Acadia Alumni Association Board of Directors


President: Donalda MacBeath ('75)

Donalda (Donnie) was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and lived throughout the Maritimes during her childhood. She completed her high school education in Digby, NS and attended Acadia for five years, entering from Grade 11, completing a four-year BA (Hon) in Economics, graduating in May 1975, which also coincided with her parents’ 25th anniversary of graduating from Acadia.  Donnie then did a year of graduate studies in Economics, completing the course requirements for an MA in the spring of 1976.  In the fall of 1976 she started legal studies at Dalhousie, graduating in the spring of 1979. Donnie then moved to Calgary, Alberta to begin her career in law. She started in private practice and moved into corporate work in the oil and gas industry, holding mid- and senior management positions with various intermediate to large energy companies. She retired in 2015. Donnie is married with three children. Her oldest daughter, Krista, graduated from Acadia in Business in 2011 and currently lives and works in London, England. Daughter Lisa graduated in 2014 in Geology and now resides and works in Vancouver BC. Son Gavin graduated from Acadia with a Bachelor of Applied Science in 2014 and is completing his final year of Engineering at Dalhousie. Donnie and her husband own a home in Smith’s Cove, NS and look forward to spending more time there in the years to come. Donalda’s family has a strong connection to Acadia as, in addition to herself, her children and her parents, her four siblings are all graduates, as was her paternal grandmother. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, travelling, running and playing the piano in no particular order.


Vice-President: Matt Rios (’14)

Matthew is originally from Vancouver, British Columbia. He graduated from Acadia University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics. While at Acadia, Matthew served as the President of the Students' Union and was actively involved in the broader campus community. After his time at Acadia, he lived in Ottawa working as the Director of Government and Stakeholder Relations at a not-for-profit focused on post-secondary education. In 2018, Matthew moved to Melbourne, Australia to pursue a Master of International Business at Monash University. Upon the completion of his graduate degree, Matthew left the sunny beaches of Australia and returned to Nova Scotia. He is now living in Halifax and is working as a Public Sector Consultant with Davis Pier Consulting. Matthew joined the Alumni Association in May of 2014 and continues to be deeply invested in the future of the institution that has given him so much.

Matthew Rios

Secretary: Leah McNally ('07)

Leah is a native of Wolfville, Nova Scotia and although she grew up in Ontario and has spent the last decade living in different parts of the world, she will always consider Wolfville home. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is an Assistant Director of Graduate Advising and Student Services at New York University. She graduated from Acadia in 2007 with a Bachelor of Recreation Management. She was a varsity soccer player during her Acadia days and served as a representative to the Acadia Players’ Association. After her studies at Acadia, she spent some years traveling. Eventually, her travels took her to the Kurdistan region of Iraq to pursue a position teaching English at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). She spent four years working at AUIS and, through her work with university students, discovered a passion for higher education. This led her to New York City, where she completed a Master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs from New York University in 2015. As a proud fourth generation member of our alumni community, Leah enjoys remaining connected to Acadia from NYC and hopes to strengthen her connection through service on the Acadia Alumni Board.

Treasurer: Tammy Walker (’92)

Tammy grew up in the Annapolis Valley and still calls it home even though she has lived in Ottawa for the past eight years.  She graduated from Acadia in 1992 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. After a few years working in the agriculture industry in marketing, she moved on to a career in wealth management, starting at BMO Nesbitt Burns in 1997. She is currently an Investment Associate at Scotia McLeod in Ottawa and enjoys assisting clients meet their personal and financial goals. She and her husband have two very active teenagers who are involved in numerous activities that keep everyone busy. She is very excited that her oldest daughter will join the Acadia family in the fall to study biology. 

Past President: Ryan Conrod (’06)

President: Ryan is a native of Sydney, Nova Scotia. He graduated from Acadia in 2006 with a BSc in Biology and moved to Toronto to complete a Juris Doctor in Law at the University of Toronto. After obtaining his law degree, Ryan articled and practiced in Halifax at a leading Atlantic Canadian law firm before moving into a business and law role at the Seaboard Transport Group of Companies in 2012, where he now serves as Vice-President Risk Management and Human Resources. In May 2013, Ryan joined the board of directors of the Acadia Alumni Association. He was appointed to a two-year term as president of the Alumni Association in May 2018.  Ryan enjoys the additional time he gets to spend in Wolfville and on Acadia’s campus and is excited to be able to give back to the institution that served as a foundation for his professional career and extracurricular interests.


Jeff Aucoin (’96)

Jeff Aucoin (’96) lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, but grew up in Reserve Mines, Cape Breton. Jeff graduated from Acadia in 1996 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. He was a varsity athlete while at Acadia as a member of the Axemen soccer team and was team captain in 1995. Jeff is a passionate supporter of Acadia Athletics, especially the soccer Axemen.

After Acadia, he obtained a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 1997 and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in 2004. Jeff has been a lawyer at McInnes Cooper since being called to the bar in 2005 and has developed a practice in commercial leasing disputes, construction disputes, insurance defense, and product liability matters. Jeff became a partner at McInnes Cooper in 2014. He is ranked by Benchmark Canada in the areas of commercial law, product liability and construction law, and has been recognized as a Benchmark Litigation Star.

Jeff is married to Susan (MacKay) Aucoin (’96) and they are working hard to have their three children – Abbey, Marin and Ryan – follow in the Acadia tradition. Jeff is active within the local soccer community as a coach, fan and parent.

Carol D’Amelio  (’72)

Carol D’Amelio graduated from Acadia University in 1972. She is a former teacher and City and Regional Councillor (1995 to 2001). After more than six years in Saudi Arabia, she and her family moved to Burlington in 1988 and she has been active in the community ever since.

Carol was the HDSB's appointee to the Burlington Public Library Board in 1994 after leading a petition to build a library branch in northeast Burlington. She is a member of the Burlington Museum’s Foundation Board, the Halton Poverty Reduction Round Table, co-founder of CAPP for Kids, and is on a sub-committee of the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame. Carol was co-chair of the Tansley United Church Board and now serves on the Transition Board for the amalgamation of Tansley United with St. Stephen United.

Carol is married to Frank D’Amelio (’72) and they have three grown sons and three grandchildren.

David Davidson ('81)

David grew up in Truro, Nova Scotia. He graduated from Acadia University in 1981 with a BSc and serves as Class President. David went on to complete his Bachelor of Engineering at TUNS (currently Dalhousie University) in 1983. In 1996 David received an Executive MBA from Queen's University. David is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Interuniversity Services Inc. a not-for-profit organization, member funded by post-secondary educational institutions in Atlantic Canada and dedicated to delivering value through multi-institutional collaboration and cooperation. David’s business career journey includes Vice-President of Medbuy Corporation, founding CEO of Canadian Healthcare Marketplace, as well as National Director of Sales and Director of Business Development at Trudell Medical Marketing Limited. Earlier in his career David was the Director of Materials Management at Southeast Healthcare Corporation (Moncton NB). In the past David has served Swimming Canada in numerous roles including a member of the Board of Directors, international (FINA) designated official, a member of the Officials, Competition and Rules committee, chair of the Officials Education Committee, competition coordinator or technical delegate at numerous national competitions. Following 20 years of service, David stepped down from his various volunteer roles at Swimming Canada in the summer of 2015. David and his wife Alison live in Halifax and they have two grown children, a son Bryan and a daughter Leah (Acadia Class of 2014).

David Davidson

Hilary Arenburg Gobien (’12)

Hilary graduated from Acadia in 2012 with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Accounting). During her time at Acadia, she was actively involved in campus life and was a member of various clubs, programs and committees, including S.M.I.L.E., Eaton House Residence Council, the Acadia Accounting Society, and the annual Arrival and Survival Welcome Week Show. After graduation, Hilary obtained her CA designation while working with PwC in their Halifax office and has recently moved back to her hometown of Yarmouth, NS, where she enjoys working as Manager of Finance of the Tri-County Regional Centre for Education. Hilary’s husband, parents, sister, aunt and uncle are also proud Acadia graduates.

Heather Hickman (’77)

Heather was a Manager of Recreation Services with the City of St. John’s Community Services Department for 29 years, retiring in December 2015. During her tenure with the city, Heather managed a variety of program areas, projects and staff groups and served on numerous planning and task force committees. Community development initiatives were a major focal point of her role and she initiated several long-standing programs and services through her position.

Early in her career, Heather worked in the area of recreation for persons with disabilities and in the rehabilitation sector. In recent years she has developed and taught courses and workshops for practitioners in the field of recreation.

Heather has been active in leadership roles at both the provincial and national level including: President of the Canadian Parks/Recreation Association (1991-92); National Chair of the Active Living Alliance for Persons with a Disability (1993-94); and President of RNL (1985-86). Heather has served, and continues to serve, on various community-based committees and boards including most recently: the St. John’s Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) Council; N.O.N.I.A. Board of Directors; and the St. John’s Citizens’ Crime Prevention Committee.

Heather is a proud recipient of the RNL Cy Hoskins Memorial Award (1991-92), which is awarded yearly to a recreation practitioner who has made significant contributions to the growth and development of recreation in the province, and the Recreation Management Distinguished Professional Award from Acadia University (1995). She is also a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal. She graduated from Acadia University in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation.

Natalie Irwin ('01)

Natalie Irwin resides in Ottawa, ON where in addition to completing an MA, Sustainable Energy Policy part-time at Carleton University, she is Director of Stakeholder Engagement at Efficiency Canada, the national voice for an energy efficiency economy. Prior to joining the national think-tank, Natalie managed the successful trade-ally program for EfficiencyOne, the franchise holder that operates Efficiency Nova Scotia for the province. As a Professional Business Relationship Manager, her role encompasses stakeholder engagement with North American energy efficiency organizations, partners, and associations.

Upon graduation from Acadia University with her Bachelor of Business Administration, Natalie received the Golden A Award for her volunteer work on Acadia Student's Union, as student member of the Board of Governors, and SMARTT President, of the former student-alumni group. Since then, Natalie has continued to be an active volunteer and in 2019 was awarded the national Chapter Volunteer Leadership Award from the Canada Green Building Council and in 2016 received the Best Super-Connector Award by Halifax Partnership for her work with their Connector Program.

Tiffany James ('14)

Tiffany James was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. She moved to Nova Scotia on an athletic and academic scholarship, and upon graduating decided to continue living in the province for many years. She graduated from Acadia University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Major in Marketing. While in school, she was employed by both the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre, as well as a technology company on campus. She was also a varsity athlete playing on the women's basketball team. Tiffany represented Acadia University by competing in and winning numerous business competitions. She is passionate about building leadership programs and invested in community growth initiatives.

After graduating from Acadia, Tiffany obtained a Master of Technology, Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MTEI) Degree at Saint Mary's University in 2017. Tiffany has been an executive-level marketing professional with a focus on technology development and innovative industries. She has worked with numerous companies to build their brand strategy, expand their marketing reach, and grow their businesses through new technologies.

Tiffany enjoys robotics, travel, arts, literature, and nature. When she's not supporting the Toronto Raptors or attending Blue Jay's games, she can be found gardening, painting, or exploring one of Canada's National parks.

Christine (Luckasavitch) McRae (’11)

Christine McRae is an Omàmìwininì Madaoueskarini Anishinaabekwe (a woman of the Madawaska River Algonquin people) and belongs to the Crane Clan. She was raised in Whitney, Ontario, where she currently resides on the banks of the Madawaska River with her husband and their dog.

Christine is the owner of Waaseyaa Consulting, an Indigenous culture and heritage consulting company, and Waaseyaa Cultural Tours, an Indigenous-based tourism company operating in the Algonquin Park region. Christine also works as the Manager and Indigenous Pedagogical Leader for the Algonquin Inòdewiziwin EarlyON and North Hastings Children’s Services. Christine is an avid explorer of both the Algonquin landscape and Algonquin history, spending as much time on the land as possible. Christine is a licensed archaeologist, orator, author and researcher.

A 2011 Acadia graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English and History, Christine’s education at Acadia has not only encouraged a lifelong love affair with Canadian literature and history, but also taught her the value of critical thinking. At the end of her last year at Acadia, Professor David Duke encouraged the class to never take “truth” at face value, but to dig much further and formulate an understanding based on all possible information. This lesson has led Christine to begin writing her first book, a true and complete history of the Madaoueskarini Algonquin people written from an Algonquin Anishinaabekwe perspective. In the photo, Christine is delivering a talk on Algonquin history and holding a 3,000-plus-year-old artifact.

Kyle Power (’13)

Kyle Power is from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. He graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Politics. Kyle served three years as Acadia Students' Union Vice-President, Academic, where he advocated for student issues both on campus and to the provincial and federal governments. As VP Academic, Kyle served on a number of committees and boards, including the University Senate, the Senate Executive, the Academic Resources Committee of the Board of Governors and the Curriculum Committee. While at Acadia he also spent two years as Chair of the Board of Directors of StudentsNS, a provincial advocacy organization, and a year as Chair of the National Advocacy Team of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Kyle also volunteered with the S.M.I.L.E. program for four years.

After Acadia, Kyle received a law degree from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. While at Dalhousie, Kyle was the Executive Director of the Dalhousie Student Advocacy Service, which represents students facing disciplinary proceedings. He also served as Executive Director of StudentsNS in 2015. After graduation, Kyle returned to New Glasgow to join Mac, Mac and Mac and practices in their litigation and labour and employment groups. Kyle currently serves on the Young Leaders Action Committee of the Town of New Glasgow. He is a fourth-generation alum; his great-grandmother graduated with an education degree in 1922.

Stephanie Reid (’05)

Stephanie is from Halifax, NS, and graduated from Acadia in 2005 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. While at Acadia, Stephanie was actively involved in campus life as a Residence Advisor and Teaching Assistant as well as The Acadia Dance Collective, Dance Acadia, the F.C. Manning School of Business, and the S.M.I.L.E. program. During her time in Wolfville, Stephanie also volunteered as an Advisor for Junior Achievement Nova Scotia’s Company Program.

Since graduation, Stephanie’s marketing and communications experience has spanned the public, private and non-profit sectors. She has held positions with the House of Commons, Walt Disney World, Village Camps Geneva, Cossette and the IWK Foundation, where she discovered her passion for non-profit and health care communications. More recently, Stephanie held the position of Senior Consultant at NATIONAL Public Relations in Halifax, where her work focused on integrated marketing and communications in the health and non-profit sectors across NATIONAL’s global network.

In 2016, Stephanie completed a Master of Arts in Communication at Mount Saint Vincent University, where she focused her thesis research on crowdfunding in Canada’s non-profit health sector. She is currently the Director of Marketing and Communications with Research Nova Scotia, a not-for-profit corporation established to enhance research capacity and align research funding with provincial priorities.

Tony Stewart (’72)

Tony arrived in Wolfville from Montreal in 1968 to attend Acadia University and never left. The University has been an important part of Tony’s life. He received a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education and Master’s of Education from Acadia, all of which have been critical in his career as a life-time educator. In addition, while at Acadia, Tony played football for the Axemen and then coached the team for nine years at a time when the Axemen were a football dynasty, winning two National Championships. Tony retired from public school education in 2003 after a 31-year career. For 26 of those years, he held a number of administrative positions in the Annapolis Valley, including Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Kings County District School Board; Principal, Port Williams Elementary School; Principal, Central Kings Rural High School; and Principal, Wolfville School. Since retirement, Tony has continued to be active in education, having recently completed a nine-year tenure as the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Educational Leadership Consortium. He will continue to follow his passion for leadership as the Director of the Nova Scotia Instructional Leadership Academy. In addition, Tony has contracted his services to the Nova Scotia Government, provincial universities, Nova Scotia School Boards, and has supervised and taught student teachers at Acadia. Tony was on the Board of Directors of the Associated Alumni in the 1980s, serving in a number of capacities, including Vice-President of the organization. Tony is interested in returning to his roots and further serving the Acadia family during these exciting, yet challenging times.

Kelton Thomason ('07, '10)

With a Master of Education, and Bachelor of Recreation Management both from Acadia, Kelton hopes to bring valuable skills, knowledge, and experience to his role on the board and is delighted to work and serve with our alumni community.

Until recently, he worked in Higher Education with a focus on student life and improving the student experience. This work included positions within Acadia Student Services and with Residence Life at the University of Prince Edward Island. He is always willing to share his thoughts on student support and creating conditions for student success.

His university experience was somewhat unconventional as he returned to university to complete his education later in life, joining his first class at Acadia more than twenty years after high school and giving up a career in industry, manufacturing and sales. He was inspired to return to university after realizing he was the last member of his family to earn their degree, with his father returning to university in his early 60s. His decision to study at Acadia was based on its reputation.

Kelton is currently the Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Wolfville and continues to support students and the Acadia community directly and indirectly. He grew up in Seabright, NS and currently lives in Berwick, NS.

Robert Graham (Ted) Upshaw (’80)

Ted was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, obtaining his formal education at Windsor Regional High School and his BA at Acadia. While attending Acadia, Ted had the privilege of playing basketball for the Axemen, winning the CIAU (U-Sports) Nationals in 1976-77. Ted received numerous individual honours that included the MVP award in conference play, first team All-Star and MVP selection in the AUAA, Acadia basketball’s MVP, the school’s top male athlete, and All-Star and CIAU All-Canadian awards. He went on to be inducted into the Acadia Hall of Fame as an individual athlete and a member of the 1980-81 basketball team. The 1980-81 team Ted was a part of has also been inducted in the Nova Scotia Hall of Fame and he was the proud recipient of the Acadia Distinguished Alumni award in 2004.

Ted has spent most his substantial and successful career in public safety. It began with the RCMP and progressed over a period of 28 years. Ted was promoted often and became a senior officer, attaining the rank of Superintendent. His career put him in touch with a broad array of communities and challenges. Notably, Ted served as the Officer-in-charge for Cole Harbour, N.S., Mission B.C., and District Policing Officer Northeast Nova (NS), as well as assignments at the RCMP Depot and headquarters. Throughout his career, Ted worked closely and effectively with citizens of varying ethnic, social, and cultural origins and backgrounds, at-risk youth, community leaders, and all levels of government, including some international work, to address and improve public safety and security. Ted was honored by community leaders and other groups for his work and achievements, receiving the Queen's Jubilee and other awards. He also has the distinction of being the first African Nova Scotian to become a Commissioned Officer in the RCMP.

Ted rounded out a successful career as the Chief Security Officer at Canada Post Corporation, where he designed and led the implementation of a new corporate security strategy. Ted served the corporation for four years, where he and his team delivered a business plan that helped transform the national security function.

In Ted’s current role as Public Safety Advisor for Halifax, he works closely with all business units of Halifax Regional Municipality as well as federal and provincial governments, local communities and non-government organizations with a vision of making Halifax a place where its citizens and visitors feel safe to live, work and play.

Ted is married to Karen and they have four children: Graham, Sean, Kirsty and Desiree.

Sam Zhang (’05)

Sam Zhang was born and raised in Shanghai, China. He graduated from Acadia University in 2005 from the Bachelor of Business Administration program. During his time at Acadia, he was heavily involved with the Wong International Centre, connecting with other international students attending Acadia.

Upon graduation, Sam decided to stay in Nova Scotia and pursued his Certified Management Accountant designation (now Chartered Professional Accountant) and completed the MBA program at Saint Mary’s University in 2010, as well as Queen’s Executive Program offered through the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in 2017.

Sam is the Manager of Asia Trade for the Halifax Port Authority (HPA). In his role, he oversees growth and seeks new opportunities related to containerized Asian cargo through the Port of Halifax. Locally, Sam is the Vice-Chair of the Hong Kong Canada Business Association Atlantic Chapter and serves as a Board Member at Squash Nova Scotia.

The time spent at Acadia University was a great, exciting adventure for Sam that helped to shape the course of his life in Nova Scotia. He is thrilled to join the Alumni Association Board.



Olivia Shive (’20)

Olivia Shive is a 3rd year Biology student at Acadia University, from Elmsdale, Nova Scotia. I am involved in many volunteer activities such as the S.M.I.L.E. Program, the Hants Community hospital and teaching dance. The biology program here at Acadia has opened my eyes to many career options in the field of biology, and now consider becoming a veterinarian or high school biology teacher for my future endeavor. Outside of my education, I deeply enjoy the art of dance. I have been a dancer since the age of three and have continued to dance through my time in university with Dance Acadia. I am one who loves to take on leadership roles. I am excited to be taking on the position as the Co-captain of Dance Acadia, where I am able to share my choreography skills with the team and others. I took on the role of Grad Class President for the year of 2021 to be able stay connected with Acadia and continue all of the friendships that our peers have created throughout our time at university. It gives me great pride to be a part of the Acadia student body, and it means so much to represent our graduate class in our final year here at Acadia.