Cate Murray, President & CEO

A results oriented executive leader with more than two decades of experience working in public affairs and health research. Cate Murray has a proven track record of helping national organizations move their mandates forward. She currently serves as the President & CEO for the Stem Cell Network. Since 2017, she has secured $69 million in federal funds to support stem cell and regenerative medicine research. Today, she is driving change and growth of SCN. This work will ultimately lead to innovative therapies and technologies that will benefit the health of Canadians for years to come.

Cate began her career in the mid-90s as a political advisor. Exposure to decision-makers provided her with an understanding of the intersection of politics and the public service in the development and communication of public policy.

While at CIHR Cate worked on the development and national consultations of the agency’s strategic plan and oversaw numerous communication initiatives. Reporting to the executive team, Cate was instrumental in helping CIHR build awareness of the organization amongst Parliamentarians.

As the inaugural Director of Communications for the Council of Canadian Academies, Cate oversaw a team who implemented a multi-year communication strategy that saw the brand and the reputation of the Council grow. She engaged on over two dozen projects that have been central for policy development, such as: the state of R&D in Canada, potential impacts from shale gas extraction, business innovation, research integrity, and medicines for kids. While at the Council, Cate also provided leadership and project management support on corporate initiatives such as strategic planning, performance audits and evaluations, and advising on government outreach activities.

Throughout her career, Cate has worked to think strategically and act tactically. Her efforts have translated into millions of dollars in earned national media and support from stakeholder organizations, politicians and members of industry.

Jonathan Draper, Ph.D., Vice-President, Research & Training

Dr. Jon Draper joined SCN in 2018, where he is responsible for the strategic design and rollout of SCN’s research and training programs. Prior to joining SCN, Jon worked extensively with human pluripotent stem cells for two decades. He made numerous contributions to the characterization of these remarkable cells, including identifying their capacity to accumulate genetic abnormalities that have implications for their use in regenerative medicine applications. For 10 years, Jon held a Canada Research Chair and led a research group within the Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University. His group used human pluripotent stem cells to investigate mechanisms of fate commitment within stem cells, in addition to establishing in vitro human model system, including gut organoids, for use in the investigation of disease pathogenesis. Jon has been an active participant within the stem cell community, contributing to endeavours such as the International Stem Cell Initiative, serving as a council member for the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and more recently as a taskforce member of the International Society for Stem Cell Research’s (ISSCR) Standards Initiative for Pluripotent Stem Cell Research.

Justin Moores, Ph.D., Vice-President, Partnerships

Dr. Justin Moores is a seasoned business development professional, who joined SCN in 2022. He is responsible for developing, maintaining, and growing partnerships that advance SCNs strategic goals both nationally and internationally. Referring to himself as a ‘recovering geneticist,’ he pursued doctoral studies specializing in molecular biology and genetics from Memorial University, in partnership with MerckFrosst, and further post-doctoral studies at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute before pivoting to a new career in technology transfer and business development. Justin spent seven years as the Director of Business Development and Strategic Account Manager at Mitacs, where he was responsible building large-scale academic-industry partnerships for universities across Canada. Originally from Newfoundland & Labrador, in 2017 Justin and his family moved ‘back east’ where he took on the roles of CEO of Synapse Inc. and Director of Commercialization, Industry, and Innovation at the University of Prince Edward Island where he was successful in increasing collaborative partnerships, growing UPEI’s technology pipeline, and steering UPEI technologies towards commercialization.

Samantha Rae Ayoub, Vice-President, Communications & Knowledge Mobilization

Samantha Rae Ayoub is a seasoned communication professional with 15 years experience leading high-performing teams and developing strategies to increase the visibility and impact of organizations. Throughout her career she has worked in the non-profit, hospitality, and volunteer sectors, and she has advised numerous CEOs, COOs, Executive Directors, scientists and researchers, coaching them on effective communication strategies, knowledge mobilization tactics, and media relations. Prior to joining SCN in 2021, Samantha ran her own consulting practice and held positions at the Council of Canadian Academies and the Office of the National Science Advisor. Samantha holds a Masters degree in Professional Communication and is an internationally certified Communication Management Professional.

Passionate about leadership and communication overall, Samantha served on the Board of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC Ottawa Chapter) from 2016 to 2020, sitting as President in 2018/19. She remains an active volunteer and mentor within the IABC community and is a regular contributor to Fellow’s blog on the topics of management, leadership, and organizational communication.

Shannon Sethuram, Vice-President, Corporate Services

Shannon Sethuram has over 25 years experience working in the finance profession, both in the not-for-profit and private sectors. As Vice-President, Corporate Services for the Stem Cell Network, Shannon is responsible for overseeing SCN’s finance, human resources, and data management functions.

Having joined the Network in 2008, Shannon has been instrumental in helping SCN achieve its mandate through maintaining the organization’s financial accounting and reporting systems, internal policies and controls, and accounting operations. Shannon also has experience in corporate strategic planning and research administration.

Shannon is a graduate of the Business Administration program at Mount Saint Vincent University and began her career at Coopers and Lybrand in Halifax. She has also held positions at BioCanRX and Sustainable Development Technology Canada.

In her spare time, Shannon is committed to her family, both in Ottawa and in Nova Scotia, as well as enjoying her weekend outings cycling with family and friends.

Ellie Arnold, Ph.D., Training Coordinator

Ellie Arnold joined the Stem Cell Network in 2021. As the Training Coordinator, Ellie is responsible for rolling out SCN’s annual training workshops and events. Ellie is passionate about helping move scientific ideas forward and training the next generation of scientific leaders. Ellie holds a PhD in Chemistry/Biomedical Engineering from the University of Toronto, where she worked on developing new treatments for glioblastoma. Prior to joining the Stem Cell Network, she held previous roles as a business development officer at the University of Prince Edward Island and as a researcher in a biotechnology company.

Rebecca Cadwalader, Manager, Corporate Events & Governance

Rebecca Cadwalader joined the Stem Cell Network in November 2011. As Manager, Administration & Events, Rebecca ensures the delivery of SCN’s research and training program activities, and supports the work of the Stem Cell Network’s Board of Directors, Research Management Committee and trainee committees. Prior to joining SCN, Rebecca was Manager at the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (University of British Columbia), a research institute which builds communities of scientists to promote collaboration and applications in the mathematical sciences. Rebecca brings to the Network over 15 years experience in administration, finance and event management across a variety of organizations in Canada and the United Kingdom. Rebecca holds a degree in Law & Politics from Cardiff University (UK), and a certificate in business accounting from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (UK).

Jen Chappell, Digital Communications Specialist

Jen Chappell joined the Stem Cell Network team in spring of 2017. Jen provides support with the written and creative development of digital communication materials and management of SCN’s website and social media accounts. Her background includes over ten years of experience in the not-for-profit sector, working for charities and foundations in Canada and Australia, with a focus in communications, volunteer management, and program and event planning.

Seohyun In, Accounting Specialist

Seohyun In joined SCN’s finance team in March 2022 in the role of Accounting Specialist. She is responsible for managing the financial activities of the organization and supporting the financial reporting requirements for Stem Cell Network. Seohyun has 10 years of experience working at not-for-profit organizations overseeing all areas of finance and administration, as well as project management and coordination. She brings strong leadership and is a valuable team member who prides herself on the ability to bring efficiency, reliability, loyalty, dedication, and a strong work ethic to an organization.  In her spare time, Seohyun enjoys travelling and learning new things.

Eleni Kanavas, Communications & Events Coordinator

Eleni Kanavas is a corporate communications and event management professional with more than a decade of experience working in the academic health, science and research fields. Eleni joined SCN’s communications team in summer 2021 to support the written and creative development of SCN’s social media and digital communications strategies. Her expertise includes story development, project management of marketing and communications initiatives, event planning, and media and stakeholder relations. Eleni is also a member of the International Association of Business Administrators (IABC Toronto Chapter).

Joanna Valsamis, MHSc, CHE, Director, Knowledge Mobilization

Joanna Valsamis is a health executive with broad experience in strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, health research, health advocacy, knowledge translation, and building partnerships that span Industry, academia, government, non-profit, research institutes, and the healthcare sector.

Joanna’s expertise is rooted in an extensive academic background and enriched by over 15 years working and volunteering in the health charitable sector, forming successful collaborations with diverse stakeholders, implementing effective business solutions, developing business plans and impact reports to attract capital, and strategically investing in programs and priority areas to improve community health. Joanna is a transformative healthcare leader who has consistently demonstrated results in managing high-performing teams, complex projects and programs, and innovative partnerships.

Joanna completed a Master of Science in Health Administration at the University of Toronto and concurrently earned her Certified Health Executive designation. Joanna holds an Honours Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Nutraceutical Science from the University of Guelph, and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto. Outside of work, Joanna spends most of her time chasing after her three young children.

Jennifer Weese, Director, Special Projects

Jennifer Weese lends progressive leadership to engage Special Projects at the Stem Cell Network. Prior to joining the team at SCN, Jennifer worked for 20 years at a Toronto hospital, first as a clinician and then in various roles involving Operational Improvement, IT Leadership and Systems Management. Jennifer also has extensive experience consulting in the areas of Performance Management, Emergency Preparedness and Critical Incident Response. Jennifer is certified in a variety of key performance and leadership topics including Conflict Resolution and Negotiation, Critical Incident and Stress Management, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, Sensory Biomodulation, and Emergency Management.