Who We Are
The Gastrointestinal Society is a federally registered Canadian charity committed to increasing awareness, providing education, and funding research regarding gastrointestinal diseases & disorders.
Board of Directors
Our voluntary Board of Directors is made up of individuals from diverse backgrounds including business, health, and financial sectors. They dedicate their time and expertise towards developing strategic goals and collaborating with staff for furthering our mission.
Co-Founder & President, Gail Attara (also staff) - Vancouver
Chairperson, Bruce Good - Ottawa
Co-Founder & Honorary Chairperson, Dr. Frank H. Anderson - Vancouver
Co-Founder & Honorary Vice Chairperson, Dr. James R. Gray - Vancouver
Treasurer, Mary Ann Gloag - Vancouver
Director, Jennifer Lowther - Vancouver
Director, Shaun Murphy - Vancouver/Calgary
Director, Sean Webster - Toronto
Our small but dynamic office team works closely with the Board of Directors and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the GI Society, including publication of patient resources and major fundraising.
Vancouver - Head Office
Chief Executive Officer, Gail Attara (also Board member)
Programs Director, Kwynn Vodnak
Associate Director, Kimberly Skulsky
Communications Coordinator, Susan Mersereau
Communications Assistant, Morgan Amber
Office Assistant, Jesse-Ann Demanche
Executive Director, Melanie Chapman
Quebec & Atlantic Canada
Executive Director, Gary Fabian
Our advisory committee is comprised of professionals who donate their time for special projects, contribute to our activities and are accessible to assist staff with patient requests.
The Medical Advisory Council consists of medical professionals including gastroenterologists, surgeons, and pharmacists, with recognized standing in their field. This body ensures the accuracy and quality of our patient resources, reviews applications for our research grant, and consults with staff on special projects.
Chairperson, Dr. J. R. Gray
Dr. F. H. Anderson
Dr. D. M. Israel
Dr. H-M. Jung
Dr. W. C. Kwan
Dr. G. I. McGregor
Dr. D. C. Pearson
Dr. D. M. Petrunia
Dr. T. D. Picton
Dr. M. E. Prest
Dr. U. P. Steinbrecher
Dr. E. Tam
Dr. J. S. Whittaker
Board of Directors
As the Executive Director of the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research since early 1996, Gail has led the Society's development from a small BC charity into a national presence, accounting for the largest growth period in its history. After co-founding the GI Society she is now in the role of President & CEO.
Her motto, "the patient comes first", directs her resolve for patient-focused healthcare and commitment to increasing awareness about the seriousness of gastrointestinal illnesses.
Gail has a solid background in public relations and fundraising and is an active community volunteer in Canada serving on numerous Boards, and overseas, where she has worked with orphans. She is also a published freelance author. Gail has been an invited speaker coast-to-coast on numerous occasions, to wide-ranging audiences, including doctors, patients, pharmacists, and healthcare decision-makers.
With the dynamic support of the Board of Directors, a dedicated group determined to fully realize the GI Society as Canada's gastrointestinal disease and disorder information source, Gail continues to lead the Societies into a bright future.
Bruce is an innovative, high-energy executive who brings top leadership skills and creativity to the GI Society. He joined the Conference Board of Canada in January 2012, having worked for Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D) for two years as the vice president of Stakeholders & Partnerships. There he was responsible for maintaining positive relationships with key healthcare and economic stakeholders across the country.
Bruce was formerly with IMS Health, where he was the president and general manager for Canada for 5 years. His leadership credentials are impressive, with 20 years of executive level experience in sales, service, and communications with several well-known companies, including Rogers AT&T Wireless, IBM Canada, Nortel, and Bell Canada.
In addition to his extensive private sector background, Bruce has also been involved with several not-for-profit boards, including the United Way, The Arthritis Society – Quebec Region, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the YWCA.
Dr. Frank H. Anderson is a founding member of the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research. He is a graduate of the University Of British Columbia School Of Medicine, and completed a rotating internship and residency training in both Medicine and Pathology at Vancouver General Hospital.
Throughout his career he has held a number of prominent positions within the UBC faculty of medicine as well as serving as the Head of the Division of Gastroenterology for 15 years. He was instrumental in establishing the Chemical Dependency Resource Team at Vancouver General Hospital, as well as the Provincial Home Enteral and Parenteral Feeding Program.
Dr. Anderson is now associate Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia. He has both a clinical and research practice specializing in the areas of inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease. Dr. Anderson has authored numerous research papers, has spoken nationally and internationally at conferences, and taught postgraduate and continuing medical education courses. You can find more about Dr. Anderson on his website www.laircentre.com, for The Liver and Intestinal Research Centre.
Dr. James Gray is a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, and performed his internship at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. After operating a successful family practice, he completed his residency in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UBC and was subsequently awarded a research fellowship at the University of Edinburgh. He is currently Clinical Professor of gastroenterology at the University of British Columbia and is also president of the BC Society of Gastroenterology.
Dr. Gray is the author of numerous published medical studies in the field of gastroenterology. He is a frequently invited speaker and is an active participant in many of CSIR's public education initiatives.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Mary Ann holds a BCom from the University of Victoria and is a Chartered Accountant. She is currently Senior Manager in Audit at KPMG in Vancouver. Prior to this, she worked as a property manager for residential and commercial buildings. Mary Ann enjoys travelling, reading, snowboarding in the winter, and wakeboarding in the summer. She is pleased to be volunteering her expertise as a member of the GI Society’s Board of Directors.
Jennifer has a solid background combining health research, business administration, and relationship management. She graduated with a BSc in Microbiology & Immunology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS before moving to British Columbia with her husband, Robert, in 2003 and starting her career as a study coordinator in clinical trials research. She is currently a Therapeutic Area Specialist in the field of oncology, specifically gastrointestinal cancers, working at sanofi-aventis Canada Inc, since 2004.
In 2011, Jennifer completed her MBA at UBC's Sauder School of Business, specializing in strategic management and observational behaviour & human resources. Jennifer appreciates the importance of continuing education for healthcare providers as well as patient education and advocacy. She looks forward to using her industry experience and leadership skills to help the GI Society fulfill its mandate, by serving on the Board of Directors and assisting with the organization's important activities.
Through SD Murphy Consulting Associates, based in Calgary, Shaun delivers services as a facilitator and coach in the areas of alignment, accountability, and strategy. He holds a PhD in Management Psychology and has a long professional history of working with major corporations and non-profit organizations around the world. Having worked in North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East, he has developed valuable skills in cross-cultural organizational effectiveness.
Along with some associates, Shaun published a Canadian bestseller, Accountability: Getting a Grip on Results. Dividing his time between Calgary and Vancouver, he tries to spend most weekends on English Bay in his sailboat, ‘Resolute.’ Shaun is pleased to join the GI Society’s Board of Directors.
Sean Webster is an experienced public affairs and communications professional who serves as Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Affairs for Shoppers Drug Mart. He is responsible for driving the company's ambitious public affairs program across Canada from their head office in Toronto. Sean has worked in a similar capacity for a number of innovative biopharmaceutical companies, including UCB Canada, Solvay Pharma, and Eli Lilly Canada. He has also had experience in public affairs management in other sectors and jurisdictions, having served as the Senior Vice President for Ontario for Global Public Affairs in Toronto and at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, UK.
Sean was a member of the Board of Directors of Providence Healthcare in Toronto from 2002 until 2010 and served on the Board of Governors of Exhibition Place in Toronto, where he chaired the Finance Committee. Sean graduated with an MBA from City University Business School in London, UK in 1997.
In his spare time, Sean enjoys spending time with his wife, Brenda, sons, John and Peter, and his dog, Chelsea. He also coaches Learn to Play hockey for the North York Knights of Columbus Hockey Association.
Executive Director Ontario
We are currently recruiting for this position.
Executive Director Québec & Atlantic, Gary G Fabian, BA
Gary Fabian is a senior executive with a long career in the health, pharmaceutical, and consumer packaged goods areas. Fluent in French and English, Gary is a graduate of Concordia, with diplomas from McGill University and the American Management Institute. He has worked with AC Nielsen and IMS Health, both large information and market research firms, as well as with The JBL Group, an independent consultancy specializing in health policy and market access. Gary also volunteers his time to charities, especially to the West Island Palliative Care Residence, where he is vice-president and treasurer.
In addition to his expertise in public affairs and government relations, Gary also brings to the GI Society his experience as a strategist with a pragmatic and creative approach. He has established high-level relationships with key health stakeholders across Canada within industry, government, and professional communities.
Board Advisor, Doug Ford, BAppSc
Doug was born and raised in Vancouver and graduated with an engineering degree from the University of British Columbia in 1972. He subsequently settled in Australia where he began his career as a computer programmer in the days of punch cards. Since then he has specialized in application systems design and programming, and is currently focused on Microsoft Access database programming. His clients have included government institutions, businesses, and members of the healthcare field and non-profit sectors.
As a patient himself, and a long-time member and supporter of our Society, Doug understands keenly the need for patient resources and research in the field of gastroenterology. In addition to volunteering as facilitator of the Vancouver Inflammatory Bowel Disease Support Group for more than 6 years, Doug very generously donates his time and expertise to our office in database design, development, and maintenance.
Board Advisor, Jo Hoeflok, RN, BSN, MA, ET, ACNP
Jo graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1984 with a Baccalaureate degree in nursing. She has been working in a Gastroenterology and General Surgery setting for more than twenty years, taking on various roles including staff nurse, educator, head nurse, and clinician. She completed her Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing Education at Emory University, Atlanta in 1996, and her Masters of Arts (Liberal Studies) from Simon Fraser University in 1997. Since then she has worked as an Enterostomal Therapy Nurse in both Vancouver and Toronto.
Jo completed the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program at the University of Toronto in 2003, and is currently working at St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, as the Advanced Practice Nurse for the Gastroenterology and General Surgery Unit. She has a cross appointment to the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto, and regularly publishes and presents at national and international conferences.
Actively volunteering with CSIR and the GI Society, Jo provides articles related to ostomy care and is very proud to contribute to the GI Society's valuable consumer resources related to gastrointestinal disorders.
Board Advisor, Dr. Alan Low, BSc (Pharm), PharmD, RPh, ACPR, FCSHP, CCD
Alan is a registered pharmacist holding positions as Chief Operating Officer of Network Healthcare (www.networkhealthcare.ca), Clinical Associate Professor at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia, and principal of Dr. Alan Low Pharmaceutical Consulting. Alan has held several prominent positions through his career, in addition to presenting at numerous national and international conferences, serving on many medical and pharmacy committees, regionally and nationally, and continuing active participation in several associations and societies. He is also a guest lecturer in the Gerontology Program at the Simon Fraser University.
Alan was conferred Fellow status by the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacy (FCSHP) in 2002, which is a recognition that signifies outstanding leadership, dedication, and commitment to practice excellence and professional growth.
Specialty areas include pharmacy care for geriatric patients, as well as particular interests in gastrointestinal disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, menopause, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer's disease, hypertension, and multiple sclerosis. Alan has been involved with the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia in establishing a credentialing program aimed at recognizing advanced practitioners to help in the promotion of pharmacists as effective professionals in healthcare delivery.