The AURA Board
The AURA Board of Directors, back row left to right: Kirk Merrett, Nadia Heyd, Irmi Huftless, Stan Squires, and Qoomail Dewji. Front row left to right: Edith Ann Shantz and Mary Lou McCann.

The AURA Board of Directors is the decision-making body of AURA and is made up of volunteers who bring a wealth of personal and professional experience. The Board of Directors meets on a regular basis as a group in a policy capacity and individual directors support AURA as time allows.

AURA could not be in the position we are today without the tireless dedication of our Board of Directors.

Current AURA Board of Directors
Kirk Merrett
Kirk, the current chair, has been on the AURA board since 2009. He also sits on the Board of the Human Resources Professionals Association. Kirk is the National Manager of Human Resources for Hyundai Canada. He believes strongly that Canada and its people must play an active role in helping refugees settle in our great country.

Qoomail Dewji
Like many, Qoomail Dewji was moved by the images of the recent refugee crisis stemming from Syria. In response, Qoomail and four family friends formed their own private sponsoring group. He is excited to be welcoming his family to Canada soon. Looking to further support his interest in refugee sponsorship, Qoomail joined the AURA board.

Professionally, Qoomail spent four years working with the federal government in Ottawa, for the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Department of Finance where he served as an auditor and a policy analyst, respectively. Currently, he performs reviews on Sun Life’s compliance with applicable regulations. Qoomail is a designated Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Chartered Accountant (CA), and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Nadia Heyd
After graduating from U of T in 1995 with a B.Sc. in Zoology and Psychology, Nadia’s first jobs were in sales. She started out selling cars and automotive financing. She then moved into selling employment recruitment services. But it didn’t feel quite right. She knew she wanted to spend her career helping people more directly. So, she filled a role as a Co-op Coordinator at U of T Scarborough, where she helped students prepare for their job searches, and engaged with the employers who would hire them, creating openings for the students. After 8 years of working in Co-op, she took a family leave to attend to her young kids. It was at that point she decided that she wanted to help people more in need of help than privileged and extremely bright co-op students.

Around 2008, she also volunteered at her children’s school in a reading program, and at a food bank nearby, and got first-hand experience seeing that some people in the neighbourhood are really struggling – to have decent jobs, to have enough to eat, to afford enrichments for their kids like sports and arts activities. Almost anyone who has kids is a candidate for becoming an “accidental” fundraiser – as there are many opportunities to enrich your children’s lives through fundraising: School council, day care, sports teams. Well, she enjoyed fundraising so much, she took an introductory course at Ryerson’s Chang School of Continuing Education. That led to a certificate in Fundraising Management.

Irmtraud Hutfless
Irmtraud Hutfless is a manager of the Toronto East Quadrant Local Immigration Partnership at Catholic Cross Cultural Services, where she facilitates partnerships and collaboration among service providers to enhance newcomer settlement. She holds a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Toronto and has many years of experience working with immigrants, refugees, and in partnership projects.

Irmtraud started her professional career in Austria, where she was born, as refugee counsellor and manager of a refugee shelter in Vienna. After relocating to Canada with her family she worked as trainer with the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program, and as Service Bridging Facilitator, before taking on her current position with the Local Immigration Partnership Project.

Mary Louise McCann(Mary Lou)
Mary Lou has an extensive background in refugee sponsorship, having volunteered first as a refugee Host volunteer and then serving as the Refugee Coordinator for the Anglican Diocese of Fredericton, New Brunswick. Mary Lou also has worked with the Government of Canada to gather more faith based sponsor groups

Mary Lou was raised in the Diocese of Toronto (Trent Deanery) and is currently serving as the People’s Warden at St Thomas A Becket Anglican Church in Mississauga. Mary Lou holds degrees in education and music and has been the ACW Diocesan President and National Board representative.

Edith Ann Shantz
Edith Ann is a United Church Minister who is currently serving at both the Don Mills and Thorncliffe Park United Churches. Edith Ann grew up among the Mennonites of Waterloo Co. She has lived in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario and did her seminary training at both St. Andrews (in Saskatoon) and at Emmanuel (in Toronto).

Edith Ann is a long standing social justice advocate with a keen interest in refugee issues. Edith Ann engages with people of all faiths, little faith, or no faith. She embraces everyone wherever they may be on their life journey.

Stan Squires
Stan was born in England, educated at London University and worked with BBC after graduation. Stan emigrated to Sackville, New Brunswick as high school teacher in 1969 and worked in the Atlantic Provinces before moving to Ontario. Stan is married with three children and five grandchildren and enjoys living in Orono with wife and dog enjoying the rural Ontario life.

Stan has worked for the Ontario Government for more than 20 years as Policy Analyst and represented Ontario on Federal-Provincial committees and two delegations to Europe. Stan is a recipient of national and provincial awards and been involved in Social Justice projects through the Anglican Church in Orono. Stan led a community committee sponsoring a Syrian family from Aleppo in 2016 and been part of other Social Justice initiatives working with Anglican Women for Afghan Women, and is currently involved in Truth and Reconciliation initiatives and work with migrant farm workers in the area.


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