About us > Our board of directors

Alan Convery, President

Alan is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of the Toronto International Film Festival’s government relations portfolio and its charitable foundations partnerships. Until 2016, Alan was responsible for community investment at TD Bank Group encompassing programmes that promoted children’s reading and literacy; supported young people from diverse and underserved communities to develop to their full potential; and created opportunities for young people to access and contribute to arts and culture in Canada.  A graduate of Brock University in Honours Business Administration, Alan is also a Certified Financial Planner. Sitting on the charitable board of the Performing Arts Information Services supporting the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, Alan also received the International Corporate Volunteer of the Year Award from the Children’s Miracle Network in 2007. Additionally, for his commitment to children’s reading and literacy, he received an Honourary Lifetime Membership from the Association of Canadian Publishers in 2012 and he is also a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Jeff Burnham, Treasurer

Jeff Burnham, a member of the Oneida Nation, turtle clan, is from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. He is President of GoodMinds.com, the worlds largest wholesaler of First Nations, Inuit and Metis books. Jeff is also publisher for a not for profit press called Indigenous Education Press. His career has included working in banking, Federal Government and private business. Having served past and present on several boards in the literacy, library and economic development fields, his current focus is on reading, and the need for public libraries in Indigenous communities. Jeff and his wife Linda currently live in Brantford, Ontario. They have 2 daughters, 2 son-in-laws and 2 granddaughters.

Allan Clarke

Allan is a senior federal public servant currently serving in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.  He has also held positions in the Department of Canadian Heritage, including as Director General, Publishing Policy and Programs, where, in addition to managing policies and programs in support of Canada’s book and magazine industries, he served on the boards of the Association for the Export of Canadian Books (now Livres Canada Books) and BookNet Canada.  Allan also serves on the board of the John Howard Society of Ottawa and as ex officio member of the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board.

John Degen

John is Executive Director of The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC), and Chair of the International Authors Forum (IAF) in the UK – all together serving and representing over 650,000 authors worldwide. He is a poet and novelist with three published books. He has worked for many years as an arts administrator, arts funder and policy advocate on cultural issues. He is the previous Literature Officer at the Ontario Arts Council, where he administered a $4 million dollar funding budget for Ontario’s writers, publishers and literary presenters and was active in expanding the granting reach for that office into Ontario’s northern and indigenous communities. His essays and opinions have been published widely throughout Canada, including in The Globe and Mail, THIS Magazine, The Hill Times, Canadian Notes and Queries, and the Literary Review of Canada. He has served on many boards and advisories in the literary and arts sector including terms as Chair of the Book & Periodical Council, THIS Magazine and the Canadian Creators’ Coalition. He holds a Master’s Degree in Literature from the University of Toronto. His debut novel, The Uninvited Guest, was shortlisted for the 2006 Amazon.ca First Novel Award.

Simon de Jocas

Having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education from McGill, de Jocas taught throughout Quebec between 1994 and 1996, in Basse-Côte-Nord, Nunavik and Montreal. He also served as Faculty Advisor in Cooperative Learning for the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal, serving the French-language academic and immersion education communities. From 1997 to 2009, Simon worked at publishing houses such as Beauchemin, Duval and Nelson. Active in the industry for over 20 years, he was a member of associations such as the Association Canadienne d’Éducation en Langue Française (ACELF) and the Association Nationale des Éditeurs de Livre (ANEL). Recently, he served as vice president of Education at De Marque where he managed relations with partnered French schools both in Canada and in Europe. With over 25 years of experience in education and editing, Simon today continues his work in both of these fields. He manages Montreal-based publishing house Les 400 Coups, of which he became owner in February 2013, while remaining a consultant in French-language education. His work has always been guided by education, the French language and a desire to serve youth. He has three children: Alexandre, Nuka and Kateri-Laurence.

Kirk LaPointe

Kirk is one of Canada’s leading media executives with a distinguished 35-year career in print, broadcast and online journalism. He has led the operations of CTV News, Southam News and The Hamilton Spectator. He helped launch National Post as its founding Executive Editor, been a founding host on CBC Newsworld, and the General News Editor and Ottawa Bureau Chief at The Canadian Press. He is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Self-Counsel Press, a radio host on the new Roundhouse Radio FM station, and an Adjunct Professor and Executive-in-Residence at the Graduate School of Journalism at University of British Columbia. He serves as the Executive Director of the Organization of News Ombudsmen. He has been involved in literacy initiatives through his media roles and has assisted Frontier College in its strategic plan. He lives in Vancouver with his wife Mary Lynn Young, and has three children.

Sharon McKay

Sharon is a young adult writer of fact-based fiction. Research for her stories is done at the source. War Brothers, a book on child soldiers, was developed in Northern Uganda; Enemy Territory in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and so on. As the first children’s writer to be included in the Canadian Forces Artist Program (CFAP), Sharon has completed two tours of Afghanistan and continues her involvement in this one hundred year old program. Sharon has won or been shortlisted for most book awards in her category in Canada, including the Canadian Library Association 2015 Book of the Year, Canadian Jewish Book Award, Atlantic Book Award, Arthur Ellis Award, IBBY, IODE, Geoffrey Bilson Award and twice shortlisted for the Governor’s General Award. Sharon spent 18 years on the Christian/Jewish Dialogue Committee under the umbrella of the (then) Jewish Congress. She continues cross-cultural outreach on the Social Justice Committee on PEI. Sharon is internationally published. She is a Writer-in-Residence in Ontario although resides on Prince Edward Island.

John Merchant

A Dalhousie University graduate and former high school teacher, John has been working in the educational publishing industry for over 30 years in a variety of publishing and marketing functions. John is currently president of Curriculum Plus Publishing, a Nova Scotia-based publisher specializing in elementary language arts and science learning resources. He lives in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.

Arlene Perly Rae

Arlene was the children’s book reviewer for the Toronto Star for eight years and chair of the Mr. Christie Award for ten years. In 1997, she published Everybody’s Favourites, a consumer guide to children’s literature which evaluated some of the best books in the genre. She has also written as a freelancer for The Globe and Mail, Quill and Quire and Maclean’s. Her interest in the welfare of children has led her to be a part of the national Campaign Against Child Poverty. Perly Rae has also been on the boards of McClelland and Stewart, the Stratford Festival, and World Literacy of Canada, as well as on the Steering Committee for the United Way of Greater Toronto. She was co-chair of the YWCA’s Elm Centre Capital Campaign, a project that raised $15 million and created 300 units of permanent housing for women and women-led families in Toronto, including 50 Aboriginal families. She is currently on the Board of Sistema Toronto, an after school music program for young children. Perly Rae is frequently invited to give speeches on such diverse topics as literacy, combating racism, and the importance of the arts.

Karen Teeple

Karen has an M.A. in Canadian Studies from Carleton University and has over thirty years of experience in the field of information management. She is the former City Archivist for the City of Toronto and was responsible for planning and managing one of the largest municipal archives in Canada. In 2009, she co-authored Toronto’s Visual Legacy: Official Photography From 1856 to the Present, published for the City’s 175th anniversary and is currently completing a three-year appointment as a jury member (and 2015 Chair) of the Toronto Book Awards. From 2009 to 2014 she was the book review editor for the professional journal of the Association of Canadian Archivists and a member of its editorial board. She has recently become the Director for the Ontario region of the National Archives Appraisal Board, an independent not-for-profit corporation created to provide appraisal services for donations of archival records to Canadian cultural institutions. Karen has been an active volunteer on many non-profit boards and associations over the years. She is a passionate advocate of Toronto’s culture and heritage and is also a bibliophile who has a keen interest in Toronto’s literary community.