Board of Directors for 2016
Dr. Norman D. Yan, Chair
Dr. Norman Yan completed his MSc and PhD dissertations on the effects of acid rain and metal pollution on Ontario lakes, then worked as a research scientist with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for 25 years. In 2000, he negotiated a 5 year partnership between the MOE and York University, accepting a position as Professor in York’s Biology Department, and conducting a body of research on the effects of multiple stressors on Ontario Lakes co-developed by Yan and collaborating government scientists. Given its success, this partnership was renewed twice, until Norman’s retirement in 2014. During this period, Norman taught in Toronto, but conducted most of his research in Muskoka.
Norman has co-authored over 200 publications on Canadian lakes, a body of work which is widely recognized. He is one of only four Canadians to receive both the K. Patalas award for research excellence in applied limnology (the study of lakes), and the F.H. Rigler Memorial Award from the Society of Canadian Limnology for his contributions to fundamental understanding in limnology. Dr. Yan received a Premier’s Research Excellence Award from the Ontario government, and has received visiting fellowships from the Australian and Italian governments. For his contributions to the understanding and wise management of Canadian lakes, he was inducted as a Fellow by the Royal Society of Canada in 2014.
Norman and his wife Sandy have also run a Bed and Breakfast in Bracebridge for over 20 years. They have entertained over 4000 visitors in their home. Norman has held every position on the board of the Muskoka Bed and Breakfast Association, a not-for-profit corporation.
Paul Grinnell, Vice-Chair
Paul has a broad range of experience spanning a highly successful 30+ year career in IT and Telecom. He is a former IT Director, Executive Consultant and technology architect, including roles in sales and business development where he was effectively able to bridge the gap between technology and business. Respected as a dynamic leader and creative thinker with a flair for making difficult concepts easy to understand, he has enjoyed successful collaborations with a variety of teams and business professionals to solve business and IT challenges, develop strategy, execute and deliver with excellence, continuously drive revenue, and find innovative ways to engage with clients and customers.
Now pursuing other ways to offer his knowledge and experience outside of the for-profit corporate world, Paul would define himself as a photographer, writer, woodworker, tinkerer, interpreter of sensory data, lover of dogs, nature, and all things earthy.
Debbie Vernon, Secretary
Debbie Vernon has a long family history in Muskoka that dates back to a time when her great-granddad came to settle on Lake Rosseau known as "Shennamere" following the passage of the Free Grants and Homesteads Act in 1868. She grew up on Brackenrig Bay near Port Carling where her grandfather operated Penney’s sawmill for several decades. Upon completion of her studies at Georgian College, Debbie worked for people with disabilities both in Alberta and Ontario before changing careers selling real estate in her home community of Muskoka in 1999. She is Past President (2006) of her real estate board and presently serves as a Director for Muskoka Haliburton & Orillia – The Lakelands Association of REALTORS®. She chairs the Political Action Committee for the real estate board and is a founding Director of Friends of the Muskoka Watershed. Debbie also serves as the Northeastern Regional Director for the Ontario REALTORs Care Foundation®.
During her down time, Debbie enjoys camping, paddling, photography and biking in various Provincial Parks.
Jacki Hart, Treasurer
Jacki has lived in Muskoka since 1990 and enjoys walking through our forests and canoeing our lakes and rivers. She is a 25 year veteran entrepreneur, the President of Consulting By Hart, and the retired president of Water’s Edge Landscaping in Bala. Jacki is the first woman in Canada to hold the North American Green Industry Business Management certification.
Peter Seybold is from Montreal and has a B.Eng from McGill and an MBA from Western. Peter and his wife Katherine have two children and four grandchildren. He lives in Toronto but much of his time is spent at their cottage. The family first started cottaging on Lake Muskoka in 1983 and moved to Lake Rosseau in 1999. Peter spent 18 years with a large multi-national in the industrial equipment business including 5 years in Ohio as Marketing Manager and 5 years in Brazil as General Manager. In 1987, he started Seybold International, an international procurement company based in Toronto with offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai. He is a past Director of the Muskoka Lakes Association and currently a director of the Windermere Golf Club. He has been a member of Muskoka Watershed Council since 2007 and is founding member of the Board of Friends of the Muskoka Watershed.
Peter’s outside interests include squash, skiing, hiking, sailing, canoeing, golf and painting.
John R. Finley, BA, LLB, QC
John was in private law practice for over 40 years; specializing in broadly based corporate and commercial areas. Currently, John is in business consulting as a principal of Wolverton Consulting Inc., since 2007. He is a member of the Canadian Bar Association as well as the American Bar Association, having served in an executive capacity for the Canadian Bar.
John has published numerous papers and articles relating to Corporate governance and Directors responsibilities and duties.
In addition to serving on many corporate boards, John is active in community activities, including holding executive positions in the Canadian Red Cross, the Muskoka Conservancy and other organizations.
Doug lives in London, and he and his wife Patti, cottage on the Muskoka River. Doug, a certified Project Manager, retired from a 30+ year career as an IT & Operations professional in the Telecom industry, managing multi-million dollar budgets in the Technology, Marketing and Operations sectors. For 40 years, Doug has been involved with Camp Big Canoe, near Bracebridge, including the last 10 years as Chair of the Board of Directors. The Camp’s 280 acres, lake & wetlands have fueled Doug’s interest in the Muskoka Watershed. Doug provides daycare for his grand-daughters while also volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, The Children’s Aid Society of London/Middlesex, Mission Services of London and the Thames Valley District School Board. Doug has coached 48 youth sports teams over the years, and has served on several Boards. He will bring this expertise to FMW.
Brenda has a life-long attachment to Muskoka, coming to the now century family cottage every year since infancy. Her childhood vacations in Muskoka led to her pursuit of a B.Sc. in Ecology from the University of Guelph. Subsequent world travels, including 8 years based in the UK with pan-European roles, during a 30-year career in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry has made her realize how fragile and under-appreciated freshwater lakes and wetlands are on the global stage. She is compelled to do her bit to assure their future. Grounded by an MBA from Queen’s, Brenda brings to the board a broad base of business skills including stints in HR, Marketing, Business Development, Sales and Services Delivery. Outside of her professional life, she helped to create and continues to support an annual pond hockey event that has raised over $1.3M for cancer research. She holds a certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility from the University of Toronto.
Now working as a Technical Services Delivery Manager for one of ICT’s heavy-hitters, Brenda spends as much time as possible at her Muskoka cottage.