BenefAction’s Board & Management
John Rothwell – President
John is Vice President, National Business Development for National Bank Financial Wealth Management. He has over 35 years of financial services experience with Midland Walwyn Capital, Mackenzie Financial, Fidelity Investments, as President of Wellington West Capital Inc. and, more recently, as President of Canaccord Wealth Management. He has served on various IIROC (Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada) committees and chaired the IIROC mutual fund committee. He is presently a member of IIROC’s retail sales council. John received his bachelor’s degree (Hons.) from the University of Waterloo and Diplomas from McGill University, The Wharton School and Harvard University.
Evelyn Jacks – Secretary/Treasurer
Evelyn is Canada’s most respected educator in tax and financial literacy and one of our most prolific financial authors. She has been influential in advising governments on tax and financial literacy policies and is also a well-known national commentator, keynote speaker and budget analyst. Evelyn is the Founder and President of Knowledge Bureau, Canada’s leading national post-secondary institute for professional development in tax and financial services. Evelyn has been a role model for women in business and has been awarded the prestigious Rotman School of Business Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Among other honours, she was recently named one of the Top 25 Women of Influence in Canada for the second time.
Brad Offman – Director
Brad Offman is Founder and Principal of Spire Philanthropy and former Senior Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy at Mackenzie Investments. Brad is also former President of the Mackenzie Investments Charitable Foundation and Managing Director of the Mackenzie Charitable Giving Fund. Prior to joining Mackenzie, Brad served as Vice President, Development at the Toronto Community Foundation. Brad is currently on the Board of CANSOF Foundation and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Toronto. He is a member of the National Advisory Council for Imagine Canada. Brad is past Chair of the Leave A Legacy Program for the Greater Toronto Area and former member of the Board of Directors for Philanthropic Foundations Canada. He is a Faculty Member for the CAGP Original Gift Planning Course and is on the organization’s Education and Government Relations Committees. He is also on the Editorial Advisor Board for Gift Planning in Canada. Brad holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and a Master of Arts Degree from the University of Toronto and a First Class Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree from McGill University in Montreal.
Gisele Wilson – Director
A McGill graduate and CFA, Gisèle Wilson has spent her entire career in the financial services industry in a variety of roles, starting as a retail investment adviser in Toronto in 1984. Shortly after attaining her CFA, she joined William Mercer in 1990 to co-found and build their Montreal-based asset management consulting practice. In 1994 she opened Fleming Canada Partners’ Montreal office, focusing on product development, investment policy and institutional client servicing while there. She joined TAL Global Asset Management in 1996, as President, COO and Chief Investment Officer of TAL Fund Management, to build and supervise the management of a business that would grow to $30 billion in assets for over 100 mutual funds. Following the sale of TAL to CIBC, she served as Chief Investment Officer at Natcan and Altamira during the transition period following their merger, and in 2002 went on to co-found Fiera Capital Management as Senior Vice-President and Co-Chief Investment Officer. In 2005, Gisèle began working with the family that would become the first client of Coriel Capital Inc., an investment advisory firm she founded with long-time business associate Alexandra Ryan. Coriel provides chief investment officer services to large family offices, with a highly customized, open architecture approach. Gisèle serves on the boards of the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation, GIV3 and is past-Chair of McGill University’s Desautels Capital Board of Directors.
Melanie Yach – Director
Melanie is a dedicated expert in estates and trusts law as Tax Partner at Aird Berlis. A member of the Estates & Trusts Group and Estates & Succession Planning Team, her practice covers all areas of estates and trusts, including estate planning and estate administration, and is particularly focused on litigation involving trusts, estates and capacity issues. She also has many years of experience in corporate/commercial litigation. Melanie’s practice extends beyond representing individuals and families to advising trust companies.
As a frequent speaker and writer on estates and trusts topics, Melanie is actively involved in various capacities on the Executive of the Trusts and Estates Section of both the Ontario Bar Association (OBA) and the Canadian Bar Association (CBA). She regularly chairs programs for professional and educational organizations, including the CBA’s intensive Wills, Trusts & Estates Fundamentals Program. She is the editor of and contributor to Key Developments in Trusts and Estates Law, which is published annually by Canada Law Book.
Nicola Elkins, CFRE, M.Sc. – Chief Executive Officer and Founder
Nicola is President of Cause Strategies Inc. our charitable wealth management solutions provider since 2008. She is also Chief Executive Officer and Founder of BenefAction Foundation. She has built a reputation as a valuable resource for investment, legal and tax professionals who want to integrate charitable giving into their client’s financial, estate and succession plans.
Prior to establishing Cause, Nicola spent 20 years in the financial services industry holding a number of senior roles. She has a M.Sc. in Economics from the London School of Economics and a B.A. from McGill University. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive; a MFA Succession & Estate Planning Specialist; a graduate of the Advanced Canadian Gift Planning Course offered by the Canadian Association of Gift Planners; the author of a book called Master Your Philanthropy and of an online course called Investment Strategies in Charitable Giving. She is also Past President of the Rotary Club of Westmount (QC) and a Director of the Le Manoir, a home for independent seniors living in Westmount (QC).
Meredith Agnew, BA, CFA — Investment Officer
Since September 2014, Meredith has been employed as Investment Officer at Cause Strategies Inc. our charitable wealth management solutions provider. Previously, she consulted private high-net-worth clients aiding in their asset management. From 1992 to 2005 she worked in the securities industry as both Sales Assistant and Investment Advisor at private investment firms – Moss, Lawson & Co. Limited and Mackie Research Capital Corporation. Meredith obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a double major in Economics and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and is a CFA® Charterholder.