BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The directors have accumulated many decades of experience as artists, writers, musicians, craftspeople, researchers, educators, lawyers, technologists, and administrators. They have worked in university settings, for public institutions, in the broadcast industry, for private educational institutions, and in public schools throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Africa, and Australia.
Rena Upitis (Founding President; 2007 – present)
Dr. Rena Upitis (Ed.D., Harvard) is Professor of Education at Queen’s University and recently completed a six-year term as National Research Co-director of Learning Through the Arts, a multi-year project that brings artists to the classrooms of over 160,000 students. She is a former Dean of Education at Queen’s University (1995-2000). Rena’s research and curriculum projects have explored teacher, artist, and student transformation through the arts. Rena is a timber-frame carpenter, and has a small design practice specializing in ecologically sensitive designs and materials for residents and retreats. Her current research explores ways that students can develop ecological habits of mind through arts explorations and web-based portfolio tools.
Helen Turnbull (Founding Secretary; currently Secretary-Treasurer; 2007 – present)
Helen Turnbull (B.Ed., Queen’s) is a former Principal with Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. She brings over a decade of administrative experience to the position. She has been involved with curriculum development for over two decades, including the co-creation, with Rena Upitis, of a high-school cooperative placement program at the Wintergreen site for students in French Immersion. This award-winning program ran for three years in the mid-1990s at Wintergreen before being re-located at the Ganaraska Forest Centre. Helen lives in a heritage home near Gores Landing, Ontario, and has also been involved in extensive building, renovation, and design projects. She has designed and helped to build two cordwood retreats since taking the cordwood course at Wintergreen.
Katharine Smithrim (Founding Director; currently Vice-President; 2007 – present)
Dr. Katharine Smithrim (Ph.D., Eastman) taught courses in music and the arts at Queen’s University before retiring in 2012. Over the last thirty years she has taught music programs privately, and in schools, community colleges and universities. In the 1980s Katharine pioneered music programs for parents with babies and toddlers in Toronto. Along with Bob McGrath of Sesame Street, she has made two commercial recordings: The Baby Record and Songs and Games for Toddlers, the latter a Juno nominee and now a Golden Book Video. Her recent research has focuses on spiritual dimensions in teaching and learning.
Lawrence Scanlan (Current Director; 2010 – present)
A writer and editor and a veteran journalist, Lawrence Scanlan’s recent book, A Year of Living Generously, is about philanthropy and generosity of spirit. It was published by Douglas &McIntyre in the spring of 2010. The eldest of eight siblings, Lawrence Scanlan grew up in a three-bedroom, bunk bed-filled bungalow in a Toronto suburb. His father ran the church hockey and baseball leagues and his sons would all become coaches and his daughters all volunteered in the community. His mother, a geriatric nurse, set an example of understated compassion. When she died several years ago, Lawrence began to ponder her legacy, the mark we humans make in this world and the role of generosity in our daily lives. His most recent book is the outcome of that pondering. Lawrence has been a journalist for almost four decades, working with daily newspapers (editor of The Nelson Daily News in B.C., literary editor of The Whig-Standard in Ontario), magazines (managing editor of Harrowsmith), and in radio with two national CBC programs (producer on Morningside and Writers & Company). He has won numerous prizes for his writing, including three National Magazine Awards. Lawrence is the author or co-author of fifteen books, on subjects ranging from horses to hockey to home. He has a home in Kingston, Ontario, and a cabin in Prince Edward County.
Gerald Dimnik (Current Director; 2016 – present)
Gerald (Gerry) Dimnik joined the Board of Directors at the 2016 AGM. Gerry is a senior Information Technology leader and most recently served as Chief Information Officer at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Prior to that, he worked for sixteen years in Health Care Informatics as Director, Information Services at North York General Hospital. He holds MSc degrees in Management Information Systems from the London School of Economics, and Chemistry from University of Toronto. In addition, Gerry is an accomplished pianist and holds an ARCT diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music. He has also directed church music programs, most recently at Fallingbrook Presbyterian, where he served as director of music for 15 years. He has a served as a director on the board of Extend-a-Family (Toronto) and has just completed his term as chair of the Orpheus Choir of Toronto.
Justin Connidis (Current Director; 2016 – present)
Justin Connidis joined the Board of Directors at the 2016 AGM. Justin is Counsel to Dickinson Wright LLP (Toronto office) and an Adjunct Professor at Queen’s University (Kingston). He practices business law with an emphasis on corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, financing and restructurings, and mining law, policy and communities. Justin also serves as an advisor to the Wintergreen Renewable Energy Co-operative, on the executive of Bedford Mining Alert and as their representative with Mining Watch Canada, on the board of The Kingston Prize Association, which runs Canada’s biennial national portrait competition, and on the board of the Sydenham District Association. He is a member of Kingston Yacht Club, Cataraqui Golf and Country Club, King Valley Golf Club, and The York Club. Justin and his wife, Julia McArthur, reside in Kingston and have a managed forest and recreational property, including a cordwood hut, a mere stone’s throw across Canoe Lake from Wintergreen.
Lorna Crozier has published 17 books of poetry which have garnered Canada’s top awards, including the Governor-General’s Award, two Pat Lowther Awards and the National Magazine Award’s Gold Medal for Poetry. She is Professor Emerita at the University of Victoria and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2005 she read at a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II. In 2011 she was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada. She is a frequent guest on CBC radio and has read her poetry on every continent except Antarctica. Her poems have been set to music, made into a film and used as themes in paintings and pottery. Lorna’s previous teaching at Wintergreen, in the summers of 2010, 2011, and 2013, and in the cold of winter in 2014, has been most joyfully received. Called “a poet to be grateful for” by Margaret Laurence, she has been an ambassador for poetry wherever she goes.
Lawrence Hill is the son of American immigrants — a black father and a white mother — who came to Canada the day after they married in 1953 in Washington, D.C. On his father’s side, Hill’s grandfather and great grandfather were university-educated, ordained ministers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. His mother came from a Republican family in Oak Park, Illinois, graduated from Oberlin College and went on to become a civil rights activist in D.C. The story of how they met, married, left the United States and raised a family in Toronto is described in Hill’s bestselling memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada (HarperCollins Canada, 2001). Much of Hill’s writing touches on issues of identity and belonging. Lawrence Hill’s third novel was published as The Book of Negroes in Canada and the UK, and as Someone Knows My Name in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. It won the overall Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Ontario Library Association’s Evergreen Award. Hill is also the author of the novels Any Known Blood and Some Great Thing. His most recent non-fiction book, The Deserter’s Tale: the Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq (written with Joshua Key), was published around the world. He is currently finishing a new novel, adapting The Book of Negroes for a six-part TV miniseries, and writing and preparing to deliver the 2013 Massey Lectures. Formerly a reporter with The Globe and Mail and The Winnipeg Free Press, Hill has lived and worked across Canada, in Baltimore, and in Spain and France. He is an honorary patron of Crossroads International, for which he travelled as a volunteer to the West African countries Niger, Cameroon and Mali. Hill is also a member of the Council of Patrons of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, and of the Advisory Council of Book Clubs for Inmates. He has a B.A. in economics from Laval University and an M.A. in writing from Johns Hopkins University. Hill lives in Hamilton, Ontario.
CONSULTANTS AND EMPLOYEES
Diane Black became our Operations and Facilities Manager in 2015. Diane began volunteering in the kitchen in the spring of 2015, and gradually took over the role that Karen Smereka played for five years. When Diane is not at Wintergreen, she is likely to be working away on her straw bale home, or creating beautiful work in her studio in Perth. Diane is an artist, specializing in sculpting with clay and iron. Diane also teaches adults and children through various workshop venues. In addition to running our kitchen and operations, Diane has already started offering workshops at Wintergreen as well. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Kristina Inrig serves as the Partnerships Development Director at Wintergreen, a position she has held since 2010. She is a graduate from Carleton University with a BPAPM – Bach. of Public Affairs and Policy Management in Development Studies. She is the President & CEO of Sustainable Foundations Inc, a green real estate investment firm in Eastern Ontario. Her focus is developing green rental properties and providing sustainable investing opportunities. Kristina also provides extensive consultation services in the environmental non-profit sector, and was the past Executive Director of Tucker House Renewal Centre.
Karen Smereka served as the Operations Manager at Wintergreen for five years before pursuing full-time work as a yoga teacher at a studio that she founded in Perth. She joined the staff in December, 2010 and brought many years of relevant experience to the position. In her “non-Wintergreen life”, she is a biologist, teacher, yoga instructor, and outdoor and environmental enthusiast. Karen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claire Grady-Smith served as the Marketing and Communications Director for Wintergreen Studios and Wintergreen Studios Press from 2012-2013, and continues to work on a contract basis for Wintergreen. She has a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies from Queen’s University, and over ten years of experience in not-for-profit cultural organizations as a visual artist, independent curator, grant writer, and marketing director.
Louise Cooper joined Wintergreen as a casual kitchen employee in the spring of 2012, and soon after became the Facilities and Kitchen Manager until the demands of a young family took front seat in the autumn of 2015. Louise brought a varied background to her work, ranging from organic gardening, to restaurant cooking, to off-grid engineering! We were delighted to have her on our staff, and we are pleased to have her join us on a casual basis whenever possible.
Dawson Hamilton joined us in January, 2010, as Director of Marketing and Communications, remaining until January, 2011. The position was funded in part by the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation for the 2010 calendar year. If you’d like to reach Dawson, please email him at email@example.com.
Linda G. Ross served as the Strategic Marketing Advisor for Wintergreen from 2008-2012. Linda’s unique approach to marketing and communications connects Wintergreen to new ideas, strategies, and people. She helped Wintergreen build an online community to demonstrate our off-grid perspective on mindful living and creative work.
Serena Manson (Founding Vice-President; 2007 – 2016)
Serena Manson (B.Ed., Queen’s University) spent many years as a teacher with Mulberry School, a Waldorf school in Kingston, and recently completed graduate studies in Education at Queen’s. She strives to develop curriculum for her students that is of service to each child and to humanity, integrating the arts, environmental education and appreciation, and a kinesthetic approach to learning. Serena is an avid gardener and conservationist. She lived, for many years, within the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, where Wintergreen is also located, in a heritage home that has provided her with opportunities to engage in renovation, building, and design. Serena’s term with the board ended in 2016. She was an inspiration to us all for nine years, and we will miss her.
Ann Patteson (Founding Treasurer; 2007 – 2010)
Dr. Ann Patteson (Ph.D., Queen’s) served as the Director of Research for Learning Through the Arts (LTTA) at The Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto) and also contributed to the development of the Research Division of The Institute of Creativity, Health and Social Change at The Conservatory. Ann brings over twenty-five years of experience as an educator of adults to her work at Wintergreen. In her research, Ann explores the impact of arts-infused education, as well as how the arts may foster understanding of human responsibility to all of earth’s inhabitants and the environment.
“Belief in the significance of architecture is premised on the notion that we are, for better or for worse, different people in different places – and on the conviction that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be.”
- Alain de Botton