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.
Randall Smallbone is CEO and a Director of TSX-V listed Astron Connect Inc., Director of CannTx Life Sciences Inc., Director of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, Director and Chair of the Audit Committee of TSX listed Hanwei Energy Services Inc., Vice Chair of Joseph Brant Hospital., and an Advisor to private SME’s. Randall has been Chief Financial Officer of TSX listed companies, Migao Corporation, KCP Income Fund, Decoma International Inc. (Magna International Inc.), Chair of the Board of Inceptum Research and Therapeutics and Chair of the Audit Committee of Norcast Income Fund.
Randall is a financial executive with more than 40 years of operations experience in global manufacturing of consumer goods, contract manufacturing, automotive and aerospace parts. Randall has significant experience in financial management, capital markets, M&A and board governance.
Randall has lived in Burlington for over 35 years and has always been active in the community.
Ron Laidman is the Vice President of Utility Services and Construction at Oakville Enterprises Corporation (OEC). OEC is an industry leader providing end to end energy and infrastructure services including renewable energy generation, power distribution, as well as infrastructure design, construction and field servicing. As Vice President, Ron oversees multiple construction and field services groups within OEC that provide solutions to clients across a broad spectrum of industries including telecommunications, utilities, government, construction, industrial and small business. In this capacity, Ron is also responsible for business excellence and analytics across OEC.
Ron has extensive experience in operations, business development, project execution, and mergers and acquisitions and has held various senior leadership positions across multiple industries. Ron holds both a Mechanical Engineering and MBA degree and is a Professional Engineer in Ontario and Alberta. He lives with his wife and 2 children in Burlington.
Finance Committee Chair
Gordon Kack is the Chief Operating Officer for Colliers Project Leaders, Canada’s largest real property management consulting company. For more than 30 years, Colliers Project Leaders has provided project leadership delivery, strategic program management, and advisory services to both public and private sector clients – delivering certainty on more than 20,000 real property development projects from coast to coast. The Burlington office of Colliers Project Leaders is one of its largest offices and serves as the head office for the Central Canadian operations.
Gordon has more than 30 years of experience within the real property development industry, including the establishment of two successful consulting practices. To date, Gordon has led the successful planning and delivery of more than 700 commercial, municipal, institutional, and retail projects throughout Canada. He has extensive expertise in the delivery of specialized project management services that incorporate rigorous quality, environmental, risk, cost, and schedule management processes.
Gordon has a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering, is a Project Management Professional (PMP), and a LEED Accredited Professional. He and his wife, Marilyn have proudly raised three daughters in Burlington.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Conrath is an accomplished senior executive, comfortable in both the academic and corporate worlds. He graduated with Great Distinction from Stanford University with a degree in economics. After serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy, he continued his education with an M.S. in Industrial Administration from Carnegie-Mellon University, and an M.A. in Economics and a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of California – Berkeley. He is also a member of Professional Engineers, Ontario.
David’s academic career began at Berkeley. He then joined the faculty of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He moved to Canada to teach and conduct research at the University of Waterloo, where he stayed for 25 years. Before retiring, he became the Dean of Business at McMaster University and then held the same position at San Jose State University in California. In addition, he spent several years at the Universite d’Aix-Marseille in France.
David established Conrath Communications Ltd., and has done consulting with both private industry and government organizations in North America and Europe, primarily to provide advice in the design, implementation and evaluation of information/communication systems.
David has served on a number of boards in the academic, arts and culture and private sector industries. He is currently on the Royal Botanical Gardens board of directors and is a member of their Audit and Finance committee.
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.
Shelly Szekely is the Director of Development of Astra Capital Incorporated. Astra Capital Incorporated is a leader in sustainable development of mixed-use, retail, office and industrial properties, with a commitment to design excellence and attaining the highest level of environmental performance in all their projects. Mercedes-Benz of Burlington, built by Astra Capital Incorporated, was awarded the Best Retail Design award in 2013. As Director of Development, Shelly oversees and manages the high-level strategic planning, design and development aspects within the company portfolio of properties.
Shelly has comprehensive experience in Land Use Planning. Working over a decade as an Urban Planner for Canada’s largest municipality, the City of Toronto, Shelly was largely involved in the redevelopment and transformation of the Humber Bay Shores community, as well as other significant mixed-use residential & commercial development in downtown Toronto.
Transitioning from the public service role to work in the private sector for an international premier law firm, Goodmans LLP, Shelly has successfully obtained many approvals for large-scale mixed use residential, retail and office developments.
Having both public and private sector experience, Shelly understands the dynamics of development and balances with success the outcome that benefits the community.
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.