The York University Alumni Board (YUAB) is a presidential advisory committee on matters of alumni engagement. Working closely with the Office of Alumni Engagement, Division of Advancement, it comprises up to eighteen members at a time with one or two-year terms and possibility of renewal.
The YUAB brings together a diverse set of experiences to enhance the reputation of York University, celebrate philanthropy, and increase student engagement. Currently meeting four times per year, as well as regularly contributing to the work of various subcommittees, the YUAB adds value through their strategic advice, counsel, philanthropic engagement, network enhancement, and many other important areas.
Questions? Contact Zachary Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-736-2100 ext. 44659.
Francesca Accinelli (BFA ’92)
(Chair, October 2017 - Present)
Francesca Accinelli began her career as a cultural administrator in theatre before eventually moving into television production. She has spent the last 15 years working with producers of film, television and digital media. For the past nine years, she has held progressively senior roles for Telefilm Canada — a federal cultural agency dedicated to developing and promoting the Canadian audiovisual industry. Currently, Francesca serves as Telefilm’s Director of Communications and National Promotions. Prior to this, she held numerous roles including Director, CMF Program Administration, English market and Deputy Director, Television Business Unit, English Market.
During her time at York, Francesca was a recipient of the Murray Ross Scholarship and was involved with Vanier College Productions. Prior to being a student, she spent significant time at York attending the York Youth Connection Day Camp. Today, she still misses running up the old Ross building ramp.
Randy Williamson (LLB ’88)
(Past Chair, 2012 – 2017; Member, Nominations and Governance Committee, Scholarships and Awards Committee)
Randy Williamson is the immediate Past Chair of the YUAB, serving in this capacity from 2012 – 2017. He was appointed to the Board of Governors on October 1, 2013, and serves as Chair of the York University Pension Fund Board of Trustees.
A partner of Toronto law firm Aird & Berlis LLP, Randy has over 30 years’ experience as a lawyer, CPA, CA, public company senior executive, and independent business owner-operator. Prior to returning to Bay Street in 2005, he owned and operated three business process outsourcing companies; was a senior executive with a multi-billion-dollar public industrial products company; and a partner in another prominent Toronto law firm.
He is the Past Vice-Chair of the Board of Toronto Atmospheric Fund; founding Chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters Alumni; Past Chair of the Investment Committee and a Governing Council member at St. James Cathedral, Toronto; Oast President of Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship; founding Board member of Ontario’s Promise to Children and Youth; and Past Chair of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. Randy was honoured with Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Medal for Community Service and was twice Toronto’s Big Brother of the Year.
Randy received his law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and his Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s University.
Layth Gafoor (BA ’02, LLB ’06)
(Chair, Nominations and Governance Committee)
As managing partner of Lucentem Sports & Entertainment Law, Gafoor's practice involves representing and advising athletes, artists, management personnel, coaches and organizations in business and legal matters. His practice also encompasses providing legal advice and representation to clients in the music, film and television industries. Gafoor also manages the firm’s crisis management group, which provides direct crisis communication, support and trial advocacy for high profile individuals and corporations facing criminal and regulatory charges throughout Canada.
Gafoor has become a leading television and print media commentator on sport and entertainment law matters. He is often called upon by various media sources to discuss international legal issues within sport, as well as provide analysis from a Canadian perspective. Gafoor is a source that international organizations turn to when Canadian sport and entertainment expertise is required.
Gafoor regularly lectures at universities and industry conferences throughout the world in the areas of comparative Canadian/American sport & entertainment jurisprudence. Gafoor was recently appointed to the board of directors for the sports lawyers association (SLA).
Michelle Dagnino (BA ’02, MA ’03, LLB ’06)
(Chair, Networks Committee)
Michelle Dagnino is a social entrepreneur, lawyer, public speaker and expert on youth engagement, generational change, and human services design for populations facing multiple and/or complex barriers.
Michelle is currently the Executive Director of the Jane/Finch Community and Family Centre, a social services agency in West Toronto, dedicated to supporting the local community through service delivery and resident capacity-building. The Jane/Finch Centre has undergone a three-year strategic transformation leading to a targeted focus of moving the over 15,000 residents we serve annually out of poverty. Through an ongoing process of human-centred service design throughout our program areas, the Jane/Finch Centre is demonstrating impact to provide people the skills and opportunity to improve their economic and social mobility. Prior to this, Michelle held positions as the Canada Director for Ashoka’s Youth Venture, Executive Director of Youth Action Network, and was in private practice with one of Canada’s leading labour and human rights law firms.
Michelle is the recipient of the YWCA Young Woman of Distinction award, and was named by The Globe and Mail and the Women's Executive Network as one of Canada's Top 100: Most Powerful Women. The Toronto Star called her "a woman to buoy the soul", and Maclean’s magazine named her one of Canada’s top 30 under 30. Michelle works with Lura Consulting as a Senior Engagement Consultant on neighborhood impact and strategic change initiatives.
Bart Zemanek (BA ’07, MSc ’10)
(Chair, Scholarships and Awards Committee)
Bart Zemanek has a long history at York, spanning more than 13 years, that includes as a student-athlete, coach and administrator. He is currently the manager of varsity athletics within York’s Athletics & Recreation Department.
Zemanek assumed the role in August 2015. Prior to that, he served as the Athlete Services Coordinator for the Lions for the past five years, where he created the University’s very successful PAWS (Providing Athletes with Winning Strategies) mentoring program to provide academic and personal support to Lions student-athletes with a special focus on first-year transitioning student-athletes. He also currently sits on both the board of directors for the York University Alumni Association and The Fifth Quarter Football Alumni Association.
Zemanek began his time at York as a kinesiology and health science student and as the starting quarterback of the Lions football team. Throughout his playing career he was a team captain and MVP, and was awarded the prestigious Charles Saundercook Memorial Trophy in 2007. He was also a top student in the classroom, receiving academic all-Canadian honours, and was the recipient of the Stuart G. Robbins Award, which is given annually to the student-athlete with the highest GPA among Sport Excellence Award recipients.
He graduated from York with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2007 and a Master’s in kinesiology and health science in 2010. Before becoming the Athlete Services Coordinator with the Lions, he spent one season playing professional football in Helsinki, Finland, was the starting quarterback for the first ever Polish national team and more recently has also served as an assistant coach with the Lions football team.
Krystal Abotossaway (BHRM ’13)
(Member – Networks Committee)
Krystal Abotossaway is a proud member of Aundeck Omni-Kanging First Nations and Chippewas of Rama First Nations. She serves as President of the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada (APAC)—a membership-based and leadership-focused organization that connects, supports, and promotes outstanding leadership within the Aboriginal Professional Community. Krystal is also involved in diversity programs at TD to recruit and retain top talent enterprise-wide.
Al Burton (LLB, MES ’00)
(Member, Scholarships and Awards Committee)
Al Burton graduated from York University in 2000 with an LLB from Osgoode Hall, as well as a Masters in Environmental Studies. Today he practices law, focusing on municipal law, environmental approvals, land use planning and expropriation. Al appears before municipal councils, tribunals (such as the Environmental Review Tribunal, the Ontario Municipal Board and the Board of Negotiation) and Courts on behalf of municipalities, corporations and private individuals on a variety of matters including expropriation, land development issues, contaminated lands, telecommunications, municipal-by-laws and aggregate resources.
Al has also spent one year at the City of Hamilton as one of their environmental counsel.
Kiera Dinsmore (iBA ’18)
(Member, Networks Committee)
Kiera Dinsmore is a third generation York University student. Kiera attends Glendon College where she is completing a Bilingual International Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies. She is a Glendon eAmbassador, campus ambassador, former research assistant and, recently, became the first-ever student director inducted into the York University Alumni Association.
In 2013, Kiera was the recipient of the Harry Arthurs Alumni Families Scholarship and the Top Scholar Award from Glendon College. In her spare time, she enjoys performing in music, theatre and dance. A former Premier of the Ontario Youth Parliament, Kiera is very involved in avenues of youth activism and engagement. Kiera takes special interest in women's rights and health, refugees and migration, the LGBTQ* community, First Nations accountability, and environmental sustainability. An avid traveler, Kiera partook in an academic exchange to Brussels, Belgium.
Michael Eubanks (BA ’93)
(Member, Nominations and Governance Committee; Scholarships and Awards Committee)
Michael Eubanks is the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of the LCBO, and has more than 25 years of entrepreneurial and technology experience. Michael’s extensive experience also includes past positions as the President of Smart Toronto and Vice President of Information Technology E-commerce and Operations at the Retail Council of Canada. He is currently a member of the Board of Governors for North Toronto Soccer Association, The Canadian Club of Toronto, and the Impakt Corporation.
Monika Federau (BA ’86)
(Vice Chair, Nominations and Governance Committee)
Monika Federau is the Chief Strategy Officer for Intact Financial Corporation where she leads the development of corporate strategies, and oversees branding, government relations and communications.
She joined Intact in 2010 as Senior Vice President, Marketing responsible for national advertising, communication and sponsorship strategies, as well as research and digital initiatives. Prior to Intact, Ms. Federau lived in Hong Kong working for a global life insurer where she was responsible for developing and executing strategies to enhance the company’s brand throughout Asia.
Monika serves on the Board of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance as well as on the Board of the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada.
Ron Ferguson (B.Sc. ’89)
(Member, Scholarships and Awards Committee; Member, Nominations and Governance Committee)
Ron Ferguson is a partner practicing in Stikeman Elliott's Toronto and New York offices. Mr. Ferguson has a diversified corporate practice focusing on cross-border private and public M&A, private equity investments (including PIPE’s), corporate finance, corporate restructuring and banking. He is recognized by Chambers Canada 2017 as a Band 1 ranked lawyer in Private Equity: Buyouts & Venture Capital Investments, with clients noting he is an "exceedingly effective lawyer who can really understand what we are trying to accomplish – he can overcome issues that could potentially derail a complicated deal." He has also been recognized in The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2016 as a repeatedly recommended lawyer in the areas of Corporate Commercial Law, Corporate Mid-Market, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Private Equity. He was named by Lexpert as one of the Top 40 Lawyers under 40 in 2006. Mr. Ferguson serves on the Toronto office’s Management Committee.
Mr. Ferguson taught advanced corporate law at Queen’s University and is a member of the Canadian Bar Association. He is on the Board of the Special Olympics Festival, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Charity Golf Committee and the Chairman of the York Football Alumni Association. Mr. Ferguson is also a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Shamshad Madhok (BAS ’89)
(Member, Nominations and Governance Committee; Member, Networks Committee)
Shamshad (Sham) Madhok is an associate partner with PwC Canada, and is the National Deals Risk and Quality Leader. In her role, she provides risk and quality advice to PwC Deals partners and staff. Sham was also part of a pioneering team who established the Women's Initiative Network in 1994 at Coopers & Lybrand and she was one of the first PwC partners to participate in PwC's Women in Leadership initiative. She is a former governor of the Board of Governors and Audit Committee of the North York General Hospital, and a former director on the Board of the Canadian Hearing Society, Toronto Chapter. She has completed the “Get on Board” governance training program with the Canadian Board Diversity Council. Sham is a Chartered Accountant, holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, and is a graduate of the Women's Leadership Forum at Harvard Business School.
Paul Nguyen (BA ’04)
(Vice Chair, Scholarships and Awards Committee)
Paul Nguyen is an award-winning activist and filmmaker from Toronto's Jane-Finch area. In 2004, he created Jane-Finch.com to change negative stereotypes about his community.
He is a public speaker and media commentator on race, crime and youth issues.
Paul is a recipient of the Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism, William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations, Heritage Toronto Award, Canadian Ethnic Media Association Award, National Ethnic Press Award and the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship.
In 2012, Paul was presented the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Governor General and Prime Minister at Rideau Hall for 'fighting stereotypes and acting as a role model and mentor for at-risk youth'. He is recognized as 1 of 25 Notable Canadians of Asian heritage by the Government of Canada.
Nadine Spencer (BA ’94, BA ’04)
(Member, Networks Committee)
Nadine Spencer is the CEO of BrandEQ Group Inc, a global marketing and communications agency that specializes in brand development and market growth strategies. She also serves as President of the Black Businesses and Professional Association (BPPA)—a non-profit, charitable organization that addresses equity and opportunity for the Black community in business, employment, education, and economic development. She has over twenty-five years of experience in marketing and brand management. She has also held senior positions in several organizations, including Director and Producer of The Delicious Food Show by Food Network.
Daniel Steinfeld (BBA ’04)
(Member, Networks Committee)
The ex-chief financial officer and vice president of sales for the Toronto Argonauts Football Club, Steinfeld currently operates Grasp Consulting, a strategic consulting firm dealing with business expansions and modeling projects spanning three continents. Steinfeld is a chartered accountant and has made a career out of relationship building and using a unique background to serve clients and colleagues at the highest level. Steinfeld is also a licensed realtor and is practices real estate in the Greater Toronto Area.
Outside of his professional life, Steinfeld mentors young professionals, speaks at conferences and teaches in several business settings. In addition to his role on the YUAA Board, Steinfeld sits as a senator on York University’s Senate. He also advises several university organizations on budgeting, responsible management and sponsorship.
Daniel lives in Woodbridge, Ontario, and is married as well as father to four future York alumni.
Steve Watt (BA ’06)
(Member, Networks Committee)
Steve Watt is a self-employed marketing advisor. He helps B2B technology companies plan, implement, and optimize sophisticated account-based marketing capabilities. Previously he led marketing teams at several software and internet companies.
While at LinkedIn, he spoke regularly at universities and colleges across Canada, teaching students how to build their personal brand and effectively network their way toward their dream job.
He has a BA in Philosophy from York University, and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto.
Rhonda L. Lenton
Internal Board Member
Rhonda Lenton became York's eighth president and vice-chancellor on July 1, 2017. Prior to her appointment, Lenton had served as York University's Vice-President Academic and Provost since 2012.
A respected sociologist, Lenton has taught and published broadly in the areas of gender, health, sexual violence and higher education. Lenton sits on the Boards of the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT) and eCampus Ontario. Before becoming an academic administrator, Lenton published research on a range of topics related to family violence, feminism in academia, and online dating. In 2015, the Women's Executive Network named her one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada.
Internal Board Member
Since October 2011, Jeff O’Hagan has served as Vice-President, Advancement at York University, responsible for the University’s alumni engagement, alumni and donor communications, community relations and fundraising efforts. Mr. O’Hagan leads Impact – The Campaign for York University, a multi-year, comprehensive $500 million fundraising and alumni engagement campaign, the largest and most ambitious in York’s history. Mr. O’Hagan is a leading advancement professional and executive with 25 years of experience in the advancement and wealth management sectors. He is the former chief executive officer of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Foundation, where he led all aspects of the organization and the $470-million Campaign for Sunnybrook. Prior to Sunnybrook, Mr. O’Hagan held senior management and fundraising roles at Western University (UWO), including Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, as part of Western's $270-million Campaign. Prior to Western, Mr. O'Hagan led the gift planning efforts at the St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation in Waterloo. He also spent a number of years in the wealth management and estate services sector and held several senior positions with leading financial institutions, including the Royal Bank of Canada. Mr. O’Hagan earned a bachelor of arts in Political Science from Western University.