The READ magazine (Winter 2019)

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FUNNY GIRL Award-winning comic actress Emma HUNTER’03 skewers the news page 18

We don’t just teach them to know the answer. We teach them to be the answer.

Canada p South Korea

Branksome Hall Vision To be the pre-eminent educational community of globally minded learners and leaders. Branksome Hall Mission Each day, we challenge and inspire girls to love learning and to shape a better world. W IN T ER 2 018 –19

Contents 34


The READ Committee Editor Tanya Pimenoff Editorial Advisor Berton Woodward Cris Coraggio Karen L. Jurjevich Karrie Weinstock




GREAT DEBATERS With international students facing off on Branksome turf at the World Individual Debating & Public Speaking Championships in April, top debaters Zeenia FRAMROZE’11 and Jordyn BENATTAR’11 share stories from their Branksome days and today

26 Designing Woman With Roomhints, her startup business, Tiffany WILLSON’03 has comfortably settled into the male-dominated world of high tech

30 Veggie Star Chef Amanda COHEN’93 is tantalizing the taste buds of New Yorkers at Dirt Candy, her trendy vegetarian restaurant

34 Dollars and Sex Economist, professor and columnist Marina ADHSADE’86 is a renowned expert, with edgy ideas on sex, love, and sex robots

18 Funny Girl Emma HUNTER’03 has come a long way since her performances on the Branksome stage; now she is taking the world of comedy by storm

37 Sailing Away Judy SHYKOFF Millard’70 and her husband traded their Toronto house for a life of travel aboard Veleda IV, their 32-foot sailboat

22 eBay’s Head Coach Andrea STAIRS Krishnappa’92 has learned how to incorporate successful everyday strategies into her role as corporate leader, wife and mom

Principal’s Message Editorial School Scoop Pants by SMYTHE; Student app travels into space; Meet Carly and Tim Ryder; Our vision of innovation 43 Alum Life Thank you, Dr. Shepherd; Travels from The Hague to Singapore; The creation of beauty; Family Fun Day

Contributors Sally Cook, Chris Daniels, Martin Dee, Gabriela Hasbun, Patricia Hluchy, Jeff Kirk, Elizaveta KOZLOVA’15, Andy Lee, Tiffany MANCHESTER’92, Aubrey Millard, Judy SHYKOFF Millard’70, Joe O’Connor, Christian Peterson, Helen Putsman, Sarah SAHAGIAN’04, Janet Sailian, Isabelle SICILIANO’09, Caley Taylor, Nora Underwood, Amy VERNER’98, Dana WARREN’86, Lesley Young Alumnae, Employees and Friends of Branksome Hall Design and Production Michael Cherkas + Associates

Correction 2017–18 Issue of The READ On p. 67, the wedding date of Alexandra STEVENSON’03 was incorrect, and should have read August 2, 2016.

40 From Big Pharma to Global Health Carol SZETO’90 has turned her attention to helping vaccinate children in the slums of India


2 3 4

On the cover Emma HUNTER’03 strikes a humorous pose holding the impressive statuette she received for a best actress category at the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards. Emma was photographed at her home in Toronto.

48 Winning Women Alum Award recipients 52 54 68 76

Rebecca ROBERTSON’68 and Emily HINES’10 Reunion 2018 Class Notes* Passages A Day in the Life On the North Atlantic with Morgyn McKERLIE’15

*View The READ online at For privacy purposes, Class Notes is not available in digital format.

Branksome Hall 10 Elm Avenue Toronto, ON M4W 1N4 Tel: 416-920-9741 Email: Winter 2018 –19 Volume 58, Number 1 Canadian Publications Mail Agreement No.40010445


Living Our True Values In recent months, Branksome has embarked on a transformational project to define and embed the principles that inspire our community BY KAREN L. JURJEVICH


ne of my proudest days at Branksome Hall was introducing Canada’s 28th Governor General, The Right Honourable David Johnston, to our school community at our year-end Green Carpet ceremony. An impactful and inspiring leader, Johnston epitomizes what it means to be Canadian. When asked for advice on how one stays optimistic in these uncertain political times, he responded: “To thine own self be true,” quoting Shakespeare. “Live by one’s own best values, such as Canadian values of being smart, caring and resilient.” Johnston’s words resonated with me, as I reflected on our journey to define the unique Branksome Hall values and behaviours that drive our culture. This is transformational work which began in May 2018 and has continued to evolve since. Defining and living our values means we are creating the future for Branksome Hall. Our values are foundational and give meaning and direction to how we implement our mission, vision and strategy. Even more importantly, our values speak to us personally, guiding the everyday choices we make in our lives. Leadership expert Richard Barrett writes, “Values stand at the very core of human decision-making. When we work in an organization whose culture aligns with our personal values, we feel liberated.” As a result of my learning from our values project, I am convinced the integration of work and personal values leads to greater commitment from our community to our mission, vision and strategy. While this may seem an ambitious task, I am confident we will attain it. The values project’s goal integrated the


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best of ‘who we’ve been, who we are and who we will be,’ in order to “shape a better world.” There are four desired outcomes: • Identify and define four core values with associated behaviours. • Invite all members of the Branksome community to take responsibility for living the values. • Use the Branksome values to inform decisions and strategic choices. • Demonstrate the values in action. As a starting point for the project, we carried out a baseline diagnostic, The Cultural Values Assessment, developed at the Barrett Values Centre, in England (values We collected data from 587 students and employees, which allowed us to evaluate the cultural health of our school. Participants selected personal values, values they see in the current culture, and values they would like to see in the future or desired culture. Most significantly, the assessment data told us that our students and employees can and want to contribute more of themselves to create the best future for Branksome Hall

within a supportive environment, where all voices are valued and heard. Once we launched this work, representatives from faculty, staff and students came together to form the Values Working Group. Along with members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), they interpreted the results of the values survey. My role on this project has been to work with Head of Talent Management Patricia DiNicolantonio and two remarkable organizational development consultants. Halfway through the project, the SLT was tasked with integrating the survey findings and feedback, and selecting four core values for our school. This was not an easy task. With the guidance and support of our consultants, we determined the four values that best reflected Branksome Hall: Sense of Community, Creativity, Inclusiveness, and Making a Difference. The project has involved all employees in three values workshops, where we have shared results, engaged in open and trusting dialogue and have defined values and associated behaviours.

“We determined the four values that best reflected Branksome Hall. They are: Sense of Community, Creativity, Inclusiveness, and Making a Difference.”


I’m Very Pleased to Be Here Learning how to speak in public can set you up for life BY TANYA PIMENOFF

In the next phase of our work, we will continue to seek input from school leaders, employees and students, as we explore our definition of the values and the associated behaviours and actions. We will implement initiatives that allow us to live these in our daily practice, systems and processes. Finally, we will identify success measures and development needs of leaders, students and employees, enabling us to embed our values into the hearts and minds of the Branksome community. I am confident this challenging work will gain momentum as we capture and celebrate progress moments, and deepen our understanding of what it means to be a values-driven school. This work is transformational—both personally and professionally. Our values represent our beliefs about what is most important and worthwhile. Values are our principles and standards. What could be more important for Branksome Hall? Every day, we see complex issues debated in our school and in the media. Our shared values allow us to appreciate multiple perspectives through open and trusting dialogue. As we cultivate our already strong sense of inclusiveness and use our creativity to navigate the world, we build relationships where values align. Building a strong sense of community enables us to make a difference in the world. Now, in my 21st year as principal, I have seen incredible growth and inspirational leadership at our school. We will sustain this trajectory because of our values, our deeply held principles and the belief that we share as members of the Branksome community. I invite you to join me on this journey. R


ublic Speaking. Just those two words can easily divide a population into those who thrive in the limelight and those who shy away from it. For me, well, I was in that second group. But I came by it honestly. When I was growing up in Montreal, public speaking and debating were not on my school’s list of co-curriculars. I remember my father pacing in his study, rehearsing a speech he would deliver at his Topics Club that week—an organization comprising mostly men who banded together to tackle their jittery nerves in a supportive environment. They were all professionals, as was my father, but they just didn’t like public speaking, and they were trying to do something about it. So, years ago, I decided to do something about it as well. I joined Toastmasters—an international organization that “empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.” The weekly lunch meetings were held at the TTC offices at Yonge and Davisville—a time and location that fit perfectly into my day at Branksome. Every Wednesday, my colleagues would wish me luck as I dashed out the door (meetings began promptly—don’t be late!—and followed a tight agenda) to spend an hour in the company of like-minded people. We were there to learn how to speak, how to listen and how to give encouraging feedback. A regular weekly feature was the one-minute rant, where you had to stand and speak about a random topic you picked from an envelope. A minute can be a long time. Learning how to speak publicly, and debate knowledgeably, especially during one’s school years can set you up for life. In this issue of The READ, a feature article, Great Debaters, will look into Branksome’s outstanding debating program and how it has played a key role in the busy lives of classmates Zeenia FRAMROZE’11 and Jordyn BENATTAR’11. And, in other stories, Amanda COHEN’93 in Veggie Star and Andrea STAIRS’92, in Head Coach, were both recently on CBC Radio, speaking comfortably about their respective work. Plus, in California, you will see tech entrepreneur Tiff WILLSON’03, in Designing Woman, stand confidently on a giant stage engaging an audience of hundreds. Through these stories and more, the importance of public speaking skills comes into practical view, whether in educational pursuits, careers, volunteer work or just everyday life. How very fitting that we will be the first school in Canada to host the World Individual Debating & Public Speaking Championships in April. As for me, I learned to be prepared and really know my topic. It takes perseverance and practice and, if it doesn’t come naturally, it can be a learned skill. In the time since I trekked to my weekly Toastmasters meetings (which are still booming worldwide), I’ve had the privilege of speaking at various conferences in Canada, the US and Europe, and even being ranked as a “stellar speaker” for making it into the top 10 per cent of Council for Advancement and Support of Education speakers worldwide. And if I can do it, we all can. R

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On ‘Imposter Syndrome’ Fighting fear of failure Wellness Coordinator at Western University and this year’s keynote speaker at Installation, introduced the audience to the concept of “imposter syndrome”—attributing your success to luck, or to others mistakenly regarding you as more intelligent than you believe you are. “Every time you succeed,” she said, “the ‘imposter’ makes you even more fearful about failing next time.” Dr. Atkins encouraged students to embrace new challenges that both scare and excite one’s potential but, also, to know when good stress tips over into distress. “For me,” she added, “I now know the people, the strategies and the resources to reset that equilibrium.”


A Visit from a Woman of Influence Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy talks to the BHPA and the Senior School and activist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was guest speaker at Senior School Assembly on October 12 and, later, at the Branksome Hall Parents’ Association luncheon held at the Granite Club. Known for her work exploring the inequality of women, Ms Obaid-Chinoy is the first artist to co-chair the World Economic Forum and has been named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. “Don’t worry about how to change the whole world; change one thing about the world around you and the whole world will indeed change,” she said.


Ms Obaid-Chinoy with Sasha DARLING’87, President of the Branksome Hall Parents’ Association.


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Pants… in the Uniform! No excuse for cold knees introduced pants to the school uniform. Designers Christie SMYTHE’90 and Andrea LENCZNER’90, the talented duo who run Smythe, worked with student and faculty advisors to bring a stylish, yet practical, new look to the uniform. The navy blue pants flatter a broad range of body types and include a touch of Branksome’s traditional green plaid in the pleated ankle slit. Lovers of the Branksome kilt should not despair—the kilt, tie and blazer remain the “number one” school uniform.


A Sparkling Evening Honouring generosity at the Circle Reception

The Right Honourable David Johnston and Principal Karen Jurjevich share a lighthearted moment.

The Circle Reception recognizes donors who have made leadership gifts and contributed $1,000 or more to the school in the last fiscal year. Enjoying the outdoor venue of the Price Family Heritage Courtyard are: John Hepburn (left), former head girls Sally ADAMS Medland’66 and Barb PATTISON Hepburn’69, former Alumnae Association president Wendy MORGAN Deeks’66 and Bob Medland.

Stay Optimistic Live by one’s own best values THE RIGHT HONOURABLE David Johnston, Canada’s 28th Governor General (2010–17), addressed an enthusiastic audience at the Green Carpet ceremony on June 14, 2018, and was joined by his wife, Sharon Johnson, during the question and answer session. Key learnings from the dynamic duo—parents of five daughters—were: learn French, embrace diversity and be true to “thine own self.”

Our Athletics and Wellness Centre is an exciting new venue for cocktail receptions, sit-down dinners, product launches, conferences, weddings and parties. Come and check out the beautiful spaces for your next event. 416-920-6265, ext. 181.

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A New Leader for Branksome Hall Asia


Welcome, Cinde Lock OUR SISTER SCHOOL’S

new principal, Cinde Lock, is passionate about students and their learning. With 28 years of experience in education, she has extensive knowledge of the International Baccalaureate and has served as coordinator of both Middle Year and Diploma Year Programs. In addition to gaining experience in Canada as a teacher and administrator, Cinde has worked in international schools in Trinidad, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and South Korea. Along with her BEd, BSc and MEd, she holds a PhD with a specialty in curriculum and assessment.

Setting a Record A bountiful Class of 2018 Bursary The Class of 2018 has created a lasting legacy for the benefit of future Branksome students. In the months leading up to their graduation in May, 83 per cent of students and 65 per cent of graduating year parents raised a total commitment of $100,000—a new Branksome record! Kudos and thanks go to parents Alison WILEY’82, Joel Rochon, Barbara Bottini, and Bryan Colangelo for inspiring and leading the parents’ fundraising efforts.

Future Classrooms: Year One What we learned about our renovated spaces is helping our Branksome community explore our realities and research on girls’ education. This requires us to head into uncharted territory and investigate the edge of what is possible. An example is the Future Classrooms Study, based on four renovated classrooms at Branksome Hall—spaces that challenge us to consider what is truly needed to help students and teachers thrive in the 21st century. At first glance, the new rooms may look like an investment in gadgets—wheeled chairs, wall-to-wall whiteboards, a treadmill desk and interactive projectors. Yet underpinning these spaces is an investment in offering new ways to collaborate, be creative, and exercise voice and choice—powerful values for students who are tasked with shaping the world anew. What did Year One research tell us? Many students appreciate the movement that the furniture offers. Teachers welcome the ability to have students display and collaborate on work from math problems to history projects. Yet we also learned that choice is sometimes at the expense of excluding others. Teachers push space designers to recognize that access and age appropriate agency need to be part of the conversation. As I look to the year ahead, many exciting initiatives are on the way. We shall continue to work with our advisory board of esteemed scholars, to support students and employees in their own inquiry projects and to forge new partnerships in research. I look forward to keeping you posted as we continue to grow. THE CHANDARIA RESEARCH CENTRE



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? This year’s Prefects are encouraging each member of the Branksome Hall community to consider what is important, and how we can share our passions with the school.

A Branksome app joins the International Space Station

the Grade 10 computer engineering class participated in the European Space Agency’s international space science competition: the AstroPi Challenge. Naming their team The Dark Side of Light, the students entered the competition with the objective of measuring light pollution and patterns of energy consumption. They created a computer program that measured light levels at night by location and, where possible, compared them with open data about energy consumption. Their

IN FALL 2017,

Following their presentation at Senior School Assembly, Adele, left, and Alexa proudly display their well-earned award.


Going into Orbit computer program qualified for space flight on the International Space Station for two orbits and returned more than 100,000 light readings for the students to analyze. The European Space Agency was so impressed with the scientific quality of their analysis that the Dark Side of Light was selected as one of the 10 winners of the competition. They were the only winning team from Canada and the only all-female winning team worldwide. In June 2018, students Adele CreteLaurence and Alexa Vasilakos participated in a live web conference with British astronaut Tim Peake, who embraces the importance of a positive attitude and a willingness to work through challenges. Now in Grade 11, Adele and Alexa described their conversation as “one of the highlights of this whole journey.”

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Carly and Tim Ryder pose in front of 10 Elm Avenue, once known as Hollydene—and the home of Carly’s great-great-great grandfather.

Student Profile

From Miss Sneezepickle to the IB Student Carly Ryder and her father Tim share a unique Branksome heritage BY ASHLEY CARTER



feel like it’s a little weird, but it’s cool,” giggles new Grade 7 student Carly Ryder, while turning to her father, Tim Ryder. What’s weird, yet cool for Carly is that her father is a Branksome sandbox alum and attended nursery school here in 1968. “I was four years old,” recalls Tim. Picturing the ornate wood-panelled walls of 2 Elm Avenue, affectionately dubbed Readacres, Tim laughs as he fondly remembers Dot Seixas, a.k.a. Miss Sneezepickle—the teacher and fun-loving piano player who regaled the Kindergarten


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students each day. Besides music time around the piano, snack time was also a vivid memory. “What four-year-old isn’t going to remember juice and cookies,” he grins. Beginning in 1940, Branksome accepted boys from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3, before it became an all-girls school again in 1994. Attending Branksome is somewhat of a family tradition for the Ryders. Tim’s sister-in-law Annie BUNTING’83 and Ryder cousins Jenny’83, Andrea’84 and Phoebe’89

all went to the school, as well as Tim’s brothers Bruce and Hugh. “It was definitely a positive experience for me, because I remember waiting at home for a school bus to pick me up, but I have no recollection of wanting to go home,” says Tim. “So I was obviously very excited every morning to come here!” And now history is repeating itself. When the time came to consider a school for his daughter, Tim was obviously familiar with Branksome and was impressed with the IB Program, as was Carly. “I really enjoy math and I like science a lot too,” she says. “I want to be a marine biologist when I get older, which involves a lot of math and science.” In her first year at Branksome, Carly is thriving both academically and in her co-curriculars. She is co-head of the Yoga Club and a member of the Trivia Club, the Animal Rights Club and the Cheer Club. “And I’m on the swim team,” she adds. What has helped Carly feel so at home so quickly is that Branksome really is like home to her. In 1876, Carly’s great-great-greatgrandfather, John Lang Blaikie, bought two lots for $4,300 on the future school property, where he built Hollydene, the beautiful red brick mansion with the iconic porte-cochère main entrance. “I definitely feel connected because I have so many relatives that have gone here and because of our connection to the building,” Carly says. The Blaikie family lived at Hollydene for several years before selling it to Hugh Ryan, who then sold it to Branksome principal Edith M. Read in 1912 for the tidy sum of $48,000. Knowing the family’s fascinating connection to the property, Tim and Carly are very proud to call themselves past and current Branksome students. Says Tim: “It’s neat walking into 10 Elm Avenue knowing that our ancestors built it.” R Ashley CARTER’06 is a communications officer at Branksome Hall.

Remarkable day camps in the heart of Toronto

For summer fun for boys and girls, check out Branksome Hall Day Camps. Campers will enjoy exploring our 13-acre campus and beautiful new Athletics and Wellness Centre— featuring two saltwater pools, a gym, dance and yoga studios.



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Faculty Profile

Tech Head Technology and Innovation Director Michael Ianni-Palarchio has been unlocking the future since he was a kid BY CHRIS DANIELS



gainst seasoned teams, a group of Grade 10 Branksome girls in 2017 designed, built and piloted their first robot for the Vex Robotics Competition at St. Michael’s College. It included a difficult coding challenge requiring the robot to operate for 15 seconds autonomously. Michael Ianni-Palarchio, Branksome’s director of technology and innovation, looked on proudly as the girls’ nervous energy transformed into exuberant confidence. Their small robot outperformed some bigger, flashier bots. The team was working together, problem-


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solving and making quick adjustments to the robot in between tasks. “I could have been landing a rover on Mars—that is how awesome it was to see these girls achieve what they did alongside their teachers,” says Michael, co-creator of Branksome’s first competitive robotics team. “It was an unexpected ‘wow’ moment for me.” It is also indicative of the wide-ranging impact Michael—affectionately called “Mr. I-P in IT”—is having at the school since joining in January 2016. Yet he recalls that friends raised an eyebrow when he decided to wind

down his boutique IT consulting firm for a full time job at Branksome. They worried he wouldn’t be able to experiment, push the envelope and be entrepreneurial. After all, this is a guy who wrote his first code at age nine, tinkered with Apple equipment to build new devices while a student in computer science at the University of Toronto (where he also studied philosophy), and founded his first of many startups, an animation firm, at age 21. On the corporate side, he was on the team at Ernst & Young that helped Bell Canada, in 1995, launch one of the country’s first internet service providers, Sympatico. Michael has also served as technology director for corporations in industries from insurance to telecommunications. “They asked, ‘Can you actually innovate at a school? Working with kids?’” Michael says. “Now to those same people, I’ll share how we’re putting our data through machinelearning algorithms. Or how the girls just hosted a panel on artificial intelligence with insights so good I would have paid money at a conference to attend.” Michael was never supposed to be in the top tech post at Branksome. That’s because the school was already a three-year client of his strategy consulting business and had most recently hired him to recruit candidates. A coffee with Principal Karen Jurjevich (who incidentally shares his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) made him realize he need look no further than in the mirror for the perfect person for the job. “Karen is a real visionary and wants to make technology and innovation a strategic asset for students at our school,” he says. “And so the fact that I am on the senior leadership team is one of the significant changes to the role. It allows me to bring new technology and ideas to Branksome, but also to think strategically and help build a mindset of innovation. “When you’re experimenting with tech and advancements in robotics and AI, you’re in a sense playing with the future. But when you get it into the hands of the kids, you’re seeing the future,” says Michael. “It is incredibly meaningful work.” R Chris Daniels is a Toronto freelance writer and editor.

A New Vision of Innovation Branksome is part of Toronto’s exploding focus on tech


nnovation is the buzzword of the decade. It really describes a mindset—an openness to push boundaries, create new things and find user-friendly solutions to a host of problems. And the engine driving much of global innovation is the network of high-tech clusters in cities across the world, including Toronto. According to Los Angeles–based CBRE’s annual Scoring Tech Talent Report, Canada’s largest metropolis ranked as North America’s fastest-growing tech centre in 2017 for the second year running. More technology jobs were created in Toronto than in Seattle, Atlanta, New York City, Boston and even the San Francisco Bay Area. Toronto also became the first city in Canada to place in the ranking’s top five. Branksome is part of this growing movement of innovation and entrepreneurship. Grade 5 girls last year completed a visual arts unit in which they sewed electronics into accessories such as bracelets, handbags and eyeglasses—and programmed those electronics to react to the environment, including lighting up in darkness. In Grade 9 music, girls used digital fabrication tools such as programmable 3-D printers and carving machines to build musical instruments. Girls in Grade 11 film tested out drones to see how the footage they captured overhead could be used in a film’s establishing shots, showing a scene’s location.. It is all part of Branksome’s mandate “to provide students with the skills and tools to succeed, as well as the time, spaces and programming to take risks and buck the gender disparity that exists especially in the high-tech and entrepreneurial spheres.”

Donn Eric Pasiliao, technology experience designer and coordinator at Branksome, says the goal is to create a thriving environment of innovation across all classes. “We are showing girls that they don’t have to drop their love of geography or arts or science to participate in tech innovation. And that they don’t have to be a computer science person to develop something new and exciting,” says Donn. “It is happening everywhere.” At the epicentre of many innovative new programs at Branksome are dedicated learning Makerspaces—in particular the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Studio with its manufacturinggrade 3D printers as well as its virtual reality and augmented reality capabilities. Here girls can discover, develop and test their ideas. The school’s new approach to innovation wasn’t developed in isolation. Administrators and teachers visited dozens of North American organizations on the cutting edge, including schools, performing arts centres and startup hubs at universities and major companies. That has sparked conversations and in some cases partnerships between the school and entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, academics and executives. With a new understanding of innovation, Branksome has in turn adopted an integrated approach around subject matter adjacencies—from the sciences to the performing arts—and how together they can act as a hub for innovation. “We are not isolating innovation to a few classes or subjects,” says Donn. “It is being integrated across the school.” — CHRIS DANIELS

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GRE DEBA Zeenia FRAMROZE’11 and Jordyn BENATTAR’11 are standout examples of why Branksome is thrilled to host the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships in April BY BERTON WOODWARD



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EAT ATERS eenia Framroze and Jordyn Benattar are hardly two peas in a pod. Zeenia grew up in Mumbai, liked to teach herself Latin, and now works in business development at a tech startup in Silicon Valley. Jordyn Benattar grew up in Toronto, was a child actress, and now runs her own consulting firm while finishing her combined JD/MBA studies in law and business. But it’s easy to spot their similarity. Both are really good at talking. So it may be no surprise that the two Branksome classmates were co-heads of the debating and public speaking society during high school. “We came from completely different backgrounds,” says Jordyn. “Debating brought us together and we became really close friends. It was not only a competitive co-curricular activity but it was a means to make strong connections with other bright, intelligent, ambitious (continued on page 14) young women.”


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(continued from page 13) And both women, who have been highly successful in their early careers, are convinced their debating background has made a huge difference in their stories so far. “I think it was debating that got me into Harvard,” says Zeenia, who was the overall winner of the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships held in Lithuania in 2010. “Being able to think quickly and be articulate is so important,” she says. “And I love thinking about how to deliver an argument so people can relate to it—it’s useful for essays in college, it’s useful in talking to your supervisor for your master’s, and it’s useful in dealing with clients at work.” Jordyn, herself a multiple winner on the world stage, agrees: “Often my brain will get me in the door, but it will be my craftsmanship in conversation, and my ability to persuade and convey a cogent message eloquently, that allows me to stay in the room.” You can see that the students who compete in the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships are a formidable bunch. And this spring, some 110 of them— plus countless coaches, teachers and parents— are coming to Branksome Hall from schools all over the world to follow in the footsteps of Zeenia and Jordyn. The Worlds, as they’re known, will be held from April 11 to 17, 2019. “All our teachers, faculty and students will be working and participating in some way in this tournament,” says history teacher Tracy DALGLISH’81, who has overseen Branksome’s tournament involvement since 2009. Branksome Hall has long put great value on debating and public speaking, says Deputy Principal Karrie Weinstock, who was a debater herself at school in her native South Africa. She notes that competitors must marshal and write complex arguments, deliver them in front of judges and accept their feedback. “To do that takes tremendous poise, character and confidence,” she says. “And then you must face winning or losing, and see people who speak better than yourself and learn from them. Every single part of that experience is something I believe will set a young woman up for success in her future life.”


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Inspired by “Talking Circles” observed by many Canadian Indigenous communities and cultures, our logo symbolizes how participants come together as united equals to discuss important topics and issues. The maple leaf represents our nation’s role as tournament host—just one of many equal nations represented at this global gathering.

To parent Larry Lowenstein, a lawyer whose daughters Julie’12, Maya’14 and Anna Lisa’17 were all involved in debating at Branksome, “it was in some ways the most important intellectual endeavour our girls undertook at Branksome, because it exposes young people to issues of the day in a very sustained and pithy way.” He accompanied Julie and Anna Lisa each to Worlds in Australia in, respectively, Brisbane in 2011 and Sydney in 2016. “Both events were extremely impressive with a very high calibre of debate, and I was very proud of the girls’ efforts,” he says. “They each got into the finals for one or two categories.” For Zeenia, getting into debating was “serendipitous.” She was still navigating the new culture she had dropped into on arrival at Branksome in Grade 10, when she was asked to try out. “I had done some impromptu speaking competitions and Model UN at school in (continued on page 17)

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Some of Our Far-Flung Debaters These highly successful young alums are emblematic of the benefits of public speaking

“I love thinking about how to deliver an argument so people can relate to it,” says Zeenia. “It’s useful for essays in college, it’s useful in talking to your supervisor for your master’s, and it’s useful in dealing with clients at work.”

Anisah MAHOMED’13 London, England Investment Banking Analyst, UBS

Sonia MAHAJAN’15 Montreal, Quebec McGill University, BA’19 (Humanities)

Naz GOCEK’16 Stanford, California Stanford University, BA’20 (International Relations)




uring her six years at Branksome, Anisah was very involved in school life—as a member of the Senior Basketball Team, a Peer Tutor, a Horizons Tutor and, in her graduating year, as the Admissions Prefect. She served as captain of the Canadian National Debate Team and, in 2013, was ranked as the top female debater in the world. Anisah went on to enrol in the inaugural World Bachelor in Business Program. During the four-year degree, she studied global business administration across three continents—at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Bocconi University in Milan—and received degrees from each university (summa cum laude). She also received the World Bachelor in Business Fellowship for outstanding leadership and contribution to all three universities. Having started as an intern in 2016 at UBS, the global financial services firm, Anisah now works full time as an investment banking analyst on its UK Investment Banking and Advisory team. Since joining the company, she has worked on transactions in both equity capital markets and mergers & acquisitions. Debating skills continue to serve Anisah well, providing her with an analytical mindset and the confidence with which to articulate her thoughts in an impactful manner.

onia achieved “lifer” status for her 14 years at Branksome from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12. She participated in the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship in Lithuania in 2014, and received the Lester B. Pearson Award for Peacemaking for two consecutive years at the Secondary Schools’ United Nations Symposium, held in Montreal. Currently, Sonia is completing her studies in history and political science with a minor in communications. During a summer-study program in Greece, Sonia visited a Syrian refugee camp, which piqued her interest in humanitarian crises. She went on to volunteer with the Syrian Kids Foundation. Her experience tutoring young women at a school on the Syria-Turkey border helped Sonia develop a deeper appreciation for a girl’s right to an education. She has also gained a greater understanding of various systems of oppression facing women. She has explored issues ranging from gender representation in the Chilean government to the “politics of emojis” in China’s #MeToo movement. Sonia’s love of debating and public speaking has provided her with the tools to advocate for the rights of minorities, especially women of colour. She hopes to pursue a career in law.

aving been at Branksome since Grade 9, Naz served as the Admissions Prefect in her graduating year. She was an active participant in Model United Nations (The Hague) and put her leadership skills to good use as head of the World Affairs Conference held annually in Toronto. In 2016, Naz placed third overall at the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships in Pittsburgh. During her freshman year at Stanford, Naz continued to debate. As a member of the Stanford Debate Society, she was a finalist in the North American Universities Championship, Top Novice Speaker at the Yale Pro-Am Championship, and a semifinalist at the United States Universities Debating Championship. Now in her third year studying international relations, Naz focuses on comparative governance, development and European affairs. Last summer, she was a policy intern at the European Parliament in Brussels. She has also worked as a development policy intern at the Social Science Research Council in New York City. At Stanford, she serves as programming director for the Society for International Affairs and as research assistant to Professor Francis Fukuyama, who has written widely on development and international politics.

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THE CENTRE OF THE WORLDS How the debating and public speaking championships will play out at Branksome


n 2016, Branksome’s then debating coach Sarah SAHAGIAN’04 journeyed to Ravenswood School for Girls in Sydney, Australia to make crucial use of her public speaking talents. The task was to persuade the gathered officials of the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships being held there that Branksome should host the Worlds in 2019. It was no contest—Branksome was chosen, and for five days this April, the school will be ground zero for an intense and prestigious tournament drawing students from around the world. For the 110 competitors who have qualified, it will be a tough process. They need to enter themselves in four categories requiring a variety of skills—Debating,

Emma Taman Debate Coach


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Riva Jangra Co-Head Debating Society

Impromptu Speaking, Interpretive Reading and a choice between Persuasive Speaking and After-Dinner Speaking. Judges from Branksome and the community at large will give feedback at each round, leading to a grand final at the University of Toronto’s Hart House and an awards dinner back at Branksome. As host, Branksome itself is allowed to enter two students automatically, an unusual opportunity, notes current debating coach and English teacher Owen Williams. “Everybody is very excited about the Worlds,” he says. “It’s a once-in-alifetime chance for the students to see all the different debating styles in action.” Some 60-70 students participate at some level, starting in Middle School. Grade 12 student and debating co-head Eve

Owen Williams Head Debate Coach

Cavanaugh says there is a strong crop of younger debaters coming up, and “they’re going to learn so much from the process.” In fact, although the tournament began in 1987 with Branksome participating, this is the first time the Worlds will be held in Canada. Part of the host’s duty is to show the visitors around, and various competition days will also include visits to Niagara Falls, the CN Tower and a tour of Toronto shaped by Branksome students. “Beyond the elements of the tournament itself and the honour that that holds,” says former coach Tracy Dalglish, “it’s a wonderful opportunity for Branksome to give these participants from all over the world a great taste of this country.” — BERTON WOODWARD

Eve Cavanagh Co-Head Debating Society

Karrie Weinstock Deputy Principal


“I’ve learned over time that winners are not those who know the most,” Jordyn says. “They’re the ones who can effectively convey that they know the most.” (continued from page 14) Mumbai,” she says. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to get to know people.” But immediately, she found herself plunged into prepping for the fall Internationals, which is in part a qualifying tournament for the Worlds. She had to practise debating, come up with a set piece to read, draft a persuasive speech and be ready for an impromptu topic. “It was so much fun,” she says. “I remember being very nervous at that first tournament but it went really well. I qualified for Worlds, which none of us were expecting. Our coach at the time, Aija Zommers, who is such a Branksome icon, was so shocked, her jaw dropped. I think it was the most excited I have seen her ever. But it jump-started my whole debating career.” The following year, Zeenia again went to the Worlds in Lithuania—and won the championship, becoming the first Branksome student to do so. “It was a peak moment for me,” she remembers. “I was very emotional. Everyone was applauding and Mrs. Zommers gave me the biggest hug.”

ordyn recalls often partnering with Zeenia in the two-person debating portion, although overall they were competitors. “Even in the individual competitions,” she says, “we wanted each other to do well, because we were both representing Branksome, and you want your school to win.” There are so many skills that come with debating, says Jordyn. “You learn how to captivate an audience, you learn the strategy of persuasion, you learn how to combat and channel nerves, and you learn how to think on your feet and convey calmness, confidence, capability and professionalism.” Zeenia and Jordyn have certainly demonstrated those skills in navigating life after Branksome. Zeenia earned a BA in political theory at Harvard—doing her junior year in Florence with all courses in Italian—then went to Oxford for her master’s in comparative social policy. That may not sound like preparation for a tech job, but while job-hunting in various fields,



she was introduced by email to the CEO of a startup called Smartcar Inc., based in Mountain View, California. “We ended up having a oneand-a-half-hour phone conversation about income inequality and ‘food deserts,’” she says. Now she’s head of business development at Smartcar, spreading the word about how the company’s platform enables apps to communicate with vehicles. And still using her speaking skills. “Debating has given me a lifelong ability to learn,” she says. “I’m in this world of tech where I work day to day with a team of engineers. It’s a language I just had no idea how to speak when I started. But I wasn’t afraid of that, because at Branksome it was perfectly natural to pick a topic and take a deep dive into it.” Jordyn was successful even before she started school, having appeared in her first film at age 5 and then continuing to work part-time as an actress in Toronto (among the stars on set: Whoopi Goldberg, Brooke Shields, Seth Rogen, Martin Short). “I’ve always loved being in front of an audience,” she says. Yet even with that background, she adds, debating and public speaking helped her become a more confident person. “And I learned how to self-advocate, which is very important for women.” After Branksome, she studied sociology at Queen’s, where she won the Prince of Wales Prize as top BA student. She went on to law school at the University of Toronto since “I’d been debating my whole life,” and then, because “everyone who knows me knows I have an entrepreneurial spirit,” added a concurrent MBA at Rotman School of Management. Still not enough, though. Right after Branksome, Jordyn started Speakwell Coaching and Consulting, her firm that helps a variety of clients in speaking and presenting. Jordyn’s pride in their success may be a touchstone for the value of debating and public speaking. “I’ve learned over time that winners are not those who know the most,” she says. “They’re the ones who can effectively convey that they know the most.” Come April, the world’s best will be here to prove it. R Berton Woodward is a Toronto-based writer, editor and communications consultant.

Since the inception of the World Individual Debating & Public Speaking Championships in 1987, Branksome Hall is proud of the alumnae who have represented the school. 1987 England Susan SANDFORD’87 1988 England Sarah CHAPPLE’89 1995 Cyprus Joanne SITARSKI’97 1996 England Aisling YEOMAN’97 1997 England Natalia PAYNE’99 1998 Argentina Katie HAMMOND’00 1999 Botswana Emma WATSON’11 2002/2003 – South Africa/England Sarah SAHAGIAN’04 2004 United States Elizabeth MacLELLAN’04 Sarah SAHAGIAN’04 2007 South Africa Genevieve ANTONO’07 2008 Germany Anna MOORE’09; Sarah ALI’09 2009/2010 – England/Lithuania Zeenia FRAMROZE’11 Elizabeth STRATTON’11 2011 Australia Julie LOWENSTEIN’12 Anisah MAHOMED’13 2012 Australia Anisah MAHOMED’13 2013 South Africa Clare MOFFAT’14 Camilla AKBARI’14 2014 Lithuania Sonia MAHAJAN’15 2015 Hong Kong Emma POTVIN’16 2016 United States Naz GOCEK’16; Emma POTVIN’16 2017 Australia Anna Lisa LOWENSTEIN’17 2018 South Africa Jessica ZHENG’18

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The READ Winter 2018 –19


FUNNY GIRL Emma HUNTER’03 has turned sketch comedy into a serious career BY AMY VERNER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF KIRK

ou never know what you’re going to get when you interview a comedian. Sometimes it can be a stand-up routine for an audience of one. Yet Emma Hunter, who is also an experienced actress, speaks thoughtfully from beginning to end, with a delightful balance of sincerity, insight and wit. This, it seems, is what makes her characters and performances so relatable and believable, whether she is co-anchoring the satirical news series The Beaverton (The Comedy Network); playing Nisha, an incompetent teacher in the sitcom Mr. D (on CBC); or guest starring in Save Me, a comedic look at paramedics, for which she won Best Actress in a Web Program or Series at the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards. And, incidentally, she also co-hosted the live event on CBC along with actor Jonny Harris. But how did she realize comedy was her calling? “It sort of happened organically. I knew that nothing was advancing as quickly as I wanted it to, and the biggest testament to that was my bank account,” she replies at her home in Toronto, where she has spent (continued on page 20)


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Me? Best Actress? Really?

(continued from page 19) the afternoon with her toddler son. “I’d done a couple of commercials and you can make a lot of money very quickly, but I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to sell cheese for the rest of my life.’” Clearly, like all great comedians, she is adept at self-deprecation. So together with four girlfriends from Queen’s University, where she received her honours BA in drama, Emma began a sketch comedy troupe named She Said What. The weekly meet-ups and monthly gigs paid off, as she was scouted by Bell Media and landed parts that included a doppelganger of Kate Middleton for a Royal Wedding special. “I could do a British accent and I had long brown hair,” she quips, downplaying her flair. If sketch comedy was, as she claims, a career turning point, Emma’s enthusiasm for acting dates back much earlier. She is the only child of a Scottish father and British mother who emigrated in the 1970s. Her mom channelled much of her energy into community theatre. “She’s very good—lots of farce, lots of door slamming,” muses Emma, who has memories of accompanying her mother to rehearsals in church basements. “I just thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. At the time, everybody was swearing, dancing and running lines and it was a gas. I could tell at five years old these people were fun.” Arriving at Branksome in Grade 9, Emma quickly gravitated towards extra-curricular drama, which she continued through the end of Grade 13. Emma believes the skills she learned from Judith Friend (now Instructional Leader, Performing Arts) have proved invaluable today. “Ms Friend ran a tighter ship than a lot of professional companies I’ve worked with,” says Emma. “She taught us how to write blocking properly. When you get a script with the movements across the stage, that shorthand is its own language.”


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From playing Gaspard, a French peasant, in A Tale of Two Cities, to Anne Frank, with a stint as legendary Branksome principal Edith M. Read, Emma developed a diverse repertoire that would transcend the after-school setting. “It was the most compelling performance—it was captivating,” she says of Stacey FILIPCZUK’01 playing Otto Frank among an all-female cast. “I remember thinking, if a young girl can play a 53-year-old man so convincingly, then the world’s my oyster in terms of what I would be allowed to do as an actor.”

nd so she forged ahead, despite the risks. “I am still really afraid it’s not going to work out— acting is such a bad idea in terms of certainty and stability,” she admits. Ongoing support from her parents has proved essential. “I never felt shy about what I was doing because it maybe wasn’t more academic-driven or business-focused.” Which is not to suggest her work is child’s play. A normal day runs 10 to 12 hours. At least, Emma muses, the intensity of learning lines, rehearsing and filming is broken up by lighter moments in hair and makeup. “I usually chat to the artist about her love life, the snow, and we show off pictures of kids,” she quips. Whereas Mr. D is in a closed studio, The Beaverton is shot in front of an audience. “It’s like doing a live show in a comedy club—only with four cameras.” By 10:30 p.m., once work is done, she and colleagues will often debrief over a pint at a nearby pub. Regarding her rapport with colleagues, Emma insists luck has a lot to do with it. “You like who you like and you don’t choose with whom you work.” Fortunately, she says, she lucked out with Miguel Rivas, her co-anchor on The Beaverton. “He’s very easy and support-


it isn’t seen. But normally when you see a TV show, everybody on the other side of the camera is a guy. That’s just the way it is, and it has to change.” In the age of fake news, the role of comedy is also changing, and more and more, Emma finds herself writing segments for The Beaverton. Having appeared on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, CBC’s bastion of satire, she says The Beaverton represents a shift in tone. “There wasn’t a hard-hitting, biting, unapologetic, alittle-bit-aggressive take on the Canadian political landscape,” she says.


ive and we’re in similar phases of life. Both of us have little toddlers at home and partners we like. It makes for a very nice ‘day at the office.’” If all of this gives the impression that Emma is content with her career choice, she’s also aware of the pressures inherent in acting, especially for women. The all-girls environment at Branksome has given her perspective on the gender disparities and stereotypes in television and film—on and off screen. “Being beautiful and being talented are not the same thing. Sometimes, especially when you’re younger, there’s the sense that if you’re not pretty you’re not considered a good actress. That’s a problem,” she says. “If there’s anything I can do with the next 10 years, it would be to create more opportunities for women. There’s a really big hole that isn’t talked about because

“If there’s anything I can do with the next 10 years, it would be to create more opportunities for women. There’s a really big hole that isn’t talked about because it isn’t seen. But normally when you see a TV show, everybody on the other side of the camera is a guy. That’s just the way it is, and it has to change.”

But is she ever concerned the audience won’t grasp the humour? “I think Canadians are a lot smarter than we get credit for and can take a joke way better, in my mind, than the Brits and the Americans. We can take a joke because we’re so modest and we’re so great,” she replies. “There was this void in the comedic landscape that needed to be filled—come on guys, let’s shake the Prime Minister down and make fun of him properly. Doug Ford is going to get it. And if you’re going to propose a niqab ban in Quebec, we’re coming for you because that’s insane.” Perhaps because she tackles hot-button current affairs with such tongue-in-cheek humour, she takes a reserved approach to her personal life. With no Instagram and infrequent engagement on Twitter, her social media footprint is practically baby-sized. “I just can’t do it. Maybe one day. I don’t know. We’ll see.” In other baby-related news, Emma and her husband, a litigator, will soon be welcoming twins. She says her life at this point has defied her expectations, and she cites a line from the film, Boyhood, in which the character played by Patricia Arquette, approaching 50, says, “I thought there would be more.” At this point, Emma says, “I always go back to that line because I keep thinking there would be less.” Really? “Yes,” she insists. “I just feel like I have this gift of a career. Most of the time, I can’t believe my luck. I’m not particularly interested in being really, really famous. If the next 10 years are as good as the past 10, I’ll be happy.” R Amy VERNER’98 is a freelance writer covering lifestyle and culture from Paris and Toronto.

Emma, with the cast of The Beaverton.

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The READ Winter 2018 –19


Head Coach What Andrea STAIRS Krishnappa’92 has learned about leadership—and family— in running eBay Canada



they could not have imagined she would land at the top of a fast-paced, high-tech environment that didn’t even exist at the time—as general manager of eBay Canada and Latin America, a large swath of the global eBay marketplace where “the world goes to shop, sell, and give.” It’s a hard-driving job as the online retail battle heats up with such competitors as Amazon. It may have been easier for Andrea’s friends to imagine her winning a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award from the Women’s Executive Network. And to see her doing all this while raising two young kids—in just her early 40s. Plus her many other public activities, including (continued on page 24)


ndrea Stairs Krishnappa vividly remembers a conversation between her closest friends in a Branksome hallway while she was in high school. It was about what everyone wanted to be when they grew up. “Everyone was asked except me, and it really bugged me,” she says. “They said, ‘oh come on, Andrea—we all know you want to go into business.’” She may have thought it wasn’t so obvious at the time, but life events, her upbringing and her personality were already coalescing in ways that made it pretty clear to friends and family that Andrea would be a businesswoman. Yet even

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(continued from page 23) being on the board of directors of the National Ballet School and Export Development Canada, and mentoring a young woman for a full day as part of Plan Canada’s Day of the Girl. As friend Danielle PATERSON’93 says, “She is one of the most ambitious people I know. I could see it way back in Branksome.” In fact, Andrea told The Globe and Mail a few years ago that she had been thinking about a business career since she was 12. It goes back to those life events. When she was 9, her parents

divorced, and her mother Harriet, who was a senior executive at the Bank of Montreal, moved her and little brother Colin from Montreal to Toronto. Harriet remembers Andrea stating vehemently that she would be returning to go to McGill University—which she later did. “Andrea was so organized, observant and had a great memory,” says Harriet. “By the time she was 14, I called her my private secretary.” And her “mini-mogul” too. “My mom was a huge role model,” says Andrea. “I don’t think I’d be here without her. I was very fortunate to get

a close-up, realistic view of what a successful career in business looks like. I was so curious at 15, sitting in my Branksome uniform on the floor, while she would tell me about her day at the Bank of Montreal—her challenges and meetings. Things you normally tell a spouse, she would tell me as she was decompressing.” At her mother’s knee, Andrea became fascinated by the inner workings of how corporations run. Even so, after Branksome she studied at McGill for an undergraduate degree in a field that was deliberately not business: medieval medical history. Then, having broadened her mind, she went on to the University of Toronto for a joint LLB/MBA degree. She specialized in corporate finance and worked grueling hours in mergers and acquisitions for Ernst & Young—until her now much-recounted Lean Cuisine “ah-ha” moment: “Coming home from work late one night, I peeled back the film from my microwave dinner and thought, this is the best part of my day, and that there was something wrong with that.”


he took a long, hard look at her life and recognized that she was never going to be great at finance. So she quit and spent two years working on strategy at Gap Canada. “I left the Gap knowing I had to find a place to work that was a good fit culturewise.” She consulted independently before finding that perfect fit in 2005 at eBay Canada, which challenged her with fast-paced problemsolving and endless strategizing. Even in her darkest days in 2009, when eBay cutbacks left her, as head of marketing, with a team of five (down 80 per cent) and she contemplated quitting, she ultimately didn’t second guess her decision to stay on. While Andrea relies on a “personal board of directors”—mentors, colleagues and friends—to advise her, she also makes decisions with total confidence, thanks to meticulous planning and a reliance on logic. This calm thoughtfulness serves her well when times are tough, even on the home front. “A lot happened within months of us being mar-

Andrea and her family enjoy a winter outing.


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ried,” says her husband, Nini Krishnappa. “We bought a new house, my mother had a heart attack, Andrea’s job was in jeopardy, and I got laid off. Andrea absorbed it all and had a plan. She said, ‘we’re gonna be okay, get through this and make it work.’” “I love puzzles and trying to get better outcomes,” admits Andrea about what fuels her. “It fascinates me endlessly.” Her biggest ongoing project is striving to be a good leader. When she first started, she says, she made mistakes and was too directive, trying to make everyone feel secure. “I had to learn, in my case, that trust is borne not from being a commander but by being transparent. I had to let the team get to know who I was. In the end, leading from a coaching perspective was being true to my authentic self.” She became leader of eBay Canada in 2014. At any given moment, she may be travelling to plan, strategize and solve problems with business partners or global work teams. Video conferences take care of a lot of the meetings with the head office in San Jose, California, but sometimes you have to be there. It was another proud moment when she was asked in early 2018 to take on Latin America, but that again entails quite a bit of travel. So does she have any time for home? Something else Andrea learned from her mother was how to balance work life and parenting. Harriet, for instance, was entirely unapologetic about not being at every one of Andrea’s field hockey


Andrea consults with colleagues at the eBay Canada office.

games. On the other hand, Andrea says, Harriet included her kids in her career. “I remember waiting up late one night to find out if she made VP and we all collapsed on the landing at the news because we were so happy for her.” And sure enough, as the NAFTA talks culminated last fall, Andrea found one of her trips to California stretched to five weekdays—a long time away from her kids of 7 and 5. “Occasionally I feel torn,” she says. “But I don’t feel guilty.

“My mom was a huge role model. I don’t think I’d be here without her. I was very fortunate to get a close-up, realistic view of what a successful career in business looks like. I was so curious at 15, sitting in my Branksome uniform on the floor, while she would tell me about her day at the Bank of Montreal.”

In fact, I really do believe that my husband and I are committed to involving our kids in our careers, and that showing them we take our careers seriously is good training. I fully expect my son and daughter to have interesting careers and they will have to make tough decisions. I don’t want them to feel guilty about it.” “Family always comes first,” explains Nini, a financial communications consultant. A nanny helps out, but he adds, “Andrea is highly involved with managing all of us. She will move mountains and drop everything she’s doing in order to FaceTime with the kids at bedtime.” In Toronto, she tries to head home from her King Street West office by 6:30 p.m. for some quality time. And we can count on Andrea planning out and managing each of her future steps. “At Branksome, we all learned we can do pretty much anything,” she says. “There is no fairy godmother watching over us and managing our careers and lives for us. It’s up to us.” R Lesley Young is an award-winning writer and editor based in Toronto.

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DESIGNING WOMAN Stumped about décor? Tiff WILLSON’03 co-created the Roomhints app that gives free expert advice on home design BY PATRICIA HLUCHY

iffany Willson vanquishes fear. The fear of being that rarity, a female entrepreneur in Silicon Valley running a technology startup. And the fear of daunting rock faces. When she isn’t working intensely at Roomhints, her home furnishing advice startup, or on a spinoff platform to be launched next year, “Tiff ” goes rock climbing. And, she brings to the sport the same bravery that has made her a trailblazer in what is still very much a male-dominated world. “Rock climbing is a mental sport,” says the willowy Tiff. “It’s all about training your (continued on page 28)




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“Every time I go to an industry event, there’ll be 100 people and I’ll be one of five women. You do stand out, but at the same time, there’s a lot of opportunity because you are an anomaly and clearly in a minority. It presents me with an opportunity to inspire other people.”

Tiff speaks to an audience of 500+ at a startup conference on October 17 in San Francisco.

(continued from page 26) mind to get past that point of fear. Once you’re in that flow, you’re invincible.” That intrepid nature has helped make Roomhints a shining success, and its 34-yearold co-creator/CEO a tech star. The iPhone app pairs someone planning to decorate a space with a designer: the client uploads photographs and the designer makes design and product suggestions. That advice is free, but the platform makes money through affiliate marketing of furnishings or other objects for the home.

he idea was born in 2013. Tiff, who by then held a biology degree from Queen’s University and an Associate of Applied Science degree in interior architecture and design from Parsons School of Design in New York City, watched her brother, Blakeley, and several of his friends moving into their own

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apartments. “They were working long hours and just didn’t have the time to put into furnishing a place,” she says. “So, I started messaging Blakeley, ‘Hey, you should buy this sofa, you should buy this lamp, you should buy this coffee table and this rug,’ and I realized that, yes, you can look up a sofa on Google. But it’s more the vision, how everything goes together, that people need help with.” So, Tiff recruited the right technical cofounder and launched the Roomhints app. At that point, she was working full time in New York for the real estate company Meridian but going regularly to brainstorming “hackathons,” and it immediately became apparent that the app had legs. “The day we launched, 30,000 people downloaded it,” she recalls. “Everything crashed because we weren’t ready for the traffic. We were just pushing something out and saying, ‘Let’s see what the world thinks of this idea.’” The pair went back to the drawing board to tweak the platform and, in 2014, Roomhints—

now, like Tiff, based in San Francisco and with 10 full time staff—was rated the No. 1 application for home-design shopping by Consumer Reports. The app now boasts more than a million downloads. It has answered in excess of a half-million design questions, and more than 100,000 designers work with the company. In 2019, Tiff plans to launch a cutting-edge communication app, DesignMagic, for consumers, interior designers, contractors, tradespeople, Feng Shui masters and others. That ambition has been part of her personality since she was a kid growing up in Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood—an outgrowth of the fact her parents were both business-oriented. Her father, Michael Willson, owned a printing company. Her mother, Gayle Boxer Duncanson, had started a few businesses, including a stillthriving fitness and dance studio, and was also a creator who sold hand-painted, Christmasthemed jackets at craft shows. Gayle, who also taught dance at Branksome and worked with

tories about Tiff ’s enterprising spirit as a child abound. She peddled pet rocks when she was eight. In her mid-teens, excited by the advent of eBay, she sold her brother’s bath mat on the site. At Queen’s, she and a friend sold jewelry through their own website. “I’ve always found myself thinking,” she adds. “What can I build and sell? What problems can I solve that people actually want solved?” Tiff ’s enterprising nature goes hand in hand with a restless intelligence and desire to grow. Since her early student days, she has shown an affinity for computers and technology. Just last year, while working full time running Roomhints, she studied for a “full stack” (allaround developer) degree in computer science at the University of California, Berkeley’s College of Engineering. The purpose? To master computer coding. “I needed to speak the exact same language as everyone else in our industry and all the people at our company,” she explains. “It was an ambitious endeavour but it was worth it.” Has it been difficult being a woman in a male-dominated realm? Not really, Tiff insists. For starters, she comes from a long line of feisty, fearless women. In addition to her mother there’s her maternal grandmother, Rosemary Boxer Chisholm Feick, a pioneering female journalist who moved overseas with a fiveyear-old Gayle to be the Rome correspondent


for the former Toronto Telegram. Tiff credits Branksome, too, for inspiring her. “It builds the confidence within the student that you can do whatever you set your mind to: if you dream it, you can make it happen.” “In San Francisco,” Tiff says, “every time I go to an [industry] event, there’ll be 100 people and I’ll be one of five women. You do stand out, but at the same time, there’s a lot of opportunity because you are an anomaly and clearly in a minority. It presents me with an opportunity to inspire other people.” And she’s determined to help change things. Tiff often speaks publicly about her work, in both North America and abroad. She has addressed Fortune 500 events and presented to audiences of more than 5,000 people. Hoping to inspire girls and women interested in tech and STEM, she volunteers with Women Who Code and Girls Who Code and, under the auspices of Stanford Women in STEM, she mentors two female computer science students at the university, helping them figure out how to navi-

gate their careers. “During my high school and university days, I wish there had been someone who had already walked the shoes that I wanted to walk—someone that I could talk to.” Women in tech, she believes, need to stare down their fears and set aside their perfectionism. “I don’t want to stereotype because I think women are fabulous. It’s just that men are more ballsy. They say, ‘I’m just going to do it; we’ll just put it out there.’ Women have not been thinking up the big ideas at the same rate and they’re not pitching those ideas to get the capital that the men seem to be getting. My stance is, just go for it, pitch the biggest idea,” she concludes. “There is nothing to separate a woman from a man when it comes to pitching a technology startup. We just need more female leaders to step up and do it.” That is, women like Tiffany Willson. R Patricia Hluchy is a Toronto freelance writer and editor who has worked for Maclean’s, the Toronto Star and other publications.


students on plays, remembers when Tiff was eight or nine and asked if she could tag along to help sell the jackets. “She ended up sort of being my partner as a little girl and, after several years, asked if she could do something too, and use my booth to do it,” a clearly proud Gayle says. “So, Tiff started doing these Christmas-themed buttons in Fimo moulding clay, and then had her own little table with buttons.” When Tiff was older, she started making jewelry and manned her own booth at Plaid Tidings, Branksome’s holiday sale of unique gifts. “She’s tremendously entrepreneurial,” says Gayle, “and has a lot more guts than I ever had.”

While in her office, Tiff takes a trip into a virtual world.

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Amanda COHEN’93 had a revelation in China. Now her vegetarian restaurant, Dirt Candy, is the toast of New York


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Traffic rushes past New York’s “best restaurant on the Lower East Side.”



manda Cohen was 22 and on a train, chugging through the Chinese countryside, en route to Beijing. It was 1996, the internet was in its infancy, China’s great economic awakening had only just begun and Amanda, a backpacker with no set plan for the future and no clearcut ambitions beyond adventure, was sharing a sleeper car with a pair of Chinese newlyweds. The couple hadn’t seen one another in months. Amanda was marooned on an upper bunk, eyes clamped tight, feigning sleep, while the newlyweds got reacquainted. An awkward situation, indeed, and one that got worse, depending on

one’s perspective, after the young Canadian tiptoed out of the car to use the washroom and dropped her travel guide book into a squat toilet. It was her only resource. Naturally, Amanda fished it out. “Thus began my trip,” Amanda recounts from Dirt Candy, her vegetarian restaurant on New York’s Lower East Side. Over the past decade, the 44-year-old has emerged as a culinary sensation, elevating humble vegetables—beets, broccoli, carrots, kale and the rest—to taste bud–wowing delights. Imagine, if you would: salt roasted popcorn beets (with Thai green curry); kale matzo ball

soup (with poached egg and okra); carrot sliders (on carrot buns); pumpkin pad Thai. New York magazine has hailed Dirt Candy as the “absolute best restaurant on the Lower East Side.” Amanda, meanwhile, was the first vegetarian chef ever to appear on Iron Chef America, and is featured on the Canadian version of the hit TV show, alongside domestic food scene stalwarts Rob Feenie, Hugh Acheson, Lynn Crawford and Susur Lee. The New Yorker magazine says this of her creations: “Many of her dishes are so earnest in their embrace of a single ingredient that you find yourself stopping to really think about that vegetable, as if for the first time.” (continued on page 32)

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ut in Beijing, she was just another backpacker in her early 20s, rootless, restless, without any inkling as to what she was going to do with the rest of her life. She was also hungry after an epic train trip, and set off in search of some grub. “I saw these candied crab apples and mandarin orange segments,” she says. “They were bright and shiny, and I could kind of figure out how much they were, and I was starving, so I bought one of the orange segments. “It had this crunchy outside shell, and the soft, juicy orange. It was so bright, so textural and so simple. Just two ingredients—orange and sugar with water—and it absolutely blew my mind. “You remember that old Secret Garden movie, where the world was drab and black and white, and then she opens the door to a garden and it is Technicolor? That’s the moment I experienced in Beijing. My world was spinning, I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew it was amazing.” It was a taste revelation, an awakening, even if Amanda didn’t quite fully understand it yet. Of course, before one becomes a star chef, one has to get a start, somewhere. Amanda realized, upon returning from Asia, that she needed a skill, and the only thing she really loved to do was cook. So she enrolled at New York’s Natural Gourmet Cookery School. From there came the grunt work, including in some meatloving establishments, before she opened the


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“I have this real fundamental belief that if I leave this industry less than I found it, and I haven’t really tried hard to make it better, then not only have I done a disservice to my career but, in some ways, I will have failed myself.”


(continued from page 31) In short, in the food world, Amanda Cohen is a rock star, a revolutionary lobbing her love of vegetables onto diners’ plates like so many tasty hand grenades, exploding those famously finicky New Yorkers’ preconceptions of what vegetarian eating is, or could be.

first iteration of Dirt Candy in 2008. It was a hole-in-the-wall of a place, with seating for 15. (Dirt Candy’s current location opened in 2015 and seats closer to 60). Hilary BURT’93 was among Amanda’s first guests. “Here was this tiny, tiny restaurant in the East Village. My husband and I went as frequently as we could in those first few months—before Amanda got a big name for herself,” says Hilary, a friend and former classmate from Branksome. “We never actually saw Amanda—she was always working. Eventually the restaurant got so busy that I couldn’t even get a reservation, and I am one of her oldest friends!” Amanda has spent the bulk of her adult life in New York, never having worked as a chef in Canada. And yet her inner Canadian often shines through in her American setting. Strangers detect it in her accent when she says “out” or “about.” Dirt Candy provides further

evidence with its much-celebrated Canadian theme nights, featuring hockey on TV, Bloody Caesars on the drinks list and poutine and Nanaimo bars on the menu. But Amanda best represents her Canadian self, she believes, by fighting for what she believes in. It is a driving sense of social justice her Branksome years (1986–90) helped to instill. “I have this real fundamental belief that if I leave this industry less than I found it, and I haven’t really tried hard to make it better, then not only have I done a disservice to my career but, in some ways, I will have failed myself,” she says. Amanda eliminated tipping at Dirt Candy a few years back, raised menu prices by 20 per cent—to reflect the true cost of the food, labour and overhead involved—and now more or less operates her business as a profit-sharing enterprise. This allows her to pay her employees a better hourly wage than the industry norm,

while flattening the disparity between the wait staff—who used to walk out each night with $500 in tips—and the line cooks, who used to walk out with next to nothing. Amanda has fought to get her workers better access to health care, and she actually gives them time off. It is a seemingly obvious perk. But in the cutthroat landscape of New York kitchens, where profit margins are thin, and the stories of failed restaurants abundant, the only obvious characteristic during the first decade of Amanda’s career was constant work. She missed out on friends’ weddings, funerals, birthdays, family holidays and vacations with her writer husband, Grady Hendrix —all the things that matter deeply, and all the things she can never get back. “I wish I had been more involved with other people’s lives than I have been,” she says. “But to get where I am, I wouldn’t undo it. I own my own restaurant now. I see my family a lot more

now. I take vacation. But the true goal here is to make sure that nobody else has to go through it like I did.” Amanda exudes warmth as she talks; she is smart, driven, earnest, tough—and funny—a quality that shines through both in conversation and in her alter ego as a prolific blogger. Yes: the cook can write, too, better than a lot of professional writers.


manda co-authored a graphic comic cookbook with Hendrix and artist Ryan Dunlavey. She also took aim at the #MeToo media hypocrisy around female chefs in a piece for Esquire in November 2017. For years, she had written about how media have a man-crush on male chefs, treating their female counterparts as second-class citizens, or ignoring them altogether. The situation shifted as #MeToo horror stories began to break. Journalists started calling

Amanda. Begging her, as she wrote for Esquire, to “Come Forward With My Story, demanding that I Make A Statement, encouraging me to Speak Out. Women may not have value as chefs, but as victims we’re finally interesting!” One of the fascinating things about the piece was the reaction to it, Amanda says. Writers and editors acknowledged she was right: male chefs did get more media ink, simply because they were men and perceived, somehow, to be more compelling characters. Which is utter poppycock, if you know Amanda. She is compelling. She has a story to tell, and part of that story is about vegetables. So what about those vegetables? What is the first thing a celebrity vegetarian chef reaches for when she opens her fridge? “Always an onion,” Amanda says. “It is the unsung hero of the kitchen. It is in your soups, your sauces, your stir fries; it can be sweet, it can be savoury; it is dehydrated, it can be powdered—it pops up everywhere.” Amanda’s passion for veggies isn’t preachy. Her ambition isn’t to transform the planet into a vegetarian paradise, but to make diners look at, say, a carrot, not as an afterthought, but as the featured attraction on the plate. “My mission is not to change your diet,” she says. “It is for you to say, ‘Oh, I really like Amanda Cohen’s restaurant.’ ” So when is Amanda Cohen’s restaurant coming to Toronto? Rumours have swirled for years among local foodies about a Dirt Candy north. For now, Amanda is happy right where she is, on the Lower East Side, transforming beets into popcorn and pumpkins into pad Thai. “I love Toronto, it is home,” she says. “So opening a restaurant in Toronto is not an impossibility; you never say never.” Let’s hope she means: not yet. R Joe O’Connor is a National Post feature writer.

The recipe for Amanda’s carrot risotto can be found at

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hen she was in Grade 7 at Branksome, Marina Adshade and her friends shared a book during Quiet Reading Time. It was hardly Little Women. They put a newspaper dustjacket around it to conceal the title and tittered over the revelations of The Happy Hooker: My Own Story, by Xaviera Hollander. People of a certain age will remember Xaviera, a Dutch former madam in New York City who became a best-selling author and columnist on the topic of sex. And as the title indicates, she was not the slightest bit ashamed of her raunchy lifestyle and former profession. Now you might think, with that opening, that this is a story about a Branksome grad who became a popular academic expert on sex by going on to university, studying scientifically in the field, and probably hooking up a lot. Nope.


First of all, Marina didn’t go to university immediately after Branksome. She very soon met her future husband and was off the market. And when she finally did enter university nearly a decade later, she ended up studying economics, the dismal science. In fact, the main things Marina has in common with Xaviera are 1) a flair for book titles, and 2) well, she really does believe in the joy of sex. So let’s jump ahead to 2008, when Marina was an economics professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax. For some seven years, she had been a specialist in economic history, macroeconomics and the economics of gender and income inequality, and had been dutifully attending dry international meetings. Now her department was looking for a way to attract more students, and Marina suggested a course in something they could apply in their own lives— the economics of sex and love. Relationships and intimacy are just as subject to economic fundamentals, such as the law of supply and de-

mand, as are other aspects of society, she notes. Marina’s course looked at prostitution—“one of the biggest labour markets in the world”— infidelity, the history of marriage, monogamy vs. polygamy, teen pregnancy, and much more. “Unsurprisingly, it was a huge hit,” she says. “We had students sitting on the floor.” And for her, career-wise, “it got the ball rolling.” The course attracted international media attention, and soon she was writing commentaries and columns for outlets that eventually included The Globe and Mail, Psychology Today, the Wall Street Journal and, as well as talks for TEDx and Ideacity. Then, in 2013, she wrote a book called Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love. And her edgy ideas started making waves. One of her key points, for instance, is that even today, society still sees women as being far less interested in sex than men. Yet there is no biological evidence for this, she says, academic (continued on page 36)

DOLLARS AND $EX How economist Marina ADSHADE’86 became a renowned expert on sex, love and—yes—sex robots BY BERTON WOODWARD / PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARTIN DEE


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“Society still sees women as being far less interested in sex than men. Yet there is no biological evidence for this, she says, academic or anecdotal. “I’m Generation X, and all the women I know believe women are more sexual than men.”

(continued from page 34) or anecdotal. “I’m Generation X, and all the women I know believe women are more sexual than men.” So the perception must be an economic story, she says, dating as far back as agrarian times when women felt they had to give in order to get something—financial security, a long-term relationship, safety. “For generations, women have been teaching their daughters to act as if they are not interested in sex, because men won’t marry them otherwise.” Moreover, she argues, for all of today’s Sex and the City-style liberation, the media is still full of references to women needing to be gatekeepers of sex, and women are often shamed for acting on their sexual impulses. Lately, she has been focusing on a new frontier: robot sex. In the 2018 MIT Press anthology Robot Sex: Ethical and Social Implications, she caused more media waves with a chapter she contributed about how sex robots could improve marriages. If you could gain sexual fulfillment through sophisticated tech, she argues, “it could lead to a variety of different marriage arrangements, such as companionship marriages for raising children, without a sexual component.” She suggests that society’s entire attitude to marriage and monogamy could change, even disappear. Currently she is working on a new book on “the next 50 years in sex, love, marriage and technology—it’s a challenging topic but it’s a conversation we need to have.” Marina’s own last 50 years display her unlikely route to sexpertise. She grew up in


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Collingwood, Ont., the daughter of two successful business people originally from South Africa and England. In Grade 6, they sent her to Branksome as a boarder, following behind her sister Pamela ADSHADE Rose’83. Marina enjoyed her life at the school and remembers that, back in the ‘80s, Branksome had “very good sex education,” including some of the elements that proved controversial to Ontario’s new Conservative government in 2018. fter completing Grade 12, she says, the idea of post-secondary education just didn’t occur to her. So, while working in Vancouver, she boarded a plane for South Africa, via London, to visit relatives. She was 18, and got into a conversation with a very cool British guy, nine years older. They clicked, and soon they were living together in London. “It was basically two lunch dates and a short visit before we moved to the U.K.,” she says. “This was not good decision-making.” Daughter Regina followed, and later the couple married and moved to Toronto, where she began working in film production. Finally, at 27, Marina decided to enter York University, intent on a career in the film business. She started her business studies in economics and found that “I absolutely loved it.” But her newly advanced education upset the relationship power balance with her engineer husband, who had “held all the cards,” she says, and the marriage


foundered. “One of the things that has really changed about male-female relationships since then is that we are now marrying later and are more closely matched in terms of education and income,” says Marina the economist. As a newly single mother, now at Queen’s University for her master’s degree, she became pregnant again. The father moved on, and her son Duncan was born during final exams for the first term of her economics PhD, which she still managed to write. In the two decades since, she has remained single while her children have thrived. How did these intense experiences play into her viewpoints? On the personal side, “it made me braver, more willing to take risks,” she says. Professionally, “I think I have a totally different perspective on dating, relationships and marriage because I’m single than I would if I had stayed married.” Currently, Marina teaches at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver School of Economics and, somehow, at crosstown rival Simon Fraser University. But increasingly, she is becoming a public person, amping up her speaking appearances and writing, and moving into consulting about safe workplaces for women. She finds life beyond the narrow community of economists invigorating. “I talk to psychologists and neurologists and people from different communities, like sex geeks,” she says. “And now I have a much wider range of life experiences and inspiration to draw on.” Watch for more edgy ideas. R


SAILING AWAY Gray Harbour, Newfoundland

Judy SHYKOFF Millard’70 and her husband have spent nearly two decades roaming the high seas BY SARAH SAHAGIAN


hen Judy Millard was 48 and juggling a university teaching position with a thriving dental practice, she decided to pack it all in for a life of adventure on the high, and sometimes turbulent, seas. “One day, my husband Aubrey told me he planned to take our boat and sail around the world,” she recalls. “He had retired from his teaching job and was now determined to travel full time. I could join him year-round or I could join him for my three weeks of annual vacation. Either way, he was leaving.” For Judy, the decision was easy. “I thought about it for about 25 seconds,” she remembers. And with that, Judy resigned from her day jobs. (continued on page 38)

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Inflating the new dinghy Thetis Island, BC

Sunset in Marigot Bay, St Lucia

(continued from page 37) Soon, the couple had traded their spacious Toronto house for life aboard a 32-foot sailboat. Their new floating home boasted 200 square feet of living space, with an economically sized washroom, a salon, a dining table and an authentic galley kitchen. During their first year on the water, Judy and Aubrey explored the Mississippi and Tennessee rivers, the Florida Keys, Cuba and the Bahamas. In subsequent years, they have crossed the Atlantic, sailed the Black Sea, and travelled to

Judy and Aubrey, in front of a waterfall Island of Dominica


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disparate parts of the world, including Alaska and Haida Gwaii, the Balearic Islands off Spain, Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt, Greece, Turkey…the list goes on.


ut, as Judy explains, it’s not always smooth sailing. The most terrifying moment of her travels occurred when she and Aubrey were navigating Lake Huron late one night. The couple found themselves in the middle of a thunderstorm in the middle of Georgian Bay. In terror, the Millards realized their mast was the highest point for miles. Judy worried the boat would sink if it attracted a strong bolt of lightning. “I whimpered a great deal that night,” she recalls. Fortunately, the storm passed within a few hours. The Millards and their sailboat emerged unharmed. Says Judy: “Our boats can handle a heck of a lot more than we can.” Looking back, Judy attributes her unique course in life in part to her school days. Her physician mother, Ruth Sky Shykoff, enrolled her at Branksome hoping to provide “a more challenging environment” for her young daughter. Logging 13 years donning plaid each morn-

ing, the STEM-minded Judy developed a love of math, biology, chemistry and astronomy, and appreciated the focus on education as well as the intimate class sizes. She remembers hearing that at one particular parents’ night, her principal and French teacher, Margaret Sime, felt she was too focused on academics. “Apparently, Miss Sime was concerned that I wasn’t into enough sports during the school year. That’s when my parents explained I spent the summers sailing.” After Branksome, Judy graduated first from the University of Toronto with a BSc in biochemistry and later from the university’s highly selective dental program. Ready to launch her career, she moved to the northern Ontario community of Espanola. Having lived at home during her university years, she decided it was time to “put some space between myself and my parents.” The move to Espanola didn’t just signal a major shift in her professional life; it set a new course in her personal life as well. “The day I met Aubrey, I had been at a Chinese restaurant for lunch and when I opened my fortune cookie, it read, ‘Tonight is a good evening for romance.’” As though scripted in Hollywood, the

At the foot of Reid Glacier, Alaska

Judy with their dinghy Island of Barbuda

On Veleda IV Bellingham, Washington

“The power of knowledge transforms people into confident sailors and can be applied to other parts of life. You’ll have more fun if you know more.”

two met at a dinner party that very night and soon discovered their shared passion for sailing. The stars were aligned. In 1988, the couple moved to Toronto. For the next decade, Judy juggled teaching at U of T with treating patients at her dental practice—until the day she left it all to become co-captain, primary navigator, engineer and mechanic aboard Veleda IV, the Millards’ 32-foot floating home. “Aubrey carries the greatest part of the responsibility, keeps contact with friends and family, takes most of the photos and attends to steering, and we both do sail repairs,” remarks multi-talented Judy, who is also a skilled seamstress. Over the years, the Millards have become something of a celebrity couple within the sailing community, with “professor” Judy giving informative presentations at yacht clubs and boat shows throughout Canada, including the Toronto Boat Show, the Vancouver Boat Show,

the World Cruising Club, and the Shellbacks Club in Toronto. At these lectures, she urges boating enthusiasts to develop as many sailing skills as possible. “The more you can do for yourself on a boat, the more you will enjoy sailing and the less anxious you’ll be!” Judy says. “The power of knowledge transforms people into confident sailors and can be applied to other parts of life. You’ll have more fun if you know more.” In 2017, after 19 years of living mostly on their boat, the Millards felt it was time to put down roots on solid ground. Today, the couple live during the summer months in Elliot Lake, Ont., where they keep their 30-foot sailboat, Antares Spring. Judy enjoys her time trail hiking, quilting and getting to know her neighbours, while Aubrey hikes, line-dances and tends bar at the local Royal Canadian Legion. In the fall and winter, they’re back in Mexico, living on

Veleda IV and sailing wherever the wind may blow. While Judy has now explored faraway places many only dream of visiting, Canada still has her heart. One of her favourite sailing places is surprisingly close to home: “Lake Huron provides the backdrop for one of the most beautiful sailing trips in the world,” she says. Just watch out for thunderstorms. R Sarah SAHAGIAN’04 is a Toronto-based freelance writer and blogger.

Scuba diving in Roatan, Honduras

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FROM BIG PHARMA TO GLOBAL HEALTH She started as a chemical engineer, but today Carol SZETO’90 helps vaccinate the world’s children




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Carol, with village children, at an immunization site visit in Uttar Pradesh, India.


espite their close relationship, Jacqueline SZETO Meiers’87 wasn’t fully aware of the people her sister Carol Szeto was mingling with through work— until Meiers’ husband came across a picture on Facebook of Carol with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I sent her a message, and she’s, like, ‘Yeah, I was in his residence,’” Jacqueline recalls with a laugh. “She’s very, very understated so it’s very funny.” If there’s a recurring idea in the choices Carol has made throughout her career, it’s diversity. From her experience as a boarder at Branksome, where she attended the last two years of high school, to her current posting in Geneva with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Carol has found the greatest inspiration interacting with people from different cultures. “The boarding school experience— the international aspect—made a big impact on me,” says Carol. “It’s that theme that carries me professionally and also personally.” Carol’s transition from her home in Hong Kong to life in Canada wasn’t an easy one. Not only was she thrown into an English-speaking environment, she also had to adjust to a completely different way of learning. “In Hong Kong, the school system, the classroom training, is very didactic,” she explains. “You just listen and learn. You’re not encouraged to speak.” The experience at Branksome opened her eyes. Deputy Principal Karrie Weinstock was Carol’s English teacher. “I was amazed at how

she would encourage students to speak up, discuss and debate,” Carol recalls. “That took a while to get used to but it really opened up my mind. You learn that you have a voice, that you can have an opinion, that you can disagree, or agree to disagree. And I think that encouragement is very important.” Much to the surprise of her mother, Carol decided to go to the United States to study chemical engineering at Cornell University— an experience for which she is grateful to this day. Cornell’s motto of being “an institution where any person can find instruction in any study” taught her about diversity and inclusion. In her third year there, Carol accepted an internship with pharmaceutical giant Merck and Co., working on the research and development of new drugs. After graduating, she returned to Merck, where one assignment made a particular impression and introduced her to another new environment: a trip to Ireland to work at a

production facility on an asthma medication. “I really liked being abroad and having that opportunity to see how people work in such a different culture,” she says. “That was the start, in a way, of my many future international undertakings.” But by the time Carol left Merck in 1998, she was feeling a bit lost and unsure of the next step. It happened that her friend’s husband was in the process of getting an MBA at New York University. She decided to sit in on a class one Saturday and loved it. “It was so different from the black-and-white training you get in engineering,” she says. After her MBA and a few years of experience as a management consultant, Carol moved back into the corporate world. She joined Pfizer, another massive pharmaceutical company, and switched to marketing. It was there, almost nine years ago, that everything finally fell into place. Through the company’s philanthropy program, (continued on page 42)

Carol, at Lake Geneva, Switzerland.

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(continued from page 41) Carol did a six-month stint on malaria control in Ghana with a nonprofit organization. “That was a life-changing experience,” she says. “It prompted my career change from the private sector to global health.” The culture shock Carol experienced was profound. “At first, I was banging my head against the wall. How come things are so slow?” she says. “You call a meeting and people show up an hour late—and that’s typical.” It didn’t take long before she understood she was the one who needed to adapt. “You cannot impose your views and ways of working onto other people.” In Ghana, she was responsible for teaching villagers about the symptoms and treatments of malaria—one of the leading killers of children under the age of five. “You realize how privileged you are,” Carol adds. “Clean water, clean air, access to so many different things, infrastructure— things you just take for granted when you live in a place like Toronto or New York.” With the culture shock of returning home to New York came the realization that she had to leave again, with the hope of doing something more meaningful. “I took the biggest risk of my life and I quit Pfizer, a very comfortable

“Carol has been offered some very high-profile jobs but she has always wanted to do what she thinks is right, not just what she thinks is good for her career.”

job,” she says—all for a six-month maternity coverage position in Geneva. “I’m typically a very risk-averse person, but here I was about to leave a very stable job for a complete unknown. Even my best friend thought I was crazy.”

he six-month job at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria turned into two years on the Strategy and Policy team before Carol’s 2012 move to Gavi—an organization that gives over $1 billion every year to improve access to immunization in poor countries. Carol’s new career in global health has brought her to many more places in Africa and Asia, including Burkina Faso,


Cambodia, Tanzania, The Gambia, Vietnam, and Zambia. And her adventures continue. “Everyone defines their success in their own way, defines their happiness in their own way,” says Jacqueline. “Carol has been offered some very high-profile jobs but she has always wanted to do what she thinks is right, not just what she thinks is good for her career.” Happiness for Carol is being out in the field and seeing first-hand what her organization is supporting—the immunization of children in lower-income countries. Currently, she manages a $500-million grant portfolio in India and travels to that country every other month. “I have never seen a place as dirty as some of those urban slums,” she says. “They really have the worst conditions. When you get out into the field and see the impact you are making, it’s gratifying. At the end of the day, babies are getting vaccinated against life-threatening diseases like pneumonia, diarrhea and measles because of what I do.” While she’s not certain of her next step, that doesn’t faze her. After all, as her sister says, who would’ve thought a chemical engineer would end up doing what Carol is doing and making such a difference in the world? Carol, in her modest way, says she is just going with the flow and has been quite lucky. Her message to younger people she meets along the way is simply to “keep exploring, broaden your horizons, and keep an open mind.” And chances are, like Carol, they’ll never look back. R Nora Underwood is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written for many magazines and newspapers, including Maclean’s and The Globe and Mail.

While working on the malaria program in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, Carol spends time with village children.


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A Call to the Order Two exceptional women are honoured with the Order of Canada have been recognized as Members of the Order of Canada for outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation:


Marilyn MICHENER Baillie’61, Toronto

Marilyn is devoted to the cause of literacy. She has authored several children’s science books and is a former editor of Chickadee magazine. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Awards, which, together with an annual prize created in her name, have enhanced the profile of Canadian books and authors. Marilyn is a generous supporter of

the arts scene in Toronto, helping artists, theatre and culture to flourish. Mary Pat JONES Armstrong’63, Toronto

Mary Pat is fully engaged with her community, most notably in establishing programs to improve the lives of people with disabilities. She is the founder of LIGHTS, which helps families create and manage an independent home that their intellectually disabled family member can share with others. Mary Pat is also the founding director of Toronto’s Ronald McDonald House and of Camp Oochigeas, a camp for kids with cancer.

The Far Reaches of a Prestigious Award A former Head Girl donates $50,000 for STEM education

Blast from the Past Déjà Vu furniture sale


2018 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award recipient, Dr. Frances SHEPHERD’64.

Weinstock was honoured to represent Branksome Hall at the Canada Gairdner Awards dinner on October 25, 2018, where Dr. Frances Shepherd was recognized for her global leadership in oncology. In her acceptance speech, Dr. Shepherd, who was Head Girl in 1963–64, thanked Branksome for the education she received and the emphasis the school places on women’s STEM education today. Recipients of the Gairdner Award receive $100,000 and, in gratitude, Dr. Shepherd has generously donated $50,000 towards establishing an endowed fund at Branksome, which will directly benefit, each year, one graduating year student interested in pursuing a STEM-related field at university. We are planning to award the first recipient her gift in May 2019.

Well-Being Goes Mobile A gift that keeps on giving gone mobile at Branksome this year, thanks to the Class of 1986 Mental Health Initiative, which was established in 2016 to mark the class’s 30th reunion. Students worked hard to create a well-being app (soon available through the App Store and Google Play), which would offer a broad range of resources on everything a student needs to stay well during the busy school year. Thank you, Class of 1986!



takes a moment to relax in the old throne chair she just purchased at Déjà Vu, the Alumnae Association furniture sale held on March 3, 2018. Net proceeds were $753 and supported the Alumnae Association Endowed Bursary Fund.


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Global Outreach…

During their week-long trip, Principal Karen Jurjevich and Deputy Principal Karrie Weinstock had several opportunities to visit with alumnae in the San Francisco and Palo Alto areas. AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY


While at The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN), history teacher Jane Marshall (see p. 68) took time out from her schedule with the delegation of Branksome students to host a luncheon at Parkhotel. From left are Ji Su OH’09 (Amsterdam), Jane, Oksana Jajecznyk, Pippa Hill-STRATHY’85 and Louise de BLECOURT Hoogcarspel’57, who travelled from Bergen.

Naz GOCEK’16, left, who is studying international relations, and Clare MOFFATT’14. Clare has since graduated with a degree in cellular and molecular biology. Karen, with Fiona GRIFFITHS’90, a professor in the Department of History at Stanford.

From left, Karrie Weinstock, Natasha FIELD-MARSHAM’14, Eliana FIELD-MARSHAM’15 (sociology), and Alexandra PHILP-REEVES’17. Natasha has since graduated with a degree in international relations and is working at Morgan Stanley in New York City. IN SAN FRANCISCO Enjoying the get-together at the Marines’ Memorial Club on February 27 are Wendy STEWART’74, left, and Alison CARR’83 (see Class Notes).

Step by Step: The Creation of Beauty In her bid to support young alum artists, Principal Karen Jurjevich was delighted to commission Anja KARISIK’05 to create a still life painting for her office. From initial drawings and through the various stages of creation, Anja chronicled the progress of her work, until the exciting unveiling on February 21, 2018.

Initial sketch of the abalone shell


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The background takes shape

Working on contours and colours


Principal Karen Jurjevich and Cristina Coraggio, Executive Director of Advancement and Community Relations, visited with alumnae and parents over several days. At the evening reception on March 22, held at the Grand Hyatt, guests enjoy great camaraderie amid a spectacular view.


Prior to attending a conference to accept several awards on behalf of Branksome (for The READ and for our B&W admissions campaign), Tanya Pimenoff, Associate Director of Alumnae Relations, hosted a dinner at Elements on Hollis. With guests engaged in diverse activities, there was no shortage of conversation. Seated are Dr. Sarah DYACK’87, Division Head, Medical Genetics at Dalhousie University, and Marion DAVIS’12, master’s student at Dalhousie. Standing are Tanya, artist Barb BICKLE’66 and Hilary WELLS Rankin’88, executive director at a youth drop-in centre in support of mental health.

Finishing touches…


While in town to attend an International Baccalaureate conference, Principal Karen Jurjevich was delighted to host a Branksome dinner. From left are Oksana Jajecznyk (Head of Curriculum Development, The International Baccalaureate), Charis LO’03 (Teacher, Singapore School of the Arts), Karen, Mireille Couture (Head of Environmental Systems, United World College), Preet ANEJA’13 (Student, National University of Singapore) and Erin O’Rourke (Teacher, Canadian International School).


During a short visit overseas, it was great fun for Karen Jurjevich to have lunch in Piccadilly Circus with Lesley HINDER’87, left, a psychotherapist, and Andrea DINNICK Kennedy’85, a media executive.

THE IRIDESCENT ONE Oil on canvas, 36”x60”, 2018. At the unveiling: Bernadette Badali (Anja’s former art teacher; see p. 68), Principal Jurjevich, artist Ciba Karisik (Anja’s dad) and Anja. “Whether painting vegetables, seashells or florals, I search for the innate character and perennial wisdom found in nature’s roots, structures and relics.” —Anja Karisik

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NOVEMBER 4, 2018

Kids, Kids and More Kids! Three hours of awesome-ness at Family Fun Day

Now in its third year, Family Fun Day is sponsored and organized by the Alumnae Association and members of the Executive Committee, and it just keeps getting better and better. Thank you to all volunteers and sponsors, with special kudos to organizers Jennifer GAUTHIER McEachern’99 and JJ DAVIS’03. The Class of 1999 with their kids. An instructor with Harmony Ballet leads a mini-class in the ballet studio.

Visiting with her Torontobased parents Martha Garcia and Alejandro Jadad, Alia GARCIA-JADAD’10, with children Gabriela and Emilio, and husband Juan Vergara (far left), did not want to miss this event and scheduled the family’s trip home to Cartagena, Colombia accordingly.

Above: Specialty hot chocolates and goofy accessories were popular with Alex ANDERSON’88 and daughters Vivian, left, and Sophie. Left: Painting at the craft table is serious work for these toddlers.


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Bouncy castles and the face-painting booth are popular spots.

Meet Our New Executive Members These women will help lead the Alumnae Association this year Kendall ANDERSON’94


Managing Director of the non-partisan Samara Centre for Democracy and a former book editor at Random House of Canada.

Bilingual Information and Education Officer at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, teaching groups about civic engagement and parliamentary affairs.

Cindy EDWARDS MacMillan’91


Holistic Nutritionist working with, connecting student nutrition programs with surplus food donations.

Manager of Corporate Sponsorships at BMO Financial Group and volunteer at a longterm care home in Toronto.

Mackenzie KNOWLES’11

Kalli Dockrill Advancement Student Rep Senior School

Membership Coordinator at Verity, a members-only women’s club in downtown Toronto.

Victoria “Tori” LECHNER-SUNG’12

JD/MBA student at the University of Toronto, lifestyle blogger (“SelfExplanatori”), and member of the executive team of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund. Sarita SAMAROO’99

Principal Lawyer and owner of SST Law Professional Corporation, focusing on real estate, wills and estates, and business law; also an occasional Cessna pilot.

Kalli is the writing editor for Perennial and the head of the Gender Studies Club. She is a member of the Model UN team, and a competitive dancer outside of school. She is specifically interested in international relations and journalism.

ALUMNAE EXECUTIVE 2018–19 Allison ROACH’51 Honorary President Officers Karen CORDES Woods’99 President Tenley GIBSON’94 Past President Jennifer GAUTHIER McEachern’99 Vice-President, Engagement & Networking Adelaide YOUNG’11 Treasurer Alanna TEDESCO McLaughlin’03 Communications Catlin SEIBEL-KAMÉL’10 Secretary and Chair, Awards Members at Large Kendall ANDERSON’94 Melanie ARGIROS’08 Chair, Nominating JJ DAVIS’03 Cindy EDWARDS MacMillan’91 Mackenzie KNOWLES’11 Tori LECHNER-SUNG’12 Barbara DUNLOP Mohammad’70 Alexandra MORTON’09 Chair, Young Alums Dana POSTROZNY Mitchell’99 Sarita SAMAROO’99 Nicole THORNBURROW’10 Ex-Officio Cris Coraggio Karen Jurjevich Andrea McAnally Tanya Pimenoff Lindsay Tarvit Kalli Dockrill, Athena Mancini Advancement Student Reps

Athena Mancini Advancement Student Rep Junior School

Athena is a member of the Debating Executive Committee, and has been involved with the Model United Nations Club and the World Affairs Conference for a number of years. She is passionate about science and research, and hopes to enter the field of medicine in her post-graduate studies.

We say farewell and thank you to… Norah DEACON Matthews’98 2013–15 Member at Large 2016 Take pART committee 2016–18 Secretary

ALUMNAE ASSOCIATION MISSION STATEMENT To unite, engage and grow Branksome Hall’s alumnae community of globally minded learners and leaders.

Marielle BRYCK’07 2014–18 Member at Large 2017 Reunion Rep Carolyn HELBRONNER’79 2009–18 Member at Large 2010–18 Alum Awards Committee 2014 Reunion Rep

Stay Connected, Get Involved Melanie LANGILL Joyce’03 2013–14/2017–18 Member at Large 2014–2017 Treasurer 2013–16 Annual Appeal Committee

The Branksome Hall Alumnae Program It’s all about Community, Networking, Volunteerism, Friendship, Traditions and Giving Back Please contact: Tanya Pimenoff, Associate Director of Alumnae Relations 416-920-6265, ext. 285

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WinningWomen The Alumnae Association has bestowed its prestigious annual awards on two high achievers

Master Planner 2018 Allison Roach Alumna Award: Rebecca ROBERTSON’68




ebecca Robertson looked completely at home as she strode down the cavernous American-Aesthetic Movement hallway of the block-long Park Avenue Armory on New York’s Upper East Side. Here, in one of America’s finest landmarks, is where Rebecca, the energetic and innovative president and executive producer of this non-profit cultural institution, practically lives these days. Who would have guessed that the Armory—built in 1881 as a National Guard facility, while serving as an elite social club for the sons of Vanderbilts and Astors, among others—would become a major arts venue? Decades after it was built, the historic building had fallen into serious decline—rats ran rampant and bricks were falling to the


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ground. Philanthropist and businessman Wade Thompson, who lived across the street, took notice. He recruited Rebecca and New York developer Elihu Rose to help save the majestic structure. Since 2006, Rebecca and her team have opened the Armory’s doors to a wide variety of visionary contemporary artists who perform in the 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall. They have also undertaken the renovation of the many period rooms designed by such legendary American architects as Louis Comfort Tiffany and Stanford White. “Building a new cultural establishment was really hard in a city that has everything,” says Rebecca. “We were thrilled when The New York Times wrote that ‘the Armory has arrived as the most important new cultural institution in New York City.’ ” She sounds like a proud, native New Yorker. But Rebecca, a visionary urban planner who has been transforming high-profile places in the Big Apple for over 30 years, grew up in Toronto. Like her grandmother, mother and sister, she graduated from Branksome Hall, where her love affair with New York began. “My favourite book in high school was Act One by Moss Hart,” Rebecca says. “It romanticized New York City and Broadway for me.” After reading Hart’s autobiography, she and her classmates organized a production of Bye Bye Birdie. She landed the role of rock star Conrad Birdie. Dressed in white Levi’s painted gold, Rebecca romped on the Branksome stage. She credits her high school teachers and her close-knit group of friends for bolstering her confidence and helping her become an independent thinker. At the University of Toronto, Rebecca took an urban sociology course. She was hooked, realizing that she could incorporate her passions for design and theatre into city planning. After graduate school, where she studied urban design, she met and married American banking executive Byron Knief. They moved to Mexico City, where Rebecca learned Spanish to complement her French and English. She researched low-income housing and quality of life issues at the university there. Next stop: Caracas, Venezuela, where

Under her 10 years of leadership, Times Square was transformed. Attendance at Broadway shows soared and crime fell significantly.

Rebecca worked on a new transit system and a new town. Then, on to New York, where her husband was relocated. From 1982–87, Rebecca was a key member of the New York City Planning Department. Little did she know then that she would go on to lead the revitalization of one of New York’s most iconic blocks, 42nd Street in the heart of Times Square. A few years before she became president of the 42nd St Development Project, Rolling Stone magazine called it the “sleaziest block in America.” “We cleaned up something horrible,” she agrees, but she notes that she was able to retain a sense of the old strip. “If you lose the history of a place, you can’t recapture it,” she says. She insisted on keeping the honky-tonk look and feel of 42nd Street while getting rid of the ubiquitous sex clubs, drug dens and prostitutes. Under her 10 years of leadership, Times Square was transformed. Attendance at Broadway shows soared and crime fell significantly. As the construction phase began in 1997, Rebecca was ready for a new challenge. “Construction just isn’t my thing,” she says. This led to a three-year stint at the theatre-owning Shubert Organization, as vice president of real estate and special events. She built a new theatre and spearheaded the “floating” of air rights in the Theatre District. Keen on delving into another high-energy project, the renovation of Lincoln Center seemed a natural. As executive director of its redevelopment from 2000–2006, Rebecca oversaw the early construction phase of the $1.2 billion plan to reinvent the world-class arts institution and its 16-acre campus. “It was all about the eight o’clock curtain,” she says of the old centre. “It seemed elitist, not welcoming to its neighbourhood or the vast public that worked and attended performances there. The goal was to open it up.” Back at her home away from home at the Armory, Rebecca shows no signs of slowing down. “I’m not much of a backward thinker,” she says as she dives into preparations for an upcoming gala. R Sally Cook is a former Associated Press journalist and the author of nine books for children and adults.

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Braving the Darkness 2018 Young Alumna Achievement Award: Emily HINES’10 BY JANET SAILIAN



s Emily Hines can attest, the road to adulthood often wanders over ruts and across dark, bleak spaces. To reach steady ground under clearing skies is especially sweet after a difficult journey. The 2018 Young Alumna Achievement Award recipient has become a champion of confronting hard truths. The friendships and encouragement Emily found at Branksome Hall have helped her battle domestic abuse and depression, and now she counsels others facing similar challenges. A multi-talented dancer, writer, website designer, water policy expert and advocate against gender-based violence, Emily has “made an impact in the lives of countless individuals, and she is just beginning,” wrote one of her three nominators, Victoria STEPHENS’10. “She doesn’t recognize all she has done for people, both friends and others, and she isn’t aware of the difference she has made,” adds co-nominator Julia COLUCCI’10. Emily’s parents applied to Branksome after Grade 6 in search of deeper academic challenges for their only child. Says Emily, who grew up in Scarborough: “The school’s downtown location and the whole all-girls thing was quite a shock. But starting in Grade 7 was great, because half the class was new.” Writes co-nominator and former Head Girl Dilshaan PANJWANI’10: “We often talk about how close Branksome made us.”


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“I always promised I would tell the truth and speak for those who struggle to speak out.”

Her new school was empowering. “It was cool to be smart,” says Emily. “I never questioned whether I should raise my hand, get extra help at sittings or plunge into a bunch of clubs and activities.” A dancer since age 4, Emily spent up to 20 hours weekly in dance studios during high school. “All the Branksome girls had lots of activities and interests, in and outside of school. We were busy all the time, and we loved it.” After applying (and gaining admission) to 24 universities, Emily settled on St. Francis Xavier University in tiny Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where she earned a BA in aquatic resources and public policy. “I had the best first year of anyone I know,” she recalls. It was in her second university year that depression engulfed Emily. “There wasn’t much to do other than study, and I was so far from home. I got strep throat after taking six courses instead of five and being involved in tons of activities and two varsity teams. Suddenly, I floundered.” Trained as a peer supporter, Emily recognized she herself was in trouble. “I showed up back at home, unannounced. My parents were so supportive and walked me through finding the help I needed. Then I went back to St. FX.” Although she had aspired to be a lawyer, Emily found that a major in aquatic resources with a public policy specialty offered small classes and diverse topics: sciences, anthropol-

ogy, the economics and sociology of fisheries. She powered through her degree and spent a year in Denmark on exchange. Travels across Scandinavia to the Arctic Circle and then to Iceland “sparked my love of travel,” says Emily. “I’ve wandered through 45 countries, often backpacking solo, and worked or studied in four.” In 2015, Emily was admitted to the University of Oxford to study for a Master of Science in water science, policy and management. All started well, but as the intense academic program, an abusive relationship and her mother’s cancer diagnosis converged, the dark clouds of Emily’s depression gathered again. “I’m a high-functioning depressive,” says Emily. “I kept busy and hid my struggles until I just couldn’t.” Despite the lack of local treatment for mental illness and obstacles to gaining an extension for her master’s thesis, Emily “gritted it out somehow.” While in the UK, Emily worked with the Good Lad Initiative, which promotes positive, equal gender relationships through discussions led by men for men. Emily is keen to help the GLI bring its workshops to North America. “I always promised I would tell the truth and speak for those who struggle to speak out,” says Emily. “I’ve talked with girls and women, in the UK and beyond, about harassment and domestic violence. I tell them not all men are bad, not all women are your ally, and it’s possible to enjoy dating yet still be alert for signs of abuse.” A published writer, Emily is again living in Toronto, focused on dance, advocacy and more writing. She was part of a team that won the 2017 International Relations Career Challenge in Washington, DC by presenting a solution to the Tanzanian refugee crisis. Inspired by World Water Week, she hopes to work on international water policy. To those who know her, Emily serves as a beacon of truth, strength and mutual support for young women—wherever the road ahead leads her. R Janet Sailian is a freelance communications consultant, writer and editor.

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The reunion last June welcomed 340 alums, staff and former staff back to Branksome.

1973 1983

1993 2010



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1968 1988



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Passages Retirements Edited excerpts are taken from speeches at the employee year-end celebration last June Bernadette Badali (2000–18) Instructional Leader, Visual Arts As a practising artist and an expert in IB, Bernadette brings her artistic skills, creativity and depth of knowledge to the classroom. Respected by her students and colleagues, she has always motivated others to push themselves and work towards continuous improvement. And, her own art is stunning, with evidence of such creative thinking and risk-taking, not to mention her snazzy pants, funky glasses and artsy jewelry. We know your next chapter will be filled with many adventures and art shows, and time in your studio at the cottage. We, your students and your colleagues, thank you for your incredible commitment. You will be dearly missed. VISUAL ARTS DEPARTMENT

Sharon Crawford (1991–2018) Phys Ed Teacher, Junior School Sharon is passionate about physical education and, during her 27 years at Branksome, has passed a love of sport on to the hundreds of students she has taught. A marathon runner, yoga lover and kayaker herself, Sharon has led by example and witnessed how physical activity helps students develop leadership skills through teamwork, cooperation and camaraderie. Spending countless hours at Norval outdoor centre and at sporting events on and off campus, Sharon always maintained a terrific sense of humour. One can see why, at Junior School closing just days ago, the parents gave her a standing ovation. Sharon, we shall miss you, and wish you all good things. KRISTIN BUCHANAN and KATHY STEGENGA Junior School Phys Ed teachers

Jane Marshall (1989–2018) History and TOK Teacher, Senior School, Lead THIMUN advisor If you have ever observed Jane’s interactions with students, you would be watching the ideal of the teacher’s art. A student asks a question and soon finds herself in a dialogue with Jane, who gently teases out the strands of that question: what is really being asked, what does the student need to know before going further, what are the implications and the possibilities? Jane models for her students the layers of digging needed to come to a plausible resolution. The investment of Jane’s talents in the lives of her students continues to pay dividends, as her former students acknowledge the extent to which she helped shape them into the people they have become. Jane, you will defy all the issues around our generation’s latest challenge, age-ism; you are forever vital, relevant and young.

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Today is my last day here, and it’s been a great run. I’ve had over 27,000 visits to the Health Centre, given several thousand immunizations, and had too many parent phone calls to calculate. I participated in fabulous international trips, learned about wind turbines on Jeju Island, and became adept with multi-function push-button toilets. My husband has been waiting for this day for years. We’ll travel to China in the fall, cruise in January, spend time south in February, and visit Asia in the spring. In between, I’ll read, bake pies, wear perfume every day, eat nuts, perfect my golf game, practise yoga every morning, and throw weekday dinner parties! I will miss everyone at Branksome, but now it’s time to start my new adventure. Thank you all for just the best memories. MARJORIE SAUDER

DIANE WATSON, English teacher

Leslie Morgan (1997–2018) Executive Director, Finance and Administration Leslie, we have you to thank for the healthy state of affairs at Branksome Hall. The flow of money through an organization, careful attention to processes and the complex nature of financial transactions are foundational to the running of our school. You have led the Business Office and its related functions with a deft hand, demonstrating skills, knowledge and kindness. People have loved working with you and for you. And, when it comes to impact, the greatest and most appreciative beneficiaries of your devotion are, without question, your two beautiful Branksome Hall daughters. You have been a trusted friend, mentor and teacher for me as the principal, and I am sure that your impact here will be felt for years to come. KAREN L. JURJEVICH, Principal


Marjorie Sauder (2008–18) Head Nurse

Carol Van Wagner (2006–18) Mathematics Teacher, Senior School Since 2006, Carol’s wisdom and experience have transformed the mathematics department. She has been an absolute champion for us and, as department head, set an example of integrity and empathy, earning everyone’s respect. Carol cultivates relationships all over the school, and has impassioned support for her students. She is always thinking about the student experience and how to make deep learning coincide with engagement. By drawing on her scientific background for authentic connections, she shows students what they can expect in university and their careers. Now, Carol has time to pursue other interests—yoga, enjoying nature, and sailing with her husband. Thank you, Carol, for all you’ve done and for the person you are. ANDREW SCHROTER, Math teacher




Emer SCHLOSSER to Matthew Howe, on August 11, 2018, in Windermere, Ont.


Jackie NIXON to Simon Gowdy, on November 4, 2017, in Vero Beach, Florida.

Augusta MELLON to Logan Rhoades, on May 12, 2018, in Toronto. Ashleigh SAUNDERS to Thomas Crowe, on August 12, 2017 in St. Andrews, Scotland.

2004 2001 Ashley CALDWELL to Brian Long, on July 7, 2018, in Toronto. Hanna CHOUEST to Michael Eck, on October 1, 2016, in Washington, DC. 2002

Katie REIFFENSTEIN to Luca Rimoldi, on September 6, 2018, in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Nicole STAVRO-LEANOFF to Matthew Best, on July 31,2018, in Cirencester, UK.

Reed WANLESS to Torie Patterson, on August 11, 2018 in Shelburne, Ont.


Lauren ATWELL Rutherford, twin daughters Lola (left) and Lacy, on November 8, 2017, in Barbados. Stephanie LEE Chan, a son, Brandon, on November 19, 2014; a daughter, Brooklyn, on September 19, 2016, in Toronto. A nephew and a niece for Vanessa LEE’06. 1997 Vicki MENDOZA Baclao, a daughter, Mireya, on January 10, 2016; a daughter Annalise, on January 28, 2018, in Toronto.

Katie WORNDL to Robin Ross, on July 7, 2018 in Toronto.


2008 Lauren FRISCH to Jeffrey Lanes, on June 11, 2017, in Toronto.

2005 Joanna SOULOS to Giampiero Isabella, on August 25, 2018, in Toronto.



Erica HEALY Boehm, a daughter, Charlotte Jane Boehm, on July 30, 2018, in Toronto.

Anne VOORHEIS to James Jeffrey Watts, on February 25, 2017, in Toronto. Sabina MARTYN to Johann Rayappu, on June 16, 2018, in Toronto.

Erin MORGAN to Scott Badali, on September 21, 2018, in Toronto.


Jennifer LANGILL to Souksavanh Saiphaphong, on August 11, 2018, in Hockley Valley, Ont.

Olga LEFAS Guazzo, a son, Adrian Noah, on May 6, 2018 in Grottaferrata, Italy. A nephew for Melissa LEFAS’00. Erin LYNCH Millman, a son, Peter John, on November 28, 2017. A nephew for Kelly LYNCH Power’03.

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GET YOUR BRANKSOME “ONESIE!” Your new arrival will look very spiffy in this fashionable “onesie.” Let us know when your baby arrives, and we’ll send this cozy outfit (sized to 12 months) right to your front door.

Laura CHIU Togunov, a son, Michael John, on December 10, 2017, in Toronto.

Lydia SKOURIDES Péquegnat, a son, Xavier Alexandros, on September 25, 2018, in Toronto. 1999 Lindsey DELUCE Ball, a daughter, Vivian River, on July 6, 2018, in Toronto. A niece for Aynsley DELUCE’94, Dana DELUCE’96 and Heather WRIGHT’03. Sarah PSUTKA, a daughter, Elliott Rowan, on March 9, 2016, in Chicago. 2000 Carmen CHAN, a daughter, Amanda, on June 6, 2016, in Hong Kong. Pearl CHEN, a son, Quinn, on December 13, 2016, in Toronto.


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2003 Julia BOTHWELL Hull, a son, Logan George Ian, on July 22, 2014; twins Margot Grace and Brody David James, on December 28, 2016, in New York City. Great-grandchildren for Peggy SEAGRAM Hull’50; a niece and nephews for Christina BOTHWELL’07.


2001 Hanna CHOUEST, a daughter, Nora Alice, on April, 18, 2018, in Washington, DC. A niece for Sandi SPAULDING’71.

Lija GAIKIS Obermaier, a son, Remington Arturs Edward, on July 30, 2018, in Kitchener, Ont. A nephew for Inta GAIKIS’07 and Caroline GAIKIS’11.

Dilnoor PANJWANI, a daughter, Maya, on December 15, 2015; a daughter, Reya, on May 17, 2018, in Toronto. Nieces for Dilnaz PANJWANI’99, Dilzayn PANJWANI’05 and Dilshaan PANJWANI’10.

Ashley INGRAM Hughes, a son, Cameron Simon, on November 7, 2017, in Mississauga, Ont.

Diana PERL, a daughter, Evelyn John, on January 14, 2018, in Toronto.

Courtney STARR, a daughter, Marlowe Marie, on November 5, 2017, in Toronto. Heather WRIGHT, a son, Jack Andrew Grand, on May 6, 2018, in Toronto. A nephew for Jody WRIGHT’01, Emily WRIGHT’09, Aynsley DELUCE’94, Dana DELUCE’96 and Lindsey DELUCE Ball’99. 2004 Claire BASINSKI, a son, Franklin Paul Case, on November 17, 2017, in Kitchener, Ont. A grandson for Anne BIRINGER’73; a nephew for Sarah BASINSKI’06.

Jennifer ROWAN Peacock, a son, Hudson, on January 25, 2017, in Toronto.

2002 Shu-wei JAMES, a son, Grey, on April 16, 2017, in Singapore. A nephew for Hana JAMES’05. Caitlin WALSH, a daughter, Piper, on January 13, 2018, in Toronto. A niece for Meghan WALSH’05.

Katie McCABE Cheesbrough, a son, John Gordon, on July 22, 2017, in Toronto. A grandson for Carol McCLELLAND McCabe’68; a nephew for Lesley McCABE Dyer’98 and Robin McCABE Cassaday’00; a great-nephew for Suzanne McCLELLAND Drinkwater’67.

Caitlin HARRIS, a son, Henry David, on December 8, 2017, in Toronto. A grandson for Ann HUTCHESON Harris’73.

Grace LEUNG Laird, a daughter, Isabel Mei, on June 10, 2018, in Toronto. Amy SISAM, a son, Max Thomas, on May 26, 2018, in Toronto. A nephew for Katie SISAM’98 and Robin McCABE Cassaday’00.

Deaths 2005 Julie GILMOUR, a daughter, Charlotte Anne, on June 5, 2018, in Toronto. A niece for Emily GILMOUR’08.

2007 Anjali CURTOSI Harvie, a daughter, Talia Leeanne, on March 6, 2018, in Midland, Ont.



Caleigh VICKAR Silvera, a daughter, Sally Noa Myers, on October 9, 2016, in New York City.

Alisha GULAMANI Kurji, a son, Zayden, on October 14, 2017, in Toronto. Alisha, with Zayden and her dad, Alnoor Gulamani, at Family Fun Day. 2010

Corey WELLS Hayes, a son, Hunter, on May 25, 2016; a son, Bennett John, on August 1, 2018, in Toronto. 2006 Alia JADAD-GARCIA, a daughter, Gabriela Del Mar, on September 5, 2015; a son, Emilio, on July 22, 2017, in Cartagena, Colombia.

Katie BUTLER Oakley, a son, Benjamin Matthew, on September 4, 2018, in Toronto. A grandson for Janet HUYCKE Butler’75.

Sandbox Alum Simon Hermant, a son, Finch Edward Sydney, on May 20, 2017, in Toronto. A nephew for Elizabeth HERMANT Mayer’98.

Dr. Jeanne MONTGOMERY Smith, on October 27, 2015, in Iowa City, Iowa. Jeanne accepted her first medical position in 1942, and was the only woman on the staff of Toronto General Hospital. Two years later at the height of the Second World War, she was one of the few women doctors serving in the Canadian Navy. Allergist Dr. Zuhair Ballas of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics wrote of her: “Dr. Smith has been a pioneer for women in medicine and refused to let the prevailing biases against women deter her from pursuing her passion to serve, learn, and teach. She has been an inspiration to innumerable physicians.” 1936 Katharine ROBARTS Jockel, on November 12, 2017, in Montreal, Que. Katharine served with the Canadian Red Cross during the Second World War and, after marrying, continued with volunteer work at the public library, her church and her son’s school. 1937 Sonja WILLIAMS Bird, on April 2, 2018, in Toronto. Mother of Ingrid BIRD Nolan’73. After Branksome, Sonja studied piano and was married in 1940. After the war, the young couple moved

into their Rosedale home where they raised their family, and where Sonja lived for the rest of her life. 1939 Jane EGBERT Brown, on August 4, 2018, in Easton, Maryland. A descendant of American and Canadian pioneers, Jane was a full time mother, voracious reader and lifelong sailor on Lake Ontario and Chesapeake Bay. 1940 Nancy BAKER Lynn, on May 27, 2018, in Roches Point, Ont. Aunt of Daphne SEAGRAM’75 and Debbie SEAGRAM’77. During the Second World War, Nancy joined the WRCNS and was assigned to the British Admiralty’s Naval Intelligence Division. She performed decoding work for the Naval Intelligence Division in Bletchley Park, England for the duration of the war. Later, she enrolled at McGill and received a degree in physiotherapy, which she practised at Toronto General Hospital in the late 1940s/ early 1950s. 1942

Jocelyn HODGE Lee, on May 4, 2018, in Toronto. Joey raised four children in a secure, loving home. She led a lifelong commitment to pacifism and social justice, which was often expressed as a sympathy for the underdog. She loved summers at the cottage in Georgian Bay and walks with her string of canine mischief-makers.

Pamela McCLOUGHRY MacLean, on August 27, 2017, in Vancouver. Sister of Sheila McCLOUGHRY Harvey’44. A social worker by nature as well as by profession, Pamela was a kind and thoughtful person. Her many charities included the Canadian Red Cross, Covenant House and the Salvation Army. 1943 Elspeth ABBEY Johnson, on June 1, 2018, in Toronto. See In Memoriam. Rose-Marjan HARTOG, on March 21, 2018, in Amersfoort, Netherlands.

Patricia HOBBS Dyke, on May 17, 2018, in Cambridge, Ont. Wife, mother, friend, librarian and bridge player extraordinaire.

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1944 Margery DODDS McCall, on December 11, 2017, in Toronto. Sister of Shirley DODDS Saylor’47. Margery worked at Maclean Hunter Publishing before marrying and raising a family of three boys. She enjoyed their cottage on East Bay, Lake Muskoka, and finally her home on Brandy Lake near Port Carling. Her father started the first downhill ski manufacturing company in Canada, so she was an enthusiastic downhill skier—a passion she passed on to her boys. Margery was an accomplished ornithologist who could easily identify a bird simply by listening to its song.

Dr. Ruth FOWLER Edwards, on October 2013, in the UK. Ruth attended Branksome as an English War Guest. She returned to England and, with an interest in biological sciences, studied genetics in the early 1950s at the University of Edinburgh. Ruth became a geneticist and wife of Robert Edwards, the “father” of in vitro fertilization who, in 2010, won a Nobel Prize, accepted by Ruth due to his failing health. She published many papers as a geneticist, all while raising her family of five daughters. 1948 Jane BOWEN Fitzsimmons, date unavailable, in Oxted, Surrey, UK.

Noreen EMORY Jackson, on April 12, 2009, in Ottawa. 1945 Dr. Ruth ALISON, on May 26, 2018, in Toronto. See In Memoriam. Sally BROUGHALL Paterson, on March 21, 2018, in Thornbury, Ont. Mother of Catherine PATERSON Osler’71; sister of Kathy BROUGHALL Miller’56. After raising her children, Sally became a research associate in chemical engineering at the University of Toronto. She served as an advisor to the Premier on setting limits to levels of toxic chemicals in the environment. In later years, she enjoyed travel and learning local history and languages.


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Dr. Beverley BRITT, on October 25, 2016, in Powys, Wales. Former professor of anesthesia at the University of Toronto, Beverley was an internationally recognized authority on malignant hyperthermia (MH). She also worked as an anesthesiologist at Toronto General Hospital (1960-1996). After caring for a patient who survived MH in the early 1960s, she and a colleague embarked on a career of clinical and epidemiologic studies to develop a preoperative diagnostic

test to detect MH susceptibility. These tests are now performed in MH centres around the world. Louise WALWYN Goldring, on April 4, 2018, in Toronto. Mother of Cathie GOLDRING Bowden’73; sister of Sue WALWYN Winchell’57; aunt of Christy GUNTON’77 and Laurie GUNTON’81; great-aunt of Kim REGAN’05. See In Memoriam. Jean WILLIAMS Hughes, on December 22, 2017, in Bayfield, Ont. Sister of Margaret WILLIAMS Cain’60. 1949 Nancy BLUNDELL Woodruff, on February 10, 2013, in St. Catharines, Ont. Aunt of Michelle BLUNDELL’82 and Louise BLUNDELL Viola’89. Ginger CROSSIN Tafel, on November 7, 2018, in Toronto. Ginger and husband Ted split their time between Toronto and their snowbird home in Florida. They were world travellers and, during their 34 years together, explored over 140 countries. Ann LOWNDES McVittie, on August 27, 2018, in Toronto. Mother of Pamela McVITTIE Holton’76; grandmother of Alexandra McVITTIE’14 and Paige McVITTIE’15. See In Memoriam.

1951 Janice JONES Robertson, on August 2, 2018, in Toronto. Janice and Don were wed in 1955. From 1964–91 Janice ran the house and raised her children. She volunteered at Peel Memorial Hospital, belonged to a local bridge club, played a lot of golf and rarely missed her 5 o’clock scotch and water. She and Don took many trips all over the world, and spent their winters in Naples, Florida, and summers at the cottage on Lake of Bays. 1953 Margot THORBURN Leman, on September 15, 2018, in Toronto. Mother of Michelle LEMAN’81 and Kellie LEMAN’83. Margot worked in the Senior School general office at Branksome for twelve years and could always be depended upon to carry out any task quickly, quietly and accurately. She was devoted to her family, and her daughters were her greatest pride and joy. Margot was dignified and reserved with a warm heart and compassion. Her creativity, love of art and sculpture, humour and elegance were reflected in the beautiful home environment she created and shared with her family. Barbara WILLIAMS Hodgins, on April 22, 2018, in Toronto. A gifted organist, Barb most recently served as music director at St. John’s United Church in Scarborough. Having

acquired her ARCT from the Royal Conservatory of Music, Barb was also a piano teacher and touched the lives of many young musicians over the years. She enjoyed many good times at the family cottage in Killarney. 1955 Elizabeth Ann McMULLEN, on August 15, 2018, in Toronto. 1957 Carol WHITELEY Hanley, on May 26, 2018, in Cobourg. Sister of Joyce WHITELEY Wiltse’60. After raising three children during her 22 years of marriage, Carol embarked upon a new chapter as a single career woman in Toronto. She was an award-winning media sales executive and, later, a successful television producer. She retired to Cobourg where she volunteered and, later, remarried. The couple enjoyed travelling, gardening, swimming and the company of their families and friends. 1959 Betty RUSSELL Chambers, date unavailable. Mother of Barbara CHAMBERS’86. 1963 Rosalind GOLDSMITH Greene, date unavailable. Penny LOWNDES Elliott, on October 28, 2018, in Toronto. Mother of Leigh ELLIOTT McGowan’94. See In Memoriam.

In Memoriam Mary Louise MATTHEWS Tully, on December 12, 2017, in Westchester County, New York. Mary Lou was an obstetrics RN specializing in high-risk births. After marrying Michael, they travelled the world and lived in New York, Sydney and Amsterdam, ultimately settling in New York State. From early childhood, Mary Lou enjoyed summers at the family cottage on Deer Island, Honey Harbour, Ont., which was her haven and spiritual home throughout her life. 1964 Janet THOMPSON Graham, on January 16, 2018, in Nobleton, Ont. Sister-in-law of Margaret-Ann GRAHAM McKinnon’66. 1966 Lynne WADGE Hamilton, on September 3, 2018, in Vancouver. Sister of Allison WADGE’69 and Janice WADGE’73. See In Memoriam. 1968 Sherry BALLENTINE, date unavailable. 1969 Beverly WILLOUGHBY Cooke, on January 25, 2018, in St. Catharines, Ont. Beverly was a Kindergarten educational assistant at Blythwood and Rosedale Junior Public schools. After a successful career, she enjoyed time with family and friends, and visiting Cuba, a country she dearly loved.

1980 Cindy WALKER, on February 11, 2018, in Barrie, Ont. 1983 Maggie HERMANT, on April 4, 2018, in Toronto. Sister of Mary HERMANT’88; cousin of Roz HERMANT’93 and Elizabeth HERMANT Mayer’98. See In Memoriam. Pam TAYLOR, on October 3, 2018, in Ajax, Ont. Sister of Carolyn TAYLOR Kozole’76. See In Memoriam. 1987 Lisa KORTHALS, on March 28, 2018, near Pemberton, BC. Daughter of Robin Korthals, former member of Branksome Hall’s Board of Governors, and Judy Korthals. See In Memoriam. Former Employees Margot THORBURN Leman’53, Senior School General Office from 1977–89, on September 15, 2018, in Toronto (see previous page). Former Board of Governors J. Scott Deacon, on June 7, 2018, in Toronto. Father of Emily DEACON’96, Norah DEACON Matthews’99, and Grace DEACON Popowich’01.

Elspeth ABBEY Johnson’43 July 30, 1924 – June 1, 2018 Elspeth married Duncan Johnson, the “perfect man for her” later in life but, sadly, they were separated by Duncan’s death far too early. I remember, back in the 1960s, family parties, dinners and celebrations and Elspeth was often part of these festivities. She was sharp as a whip, and loved getting into discussions about politics and government, the city of Toronto, the mayor and anything else that was newsworthy. Even with the younger generation, she was interested in keeping up with what they were doing, their interests and education. Entertaining was always a pleasure for Elspeth; however, she never considered herself a good chef, so if someone else could do the cooking, that was great. And occasionally, she invited us to the Granite Club, where we would observe the artwork and unique decor. Elspeth was a wonderful lady, full of enthusiasm for life, full of kindness for others, a true friend and a woman of faith. —Edited excerpt from the eulogy given by Bill Hume, Elspeth’s cousin

Dr. Ruth ALISON’45 August 13, 1926 – May 26, 2018 In 1952, Ruth graduated in medicine from the University of Toronto, where she later taught. She worked in Bella Bella (Waglisla), BC, before practising oncology at Princess Margaret Hospital. A strong believer in treating body, mind and spirit, she connected with her patients first as a human being and secondly as a doctor. Ruth became the first female president of the Canadian Cancer Society during the Terry Fox years. Among her volunteer activities, she was an elder at two Presbyterian churches: Glenview (Toronto) and Union (Terra Cotta, Ont.) and, for many years, led the CGIT group at Glenview. In retirement, Ruth became a chaplain, serving at Peel Memorial Hospital. —Edited excerpt from Ruth’s obituary My friendship with Ruth began at Branksome, in the final years of the Second World War. Ruth was a top academic, a school prefect and an outstanding leader. We both went to the University of Toronto and on the occasions when I saw Ruth, we would take sandwiches for supper in the upstairs women’s lounge of the old library. Ruth would be there to play on the Medical Women’s Basketball team; I would be there to read in the library. While at Princess Margaret Hospital, Ruth had an architect design a home on her 25-acre property at Terra Cotta. I think that every group associated with Ruth was invited to stay for a weekend of fun and study. Arthritis finally forced Ruth to retire to the little house close to the Rosedale Golf Course. I enjoyed our visits talking about old times, as long as we were able. Being with Ruth was always an adventure, but one with a spiritual message and encouragement to do one’s best. — Edited excerpt from the eulogy given by Joan M. NEILSON’46

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In Memoriam

Louise WALWYN Goldring’48 August 25, 1929 – April 4, 2018

Ann LOWNDES McVittie’49 May 24, 1930 – August 27, 2018

At Branksome, Louise made many lifelong friends and continued a long relationship as the 1948 year rep. She attended the University of Western Ontario for secretarial sciences and married Ralph in 1952. Children Cathie and Stephen soon followed and the early years were spent in Regina and Winnipeg before returning to Toronto in 1970. With a great love of classical music and especially opera, Louise was very involved as a volunteer with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Women’s Committee of the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. She rarely missed a Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, live from the Met in New York, for over 75 years. Louise also had a love of travel and, either on her own or with Ralph, enjoyed trips to dozens of countries. Gran, as she was known to her grandchildren, spent much time taking them to the theatre, concerts and ballet, always trying to encourage their love of, and interest in, the arts. In 2015, Louise fell and broke her hip, which led to a slow decline in her physical and mental capabilities. She spent most of the last two years at Humber Heights in Etobicoke where she received increasing levels of care by respectful and caring staff. — Cathie GOLDRING Bowden’73 Edited excerpt from Cathie’s tribute to her mom

Ann enjoyed her years at Branksome Hall, and was a prefect in her final year. Upon graduating from the Wellesley School of Nursing, Ann became a nurse and started her career at Eaton’s department store in the medical department. She later enjoyed a 16-year career as an occupational nurse at Imperial Oil. Ann was also an active volunteer, and one of her roles included the Junior League where she was Placement Chairman. As her niece, I remember Ann for her radiant smile and her fabulous taste in clothes, family Christmas dinners at the long-gone Lord Simcoe, and family times in Muskoka. Ann loved life and she loved golfing at the Hunt, where she became the ladies’ golf captain. In her sixties she took up art and I don’t think she had any idea how good her watercolour paintings really were. The last few years were difficult because of her medical challenges. Ann lived a good long life and memories of happy times with her will always be there for us to remember. — Edited excerpt from the eulogy given by Parry Lowndes, Ann’s niece and goddaughter

Penny LOWNDES Elliott’63 November 23, 1943 – October 28, 2018 Penny is a person best described not by what she did but by who she was. She was light and warmth, a spirit of good in a world ever less so. She loved her family, devoted her life to the service of others, and was never far from her beloved alma mater, Branksome Hall. Working for nine years in the alumnae office and


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then, for the next two decades, as a volunteer which included a weekly workday in the Archives. From her first day in Grade 7, Penny loved Branksome, as did Leigh, her only child. No one was prepared for this loss, as it came suddenly and unexpectedly, but for those of us who knew her, we are left with a deep gratitude for the wonderful times we had together and the amazing memories that live on in our hearts. Penny was a joy—fun and light and the very best friend. Her funeral was packed to the gills. Many of those faces once graced the halls of 10 Elm Avenue. Penny leaves a legacy of kindness, friendship and generosity. If we were all just a little more like her, the world would be a far nicer place. Keep Well The Road, dear Penny. You were, and will forever, be loved. —Leigh ELLIOTT McGowan’94, Penny’s daughter

Lynne WADGE Hamilton’66 February 19, 1948 – September 3, 2018 Lynne was raised in Copper Cliff, Ont. In 1965, she moved to Toronto to attend Branksome Hall, where she met lifelong friends that are here today. After graduating, Lynne’s adventurous spirit took her first to the UK and then, after university, to Africa. Following that she began her teaching career in Toronto, which would become her passion. Lynne met Peter in Toronto—these were two people in love, and it showed. In 1979, they moved to Vancouver, where they raised Lindsay and Erin and amassed an enviable and unique collection of friends. From school, to bridge, to her book clubs, to skiing, to swimming, to creating magical gardens, to commuting to complete her master’s degree, I don’t think Lynne ever sat still. She taught for decades, and

confessed that it wasn’t just that she loved her work, she loved the people she worked with and the kids that needed her. Lynne was honest about her illness. She didn’t want people to hide from their grief, nor did she want them to be consumed by it. Through it all, Lynne had unwavering strength. Her illness was relentless, but she was always stronger. With each setback, she simply did more, and she did it with dignity, passion and joy. A few days before she died, she asked me to play “End of the Line,” a song she loved, and, to her credit, Lynne only frowned once at my singing. I asked her if there was anything that she wanted me to say to all of you. Had anything been left unsaid? She was quiet, then took my hand and smiled. “Tell them that I loved my friends. Tell them that I loved my life.” —Edited excerpt from the eulogy delivered by Paul De Luca, Lynne’s son-in-law

Maggie HERMANT’83 June 16, 1964 – April 4, 2018 Maggie passed away unexpectedly last April, and our family is still overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and affection for this wonderful woman. Maggie was a force of nature who connected lives. While at Branksome, she won the Stephanie Telfer Award for Enthusiasm and never, ever stopped. On April 7, hundreds of people gathered in a private suite at the Rogers Center to celebrate Maggie, watch a game, sing together and eat “regular” food. It was a perfect tribute and Maggie would have loved it. At least nine Branksome alumnae helped plan “Maggie’s Party,” with many more in attendance—cousins, parents, neighbours, friends—so many people had been touched by my sister. She always loved

a good party, and to throw one was even better. It was all about her friends and family, and seeing them often. I hope you will pass Maggie’s legacy along—reach out to your friends, organize a gathering, and bring people together. There’s nothing she would like more. —Mary HERMANT’88

Pamela TAYLOR’83 April 3, 1964 – October 3, 2018 Pamela passed away peacefully after a long, brave battle with breast cancer. She will forever be missed by her four children, Mitchell, Reece, Keely and Chloe, her loving family, including her sister, Carolyn TAYLOR Kozole76, and me, her best friend since Grade 7. Pam attended Branksome from Grade 7 to 13—her sunny disposition endearing her to students from many different grades. She enjoyed all aspects of her school days—school dances (even learning to tap dance for the annual musical in Grade 13) and Mrs. Marie Hay’s Grade 7 and 8 history trips. Pam went on to graduate from Carleton University with a BA in English. She worked in investment banking, marketing and digital marketing during her career, and spent many happy hours with her kids on soccer fields and in hockey arenas in the Scarborough and Ajax areas where the family lived. Pam loved time at her cottage in Haliburton, reading and taking walks with her family and dogs, the latter being her constant companions. Always upbeat and positive, Pam kept in touch with almost everyone she ever met—she had a knack for making one feel valued and she always left a lasting impression of fun, laughter and kindness. These qualities are her legacy and how she will be remembered. —Stephanie TORO Marsden’83

Lisa KORTHALS’87 December 3, 1968 – March 28, 2018 Lisa—mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend—died in an avalanche while guiding in the mountains near Pemberton, BC. She was known to many, carving out a life in the mountains surrounding Whistler and Pemberton for the past 30 years. After Branksome, Lisa’s adventurous spirit and athletic passions chafed under the confines of university life at UBC, and she began heeding the calls of nature and venturing to Whistler. Getting a job with the Whistler Mountain Ski School sealed her fate, and she began to add qualifications to her list of impressive achievements. During the summers, she pursued her passion for canoe tripping, going on unsupported missions in northern Canada with her dear friend Andrea DORFMAN’87. At this point, she started rock climbing and took the Outdoor Adventure Program at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. These years were punctuated with working at Outward Bound, leading river-rafting trips. In 1997, Lisa moved to Pemberton where she soon met Johnny, her future husband. Winters were spent ski guiding and Lisa became the first woman to log a descent on University Peak in Alaska, skiing 2,700 meters at 50 degrees. Lisa transitioned to Whistler Heli-Skiing soon after and became a part-time guide as her other business, real estate, began to flourish. She was a sublime skier. Fluid. Graceful. Powerful. An absolute dream to watch. Her 12-year-old son, Tye, has learned well from this incredible mom and athlete who lived life intensely. Her smile, extinguished by the whims of nature, will forever be etched in our minds. —Edited excerpt from a tribute written by Johnny Inglis, Lisa’s friend

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A DAY IN T HE L IFE Morgyn at the wheel of an SAR boat as an RCAF CH-149 Cormorant helicopter hovers nearby.

Searching the Seas My summer job with the Canadian Coast Guard BY MORGYN MCKERLIE’15

I CALLED OUT a small iceberg five meters off our starboard bow and squeezed the hand warmers in my gloves a little tighter. It was almost midnight and the snow had been falling steadily since we left the wharf. I leaned over the boat’s collar, illuminating the water with a searchlight as we navigated in the dark. The Canadian Coast Guard Inshore Rescue Boat (IRB) Service trains students to be members of primary Search and Rescue (SAR) units across the country. Crews consist of one coxswain and two crew members tasked to assist mariners in distress 24/7. I completed the competitive training program in 2017 and was assigned to the IRB station on Conception Bay, Newfoundland to work as a crew member. In 2018, I was promoted and returned to Conception Bay to lead a crew as coxswain. During the season, IRB stations operate on a two-week rotating schedule with each three-person crew working four shifts in total.


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Some of the incidents we see include vessels that are disabled, overdue or disoriented, as well as concerned bystander reports of unusual boating or swimming activity. In most cases, our initial response is the same: before departing the wharf, we coordinate with the Maritime Rescue Sub Centre and relay information on visibility, weather and sea conditions to their station in St. John’s. From there, we tailor our efforts to the call details. This might include towing a fishing vessel that has lost power, executing a search pattern according to a vessel’s last known position, or administering first aid to a sick or injured mariner. On one memorable call, my crew and I responded to an overturned vessel that had taken on water and capsized with two people on board. The IRB Service is a cornerstone of the Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue program but we do not work alone. Training with the Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian

Coast Guard Auxiliary and local Emergency Services promotes effective collaboration in emergencies and helps ensure the safety of all on the water. During one Search and Rescue Exercise, we worked with 103 Squadron, Gander and a commercial fishing vessel to rescue five mariners reported missing and found stranded on an island. I will never forget operating our 300-horsepower rescue craft under the rotor downwash of an RCAF CH-149 Cormorant helicopter. On shift we work from 11:00 to 19:00, patrolling our search area, training with other SAR resources, and practising our first aid skills. In the evenings, we head back to our shared accommodations or stay within a 15-minute radius of the base, maintaining an appropriate response time for SAR taskings. I could usually be found at the gym, studying for my MCAT (for med school admission), or watching movies with my crew at home. Working in Newfoundland has been a privilege and I boast honorary Newfoundlander status (made official by a shot of Screech and the kiss of a cod). In a province dominated by coastal communities, I am proud to be part of a team that works to protect its mariners and marine environment. R Morgyn studies biomedical science at the University of Ottawa.

UpcomingEvents Visit for details and registration.

BRANKSOME IS PROUD TO WELCOME Dr. Lisa Damour, psychologist and best-selling author Thursday, April 25, 2019 Watch for further details.

Decades Luncheon Friday, May 31, 2019 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Under the Tent, 10 Elm Avenue Primarily for alumnae from the 30s to the 70s, and 10 Elm Society members.

2019 WORLD INDIVIDUAL DEBATING & PUBLIC SPEAKING CHAMPIONSHIP Hosted by Branksome Hall Thursday, April 11, 2019 – Wednesday, April 17, 2019 Volunteer judges needed! Sign up at or email

NEW YORK CITY RECEPTION Friday, May 10, 2019 6:30–8:30 p.m. The Park Avenue Armory Veterans Room 643 Park Avenue, New York Watch for further details.

School Tour, Reception and Dinner Saturday, June 1, 2019 From 4:30 p.m. The Athletics and Wellness Centre, 6 Elm Avenue Primarily for reunion classes from the years ending in 4 and 9. Award presentations will take place during the dinner.

Watch your mail and email for further details.


Allison Roach Alumna Award

Call for Young Alumna Nominations Achievement Award

Watch for our e-newsletter. It will provide you with important news and events.

Easy nominating process! Visit the website at Deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 31, 2019 Award recipients will be honoured at the Reunion Dinner on Saturday, June 1, 2019.

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The world’s best student debaters and public speakers are coming to Canada for the first time in history.

Branksome Hall is proud to host the 31st World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships – April 11 to 1 , 2019

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