Board Biographies

Pavel Chernousov

Pavel Chernousov has a strong professional and academic background with a focus on disability, government programs, and international development.

His recent work history includes working with the Federal Government and multiple Canadian disability organizations to provide the Federal Government’s Office for Disability Issues with the disabled community’s collective recommendations to improve the federal accessibility legislation known as Bill C-81, “The Accessible Canada Act”.

Previously, Pavel worked on climate change assignments with the United Nations, and on European politics with the Moscow Carnegie Centre. He holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Ottawa and a BA in International Relations from the Moscow State University of International Affairs.

William Cowie

Dr. Cowie is past President of the Canadian Association of Development Professionals, the Society for International Development (Ottawa) and most recently Past President of a major social service organization in Ottawa for Persons with Disabilities. He has overseen and driven organizational strategic and policy initiatives of national significance while as President of a development oriented NGO helping it gain a reputation as a forward looking and imaginative contributor to development policy discourse.

Dr Cowie holds both a Ph.D. and a Masters from the London School of Economics, London, UK, in Development Economics and Geography (1982). He has been a lecturer at the University of Toronto, Ottawa and Carleton Universities specializing in global economics and is currently a professional trainer for the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University. In recent years as head of Every Canadian Counts Coalition Dr. Cowie has focused on addressing the needs of people with disabilities through his advocacy for a national disability insurance program.

Karen Keyes (Ontario)

Karen Keyes is the Chief Operating Officer and strategic planner for DeafBlind Ontario Services. Karen’s focus is the ongoing, day-to-day management of the organizations business model and internal processes to ensure quality client service. Karen has led the development of many programs implemented at DeafBlind Ontario Services including the complete revision of the client Service Model, the development of the Certified Congenital DeafBlind Specialist program and is leading a new certification process with the Academy for Certification for Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals.

She is a past participant of the George Brown College – Intervenor for Deafblind Persons Program Advisory Council, and has served on a range of organizations, including the OASIS Sensory Partners and the Deafblind Network of Ontario.

Karen shared her expertise in the field of deafblindness as an Instructor at Mohawk College in the Sensory Loss Certificate Program and as a Field Placement Supervisor with the Developmental Services Worker program at Fanshawe College. In 2015, Karen was the recipient of the Fanshawe College Distinguished Alumni Award.

Norma Lamont

Norma is the current President of OCAPDD/Open Hands (Ottawa Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities and is their representative to the Board of OASIS (Ontario Agencies Serving Individuals with Special Needs. In addition, Norma is also member of Champlain Grant Review Team, Ontario Trillium Foundation while employed as an Assistant Returning Officer for Elections Canada (Federal Electoral District of Ottawa West-Nepean).
Before retiring Norma was with the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Eastern Ontario, first as Executive Assistant to the President, then Director of Special Projects and finally as Vice President of Community Development. Previously Norma worked for 15 years on Parliament Hill for various MP’s including Special Assistant and Private Secretary for the Minister of Agriculture.

Michelle MacDonald

Michelle is an accomplished non-profit professional with two decades of experience working in the sector in both Toronto and Ottawa. She brings a wealth of knowledge to any role she undertakes and has a proven record of growth in both revenue and reach for small organizations. In her current role as Executive Director of Brain Injury Canada, she has led the Board of Directors through a strategic planning initiative to drive the organization for the next 3 years.

In addition to managing and implementing day-to-day operations, she is also responsible for the development of all Brain Injury Canada’s education and awareness programs, and advocacy initiatives on behalf of those individuals and families living with acute brain injury. Her demonstrated focus on collaboration and partnerships gives her the ability to look at the big picture, but also all the moving parts and how they fit together effectively and efficiently.
She currently sits on the Disability Tax Credit Alliance, Every Canadian Counts Working Group and as a Governor-at-large for the Neurological Health Charities Canada Governing Council. Some of Michelle’s past roles include Executive Director at the Brain Injury Society of Toronto and in Health Promotion at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario. Past committee involvement includes Toronto ABI Network Planning Advisory Committee, Toronto ABI Network Concussion Task Force and Ontario Advisory Council (OAC) for the Ontario Acquired Brain Injury Community Associations.

Jonathan Marchand (Quebec)

Jonathan Marchand is a 42-year-old senior network engineer from Quebec City. He has worked in Quebec and in Australia for many years. He’s been institutionalized since 2010 against his will because of his disability.

He’s the founder and president of Coop ASSIST – Quebec cooperative for Independent Living which aims to create a new provincial personal assistance program that is compliant with the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Richard J. Riopelle

Richard is certified by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in the discipline of Neurology, and as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in the domains of Neurology and Internal Medicine in good standing. He holds Canadian Medical Protective Association insurance.

As a clinician-scientist, he is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, Chief Research Officer of the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation which supports research, its publication, and its application in the area of neurotrauma, and Member, Board of Directors, Brain Injury Canada. He is a principal applicant on Federal (CIHR 2, SSHRC 1) and Ontario MOH & LTC (1) funded research projects targeting an inclusivity agenda for Persons with Lived Experience (PLEX) of acquired brain injury.

Jim Smith

An economist by training, Jim has over 40 years professional experience in development, working both at a senior level in international organizations, and within developing country governments handling programs, policy dialogue, and aid management and relations at the levels of Ministers and Heads of State. Areas of focus were increasingly in the areas of the social sectors (education, health, and social safety nets and transfer programs), poverty, public expenditure, and aid coordination.

Following 23 years at the World Bank; three years spent in the Prime Minister’s Office in Papua New Guinea, and one year as an Advisor in the Government of Indonesia. Upon return to Canada, Jim served in a number of positions on a part-time basis, including as Senior Advisor to the International Development Research Centre, advising the United Nations, various African governments, and the Government of Canada, and working with Oxford University’s Centre for Global Economic Governance.

Jim has served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the British International School in Nepal, as a Board member and chair of the Finance Committee for the International Schools in Malawi, as a member of the Board of OCAPDD, the organization providing services to the developmentally disabled in Canada’s capital area; and am a Board member of the Every Canadian Counts initiative – a coalition advocating for the adoption of a national disability insurance program in Canada.


Dr. Turmusani

Dr. Turmusani specializes in disability inclusive development with a PhD in disability studies from Britain. He worked in a number of countries including Kosovo, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Togo, Guinea, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq/Kurdistan and Qatar for the United Nations, the World Bank, INGOs, academia and government. As a volunteer, he serves/ed on the Board of Director for a number of national disability organizations and a former member of the Board of Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities.

Majid has taken an active part in the negotiation process for the development of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as in their implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Currently, working on the social inclusion of autistic users with multiple educational needs. His expertise includes research and evaluation; design/management of international community-based rehabilitation, namely inclusive education; disability rights protection and legal reform.