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Board of Directors
Urban Academy is fortunate to have a committed and passionate board as leaders of the school. They contribute countless hours to ensure the school upholds its commitment to excellence. Through guidance, expertise and hands-on participation, the following board members ensure that Urban Academy has a strong and stable leadership group behind it.
Deborah McKenzie - Chair
Deborah is an entrepreneur in the interior design and home renovation industry with more than 20 years of experience consulting on significant residential and commercial development projects. Deborah brings a strong organizational discipline to her work and has a passion for bringing together talent and expertise to achieve strategic growth for healthy, long-term community development.
The McKenzie family has been part of the Urban Academy community for 10 years with 2 daughters currently in Grades 3 and 8. Deborah has always played an active role at UA by being passionately involved in committee and volunteer work since 2005. Deborah joined the Board of Directors in 2010 and is now serving her sixth year as Chair of the Board.
Jennifer Thompson, B.A. (Econ), (M.A. Econ) - Vice Chair
Jennifer is an entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience in both the private and public sectors in Canada. She has participated actively in the not-for-profit sector since becoming a member of the Leadership Vancouver class of ’99, and brings a wealth of strategic, communication and planning skills to the Urban Academy Board. Her family has been with Urban Academy for three years and they have one daughter at the school. Jennifer joined the Board in March 2014.
Rory Langran - Treasurer
A Victoria native, Rory attended UVic for his Bachelor of Commerce in International Business, and spent an exchange year with the Universitat Bielefeld Fachhochschule in Bielefeld, Germany. Following this he started his career in banking with Deutsche Bank in Germany in their trading department, before joining BMO Bank of Montreal, in a number of different roles. Rory joined HSBC Bank in 2006, and now manages the Global Liquidity & Cash Management Sales Team for Western Canada. Rory was elected President of TMAC Vancouver in 2011, having held a Board position since 2008, and managed the Board through significant change and affiliation with the Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) - including a significant rewrite of their bylaws. Rory holds the professional designations of CTP (Certified Treasury Professional - AFP) and DMS (Derivatives Market Specialist - Canadian Securities Institute).
Rory has a personal interest in Canadian Military history, in particular aviation, and has contributed to a couple of works on the subject citing material from his own personal collection. Rory and his wife Pippa are proud to have both of their daughters enrolled at Urban Academy. Rory joined the Board of Directors in 2016.
Abigail Shu, M.D. - Secretary
Abigail Shu is a Family Practice Physician dedicated to the development and growth of Urban Academy. With two children at the school, Dr. Shu has been committed to various school initiatives including the Gala Committee and Parent Auxiliary. She joined the Board in the summer of 2014.
Brian Drummond - Member at Large/Founder
Brian, along with his wife Laura, are two of the Founding members of Urban Academy. A graduate of one of the top Theatre Schools in Canada, Studio 58, Brian has been a professional performer for over 25 years. He is known as one of the top Voice Actors in North America, having voiced thousands of characters in hundreds of animated TV episodes and films.
A champion of the Arts, Brian has served as a task force committee member with the Union of BC Performers, has participated on numerous finance, facility & marketing committees at Urban Academy, and as a board member at Urban Academy since its inception in 2001. Brian & his wife Laura have 3 children, 1 daughter in Grade 11, and two graduates in 2013 and 2015.
Ben Marsolais - Member at Large
Ben Marsolais joins the Urban Academy board with years of experience in Construction Management. A graduate of BCIT with the Building Technology Program as well as University of Northern British Columbia in Construction Management, he also has earned the designation as a LEED Green Associate. At a time when Urban Academy is focussed on acquiring facilities that will enable the school to grow into its next chapter, Ben brings with him an extensive background in construction, development, planning and project management.
With two daughters at the school, the Marsolais family can often be seen participating in a wide variety of UA activities. Ben has been a member of the Board since May 2015.
Jeremy Poole, B.A., LL.B. - Member at Large
Jeremy is a partner with the Vancouver law firm Alexander Holburn Beaudin + Lang LLP. He has almost 20 years of legal experience including representation of public school boards in litigated disputes. Jeremy was previously a board member and the treasurer of a non-profit society that raised funds within the legal community for children focused charities and he brings legal perspective and acumen to the board of Urban Academy. His son started at Urban Academy in Kindergarten and is currently in Grade 7. Jeremy joined the board in November of 2013.
Carmen Grant, CHRP - Member at Large
Carmen has been in a senior Human Resources role of a prominent Vancouver based business for the past 12 years, and spent many years prior in human resources in the public sector. She was previously on the board of another Vancouver independent school for 4 years and has done volunteer work for local non-profit organizations.
She is pleased to be joining the Board of Urban Academy and has a granddaughter in Grade 1 this year and a grandson in Grade 3. Carmen joined the Board in July 2013.
Sarah Cepeliauskas - Member at Large
Sarah has a Bachelor of Arts in Family Science and a Diploma in Education from UBC, where she captained the UBC Women's Volleyball team.
Several years ago Sarah pursued a long held passion and enrolled in the highly rated Vancouver School of Bodywork and Massage (VSBM) where she obtained her Certified Bodyworker designation. Sarah now works as the Clinic Supervisor at VSBM.
As an Urban Academy parent. Sarah is excited to join the Board after six years volunteering for many positions within the school. Sarah has a son in Grade 3.
Viral Thakkar, B.E & M.S (Mechanical Eng.) - Member at Large
Viral is an engineer by profession with over 12 years of experience in management and leadership of all phases of Medical Device Design and Development from market definition through production and release. In his current business role, he is managing the development of a novel disposable trans-vascular diaphragm pacing catheter. He has actively participated on the board of other non-profit organizations.
Viral become a member of the Board in April 2016. Viral and his wife Pranjali have a son in Grade 1 and a daughter in Junior Kindergarten.
Laura Bradley - Member at Large
Laura has 21 years of counselling, group facilitation, and community education experience in both a not-for-profit capacity, and in her own private practice where she is the clinical director and senior therapist. She also has fifteen years of managerial experience. Laura has had a lifelong interest in the Arts, and graduated in 1998 from the Theatre and Film program at the Gastown Actors' Studio. She loves the power of theatrical performances to bring relevant or important issues or topics to the foreground in a way that an audience might not have considered.
Elizabeth Fletcher, B. Com, Chartered Professional Accountant - Member at Large
Elizabeth is a seasoned professional with over thirty years experience in financial services delivery and senior management. She has held leadership roles in several organizations, including Chief Financial Officer of a TSX listed, publicly regulated utility based in Vancouver. In her current business role, she manages a project budget in excess of $800 million.
Throughout her career, she has actively supported the non-profit sector, acting as director for organizations such as the Community Living Society, the HR MacMillan Space Centre, and the ALS Society of B.C. Her son, currently in Grade 7, has been a student at Urban Academy since 2008. Elizabeth joined the Board of UA in 2011.
Jaki Laga - Member at Large
Jaki has 20 years experience in sales and marketing. She is currently responsible for sales and marketing at LAGA Sports, a Canadian manufacturer of custom team wear located in Burnaby, BC.
Jaki and her husband Vlas have sons in JK and Grade 3 at Urban Academy. Jaki has been an active parent volunteer at Urban Academy in various capacities since 2012.