The Burlington Economic Development’s Board of Directors works to ensure the economic health of our community through the creation of policies related to finance, growth and prosperity.
Ron Laidman is the President and Principal Consultant at Enertia, a Burlington-based executive consultancy. Enertia offers leadership, operational, governance, and industry-specific solutions to the energy and infrastructure industry. Prior to this, Ron held various senior leadership positions in the energy, telecommunications, infrastructure, and life sciences industries and has extensive experience in leadership, operations, and business development. Ron is a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) and also holds his Chartered Director (C.Dir.) designation recognizing his commitment to board governance. He lives with his family in Burlington.
Daniel is currently the CEO of servicePath, a Saas configure Price Quote platform. Daniel has successfully helped a string of companies grow their business in an accelerated fashion: Stericycle, Prompt Alert, IGLOO Software, PricewaterhouseCoopers, performancesoft, Actuate, and IONA Technologies. Daniel has his ICD.d designation and currently serves on the boards of Haltech and AngelOne. In his spare time Daniel invests in start-ups and loves the outdoors and building.
Chair of the Finance Committee
Sean Ballard is a senior marketing and digital product leader that specializes in leading Canadian companies through digital transformation. With over 20 years experience, he has a proven track record for identifying and driving business growth.
Sean currently oversees the retail client engagement strategy at Sun Life as the AVP Marketing Strategy & Planning. In this role, he drives the roadmap to foster a more engaging and relevant client experience. Prior to this, Sean led digital product, experience and design teams for online and mobile banking at Scotiabank. He has also managed the digital strategy and product management for the Toronto Star, one of the most visited newspaper websites in Canada; along with leading Purolator’s market and experience strategies.
Sean and his wife are part owners of the Burlington based marketing agency Jan Kelley, one of the very few fully independent, 100% Canadian-owned agencies of its size in the country. He graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with an honours bachelor of business degree. Sean and his family have been active members of the Burlington community since they moved here in 2008.
Chair of the HR & Governance Committee
Hillary Dawson is Chief Brand Officer of FP Canada, a national professional body working in the public interest, that is dedicated to fostering better financial health for Canadians by certifying professional financial planners and leading the advancement of professional financial planning. There she leads their marketing, communications, public affairs, industry relations and customer experience portfolios.
Hillary has a significant track record of helping organizations develop the vision, directions and strategies required to generate effective relationship management initiatives, influence public policy and build positive corporate reputation. Prior to her role at FP Canada, Hillary served as Associate Vice President, Public Affairs, Marketing and Strategic Initiatives at Mohawk College. Hillary spent many years as President and COO of the Wine Council of Ontario helping its members advance a strong domestic wine industry. Prior to joining the Wine Council, Hillary was a Principal and Vice-President in one of Canada’s most influential government relations firms. There her practice focus was on developing advocacy and organizational capacity for associations, municipalities, Fortune 500 firms, post-secondary institutions and other public and private sector interests.
Hillary holds the ICD.D designation from the Institute for Corporate Directors and has served on many boards in the not-for-profit sector.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward is honoured to serve as mayor of the City of Burlington. First elected to City Council in 2010 as Ward 2 Councillor and Regional Councillor, Mayor Meed Ward believes “the best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of community members and welcome many different perspectives.”
With a strong background in communications developed over 21 years as a print and broadcast journalist, Mayor Meed Ward served 10 years as editor of a national magazine before launching a full-time communications business in 1998 (Meed Ward Media). She was a weekly columnist with the Toronto Sun for 11 years, a commentator on Vision TV, and a regular panelist on the Michael Coren Show, CHCH Square Off and others. She also taught at Tyndale College and Ryerson University.
Prior to becoming a member of City Council, Mayor Meed Ward founded Save our Waterfront, a grassroots movement of Burlington residents committed to preserving access to the city’s waterfront and protecting it from development. She also served as vice-chair of the Burlington Transit Advisory Committee, as a citizen member of the Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital Board of Governors, and as a founding member of BurlingtonGreen Environmental Association. She was also an active volunteer in her local church and public schools.
A resident of Burlington since 2000, Mayor Meed Ward makes her home in downtown Burlington with her husband Peter, their two daughters and son.
Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman
Paul is a highly accomplished leader who currently serves as the Ward 5 Councillor on the City of Burlington and Halton Region Councils and also serves as the Deputy Mayor for Strategy and Budgets. His journey in public service began in 2010, followed by successful re-elections in 2014, 2018 and again in 2022.
Paul’s tenure has been marked by active engagement in various committees and Boards, with a notable focus on sustainability. He played a pivotal role in driving the 2018 adopted Burlington Official Plan, aligning it with the city’s economic and strategic vision. Additionally, he has been a strong advocate for making Burlington net carbon neutral by 2041.
Paul’s career as an organization performance management consultant has seen him lead transformative change initiatives for global entities, earning recognition as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People” in the US accounting world by “Accounting Today.” He is also distinguished for his contributions as an educator and author, further highlighting his commitment to excellence and professional standards.
Tim Commisso is the City of Burlington’s City Manager. Prior to this role, Tim was a Senior Advisor at MNP, a national accounting, tax and business consulting firm. Having served ten councils and eight mayors, Tim has extensive knowledge and experience in municipal government, strategy development, organizational effectiveness and performance, economic development and change management. Tim holds a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation and obtained his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Wilfrid Laurier University.Tim worked for the City of Burlington for 20 years holding various senior leadership roles including General Manager positions in Community Services and Development and Infrastructure, Director of Parks and Recreation and Deputy City Treasurer.
During his time in Burlington, Tim was at the forefront of community development and engagement. Tim was responsible for major community projects with resident involvement such as the Downtown Waterfront project, the Appleby Ice Centre and Paletta Park and Mansion. Tim was also the project lead on Financial Management System and the facilitation of the Strategic Plan. Having worked in the public sector, Tim also brings many years of knowledge and experience in intergovernmental affairs. Tim’s most recent municipal experience was serving as the City Manager in Thunder Bay for 7 years from 2008 to 2015.
Robert Bevington is a Senior Director in the Telecommunications industry working for Cogeco Connexion. Cogeco is the second largest cable operator in Ontario and Quebec providing residential and business customers with Internet, Video and Telephony solutions. Robert joined Cogeco Conexxion in 2011 and is responsible for the engineering and operational support for Telephony and Internet products. Prior to joining Cogeco, Robert spent 11 years working for Bell Canada in various roles across the Voice and Data portfolios.
Working in the Telecommunications field for nearly 20 years, Robert is a seasoned professional with extensive experience in product and technology innovations, operational management, strategic planning and leading large teams.
Robert graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 1998 with an honours degree in Biochemistry and returned in 2007 to complete an executive MBA at Ivey Business School. Robert has lived in the Burlington area since 2015 with his wife and three children.
Kuljit Bhogal is Director of Procurement, Sustainability and HR at BSB Manufacturing Ltd. BSB is a leading contract manufacturer located in Burlington, Ontario of production machined components and tested assemblies servicing customers such as FCA, GM, Tesla, ZF Sachs, John Deere, CNH and Xylem Inc. Joining her husband in the family-owned business with an impressive 45+ years tenure in the machining industry her focus is to increase diversity into the manufacturing environment and lead the company to a more sustainable future.
Kuljit has over 25 years of Supply Chain experience in the retail, food and electrical manufacturing industries working for Canadian Tire, Pillsbury and most recently Eaton Industries Canada. Her extensive background has enabled her to develop skills in Operations Management, Network and Process Optimization, Strategic Planning, Business Process Improvement, Cost Reduction and Cross-functional team leadership.
Kuljit has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Ryerson University and is currently actively volunteering on the Policy and Advocacy Committee for the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.
Leslie Cooke-Bithrey is a senior talent leader and Chartered Director (C. Dir.) with extensive experience in strategic human resources in both the private and public sector. Leslie currently holds the role of Chief People Officer at Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), a private, non-profit organization, partnering with individuals, corporations, foundations, Indigenous communities and other non-profit organizations and governments at all levels to protect natural areas. Prior to joining NCC in 2023, Leslie held the role of Director of Human Resources, Faculty of Health Sciences, at McMaster University, a global academic leader in health education, research, and training. Her depth of leadership experience includes maximizing organizational performance in support of advancing business objectives and strategy, through fostering a collaborative and high-performing culture.
Leslie holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts (BA(Hons)) from York University, a Certificate in Human Resource Management (CHRM) from the University of Toronto, a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation from the Human Resources Professional Association, and a Chartered Director designation (C. Dir) from The Directors College through The DeGroote School of Business.
Leslie currently serves on the Board of Directors for Summit Housing & Outreach Programs, and brings a passion for community, diversity, inclusion, and access to services and support.
Vanessa Dupuis is currently Executive Director, Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the President at Brock University. Prior to joining Brock in 2021, Vanessa was Senior Manager, Government Relations at Loblaw Companies Limited, overseeing communication and engagement with government at the federal and provincial levels. She also has senior leadership experience in former roles as Strategic and Operations Advisor to the Auditor General at the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, as Interim General Manager at National Training Rinks, and as an entrepreneur managing her own small business for over eight years.
Vanessa holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Guelph/McMaster University collaborative, and a Master of Laws from the University of Toronto. She is also currently pursuing Certification for people leaders through the Harvard Manage Mentor Program.
Vanessa is a community-minded individual who has a history of volunteerism and a passion for giving back to the community. She has coached girls’ rep hockey in Burlington; served on the Board of Directors for a Condominium Corporation; and is Vice-President of the Women’s Executive at Dundas Valley Golf and Curling Club.
Julie Ellis is an Executive Coach to corporate leaders and scaling Entrepreneurs. Julie provides her unique experience and expertise to her coaching clients, gained through 25 years of working first in the corporate world, and then as a leading Canadian entrepreneur. She is a co-founder of award-winning Mabel’s Labels, one of Canada’s greatest small business success stories.
As a professionally certified coach with the International Coaching Federation (2020), Julie works directly with bold leaders propelling them to unlock their capacity, leading to accelerated success.
Since starting her own coaching company, Julie Ellis and Co. in 2016, Julie has been advising and working directly with dozens of organizations. Through Impact Coaches, Julie has been coaching Ontario partners for a leading professional services organization. She was enlisted as the Growth Mentor for female-founded companies in Beyond Boundaries, a program run by Haltech and funded by the Canadian government in their efforts to double the number of women-owned businesses in Canada by 2025. She also spent 18 months as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Snuggle Bugz, a privately owned omni-channel retailer based in Burlington, Ontario. She has been advising entrepreneurs through the Hamilton-based Innovation Factory and Halton-based Haltech since 2019. She is also Chair of the Board at Angel One Investment Network, one of the most active angel investor groups in Canada.
A sought-after speaker and trainer, Julie has developed keynotes and workshops for private companies, corporations and associations, with titles such as “Ignite, Scale and Exit”, “Success Secrets of Wonder Women!” and “Why We All Need to Think Big!”.
Elaine Gerrie is the Co-President and CEO at Gerrie Electric. Gerrie Electric is headquartered in Burlington and is one of the largest independent electrical distributors of products, services and solutions in Canada.The company was started 1957 and continues to be a family owned business and is a certified Women Business Enterprise. Gerrie has 24 locations in Ontario, over 400 employees with a customer mix including Industrial Manufacturing, OEM and Machine Builders, Electrical Contractors and Institutions. Gerrie has been designated as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies since 2014.
Elaine grew up in the business performing various functions in sales, automation, operations and roles including Executive VP, Chief Operating Officer and as Co-President & CEO since 2010. Elaine graduated from University of Western Ontario with a BA in Administrative and Commercial Studies in 1982.
Elaine served on numerous Industry and Executive Boards including Burlington Economic Development Corporation, Young Presidents Organization, Chair of Electro-Federation Canada, Chair of Electro-Federation Scholarship Committee, Steering Committee at Mohawk College to develop the Industrial Distribution Leadership Certificate Program, Committee of Hungry For Change/Canadian Feed the Children, throughout her career hoping to both give back and to influence industry. Elaine currently sits on the Board of supplyFORCE.
Elaine is married with 2 children, 2 grandchildren and living in Burlington since 1989.