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Fund Development Committee

Chris Atwood

Chris Atwood grew up in Pictou County on the family sheep and vegetable farm with his parents and two older brothers. He graduated from the Nova Scotia Agriculture College with a BSc. (Agr) in 1990. Between 1990 and 1999 Chris worked internationally on a number of different development project taking him to Swaziland, Czechoslovakia, Nigeria and Thailand. He also worked on projects in St Vincent and the Grenadines and Moldova in the early 200’s.

Chris moved to Yarmouth in 1998 and was initially employed as an Economic Development officer with the South West Shore Development Authority. In 2005 Chris became the Executive Director of the Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) Yarmouth, taking on the responsibility for overseeing the growth of the CBDC Yarmouth’s loan portfolio. He has a passion for rural and local issues and his professional experience includes agriculture development initiatives in South Western Nova Scotia.

An avid volunteer and community leader, Chris has served on various local and Provincial Boards including President of Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce in 2009 and 2014-17; Chair of the Nova Scotia Chambers of Commerce 2011 to 2013; President of the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists 2010; Chair of the South West Nova Community Access Society, 2013 to present.

He is also a Board member with Farm Works and an executive member with the Nova Scotia Association of CBDCs.


James Boxall

James Boxall  (james.boxall@dal.ca  @jamesGIS) teaches Geography (Earth Sciences) and Marine Affairs at Dalhousie University where he also holds appointments in the School of Planning and Environmental Programmes. He is on the Board of Governors for the Nova Scotia Museum.  A Fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS) and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (FRCGS), he is currently a Governor of the RCGS, chairing the Research Grants Committee, after having also received the RCGS Education Medal in 2012. He serves on the committee or the International Geographical Union (IGU) Congress in Quebec City in 2018, while being a Canadian representative for the IGU Commission on Geographical Education. His work has involved National Foundation Science Panels, review boards for journals, being president of several national academic bodies, and serving on international committees such as co-chairing the International Network for Learning and Teaching Geography in Higher Education. He recently completed two years as co-chair of the Natural Resources Canada Pan-Canadian Round Table on Geomatics, and is presently co-editing a book on GIScience Research and Education in Canada, as well as co-authoring a book on Future Earth and Space Technologies. As a geographer, educator and Atlantic Canadian, his interests focus on bridging gaps in geoliteracy about 1oceans and climate change, which has also taken those research interests to support community focused efforts in places such as Mexico and Vietnam.


Charles Mackenzie

Originally from Cape Breton, Charles is an historian, fund development professional and community volunteer. He has worked for and served on the Boards of heritage organizations in both Ontario and Nova Scotia. A graduate of Cape Breton University and the University of Western Ontario, his research looks at the social memory of the First World War in the province of Nova Scotia.

For the last few years he has worked as a consultant in the non-profit sector, helping a myriad of organizations across Atlantic Canada and Ontario achieve their development goals by bringing a strategic focus to their fundraising programs.


Brittany Mastroianni, Interim Chair
Managing Director at Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-operative

Upon returning to Nova Scotia after completing an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Brittany began her career in the non-profit sector as a Project Manager in 2004.

Since then, Brittany moved to the co-op sector and is currently co-Managing Director at Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-operative headquartered in Grand Pre, NS.

Because of a firm commitment to community and deep belief in the importance of giving back to a province which has given her so much, Brittany sits on a variety of boards where she shares her passion for good governance and capacity building in both the private and public sector.

Both privately and professionally Brittany places great value on building local, sustainable economies and enjoys experiencing and learning about the diverse products Nova Scotia has to offer from food and beverage to arts and culture.

Brittany makes her home in the beautiful Annapolis Valley where she lives with her husband, Stephen and daughter Eleanor.


VanEssa Roberts
Director of Community Development, Tourism and Recreation at Municipality

VanEssa began her career with the Town of Windsor in 1997, and has served as the Director of Community Development, Tourism and Recreation since 2008.

VanEssa has served on several tourism boards and continues to be involved with annual pumpkin festival, summer festival and birthplace of hockey initiatives...as well as any number of other events that take place in or around Windsor. She also is responsible for trade shows, marketing and advertising, and producing the annual tourism guide highlighting the Avon region.

A strong supporter of the film industry, VanEssa works with location managers and production companies to attract films to Nova Scotia.

VanEssa values her co-workers and enjoys working with them on various projects. She is also part of the Town’s EMO team and has completed her I 200 training.  Her training as an EMT certainly comes in handy.

VanEssa also serves on a variety of boards and committees, both professionally and personally, including Victory Credit Union, where she chairs the Credit Committee.


Angela Saunders
General Manager, Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic Nova Scotia Museum Rep


Trish Vardy
Advisor, Public Affairs at RBC


Trish Vardy is a communications and marketing professional with RBC’s Public Affairs and Community Relations team for Atlantic Canada. Her 19-year career has spanned a wide variety of industries, with the past 14 in financial services.

With RBC, her role focuses on community marketing, sponsorships, and employee communications. She has worked on major projects such as RBC’s sponsorships of We Day, RBC Training Ground, Halifax 2011 Canada Games and the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay.

She served as Chair, Communications, Marketing & PR for the 2016 Canadian Sprint Canoe Kayak National Championships and Past Chair of Special Olympics Nova Scotia’s Board of Directors.


Marla Webber
Curator at Lunenburg County Historical Society
Association of Nova Scotia Museums Board Representative


Marla thrives on rural living in the village of Petite Riviere with her husband of 25yrs, and 3 children. She has an eclectic soul enjoying sailing, archery, crafting of all sorts and gardening most of all. Marla believes whole-heartedly that volunteering makes for strong communities. She was recognized in 2016 by the Province of Nova Scotia for her outstanding volunteer contributions. She currently volunteers for the Petite Riviere Community Park, Petite Riviere Art & Craft Society, the Lunenburg County Historical Society, and the Association of Nova Scotia Museums. Marla graduated in 1995 from Carleton University in Ontario with a Combined Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Biology. She is most proud of the work she has done over the past six years at Fort Point Museum in LaHave, as the Curator of Collections. She looks forward to working with the members of the MuseFund Fund Development Committee and being part of its growth and development.