Board of Directors

Gemma Hickey (Chair)

This St. John’s native was born with a fire in her belly. A widely known activist and up-and-coming poet, Gemma is the advocate of many causes and has served on numerous boards and committees, but is best known for co-leading the movement that legalized same-sex marriage in Canada. She is the Founder of Pathways, an emerging agency that offers support to survivors of clergy abuse and the Executive Director of For the Love of Learning, an arts-based charity that works to improve the lives of at-risk youth. A proud graduate of Memorial University, she is the recipient of many scholarships and awards, including a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013.

Dorothy Vaandering (Vice-Chair)

Originally from Ontario, Dorothy moved to Newfoundland in 2009. She taught elementary students at faith based schools in Calgary and Ontario for twenty years and pursued her doctorate at the University of Western Ontario where she explored the potential of restorative justice and peacemaking for education. She is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University and continues to focus her research on how restorative justice contributes to a deeper understanding of promoting healing within relationships in the context of institutions. 

Deborah Thomas

After completing a journalism degree at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, Deborah returned home to Newfoundland to work for a variety of local newspapers and spent five years at CBC locations in St. John’s, Corner Brook and Calgary. In 2004, she accepted a media relations position with Eastern Health, where she remained for three years, until she was offered a Director of Communications position with the Government of NL. She has worked in four government departments over the span of eight years, and is currently the Director of Communications for the Department of Environment and Conservation.

Raelene Lee

Raelene is a lawyer with McInnes Cooper where she regularly provides employment, labour relations and other general advice to corporate clients. Her practice also includes Workplace Health and Safety and Occupational Health and Safety matters, privacy and human rights matters, real property, and corporate and commercial transactions. She is an active volunteer on a number of community boards. She is a regular instructor in the Faculty of Business Administration at Memorial University and in 2010 received the St. John’s Northwest Rotary Aidan Maloney Emerging Professionals Award.

Patricia Dold

Born in Calgary, Patricia was raised and educated in Alberta, but completed her doctorate at McMaster University in Hamilton. She moved to Newfoundland in 2004. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the Head of the Department of Gender Studies at Memorial University. Her research and teaching focuses on Hindu religious traditions and women in religion.

Jack Penashue 

A strong advocate for First Nations people, Jack obtained his Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, but has spent the majority of his time working in Labrador. As the Labrador Health Secretariat, he acted as a liaison for the Federal Government and Innu First Nations, while also providing cultural awareness, resources, treatment assessments and support. Currently, he is the Social Health Director for the Innu First Nations in Sheshatshiu and conducts evaluations of both provincial and federal social programs to ensure quality service delivery.