Board of Directors

Sandy Jakab

Sandy Jakab

Chair

Sandy has been a lawyer for 31 years and has held leadership positions with the BC Securities Commission (Director, Capital Markets Regulation) and the HSBC Bank of Canada (Head of Conduct Risk).

She has lectured extensively about securities law, including as a sessional lecturer at UBC’s Faculty of Law. She’s been on the board of the Writers Fest since 2010 and is past Chair. Sandy loves literature and the great outdoors. She is married to Bob Lesperance and they have three grown daughters between them.

Alexia Jones

Alexia Jones

Vice Chair

Alexia is a senior employee relations advisor at BC Hydro where she provides practical and strategic advice to the business in all areas of employment and labour relations.

Alexia regularly advises managers on all manner of workplace issues including collective agreement interpretation, workplace polices, and accommodation issues. Outside of work, Alexia is an avid fan of reading and in particular loves Canadian literature. The book club that Alexia belongs to is nearly 10 years strong and have often been heard to describe themselves as a wine club with a reading problem.

Jonathan Burke

Jonathan Burke

Jonathan is currently President & CEO of Canadian Heating Products (Montigo), a manufacturer located in Langley, BC and Ferndale, WA. From January 2013 to February 2016, Jonathan was President and COO of Blackcomb Helicopters.

He is currently a director of the Vancouver Writers Fest, the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, and the Loran Scholars Foundation. Jonathan has an MBA from Athabasca University with post-graduate studies in executive management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Jonathan lives in Vancouver with his wife Susan and two children.

Jillian Christmas

Jillian Christmas

Jillian Christmas was born and raised in Markham, Ontario. She currently lives on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam people (Vancouver, BC.), where she serves as Artistic Director of Versəs Festival of Words.

Jillian is an enthusiastic organizer and activist in the Canadian arts community, her focus being to increase anti-oppression initiatives in spoken word. She has participated in, developed and executed programs in partnership with Toronto Poetry Project, Wordplay, Brendan McLeod’s Travelling Slam, University of British Columbia, Vancouver Opera, and the CULTCH Mentorship, and facilitated spoken word workshops for youth and adults across the country.

Ramona Chu

Ramona Chu

Growing up in West Vancouver, Ramona’s family were tireless supporters of opera, dance, theatre, and of course, the Vancouver Writers Fest. Ramona turned to more analytical pursuits, graduating from UBC with a BSc. in Mathematics, and becoming an accountant.

She raised three sons and began her second career as a dedicated volunteer. Ramona joined the board at the Writers Fest in August 2016, and brings infectious enthusiasm for supporting the festival and a much-appreciated love of spreadsheets.

Harvey McKinnon

Harvey McKinnon

Harvey is the author of four books, including the #1 best-seller The Power of Giving: winner of the Nautilus Gold Award for books on social change and chosen as one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year.

He has produced a variety of award-winning documentaries from: The Black Sea in Crisis, to biographies of David Suzuki and William Shatner. 

He runs a fundraising firm with dozens of clients across Canada and the USA.  He reads widely, and all the time.

Amanda Ross

Amanda Ross

Amanda Ross is a longtime Contributing Editor of both Vancouver magazine and Western Living magazine, as well as former Contributing Editor of enRoute magazine and Avenue magazine.

As a veteran of the magazine world, she’s been Editor-in-Chief of various publication (Deckchair, HomeSpa) and continues to freelance for myriad publications including the Globe and Mail, Travel + Leisure, Relais & Chateaux, Chatelaine and BCBusiness. She’s a keen Jane Austen devotee thanks to a Masters in 19th-century British Literature, but she’s equally as passionate about travel and design.

Nisha Sikka

Nisha Sikka

Nisha is a young lawyer at Maurice Law where she advocates for predominantly Indigenous clientele. Prior to joining Maurice Law, she practiced in the area of family law. Nisha obtained her law degree from the University of Alberta and her Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Simon Fraser University.

Nisha thoroughly enjoys volunteering. She is the treasurer of the Canadian Bar Association’s Aboriginal law section and sits on the Board of Directors of Feminist Association for Collaborative Education as their secretary.

Nisha loves literature, travel and photography.

Shannon Taylor

Shannon Taylor

Shannon launched Taylor Made Business Solutions in 2009, a marketing consultancy practice where she helps clients build their brands and business. Prior to consulting, Shannon had a lengthy and distinguished career as a senior leader at TELUS.

Shannon holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Victoria.

She is an active volunteer, book lover, traveller and enjoys competitive running and tennis – as long as it’s for fun.

Holman Wang

Holman Wang

Holman Wang is a lawyer who also finds time to make children’s books. He and his brother, Jack, are the twin powers behind the board book series Cozy Classics and Star Wars Epic Yarns, which abridge literary and cinematic classics into just 12 words and 12 needle-felted images.

In 2015, they created a Google Doodle celebrating Laura Ingalls Wilder. Their unique artwork has been exhibited around the world, including at The Original Art exhibition in New York (Society of Illustrators), the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and the National Museum of Play.

Andrea Warner

Andrea Warner

Andrea Warner is a writer, music critic, and author of the acclaimed 2015 book, We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the ’90s and Changed Canadian Music (Eternal Cavalier Press). She is currently working on Buffy: an authorized biography of Buffy Sainte-Marie (Greystone, Fall, 2018).

Andrea is an associate producer at CBC Music, co-hosts the weekly pop culture podcast, Pop This!, and writes about theatre for the Georgia Straight. Her radio work includes a weekly music column on CBC’s Radio’s On the Coast and she’s part of CBC Radio’s Day 6 music panel. Bylines include Pitchfork, Exclaim!, the Literary Review of Canada, and the Globe and Mail. Pop culture, art, and feminism make her happy. @_AndreaWarner

Terry Whitehead

Terry Whitehead

Terry Whitehead is Managing Partner of Alexander Whitehead Executive Search, a Vancouver-based firm specializing in executive search in natural resources and the public sector.

Prior to establishing Alexander Whitehead, Terry spent the early part of his career in arts administration, serving in senior fund development positions with the Arts Club Theatre Company in Vancouver, Theatre Calgary, and NEW WEST Theatre in Lethbridge, Alberta. He is a graduate of the University of Lethbridge and currently serves as a member of the Board of Governors and sits on the Executive and Compensation committees. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) where he is the Chair of the Nominations committee.

Paul Whitney

Paul Whitney

Paul Whitney is the former head of Vancouver and Burnaby Public Libraries. He is a consultant and volunteer on library and public policy issues. Paul has worked on public lending right issues as both a member of the Canadian Public Lending Right Commission as the author of two studies for the Commission.

He co-authored the book Trade eBooks in Libraries. He currently serves on the Canadian Commission for UNESCO Sectoral Commission on Culture, Communication & Information.