The Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) and Canadian Association for the Advancement of Amateur Women’s Hockey (C.A.A.A.W.H.) is governed by an independent Board of Directors is elected each year at our Annual General Meeting. The Governance Structure is structured to best reflect the integrated strategic planning process and is made up of Directors (who serve as voting members, from business, sport, government and the communities we serve) and are led by an Executive body (appointed from within the Board).

The CWHL Commissioner is the League’s most Senior Position serving as Advisor to the Board and does not hold voting privileges. The Board of Directors helps guide the CWHL through strategic and financial planning. The Board of Directors meets on a regular Governance Cycle highlighted with the Annual General Meeting held following the close of each season.

A complete listing of our current Governance Model’s Board of Directors is as follows:

Jayna Hefford

Interim Commissioner, Head of Hockey Operations and Player Development

Jayna Hefford is renowned as one of the longest standing members of the Canadian women’s hockey team (1997-2014), and currently is a keynote speaker focusing on the areas of Change & Adaptability, Culture and Resilience. Jayna competed in five Olympic games and twelve World championships, winning an impressive four Olympic gold medals and seven World Championships. She is one of Canada’s most decorated athletes. Jayna played over 200 international games and is also one of three NWT players to score more than 100 international goals. Jayna competed with the Brampton Thunder (Canadian Women’s Hockey League) from 1998 until 2013 and was a member of the Thunder when they won the first CWHL championship. Despite being retired, Jayna remains as one of the top all-time scorers in CWHL history.

Jayna is the sixth woman to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (2018). Some of her other accolades include: awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee award in 2013, and Kingston female athlete of the half-century (2000). Jayna hosted her own charity event for six years, in memory of her father, which raised over $80,000 for the Kingston University Hospitals Foundation. She is also an active board member of the Ladies First Hockey Foundation.

Jayna graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Physical & Health education, she has also completed a certificate program in Business Management from University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. Jayna was an assistant coach with the women’s hockey team at the University of Toronto and has also completed the ‘high performance 1’ coaching certification program.

Laurel Walzak

Chair of the Board

Laurel is an Assistant Professor at Ryerson University, Faculty of Communication and Design, RTA School of Media, Sport Media. She is a senior strategic and innovative professional with close to twenty years of experience serving the sports, health & fitness, and consumer goods industries. Laurel’s experience included roles at Fitneff Inc., the National Hockey League, Molson Coors Canada and the National Football League.

In 2013, Laurel was appointed by the Government of Ontario Public Appointments Secretariat of the Ministry: Training, Colleges and Universities, to the Board of Governors of George Brown College. In 2015, she was elected as the Vice Chair of the Board’s Academic & Student Affairs Committee. Laurel also serves as Chair of the Board of The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) with professional teams in Canada, US and China, and the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre Board of Directors, and Chair of Finance and HR Committee. Each of these Board roles include: fiduciary responsibilities as well as overall Corporate Governance accountabilities.

Laurel is a graduate of Western University, has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Sport and Event Marketing from George Brown College, a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s Smith School of Business and holds a Certification of Achievement in the China Global Business Economy from China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), Shanghai, China.

Art Mannarn

Vice Chair

Art was nominated to the Board of Directors after serving as a strategic advisor to the CWHL.  A recent retiree from CIBC, he spent many years with the company serving in numerous roles, including Executive Vice President & CAO, Retail and Business Banking; Executive Vice President Global Operations & INTRIA; President and Chief Operating Officer of Investor Services; Senior Vice President Corporate Services & Chief Procurement Officer; and Deputy Head Wood Gundy/Managing Director World Markets.

The founder of Minor Hockey Fights Cancer, Art is also a Past President/Director of the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto.

Stephanie Bowman

Stephanie Bowman was appointed to the Bank of Canada’s Board of Directors in June 2018.

Born in London, Ontario, Ms. Bowman received a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in Business Administration from Western University (Ivey Business School) in 1988 and her Chartered Accountant designation in 1991. She is a Fellow of Chartered Professional Accountants Ontario and a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Ms. Bowman has more than 25 years of experience as a financial services executive, management consultant and board member, leading large teams and projects in Canada, the United States and internationally. She has held various leadership roles with CIBC, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and most recently Scotiabank, where she was senior vice president of structural cost transformation after working for several years in international banking operations. Throughout her career Ms. Bowman has been a mentor with a particular focus on supporting working women. She was a founding member of Cap Gemini Ernst & Young’s Canadian Women’s Network and has been a speaker at numerous networking events.

She is actively involved in her community and has been a fundraiser for the United Way, the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers, OneWalk and the Terry Fox Run. She was recognized for her commitment to the Kidney Foundation of Canada as a long-term board member and branch president, and received the George deVeber and David Ornstein awards for distinguished service. She has also served as treasurer of Until the Last Child and as a consultant to the board chair of the Women’s Centre of York Region.

Allyson Fox

An alumna of the Brampton Thunder and the York University Lions, Allyson is currently an associate at Rubenstein Siegel in North York/Toronto, specializing in Civil and Commercial Litigation, and has been practising law since 2002. During her playing days. She was part of the CWHL's co-founding group and has also served as a CWHL Board Secretary and Player Director on the Board. Her sports background also includes time as a soccer player and experience playing for multiple national championships on the ice and on the pitch.

Allyson was inducted into the York University Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.

Kevin Gilmore

Founder of 4Sport Consulting, Kevin Gilmore provides consulting services in the sports, media and entertainment industries, bringing his 25+ years of experience in the field to clients in Canada and the U.S. Prior to founding 4Sport Consulting, he was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens from April 2011 through June 2016. Initially mandated with growing a business that was essentially sold out, Gilmore was responsible for all revenue generating aspects of the business, including corporate partnerships, sales, marketing, and broadcasting. He also oversaw the development of major projects while working closely with team owner and President Geoff Molson, growing franchise value threefold during his tenure by unlocking new revenue streams and negotiating landmark French and English language broadcast deals. Such innovative branding and enterprise efforts as the 24CH documentary, Club 1909 and the Tour des Canadiens 1 and Tour des Canadiens 2 condominium development projects, which set sales records in Montreal, were just some of the many major projects spearheaded by Gilmore during his 5-years with the NHL’s most storied and successful franchise.

During his tenure, the organization underwent historical revenue growth. Gilmore was also the team’s Alternate Governor on the NHL Board of Governors and was the lead on most team dealings with the NHL.

From 2006 to 2009, he was Senior Vice President Corporate Development and Strategic Planning with the Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc. (AEG). As such, he looked after all new business development initiatives for AEG’s global operations, most notably involved in the development of arena and entertainment district projects Shanghai and Guangzhou, China as well as an arena project in Beijing. Between 1999 and 2006, he served as Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Los Angeles Kings, owned by AEG, while fulfilling duties as Governor and General Manager of the Manchester Monarchs – the Kings’ AHL affiliate team.

In 1998, he founded Professional Sports Advisors Group and presided and operated the sports consulting firm with clients involved in three of the four major professional sports leagues in North America (NHL, MLB and NFL). Prior to that Gilmore was Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Anaheim Sports, Inc., owners of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Anaheim Angels baseball club. While with The Walt Disney Company in a legal capacity, Gilmore led the team that secured an NHL expansion franchise and built the organization from the ground up leading to its launch in October of 1993.

Before joining The Walt Disney Company in 1991, Kevin Gilmore was an associate with Latham & Watkins law firm in Los Angeles. He began his career with Martineau Walker, attorneys, in Montreal. He earned his Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) from the University of Ottawa in 1987 and a License in Civil Laws in 1986. He also received a Certificate of Completion, Finance for Executives from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, in 2007.

On April 21, 2013, Kevin Gilmore was elected to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Olympic Committee where he also sits on the Finance, Risk Management and Audit Committee.

Jeff Haltretch

A bilingual and bold commercial leader with superior EQ and a creative mind, my leadership team is recognized for championing business strategies that engage the company’s leaders, while positively impacting the multi-channel retail, e-commerce, industrial, independents, and speciality value chains.

I am motived by both ‘people and outcomes’: enabling the leadership team members to be at their best, while at the same time honouring our commitments as we move the business towards the goals we have established. This is achieved through a combination of mentoring, coaching, taking calculated risks, and rewarding behaviour, all in an engaging and social working environment.

With 27+ years experience working for some of Canada’s, USA’s and the World’s most recognized manufacturing and distribution companies, you will find me open-minded, collaborative, agile, and resilient.

My own personal strengths lie in talent development, business strategy, financial discipline, revenue & earnings generation, and supply chain operations. These same skills transfer over to the board of director work in chairing the finance committee and advising the CEO of Call-2- Recycle for the past 6 years.

Most recently in the role of Vice President & General Manager, I lead the Canadian leadership team for Spectrum Brands Holdings’ 5 Canadian divisions in the hardware & home improvement, car care, pet, appliances, and battery industries. We are proud to have grown earnings 12.3% avg. per year over recent 3 years, rebuilt 3 of the business units, combined 4 supply chains into one, handled a market recall, and integrated 3 acquisitions.

In 2016, I earned the Directors designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors, and most recently completed the Board Oversight of Harassment program with the Institute. I hold a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Concordia University in Montreal and speak both National languages.

In my personal time, I love living life with the family whether that is an outdoor sporting adventure, a trip to a new country, or watching my daughters compete in synchronized swimming and soccer. And you will often find me with camera in hand; for some of the inspiring images visit

Julia Holland

Julia Holland is Counsel and Director, Risk Management. She is responsible for risk management across the firm and works closely with the firm's lawyers and administrative departments. Julia advises colleagues on conflicts of interest, ethics and other matters of professional responsibility. She develops policies for the firm and assists with professional development and training. Julia handles professional liability insurance for the firm and manages the Conflicts and Records group.

Before rejoining Torys in a risk management role in 2006, Julia practised litigation at the firm for ten years

Karen Rubin

Karen brings governance, legal, human resources, strategic planning and risk management expertise to the CWHL Board with more than two decades of business experience and as corporate counsel. She has the mind set of preventing problems before they happen, rather than looking to fix them after things go wrong.

Karen has more than 7 years experience as a director in financial services, not-for-profit organizations in healthcare, women's leadership and sports. She is a director of the Canadian Olympics Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Governance and Ethics Committee and a member of the Finance Audit and Risk Management Committee. She is Vice Chair of Dress for Success Toronto and a member of the Executive Committee of International Women’s Forum Toronto Chapter where she is the Chair of the Communications Committee.

Karen is a lawyer with over 25 years experience in private practice, at American Express Canada as VP & Senior Counsel heading the Canada Law Department and at Bank of Montreal as Vice President Law. At American Express Canada, she managed legal risk issues across all lines of business. At Bank of Montreal, Karen provided strategic advice on legal risks and opportunities in retail and business banking, technology, acquisition and divestiture transactions and negotiated and drafted cross border agreements with BMO’s U.S. subsidiary, Harris Bank. Karen had a corporate and commercial legal practice prior to becoming corporate counsel at Bank of Montreal.

Karen is a graduate of the Rotman Directors Education program, holding the ICD.D designation. She was selected by The Canadian Board Diversity Council for the 2013 Diversity 50. Karen resides in Toronto.

Kim Smither

Kim's keen marketing and commercial sense has led her to 25 years worth of career experience across five continents, in countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, Russia, the UK and the USA.

She’s enjoyed working with clients ranging from BMW, Exxon Mobile, GlaxoSmithKline, HSBC and Visa. She has also worked on many of the most prestigious sporting properties including 10 Olympic and Paralympic Games, FIFA World Cup, IRONMAN, PGA, NBA, NFL, NHL and Universal Pictures to name a few.

Kim is no stranger to the agency side of the business having worked for Octagon Sports Marketing in Canada, US and the UK and lead the business development for Wasserman in California. In these roles she managed many of the top athletes, brands, properties and agencies.

This comprehensive background brings global learning and local expertise to her clients. Kim has the experience to understand and navigate today’s business’s cultural and diversity needs.

A speaker in her own right, Kim has chaired numerous boards and committees and is often called up on to speak on Partnerships, Entrepreneurship and Women in business opportunities. She continues to give back to the industry by mentoring and sitting on boards.

Vicky Sunohara

A long-time player, Vicky has suited up at the highest levels of the game. Over the course of her Team Canada career, she earned three Winter Olympic medals (two gold, one silver) and eight medals on World Championship stage (seven gold, one silver).

An alumna of the Brampton Thunder, Vicky is currently head coach of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues women's hockey team. She also recently completed a six-year term as a member of the Board of Directors with the Canadian Sport Institute (Ontario).

Richard Venn

Richard Venn is a Founding Partner of Further Global Capital Management (a Private Equity Firm located in New York) and is located in Toronto Canada.

Prior to joining Further Global, Mr. Venn enjoyed a 40- year career with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (“CIBC”) where he led CIBC’s investment banking and merchant banking operations. Mr. Venn served for seven years as the Chairman and CEO of CIBC’s Canadian dealer and led CIBC’s Corporate

Development Group for more than a decade. He was instrumental in the formation of Global Payments,CIBC Mellon and CIBC FirstCaribbean and served as a board member with those companies for many years.

Mr. Venn was previously Chair of the Board of Element Fleet Management and a board member of The Bank of Butterfield, DBRS, and more than 10 other public and private companies. He currently serves on the Foundation Board of Mount Sinai Hospital and is past Chair of the United Jewish Federation of Toronto and the United Way of Greater Toronto.

Mr. Venn is married and they have three children (two girls and one boy) who have played competitive hockey through high school and into university. He is passionate about the development of hockey for girls and women.

Mr. Venn received a BASc (Engineering Science) from the University of Toronto and completed his MBA at Harvard (Scholarship).