tim has worked in international agencies such as Great North Communications and MarchFirst in Chicago, and BCG in Toronto, for major brands such as Bell, Bacardi, Audi, Novartis, and SC Johnson. His technology background includes a stint at social media technology startup Jugnoo. He has been involved in brand campaigns and technology business development in the Middle East,  Eastern Europe, and South America. He spends free time with his family at his century-old cottage on Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas.