Board of Directors
Nathalie Rudner, President, is currently teaching Grade 9 and 10 Applied and Academic science with the York Region District School Board. Her passion for science and her belief that every student should be scientifically literate have driven her to continuously explore ways to create engaging learning environments for students. Nathalie has been involved with STAO for many years, including acting as Program Co-Chair and STAOPlayground Chair for the annual STAO conference. Nathalie has extensive experience as a regional Curriculum Consultant for the YRDSB, delivering professional development in Science and Environmental Education to teachers from Grades K-12.
She is a skilled facilitator of teacher learning around modern learning, design thinking, inquiry based learning, differentiated instruction, STEAM, adolescent literacy, the use of technology in the classroom, and environmental education. Nathalie has experience as an instructor for York University, delivering STEM education workshops for the Chaoyang Bureau of Education in Beijing. Nathalie was a former chair of the Science Coordinators’ and Consultants’ Association of Ontario (SCCAO now SELO). She currently is the Youth Science Canada Regional Coordinator for York Region and runs the York Region Science and Technology Fair at York University every spring. In 2009, Nathalie was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence for her use and promotion of technology in the classroom. When not marking, prepping, or volunteering for STAO, Nathalie can be found cheering on her son at the hockey rink, supporting her daughter at dance competitions, and travelling with her family.
Lise Gravelle has been a member of the Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario since 2005 as a teacher and has been teaching science and eco-responsibility since 2017. She decided to join APSO in 2018 to support the organization in its efforts towards bilingualism and wishes to promote the involvement of Francophones in the file. Lise advocates the experimental approach by exploration in science, integrates eco-responsible options in laboratory activities and favors the integration of disciplines S.T.I.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in the classroom.
Lise enjoys her moments of relaxation with her son Adrien, 9 years old, and her husband André.
Nina Saini has been a secondary teacher with the York Region District School board for the past 20 years. She is proud to have spent that time working with diverse young adults to foster their self-awareness, self-respect and confidence by fostering autonomy thereby improving their intrinsic motivation. She has enjoyed her many experiences outside of teaching as well that have included community partnership projects, integration of technology into teaching and learning, coordination and development of board-wide events, conducting seminars and workshops for educators and large and small scale technology integration projects.
Nina would like to apply her experience in leadership, mentoring and team dynamics to her new role on the STAO Board. She is excited about the direction that STAO is moving into the future of education in Ontario and feels privileged to be a part of that driving force.
Karen Dodds graduated as a Medical Technologist and worked in Neuropathology at Ottawa Civic Hospital, later completing a Science Degree from the University of Waterloo. Karen is retired from teaching Biology, Chemistry and grade 9 –12 Science courses at Arnprior District High School and was Department Head of Science for 10 years. She also coached the Alpine Ski Team for 20 years, organizing county and regional meets. She was seconded by the Ministry of Education to write the Grade 12 e-learning Science Course. Karen would love to have more educators from rural areas in the province become involved with STAO.
STAO offers an opportunity for teachers all across the province of Ontario and beyond a rich source of resources, networking and an opportunity to enrich others in science education. She has been active on the STAO Virtual library, Secondary Curriculum Committee, former Chair of Finance Committee and currently serves as Past-President of STAO, member of the Finance, Strategic Planning, Governance and Nominating, Project Steering and Risk Management committees.
Jim is a CPA, CA with two decades of professional and corporate experience spanning audit, consulting and financial management. Jim has worked in a wide variety of sectors, including University finance, which, along with his outreach work with CPA Ontario in financial literacy, brought him to STAO.
He brings non-profit experience from a scientific research institute and is a current board director with a classical music charity focused on performance, scholarship and education. Jim’s current role oversees mass transit revenues, managing financial controls and loss prevention. He has Physics, Engineering and MBA degrees and is Lean Six Sigma and Prince2 Project Management Practitioner certified – all of which he finds useful daily!
Joseph Bishay has been teaching science one way or another for over 16 years, across the elementary, secondary, and post- secondary panels, in both the public and private school systems. After conducting research at The Hospital for Sick Children in the programs of Cancer & Blood Research and Developmental Biology, he began his teaching career as an instructor in the Health Sciences department at George Brown College.
Concurrently, he was the head instructor for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) at Kaplan International. He currently serves as a professor in the department of Biological Sciences and Applied Chemistry at Seneca College where he teaches microbiology, and also as faculty at Tyndale University, where he teaches first and second year biology courses.
As well, Joseph has had the opportunity to lecture at the Royal Ontario Museum on the topics of natural science and natural history. Alongside science, Joseph has extensive experience in information technology, including running his own I.T. consulting company, working as director of I.T. at a private elementary school, and serving as Information Officer in an education technology firm supporting over 1500 students. Joseph has been on the STAO/APSO Board of Directors since 2016 where he serves as Secretary as well as sitting on a number of committees and taskforces.
Cindy Adams is Executive Director at Scientists in School, a non-profit with a focus on igniting scientific curiosity in children during their formative K to Grade 8 years, through investigative STEM workshops in their classrooms. Through her 26 year leadership role at Scientists in School, Cindy has led the conceptualization and teamwork for scaling the program from a local Ajax-Pickering initiative to a multi-branch charity, reaching over 700,000 student scientists. In the early years of the organization her greatest reward was as a workshop presenter for several botanical and ecology topics. She knows first-hand the ‘ah-ha’ moments that happen when science and discovery come to life, and students see the relevance to the world around them. Cindy has been honoured with a YMCA Women of Distinction Award, and has engaged herself in volunteer activities throughout her life, many of those supporting community building in some way. Prior to joining Scientists in School, Cindy worked for 12 years in a research role in the Botany Department at the University of Toronto, focused on the effects of air and soil pollution on vegetation.
She holds a M.Sc. in Applied Ecology and has several publications in scientific journals.Cindy is keen to help STAO achieve its mission and vision in building teacher capacity, while ensuring STAO’s governance and financial management are strong and sustainable. She knows the impact teachers can make in a child’s confidence and excitement for STEM learning. Cindy is a proud parent, and recently grandparent, with a love for bird watching, botanizing, travelling, and the outdoors.
Dr. Ralph Chou
Dr. Ralph Chou received his BSc in Astronomy from the University of Toronto before attending the University of Waterloo where he received the degrees of Doctor of Optometry and Master of Science. He is a Professor Emeritus of Optometry at the University of Waterloo and an acknowledged world expert on solar eclipse eye safety and eye safety standards. He is Chair of the Canadian Standards Association’s Technical Committee on Eye and Face Protection, and is Canada’s head of delegation to ISO technical committees on eye protection and ophthalmic optics. He was lead writer of the 2015 ISO standard for solar eclipse filters. An active amateur astronomer for over 50 years, Dr. Chou is currently President of the Toronto Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He has been Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Optometry since 2012. A member of STAO since 1983, he was a member and Chair of the Safety Committee before becoming President in 2015–2016 and currently serves as a member of the Board, Chair of the Governance and Nominating Committee and Chair of the Project Steering Committee.
Dr. Andrew Pasternak
Elaine Theofilos recently joined STAO and is excited to use her expertise to help with the direction and growth of the organization. She is a lawyer in the public sector, working on various corporate and compliance matters. Prior to obtaining her law degree she spent over five years in management, sales and marketing. She is looking forward to working with the team to help propel STAO as the leading resource for science teachers in Ontario. In her spare time, Elaine loves to travel and stay active in the city.
Bob Weese joined the STAO Board in 2017 as a Member at Large. He retired from GE Canada in 2011 where he had been VP of Government Relations for 22 years. Previous careers had included senior management positions in the Federal and Saskatchewan governments following 3 years in Ottawa as a parliamentary intern and caucus researcher.
Bob has an Hon. BA in Political Science from Western University and an MSc.Econ from the University of Wales, supplemented by additional postgraduate work at the University of London. Widowed, he has two grown sons and 8-year old twin grandsons. He brings to STAO his long experience in senior management, his knowledge of government, and his appreciation of the vital importance of quality science education in Ontario schools.