The CIRA board members come from diverse professional and geographical backgrounds. This allows us to broadly consider Canadian perspectives when working to make .CA your domain name of choice and representing the CIRA registry on a global stage.
Board Advisor and President and CEO
Byron Holland joined the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) in 2008 as president and chief executive officer. He is an expert in internet governance and a seasoned entrepreneur with C-level experience in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. He regularly appears in the media to discuss internet-related matters.
Under Byron’s leadership, CIRA has evolved from a single service registry to a globally recognized, multi-product, commercial not-for-profit. Since 2008, CIRA has become one of the leading ccTLDs in the world, with over 3 million domains under management, and over 10% of the world’s TLDs using its DNS services. The organization also offers a suite of enterprise quality cybersecurity, registry, and DNS services.
Byron represents CIRA internationally in its global policy work. Over the past decade, he has been at the decision-making table for key moments in the history of internet governance, and has held numerous leadership positions within the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), including Chair of the Customer Standing Committee, and terms as Chair and Vice Chair of the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO). He currently sits on the Board of Directors for TORIX, Canada’s largest internet exchange point, and is a member of the nominations committee for the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN).
When he’s not thinking about the future of the internet, Byron enjoys travelling the world, and chasing new thrills through extreme sports like wakeboarding, backcountry skiing, and downhill mountain-biking. He lives in Ottawa with his wife, two sons, and their Australian shepherd, Marley.
You can find Byron’s latest commentary here.
Board Advisor, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Liza Aboud has over 30 years of experience driving strategic communications, marketing, change management, and customer experience initiatives.
Colleen Arnold, MBA, CPHR, CPA (CMA), has brought a range of professional expertise to nursing regulation since 2000 in the areas of finance, human resources and information technology. She has 25 years’ experience at the executive level in for profit, not-for-profit and provincial government organizations.
Colleen serves as the Director of Finance and Administration for the new Nova Scotia College of Nursing. In June 2019, the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia and College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia merged to co-create the new Nova Scotia College of Nursing. Colleen was part of the leadership team that spearheaded the transformation of the legacy colleges into one organization that oversees the regulation of licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RN) and nurse practitioners (NPs) in Nova Scotia.
She is currently a member of NSCN’s team mandated with transforming the new college’s enterprise architecture blueprint to meet its forward facing technology and customer service requirements.
Colleen oversees all aspects of the NSCN’s finances, including the development and management of NSCN’s long-term financial plan, budget oversight, creation, implementation and evaluation of financial and operational risk management strategies. She provides strategic and operational financial advice to the Board, CEO and other members of the Executive Team. As NSCN’s Privacy Officer, she develops and implements policies and procedures designed to protect employee and Nova Scotia nurses’ data from unauthorized access.
Co-Chair, Community Investment Committee
Gwen Beauchemin worked in the private sector, the not-for-profit sector and the federal public service for over 35 years, in a variety of roles, all in the computer science field, with a focus on cyber security since 2001. Notable roles include Chief Information Security Officer at Payments Canada and the Director of the Canadian Computer Incident Response Centre at Public Safety Canada. Gwen has extensive experience in strategic planning, incident response centres, information security policy as well as building trust to build information sharing networks for cyber security organizations and professionals. Gwen's focus of late has been providing strategic cyber security advice for boutique clients, as well as sitting on academic research boards in the fields of cyber crime and quantum computing, and speaking at panels with a focus on women in cyber. Gwen has held the Certified CISO accreditation as well as the ICD NFP Program.
Chair, Services Strategy Committee
Don is a 30 year industry veteran in complex networking and cloud computing. As the founder and CEO at Agilicus, Don combines his passion for cybersecurity with cloud native technology to make remote access easier, more secure, and affordable.
Prior to Agilicus, Don was the co-founder of Sandvine Incorporated, a TSX-Listed Canadian network technology company.
Don is active in various startups at various stages, as an investor, as an advisor, as a board member.
Don is a holder of many Canadian, US, International patents and has personally (successfully) defended before a jury in the Eastern district of Texas.
A strong proponent of Open-Source, Don is a contributor to various projects spanning many years.
Chair, Compensation and Review Committee
Anne Butler is a senior financial services executive with over 20 years experience leading diverse teams, from legal and compliance to communications, human resources and industry relations. Anne spent much of her career as a senior executive at a mid-sized life insurance company, supporting the board of directors, overseeing the legal and compliance teams, and leading corporate communications and human resources.
For the past six years, she served as a member of the executive leadership team at Canada’s national payments system operator (Payments Canada). During her tenure at Payments Canada, Anne had the opportunity to lead a variety of functions, including legal, governance, compliance, policy, research, regulatory, government and external relations. Anne has now embarked on a new executive leadership opportunity as Chief Legal Officer at Peoples Group, an innovative financial institution with offices across the country, where she leads their legal and compliance teams.
Anne is a lawyer by profession, and obtained her ICD.D in 2020. In addition to her role on CIRA, and is also a director of the YMCA/YWCA National Capital Region.
John Demco is affiliated with the CIRA Certified Registrar Webnames.ca Inc. and until 2007 was manager of Computing Facilities in the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. Some of John's accomplishments include managing the Canadian academic and research network CDNnet (1985-1990); helping to establish a connection to the U.S. NSFnet (1988); hosting the first Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) meeting held outside of the U.S. (1990); sitting on the board of the BCNET Networking Society (1996-2001); and participating in CA*net, the Coordinating Committee on Intercontinental Research Networking, CANARIE, and the Internet Society. John helped to create the .CA domain in 1987 and was its initial registrar, serving in that capacity and chairing the .CA Domain Committee until 2000. He participated in the Canadian Domain Name Consultative Committee which made recommendations concerning the structure and organization of the .CA domain. He helped to establish CIRA, and is a founding member of its Board of Directors.
Andres Escobar (Andrew) has built a career leading digital strategy and business transformation. As the Director of Open Finance for MX, Andrew leads open banking in Canada, with a mission to allow Canadians to more easily manage their finances. He is an advocate for innovation within financial services and for greater financial inclusion.
Andrew began his career as an associate at a boutique private equity firm on Bay Street. At Queen’s Park, he then served in the Ministry of Finance, on the campaign team of Premier Dalton McGuinty, and in the Office of Premier, Kathleen Wynne. Later, as a digital strategist and independent management consultant, Andrew’s clients were varied—from local subsidiaries of large European multinationals to small non-profits in Toronto’s arts and culture sector.
Andrew holds the Institute of Corporate Directors’ professional designation (ICD.D) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. He lives in Midtown Toronto with his spouse and two young children.
Matthew M. Gamble is a passionate technologist and innovator, with a focus on disruptive technologies in the telecom and cloud space and a tireless advocate for a free, open, and affordable internet for all. Mr. Gamble has worked in the Service Provider industry for over 25 years and has experience directing a broad range of telecommunications, internet services, and regulatory initiatives. By day, he is the Principal of Int13 Consulting Inc., a Hamilton based consulting firm which focuses on assisting customers with cloud, voice, and digital transformation initives. Before founding Int13 in 2021, Mr. Gamble was the Principal Technologist at EGATE Networks Inc., a Toronto based ISP focused on delivering access, cloud, and voice services to enterprise customers. Mr Gamble also serves as Vice-Chair of the Internet Society, Canada Chapter.
Chair, Governance Committee
Eric is an entrepreneur, lawyer, and corporate director. His strengths are strategic thinking and unlocking upside opportunities using risk management frameworks. He brings to us his experience as a director from both the for- profit financial and the not-for-profit sectors, his legal background, and from his involvement at the forefront of blockchain and web3 developments.
Chair, Board of Directors
Jill Kowalchuk has been an ambitious driver and advocate for the advancement of Canada’s technology and innovation sectors. Jill is the Director for the Canadian Shared Security Operations Centre (CanSSOC). In this role she is responsible for leading a national initiative between universities and colleges in Canada to develop and provide solutions to tackle the growing cybersecurity challenge facing the higher education sector. Jill is seconded to the University of Toronto to lead the initiative and works across many institutions in the sector to lead and evolve the initiative.
Before joining CanSSOC Jill worked at CANARIE supporting the National Research and Education Network (NREN). Jill started her own consulting business, was the General Manager for Paradocs Mountain Software, and held Executive level roles at Compute Canada, WestGrid and Cybera. Jill has supported the incorporation of a number of not-for-profit entities and has held Board positions which support the community, and the information technology sectors. She has served on the Canadian Internet Registry Association (CIRA) Board since 2007 and has held the roles of co-Chair of the Community Investment Committee and Vice-Chair.
Jill has extensive experience in creating, supporting and managing member based federated organizations in Canada. She regularly participates in national discussions on developing Canada’s digital strategy. Jill is an active supporter of initiatives that encourage and support women in Executive positions, particularly in the fields of cybersecurity, science and engineering. She studied Computer Science and Management at the University of Calgary.
Chair, Finance, Audit, Investment and Risk Management Committee
Alourdes brings over 30 years of engineering, management and business experience in Telecommunications and Energy with over 20 years of not-for-profit board experience to her role as Director at CIRA. She is a licensed Professional Engineer in Ontario, a Fellow of Engineers Canada (FEC) and an honorary member of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE). She served on the board of Utilities Technology Council (UTC), Radio Advisory Board of Canada (RABC), Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE), Ontario Professional Engineers Foundation for Education and Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) Chapter.
Alourdes dedicated 10 years to the board of Utilities Technology Council (UTC). She joined the board of directors in 2007 as Chair of the Critical Infrastructure Communications and as Chair of the annual conference planning committees. For the subsequent years, she became the treasurer, vice-chair and was elected chair of the board in 2011; a position she held for 3 years. Under her leadership, UTC Canada has emerged as a stronger organization where she has successfully led the strategic development of the organization. She initiated alliances with key partners in Canada, and raised the organization’s profile before federal agencies and industry groups. As a member of UTC Global Advisory Council, she had been a key contributor in designing programs that serve UTC’s membership on a global basis, including affiliates in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Africa. She has been an active advocate in the Information and Communications community; working to ensure that regulators and industry organizations recognize utilities’ needs and requirements to support their critical infrastructure.
Alourdes dedicated 7 years to the Board of Directors of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, helping to amplify the voice of Ontario’s Engineers by representing, advancing their interests and promoting engineering excellence. She was elected as a Director of the Board in 2006. In the following years, she served as Treasurer in 2009, Vice-Chair in 2010 and was appointed as President and Chair for the 2011-2012 term. She chaired various committees of OSPE’s such as the Executive, Membership Advisory, Human Resources, Strategic Plan working group, CEO selection, Finance, Audit and Investment.
Throughout her years of board governance, she was recognized for her leadership and outstanding professionalism by receiving the prestigious UTC Chairman’s Award in 2013 and 2015. She was also recognized by PEO and OSPE through the Engineers Canada Fellowships for noteworthy service to the Engineering Profession and Ontario Government Volunteer Awards.
In addition, the Ontario Government recognized her with the Ontario’s 2015 Leading Women Building Communities Award for her contribution in helping women advancing to the engineering profession as mentor and leader of OSPE.
Alourdes received a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from Sherbrooke University and a Bachelor Degree in Engineering Physics specialized in Communications Systems from Laval University.
Co-Chair, Community Investment Committee
Samantha Ventresca helps C-suite executives and Canadian entrepreneurs shape their unique stories and build relationships with stakeholders and the public.
As a communications practitioner, Samantha has represented legacy-sector and emerging-market organizations across Canada, including internet-related service providers of cloud accounting, corporate law, immersive-technology training, venture capital, full-stack web app development, global trend-tracking, and emergency-data networks.
Prior to opening an independent practice, Samantha worked in publishing, non-profit management, and at other communications firms where she led and collaborated on business development, issues management, resource planning, and creative strategy.
Outside work, Samantha produces a collaborator-driven volunteer project on media literacy and civic participation. Previously, she served on committees for a responsible land-use nonprofit and volunteered with a neighbourhood-resilience charity to tutor math and literacy to underserved members.
Michael Zahra is a seasoned executive and is an Advisor to the University of Toronto "The Hatchery" start-up incubator. Prior to working at Drone Delivery Canada as President & CEO, he was President of Staples Business Advantage, President of Yahoo and President of Schlumberger, with prior engineering positions at Alcatel & Motorola. He has over 35 years of business experience and has been on multiple not-for-profit & corporate boards, including GrandBridge Solutions Inc, North York General Hospital & Junior Achievement. Michael has a B.A.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, an M.B.A. and a P.Log from the Logistics Institute. He is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors, and is certified in many areas including cybersecurity, ESG and six-sigma. Michael was born in Toronto and is a world traveler having visited 57 countries.