Biographies - Ontario Heritage Trust



John Ecker, Chair, Whitby

John Ecker is a communications, marketing, branding and fundraising executive. He is the Director, Family of Faith & Special Projects at Archdiocese of Toronto where he oversaw brand development and marketing for the $170-million Family of Faith Campaign. Previously, he served as Vice President at Indspire (the former National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation) and held director-level positions at the Ontario Trillium Foundation, ECHO: Improving Women’s Health in Ontario, and the Toronto Board of Trade.

Ecker's involvement with the Trust goes back decades. In the 1990s, he oversaw development of the Heritage Community Recognition Program, forerunner of the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Awards.

He is a Selection Committee member for the province of Ontario's annual June Callwood Awards and an ex-officio Board member of the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund. An active volunteer, Ecker has served on the board of Credit Canada and is a former chair of the Whitby Public Library Board and the Waterview Child Care Centre. He most recently served as Chair of Heritage Whitby (LACAC) and has been a volunteer for Whitby's Doors Open. He also served as Chair of the Lynde Marsh Alliance, a land trust. Internationally, he established Bimini Bound, which sent over 10,000 books and learning resources to schools on the island of Bimini, Bahamas.

Eileen P.K. Costello, Toronto

Eileen Costello is a partner in Aird & Berlis LLP's Municipal & Land Use Planning Group. She is the author of the Ontario Heritage Act and Commentary and regularly advises private property owners and municipal governments about property designations, heritage conservation, districts and property standards bylaws to address designated properties. Costello appears regularly before municipal authorities and administrative tribunals, as well as before the Superior Court of Justice, the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal. She is a member of the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals, Community Heritage Ontario, Heritage Toronto, the Urban Land Institute, the Canadian/Ontario Bar Association (Municipal Law Section and Administrative Law Section) and The Advocates' Society. She is also Chair of the Board of Governors of The Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall and a past director of the Ireland Park Foundation. Since 2008, Costello has been an instructor for the Ryerson University Graduate Program in Planning. She holds an LLB and a MScPl in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Toronto.

Richard (Rick) Hall, Port Colborne

Rick Hall counts nearly 30 years of experience in public affairs, communications and organization management. Born and raised in Toronto, and educated at several Canadian universities (with a PhD from McGill in Public Policy), Hall has lived and worked internationally, as well as in federal and provincial public affairs. He has volunteered with local community heritage groups and city-wide social service agencies. He currently resides in Port Colborne in Niagara Region, where he is renovating a 100-year-old house.

Patricia (Tricia) Hellingman, Hamilton

Patricia (Tricia) Hellingman is president of an agency that provides communications, community engagement and marketing services to both public organizations and private companies across Canada. She has also been involved in major fundraising campaigns for recreational, social services and cultural heritage causes. Hellingman has a chartered director designation from McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business/Conference Board of Canada and a Bachelor of Applied Arts (Journalism) degree from Ryerson University. She has served on boards including FirstOntario Credit Union, Canadian Automobile Association (South Central Ontario), The Hamilton Club and the Canadian Public Relations Society. Her volunteer work has included participating on a committee organizing a series of concerts by well-known Canadian musicians, involvement with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program, and writing a regular business column in the Hamilton Spectator newspaper.

Zygmunt (Zyg) Janecki, Kitchener

Zygmunt (Zyg) Janecki graduated from the University of Toronto with an honours bachelor degree in Urban Geography in 1973. He had a municipal career of 47 years serving as a city planner in various positions with the City of Kitchener until 2001, as a Senior Planner with Planning and Engineering Initiatives until 2006, and as a self-employed planning consultant until 2010 before being elected as a Kitchener City Councillor, where he served from 2010-18. Janecki has sat on numerous committees, including Centre in the Square, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Waterloo Heritage Foundation, Committee of Adjustment, Heritage Kitchener Committee, City's Finance, Planning and Community Services committees and others.

Arthur (Art) Milnes, Kingston

Kingston’s Arthur Milnes is an award-winning journalist and public historian. His 13 books include studies of past Ontario premier David Peterson and prime ministers including Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, R.B. Bennett, John Napier Turner, Brian Mulroney and Arthur Meighen. His other volumes include his examinations, from the Canadian perspective, of American presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The founder of the Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial Commission, Milnes served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and was the research assistant for the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney’s memoirs. He is now in-house historian at the Frontenac Club Hotel in Kingston.

Mandy Nwobu, Toronto

Mandy Nwobu is a Toronto-based legal practitioner and entrepreneur. Her practice focuses on immigration, real estate and civil litigation. She is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the American Bar Association. Nwobu interned and volunteered with the Criminal Division of Legal Aid Ontario. She articled with the Crown Law Office – Civil, Ministry of the Attorney General, Toronto, and continued to serve for a while after her articles. She assists international students settle into the different vocations in their respective schools and subsequent new homes both in Canada and the United States.

Nwobu is an Igbo-speaking extract of Eastern Nigeria and continues to play a prominent role both in her Nigerian community and the African-Caribbean-Canadian community. She played a significant role in setting up the Scarborough Business Association, Anambra State Association, and the Igbo Canadian Community Association. Nwobu started her legal career in the Legal Department of a merchant bank in Nigeria many decades ago. She joined Sowers and Messuarius Solicitors as a partner in 2005. Outside her legal practice and volunteering, Nwobu is an editor and writer of many articles and plays.

Linda Pabst, King City

Linda Pabst served as a Councillor, Ward 3, King Township for 24 years, and as a Board Member of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority for 16 years. She also served as Chair of York Region Police and King Township's Roadwatch Committee. A graduate of Toronto General Hospital's Registered Nursing Assistant program, Pabst worked professionally as a Volunteer Manager and as an emergency medical technician with the Nobleton Ambulance Service for 16 years.

Pabst is a 45-year resident of King Township. Now widowed, she was married to Burton V. Pabst for 52 years. She is the proud mother of Jeff Pabst and Christi Pabst McQuaker, and has four wonderful grandchildren. Pabst has been involved with her family in the equestrian world.

Stephen Pellegrini, Kettleby

Steve Pellegrini is the Mayor of the Township of King and also King’s regional representative on York Region Council. He was sworn into office in 2010 and is now serving his third consecutive term. In addition to his continuing service in King Township, Pellegrini worked for over 35 years in the municipal sector, retiring as a manager of the Project Management Office. He strongly believes in giving back and has been involved in many boards in his community. Currently, he is Chair of the York Region Transportation Committee, Vice Chair for YorkNet, a Housing York board member, a board member for the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, and Holland Marsh Drainage System Joint Municipal Services Board board member. He also holds a number of honorary positions such as Honorary Governor of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Honorary Chair of King Township Foodbank, and Honorary Chair of Arts Society King.

Pellegrini’s past service includes: Chairman, Communities in Bloom for King Township (2006-10), Treasurer, Parks and Recreation Ontario (2002-07), Director, Association of Ontario Sport and Recreation Administrators (1997) and KingFest Music Festival (2005-08). He and his wife Barbara have five children (Stephanie, Ashley, Emma, David and Joseph). In his spare time, Pellegrini also coached baseball, soccer and hockey as his children moved through their childhoods.

Frederick Robbins, Whitchurch-Stouffville

Fred Robbins is a Master Carpenter retired from his own renovation business. He has been an advocate for built heritage in his local community for over 30 years while serving on the Heritage Advisory Board. His passion for finding the inside story to inspire others has led him to research and share these. He has designed many walking tours. Robbins also founded Doors Open in the Whitchurch-Stouffville community, and also started Jane’s Walks in partnership with the local library and the downtown Business Improvement Area. Robbins writes a column for the Stouffville Review to educate and entertain people about heritage. Currently, he is a life member of the York Pioneer and Historical Society, where he has been a Board member for eight years, and is now serving as its President.

Rudy Santos, Toronto

Rudy Santos is the managing director of RCS Media Solutions, a Toronto-based advertising company that specializes in strategic media buying. An advertising executive with over 20 years of experience, Santos helps companies grow successful brands. He’s worked with high-profile clients across Canada and internationally, as well as non-profit organizations. His experience extends across multiple advertising and marketing platforms. Santos has a passion for the preservation and celebration of Ontario’s rich and diverse heritage. An avid baseball enthusiast, he enjoys watching his beloved Blue Jays either in Toronto or in Dunedin, Florida. Santos lives with his wife Christine and their two children in Toronto.

Bob Taylor-Vaisey, Scarborough

Bob Taylor-Vaisey retired from Imperial Oil Limited in 2010 as its Corporate Archivist and Senior Records Management Consultant. He received his bachelor’s degree (honorary) and master’s degree from Trent University, majoring in History, and pursued post-graduate studies at Cambridge University, U.K. and the University of Toronto, specializing in medieval law. He also had the honour of being mentored by John Pye, the university conservator at Cambridge. Before Imperial Oil, Taylor-Vaisey was Assistant Archivist at the University of Toronto and, while at Imperial, chaired an Exxon Mobil Task Force of Records Retention. He is currently the Chair of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee (Municipality of Trent Lakes), Vice-President of The Cavendish Community RatePayers Association Inc., and Vice-President of the Peterborough Historical Society. He is a former President of the Guildwood Village Community Association, Chair of both the Coalition of Scarborough Community Associations and Friends of Scarborough. He is a member of the Peterborough County Task Force on the Future of Archives in Peterborough County. Taylor-Vaisey has had considerable executive-level experience with softball associations in Ontario and Alberta and, as a Level III National Coach Certification Program coach, was part of coaching teams that took three teams to national championships. From 2011-15, he was President of the Trent University Alumni Association and, from 2017-20, he organized the files of its founding President and former Ontario Heritage Trust Chair, Tom Symons. 

Taylor-Vaisey is married with three grown children. He and his wife Anne have lived in Guildwood Village for almost 37 years. He has undertaken extensive research into the history of the area. He is also the author of Ontario’s Heritage: A Guide to Archival Resources, Volume 1, Peterborough Region (Haliburton, Peterborough and Victoria counties).

Heather White, Oshawa

Heather White has been a long-term resident of Durham Region, with a history of volunteering across the education, health-care and not-for-profit sectors. White began her experience at the Board level, having served for six years on the Board of Governors in the early days of the establishment of Ontario’s newest university, Ontario Tech University. During her tenure there, she served on various committees, including: Advancement, Finance and Governance, Nominating and Human Resources. She has also served on the boards of Durham Hospice, the Yves Landry Foundation and the Community Builders Network of Hope. Other community engagement activities included serving on the Durham District School Board’s Parent Involvement Committee. For the past four years, White has been with the City of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Division with the primary responsibility of identifying and securing sponsorship and grant funding – most recently in support of COVID-19 recovery events and initiatives. In her base position, she has secured sponsorship for events such as the Indigenous Arts Festival, Doors Open Toronto and other activities within the Museums and Heritage Services unit. She previously worked with the Toronto Region Board of Trade for 14 years, where she directed the team of professionals focused on the retention of large and mid-market clients. Her responsibilities also included events programming and driving revenue from ticket sales. In her spare time, White enjoys travelling and watching a variety of sports. She currently volunteers in the hospitality department at The Embassy Church in Oshawa.