Association Board of Directors
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.
Vice-President: 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.
Treasurer - 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.
Secretary - 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.
Barb Anderson (’77)
Barb Anderson (’77) recently retired as Director of the School of Nutrition and Dietetics at Acadia University, assuming that position in 2009 after a 30-year career with Nova Scotia Public Health. Her research focus is food security, having been involved with Nova Scotia Food Security projects for over 20 years. Barb is interested in working with the local community around healthy food issues and, as a result, through courses she taught, supported the development of a partnership between the Wolfville Farmer’s Market and the School of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Barb was President of the Nova Scotia Dietetic Association, Chair of Dietitians of Canada, and President of the Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research. She is a Fellow of Dietitians of Canada and a Life Member of both the Nova Scotia Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada. She was the ‘nutrition voice’ on the CBC Radio Maritime Noon phone-in program for 20 years and has been an invited speaker at over 40 provincial, national, and international conferences. Barb lives in Wolfville with her husband, Norm.
Paul Black (’00)
As an immigrant from “the troubles” of Northern Ireland, Paul Black (’00) has lived a life of great good fortune in Canada. He earned a BA(H) in Political Science at Acadia, a Master’s in Political Science at Dalhousie and Executive Education in Canada, the US, UK, India and South Africa. Paul has worked in government, business and with NGOs, so he’s “trilingual.” He provides counsel to a variety of private and public entities - building bridges, negotiating solutions and “getting proximate” to both opportunities and problems. Paul enjoys cycling and getting out to explore the diverse nature of this world. He has monitored elections as an International Observer in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe.
A craft beer, good conversation and laughter make him happy. His kids do, too. He has more fiction than non on his bookshelf and often listens to the Hip or Snow Patrol and some current affairs podcasts on his playlist. Paul has lived in Northern Ireland, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and currently resides in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He believes that where you spend your time shows what you value in life. Besides his family and his health, Paul is committed to supporting a number of worthy organizations and people doing amazing work.
Allison Dean ('14)
After completing an internship in her first field, Allison, a native of The Bahamas, decided she wanted to pursue her love of music. She was encouraged to apply to Acadia by her great-aunt who had studied music at Acadia. Allison applied, was admitted, and decided not to apply anywhere else. She arrived at Acadia in fall 2011 and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. During her time at Acadia Allison was the accompanist for the University Chorus, several music students, and an organ scholar in the Manning Memorial Chapel. Allison was also the organist at St. John’s Anglican Church in Wolfville.
After leaving Acadia, Allison went to Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto, where she obtained her Master of Divinity in 2017. While there she was the College’s chapel organist and a substitute organist at various churches in the Toronto area. Upon returning to The Bahamas, Allison served as organist at two Anglican churches, and an occasional rehearsal pianist for the Bahamas National Youth Choir. During this time, she also obtained her teacher’s certification and taught at a local high school. Allison was ordained in the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands in November 2020.
Allison is also a certified swim coach and president of a local swim club. She is passionate about her work with children and young people, loves a good book, and travelling, having been to 20 countries and counting.
Emma Duinker ('12)
Emma grew up in Cambridge, Nova Scotia, not far from her alma mater, Acadia University. Emma’s academic path led her to Acadia University in 2007 to complete a BSc in nutrition. As a varsity basketball athlete, she finished her career as a five-time academic all-Canadian, second team all-CIS, earned numerous conference and university awards, and won the Haley Medal, awarded to “the female graduating student who has made the most outstanding contribution to varsity athletics, other extracurricular activities and scholarship.” Emma later attended the University of Windsor, where she earned her master’s in Sport Management. While studying in Windsor, Emma was an assistant coach with the five-time National Championship women’s basketball team and held one year as the interim head coach in 2018.
During the time between Emma’s academic ventures, she pursued a career as a professional athlete, playing basketball for three years in Germany in the first and second Bundesliga. Emma had numerous successes, including winning a league championship with the Osnabruck Panthers.After completing her master’s, Emma joined the North American basketball company, PGC Basketball, as a Basketball Development Coordinator. Her passion for youth sport development has taken her all over North America through her work with PGC and has recently landed her a position as Operations Manager with Basketball Nova Scotia.
Emma currently lives in Halifax with her husband Gabriel, and children, Akine and Mia.
Natalie Irwin ('01)
Natalie Irwin resides in the Unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe Territories (Ottawa) 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 with the Acadia Student's Union, as a student member of the Board of Governors, and as 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.
Moira MacLean (’85)
Moira MacLean (BBA '85), lives in Dartmouth, N.S. She met her partner Bill MacLean, also BBA, '85, at Acadia and went back to get married in the Chapel surrounded by many of their lifelong Acadia friends in 1990. Both of their children (Maddie '18 and Angus '20) also benefited from the Acadia experience.
Moira worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 19 years and now works with the MacLean Wealth Management Group in a marketing and team support role.
Moira has always been passionate about health and wellness, which has been the focus of much of her personal and volunteer efforts over her lifetime. She is most proud of her work creating and running wellness workshops for children; raising funds and devoting time to organizations for children with health challenges whether they live locally or abroad; working to help feed local children; providing positive experiences in sport; or raising funds for children to attend life-changing summer camps at Brigadoon Village. She is excited to bring her passion, positivity and perspectives combined with her love for Acadia to her new role with the Acadia Alumni Association Board.
Dr. Ron Malcolm (’82, '83)
Dr. Malcolm (’82, ’83) was born and raised in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. He completed his BA and BEd at Acadia. He also has an MEd (Université de Moncton), MA (Gallaudet University), MS (Fort Hays State University), and an EdD (Northern Arizona University).
Following graduation from Université de Moncton, Dr. Malcolm moved to the United States and began his career teaching deaf and blind students. During his career, he has been a classroom teacher, counselor, special education coordinator, assistant principal, high school principal and assistant director of special education. In addition, he has been an adjunct faculty member working with both undergraduate and graduate level students aspiring to become educators. His academic and research interests include deafness, blindness, dual sensory impairments, applied behaviour analysis as well as children with autism. He publishes regularly in Autism Parenting as well as Exceptional Needs Today magazines. Dr. Malcolm is also fluent in both American Sign Language and Braille.
Dr. Malcolm has received many awards, including Special Education Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Year (for the state by the Governor`s Committee for the Employment of the Disabled), Young Alumnus of the Year, High School Principal of the Year (for his work with mental health concerns with students), Citizen of the Year, the Fox 4 Crystal Apple Award – Educator of the Year, and the Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award from the University of Kansas. For the past three years, he was named the Top Educational Writer for Autism Parenting magazine. In 2021, he was named Top Parenting Solution Writer by Exceptional Needs Today magazine. In addition to raising three children (Joel, Chelsea, and Andrew) with his wife Sherrie, he has been a foster parent to approximately 56 foster children. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, gardening, teaching Sunday School and spending time with his family. Dr. Malcolm recently retired and has relocated to a remote fishing village in Alaska to work with children with significant disabilities.
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.
Kierstyn Palmer ('22)
Kierstyn grew up in the small town of Summerside, Prince Edward Island. She graduated from Acadia with a Bachelor of Science in biology in 2022. Kierstyn was an active volunteer with Acadia’s Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience (S.M.I.L.E.) program, the Wolfville Farmers’ Market, and the Valley Regional Hospital. She found her place within the Acadia community as a representative of the Biology Society, Vice-President of the Pre-Health Society, and takes great pride in holding the role of Life President of the Class of 2022. In her spare time, she loves to stay active and get outdoors - whether it be going the gym, playing pick-up basketball or doing yoga.
Kierstyn has recently made the move from coast-to-coast and now calls Kelowna, BC home. She is currently in the first year of her master’s in Health and Exercise Science, where she is researching the effects of exercise on pain in people with spinal cord injury at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. She is excited to be continuing her studies and is enjoying the thrill of living in a new city so far. In the future, she plans to keep drawing from her love for science and get her medical degree. It is her second year serving on the Alumni Association Board of Directors as an ex-officio member, a position she found great value in holding as a student and now young alumni. She feels extreme gratitude for her experiences on the Board thus far and is honoured to be nominated as a full-time Board Director.
Véronique Russell (’16)
Véronique Russell (’16) is a native of Markham, ON. She currently lives in Fredericton, NB and is a Bachelor of Education candidate at the University of New Brunswick. At Acadia University, Véronique was a women’s varsity rugby team member. In her final year as an Axewoman, she was a member of the 2015 AUS championship team, named to the AUS all-star team, an All-Canadian athlete, and most recently was named as one of the Top 15 Women’s Rugby Athletes of the Decade (2010-2019).
After graduating from Acadia, Véronique pursued a post-graduate certificate at George Brown College and proceeded to work in financial marketing for four years until she realized she was no longer passionate about her work and wanted to do something more meaningful. Véronique took a leap of faith and decided to pursue a career in education. With both her mother and sister as educators, she believed this was only fitting. Véronique is a curriculum builder and workshop speaker for the Get Real movement and a research assistant for the University of New Brunswick.
At the end of August 2022, Véronique will head to Trinity College in Dublin to pursue her Master’s in Education in Critical Perspectives on Education. Her goal is to develop curriculums and methodologies that will engage educators and governments to integrate the untold histories of visible minorities within Canadian provincial curriculums.
Matthew Saunders ('09)
Born and raised in the islands of the Bahamas, Matthew Saunders (’09) moved to Canada in 2005 to begin university at Acadia. It was his first time living outside the Bahamas, but he instantly fell in love with Wolfville and had an amazing university experience, doing everything from serving as a Residence Assistant (RA) in Chase Court to DJing at the Axe. In 2009, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics and Statistics with Business) and moved to Halifax to begin his career in finance. He would later earn his Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Project Management Professional (PMP) and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt designations. Currently, Matthew works as a Director of Finance Change, leading continuous improvement programs and finance technology implementation projects.
In recent years, after realizing the immense value of representation an belonging, Matthew has become actively involved with DEI initiatives in his professional and personal life. He helped launch the Black Employee Resource Group at his workplace, serving as chair from 2021-2023. This group worked to raise knowledge and awareness, positively impact the African Nova Scotian community, and eliminate barriers for black employees and prospective employees. Since February 2023, serving as President, Matthew has led the launch of the Bahamian Association of Nova Scotia, whose vision is to “Establish and elevate the presence, impact and culture of the Bahamas in Nova Scotia.” Outside of work and volunteering, Matthew is a new dad who enjoys spending time with his family and friends, travelling, volleyball and golf.
Olivia Shive ('21)
Olivia Shive (’21) was born and raised in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia. She graduated from Acadia University with a Bachelor of Science in biology. She was heavily involved in many volunteer activities in the Wolfville community such as the Cornwallis Veterinarians in Kentville, the S.M.I.L.E. Program, the Hants Community Hospital, and teaching dance at the Acadia Dance Community Club. Olivia comes from a long line of veterinarians and always aspired to work in the veterinary field. Right out of her undergraduate degree, she secured a contract position at Elanco Animal Health as a veterinary pharmaceutical sales representative. Her territory being in the west of Canada (the areas of Edmonton South to Calgary North and Saskatoon), she packed up and made the move to Edmonton, Alberta. She has been actively traveling in her new role and loves every minute of it.
Outside of her education and career, she has a deep love for the art of dance. She had been an avid member of Dance Acadia during her time at Acadia and in her final year became the co-captain. She is enjoys taking on leadership roles. Olivia is the Life President for the 2021 graduating class, and with that became part of the Alumni Association. She believes in staying connected to the Acadia family and is extremely honoured to now serve as a full-time member of the Board of Directors for the Acadia Alumni Association.
Shaq Smith (’16)
Shaq is a digital marketing consultant who graduated from Acadia University with a Business degree. With a keen interest in technology and marketing, he honed his skills in digital marketing and has since become a sought-after consultant in the industry.
Shaq's success is not limited to his professional accomplishments. He has also made a significant impact in the community by leading various social causes and initiatives. Shaq's community engagement has helped him build strong relationships with people from all walks of life. Shaq has helped many businesses grow and succeed in the digital space. He understands the importance of building relationships and takes a human-centric approach in his work. Shaq's ability to connect with people, combined with his technical skills, has earned him a reputation as a trusted consultant in his community and beyond.
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.
Payton Wood (’18)
Payton is originally from Brantford, Ontario. She was proud to be the second generation in her family to graduate from Acadia, receiving her Bachelor of Business Administration in 2018. During her time at Acadia, Payton was involved with Acadia’s Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience (S.M.I.L.E.) program and had the opportunity to help establish the Acadia Students’ Union Food Cupboard – the first student-run emergency food resource on Acadia’s campus.
After graduating from Acadia, Payton attended the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, where she received her Juris Doctorate in 2021. Deciding to put down permanent roots in Nova Scotia, she now works as a lawyer at the law firm of McInnes Cooper in Halifax. Payton primarily practices in real property, assisting clients with residential and commercial transactions, commercial financing and condominium matters.
In her free time, Payton can be found running, cycling, and forever cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Sophia Blanchard (’23)
The 2023 Grad Class Life President is Sophia Blanchard. Sophia is from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and is majoring in biology, and minoring in chemistry. She is interested in health sciences and hopes to get her MD in the future. Sophia is the VP of Communications for WISE Acadia and is very passionate about getting younger girls involved in STEAM pathways in university and high school. She also loves volunteering at the Biology Help Centre as a tutor! Sophia enjoys the outdoors and going for hikes with her dog and friends. Sophia’s words to live by are, “everything happens for a reason!”
Emily Patterson (’24)
The elected Grad Class Life President of 2024 is Emily Patterson, a Nova Scotian who began her academic journey at Acadia University in 2020 to pursue a business degree at the esteemed F.C. Manning School of Business. Throughout her tenure as an Acadia student, Emily has exhibited a strong commitment to community service. In her second year, she actively participated in the Acadia Business Society as a representative and contributed to various events and weekly meetings. In her third year, she became involved with the Investment Council, competing in the prestigious annual Venture Capital Investment Competition held at Saint Mary's University. Additionally, Emily dedicated her time every Tuesday morning to volunteer with the Sensory Motor Instructional Leadership Experience (S.M.I.L.E.) program, demonstrating her passion for giving back to the community.
Presently, Emily is leading the effort to establish a Women in Business Society with her female peers, aimed at providing networking, mentorship, and professional development opportunities to empower female students to succeed in their future careers. Following graduation, Emily aspires to attend law school and specialize in corporate law. When she's not engrossed in academic pursuits and extracurricular activities, Emily loves spending time outdoors, reading, or socializing with friends. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, "learn as if you will live forever, live like you will die tomorrow," a motto that Emily fully embraces.