Stephen Samis has over 25 years’ experience in health and health care, advancing evidence-informed health policy and population health to improve health systems and the health of Canadians.
Stephen is currently President, Samis Health Policy Consulting Inc. and works with a variety of clients on health and social policy issues, leadership development and evidence-informed decision making in the health and social sectors. He was Deputy Minister, Health and Social Services, Government of Yukon from 2017 to 2022. Before this, Stephen spent seventeen years in Ottawa where he worked in progressively senior roles for national health-related organizations including Vice-President, Programs at the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (now Healthcare Excellence Canada), National Director, Health Policy for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and Manager, Research and Analysis, Canadian Population Health initiative at the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Stephen has been a member of several Boards and Committees, including the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies for Health (CADTH), the Canadian Institute for Health Information, and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. He is currently co-Senior Advisor, Policy for the Canadian Health Leadership Network.
Stephen began his career in British Columbia, where he worked on strategic research, evaluation and policy initiatives at the community level and with the BC Ministry of Health, with a focus on HIV/AIDS and population health.
Stephen holds a Master’s degree in Sociology from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. He is based in Edmonton, Alberta.
Judy Birdsell, C.M.
Past Board Chair
Judy is one of the founders of
Imagine Citizens Network (ICN).
She has always had a deep commitment to patient perspectives in health, as demonstrated by more than 30 years volunteering in leadership positions with several national non-profits.
Her passion for this cause was further fueled by a series of events surrounding her sister’s death in 2006. Her personal consciousness having been raised by these events, her family and her have experienced many other situations that have reinforced the absolute necessity of citizens (who are sometimes patients) being much more knowledgeable and engaged in their own healthcare journey (and that of their communities).
Professionally, she has a background in policy and strategy consulting, mainly in the field of health research policy. Previous volunteer roles have included President of Canadian Cancer Society; Board Chair, Stem Cell Network; Board Chair, Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative; Member, CIHR Stem Cell Oversight Committee; Board Member, Health Quality Council of Alberta and Board Chair, MCF Housing for Seniors.
She is a Patient Safety Champion (Canada) and was deeply honoured to be named to the Order of Canada in 2020.C.M.
Ali Alidina is a strategic IT and Learning leader. Over the last 15+ years, Ali has led various IT portfolios in not-for-profit healthcare, including Healthcare Excellence Canada’s (HEC) Learning Programs and Systems portfolio and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute’s (CPSI) IT portfolio.
He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Boston University, and is a certified PROSCI Change Management Practitioner.
He has also played significant roles in various organizations, serving as the founding chair of the Real Estate Investors Alliance and as a mediator with the Regional Conciliation and Arbitration Board for Edmonton. Currently, Ali serves as the Honorary Secretary of the Aga Khan Social Welfare Board for Edmonton.
Dr. Tayaba Khan
Dr. Tayaba is a dental surgeon and an MBA in Health and Hospital Management. She holds over 18 years of experience in dentistry, management, medical communications, ethical contexts in healthcare and stem cell research. Her domains of work have led to her involvement in liaising with researchers, managing university partnership, developing, and promoting health IT projects, representing patient voice, and project management. She has repeatedly demonstrated extraordinary ability to develop creative strategic solutions, and view challenges from multiple point of views, without losing sight of the goal at hand.
She is presently an EPIC credentialed trainer at Alberta Health Services, and a faculty at Bow Valley College, Calgary. As part of her voluntary work, she is a member at the International Advisory Committee of Strategic Patient Oriented Research Evidence Alliance (SPORea); Merit Reviewer at the Patient-Centred Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), USA; Advisor at the Patient and Family Centred Care Network, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Canada; and Member of the Patient Advisors Network (PAN), Canada.
Further, she is a member and content reviewer for the Society of Simulation in Healthcare.
Some of the companies and organizations where she has worked include Medical News, Dental News, Dental Tribune International, Medical Voice, Digital Care, eTrendz, Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the Aga Khan University Pakistan, Alien Technology Transfer, London; AlinaTech, Calgary; IC Axon, Montreal; and EOCI Pharmacomm.
She coordinated and executed the annual Aga Khan University International Ethics Thinking Group meetings in 2018 (London) and 2019 (Lisbon), actively contributing towards discussions on stem cell research and future human ethics perspectives.
Dr. Khan is passionate about dentistry, patient advocacy, and creating solutions bridging information gaps between various stakeholders in healthcare industry, with patients at the heart.
Mike Meldrum is the Principal at Meldrum & Associates and assists social profit organizations with fundraising and overall organizational effectiveness. Mike has worked and volunteered with social profit organizations large and small over the past 25 years and has specific work experience in post-secondary education and health care. Mike started his career in annual giving and direct response marketing and grew to become a practitioner and leader in comprehensive fundraising programs. Mike’s experience includes planning and executing fundraising campaigns, marketing and communications, as well as stakeholder relations. Mike obtained his CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) designation in 2003 and has an undergraduate degree in science from the University of Calgary and an MBA from the University of Alberta.
Peter first joined ICN in late 2015 and assisted during its early years.
He was the Board Chair for eHealth Ontario, a $280M healthcare IT agency, right before its integration with Ontario Health, and Board Vice-Chair of The Community for Excellence in Health Governance.
Known as a ‘health systems agitator,’ Peter loves working inside organizations experiencing existential change, especially those redefining health systems based on quality, innovation, and citizen-centred care. He runs a consulting practice advising start-ups and rapidly scaling digital health technology firms on partnerships, revenue generation, and international expansion.
Peter previously held positions in various private and public sectors, including Deputy Minister in the Cabinet Office of the Ontario government, sitting on the Treasury Board/ Management Board of Cabinet and the Deputy Minister Committee on Technology & Transformation; VP Strategy for Green Shield Canada; and Senior Provincial Director, Major Initiatives of Alberta Health Services, sitting on the Corporate Services and Human Resources Executive Committee. He is a recent graduate from the Directors Education Program—Calgary DEP35 with an Institute of Corporate Directors designation. Peter is also a Certified Health Executive from the Canadian College of Health Leaders, holds an MBA from the Kellogg-Schulich Program of Northwestern University (Chicago), and a Mechanical Engineering degree from Queen’s (Kingston, ON).
Leslie Ayre-Jaschke, BEd, MSc
Leslie is a retired program evaluation consultant with a varied career as a teacher, lactation consultant, prenatal nutrition program coordinator, Health Research & Information Officer (former Peace Health Region), and newsletter editor for SEARCH Canada.
As a program evaluator, she worked with non-profit groups on projects in tobacco reduction, youth engagement, HIV/AIDS, rural development, and with two northern Alberta Primary Care Networks.
Leslie has over forty years’ experience on non-profit boards at the local, provincial, and national level and besides ICN, is president of the Friends of the Peace River Municipal Library Society, serves on the MSI Foundation board, and is a public member on the AHS North Zone Primary Care Network Governance Committee. In 2019, she completed her final term on the Health Quality Council of Alberta’s Patient & Family Advisory Committee.
Alana Kitchen is currently self-employed as a Healthy Building Consultant. She has a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University, is a Professional Engineer and a certified WELL™ Professional with the International Well Building Institute. Alana has assumed a variety of Engineering related positions over her career. Her most important role is being a mother to her three sons and an advocate for her middle son who has a rare type of lymphoma.
Personal experiences in the health care system as an advocate for family members have inspired Alana to dedicate her volunteer energy to ensuring citizens have a voice in shaping the health care system. Her focus is on supporting ICN’s efforts in digital health and co-chairing a citizen focused conference on Digital Health – “Partners in the Power of Information Sharing”. She is also chairing the Finance Committee and supporting ICN’s internal operations and technology.
Linda KolewaskiLinda’s 40 year’ career has taken her from training in Medical Lab Technology, to the world of ophthalmics where she served as a Director on the Alberta Provincial Ophthalmic Board, managed several optometric offices, and was involved with ophthalmic course management and as a student advisor. Her family relocated to Cold Lake, became entrepreneurs and built a successful retail business. In late 2015 when her husband was diagnosed with stage 4 Lymphoma, they began an arduous cancer journey which happily ended with her husband in remission. Linda has been involved with the Imagine Citizens Network for over three years. In addition to being a Board Director, she leads the Med Wise program, a co-partnering initiative with the University of Alberta’s Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Studies, and is involved with the iKnow Health program, Finance Committee, and Revenue Development Committee among others.
Simron is an undergraduate student at the University of Calgary pursuing a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology (CMBI) with a minor in Sociology.
Committed to provincial and national quality improvement initiatives, Simron has conducted research on both immigrant and pediatric health populations, valuing equitable access to care. As regional coordinator for the Maternal Infant Child and Youth Research Network (MICYRN) Young Persons’ Research Advisory Group, he has worked to rebuild the Calgary Chapter pushing forward patient-oriented pediatric research and treatment.
Simron currently sits on the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health and has advocated for improved child and youth mental health services across Alberta through his role within Imagine Citizens Network for the past two years.
Motivated by his family’s health journey, Simron strongly believes in ensuring peoples’ lived experiences influence the future of healthcare.
Dennis P. Niebergal
Dennis is an experienced senior executive, corporate officer, board director and entrepreneur with a proven record of success in establishing and/or governing business operations. Dennis was previously the President and CEO of CLINICARE Corporation, specializing in electronic medical records, electronic health records and practice management applications for physician group practices in Canada and USA.
He has a special expertise in the healthcare information technology sector and this position involved collaborating with many healthcare, regional, provincial and national Government organizations. Dennis is certified member with the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD) and have many years of board experience with non-profit and for profit organizations. Dennis is also internationally recognized as a subject matter expert.
He is currently retained as part time expert evaluator for Alberta Innovates (AI) and also retained as part time expert evaluator for the European Commission (EC) “Horizon2020 – Societal challenge Health, demographic change and wellbeing.”
Sandi Kossey CHE, MHA, BScPT is a Certified Health Executive and has led national and international initiatives and partnerships with governments, health system leaders, clinicians, researchers, patients, and families to improve the quality and safety of healthcare for all.
Drawing from her compassionate nature as a healthcare provider, Sandi has championed partnering with patients and families for healthcare improvement and is regarded as an expert on the subject, in Canada and around the world. She has enabled citizen participation in healthcare policy and public education initiatives and established the WHO Collaborating Centre in Patient Safety and Patient Engagement in 2017.
Sandi was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Health Quality Council of Alberta in 2018 and serves as a Board liaison with the Patient and Family Advisory Committee. She also serves on the Board of the Northern Alberta Chapter of the Canadian College of Health Leaders.
With over 18 years of leadership experience in the health care sector, Diana is passionate about redesigning our health system to improve patient outcomes and provider experiences. She brings expertise in strategic planning, program management, lean process improvement, adult education, service management, and stakeholder engagement.
While completing her MBA, Diana led the education team for BC’s largest electronic health record implementation. She worked with executives and staff from three health authorities to develop a learning strategy and delivery plan for the billion-dollar initiative impacting over 35,000 physicians and staff.
Her interest in primary care and digital health led her to create BC’s provincial data privacy and security program for physicians to help improve personal health information security primary care settings. She also co-chaired BC’s patient information access management working group whose goal was to improve patient information sharing across health care providers in support of BC’s digital health strategy.
Diana is not one to shy away from a challenging problem and is always looking at ways to introduce new business processes and systems that help improve the end user experience and program outcomes. Her keen eye for pain points and her ability to engage executives and stakeholders along the way help her create sustainable solutions.
Bio to be added shortly.
Former Board Members
- Dr. Robert Bear
- Dr. Rajbir Bhatti
- Alexis Caddy
- Charlie Fischer
- Annamarie Fuchs
- Kurt Laitner
- Dave Price
- David Ramsey, MBA, CMC