Instructor Bios

Bruce Acton, FCMC, MBA expertise includes business process redesign, strategic planning, and performance measurement. He has won a number of awards with his clients for his consulting work. He brings a broad background consulting to not for profits, the private and public sector.

Kirsten Albo, FCPA, FCA has over 29 years of experience in public practice, previously as a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and now running her own consulting company. ASK KSA Consulting Inc. provides consultation and advisory services to small- to mid-sized firms in a variety of areas including file inspections, monitoring and efficiency reviews. Kirsten has recently been appointed to the Audit and Assurance Standards Board (AASB) Audits of Less Complex Entities Advisory Group. The Advisory Group is examining the recently released discussion paper on LCEs including its implication on Canadian standards as well as considering the direction of future standards in Canada. Kirsten is also a member of the CPA Canada PEG Task Force. Kirsten has extensive experience developing and delivering professional training courses. While at PwC, Kirsten was a member of the National Professional Development Team. In this role, she helped the firm develop and deliver numerous training courses including a New Managers course that became part of the curriculum in both Canada and the United States.

Carlos Arriaga is a Microsoft Certified System Administrator, Independent IT and Security consultant and web developer, he owns and operates the company ACTION Network IT Solutions, dedicated to support, design, build and maintain IT and security infrastructures. With clients like Saint Vincent Nursing Home, the Metro Business Association, Main Street Business Incorporated District, The North Grove (former Dartmouth Family and Food Centre, Nova Scotia College of Early Childhood Education. Specialized in Google and Microsoft, Volunteered as an instructor at the Halifax Public Library. He is also an active member of the Metro Business Association and AWENS and an instructor for the Workplace Education Initiative of Nova Scotia, where he has taught courses such as Cloud Computing I and II, Google Apps for Business, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Advanced Excel. He has also provided different workshops like Google Drive for Business, Google Analytics, Evernote, Internet Security, Team Viewer.

Amanda Avery, CPA, CA is an Assurance Manager at Baker Tilly Nova Scotia and is the formal Internal Auditor for the 13 NSCC Campuses. Amanda has been concentrating on audit and assurance for over seven years focusing on a variety of Not-For-Profit, Public Sector and First Nations clients. Amanda is equally comfortable giving business advice too small and mid-sized owner-managed organizations as well as large government entities. Amanda has experience in Risk Management, Internal Controls and Fraud Assessments. Prior to her audit focus, Amanda held various accounting roles in real estate and manufacturing companies. Amanda is the Treasurer of the Colchester East-Hants Public Library Foundation.

Karine Benzacar, MBA, FCPA, FCMA, CPA(Del) 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 across North America. Karine has also taught Masters courses at several leading universities and has published numerous articles in leading industry publications.

Ward Blatch, CPA, CA provides consulting and training services as a partner with K2E Canada throughout the United States and Canada. The professional development courses presented by Ward include cloud computing, business intelligence, security, technology updates, internal controls, paperless office, mobile office, Adobe Acrobat, Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook. Ward obtained his CPA, CA designation while working at a Nova Scotia regional accounting firm before starting his own consulting and accounting practice. His practice provides accounting, tax, training, support, and network evaluations for small businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

Boyd Chislett, CPA, CA, CBVis an independent business valuator and accountant.  Boyd obtained his CA in the NWT through the BC Institute in 1994 and worked overseas with Deloitte & Touch for several years.  He returned to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2000 and worked with Ernst & Young while obtaining his CBV specialization.  Since 2005, Boyd has been practicing as a sole practitioner providing professional business valuation advice and independent reports for a variety of small and medium sized businesses throughout the Province and across Canada.

Blair Cook, CPA, CA, CPA (Ill) is a many-time and active financial executive, corporate director, author, speaker, and thought leader.  His educational videos of accounting and finance have million of views on YouTube. He has keynoted and spoken at national conferences from New York to Toronto. Along with Jen, he co-hosts CPA Canada’s podcast series “CPA Success Podcast.” He works with real businesses experimenting with theories and best practices to share his experiences and stories with others of what works, what doesn’t, and what was learned.  He is the author of The Illiterate Executive: An Executive’s Handbook for Mastering Financial Acumen.

Denise Coombs, CPA, CA, CFP is a tax partner with Noseworthy Chapman Chartered Professional Accountants and has over 26 years’ experience in the development and implementation of all aspects of corporate and shareholder tax and estate planning. Denise has authored several articles and has facilitated numerous programs including those for the CICA and the Canadian Tax Foundation. She has a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) Co-operative degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland and is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a Certified Financial Planner. Denise has also completed specialized CICA tax courses including In-Depth Tax, Corporate Reorganizations, Wealth Preservation and Advance Tax Issues for the Owner-Managed Business. She has also completed CPA Canada’s In-depth GST/HST course.

Judy Cumby, MBA, FCPA, FCA is an associate professor with the Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University where she has taught since 1988. Her research and teaching interests are focused on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Judy has taught professional development courses for the Institutes of Chartered Accountants of Newfoundland and Bermuda, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Association of Chartered Professional Accountants of Newfoundland and Labrador. She has also developed and taught seminars for the Atlantic School of Chartered Accountancy (ASCA); and has been involved in accounting education matters at national and international levels.

Terry Cutler is a government-cleared cybersecurity expert (a certified ethical hacker), and the Director of Cybersecurity at SIRCO Investigation and Protection, in Montréal, Canada. He specializes in the anticipation, assessment, and prevention of security breaches for governments, corporations, businesses, and consumers, as well as Internet Safety for Children.  As an award-winning information security strategist for almost 20 years, Mr. Cutler has advised some of Canada’s largest companies on how to prevent and remedy internal and external security penetration. For the general public, he developed an effective online learning program arranged in modules and updated regularly to keep up with the rapidly changing digital landscape in which “wild-west” internet bandits constantly seek and find ways to break into our lives. Terry Cutler is a frequent contributor to media reportage about cyber-crime, spying, security failures, internet scams, and the real social network dangers that families and individuals face every day.

Pauline Downer, MBA, FCPA, FCA is a Tax Consulting Practitioner and an associate professor in tax, accounting, entrepreneurship and small business at the Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University. Pauline received Memorial University's President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2003. She has been a seminar leader for tax courses for CA Newfoundland since 1987 and continues to teach for CPA Newfoundland & Labrador.

Stephen P. Franklin has taught Professional Development for 27 years, currently in his own practice with his own training programs.  Previously he worked for a number of years with the Atlantica Learning Corp.  Stephen’s earliest experience was working in partnership with Day-Timers of Canada. His courses are based on extensive research and methodical testing to ensure that the information, skills, processes and techniques presented are real solutions that produce real results.  Stephen is an experienced facilitator, facilitating in accordance with the International Board of Standards for Training Performance and Instruction. His experience also includes extensive personal coaching; helping clients develop personal motivation for professional skills development, facilitating them through the necessary behaviour changes to make it happen.

James Green is a lawyer with Cox & Palmer in Halifax who specializes in all aspects of workplace law. His practice focuses on assisting unionized and non-unionized employers to navigate the various legal issues which arise in the modern workplace, including drafting and interpreting employment contracts and collective agreements; human rights and accommodation; privacy in the workplace; occupational health and safety; and representation in wrongful dismissal claims and grievance arbitrations. James obtained his law degree from the Schulich School of Law in Halifax, after graduating from St. Francis Xavier University. In addition to his legal work, James serves on the Board of Directors of the Nocturne: Art at Night Society.

Maureen R 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 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.

Kate Harris, LLB, QC, TEP is a Tax Partner with Patterson Law; she has practiced in the following areas: Taxation, estate planning and trusts, business law, professional corporations, the purchase and sale of businesses, corporate reorganizations, succession planning for the owner-manager.

Dana Jasper, CPA, CA is a Financial Accountant with the NS Department of Finance and Treasury Board. She is responsible for accounting for pension, retirement, and other employee benefits of the provincial government. In addition, she researches, analyzes and makes recommendations regarding Canadian public sector accounting standards to be used by the provincial government. Prior to joining the NS Department of Finance and Treasury Board in 2016, Dana worked at the Office of the Auditor General for eight years. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Mount Saint Vincent University and is a Chartered Professional Accountant.

Michael Kennedy, BSc, CAE, MEd, facilitates numerous seminars on leadership and communication to a wide audience throughout Canada. He presents several seminars through the SMU Executive Professional Development programme. A retired Lieutenant-Colonel in the CAF, he served in numerous leadership positions working with military and civilian staff. Michael has had to navigate many large changes initiatives and challenging environments. He brings a wealth of knowledge and personal experience to his seminars.

Jacqueline King is a CPA, CMA, turned Learning & Development consultant, whose 20+ year career has spanned multiple industries, in Canada and abroad. Success in her accounting career came from the ability to form great relationships and help people from all levels of the organization to understand the numbers and their impact. She often heard “you are not a typical accountant”, which sparked a desire to find out what differentiates truly effective finance and accounting professionals from the pack. It boiled down to one thing: communication. Her desire to focus more specifically in this realm – in particular, helping accounting professionals and finance teams to develop the communication skills needed to reach beyond the numbers, and realize their full potential – is what led her to start her learning and development company, Everleap.

Samuel Kiragu, CPA (K) )started his accounting career with KPMG Kenya before transferring to KPMG Cayman Islands where he was involved in hedge funds audits. He also worked with UBS Funds Services Cayman and Mitsubishi UFJ Funds Services focusing on hedge fund accounting and regulatory compliance. He is the coordinator of Financial Services programs at Nova Scotia Community College (Ivany Campus). He is helping in developing and facilitating new financial services courses relating to risk, regulatory compliance and hedge funds accounting and administration. He facilitates Hedge Funds course at University of Cayman Islands as well. He also teaches Accounting and Finance courses on part-time basis at Mount Saint Vincent University. Sam is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS), Certified Cryptocurrency Investigator. He holds an MBA in Accounting and Finance from University of Liverpool (UK) and holds Canadian Securities Course (CSC) Certificate. He has facilitated Anti-Money Laundering (AML) trainings for financial institutions, accounting firms, federal agencies and professional associations in Canada, Cayman Islands, and Eastern Africa. He has presented to law enforcements in Canada on various topics that included Cryptocurrencies ecosystem, their legitimate use and how they are used in financial crime.

Michelle Lane, CPCC is a leadership effectiveness coach, educator, and advisor. Michelle works with established, evolving, and emerging professionals who want to be more effective leaders. She 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. Leaders who have worked with Michelle know her for connecting personally with her clients, helping them envision and clarify possibilities for growth, and deepen their learning, action, and growth. With a background in communications and post-secondary education, and 40 years of organizational leadership and consulting experience in the pubic, private, and not-for-profit sectors, Michelle now runs Vibrant Leaders, the leadership effectiveness consultancy she founded in 2015.

Eddie LeMoine is a Canadian-born international author, keynote speaker, seminar leader and corporate trainer. He specializes in leadership, employee engagement, stress management, safety and the psychology of success. Through his inspiring stories, infectious sense of humor and genuine care for people, Eddie easily connects with—and motivates—audiences all over the world. Eddie’s unprecedented success is due to his powerful ability to close the gap between business results and personal development. He inspires greatness in corporations by inspiring greatness in individuals.

Derrick McEachern, M.Ed., RCT, CCC, is a Registered Counselling Therapist (RCT) and a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC.)  Prior to counselling, Derrick earned a Bachelor of Education and taught at international schools in Hong Kong for 6 years. He earned a Masters of Education in Counselling and a diploma in Adult Learning and has been practicing as a therapist since 2006. Derrick is the founder and owner of Five Star Wellbeing Counselling and Coaching, offering individual and couples counselling, career coaching and wellbeing and mental health seminars. His offices are located in New Minas and Bedford, Nova Scotia, He has developed wellbeing workshops for educators, administrators, counsellors, funeral services professionals and corporate teams. For the past 10 years, Derrick has volunteered in many capacities in his community; coaching softball and hockey as well as volunteering in Nova Scotia prisons. Derrick has developed a wellbeing assessment tool that fosters a preventative approach to mental health and the broader aspects of overall wellbeing. An experienced presenter on the topic of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Derrick has led workshops for mental health and career service professionals at The Canadian Counselling Association National Conference, and CANNEXUS, (Canada’s National Career Development Conference). He lives in the Annapolis Valley with his partner, Sheila, and his two children.

Justin Melnyk, CPA, CA is a Senior Advisor to the Controller with the NS Department of Finance and Treasury Board. He is accountable to provide expert accounting advice and consulting services on complex corporate accounting and financial issues to all organizations within the consolidated entity, as well as sound financial reporting which is compliant with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Since joining the Province in 2014, Justin has presented several Public Sector Accounting Standard (PSAS) updates and/or refreshers to other departmental management and has also been directly involved in many communications between the Province and the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB) regarding new and upcoming standards. Prior to this, Justin worked with KPMG in Halifax for over 7 years; two of which were spent in Melbourne, Australia on secondment.

Dallas Mercer in 2002, Dallas founded Dallas Mercer Consulting (DMC) offering Disability Management services. As an employer advocate, she added efficiency to sick leave and workers’ compensation claims processes; saving clients time and money and allowing them to focus on their core business. DMC has expanded to offer Safety Training, Safety Consulting, and Industrial Hygiene services to over 550 clients across Canada. DMC has offices in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Gerard Murphy is the President of Barefoot Facilitation Inc.  He provides in-person and virtual facilitation, training and consulting services to clients within the voluntary, public and private sectors across Canada.  A naturally fun, dynamic and engaging facilitator, Gerard is passionate about creating space for people to engage in conversations that count.  He is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University and he holds certificates in public participation, community-based development and leadership development.  Gerard is a member of the International Association of Facilitators and is a confirmed Professional Member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. 

Jennifer Nicholson, CPA, CA is a dynamic financial professional with over 25 years of experience in public practice, academia, government and industry.  Jen is currently serving on the Board of the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board. Jen is the co-host of CPA Canada’s podcast series “CPA Success Podcast.” 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, bringing clarity to financial communication or teaching accounting to university students.  Jen’s career epitomizes the diverse experiences and roles that CPAs play in industry – from financial to operational leadership. 

John Oakey, CPA, CA, TEP, CC obtained his designation in 2001 after completing a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Saint Mary’s University in 1997. He started his career in taxation shortly thereafter and went on to complete CPA Canada’s in-depth tax program, as well as Advanced Tax Issues for the owner-managed business program. In 2008, he was promoted to tax partner at Baker Tilly Nova Scotia and managed the national tax group until 2019, when he accepted the role of national Tax director for Baker Tilly Canada.  In this role, John is responsible for supporting tax experts across the network by driving nationwide tax advisory initiatives and informing members of regulatory changes. He is also responsible for managing tax-related content, including Tax Flashes and Alerts, which are released to clients. Furthermore, he provides tax training to other professionals through various organizations, including the Canadian Tax Foundation, CPA Canada and CPA Nova Scotia.

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.

Beth Porter, CPA, CA, CFP is a tax partner with Noseworthy Chapman Chartered Professional Accountants in St. John’s and is responsible for the firm’s tax practice. Beth has been working full-time in the area of taxation since 2000 and has completed all three levels of the CICA In-depth Tax Program as well as various other advanced taxation courses. Beth also obtained her designation as a Certified Financial Planner in 2006. Her primary areas of practice are personal and corporate taxation, comprehensive tax planning and corporate restructuring.

Tammy Robertson, MA has over 25 years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience working with CPA’s across Canada. She believes that our mightiest challenge today, now more then ever, is captured in a simple message, “Keep Your Heart in the Game™!” As a leadership coach, author, and professional speaker she brings a keen understanding to her consulting work with leaders in public practice, non-profit and industry. Her message inspires and challenges you to stay on your path, commit to what you can, decide to make a difference, and have faith. As leaders today we are standing in a moment where our capacity to shape the future is unmatched.

Jeremy Scott, LLB has a boutique tax practice focused on assisting clients with their indirect tax needs. He was a partner at one of the largest Professional Services Firms in Canada and also served as the head of tax Empire Company Limited (Sobeys). For over 17 years, Jeremy has been proactively advising clients with respect to the application of tax and representing them during all stages of tax audits, appeals and objections. Jeremy’s practice is focused primarily in the area of indirect tax such as the Federal Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax, and Provincial Sales Tax, Tobacco Taxes, Fuel Taxes, as well as Environmental Stewardship Levies. He has written articles for tax publications and has presented numerous tax conferences, seminars and professional development workshops on the local and national stage.

David Strong, CPA, CA is a Dalhousie University graduate, and has been in public practice for over 20 years. David operates his own practice with his wife (a chartered business valuator), four other professionals, and one (semi-professional) 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.

Lisa Tilley is a Partner with Uprise Consulting. She is a graduate of Dalhousie University and has more than thirty years of experience working within the areas of Training and Development, Management and Leadership Coaching, Strategic Planning, Succession Planning and Talent Management. As a former award winning national and international elite athlete and coach, Lisa has been able to combine that insight and experience to drive performance success within the business world. As a certified coach and graduate of the Executive Leadership Training program with the University of Notre Dame, she applies her varied experience in organizational and business strategy to develop the leaders we need to support organizations who value their people development and performance.

David Trahair, CPA, CA, is a personal finance writer, trainer, speaker and eLearning developer. His books include Smoke and Mirrors: Financial Myths That Will Ruin Your Retirement Dreams, Enough Bull: How to Retire Well Without the Stock Market, Mutual Funds or Even an Investment Advisor, Crushing Debt: Why Canadians Should Drop Everything and Pay Off Debt, Cash Cows, Pigs and Jackpots: The Simplest Personal Finance Strategy Ever and his latest The Procrastinator’s Guide to Retirement: How You Can Retire in 10 Years or Less.  His views are totally independent because he does not sell any financial products. He currently operates his own personal finance training and eLearning development firm and offers live webinars and online courses to people through organizations including the CPA provincial and territorial bodies.

Bill Wesioly, CPA, CMA is a Risk Management consultant and Leadership coach.  His goal is to enrich the effectiveness of people and organizations, doing so with both skill and heart. He currently teaches Risk Management with CPA Ontario, CPA B.C., CPA Alberta, CPA Newfoundland and the Centre of Outsourcing Research and Education (CORE).  Previously he worked in various Risk Management leadership roles, first with BMO and then RBC. He previously instructed the CMA Ontario’s Strategic Leadership Program and is also a certified coach through the Adler Coaching program.  Some of his recent consulting assignments include Credit Unions, an Independent School, Ministry of the Environment, Canadian Stewardship and Recycling Services and First Nations.   He has recently published a Management Accounting Guideline for CPA Canada entitled “A practical approach to managing risks for small- to medium-sized organizations”