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
Rev. Dr. Stephen Drakeford: Co-Board Chair
If I were to say I had a personal motto it would be from the Gospel of Luke: “Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 13:29) As a proud Canadian, I was so grateful the Liberal Government flung open wide the borders- particularly for Syrian refugees. I believe our country is strengthened by open and liberal immigration and refugee policies. Canada has so much to receive from its new citizens. And I trust Canada can offer a safe harbour for all of humanity.
Professionally I’ve been employed by the Diocese of Toronto for 33 years; 31 years as a priest. I served various parishes concluding with early retirement in January 2020 when I was 58. Why did I retire early? I was beginning to feel that I wanted to do other things, including travel. Moreover, I was feeling I could serve God and humanity elsewhere- there were simply other things to do. Like serve on the board of AURA.
In my most recent parish, the Church of the Epiphany and St. Mark in Parkdale we sponsored in coalition with St. Anne’s, Redeemer Lutheran and Islamic Cultural and Dawah Centre two refugee families (a gay couple from Iran and a Syrian family of 7). I was impressed with the capability of AURA as an organization, and it’s staff, and am delighted to be invited to sit on the board.
I have been partnered to James Hart for 20 years and I have two adult sons, a daughter-in-law- but no grandchildren- yet! We indulge our 10-year-old Boston Terrier, Lola. I am a serious gardener, a keen cyclist and walker, and a member of a couple of book clubs. And I consider myself a ‘pilgrim,’ I’ve walked the Portuguese Camino, conduct urban guided walks and once we’re past this pandemic intend to pilgrim more.
Rev. Sandra Seaborn: Co-Board Chair
Sandra is the Director of Community Support Services at Yonge Street Mission, focusing on poverty alleviation among homeless adults in Toronto. As an ordained Anglican priest, Sandra has also served in parish leadership in Toronto, New York and Chennai. Sandra learned about AURA when her Toronto parish sponsored a family during the Syrian refugee crisis. Sandra is committed to local and international social development and has a passion for resettlement which led her to become a supporter of AURA.
Jeff Nelson: Treasurer
Jeff joined the AURA board in 2022. Jeff has spent most of his career in banking, primarily working with entrepreneurs and not-for-profit organizations. He is presently a Senior Audit Manager with a major Canadian bank and is also a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors. Jeff brings financial expertise to the board and is a designated Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Certified General Accountant (CGA), and holds a Masters in Business Administration from Laurentian University. He believes that Canadian society should welcome and offer support to refugees as they settle in Canada. Jeff has supported numerous humanitarian causes over the years, with emphasis on organizations focused on children’s wellbeing.
Sue Cooper recently retired from a senior position at a financial services institution (RBC), and has more than 35 years experience with Board and Committee work in the not-for-profit and charitable sector. Most recently, Sue was on the Board of Vibrant Health Care Alliance, where she transitioned from Board Chair to Board member and Chair of Governance & Nominating Committee. The experience Sue has in this sector ranges from but is not limited to: front line work, (e.g. running a community kitchen, writing funeral services for people dying from AIDS) to strategy, governance and integration work. The work Sue has done has always had the client/consumer/recipient at the centre.
Michelle has over 20 years of experience spanning across various financial services institutions and the not-for-profit sector and is passionate about encouraging economic development for under-served and under-represented communities. Michelle learned about AURA from a friend and was inspired by the experiences of the path to sponsorship to serve. Her previous volunteer work includes a Board position with the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union in New York City and time at the UNICEF offices in Montreal.
Nora believes strongly in the importance of welcoming refugees to Canada, which not only helps those whose lives have been put at risk in their home country, but also helps Canada to become a more diverse and compassionate society. Professionally, Nora is a Clinical Psychologist working with children and adolescents. She graduated from Lakehead University (BA(Hons.)) and the University of Guelph (M.A., Ph.D.). In her leisure time, Nora enjoys singing and playing piano.
Ted Robinson has a long relationship with AURA, starting over 30 years ago when his church (St. Simon’s) sponsored a refugee family from Ethiopia. He has been involved in a number of sponsorships since then, sponsoring people from Iraq and Syria. Ted is a physician who will be retiring from his medical practice later this year. He has also recently ended a 3-year term as Churchwarden at St Peter & St Simon-the-Apostle (SPSS).
ODT Diocese of Toronto. 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 for several years before moving to Ontario. Stan worked for the Ontario Government for more than 20 years before retirement. He has a strong Social Justice conscience which dictates his life. At his church in Orono he actively participated in such Social Justice initiatives; Habitat for Humanity, Water for Pikangicum, Anglican Women for Afghan Women, Truth and Reconciliation education awareness initiatives, and work with migrant farm workers in the area.
Stan’s commitment to refugee sponsorship started when he led a community committee sponsoring a Syrian family from Aleppo in 2016 and joined the AURA Board in 2017. He is currently participating in a third sponsorship. He believes that the contribution from refugee sponsorship to Canada has been immense, socially and economically, and that the Canadian sponsorship model is a world leader.
Stan is married with three children and seven grandchildren.
I migrated to Canada 12 years ago with our four children with the help of St. Peters Anglican Church. This helped reunite our family after being apart from my husband for three years. I have held different positions across multiple sectors including private, not for profit and public. I am currently working as a Senior Processing Officer with Ontario Immigration Nominee Program. I am passionate about helping the needy, advocacy and compassionate counselling and I am a committed church goer. I am Currently a president of Universal Seniors Social Services Uganda (USSSU), Vice President of Canadian Bagisu Development, Church Usher at St. Paul on the Hill Anglican Church and Member of Becoming Neigbours. I hold a Bachelors degree in Social work, post graduate Diploma in Counselling/Advocacy for Abused Women & Children and Diploma in Education.