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Staff

Cate Murray, President & CEO

Cate Murray is President and CEO for Canada’s Stem Cell Network. Cate is an experienced not-for-profit executive with a background in government relations, public policy and communications. Cate has been leading and growing the Stem Cell Network since 2017. As the head of SCN, she has secured $117M in funding that is directly leading to cutting-edge research for the benefit of patients, contributing to the growth of Canada’s regenerative medicine sector, and ensuring next generation talent have the skills and expertise needed to compete on the global stage.

Cate began her career in the mid-90s as a Ministerial policy advisor. After leaving politics she joined the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) where she combined her knowledge of government and communications to support Canada’s health research community. Building on her experience at CIHR, Cate joined the Council of Canadian Academies as a member of the senior leadership team where she worked with over a dozen expert panels to raise awareness of their work and see its adoption into public policy.

Today, Cate leads a team of ~20 talented professionals, Board members and stem cell and regenerative medicine scientists and scholars who are passionate about delivering Canadian innovations to patients.

Cate has an Honours Degree from King’s College at the University of Western Ontario. She is a mother of two daughters and stepmother to two sons. Cate is passionate about STEAM and  lives by the mantra that every great scientist needs an arts major.

Jon 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.

Samantha Rae Ayoub, MA, CMP, 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 Specialist (on leave)

Ellie Arnold joined the Stem Cell Network in 2021. As the Training Specialist, 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.

Mike Brittain, Accounting Coordinator

Mike Brittain joined the Stem Cell network in 2023. As the Accounting Coordinator, Mike supports the Corporate Services team in the management of financial systems and reporting requirements for SCN. Mike has over six years’ experience in not-for-profit accounting, having previously worked with Community Foundations of Canada and the Rideau Hall Foundation. Mike holds a B.A. in Classical Studies from the University of Ottawa and was a professional drummer before entering the field of accounting.

Rebecca Cadwalader, CMP, Director, Corporate Events & Governance

Rebecca Cadwalader joined the Stem Cell Network in November 2011. As Director, Corporate Events & Governance, Rebecca ensures the successful delivery of SCN’s events program, including sponsored events, corporate meetings, and SCN’s annual conference, the Till & McCulloch Meetings.

A Certified Meeting Professional with over 20 years’ experience in event planning and management, Rebecca brings a passion for designing and executing outstanding events that bring SCN’s community together for knowledge sharing and collaboration. Rebecca ensures that every event she oversees exceeds expectations and leaves a lasting impression.

Prior to joining SCN, Rebecca was Manager at the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences at the University of British Columbia, a research institute which builds communities of scientists to promote collaboration and applications in the mathematical sciences. 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 May 2017. With a strategic mindset, Jen is responsible for creating and executing engaging content for SCN’s website and digital publications. In addition to project managing large team-led projects, she takes the lead in designing and producing digital assets for SCN’s annual conference, the Till & McCulloch Meetings, including the mobile app.

With more than 12 years of experience in the non-profit sector, Jen has worked for various organizations, and charities in Canada and Australia. Jen’s expertise lies in digital communications, project management, volunteer coordination and event planning.

Rinji Dawurang, Database Specialist

Rinji Dawurang joined the Stem Cell network in 2023. As a Database Specialist at SCN, Rinji plays a key role in supporting the organization in translating corporate requirements and leading the organization in gathering reporting metrics and providing insight to support decision making for corporate planning and long-term strategic planning. He has over 2 years of experience in the financial industry driving growth and supporting key business decisions with company data.

 

Deanna Guitard, Director of Finance

Deanna Guitard, Stem Cell Network’s Director of Finance, is a professional accountant with 25 years’ experience across the private and not-for-profit sectors. She brings a wealth of experience in financial leadership and organizational operations with a focus financial reporting, budgeting, process improvement and change management.

Deanna has spent the last decade consulting with organizations, helping them develop robust internal controls and processes to support growth.

Deanna has a business degree from St-Francis Xavier University in addition to her CPA designation.  Her favourite activities are spending time with her husband and children, exploring interesting hiking destinations, and making music with her friends and family.

Trang Ho-Nguyen, Social Media Specialist

Trang Ho-Nguyen joined the Stem Cell Network in March 2024. As the Social Media Specialist, Trang strategically develops and implements content across digital channels to showcase stem cell and regenerative medicine research in Canada, while managing training promotions and monthly newsletters. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts Combined Honours in Communications and Psychology from Carleton University.

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.

Gail Lagowski, Human Resources

Gail Lagowski is a seasoned specialist with over 30 years of experience in human resources. She is a passionate, people-centred and results-driven professional who strives to position HR as a strategic partner for business excellence. Gail oversees the design and delivery of integrated HR solutions that align with the organization’s vision, values, and goals.

Gail has utilized her psychology degree in government, IT and post-secondary industry roles. She is a strong believer in the power of positive thinking in the workplace, and is proud to contribute to improved efficiency and satisfaction across the organization. She has personally found a great benefit in implementing wellness measures in her own life, including yoga, golf, and running.

Alison Ryan, Executive Assistant

Alison Ryan joined SCN’s Executive Office in July 2023 as the Executive Assistant to the President and CEO. She is responsible for supporting the day-to-day operations of the CEO’s Office for the Stem Cell Network. Alison has almost 20 years of experience as an executive assistant and manager of administrative services across a variety of organizations in Ottawa. She contributes to the organizational effectiveness of the Executive Office and is a dedicated team member. Alison is a graduate of Algonquin College’s School of Media and Design, having attended the Public Relations and Television Broadcasting programs. In her free time she enjoys baking, reading, hiking, and travelling.

Gustavo Scola, MBiotech, Ph.D., Research and Funding Specialist

Gustavo Scola joined the Stem Cell Network as Research and Funding Specialist in January 2023.

Gustavo has a notable professional experience in addition to his academic career. In 2017, Gustavo held the role of Community-based Researcher working in regulated clinical trials in Northern Ontario. In early 2019, Gustavo joined the Ontario Brain Institute, a not-for-profit organization funded by the Government of Ontario. He held the role of Contracts Specialist and has helped in the development of research strategies and operational plans while supporting the implementation of these strategies on countless initiatives.

Since 2019, Gustavo has been exposed to the management of six research networks across Ontario and developed vital research and organizational management expertise. In addition to research management, Gustavo has managed several online platforms, including a Grant/Contract portal for the Ontario Brain Institute.

Gustavo began his career as a physiotherapist specializing in neurological rehabilitation and obtained both Masters’ and Ph.D. degrees in Biotechnology at the University of Caxias do Sul, Brazil. Gustavo also completed post-doctorate studies at the joint Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the University of Toronto, as well as formal training in Management at MIT.

Outside of work, Gustavo places a focus on enjoying a healthy lifestyle. He enjoys almost any outdoor activity, like hiking and cycling, travelling, and spending time with family and friends. 

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.