Instructor Bios

Hugh Avery, CPA, CA·IFA, CAMS is the Regional Manager of Financial Operations for the Atlantic Region with the Finance and Accounting Branch of Public Works and Government Services Canada. Prior to accepting this position in November Hugh was a Senior Forensic Accountant with the Forensic Accounting Management Group for 14 years. In addition to overseeing the forensic accounting engagements for the Atlantic Region of FAMG Hugh was seconded to the Federal Serious and Organized Crime Unit of the RCMP in Halifax where he conducted forensic accounting engagements, participated in searches and technical interviews in support of investigative work, and assisted investigators by providing advice in the preparation of documents during the course of legal procedures. He has also testified before the courts as an expert in forensic accounting on several occasions. Hugh obtained his CA designation in 1998, his Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist designation in 2005 and received his IFA designation in 2010. In 2008 he received his graduate diploma in Investigative and Forensic Accounting from the University of Toronto.

Karine Benzacar is Managing Director of Knowledge Plus Corp., an organization which specializes both in business training and in providing financial, accounting and management information services. As a professional accountant, certified both in Canada and in the U.S., Karine's practice has involved organizations all across North America. Karine has also taught Masters courses at several leading univeristies and has published numerous articles in leading industry publications.

Michelle Black is an associate with Stewart McKelvey in the Halifax Office. Her expertise lies in the areas of management side labour and employment law where she advises clients on labour relations, human rights issues, administrative, occupational health & safety, workers' compensation and education law. She has worked on matters for various types of organizations, ranging from those with complex systems of human resources administration to those with a small staff. Michelle has appeared at all levels of court in Nova Scotia, before Human Rights Boards of inquiry, and at the Nova Scotia Labour Board. While she assists her clients with adversarial matters, Michelle also provides proactive advice on ways to avoid issues before they arise, including the creation of effective employment agreements, policies, and other employee communications. Michelle holds a BSc from Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario and an MSc and LLB from Dalhousie University.

Ward Blatch, CPA, CA, MCSA provides computer training, network support, and network evaluation to accounting firms, small businesses, and professional organizations in Canada and the United States. With over 20 years’ experience in public accounting and over 13 years in networking offices ranging in size, 3 to 80 users, he understands the frustrations and knows what is needed to make your computers and staff work effectively.

Bobby Boutilier, CPA, CA is Vice President of Tax for Armco Capital Group of Companies.  He is responsible for implementing and executing tax planning and compliance for a diverse group of privately held companies.  Prior to joining Armco, Bobby was Director of Tax Reporting and Compliance for a national grocery retailer with a focus on tax compliance and financial reporting for tax.  Bobby has also spent five years in the tax group of a Big Four firm, providing personal and corporate tax services to clients ranging from owner managed companies to large public corporations.  Bobby has presented numerous tax topics for CPANS and other groups.

Blair Cook CPA, CA CPA (Ill) MBA is a many-time corporate director, CFO, educator, innovator, thought leader, presenter, and curiosity generalist. As an academic-practitioner, he’s a perpetual learner who observes and experiments with various financial and management theories in real world context. He shares stories of his successes, failures, and lessons learned to all those who share a passion for further developing their own financial leadership qualities. His focus is on defining and developing a career path for financial professionals aspiring to the Office of the CFO and the Board of Directors. Blair has worked extensively with CPA Canada in recent years to design, develop, and launch the professional certification program.

Diane Gaudon, FCPA, FCGA has her own practice providing GST, HST, QST and provincial sales tax advice and training to businesses of all sizes across North America. Over the past 25 years, she has gained extensive accounting and taxation expertise spanning many industries. She is a very popular speaker who frequently presents commodity tax related material to numerous professional organizations. Diane has authored numerous publications and courses. In addition, Diane was on the Ontario provincial government HST Implementation Committee.

Maureen Gillis, CPA, CA, facilitates adult learning in topics related to leadership, success, and human behaviour. With formal training in adult learning, professional training in human resources management, and with a designation as a Chartered Professional Accountant, Maureen brings a multi-disciplinary perspective to her interactive workshops. Her teaching and facilitation work began early in her career. She has taught for various universities and facilitated professional development courses for members of professional organizations. With nearly three decades of leadership experience, she brings professional insight to her courses, offering a variety of approaches to accommodate the different needs of learners. During her career, Maureen has also been active in volunteer roles as a coach and with organizations such as the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants Public Sector Accounting Board, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia, Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia, the Financial Management Institute, the Chamber of Commerce, among others. She also served as a volunteer financial advisor for an NGO in Ghana, West Africa. Today, Maureen enjoys teaching and delivering courses to members of professional groups and associations on current topics of interest that support ongoing development and growth for leaders.

Manu Kakkar has over 18 years of experience in taxation, both domestic and international, personal and corporate taxation, as well as expert witness reports and testimony. He runs his own independent tax practice with an office in Montreal and serves a diverse client base across Canada and the U.S. His firm acts as tax counsel to over 100 professional firms in Canada and the USA. He is an award winning and prolific tax writer. His Master of Taxation thesis on butterfly reorganizations won 2 awards and was published in the Canadian Tax Journal. Manu has published and presented over 200 tax articles and presentations since 2001 across Canada. Manu is an authority in taxation as his name has been cited 27 times in the Income Tax Act. Manu has taught tax at The Canadian Institute of Chartered Professional Accountants, The Canadian Tax Foundation and The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, of and various provincial accounting bodies across Canada. Manu sits on the Steering Committees for the Canadian Institute of Chartered Professional Accountants' National Conference on Income Taxes; the Canadian Tax Foundation Laval Program Committee; CPA Canada's Small and Medium Practitioner's Tax Committee; and the Canadian Tax Foundation's Ontario Tax Conference. Manu is currently serving a three-year term on the Canadian Tax Foundation's Board of Governors. 

Samuel Kiragu, CPA (K), started his accounting career with KPMG Kenya before transferring to KPMG Cayman Islands where he was dealing with hedge funds audits. He also worked with UBS Funds Services Cayman focusing on hedge funds accounting and compliance. Before joining the academic world, he worked with Mitsubishi Funds Services, Halifax. He teaches Accounting and Finance courses at Mount Saint Vincent University. He is also the coordinator of financial services programs at Nova Scotia Community College (Ivany Campus).He is helping in developing new financial services courses relating to hedge funds and Canadian Securities. Sam is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS). In Canada, he has facilitated Anti-Money Laundering (AML) trainings to financial institutions, accounting firms, real estate associations and federal agencies including law enforcements. He is consulting with one of the big 4 accounting firms on forensic. He holds an MBA in Accounting from University of Liverpool (UK).

Michelle Lane, CPCC is a leadership consultant, planning facilitator and coach. She works with professionals who want to be more effective leaders and leadership teams who want to develop the leadership., strategy and culture needed for organizational success. Michelle helps her clients discover and develop the clarity, competence and confidence they need to be more effective, build their capacity for more strategic and complex leadership; and create the conditions for success in the organizations in which they lead. Michelle's experience spans 35 plus years' in multiple industries and sectors, encompassing public, private, non-profit and multi-sector work.

Greg Leslie, CPA, CA, TEP
is a Partner in Collins Barrow’s Halifax tax practice. Greg is involved with succession and estate planning, corporate reorganizations, tax compliance, and the charities and not-for-profit sector. A graduate of Dalhousie University where he received a Bachelor of Commerce degree, Greg was admitted into the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia (ICANS) in 2004. He is a current member of Family Business Atlantic and past president of the Halifax Estate Planning Council. He is a member of the Society or Trust and Estate Practitioners and currently sits on the Board of STEP Atlantic. Greg has completed Part III of the CICA In-depth Tax course. He is a frequent lecturer and tutor for CPA Nova Scotia and CPA Canada and has presented on income tax matters to a variety of local and regional business organizations.

Doreen Malone, CPA, CA, CFP is a Sr. Private Banker with BMO Private Banking with a background in both the private and not for profit sectors. In her current role, she provides integrated and customized financial solutions to a portfolio of borrowing and non -borrowing Platinum Banking clients. She specializes in working with financially successful Canadian families to help them achieve their goals. Prior to joining BMO Private Banking, she was a Financial Planner with Assante Capital Management and the General Manager of Neptune Theatre for 11 years. Previous to that she was the Director of Finance & Operations for Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown and a Senior Manager at Grant Thornton. Doreen is a graduate of St. Mary’s University and of an Executive Leadership Course at Harvard University’s John Kennedy School of Government.

Craig Maloney, MBA, CPA, CA, CBV is a Partner at MNP LLP. Craig is heavily involved in servicing owner-managed businesses and professionals. He specializes in business valuation and providing strategic business advice and corporate finance advice on M&A transactions, and has developed a particular expertise in private company divestitures. He has industry and functional experience in leveraged buy-outs, capital raising, divestitures and acquisitions. Craig has also provided strategic advisory services and pricing analysis for various companies. Craig has unique past experience working with a private window and door manufacturing company in London, Ontario in both sales and materials management roles. Prior to joining MNP and its predecessor firm, WBLI, Craig worked for Deloitte & Touche Corporate Finance and also worked for Ernst & Young in both corporate finance and audit roles, both in Toronto, Ontario.

Ruth March, CPA, CA. TEP is a Director of Estate Planning with KPMG in Halifax.  She joined KMPG after graduating from Mount Allison University in 1983.  She is responsible for tax planning for a diverse clientele, with a particular understanding of the income tax issues relating to owner-managed businesses, estates and trusts. During 2000-2001 Ruth worked with Maritime Life as an Estate and Tax Planning consultant. She has been a tutorial leader of CICA (now CPA Canada) tax courses and a lecturer for the Canadian Tax Foundation. Ruth is currently the Chair of STEP Canada and a past governor of the Canadian Tax Foundation.  She has served as treasurer of Symphony Nova Scotia and the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia.

Paul Mascarenhas, BSc. MBA., Presidnet of Avancer Learning Inc., is a specialist in Strategic Analysis and Communications. Paul has conducted his much sought after brand of hands-on IT Skills workshops, to globally renowned names such as the Canadian Armed Forces, Canadian Tire, Carlson Wagonlit, SKF Bearings (I) Ltd, CGI Inc, Colgate Palmolive GSSO, Tetra Pak (I), ICIC Prudential, to name a few.

Dr. Steve McEvoy is a leader of leaders. With a completed doctorate in Leadership and Organizational Development, Steve works with leaders in the business, government, and non-profit sector with a focus on their personal development. Steve specializes in helping leaders capture and clarify the vision and mission that they are currently leading and position themselves to effectively lead the entire organization in the direction of that vision. Steve also has a specific focus in helping leaders gain personal clarity concerning their unique design. From these discoveries, a plan of action is implemented to lead the entire organization into similar discoveries. The result of this process is a greater work environment resulting in greater efficiency and productivity in the entire corporation. Steve is a husband and father of two adult children. He is a teacher, trainer and coach with a passion for sports, health and his favorite hobby—firefighting. For more information about Dr. Steve and byDesign group go to:

Kelly Nelson, FCPA, FCA retired in 2014 after 30 years with High Liner Foods, as their CFO. Mr. Nelson was a Member of the Management Committee that set the strategic direction for the company and practiced in the areas of regulatory administration, corporate governance, corporate secretary, risk management, financial reporting, manufacturing accounting, tax, information technology, pension administration, treasury, business development, human resources, and investor relations, as well a leading role in M&A including negotiations, valuations, financings, due diligence, and integration activities. He has also served on non-profit boards, acting in leadership roles. He currently sits on two private company boards. Kelly is a Member of the CICA and ICANS and was President of Council (2011/2012). Mr. Nelson holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honors) from Mount Allison University.

Jennifer Nicholson CPA, CA is a dynamic, versatile financial professional with over 20 years of leadership experience. Jen brings to the classroom a broad skill set and experience in all key facets of an organization including operations management, strategic planning, business development, finance, accounting, investor relations, human resources, and project management. Jen has a passion for making finance more attainable, whether it’s working to articulate strategy in a financial context or bringing clarity to financial communication. Jen’s career epitomizes the diverse experiences and roles that CPAs play in industry – from financial to operational leadership.

Jamie O'Neill is an experienced organizational and business consultant and Partner of Uprise Consulting.  With over 20 years of business consulting and training experience, she is known as an energetic self-starter with excellent team development and leadership skills.  A graduate of the Business Administration Degree from Acadia University and Leadership Management Graduate Degree from Royal Roads University, Jamie has the unique ability to provide innovative and insightful solutions for leaders within organizations, connecting ideas and actions in order to deliver measurable results.  Outside the office, Jamie is an active recreational hockey player, a basketball coach for young girls and loves spending time with her two young children, Jordyn and Nate.

Eileen Pease, M.Ed., CHRP, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP)  Eileen Pease works with people to develop their ability to enhance their full brain power at work so they can be fully engaged, measurably more productive, and happier.  As an expert on the brain at work, Eileen helps key people learn faster, remember longer, turn stress into opportunity, improve their relationships, and keep their brains in top condition.  Her book - Get More Power from Your Brain — shows readers how to tune-up their most powerful asset. Her website provides support to her clients who want to get the most power from their precious brains.

Steve Prentice has degrees in journalism and psychology and is a partner in The Bristall Group. He is a specialist in organizational psychology, with a focus on workplace productivity. He also works as a project manager and writer for a number of international clients, and lectures at the Management Program at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

Stephen Priddle, CPA, CA, CMA worked with KPMG for five years, then moved to industry and has worked for several companies, including public and private companies in the high technology sector. During this time, he has obtained a wide range of financial reporting, treasury management, merger & acquisition and other business experience. He is currently the Vice-President, Finance and Corporate Secretary of SureWx Inc. Stephen has extensive experience in teaching professional development and other courses for different provincial institutes and has taught at the University of Toronto and Carleton University, as well as in the CMA and CGA programs.

Kurt Rosentreter, CPA, CA, CFP, CIMA, TEP, FCSI, CLU is a "Family CFO" and Senior Financial Advisor with Manulife Securities in Toronto. Kurt is the past co-founder of the billion-dollar wealth management practice at one of Canada's Big Four accounting firms and a national best-selling author on finance. Kurt is into his twelfth year as an instructor at CPA Ontario. Learn more about kurt at

Jeremy Scott, LLB is a Partner in BDO's Indirect Tax practice.  Jeremy advises clients in various sectors in the areas of the Federal Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax, and Provincial Sales Tax,Tobacco Taxes, Fuel Taxes, as well as Environmental Stewardship Levies. With over 15 years of indirect tax experience, and a particular focus on the Wholesale and Retail sectors, real estate transactions, mergers and acquistions and public sector bodies, Jeremy proactively advises clients and also assists them with audit defense. He has written articles for tax publications and has presented at a number of commodity tax conferences, seminars and professional development workshops.

David Strong, CPA, CA is a Dalhousie University graduate, and has been in public practice for 20 years. David worked for the first 15 years of his career with a large firm and then moved on to start his own practice, which he has been growing over the last five years. David works with his wife, a chartered business valuator, two accounting technicians, and one golden doodle, Molly. David’s practice has a wide range of clients in many different industries; for whom the firm conducts audits, reviews, compilations, tax, business valuations and related services.

Christopher Sullivan, CPA, CA has spent most of his 20-year accounting career as a tax specialist with large international accounting firms where he served clients in a wide range of industries. In 2015 Chris founded a boutique tax practice focused on serving current and former business owners, estates and trusts, and other independent CPA practices. Chris has completed CPA Canada’s In-Depth Tax Course and CPA Canada’s Advanced Tax Issues for the Owner-Managed Business. Chris has also been a tutorial leader for CPA Canada’s In-Depth Tax Course and presented at Canadian Tax Foundation events including the Atlantic Provinces Tax Conference.

Jane Veldhoven, CPO® (Certified Professional Organizer) and founder of Get Organized By Design was honored with the 2014 Professional Organizers in Canada Harold Taylor Award for dedication to her industry and is a true leader in Canada. For the past fifteen years she has been working with busy professionals to help them manage their time and tasks to achieve their goals. Jane has a great affinity with accountants and business owners alike and has a deep understanding for the challenges associated with a billable hour environment. She helps her clients spend more time on revenue generating activities by introducing concepts, systems and processes for maximum productivity. She also enjoys helping her clients get organized at home whether it’s decluttering their space, designing and building storage solutions, renovating their home or moving to a new home.

Mara Vizzutti B.Ed, MA, is a seasoned facilitator and a certified executive coach. Originally from western Canada, Mara has been working in the field of leadership development since 1996. For over 20 years, she has been facilitating high caliber trainings to audiences of senior executives, supervisors and front line employees in diverse industries. During the course of her career, she has completed numerous training programs including a Master’s degree in Organizational Development and Leadership. Prior to her facilitation career, Mara enjoyed a successful career in sales and management. Mara’s areas of expertise include: team building, leadership development, transformational coaching and effective communication systems. Mara works with organizations to improve engagement showing leaders how to communicate effectively and successfully develop their future leaders. She is committed to creating more collaborative, inspiring work environments where people feel engaged. Her goal is to transform the process of business communications and to facilitate collaboration and healthy relationships in the workplace.