Michael MacMillan, Co-founder and Chair of Samara
In 1978, Michael MacMillan co-founded Atlantis Films Limited with fellow Queen’s grads Seaton McLean and Janice Platt. He was Chairman and CEO of Atlantis (which later became Alliance Atlantis) for almost 30 years. Alliance Atlantis owned 13 Canadian television networks including HGTV Canada, History and Showcase and produced television series including CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. In the early years, the company won an Oscar for its short film Boys and Girls. The company was sold in 2007. In 2011, Michael co-founded and is CEO of Blue Ant Media, a new Canadian media company. Blue Ant owns eight Canadian specialty television channels, as well as digital media properties and magazines, including Cottage Life. In addition to co-founding and chairing Samara, he is also the co-owner of Closson Chase Vineyard and Winery in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
Stephanie MacKendrick, Vice-Chair
For more than 30 years, Stephanie MacKendrick has been a key player in Canada’s communications industry, from print and broadcast journalism to senior communications roles and association management. Stephanie has been President of Canadian Women in Communications since 1996. In 2010, Stephanie was inducted into Canada’s Telecom Hall of Fame in recognition of her longstanding advocacy on behalf of women in the communications and telecom sectors.
Patrice E. Merrin
Patrice E. Merrin is an independent director of Glencore PLC and of Stillwater Mining Company. She was Chairman of the Board of CML HealthCare Inc. and is a former President and CEO of Luscar Ltd. and former Executive Vice-President and COO of Sherritt International Corporation.
Ms. Merrin serves as Co-Chair of the Emmy Noether Circle at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, which funds and supports women in physics and mathematical physics. She is a former Director of Ornge, the Province of Ontario’s medical transport agency, former Chairman of the Council on Canadian American Relations and has served on the boards of many not-for-profit organizations and federal and provincial bodies.
Early in her career, Patrice worked in Ottawa as Special Assistant to the Honourable Marc Lalonde, P.C., M.P., during his portfolios of Health and Welfare, Federal-Provincial Relations and Justice all the while he was Minister Responsible for the Status of Women.
Ratna Omidvar is founding Executive Director of the Global Diversity Exchange (GDX) at Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University. GDX is a think and do tank on diversity, migration and inclusion that connects local experience and ideas with global networks. Ratna is Chair Emeritus of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, Co-Chair of DiverseCity: the Greater Toronto Leadership Project, and a Director of the Canadian Club of Toronto, and The Environics Institute. She is both a Member of the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario with the honours recognizing her advocacy work on behalf of immigrants and her devotion to reducing inequality in Canada.
Ruth Ostrower is an executive assistant supporting Michael MacMillan across both his business and philanthropic endeavours. Previously she served as the executive assistant to Michael when he was the chairman and CEO of Alliance Atlantis. Prior to joining Alliance Atlantis (then Atlantis Communications) she worked for 12 years in the finance industry, primarily in Human Resources. She is the president of the Kiwanis Music Festival, where she has volunteered for many years, and is also an active supporter of theatre and dance.
Kasi V.P. Rao
Kasi Rao is the Vice-President and Director of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada's Toronto Office. Further, he is a consultant & advisor based in Toronto, providing strategic guidance on matters pertaining to business development and policy issues, with a particular focus on India. In this capacity he has advised corporations, universities, think tanks, not-for-profit organizations, companies, law firms, on developing and implementing strategies pertaining to India. Rao has an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A. from the University of Waterloo, majoring in Political Science.
Janet Yale currently serves as President and CEO of The Arthritis Society after years of providing results-oriented leadership in c-suite positions in the private, public and not-for-profit world. An accomplished senior executive with a long history in the telecommunications sector, Janet previously served as executive vice president at TELUS and president and CEO of the Canadian Cable Television Association. A lawyer and economist by training, Janet worked early in her career as a director general at the CRTC and as general counsel to the Consumers Association of Canada.
Janet’s true passion is in the not-for-profit sector where she has been recognized as a proven innovator and leader. In addition to Samara, Janet currently sits on the boards of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, CARE Canada and the Ottawa Art Gallery. She is also chair of the Arthritis Alliance of Canada.
Janet is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, a winner of the Woman Leader of the Year by the Federated Press and Businesswoman of the Year by the Women’s Business Network.
In 2011 Dr. William (Bill) Young completed a successful six-year career as Parliamentary Librarian with the Library of Parliament, capping a thirty-year career as an historian, academic and educator. He holds a Ph.D. in History, an M.A. in History and Political Science from the University of British Columbia and a B.A. in History and Political Science from York University. Dr. Young has offered his support and expertise to many professional groups and has maintained active memberships in professional societies and centers of academic excellence throughout his career.