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
Chair, Board of Directors
Helen McDonald worked in the private sector and federal public service for over 30 years in a variety of roles, most recently as the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister for Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications. She has extensive experience in strategic planning, issues management, policy development, regulation, and the delivery of investment programs promoting and enabling affordable Internet services in rural and remote Canadian communities and e-commerce. Helen’s current interests are in using her executive experience and leadership skills to support Canadian non-profit organizations engaged in digital issues and community betterment. Her leadership style and support for women in the workplace were recognized in 2011 through her selection for the Canadian Women in Communications Trailblazer Award.
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.
Chair, Governance Committee
Ryan practices technology-related business law at DLA Piper (Canada) LLP’s Vancouver office. Ryan has extensive intellectual property and information technology experience combined with a background in corporate matters, including experience in mergers and acquisitions, technology outsourcing, service provisioning, venture capital funding, high-technology employment, licensing and commercial contracting. Ryan also advises on protecting trade secrets or other intellectual property, responding to cybersecurity, ransomware or cyber-extortion threats, complying with privacy and other regulatory regimes, and developing internal and external policies, training and compliance programs relating to these topics
As a former software and Internet developer, Ryan has a unique insight to emerging technology matters important to today's businesses, such as cybersecurity, blockchain technologies, open source software, cloud computing, and social media. Ryan is a frequent speaker and presenter on a wide variety of legal matters including: video game law; employment law; privacy law; and technology matters; and he co-authored "Internet Law Essentials: Canada's Anti-Spam Law", published by Specialty Technical Publishers (first edition 2014, second edition 2017). Ryan currently acts as Clinic Adjunct for the Business Law Clinic at University of British Columbia’s Peter A. Allard School of Law, is a member of the board of the Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society, who annually produce the Honda Celebration of Light (the world’s largest off-shore pyrotechnics competition), and is a director of the Video Game Bar Association.
Chair, Services Strategy Committee
Don Bowman is the Founder of Agilicus. Don has been working in networking and cyber-security for nearly 30 years. With a background from the University of Waterloo Engineering, through a set of roles at Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, PixStream, Sandvine. He has taken two companies from inception to exit, and is working on the 3rd (Agilicus), a next-gen cloud-security vision that believes strong security can increase your efficiency.
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.
Andrew Escobar is an independent consultant specializing in communications and marketing. He is actively engaged in Canadian politics. He served on the re-election campaign of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, with responsibilities in communications, marketing and information technology. He also served in the Office of the Minister of Revenue during a term of comprehensive tax reform in Ontario. Prior to politics, Andrew provided expertise in valuation and financial modelling as an analyst for a leading private equity firm in Toronto. Andrew is an advocate of settlement services. He has volunteered as a program coordinator and board member for several organizations supporting newcomers to Canada.
Matthew M. Gamble is a passionate technologist and innovator, with a focus on disruptive technologies in the telecom and cloud space. Mr. Gamble has worked in the Service Provider industry for over 20 years and has experience directing a broad range of telecommunications, internet services, and regulatory initiatives. By day, he is the Principal Technologist at EGATE Networks Inc., a Toronto based ISP which provides access, cloud, and voice services and specializes in providing products and services that meet the unique needs of its enterprise and wholesale partner customers. Before joining EGATE in 2015, Mr. Gamble was the Chief Innovation Officer at Thoughtfire Consulting, a Toronto based consultancy created to empower service providers deliver innovative telephony and cloud solutions.
Vice-Chair and Co-Chair, Community Investment Committee
For almost 15 years, Jill Kowalchuk has been an ambitious driver and advocate for the advancement of Canada’s technology and innovation sectors. Jill is the National Research and Education Network (NREN) Coordination Manager at CANARIE. In this role she manages the NREN virtual organization which includes CANARIE and the twelve provincial and territorial partners. The NREN is an essential collective of people, tools, services and digital infrastructure that provides a collaborative environment to advance Canadian leadership in research, education and innovation.
Before joining CANARIE Jill was the General Manager for Paradocs Mountain Software while running her own business which supported private and not-for-profits companies in developing and implementing successful strategies for utilizing digital infrastructure. As the past President of Compute Canada, Jill spearheaded Compute Canada’s incorporation as a not-for-profit organization and was responsible for overseeing a national platform of advanced computing infrastructure and distributed technical teams. Prior to her role with Compute Canada, Jill was the CEO of WestGrid, one of four regional consortia within Compute Canada’s national platform. Alongside her role with WestGrid, Jill was also Vice-President, Project and Partnership Development at Cybera Inc.
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 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).
Co-Chair, Community Investment Committee
Bill Sandiford is the president and chairman of the Board of the Canadian Network Operators Consortium (CNOC), a not-for-profit trade association that represents the interests of Canada’s independent telecommunications service providers.
He has over 18 years of senior management experience in the ISP and telecommunications business. He is a current member of the Board of Trustees of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the vice-chair of the board for .CA, and vice-president of the Alberta Internet Exchange (ABIX). Prior to his election to the Board of Trustees at ARIN, he served on the ARIN Advisory Council for four years. Additionally, he is a former vice-president of the Toronto Internet Exchange (TorIX), and a former vice-president of the Whitby Dunlops Senior Hockey Club.
Bill commenced his career in telecommunications after attending Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont. He is a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors NFP program from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
Outside of work Bill enjoys hockey, rugby, scuba diving, and piloting his Cessna aircraft to exotic destinations around North America and the Caribbean. He resides in Whitby, Ont., with his wife and two children.
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.
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.