Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities


Presented by the GPOP PD Committee, this is the first in a series of sessions offering opportunities to meet your peers, ask questions, and learn from one another in a collegial and supportive environment.

Wednesday, March 3rd; 12 noon PT, 1pm MT, 2pm CT, 3pm ET, 4pm AT

Topic: Presidential Transitions (Onboarding a New President)

Hosted by Lianne Birkbeck, Executive Assistant and Government Relations Advisor at Lambton College, this one-hour event will feature Cheryl McMurray, Executive Assistant to the President at Fanshawe College, who will share her experience with onboarding a new president.



In lieu of an in-person conference this year, GPOP is pleased to present two separate speakers.

Keynote Presentations

Wednesday, April 14, 2021; 9am PT, 10am MT, 11am CT, 12 noon ET, 1pm AT

Shelagh Donnelly

Choosing Resilience over Perfection: A Better Approach to High Performance

You give a lot to your career, but are you investing your energies in the right direction? Many assistants are known for a tendency toward perfectionism. Shelagh was one of them. Of course, you want to be known for the quality of your work. When it comes to performance outcomes and your career, though, you may be better off approaching this from a basis of focusing on resilience.

Join Shelagh for a look at strategies that have helped her and may help you, as well. This session is ideal for assistants who are seeking both strong performance outcomes and career satisfaction.

 SHELAGH DONNELLY is an international speaker and trainer and founder of ‘Exceptional EA’.  She is also one of the founders of GPOP.  Shelagh delivers quality, customized education. She brings expertise and humour to the serious matters of high performance and career satisfaction.  She’s authentic, practical and positive.  She knows what it’s like to navigate, survive and thrive in times of uncertainty and change. Her successful career spanned a corporate merger, economic recessions, the dissolution of one institution, and helping establish the culture of its successor. Shelagh founded her globally read Exceptional EA website in 2013. A recognized thought leader, she also writes for other publications. She’s launched and co-launched internal networks, and chaired a national board of directors.  Shelagh’s client list includes professional associations, government, healthcare, higher education and governance bodies, and corporations such as the NBA.


Friday, April 23, 2021; 9am PT, 10am MT, 11am CT, 12 noon ET, 1pm AT

Kent Highnam

The Power of Positive NO


Whether you are negotiating an important issue, expressing your thoughts and feelings in a conflict or standing firm under pressure, the ability to self-manage, connect with your values and assert yourself is crucial to being able to reach outcomes that work for you.


KENT HIGHNAM, Cert. ConRes., BA, MA, is an international educator and speaker with a background in international and public relations with the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross. He has worked in public and private organizations as an educator, facilitator and practitioner in collaborative, interest-based processes in both English and French. As Program Director of JIBC’s School of Health and Community Social Justice, Kent also has extensive experience in human resources and labour relations issues. He directs and teaches for the Centre for Conflict Resolution, the Centre for Leadership and also instructs in JIBC’s Law Enforcement Studies Diploma.




As we all reflect on 2020, we can take comfort in knowing that we’ve found strength in each other and our network as a whole. The past year presented many challenges and we have been responsive, adaptable and resilient.

Your GPOP Board of Directors wishes you a healthy, restful and joyous holiday season and a happy new year ahead!


GPOP celebrates 25 years

On June 5, 1995, a handful of governance professionals gathered in Victoria, BC, seeking to create a peer network and professional development body. Elaine Vandale, retired Executive Director, Board & Corporate Relations, Red Deer College, Alberta, offers her congratulations and reflections:

“Congratulations on 25 years of sharing experiences and learning opportunities.  Twenty-five years of supporting each other; growing and maturing together as a professional association.

As a founding member of PBSN and then an active member of GPOP, I experienced first-hand the value of a network of peers committed to effective governance and the integrity of their President’s offices. 

Over these years the commitment and dedication of many have influenced and shaped the recognized national association you have become.  It is now the contributions and leadership each of you will provide that will lay the foundation and vision for the next 25 years!”

Check out the 25th anniversary page on gpop.ca for additional letters of congratulations, videos, photos and more!

2020 AGM Agenda Package

The agenda package for our virtual June 5th Annual General Meeting has now been posted. Members may download or view the agenda package by clicking HERE. Note that this is a password protected site. The password is the same city and year reference provided when you first joined GPOP. You’ll also find a Proxy Vote Form for those who are unable to attend the AGM, but who wish to be heard.

Please take a few minutes to review the agenda package. Your contributions to GPOP are not limited to your ability to attend conferences in person, and members are encouraged to take an active role for the benefit of all.

Looking forward to connecting virtually with many of you on June 5th!

Transitioning to Virtual Meetings

WEBINARMay 25, 2020 9:30 am PST, 10:30 CST, 12:30 EST, 1:30 AST


We have some exciting news to report!

Our way of working has shifted dramatically due to COVID-19, and most of us are quickly adapting to new technologies and new ways of facilitating our work.

Natasha Himer, a senior governance consultant at Watson in Vancouver, has offered to provide GPOP members a free one-hour webinar on transitioning to virtual meetings called “Practical Points from the (Virtual) Boardroom.”  Many of you will remember Natasha as the keynote speaker at the GPOP conference in Victoria in 2018.

The webinar will have a broader focus than post-secondary education, but will be very relevant and timely to those working for post-secondary presidents and boards.

To register for the free webinar on Monday, May 25, click here.

Natasha has also very generously offered to facilitate a one-hour facilitated session for GPOP members to share experience and best practices on virtual meetings.  The format will include a panel followed by time for questions and answers.  It will be fairly informal to allow room for open discussion.  We will get back to you soon with a date.

We hope you can join us!

GPOP Conference & PD Committee

Heather Martin, Camosun College (Committee Chair) | Kellie Basi, Justice Institute of BC | Jenny Forestell, New Brunswick Community College | Melissa Pringle, Durham College | Sylvie Taher, CICan

Notice of Annual General Meeting


TAKE NOTICE that the Annual General Meeting of the members of CICAN GOVERNANCE AND PRESIDENT’S OFFICE PROFESSIONALS (GPOP) will be held virtually on Friday, June 5, 2020 at 10:00am Pacific / 11:00am Mountain / 12:00pm Central / 1:00pm Eastern / 2:00pm Atlantic.

  1. To receive the following reports as information: (i) Chair’s Report; (ii) Membership & Communications Committee Report; (iii) Conference & PD Committee Report; (iv) Awards & Nominations Committee Report; (v) Nominating Committee Report; and (vi) Strategic Planning & Partnerships Committee Report;
  2. To receive the financial statements; and
  3. To approve the GPOP 2020-2021 Board and Committee Structure.

DATED this 12th day of May 2020.


Cheryl McMurray


CICan Governance & President’s Office Professionals (GPOP)


Message from CICan President

To members of GPOP/PGBOG,

Every year at the CICan Annual Conference, I have the immense pleasure of addressing GPOP/PGBOG members during your pre-conference networking session.

Given the continuing concerns over COVID-19 and in keeping with the recommendations of public health officials and provincial Ministers to avoid large gatherings and limit non-essential travel, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 CICan Connection Conference and related pre-conference activities that were scheduled to take place in Montreal, May 1st-5th.  Our primary concern has been, and will always remain, the health and well-being of our community – CICan members, partners, sponsors, exhibitors and other stakeholders and partners.

Although I am truly disappointed that I will not be able to extend in person my sincerest congratulations on your 25th Anniversary, please rest assured that CICan recognizes and truly values the important role that you and your network play in contributing to the success of President’s offices and to the effective governance of your institutions.

Thank you and we hope to see you at our 2021 CICan Connection Conference in Calgary!

In this extraordinary period we are going through, I would like to leave you with a positive quotation that an association of event organizers published recently: ‘’Meeting together is an essential part of the human experience and will continue long after this virus has been eradicated.’’

Warm regards,

Denise Amyot


Présidente‑directrice générale

Colleges and Institutes Canada

2020 GPOP & CICan conferences cancelled

To GPOP Members:

As you have probably seen by now, the Governance and President’s Office Professionals (GPOP) 2020 Conference and Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) annual conference have been cancelled due to COVID19.

CICan acted on the advice of public health officials and provincial ministers to avoid large gatherings and limit non-essential travel.  The health and well-being of our membership and others is of primary importance.   Those who have registered will receive a full refund from CICan.

We hope very much to see you next year in Calgary!

For more information from CICan, click on CICan Connection Conference 2020.

We wish you all the best, and hope you and your families stay safe.

Heather Martin, Chair, GPOP Conference and PD Committee 2020