Acadia Alumni Association Board of Directors


President: Ryan Conrod (’06)

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.

Vice-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.

Secretary: 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

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: Geoff Irvine ('87)

After moving east from Quebec at the age of two, Geoff grew up in the village of Smith’s Cove on the shores of the Annapolis Basin in Digby County, Nova Scotia. After studying History and Political Science at Acadia University, Geoff enjoyed a 15-year career in the seafood industry (with a four-year “sabbatical” leave in university advancement working as the Director of Alumni Affairs at Acadia University). He has extensive experience with live, raw, salted and frozen seafood products in retail, raw material inspections, sales, marketing, international trading, event, project and business management. Geoff has developed his knowledge of the business in large and small company settings and was Managing Director and partner in Harbour View Seafoods Ltd. from 1998 to 2006. He is currently Executive Director of The Lobster Council of Canada. Geoff has three children and lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Geoff Irvine


Rebecca Carr (’15)

Rebecca is from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and graduated from Acadia University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in biology. In addition to serving as the Life President for the Class of 2015, Rebecca was heavily involved in many aspects of Acadia. During her four years at the school, Rebecca was a member of Acadia Athletics as a varsity athlete, worked at Cajun’s and the Axe Lounge in the Acadia Students’ Union, and held executive positions with the S.M.I.L.E. program, Acadia Global Brigades, Relay for Life and Community Outreach Acadia. Rebecca is currently residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she is pursuing her MBA at Dalhousie University. She is beyond grateful to have been given the opportunity to represent her fellow graduates, and is very excited to join the Board of Directors of the Associated Alumni.


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.

Matt Rios (’14)

Matthew Rios is from Vancouver, British Columbia. He graduated from Acadia in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics. While at Acadia, Matthew served as the President of the Acadia Students' Union for two years. During that time he represented students on the University's Board of Governors and Senate. Due to these experiences, Matthew has a great understanding of Acadia's history and is deeply invested in its future. Upon graduating, he moved to Ottawa, working with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations as the Director of Government and Stakeholder Relations for three years. He is currently pursuing a Masters of International Business at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Matthew Rios

Fred Gilbert (’65)

Fred holds the following academic credentials:  Hons BSc Biology (1965-Acadia), MSc Zoology (1966-Guelph), PhD Zoology (1968-Guelph). During his career he has held several academic and administrative positions at U. Maine (Orono). U. Guelph, Washington State U., U. Northern British Columbia, Colorado State U., and Lakehead U. At the latter, he was President from 1998-2010 and is now retired. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization 2002 -2015 and has served on many government and private boards and on standards committees in both the United States and Canada. Currently, Fred operates a certified organic farm in the Bridgewater area and is a member of the Grape Growers' Association of Nova Scotia (GGANS) and the South Shore Wine Growers Association.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 resident 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. During her time at the IWK Foundation, Stephanie had the opportunity to collaborate with the Children’s Miracle Network and Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundation as well as execute major fundraising events like the annual IWK Telethon for Children on CTV.

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. Stephanie is currently a Senior Consultant at NATIONAL Public Relations in Halifax, where her work focuses on integrated marketing and communications in the health and non-profit sectors across NATIONAL’s global network.

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.

Marian Reid (’85)

Marian grew up in Kingsport, NS, directly across the Minas Basin from what would become her alma mater. She graduated in 1985 with a Bachelor of Secretarial Administration and within a week started working at Acadia in what was then Personnel Services. After working a few years as Secretary, she was promoted to Human Resources Officer, and in 2010 became Manager of Human Resources.  She also held the RPR (Registered Professional Recruiter) and CHRP (Certified Human Resources Professional) designations. Marian attempted to retire in 2017, but has since has returned for a variety of projects. 

Marian married Ian Reid in 1994 and they have one son, John, who is currently enrolled at Acadia. 

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.

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.

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.


Olivia Bryant ('19)

Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Olivia is a Business Administration student with a major in marketing. Over the course of her time as a student, she has been involved in House Council, Acadia Business Society, Welcome Week, DISRUPT conferences, and Axes in Action. She is now very excited to be elected President of the Graduation Class Executive team, and is looking forward to years to come as the 2018 Life President!