Accountability First

We believe that our organization is best served by both different member agencies and a Board of Directors who are made up of highly qualified individuals with a wide range of business, community, environmental, and marine expertise who are committed to GVHA’s mission. 

We are directly accountable to our eight member agencies: Esquimalt Nation, Songhees Nation, Capital Regional District, City of Victoria, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Destination Greater Victoria, Township of Esquimalt, and the Victoria/Esquimalt Harbour Society.  

Governance Chart

We also hold ourselves accountable to our stakeholders and the residents of Greater Victoria. Through the leadership of the Board and management, we align our strategic priorities and initiatives with the Constitution established by GVHA’s founders.

GVHA Board Highlights

Each quarter, the GVHA Board of Directors provides an update to each of the eight member agencies to which they report. These reports are available for the public to view here.

GVHA Board Constitution and Bylaws 

*Documents amended in 2019

Christine Willow

Chair (The Chamber)

Christine Willow is a Partner with TwoWillows Consulting BC...

She is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and a Registered Professional Recruiter (RPR), and has been involved in employment and training programs for the past 20 years.

Prior to entering the consulting field, Willow was a valued member of the tourism and hospitality industry for more than 20 years, and held senior management positions with Four Seasons Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Trusthouse Forte and Keg Restaurants as well as several independently owned and operated hotels and restaurants.

Active in the community, she has served as chair of the board of the Victoria Airport Authority, was a director for the Canadian Airports Council and as a director for the Victoria Police board.

Additionally, she has also served on the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council, the BC Restaurant Association, Greater Victoria Economic Development Agency, go2 The Resource for People in Tourism, and the Downtown Victoria Business Association, and she is the past chair of Destination Greater Victoria and the Tourism Industry Association of BC.

Mark Mawhinney

Vice Chair (Victoria Esquimalt Harbour Society)

Mark Mawhinney is a portfolio manager and investment advisor with Odlum Brown Limited ...

He is a chartered professional accountant, certified management accountant and in 2009 was awarded the Certified Management Accountant Society of BC’s province-wide Top-Talent Award.

Early in his career he founded, built and sold two successful businesses and brings close to 20 years of financial and business experience to the board. He co-chaired the University of British Columbia Alumni Association’s Alumni Centre Committee, which designed, funded and built a first of its kind $21 million, 40,000 square foot Alumni Centre on UBC’s Point Grey campus. Mawhinney previously served on the GVHA Board from 2016 to 2018.

Chief Jerome Thomas

Chief Councillor Jerome Thomas

Esquimalt Nation

Chief Councillor Jerome Antoine Junior Thomas is a proud member of the Xʷsepsəm Nation with deep connections to the ancestral community. ...

When not raising two children with his wife, Jerome has been an integral part of the Ralmax Group, working in the Salish Sea Industrial Services. He began three years of training as a bridgeman with ITA, now SkilledTradesBC, receiving the Mungo Martin award in his second year. Jerome then spent two years training to be a specialized Operator of Engineering focused on crane operations.

Leading through example is just one of the core values Chief Jerome brings to the Xʷsepsəm Nation. Not only is he a leader professionally, demonstrating his skills at leading work teams on various projects, finishing them safely and ahead of schedule. He also is a community leader, engaging and supporting the elders to share the heritage and traditional knowledge with the nation’s youth to ensure that knowledge is not lost.

A tireless and committed ambassador for the Xʷsepsəm Nation, Chief Jerome is leading the way towards a brighter future filled with abundant opportunities and shared prosperity for all.

Nəʔəmtənat (Florence Dick)

Songhees Nation

Nəʔəmtənat whose English name is Florence Dick is a member of the Songhees Nation...

Dick was born in raised in Lekwungen Territory and has connections through family. She is the mother of a daughter and a son and has two grandchildren.

More than 20 years ago Dick advocated for and became the founding member of the community-led committee that imagined and eventually built the Songhees Wellness Centre.

A fierce advocate for, and tireless promoter of, the Songhees people, Dick was chosen by Chief and Council to represent her Nation as Community cultural liaison for the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority from 2012 To 2016.

She currently holds to the position of cultural liaison for the Capital Regional District’s Wastewater Treatment Project.

Dick's role has been to act as a bridge between cultures and help to foster stronger government to government relations.

Councillor Susan Brice

Capital Regional District

Susan Brice was elected councillor for the District of Saanich in 2005, and is a current director for the Capital Regional District...

She is a fourth-generation resident of Greater Victoria and a former elementary school teacher in Esquimalt and Oak Bay.

Brice is chair of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee for the Saanich Council, and is council liaison for the Victoria Airport Authority Community Consultative Committee. For the CRD, she is chair of the Transportation Committee, and sits on the Finance Committee, and the Core Area Sewage Committee. She is on the board of directors for BC Transit.

She has served as elected MLA representing Saanich South, and was previously minister of Mental Health and minister of Human Resources for the Government of British Columbia. Brice volunteers as vice president of the Victoria ALS Society.

Mayor Barbara Desjardins

Township of Esquimalt

Barbara Desjardins has been the Mayor of the Township of Esquimalt since 2008. She has extensive knowledge in government relations, board leadership, communications, and public relations...

She has also been a small business owner with experience in HR and compensation, risk management, and strategy.

Desjardins is a former GVHA board director, serving as the Governance and Nominating Committee chair, board vice-chair, and board interim chair. In addition, she is also the former Capital Regional District (CRD) chair, CRD Hospital board chair, and key participant on CRD Committees (Environmental Services, Finance, Governance, Regional Parks, Planning, Transportation & Protective Services, Core & Westside Wastewater Treatment, Integrated Resources Management), Victoria Regional Transit Commission, Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association, participated in the formation of the South Island Economic Development Association, and Local Government Treaty Committee (Te’Mexw Treaty).

Geoff Dickson

Destination Greater Victoria

Geoff Dickson is president and chief executive officer of the Victoria International Airport...

As president and chief executive officer, Dickson is responsible for the strategic planning, operations and financial performance of Victoria International Airport. During his tenure, Victoria International Airport twice won the prestigious Airports Council International Airport Service Quality award for best regional airport in North America.

Dickson has more than thirty years’ experience in the airline and marine transportation industries with a background in marketing, business development, operations, customer service and finance.

Dickson began his career with Canadian Airlines where he ultimately led the international marketing team in the development and expansion of the airline’s global network. He returned home to Victoria where he joined BC Ferries as vice-president of marketing and business development where he oversaw all aspects of their commercial operations.

Dickson currently serves on the board of directors for the Canadian Airports Council and is chair of the Canadian Tier 2 Airports Caucus.

He is a graduate of the University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business.

Ryan Burles

Victoria Esquimalt Harbour Society

Ryan Burles is President and COO of Black Ball Ferry Line and has been in the ferry and tourism business for over 30 years...

Burles has served on the board of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Destination Marketing Committee of Destination Greater Victoria as well as serving as a board member and past president of the Rotary Club of Victoria.

Burles brings a strong business background with an emphasis on customer service, and safe operations.

Dave Cowen

Past Chair

As CEO of The Butchart Gardens, Mr. Cowen has responsibility for leading a team of nearly 700 staff, overseeing daily operations and strategic initiatives...

Formerly the general manager, Cowen is actively involved in leadership positions in the tourism and business communities, serving as the founding past president of Gardens British Columbia and as a board member of the Canada Garden Council. Active in developing Garden Tourism as a vibrant provincial and national sector, he has presented at the World Garden Tourism Conference in Metz, France, spoken at the World Tulip Summit in Suncheon, Korea and on several occasions has addressed the American Public Garden Association annual conference.

Cowen is co-chair of the Tourism Committee for the Pacific Northwest Economic Region. He was formerly chair of Destination Greater Victoria and has been an active member on various boards and industry organizations throughout the region. He is the proud recipient of the PNWER Robert Day Memorial Award, which is awarded to someone in the private sector who has played a major role in bringing collaboration between cross-border organizations and stakeholders.

Councillor Susan Kim

City of Victoria

Susan Kim (김수잔) has been involved with grassroots groups and self-organizing communities for years. ...

To date, her career includes a decade of collaborative leadership experience in areas of food security, community organizing, adult education, policy, and operations. She has also had the opportunity to be employed in both provincial and federal levels of government, as well as contracted by Island Health.

In addition to her role on Council, Susan currently works as director of operations for the Fernwood Neighborhood Resource Group Society.

She has also been formerly involved with the Civic Orchestra of Victoria, LifeCycles Project Society, Victoria Korean Women’s Association, various union locals, and more.

Mark F. Collins

Independent Director

Mark Collins is a senior marine executive, having held leadership and technical positions with shipping and marine manufacturing firms since 1985. ...

Mark recently completed more than 18 years at British Columbia Ferry Services, one of the world’s largest marine passenger transportation networks, including five years as president & CEO. He was BC Ferries vice president of engineering from 2004-2012 and vice president, strategic planning and community engagement from 2015-2017.

Mark’s 35 years of marine experience includes expatriate assignments as president of Rolls Royce Marine Brazil and Rolls Royce Marine Italy. Prior to this, Mark was VP sales and aftermarket for Rolls-Royce Marine Canada. Mark believes in real world field experience, serving as a marine engineer on oil tankers, offshore support vessels, bulk carriers and container ships. A little further back, Mark served three years as an aircraft maintenance technician on rotary wing aircraft.

Mark holds a Certificate of Strategic Leadership from Oxford University, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Transport and Logistics from the University of British Columbia, a Bachelor of Arts in Marine Geography from Saint Mary’s University and a Diploma of Mechanical (Marine) Engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Mark also holds a Director Education Certificate from the Rotman School at the University of Toronto and an ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. He has served on many boards, including Interferry, Green Marine and as chair of the Board of the Canadian Ferry Association.

Born on the island of Newfoundland, Mark understands the importance of a reliable marine industry to the social and economic health of our communities. Mark is married with three children and resides in Victoria, British Columbia.

image of older woman with short auburn hair, gold hoop earrings and black shirt

Gail Stephens, FCPA, FCGA, ICD.D

Independent Director

Gail Stephens is currently working as a consultant for a variety of organizations in areas such as strategic planning, leadership development, change management, governance and organizational restructuring. ...

She has over twenty years leading large, complex organizations including City auditor and then chief administrative officer for the City of Winnipeg, City manager for the City of Victoria, CEO of the BC Pension Corporation and COO and interim president and CEO for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Gail is currently serving as a member of the board of directors for VIA Rail Canada Inc. (chair of the Audit and Pension Investment Committee) and the David Foster Foundation (chair of the Finance and Investment Committee). She received the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. Ms. Stephens is a certified public accountant having graduated from the Certified General Accountants (CGA) program and a former teacher having graduated from the University of Manitoba on the Dean’s Honour List. She received the CGA Manitoba Gold Medal and was awarded a CPA, CGA fellowship. She graduated from the Harvard University Kennedy School in the Executive Management Program.

Ms. Stephens was named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network in 2003, 2010 and 2011 and the 2006 Women in Finance’s PEAK Award for Performance and Excellence. She was awarded one of Canada’s top 100 CGAs in 2008.

image of slightly balding man in his 50s in a blue suit, white shirt and yellow and black striped tie

Bruce Ellis Hallsor, K.C.

Independent Director

Bruce Hallsor is the managing partner at British Columbia’s oldest law firm, Crease Harman LLP, a successful commercial practice. In 2007, he was named among the “Top 40 under 40” for Vancouver Island which celebrates young professionals making a difference in their communities....

Bruce has won the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals for community service, as well as the Medal of Merit and Bar to the Medal of Merit from Scouts Canada. He was awarded a Queen’s Counsel designation in 2016 and in 2023, awarded the Victoria Bar Association contribution to the law award, Bruce was recognized with a Taxfighter award in 2023 by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation for his legal work in the area of tax.

Bruce has also served on the board of directors for a diverse group of companies, authorities, charities and non-profits.

Don Krusel

Independent Director

Don Krusel has over 35 years experience in the port and maritime industry. He was president & CEO of the Prince Rupert Port Authority for 25 years and has provided strategic advice to various North American ports and organizations. ...

Most recently, Mr. Krusel served as the managing director for the Port of Quebec’s initiative to open a new international container terminal and supply chain on the St. Lawrence.

Don has served on numerous industry boards and associations including, chair of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA), Executive Committee of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), vice chair of Green Marine, and Executive Committee on the Western Transportation Advisory Council (WESTAC). He has served as director and chair of the Audit & Risk Management Committee on the Board of B.C. Assessment Authority, and as board member of Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) at the University of Victoria.

Don holds an MBA degree from the Ivey School of Management at the University of Western Ontario, is a Chartered Professional Accountant and is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Don and his wife, Gail, recently celebrated their 43rd Wedding Anniversary and they have one daughter, Olivia.