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Biographies

John Ecker, Chair, Whitby

John Ecker is a communications, marketing, branding and fundraising executive. He is the Director, Family of Faith & Special Projects, at the Archdiocese of Toronto where he leads Indigenous healing and reconciliation activities. In 2022, he served as Program and Production Lead for Pope Francis’s visit to Iqaluit, Nunavut. He also oversaw brand development and marketing for the archdiocese’s $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 the Chair of the Selection Committee 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, the Waterview Child Care Centre and the Lynde Marsh Alliance. He served as Chair of Heritage Whitby and has been a volunteer for Doors Open Whitby. Internationally, he established Bimini Bound, which sent over 10,000 books and learning resources to schools on the island of Bimini, Bahamas.

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.

Lynn A. Kennedy, Toronto

Lynn A. Kennedy is a senior real estate executive who has been involved in all facets of real estate investment — acquisitions, dispositions, development, transaction structuring including joint ventures, and financing across major product types — for a number of public companies and in the private sector. She most recently served as a Board member at Infrastructure Ontario on both the Audit and Real Estate committees, supporting the transit-oriented communities program, the development of East Harbour and the repatriation of the General Real Estate Portfolio. She has served as a Board member and Executive Committee member of Pensionfund Realty Limited, a private corporation held by a number of pension plans. Kennedy also served on a public board, Build Toronto (now known as CreateTO), a corporation whose mandate was to maximize the value of underused assets. Kennedy holds a Corporate Director Certificate from Harvard Business School and thus her network includes women executives on boards.

Jennifer McGill, Port Hope

Jennifer McGill is a business executive with 30 years of experience leading building materials manufacturing firms in Canada, the United States, Germany, France and South Africa for both residential and commercial construction uses. She is currently the President of Ambico Limited, a specialty door and frame manufacturer in Ottawa.

McGill is a graduate of the University of Toronto where she holds both a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Rotman School of Management. She is passionate about history and conservation of heritage properties for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

McGill completed her Board Certificate from the Canadian Board Diversity Council in 2015. She currently serves as a Governor on the Board of Trinity College School and sits on the Infrastructure and the Master Plan committees. She is the fundraising chair for the Northumberland Youth Wellness Hub in Ontario. She has served on the boards of Habitat for Humanity Northumberland (Governance and Finance) and VOICE for children who are deaf and hard of hearing (Vice-Chair). McGill currently resides in Port Hope with her two sons.

Robin (Rob) McGinnis, Thunder Bay

Robin (Rob) McGinnis is a member of Rainy River First Nations where he served on council for 16 years and as Chief for five years. McGinnis counts 17 years in the Rainy River District School Board as an educator where he also volunteered as a coach in various sports. He is currently the recruitment and retention coordinator for Chi Mino Ozhitoowin and resides in Thunder Bay.

Heather A. Nicol (Toronto)

Heather Nicol (BMath, MBA, CPA, ICD.D) is a long-time resident of Ontario who appreciates its beauty. She has diverse business experience in senior financial roles in the corporate sector, financial services and not-for-profit sector. Some of her experience includes a startup fund (CFO and CRO), a small business (CFO), MaRS Discovery District (CFO), Chapters Online (CFO, taking it public and helping it achieve national leadership) and Canadian Tire Corporation (senior advisor). Earlier in her career, Nicol worked in investment banking at Canadian and international firms.

In addition to the Ontario Heritage Trust, Nicol is a board member of Chubb Insurance Canada. Prior to this, she was a board member of Genworth MI Canada Inc. She was a founding board member of Desjardins Credit Union (part of Groupe Desjardins) and served as its Vice-Chair and Chair of the Audit Committee until the company merged. She also served on the board of the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario, the insurer for all of Ontario’s credit unions. She has served other non-profit organizations including The Bishop Strachan School’s Board of Governors, BioDiscovery Toronto and the Danny Grossman Dance Company.

Nicol holds an Honours Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Business Administration from the Ivey School at the University of Western Ontario. She is also a Chartered Professional Accountant and holds her ICD.D from the Institute of Corporate Directors.

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.

Lawrence Ostola, Carleton Place

Larry Ostola held a variety of positions, including Director of Museums and Heritage Services with the City of Toronto, where he was responsible for 10 museums and a large portfolio of heritage buildings, and Vice-President of Heritage Conservation and Commemoration with Parks Canada. In this latter role, he oversaw national policy and legislation related to National Historic Sites and heritage conservation and also served as Secretary to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and as the Head of the Canadian Delegation to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.

Ostola has published numerous articles related to Canada’s history and heritage and, in 2021, edited the Champlain Society volume Your Most Obedient and Affectionate Son: James Wolfe’s Letters to His Parents 1740-1759. He holds a PhD from Laval University, an MA from the Université de Montréal and a BA from McGill University.

Stephen Pellegrini, King

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, Vice-Chair, 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).

Demetrios (Jimmy) Vlachos, Toronto

Demetrios (Jimmy) Vlachos is a real estate broker with expertise in all areas of residential and commercial real estate, with a particular specialization in the area of investment properties. Over the course of his 22-year career, Vlachos has developed a deep knowledge of the Greater Toronto Area and the Golden Horseshoe, including its many heritage buildings and landscapes. He is also an avid snowboarder, cyclist and martial artist.

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.