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 25 years of experience driving strategic communications, marketing, change management, and customer experience initiatives.
Liza currently consults for companies targeting the sustainability space. She held the position of Vice President, Customer Experience and Communications at the Land Title and Survey Authority of BC from 2007 to 2019 where she oversaw communications, media and stakeholder relations, user experience design, and customer education. Prior to that, she held management positions in marketing and investor relations within the legal, technology, and utilities sectors.
Liza currently serves on the boards of the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of BC, BC Real Estate Association, and the Society of Notaries Public of BC. She recently served as a director on the board of Ridley Terminals, a former federal Crown corporation. She was a co-founding director of the BC Lymphedema Association and volunteered with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Regional and Civic Affairs Committee.
Liza has an MBA (Marketing and International Business) and a BA (Economics) from McGill University. She holds the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors and earned the Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) designation from the International Association of Business Communicators.
Chair, Governance Committee
Iris Almeida-Côté is President and Chief Executive Officer at INNOVACONNECT offering strategic management services to organisations in Executive leadership, governance, cybersecurity and public affairs. She assists organisations, SME’s, universities and Indigenous People’s communities with strategic planning, internal audit, risk management and corporate governance training. Iris has initiated economic development initiatives and strategic partnerships across Canada and in eighty countries around the world. She is proficient in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Hindi.
Iris is a Corporate Director (ICD.D) having completed the Director Education at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and the Institute of Corporate Directors. She is a member of Institute of Internal Auditors – Government of Canada Audit Group. She is trained in Financial Management and Governance at the Université Laval, Collège des Adminstrateurs de Sociétés (CAS) as well as in Health Sector Governance at the Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations (IGOPP). She also received her advanced management training at McGill University and at the Canadian Centre for Management. Iris holds a Master's Degree in International Law from the Université du Québec à Montréal as well as a Master's Degree in Sociology from the University of Bombay.
In 2018 Iris was nominated to the Canadian Space Agency Audit Committee by the Controller General Treasury Board of Canada. She also serves as member of the Council on the Status of Women appointed by the Government of Québec. She is the Treasurer on the Board of Directors at Public Relations without Boarders. She is also a Strategic Adviser at the Institut d’études international de Montreal at the l’Université de Québec à Montreal (UQAM). Iris served for four years as Chair of the Audit committee on the Board of Directors of the Saint-Justine University Hospital (CHUSJ), Treasurer on the Board of Directors of Lawyers without Borders Canada and on the Board of Directors at the Canadian Society of Association Executives. A strategic adviser at the Conseil interculturel - City of Montreal, Iris contributed as a jury member for the Scotia Bank – UQAM Merit Scholarships and the Women of Inspiration Entrepreneurship Awards organised by the Chantier d’Afrique. Over the past five years she served as an independent member on the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) Community Investment Committee and since October 2019 she has been elected by the membership to serve on CIRA’s Board of Directors.
A senior executive leading innovations and growth in organisations for over thirty years, Iris served as Executive Director at the Royal Society of Canada where she worked with a network of Canada’s leading scientists, scholars and artists. She also served as Strategic Executive Director at the International Association for Public Participation and worked with trainers around the world to refine the content and methodologies for effective Stakeholder Engagement. Iris was President and Chief Executive Officer at Canada World Youth, and President and Chief Executive Officer at the Canadian Pension & Benefits Institute. She served as Director of Policy and Programs at the Canadian Parliamentary Centre Rights and Democracy from 1991 to 2006, and Director of Programs at Partnership Africa Canada from 1988 to 1991. On an international level, she was Assistant Secretary-General of CIDSE (Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité) an international organisation with consultative status and UN and the European Union in Brussels and President of the International Movement of University Students in Paris.
Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women laureate in 2008 and again in 2011, presented by the Women's Executive Network. In 2018 Iris received the Women of Excellence Award in Financial Risk Management from the Women’s Economic Forum. In 2014, Iris received the Prix de la Reconnaissance (Outstanding Alumni Award) from l’Université de Québec à Montreal (UQAM), and in 2012 the SME Passport Award from the Caisse de Depot et de placement du Québec and the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. Iris received the YWCA Women of Distinction Award in 2009 and the Prix d'Éxcellence presented by the Réseau des femmes d'affaires du Québec in 2007. She was nominated for the Diversity 50 Award in 2012, by the Canadian Board Diversity Council and Equilar promoting the inclusion of women from diverse cultures with experience and specialised expertise in governance to contribute to corporate boards.
Chair, Compensation and Review Committee
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.
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.
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.
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
Crystal D Nett, CPA, CA, ICD.D, ACPC, ACC is an experienced senior executive and board member. Crystal has held various senior management roles, currently serving as Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board’s Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Corporate Services. She has also held senior roles in numerous boards of directors, including Board Chair and Audit-Finance Committee Chair.
Crystal holds multiple professional certifications including CPA, CA (Chartered Professional Accountant - Chartered Accountant); ICD.D (Institute of Corporate Directors Certified Director), ACPC (Adler Certified Professional Coach); and ACC (Associate Certified Coach) from ICF (International Coach Federation).
Chiar, Services Strategy 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.
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.
Chair, Community Investment Committee
Rob Villeneuve is a passionate technologist and leader focused on building high performing teams and organizations. Rob is the CTO at Wicket.io and splits his time between developing Wicket's Association Membership Platform and coaching the creative and inspired team behind it.
Rob was formerly the Chief Executive Officer of Rebel.com, an Ottawa-based Registrar. Rob has been a member of the CIRA Board of Directors, including participating on numerous Board committees, since his election in 2013. He also actively participates in international domain policy development with ICANN.
He brings more than 15 years of experience in the web development and domain name industries to the CIRA Board.