Board of Directors

Meet the Board Members

Opimian is governed by a Board of Directors representing different parts of the country as well as a president, vice-president and treasurer. They dispatch stewardship responsibility according to the governance documents.


Carol Fitzwilliam, Montréal, QC – President & Chairperson

Carol A. Fitzwilliam is the retired founder of Fitzwilliam Legal Recruitment and Fitzwilliam Third Sector Recruitment, two Canadian executive search firms dedicated to the legal profession and not-for-profit sector, respectively. She has served as a director of several non-profit organizations, including the International Women’s Forum, YWCA Canada, YWCA de Montréal and Centennial Academy. She is currently Chair of the Governance Committee of the Board of Directors of the Société du Palais des congrès de Montréal, a provincial crown corporation and Past Chair of the Board of Directors of Masters Swimming Canada. Ms. Fitzwilliam holds an undergraduate degree in English and French literature from Sir George Williams University and a law degree from Université de Montréal. She is a retired member of the Quebec Bar, a certified director (ICD.D) and a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Neil McClughan, Regina, SK – Vice-President and Director

Neil and his wife, Ellen, joined Opimian in 1995 and were immediately hooked with Opimian, attending events and ordering wines, eventually becoming Area Representatives for 5 years and establishing renewed interest in local events and growth in membership. Neil is currently President and CEO of Saskatchewan’s partner in Canada’s national research and education network, connecting research, education and innovation Members across Saskatchewan to Canada’s national network. Recognized for delivering results and in creating high-performing teams, Neil has extensive senior management and leadership experience encompassing business strategy, operations, organizational effectiveness, customer focus, and partnerships. His experience is garnered from his current role as CEO and over 5 years in the management consulting industry as well as 31 years in the telecom industry leading complex international, national, and provincial teams and programs. On a more personal note, Neil and his wife Ellen both have a passion for wine and food, regularly enjoy entertaining, and Neil has achieved the 2nd level Sommelier certificate from the International Sommelier Guild.

Barry Wilson, Nepean, ON - Treasurer and Director

Barry Wilson is a Chartered Professional Accountant and Chartered Accountant with almost 30 years of senior finance and operations experience in both the private sector and the not-for-profit sector. He is an alumnus of Coopers & Lybrand Chartered Accountants (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) where he practised insolvency in his final five years with the firm. Barry has extensive experience in the areas of corporate governance, finance and treasury, risk management and business operations. He has held Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Finance and Administration positions in various private sector companies in the technology, printing, media and industrial sectors, as well as in not-for-profit sector companies, both government-funded and non-government funded. As a consultant, Barry has also assisted start-up companies to get off the ground by putting in place solid systems of financial control and key financial performance reporting. His experience with building budget and forecasting models, and raising both debt and equity financing, helped them to grow sales to eventually become acquisition targets. Barry has been a member of Opimian since 2008.


John Birdgeneau, Calgary, AB

John Birdgeneau is the retired Vice-President of Technology at Nexen Energy ULC. John’s 35-year career in the energy industry included a progression of technical and leadership responsibilities involving strategy, capital budgets, operations and new technologies with Imperial Oil, Numac Energy and Nexen Energy.  On an industry scale, he was a member of the Shareholders Steering Committee, Strategy and Governance Sub Committees for COSIA, a collaborative technical innovation alliance. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Geology from McMaster University and is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta. Originally from St. Catharines Ontario, he has lived in Calgary since 1979 and enjoys skiing, hiking and travelling the world. John and his wife have been members of Opimian since 2009.

David Conway, St. John’s, NL

David Conway is a lawyer and wine enthusiast from St. John’s, NL. He and his wife Courtney served as Area Representatives for over seven years, during which time they were married and started a family. David is currently the chair of the NL Labour Relations Board. Prior to this, he practised in the fields of labour law and administrative law. David graduated from McGill University (B.A., Economics) and the University of New Brunswick (LL.B.), before being called to the Ontario Bar and the NL Bar. David has appeared at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada. He has presented educational seminars to various groups throughout Canada, is an instructor in the NL Bar Admission Course, and has instructed at Memorial University of Newfoundland. David has significant experience in working with not-for-profit organizations and he has served on various boards. David and his wife Courtney both share a love of wine, dining, travel and being parents to their two wonderful daughters.

Twyla Laakso, Calgary, AB

Twyla has been a professional communicator for more than three decades and has provided strategic communication services for some of the most well-known brands in Canada including Suncor Energy, Colliers International, Air Canada and Fairmont Hotels (as Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts). She holds a professional accreditation from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and is certified in the Prosci method of change management. Prior to launching her own business more than a decade ago, Twyla served in senior management roles directing corporate communications functions. In the years preceding her corporate work, Twyla worked as national account director for several highly regarded advertising agencies including TBWA Chiat Day and BBDO. In her current role as Director of TLCommunications, Twyla enjoys exercising her experience and skills for the benefit of clients who require strategic planning and communications activities directly aligned with organizational goals. Twyla believes serving as a Director with Opimian will allow her to unite her professional experience with her personal passion for great wines and gourmet cookery and she looks forward to making a meaningful contribution to the Club.

Paul Reimer, Calgary, AB – Director

Paul Reimer has been a member of Opimian since 2004 and joined the Opimian board in 2012.  He has been the Board’s Vice President since 2014 and currently chairs the Governance and Nominations Committees.  Paul retired from a 35-year career in the oil and gas industry in 2014. Prior to retirement, Paul was Senior Vice-President of Marketing, Transportation & Power at Cenovus Energy Inc.  During his career he held board positions in numerous Canadian and International companies and partnerships. Paul received a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Waterloo in 1981 and a Master of Business Administration degree from University of Calgary in 1997. He is a lifetime member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta. In addition to being wine enthusiasts, he and his wife Brenda enjoy travelling, golf, cycling, and cross-country skiing.

Stan Thompson, Whitehorse, YT

Stan Thompson earned a CPA/CA designation in Ontario with Thorne Riddell, a predecessor of KPMG, and has been an Opimian member for more than 30 years. His 35+ year work experience is primarily with Consumer Packaged Goods and Resource companies in Canada. Currently CFO & VP Corporate Services for Northwestel in Whitehorse, Yukon, a telecommunications company serving Canada’s three northern territories including northern BC and Alberta, Stan also served as President of a Consumer Health products company and as CFO in Consumer Products and Pulp and Paper companies in Ontario and BC. Stan serves as a Board Member and past Chair of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as a member of the Board of Management for the CRA where he is a member of the Human Resources, Service and Audit committees representing the Territories.

Lynn Zurel, St. John’s, NL

Lynn Zurel is a CPA, CA and holds the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. She is also a proud graduate of Memorial University holding a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree. Lynn has had the privilege of serving in leadership roles on the Boards of a wide variety of national, provincial and local not-for-profit organizations. Lynn has a well-developed passion for, and love of, wine acquired through the enjoyment of many wine tours in France and Italy and through tastings with friends, old and new. She has also successfully completed the ISG Wine Fundamentals Certificate Level II from the International Sommelier Guild.

Board Term of Office

Adopted by the Board June 2017

A. Board Member Term of Office

The term of each Board member shall be for one year. No member shall serve for more than six consecutive one-year terms.

B. President Term of Office

Notwithstanding the above, the term of the President is up to four consecutive years.

C. Past-President Term of Office

The term of the Past-President shall be for one year immediately following their term as President.

Board Nomination Process

The Nominations Committee is responsible for the recruitment of the Board of Directors. The Committee reviews the makeup of the Board, in accordance with the Bylaws and Nominations Guidance, identifies potential Board members and recommends candidates to the Board.

Opimian believes in diversity and values the benefits that diversity can bring to its Board of Directors. Once there is a position available, a Call for Expressions of Interest is sent out to members with a description of the desired profiles. Interested candidates who meet the criteria can apply by filling out the application form.

Opimian is currently calling for nominations of qualified candidates to fill several positions on the Board of Directors effective at the Annual General Meeting to be held in June 2020.

The Nominations Committee invites you to review the Call for Expressions of Interest and, if interested, consider applying for a position on the Board of Directors.

Please note that applications will be accepted up until end of day on Wednesday, April 8, 2020.

Click here to download the application form and to have further information on the Nominations Committee.