Board of Directors | Staff | Alumni | Community Leadership Award | Annual Report


Board of Directors

Willie Birss, CPA, CA (ISTJ) - Treasurer

Willie BirssWillie is a Principal at Baker Tilly SK LLP, a public accounting firm, where he focuses on audit and assurance engagements. Outside of work, Willie’s favourite thing is to go golfing and spend time with family and friends. Willie believes that leadership is imperative to creating a strong community and that Leadership Saskatoon has had a substantial positive impact in the Saskatoon area.

Julian Demkiw (he/him, ENTP)  |   Leadership Saskatoon Class of 2001 - Board Chair

Julian DemkiwJulian is currently the Senior Strategist to the President at the University of Saskatchewan and is responsible for senior management oversight and leadership to institutional-level projects of the president and his executive team. Julian’s superpowers include an ability to see patterns in chaos and an ability to understand the needs of a wide variety of audiences.

Outside of work Julian spends time with his daughters and wife playing cards, watching movies, and having fun. Julian is proud to have been involved with Leadership Saskatoon since its inception 20 years ago and is dedicated to helping the organization achieve its important mandate well into it’s next 20.

Don Ewles (he/him, INTJ)

Don EwlesDon is Grants Manager for Saskatoon Community Foundation. Don’s superpowers are community investment, communications, and, unfortunately, puns. Outside of work, his favourite pastimes are making music and cooking. Don is proud to represent Saskatoon Community Foundation as one of the founding partners of Leadership Saskatoon because he has seen the transformative power of compassionate and thoughtful leadership time and again during his career working with community-based organizations.

Leon Ferguson

Leon FergusonLeon Ferguson is the President and CEO of Stream Business Advisory. Leon’s 20+ years of experience in high level strategy development, leadership, internal/external collaborations, and partnerships developing high performance and strong cultures has an award-winning proven track record providing teams to grow in strength and profitability. Leon’s superpowers are leadership specializing in Workplace Psychological Health and Safety, and Mental Health combined with his unique harmonious approach to overall peak performance. Leon is passionate and proud to be a part of Leadership Saskatoon as he is a big ambassador of Saskatoon and the Community and believes Saskatoon is a beacon of community strength and possibilities.

Ken McCullough   

Ken McCulloughKen McCullough is a retired senior retail professional with over 30+ years experience in the food, petroleum, liquor, pharmacy, general merchandise and travel businesses. During his career in the Co-operative Retailing System, Ken was known for high standards in merchandising, customer service and employee engagement. He received numerous awards and was featured in the May 2008 issue of Canadian Grocer magazine. Ken is proud to currently serve as Promotional Co-ordinator of the Global Leadership Summit hosted by his church. He also continues to offer his leadership expertise as part of a team of coaches that provide mentorship to small group leaders. Ken enjoyed being a mentor for Leadership Saskatoon in 2020.

Masood Rizvi, PhD (he/his, ENTJ)

Masood RizviMasood is Head of the Genomics and Canadian Operation Leader for NRGene Canada Inc. subsidiary of NRGene Ltd, a genomics company that provide turn-key solutions. Masood’s superpower is Diving leadership skills, strategic alliance and team coaching. Outside of work his favourite thing to do is “travelling across world” and explore exotic destinations. Masood is passionate about Leadership Saskatoon because he believes passionate and energetic leadership skill can bring lot of value to toon town and will give an edge over other big Canadian cities.

Alison Robertson

Alison RobertsonAlison Robertson is a Saskatoon-based community leader and social innovator. She is the founder and principal consultant at Systems Bright, a consulting practice specializing in whole systems solutions to complex issues. 

Alison has more than fifteen years’ senior leadership experience within the non-profit sector concentrating on issues related to poverty reduction, food security, education, disability and community health and wellbeing. She has served as the co-chair of the Saskatchewan Advisory Group on Poverty Reduction and acted as spokesperson for Poverty Costs, a collaborative initiative recognized with a Global Citizen Award from the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation.  She has been named one of Saskatchewan’s outstanding young leaders by the CBC Future 40 Awards.

Alison graduated with distinction from the post-graduate Executive Leadership in the Non-Profit Sector program at Grant MacEwan University. She is a graduate of the 2011 Leadership Saskatoon program and is proud to serve on its board of directors.

Rhonda Speiss (she/her) - Secretary

Rhonda SpeissRhonda is a Senior Advisor with Western Economic Diversification Canada and past senior leader of a major corporation, leading a best-in-class global corporate Community Investment program. With the ability to combine strategic and entrepreneurial thinking, her superpower is her ability to identify, develop and execute innovation solutions to complex problems with creative flair. Outside the workplace, her favorite thing to do is travel and enjoy new experiences. With 15 years experience funding non-profits, she worked with hundreds of community organizations and gained a true appreciation for great community leadership. She was excited to join Leadership Saskatoon and play a role in developing great leaders who will masterfully lead the way toward a strong, healthy community and economy in Saskatoon.

Tammy Sweeney (she/her, INFP)

Tammy Sweeney Tammy is the CEO at TCU Place, Saskatoon’s premiere convention, meeting and performing arts space. She is also a passionate leader and speaker, helping companies across North America and Europe to develop stronger leaders. Tammy’s superpowers are a passionate desire to create a better world around her paired with the vision to ask what’s possible and inspire people to join the cause. She cares passionately about creating a culture where people can thrive and be their best selves. Outside of work, Tammy enjoys reading, music, singing, and attending events (because her work IS her play!). She is an avid cook and loves to make and enjoy delicious food with family and friends. Tammy is excited to be part of Leadership Saskatoon to provide a safe place to grow leadership skills, confidence and the desire to serve…because that truly makes our world and community a better place.

Our Staff

Interim Executive Director & Program Director, Michelle King

Michelle KingBio coming soon.

Communications Director, Cassie Josephson (she/her)

Cassie Josephson Cassie Josephson (she/her, ISFJ). She works as a consultant with People Things Consulting, a social purpose organization that focuses on diversity, inclusion and cultural competence across sectors and industries. Cassie is also the Co-owner of Phil’s Lawn Service, a custom residential, commercial and industrial herbicide application business. She has a B. Sc. in Agribusiness from the University of Saskatchewan, is a Myers Briggs Type Indicator® Certified Practitioner, a Facilitator for the Red Cross’ Psychological First Aid course, and a Qualified Administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory. Her superpowers are creating safe and inclusive places for people to learn and grow. Cassie is passionate about Leadership Saskatoon because it creates places for people to be themselves, to get comfortable in their uncomfortable, and to grow as humans.




Mission and Values

Our mission is to develop effective collaborative leaders by building awareness and understanding which inspires involvement in building an inclusive community.

Four values that distinguish Leadership Saskatoon are:

Our Founders

Leadership Saskatoon was founded by the University of Saskatchewan, the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, and the Saskatoon Community Foundation.

We are grateful for their continuing and unwavering support.

Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce
    Saskatoon Community Foundation      University of Saskatchewan  


Our alumni now number over 500 in total. Here are the photos from each class. Click on each year below to see who they are.

Back to top ^^^

Don Ravis Leadership Saskatoon Alumni Award

Current Winner : Nancy Lautner – 2022

Nancy Lautner

Nancy Lautner is currently on the board of directors of the Nutrien Wonderhub, she is a past board member of the Saskatchewan Early Childhood Association and the Saskatoon Federation of Early Learning. She is the Executive Director and creator of an organization that has 5 Early Learning centres, with 273 licensed spaces, 2 preschools, 2 forest schools, 3 before and after school care programs and 1 summer school age camp program that services over 600 families – The Tykes & Tots Early Learning Centre Inc.

Currently she is taking a Life and Wellness Coach Certification to become a more passionate coach and mentor to not only her management team but to others as well. She has also taken a Reiki certification and will be soon becoming a Certified Yoga Instructor. In addition, she has incorporated many of Leadership Saskatoons teachings by including it in her workplace’s regular professional development for their educators. This includes Myers Briggs Type Indicator, the 360 review, and the 5 principles of a good leader – and, she is often saying it’s the process not the product. She is a huge proponent of leadership development for her staff and those around her.

Previous Alumni Award Winners
Betty Mutwiri

Betty Mutwiri
2021 Recipient

Bill Brooks

Bill Brooks
2019 Recipient

Kelly Moore

Kelly Moore
2018 Recipient

Jason Aebig

Jason Aebig
2017 Recipient

Back to top ^^^


Cherry Insurance-Leadership Saskatoon Community Leadership Award

Namarta Kochar - 2017 Recipient

Namarta Kochar Namarta’s participation spans many dimensions of the community – from providing advice to the Saskatoon Environmental Advisory Committee and mentoring through the Saskatchewan Association of Human Resource Professionals to sharing arts, fashions and the culture of India through the India Pavilion at Folkfest. She values the improvement of the quality of life for others in Saskatoon including Dress for Success, Saskatoon Salvation Army, Children's Hospital Foundation, as well as many other organizations.

Namarta is an acknowledged community leader whose achievement and leadership have been recognized as a Woman of Influence from SaskBusiness Magazine, a finalist for the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, one of CBC Saskatchewan’s Future 40, as well as receiving the Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal and the Champion of Children Award from the Saskatoon Preschool Foundation to name a few.

Previous Leadership Award Winners
Zeba Ahmad

Zeba Ahmad
2016 Recipient

Tom Kishchuk

Tom Kischuk
2015 Recipient

Milton Taylor

Milton Taylor
2014 Recipient

Dave Dutchak

Dave Dutchak
2013 Recipient

Kirby Wirchenko

Kirby Wirchenko
2012 Recipient

Om Kochar

Om Kochar
2011 Recipient

Ayten Archer

Ayten Archer
2010 Recipient