Board of Directors

Michael MacMillan, Co-founder and Chair of Samara

In 2007 Michael co-founded The Samara Centre for Democracy, which is a charity that is dedicated to reconnecting citizens to politics.

In 2011, Michael co-founded and is CEO of Blue Ant Media, a company that produces, distributes, and broadcasts television programming internationally.

In 1978, Michael MacMillan co-founded Atlantis Films Limited with fellow Queen’s grads Seaton McLean and Janice Platt. He was Chairman and CEO of Atlantis (which later became Alliance Atlantis) for almost 30 years.

Michael is also the co-founder and co-owner of Closson Chase Vineyard and Winery in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

A member of the Order of Canada, Michael has volunteered with numerous community and industry organizations over many years. He is a Senior Fellow at Massey College and co-author of the book Tragedy in the Commons.

Stephanie MacKendrick, Vice-Chair

For more than 30 years, Stephanie MacKendrick has been a key player in Canada’s communications industry, from print and broadcast journalism to senior communications roles and association management.  Stephanie is the former President of Canadian Women in Communications (1996-2012), and recently became the CEO of Crisis Services Canada in 2018, which provides bilingual access to voice and text suicide prevention services. 

In 2010, Stephanie was inducted into Canada’s Telecom Hall of Fame in recognition of her longstanding advocacy on behalf of women in the communications and telecom sectors. Since 2013, she has also been a partner at Lotus Wonders, an organization that provides training and employment to Women in Cambodia who have experienced displacement due to land evictions. Stephanie was also awarded one of Top Most Powerful Women in Canada in 2005 and 2012 by the Women's Executive Network.

Stephanie is the author of In Good Hands: Remarkable Female Politicians From Around the World Who Showed Up, Spoke Out and Made Change, which will be published in Spring 2020 by KCP Loft. 

Janet Yale, Vice-Chair

Janet Yale currently serves as President and CEO of The Arthritis Society after years of providing results-oriented leadership in c-suite positions in the private, public and not-for-profit world. An accomplished senior executive with a long history in the telecommunications sector, Janet previously served as executive vice president at TELUS and president and CEO of the Canadian Cable Television Association.  A lawyer and economist by training, Janet worked early in her career as a director general at the CRTC and as general counsel to the Consumers Association of Canada.

Janet’s true passion is in the not-for-profit sector where she has been recognized as a proven innovator and leader. In addition to Samara, Janet currently sits on the boards of the Health Charities Coalition of Canada and Business/Arts. She is also chair of the Arthritis Alliance of Canada.

Janet is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, a winner of the Woman Leader of the Year by the Federated Press and Businesswoman of the Year by the Women’s Business Network.

Since June 2018, Janet has been Chair of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel.

Leen Al Zaibak

Leen is a leader in supporting the success of Syrian refugees resettled in Canada and abroad, as both co-Founder and Director of Jusoor, an international NGO that helps Syrian youth continue their education through scholarships and mentorship. Leen currently serves on the board of Lifeline Syria, an initiative to help sponsor and settle 1,000 Syrian refugees in the Greater Toronto Area. She also sits on the Telus Toronto Community Board. She currently serves as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of International Relations and Protocol for the Government of Ontario.

Leen holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto, Trinity College and a Master degree in International Relations from the University of Manchester. She is an advocate for arts and culture in the city serving as Chair of the Emerging Leaders for Toronto Arts Foundation and is on the executive committee for the Royal Ontario Museum’s Young Patron Circle. In 2015 she was named a Torontonian of the year and in 2016 she was named one of RBC’s Immigrants of the Year. She has appeared on television, including appearances on CBC and Breakfast Television, and has been interviewed by the Globe and Mail, Toronto Life and featured in Reader’s Digest. 

Hamlin Grange

Hamlin Grange has been recognized for his work in helping to create sustainable inclusive environments that value the contributions of all individuals. Among his many awards, he is the recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for community service. As President and cofounder of DiversiPro, a workplace diversity and inclusion consulting company based in Toronto, Hamlin has worked in a wide range of sectors including corporations, notforprofit, media, law enforcement, post-secondary education and health care.

He is passionate about the power and promise of diversity and its role in a dynamic democracy of differences. Hamlin believes a deeper understanding of how culture affects human interactions is a vital perquisite in today’s fastpaced, complex and diverse world.

Before starting a career as a diversity and inclusion strategist, Hamlin had an outstanding career as a print and broadcast journalist. He has served on a number of important boards, including: The Toronto Police Services Board, a Trustee of the Royal Ontario Museum and the YMCA of Greater Toronto. He is currently a Member of the Consent and Capacity Board, an independent provincial tribunal whose mission is the fair and accessible adjudication of consent and capacity issues, balancing the rights of vulnerable individuals with mental health disorders with public safety. 

In June 2019, Hamlin became the Chair of the Responsible Gaming Council.

Rick Mercer

Rick Mercer is a well-known Canadian satirist, comedian, screenwriter and actor who hosted the Rick Mercer Report on CBC television for fifteen seasons. He has published a number of books that feature his trademark social and political commentary about Canada in the form of “rants”– the latest, Rick Mercer: Final Report, was published in 2018. Rick is also an Officer of the Order of Canada, who has excelled as a humanitarian through his involvement with numerous charitable organizations. He has received ten honorary degrees, 18 Gemini Awards, ten Canadian Screen Awards, a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, among many other honours. Rick was born and raised in St. John’s, NL.

The Honourable Ratna Omidvar, C.M., O.Ont.

Ratna Omidvar is an internationally recognized voice on migration, diversity and inclusion. In April 2016, Ms. Omidvar was appointed to the Senate of Canada as an independent Senator representing Ontario. As a member of the Senate’s Independent Senators Group she holds a leadership position as the Scroll Manager. Senator Omidvar also served as Deputy Chair of the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector.

Senator Omidvar is a Councillor on the World Refugee Council, a Director at the Samara Centre for Democracy and Chair Emerita for the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

Previously at Ryerson University, Senator Omidvar was a Distinguished Visiting Professor and founded the Global Diversity Exchange, a think-and-do tank on diversity, migration and inclusion.

Senator Omidvar is co-author of the book Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada (2015), an Open Book Toronto best book of 2015 and one of the Toronto Star's top five good reads from Word on the Street. Senator Omidvar received a Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws, from Ryerson University in 2018 and from York University in 2012.

Senator Omidvar was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2005 and became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2011, with both honours recognizing her advocacy work on behalf of immigrants and devotion to reducing inequality in Canada. In 2014, she received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of German-Canadian relations.

Ruth Ostrower

Ruth Ostrower is an executive assistant supporting Michael MacMillan across both his business and philanthropic endeavours.  Previously she served as the executive assistant to Michael when he was the chairman and CEO of Alliance Atlantis.  Prior to joining Alliance Atlantis (then Atlantis Communications) she worked for 12 years in the finance industry, primarily in Human Resources.  She is the past president of the Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival, where she has volunteered for many years, and is also an active supporter of theatre and dance. 

Chad Rogers

Chad Rogers is a public affairs strategist, entrepreneur and founding partner at Crestview Strategy, a public affairs agency. Chad helps companies and industry associations make their case and get things approved.

He’s been a public opinion researcher, a senior advisor to a Premier, worked on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and volunteered on campaigns at the municipal, provincial and federal level. Chad was a Country Director with the Washington based National Democratic Institute under chair Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, working with governments and political leaders in over a dozen countries.

He is a board member of Action Against Hunger/ACF Canada, the True Patriot Love Foundation and Journalists for Human Rights. He has previously served the boards of the Canadian Club of Toronto, the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy, Save The Children and the Kosova Democratic Institute.

Chad serves as Honourary Consul of the Republic of Kosovo, and is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for public service.

The Hill Times magazine named him of the ‘Top 100 Lobbyists’ in Canada. He is a sought after media commentator and appears on CBC Television’s Power & Politics as a member of the Power Panel.

Originally from Prince Edward Island, he resides in Toronto with his partner Mark and the world’s best dog, MacIntosh.

William Young

In 2011 Dr. William (Bill) Young completed a successful six-year career as Parliamentary Librarian with the Library of Parliament, capping a thirty-year career as an historian, academic and educator. He holds a Ph.D. in History, an M.A. in History and Political Science from the University of British Columbia and a B.A. in History and Political Science from York University. Dr. Young has offered his support and expertise to many professional groups and has maintained active memberships in professional societies and centres of academic excellence throughout his career.