The AURA Board of Directors, left to right: Qoomail Dewji, Nadia Heyd, Stan Squires, Joy Tavener, Jeff Tavener, and Kirk Merrett.

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. Kirk is the Director of Human Resources & Administration for Hyundai Canada. He believes strongly that Canada and its people must play an active role in bringing in and 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.

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, Truth and Reconciliation initiatives and work with migrant farm workers in the area.

Joy McCarthy-Tavener
Joy is a self-employed, successful small businesswoman and a keen supporter of AURA and refugee settlement. Joy has spent the last three years as an invaluable and key member of the Orono refugee sponsorship team which won the 2018 provincial Award for diversity support. Joy brings her expertise, energy and enthusiasm to the Board in 2018.

Jeff Tavener
Jeff is an experienced financial planner who works for one of North Americas largest financial institutions. Jeff is also a keen supporter of refugee settlement process. Jeff will bring his financial experience to the Board as it embarks on strengthening the crucial area of financial stability of AURA in the new Strategic Plan.

Both Joy and Jeff embrace social justice in their lives, and support for AURA, as well as other social justice initiatives such as supporting the migrant farm workers in Clarington and annual Orono Christmas lunch for those “home alone”. Joy and Jeff have also encouraged their two daughters to support social justice initiatives and frequently include them in their volunteer activities.