Who We Are
The Cancer Quality Council of Ontario is a multidisciplinary group of volunteers working to improve the quality of the healthcare system. The members represent expertise from across Ontario and include:
patient and family members
experts in oncology, health system policy and administration, governance, performance measurement and health services research
Darren Larsen (Chair)
Darren Larsen has been OntarioMD’s Chief Medical Information Officer since 2007. There, he provides clinical advice to many provincial and national steering committees and clinician advisory groups, and has been instrumental in building system-level partnerships.
He is a champion of electronic medical record (EMR) adoption, and optimization of EMRs and health informatics to empower Ontario’s physicians to enhance quality patient care and practice efficiency. He provides the physician perspective and guides all aspects of OntarioMD’s work to evolve and advance EMRs and digital health for primary care and community specialist clinics. This includes clinical practice change, quality improvement, data quality and analytics, and EMR maturity measurement.
He obtained his Bachelor of Science at the University of Alberta and his medical degree at the University of Calgary, and did residency at the University of Ottawa. He holds a Masters Certificate in Physician Leadership from York University’s Schulich School of Executive Management.
Clinically, he practices and teaches at the University of Toronto’s department of Community and Family Medicine and Women’s College Hospital’s Family Practice Health Centre, and lectures at the Institute for Health Policy Management and Evaluation.
Appointed in 2012
Ruthe Anne Conyngham (Vice-Chair)
Ruthe Anne Conyngham’s passion for healthcare began with her appointment to the board of St Joseph’s Healthcare London in 1999 (chair 2003 to 2005). Ruthe Anne has also served as chair of the Ontario Hospital Association (2007) and Canadian Healthcare Association (2008). Locally, in addition to serving on the boards of Children’s Health Foundation and the London and Middlesex United Way, Ruthe Anne completed 2 terms as chair of Lawson Research Institute, where she was recognized as an honorary scientist.
She is past chair at London Health Science Centre, and remains on the Quality and Patient Safety Committee and Children’s Hospital Committee.
Ruthe Anne has gained a provincial reputation as a tireless healthcare advocate demonstrating leadership in advocacy and policy development provincially and nationally. With a long-standing passion for governance leadership, she is an advocate for raising awareness of quality and patient/client safety, and the effects they have on the patient experience.
She was recognized in 2008 as a Leading Woman in her community by the Province of Ontario, honoured as a 2011 YMCA Woman of Excellence, and received a Queen’s Jubilee Medal for volunteerism and commitment to the community.
Professionally, Ruthe Anne worked for 3 decades in the aviation industry for Air Canada, culminating in her appointed as Air Ontario’s chief operating officer in 1999. In addition, she took on the senior human resource role during the creation of Air Canada Jazz through the merger of Air Canada’s 5 regional airlines. After retirement, she lectured at the University of Western Ontario.
Appointed in 2012
Bonnie began her career as a bedside nurse and has held every level of hospital management role. Her commitment to patient-centered care, strategic leadership and quality improvement is unwavering. Currently, she is a health leadership consultant who draws on a wealth of experience, including service as President and CEO of London Health Sciences Centre, President, and CEO at North York General, and President and CEO of the Huron Perth Hospitals Partnership.
Bonnie has held academic appointments at the University of Toronto and Western University, including most recently Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Health Sciences Faculty at Western. She is a Fellow with the Canadian College of Health Leaders (CCHL), a retired Fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives, and has surveyed for Accreditation Canada.
Bonnie received the Honorary Life Member Award in 2015 and Chairman’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2011 from the CCHL. She was also named one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network in 2012. In June 2019, Bonnie received a Doctor in Law, honoris causa, from Western University to recognize her leadership in health care.
Currently, Bonnie is Vice-Chair of the Associated Medical Services Board and previously served on the boards of Cancer Care Ontario and the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan. Bonnie was appointed by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care as Investigator for the Chatham Kent Health Alliance (2016) and Supervisor, Brantford Community Healthcare System (2017-2019).
Appointed in 2021
Dr. Chaim Bell is the Physician-in Chief at Mount Sinai Hospital. He is a professor of medicine, and Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. He is a hospital-based general internist at Mount Sinai Hospital, an adjunct scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Ontario and a core member of the University of Toronto Centre for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. He is a medical consultant to the Policy and Innovation branch of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Dr. Bell is an expert in the areas of health system policy and administration, performance measurement and health services research. His research focuses on patient safety and the quality of patient care in hospitals. For the past 5 years, he has been the Research Director for the Sinai Health System-University Health Network Antimicrobial Stewardship Program.
Dr. Bell received his medical degree from the University of Toronto, and completed his specialty training in Internal Medicine and Clinical Investigation at the University of Toronto. He was a visiting fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and then received his doctorate in Clinical Epidemiology and Health Services Research from the University of Toronto. He holds a joint Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canadian Patient Safety Institute Chair in Patient Safety and Continuity of Care.
Appointed in 2014
Cholly Boland has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Winchester District Memorial Hospital and Dundas Manor Long-Term Care Home for the past 8 years.
Cholly has held chief executive positions with hospitals and nursing homes in Orangeville, Arnprior and Northern British Columbia; and with a community care access centre in Northern Ontario.
Cholly holds degrees from Queen's and Ottawa universities, and certificates from the Canadian and American colleges of health executives.
Appointed in 2019
Dr. Michael Brundage is a radiation oncologist, and professor of oncology in the department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Queen’s University. He frequently acts as a link between the NCIC Clinical Trials Group and the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario. However, his research program is primarily in the division of Cancer Care and Epidemiology at Queen’s Cancer Research Institute, an applied research unit that he heads.
He implemented the first Canadian patterns of care study in prostate cancer radiotherapy. His work with psychologist Dr. Deb Feldman-Stewart addresses information provision and decision support for cancer patients. In the areas of health-related quality of life and other patient reported outcomes, he has worked to explore new methods of appropriately assessing and interpreting these outcomes in cancer clinical trials. This also includes finding new ways of effectively communicating these outcomes to patients and clinicians.
Appointed in 2014
Debbie Galet joined Lakeridge Health as Director of Post-Acute Specialty Services following 8 years at St. Michael’s Hospital. Her current portfolio includes palliative care, rehabilitation and complex geriatric services. She has been both a regional lead in program planning, and co-chair of regional orthopedic rehabilitation planning for the Central East Local Health Integration Network.
She currently sits on the oversight committee for resource matching and referral in the Central East Local Health Integration Network and is a clinical service representative in the Provincial Rehabilitative Care Alliance. Her interests lie in health system continuous quality improvement, access and resource utilization to improve patient care.
Deb’s husband was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer and passed away in February 2011. Deb has 2 children, Alan and Milly, and a dog named Sugar.
Appointed in 2015
Sandani is passionate about health systems and has gained extensive experience working with diverse, multi-sector stakeholders, both at the local and global level. She is passionate about finding meaningful solutions to complex policy issues and applies systems-thinking and health equity to her work, both professionally and through her advocacy.
She is currently a policy advisor with Children’s Mental Health Ontario and works with her team to advance key policy priorities for child and youth mental health, aligned with recent transformations to Ontario’s health system.
Sandani received her Masters of Public Health from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (University of Toronto), where she also recently completed a fellowship in journalism. She also holds degrees from McMaster University.
Appointed in 2021
Janice Kaffer has been serving as CEO and President of Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor since 2014. In this role, Janice provides executive leadership to an organization with a 130-year history of service to the Windsor community. Along with the more than 1,100 staff employed at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, she and her team are engaged in fulfilling a vision for a healthier community that includes everyone, with a particular focus on those who are vulnerable or marginalized.
She is an alumnus of 3 post-secondary institutions: Centennial College, Trent University and Queen’s University. She has been a proud registered nurse for more than 33 years throughout Ontario and Nova Scotia.
Appointed in 2018
Michelle Karker is currently the CEO of The Elliott Community, where a key focus for her is to get to know the residents, staff and volunteers, while partnering with the Board of Trustees to ensure The Elliott Community continues to be a strong, sustainable, resident focused organization that grows to meet the needs of its entire community for years to come.
Previously, she was the executive director of the East Wellington Family Health Team, working with a highly engaged team of family physicians, allied health professionals and administrative staff within the communities of Erin, Rockwood and Guelph Eramosa. Michelle was responsible for the development of a new community health organization where she was directly involved in the planning, funding, design and construction of 2 new medical clinics involving public/private partnerships.
Michelle is an active leader within the primary healthcare system, and has been involved with a number of health system and primary care initiatives. Some of these include: Association of Family Health Teams, Association of Ontario Health Centres, Local Health Integration Network and regional health system initiatives. She has also developed and overseen innovative partnerships with other organizations to fund and deliver new healthcare services.
Michelle is also a Board Director for Hospice Wellington and currently the Chair of the Quality Improvement committee and is also on the Board of Directors for the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario. Michelle has a strong interest in performance measurement, data management and quality improvement.
Prior to her CEO role, she had worked in a variety of leadership roles within the non-profit sector and private sector. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Western University, Bachelor of Education in adult education from Brock University and a Master of Arts in leadership from the University of Guelph. As well, she is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management Advanced Health Leadership Program.
Appointed in 2015
Dawn Powell holds a Master of Science in Real Estate Appraising from the Opus School of Business at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, and is an accredited member of the Appraisal Institute of Canada.
She is President of Powell Appraisals, an independent property valuation and consulting firm that has served Northwestern Ontario since 1987.
In September 2011, she was elected chair of the Patient and Family Cancer Care Partnership for Cancer Care Northwest. In addition, she is a member of the Patient and Family Centred Leadership Council for the Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre. She has participated in numerous committees, councils and media events as a patient representative, primarily for Cancer Care Northwest and Cancer Care Ontario.
Dawn lost her father to lung cancer in 1978, her mother to ovarian cancer in 1991, and was diagnosed herself with cancer in 2007. She has witnessed tremendous progress in cancer treatment and patient care over more than 30 years, but she wants more. She trusts that the way to achieve this is to give patients a voice in their own care – from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.
Dawn lives in Thunder Bay with her husband, Eric, and calls Northwestern Ontario her home.
Appointed in 2012
Farah Tayabali is Vice President of Redbrick Communications, a Mississauga-based PR firm specializing in public sector communications. With more than 25 years’ experience in journalism and public relations, she has provided communications counsel to organizations including health care companies, associations and governments.
With municipal government clients across Ontario, Farah brings an understanding of the unique challenges of serving the province’s diverse communities, including rural and northern municipalities. She has supported strategic communications on matters related to health care, emergency medical services, social services and more.
A mother of two teens, Farah was diagnosed and treated for cancer in 2020 and is deeply appreciative of the high-quality care she received. She also lost her father-in-law to cancer in 2004. She is acutely aware of the impact of cancer diagnosis and treatment on patients and families, and the challenges of navigating the health care system. She aims to bring this lens to the Council’s efforts to continually improve the quality of cancer care in Ontario.
Farah holds a B.A. in Political Science and English from the State University of New York at Buffalo and an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Appointed in 2021
Joy is a settler living and working on the land of the Anishinaabe in Robinson-Superior Treaty Territory. She has worked as a Bilingual Staff Lawyer for Legal Aid Ontario in Thunder Bay since 2015, practicing criminal and family law. In 2019, she stepped into the position of Unit Director (Regional) for the LAO Lawyers Local of the Society of United Professionals, a part-time elected position representing members across the province. In 2021, she completed a 3-year part-time secondment with a Tribal Council, supporting advice clinics, remote courts, and community restorative justice initiatives.
Joy taught for a number of years at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law, lecturing on Poverty Law and Domestic Violence Law. She is an ad hoc member of the Sexual Violence Adjudication Panel for Lakehead University.
Joy completed an International Bachelor of Business Administration at the Schulich School of Business, a Juris Doctor at Queen's University, and un Baccalauréat de droit à l'Université de Sherbrooke. She interned with the Administrative Law Section of the United Nations in New York and articled for the Superior Court of Justice in the Northwest.
Joy serves as a Director of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. She chairs the Patient Safety and Quality of Care Committee and also sits on the Governance and Nominating and Executive Committees. She joined the CQCO in 2021 and brings a fierce hope for equity, patient safety, and community engagement.
Appointed in 2021
Kirsten Burgomaster (Ex-officio)
Kirsten Burgomaster is the Regional Vice-President (interim) of the Central East Regional Cancer Program, Clinical Ethics, and Inclusion, Diversity & Equity at Lakeridge Health. In her regional role, Kirsten oversees a network of cancer services and hospitals providing care to the 1.6 million people who live in the Northumberland, Kawartha Lakes, Durham and Scarborough areas. Kirsten works closely with Regional Cancer Program leadership, physician leads and partner hospitals to ensure cancer care in the community is aligned with Ontario Health’s goals, standards and best practice guidelines.
Before this role, Kirsten was the clinical director of the Durham Regional Cancer Centre at Lakeridge Health. There, she was responsible for the leadership and management of the cancer centre. She also served as director of the Research program at Lakeridge Health.
She is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ontario Tech University, where she actively participates in collaborative research projects. Kirsten received her Doctorate in Physiology from McMaster University, and completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Biology at Trent University.
Kirsten is inspired to ensure the delivery of high-quality cancer care through collaborative partnerships with provincial, regional and local healthcare agencies, including academic and community partners.
Beginning in September 2022, Konrad will be a medical student at Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, London campus. Prior to medical school, Konrad has worked in Indigenous healthcare through the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health in Ottawa. There, he worked as health promoter, and later as a member of the board of directors. He also served with the Urban Indigenous Strategy Ottawa Steering Committee, the Aboriginal Professionals Network, and the Financial Literacy Action Network of Ottawa. He has also spent time working in education, teaching in STEM through Brainstorm Academy in Hamilton, Ontario.
Konrad completed a Bachelor of Science in Medical Physics at Western University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at McMaster University. Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Konrad is Ojibwe from Biigtigong Nishinaabeg First Nation.
The Cancer Quality Council of Ontario is supported by a secretariat housed at CCO:
Afifa Faisal, Specialist Thurga Ganeshamoorthy, Coordinator
You May Also Be Interested In
Cancer Care Ontario
Learn about the Ontario government’s principal cancer advisor, a division of CCO.
Visit Cancer Care Ontario
Learn about the Ontario government’s principal advisor on the cancer and kidney care systems, and access to care for key health services.