Michelle Clarke joined the Wordfest Board in 2014. She is the Executive Director of Burns Memorial Fund, a Calgary-based foundation focused on the health, education and recreation needs of low-income children and youth. Michelle has worked in the voluntary sector for over 25 years, as an Executive Director, funder and research/evaluation consultant. Before joining Burns Memorial Fund, Michelle worked at the United Way of Calgary, as the Children and Youth Strategy Lead, and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, as the Executive Director. Michelle has been involved in designing, implementing and supporting large collaborative initiatives in Calgary. She joined the Wordfest board in January 2014.
Andrew MacPherson joined the Wordfest Board in 2015. He is a long-time volunteer with both Wordfest and the Calgary Folk Music Festival. From 2008-13 he was a co-coordinator of Artist Liaison for Wordfest and has been part of the Volunteer Reader program since 2006. He is a voracious reader of novels and short stories and dabbles with writing fiction. He is currently a member of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, the Alexandria Writing Society and the Alliance Française of Calgary and is an alumnus of the Banff Centre Writing with Style program. Andrew is a professional engineer and has worked for the Alberta Energy Regulator since 2005. Andrew and his wife Janice live in West Hillhurst with their teenage son, Ian.
Lori Egger joined the Wordfest Board in 2014. She is a Ph.D Psychologist who has worked for several years in the Calgary area. In addition to her work as a clinical psychologist, Lori has participated for many years in volunteering and philanthropy. She has been involved in a number of areas including domestic violence, health and mental health issues, and anti-poverty initiatives.
Sarah Guina joined the Wordfest Board in 2015.
Erika Ho joined the Wordfest Board in 2014. She is currently a Contract Analyst with TransCanada and holds a BA (English) and BComm from the University of Calgary. Her ideal day consists of getting lost in the worlds of the written word until late into the night. She is honoured and excited to be a Board member of Wordfest.
Shawna Stirrett joined the Wordfest Board in 2015. She is a national and international policy advisor with the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). Prior to joining the AER, she worked as a senior policy analyst with the Canada West Foundation where she focused on policy ideas for the sustainable development of energy resources, how to minimize the environmental footprint of Canadian cities and what it takes to build vibrant and engaging communities. She is the co-author of three books and over a dozen research reports. Shawna has a Master’s degree in political science from the University of Calgary and, more importantly, she loves to read and is passionate about sharing the power of story with those around her.
I am interested in volunteering my time with Wordfest because, first, I love prose and literature and, second, I am committed to contributing to Calgary’s evolution into a worldclass, cosmopolitan metropolis. Wordfest has shaped Calgary’s culture over two decades and counting. I recall attending Wordfest events as a child when my mother, Anita, was a speaker and have fond memories of those occasions. I see the important role Wordfest played in fostering my mother’s career – not to mention countless others’ – and this highlights how integral Wordfest is for aspiring and established writers alike. Through my mother’s experience, I know how difficult navigating the publishing industry is, and how beneficial festivals like Wordfest are for writers hoping to reach their audience. Beyond that, Wordfest introduces Calgary to the ideas of the day, and facilitates critical discourse with those ideas. Owing to the energy sector, Calgary is naturally connected to the international financial markets; Wordfest connects the city to the international market for words.
As a lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright, I regularly advise Boards of Directors of corporations. I also advise individual directors on their fiduciary obligations and the risks attendant on their decisions. Through this experience, I have gained an understanding of the best practices Boards can adopt. I also have a strong practical knowledge of contract negotiation and dispute resolution. I am trained to identify risk, opportunity, and how to manage both given an individual’s or entity’s natural constraints and assets. I want to apply this legal training and experience to my community. Indeed, given that Calgary welcomed my family when we emigrated here from India in 1991, it is particularly important for me to give back to this city, and serving on the Board of Wordfest would be a fantastic chance to do so.
Leslie Gavel is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Reader’s Digest, Canadian Living, Today’s Parent, Avenue Magazine and several Canadian and American newspapers. She recently completed a nonfiction book-length manuscript and is on the prowl for a publisher.
Her volunteer experience includes: serving on the boards of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary and the Parent Support Association of Calgary, helping students with reading difficulties in her children’s elementary school, and sorting books for the Calgary Reads magnificent book sale allowing her to become an authority on Canadian fiction.
Leslie has a graduate degree in social work from the University of Calgary. Although it’s been many years since she has practiced in a traditional sense, jobs investigating allegations of child abuse and providing public assistance taught her much about empathy and patience. As did working as the counselling coordinator at the Calgary Sexual Health Centre where women sought assistance in the face of unplanned pregnancies. Leslie returned to CSHC to do a practicum for her advanced degree participating in the multi-cultural change process facilitated by one of their funders, the United Way of Calgary. This process was profoundly important in opening her mind to an anti-racist perspective.