Alberta’s Colleges establish taskforce to support COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

May 7, 2020

The taskforce will be chaired by Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) President and CEO Dr. Robert Murray.
The other members of the taskforce will include:

  • Dr. Paula Burns, President and CEO at Lethbridge College
  • Joan Hertz, Interim President and CEO at NorQuest College
  • Nancy Broadbent, President and CEO at Portage College
  • Dr. Peter Nunoda, President at Red Deer College
  • Elan MacDonald, Senior Vice-President at Global Public Affairs
  • Joseph Lougheed, Partner at Dentons Canada LLP
  • Lynette Tremblay, Vice-President, Strategy and Innovation at Edmonton Global
  • Justin Riemer, Assistant Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Western Economic Diversification, Government of Canada

Peter Leclaire, Assistant Deputy Minister, Advanced Learning and Community Partnerships Division, Government of Alberta will serve as an observer to the taskforce.

“This taskforce will align its work with business as well as municipal, provincial and federal government priorities to connect the community-based knowledge and expertise that exists within Alberta’s Colleges to have a direct positive impact on the economy,” said Dr. Murray.

The taskforce will focus on three main themes:

  • Economic resiliency to address immediate needs.
  • Economic recovery to play a key role in restarting the economy.
  • Economic competitiveness to focus on long-term opportunities for Alberta’s Colleges to build Canada’s economic strength.

Colleges across Canada have always been community-connected leaders supporting local research and innovation while meeting local business and industry needs through education and skills development.

“With a coordinated approach focused on the priority areas of talent and skills; innovation and technology; research and development; partnership and collaboration; and community building and development, Alberta’s Colleges will be an integral part of economic recovery and growth plans for all levels of government,” said Dr. Murray.

Work is already underway by the taskforce to identify the ways in which Alberta’s Colleges are currently supporting local, provincial and national economic recovery and future growth goals. The taskforce will examine how to further support and develop this work to assist economic resiliency and recovery to address the immediate and short-term needs as it looks to future opportunities for Alberta’s Colleges to support long-term economic growth.

“The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges to the local, provincial and national economy. Alberta’s Colleges can, and will, do all they can to support their communities, Alberta and Canada through this current crisis and be at the forefront of future economic growth and stability,” said Dr. Murray.


For more information, please contact:
Mark Evans
Corporate Communications
Phone: 780-539-2951

About the taskforce members
Dr. Robert Murray, GPRC President and CEO

Dr. Robert Murray joined GPRC as its ninth President and CEO on December 2, 2019.
Prior to GPRC, Dr. Murray was the managing director of the government practice group at Dentons Canada LLP, the world’s largest law firm. In his role, he counseled public-sector and private-sector organizations from a wide range of industries on strategic development and planning, organizational change, crisis and issues management, policy analysis and development, risk analysis and mitigation, governance and government affairs within Canada and globally.

With an eclectic background straddling executive management, research and government affairs, Dr. Murray brings executive-level leadership to the GPRC board and its executive team.

He has held executive-level positions in the professional and business advisory services, economic development, think tank, education sectors, and has advised extensively on municipal, provincial, federal and international policy issues. He’s consulted on policy and political matters, both nationally and internationally, and has shared his extensive knowledge as a faculty member at the University of Alberta and Brock University.

Dr. Murray holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Alberta, a Master of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in History from Brock University and has an extensive international academic publication record.

He also holds prestigious fellowships and affiliations, including a Senior Fellowship at the Canadian International Council and a Senior Fellowship at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. He also serves on the board of the Organization for the Prevention of Violence.


Dr. Paula Burns, Lethbridge College President and CEO

Dr. Paula Burns is the eighth President and CEO of Lethbridge College, a role she has held since 2013.

Dr. Burns has experience working with and in a variety of departments across post-secondary institutions, from teaching to curriculum development to leadership positions. In addition to her role with Lethbridge College, Dr. Burns works with a variety of external organizations including chairing Alberta’s Comprehensive Community Colleges group and sitting as a member on the executive committee of the Council of Post-Secondary Presidents of Alberta.

She is also a board member and chair of multiple committees for Colleges and Institutes Canada, and a past board member for Economic Development Lethbridge. Dr. Burns is a sought-after speaker on change leadership and meaningful partnerships. 

Before joining Lethbridge College, Dr. Burns served as NAIT’s Provost and Vice President Academic. Dr. Burns earned her Respiratory Therapy diploma at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario in 1987. From there she went to the University of Waterloo, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in 1996; Central Michigan University, where she earned a Master of Arts in Education in 1999; the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, where she earned her PhD in 2005; and Royal Roads University, where she earned her Master of Business Administration with a specialization in leadership in 2010.

Joan Hertz, NorQuest College Interim President and CEO

Joan Hertz is an executive, lawyer and strategic consultant who has served as Interim President and CEO as well as Vice President, External Affairs and Corporate Counsel for NorQuest College. She built her own private practice of law and strategic consulting; served as Corporate Counsel, Strategic Affairs for Capital Health, as well as in private practice at McCuaig Desrochers LLP. A proven executive comfortable in the private and public sector, she has a passion for innovation and the building of winning strategies in transforming enterprises.

She has diverse professional experience in leadership positions, private law, in-house corporate counsel, strategic consultancy, and board experience which combine to make her a strong advocate and strategic thinker. She has worked with many organizations in the establishment, development, and execution of successful strategies and governance structures.

Joan is the Chair of ATB Financial Board of Directors, and previously served as a director at ATB Financial from 2008-2018, as well as Chair of the Governance and Conduct Review Committee. She currently serves as a board member and Chair of the Audit Committee for the Edmonton International Airport, and sits as a public member on the CPA Canada Board, as well as a private company board, Silvacom Ltd.
She teaches Legal and Fiduciary Duties of Directors at the Institute of Corporate Directors, and for over 25 years has provided governance, legal, and strategic advisory services to private sector and crown clients ranging from small to large institutional firms.

She has served as a public member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta Council, the Alberta Accountants Unification Agency and the Provincial Judicial Council. She is the former Chair of the Provincial Court Nominating Committee. She has also served on Alberta's Promise and was formerly with Kid's Kottage Foundation, and Edmonton Catholic Cemeteries Board, as well as numerous other boards.

Joan graduated from the University of Alberta Law School with an LL.B., and Georgetown University in Washington D.C. with a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degree (Magna Cum Laude) in International Politics, Law and Organization.

She’s also a wife, mom and a soccer player who believes whatever we do, we should have fun every day.

Nancy Broadbent, Portage College President and CEO

Nancy Broadbent has worked at Portage College for over 30 years in various roles in Finance, the Registrar’s Office, and in senior leadership positions including the Vice President Student and College Services and Executive Vice President Academic. 

Nancy has a degree in Business Commerce from the University of Alberta and a Master's in Business Administration from City University.  As a mother and grandmother, Nancy values personal and professional connections. She looks for opportunities to create collaborative approaches to create positive results for the College, the communities in the region, and the post-secondary system as a whole.

Dr. Peter Nunoda, Red Deer College President

Dr. Peter Nunoda holds a Ph.D. in History and brings an extensive list of skills and more than 30 years of post-secondary experience to Red Deer College. He was an instructor in the Departments of History and Native Studies for 12 years at the University of Manitoba, where he conducted research projects on various topics, including Aboriginal health education and Aboriginal student retention. Dr. Nunoda’s subject matter expertise in Aboriginal health also led him to an international position with the Indigenous Health Unit at James Cook University in Australia.

Dr. Nunoda served as the Program Director for Aboriginal Focus Programs from 2000-2002 and Director of Access Programs from 2002-2007 at the University of Manitoba. From 2007-2011, he was the Dean of Faculty of Health at the University College of the North. Then, from 2011-2014, he served as Vice President, Academic and Research at Northern Lights College (NLC). Under Dr. Nunoda’s guidance, domestic enrolment grew three per cent and the number of international students skyrocketed 75 per cent at NLC through a Strategic Enrolment Management Plan.

Dr. Nunoda also served as the President of Vancouver Community College (VCC) starting August 2014. He is a big proponent of collaborating with, and connecting with, the community. Along with Central City Foundation, VCC has hosted Fair in the Square, connecting over 3,000 community members at a festival of food, music and activities. In partnership with Vancouver Trolley Company and funding from Telus, the VCC Dental Clinic hosted Tooth Trolley for pre-registered children and their families, providing free dental exams, seminars and fun activities.

Dr. Nunoda began his term as RDC President on September 3, 2019.

Elan MacDonald, Senior Vice-President at Global Public Affairs

Elan MacDonald, ICD.D is the Senior Vice President of National Client Development at Global Public Affairs. Elan joined Global Public Affairs after building and running her own public affairs firm for close to a decade. Global Public Affairs works with local, national and multi-national corporations to sustain and grow their businesses by navigating government, policy development, the regulatory and legislative processes, and the shifting political, social and economic landscapes.

Elan is Vice-Chair of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and a Director on the boards of Edmonton Global, Atlas Biotechnologies and Alberta Ballet.

Elan has a long history in Alberta politics serving as Deputy Chief of Staff and Political Advisor to two Alberta Premiers, and as a political advisor to Cabinet Ministers.

Joseph Lougheed, Partner at Dentons Canada LLP

Joseph Lougheed is a Partner in the Calgary office of the global law firm Dentons Canada LLP. He focuses on general corporate law, private equity and corporate governance.

Joseph has been an active community volunteer for many years. He is currently Board Chair of Calgary Economic Development and a Director of the Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund. Joseph also serves as the Honorary Consul for the Government of Sweden in Southern Alberta.

Joseph is a Past Chair of the Board of Governors of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and is a Past Chair of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. He is also a former member of the Queen’s University Board of Trustees.

Lynette Tremblay, Vice-President, Strategy and Innovation at Edmonton Global

Lynette Tremblay is Vice-President, Strategy and Innovation for Edmonton Global where she leads the division responsible for improving the region’s value proposition and global competitiveness through policy research and development, advocacy, innovation, and business partnerships. 

Lynette also leads the organization’s strategic and business planning, leveraging her diverse background in advocacy, strategic planning, policy development and marketing and communications from working in senior roles within various levels of government and the private sector in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. Lynette also serves on the Board of Directors for the Edmonton Screen Industries Office, established to help lead Edmonton in becoming a national and international centre for media production excellence. 

Justin Riemer, Assistant Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Western Economic Diversification, Government of Canada

Justin Riemer assumed responsibility as Assistant Deputy Minister for Western Economic Diversification of Canada’s Alberta Region in the fall of 2019. 

Previously, he held several senior positions at the Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services, providing leadership and achieving results in industry development, investment attraction and growth of advanced technologies. 

As a respected, passionate and dynamic leader of industry and economic development in Alberta, Justin has an impressive depth and breadth of experience in innovation and industry development policies and programs.

Justin holds a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Carleton University, and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Political Science. He is married and the proud father of two young men.

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