Supporting Canadian Athletes

Past Chairs and Presidents

2011-2014 Erik Petursson
2008-2011 Andrew Nisker
2006-2008 Claire Carver-Dias
2003-2006 Michael Smith
2002-2003 Ian Bird
2001-2002 Greg Edgelow
2000-2001 Susanne Dandenault
1997-2000 Lori Johnstone
1996-1997 Ed Drakich
1993-1996 Ann Peel
1992-1993 Ann Peel and Dan Thompson (provisional chairs)

* The title Chair was replaced with President in 2003

ERIK PHOTO

2011-2014: Erik Petursson (Diving)

Following 15 years in the sport of springboard and platform diving, Mr. Erik Petursson returned to the AthletesCAN Board after retiring from competitive sport to direct his passion in sport to contributing to the Canadian sport system.

Mr. Petursson was a National team member from 2003-2007, on both 3-meter and 10-meter spring board, was a national champion on the 1-meter springboard, and three time FISU Games Team Member. Mr. Petursson attended Louisiana State University (LSU) from 1997-2002 and completed his B.Sc. in International Trade and Finance with a minor in Psychology. Mr. Petursson was awarded the Boyd McWhorter award and scholarship for most outstanding student-athlete at LSU while he completed his MBA (Finance) in 2002.

Mr. Petursson was formerly the chair of the Athletes Council for Diving Plongeon Canada and was an AthletesCAN Board Member from 2006-2007.

Mr. Petursson currently lives in Calgary where he works as Manager of Financial Risk with ARC Resources Ltd, a sponsor of the Canadian Sport Center Calgary, and pursues his recreational passions for mountain biking and skiing.

2008-2011: Andrew Nisker (Tennis)

While on a tennis scholarship at Vanderbilt University, Andrew won the SEC Singles Championship and was honoured as the outstanding graduating student-athlete in the south-east region of the NCAA. After graduation Andrew pursued a career in professional tennis. His career highlights include being named to the Davis Cup Team in 2002, teaming with Frank Dancevic in 2002 to reach the round of sixteen of the Tennis Masters Series Event in Toronto and representing Canada in the 2003 Pan Am Games.

After retiring from tennis Andrew earned his LL.B/M.B.A. degree from the University of Western Ontario and the Ivey School of Business. He is a Crown Attorney representing the Federal Government at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in Toronto.

Andrew lives in Toronto and enjoys spending time with his wife Sarah, his baby Mackenzie, and his dog Cheese.

2006-2008: Claire Carver-Dias (Synchronized Swimming)

Claire Carver-Dias is a communications consultant with Clearday Communications and executive coach with Impact Consulting, with ten years of corporate presentation experience. She specializes in assessments and team effectiveness coaching, using her experiences as an Olympian and business owner to help corporate groups achieve their business goals.

Prior to her business career, Claire had a fifteen year high performance sport career that earned her an Olympic bronze medal, two Commonwealth Games gold medals, two Pan American Games gold medals, and over thirty international medals.

Claire has served on the boards of directors for the Coaching Association of Canada, the Canada Games Sport Council, and Commonwealth Games Canada Bid Committee and has worked as a presenter for Esteem Team Association and CleanAir Champions.

Claire is bilingual and a published writer. She holds a B.A. with distinction from the University of Toronto and a M.A. in English from McGill University. She is also currently working on her PhD in English Communications.

Claire currently resides in Oakville with her husband and two daughters.

2003-2006: Michael Smith (Wrestling)

Michael Smith is a retired athlete from the sport of wrestling. He was a member of Canada’s national team from 1995-2001. Michael competed for Canada at the World and Pan Am Championships and was the alternate for the 1996 Canadian Olympic Team.

Michael’s love for wrestling was only matched by his love for the law going on to earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Western Ontario before moving to Winnipeg to complete law school at the University of Manitoba. Michael continued to compete for Canada while attending law school.

In 2001, Michael quickly came to the realization that he would not be able to compete and maintain a viable law practice at the same time so he retired from active competition to pursue a legal career in his hometown of Ottawa, ON. He joined the law firm of Lewis Langevin LLP and became a partner five years later at what is now known as Langevin Morris Smith LLP. His areas of practice include Criminal and Civil litigation in addition to Sports Administrative Law.

Although he stepped down from active competition, Michael maintained his involvement in the sport that got him through law school, by taking on a volunteer position as the head coach of the National Capital Wrestling Club – the same club that gave Michael his foundation in the sport. Michael is still involved with the NCWC and is helping young athletes fulfill their dreams. In the last nine years with the Club, Michael has helped develop a number of accomplished athletes who have gone on to become national team members.

Michael was able to effectively combine his experience as an athlete with his knowledge of the law and put his skills to use on behalf of Canadian athletes as the athletes’ advocate at many major Games. Collectively, Michael has represented athletes at all major multi-sport Games including the Olympics, Pan Ams, Commonwealth, Francophonie and Canada Games. In addition to working at the various Games, Michael has acted as counsel for individual athletes and coaches at the provincial level as well as conducting appeals through the Sport Dispute Resolution Center of Canada (SDRCC).

Most recently, Michael was named Team Leader – Team Member Support and Services for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. In May 2009 Michael was appointed, by the Minister of Sport, to the SDRCC Board.

2002-2003: Ian Bird (Field Hockey)

A two time Olympian in field hockey, Ian Bird has spent the past 9 years in professional and volunteer leadership roles with leading Canadian sport organizations. He is currently the Senior Leader of the Sport Matters Group, a voluntary group of national, provincial, and community organizations who promote innovation and collaborate on public policy opportunities that affect sport and physical activity in Canada.

Growing up in North Vancouver, Ian began playing field hockey at the age of six. Ian joined the national team in 1988 just in time to compete in the Seoul Olympics. During his Olympic debut, Ian collided head on with an opponent and was knocked unconscious. The unpredictable seizures and blackouts that followed forced him to retire in 1991, but five years later Ian returned to the game. He helped the national team earn top ten finishes in several international events (including a Pan Am gold in 1999) leading up to the Olympics in 2000. Canada finished 10th in Sydney and Ian retired for good soon after.

Ian first got involved in athlete leadership in the late 1990’s when he began sharing athlete rep responsibilities with one of his field hockey teammates. There was a lot going on in sport in terms of athlete issues and athlete opportunities, and Ian says the team wanted to make sure they were a part of it.

After his retirement in 2000, Ian decided to make the move to Ottawa to lead the charge on the Esteem Team’s newly expanded national initiative (originally a BC initiative). He eventually worked his way up to CEO and has since held the position of executive director with Coaches of Canada. He has also contributed to Commonwealth Games Canada’s international development through sport advisory committee, Motivate Canada, Public Policy Forum, SportWeb Canada, and Imagine Canada.

Enjoying making the connections between the athlete community and the political community, Ian has served as a member of Sport Ministers Denis Coderre and Paul Devillers’ advisory committees, and was actively involved in the creation of the Sport Matters Group (SMG). He has been senior leader of SMG since 2005.

Ian is chairman of the board of Motivate Canada (formerly the Esteem Team Association), and serves as a director with the Public Policy Forum and Imagine Canada.

Ian lives in Chelsea, Que., with his wife, son and two daughters.

2001-2002: Greg Edgelow (Wrestling)

Greg is a retired freestyle wrestler now residing in Whitehorse, YT whose competitive journey in wrestling spanned four decades, Greg represented Canada at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain and he won a bronze medal at the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle, two bronze medals at the 1991 Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba and a gold medal at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria. Greg is a six-time senior Canadian champion, as well as a juvenile, junior and national collegiate champion. In the history of the Goodwill Games, Greg is the only Canadian to win a medal in the sport of wrestling. His last national title was in 1998 where he represented Canada at the World Championships in Tehran, Iran. Greg was awarded the 1999 Canadian Sport Leadership Award for his outstanding athletic achievements and volunteerism, where he beat out fellow finalists Wayne Gretzky and downhill skier Brian Stemmle. Greg has also been designated an outstanding Alumni for Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC.

Currently, he works as the Executive Director of the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle in Whitehorse. Over the past seventeen years Greg has been involved in the Canadian sport and tourism community where he has participated on nine Boards of Directors and forty-seven committees. Greg was the motivational speaker at the Parade of Nations at the 1997 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) and a member of Team BC Mission Staff at NAIG 2006 and Assistant Chef de Mission at NAIG 2008. Greg created an endowed scholarship fund at Simon Fraser University in 1996, currently worth over $25,000 having financially assisted over twelve university wrestlers since its creation.

2000-2001: Susanne Dandenault (Weightlifting)

Susanne is a nine time National Champion in the sport of weightlifting (75 Kg + class) and she spent eight years on the National Team. Not only is she the first Canadian woman and third North American woman in weightlifting history to clean and jerk 300lbs; she is a Canadian Record Holder in the Snatch (105.0kg); the Clean and Jerk (136.5kg) and Total (237.5kg), Susanne has set fourteen Canadian records in the span of her career. She competed at the 1999 and 2003 Pan Am Games, placing 5th at both Games. Susanne placed 4th at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and participated at the World Championships in 1998 – 1999 and 2001 – 2003. On top of this, Susanne is a two time bronze medalist at the Senior National Track & Field Championships in discus.

Susanne holds two Bachelor of Arts Degrees (Psychology and Environmental Studies) from the University of Washington and a Law Degree from the University of Manitoba. She is currently on maternity leave from the position of in-house legal counsel with Paterson GlobalFoods Inc. in Winnipeg and continues to work as a motivational speaker. Susanne is a past athletes rep/board member of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada, past President of the Manitoba Weightlifting Association and former Co-Chair of the 2002 North American Indigenous Games, Sport & Competition Division.

Susanne lives in Winnipeg with her husband, Richard Mason and her two children, 2 year old son, Nash and 8 month old daughter Reese.

1997-2000: Lori Johnstone (Racquetball)

Lori has been actively involved in sport and physical activity for most of her life as a participant, athlete, coach/instructor, volunteer, advocate, leader and professional. Lori participated and competed in many sports before focusing on racquetball. A former National Champion, Lori was a member of Racquetball Canada’s National Team program from 1989 to 1996. Her dedication to the sport continued after a career ending injury to her right elbow forced her into retirement by teaching herself to play left handed, eventually achieving national success again. Lori also served as an athlete representative for her team, and was elected to the AthletesCAN Board of Directors in 1993, eventually serving terms as Vice Chair (1995-97) and Chair (1997-99). Lori was also a member of the Canadian Olympic Association’s Athletes Council from 1997-1999.

During her tenure with AthletesCAN, Lori served on numerous boards and committees such as the National Coaching Certification Committee and Sport Canada’s Sport Services Review Committee. Additionally, Lori represented the views of athletes while collaborating with many multi-service sport organizations including Commonwealth Games Canada, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, Canadian Olympic Committee, Aboriginal Sport Circle, Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport, Canadian Professional Coaches Association, the Coaching Association of Canada and the network of national sport centres and Sport Canada.

Lori attended university in Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia University (Department of Applied Social Science) where she was recognized as the top graduate in the department. She later completed an intensive French immersion program at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. She is currently the Policy Analyst for the Wellness Branch of the NB Department of Wellness, Culture and Sport. Lori’s diverse work experiences in sport have included coordinating the Canada-NB Bilateral Agreement on Sport Development; Special Advisor to former Secretary of State for Amateur Sport Denis Coderre; first Athletes Services Manager for the Canadian Sport Centre-Atlantic; National Program Coordinator for Racquetball Canada; and racquetball club pro / coach.

Lori has been recognized in many ways for her contributions to sport. She was named one of the most influential women in sport by CAAWS in 2000. The Globe and Mail listed her as one of Canadian sport’s Top Ten “Behind the Scenes” Leaders in 2000. At the 2001 Canadian Sport Awards in Toronto, Lori was the recipient of the Johnny F. Bassett Memorial Award – recognizing her dedication and work on behalf of athletes nationwide (she was also a finalist in 2000). At the 2001 National Championships, Lori was presented with the Ivan Velan Award, Racquetball Canada’s most prestigious award, for her contributions. In 2002, Lori was inducted into her home community’s Sport Wall of Fame (Oromocto, NB). In 2005, at the 13th annual AthletesCAN Forum, Lori was presented with a first-ever Athlete Leadership Award in recognition of her contributions to the Association and to athletes in Canada. In 2006, at the Canadian Sport Awards, Lori received the Bruce Kidd Athlete Leadership Award, a lifetime achievement award for providing meaningful contributions to sport as a leader, advocate, and change agent.

Lori continues to invest time in AthletesCAN as well as is a board member with the True Sport Foundation, Sport NB and a Member at Large for Commonwealth Games Canada. These commitments are balanced with Lori’s dedication to her two young children and family, the top priority at this stage of her life. In all her endeavours, personal and professional, Lori remains strongly committed to creating and sustaining the best environment for values-based sport, increased participation and the achievement of excellence.

1996-1997: Ed Drakich (Beach Volleyball)

Ed, a former member of both the national indoor and beach volleyball teams, was born in Windsor, Ont. and grew up in Toronto. Ed was introduced to volleyball at an early age as his mother, a former member of the national indoor team, and his father, a coach and player, brought him to the beach courts in Toronto almost every weekend. Ed excelled at the sport and went on to play on the University of Toronto volleyball team from 1981-1985 and was a member of the national indoor team from 1985 to 1988 before switching to the national beach team from 1989 to 1996. He competed in beach volleyball at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Ed has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Toronto and for several years worked as Volleyball Canada’s Technical Director. He recently returned to his alma mater and now is an athletic instructor and head coach of the University of Toronto men’s volleyball team. Ed has also served as both Beach Volleyball Director and Technical Director for the Ontario Volleyball Association and as an FIVB Technical Supervisor for beach volleyball. He has worked as the Tournament Director for various beach volleyball world tours, and is the author of the NCCP Level 2 and Level 3 beach volleyball technical manuals.

Ed has experience in numerous sport leadership positions, including as the founder and President of the Canadian Beach Volleyball Players’ Association, as Board member of Sport Medicine and Science Council of Canada, as a member of the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid Committee, as Vice President of the Foundation for Athletes and Sport Training, as Board member for the Sport Alliance of Ontario, and currently, as Board member of the Canadian Sport Centre – Ontario.

1993-1996: Ann Peel (Athletics)

Ann spent thirteen years on the National Athletics Team and is an international medalist in the racewalk. After completing her law degree at the University of Toronto, and working as a lawyer for eight years, Ann moved to the non-profit world in 1996 as the Executive Director of Voices for Children, and then Right to Play in its transition from Olympic Aid to active programming. Following Right to Play, Ann was the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Magna International. Following a few years of consulting, Ann is now the Director of the Institute at Havergal College—a girls’ independent school in Toronto.

As the founding Co-Chair of AthletesCAN (with Dan Thompson), Ann fought to make sure athletes had a voice. She designed and implemented pro bono legal assistance for athletes in partnership with law firms and the Law Faculty of the University of Western Ontario. The Sport Solution continues to be the primary legal support for most athletes. She developed a communications strategy to serve constituents (the still highly popular Bell cell phones) and support advocacy, and she delivered leadership training for athletes interested in athlete representation. In the first four years Ann and Dan co-chaired, AthletesCAN also achieved the first increase in Sport Canada AAP funding since the program’s inception, and won the right for athletes to postpone the tuition grant until after retirement. AthletesCAN is now an integrated stakeholder in the Canadian sport system, serving as the recognized voice of Canada’s athletes.

As an advocate for women’s sport and for athletes, Ann is featured in many books on sport, including “Who’s Who in Canadian Sport”, “Celebrating Excellence” by Wendy Long, “Winners & Losers” by Jill LeClair, “The Great Olympic Swindle” by Andrew Jennings. Ann has presented papers at various conferences at the University of Toronto, York University, Northeastern University, Duke University, among others, on topics related to athlete leadership and sport for community.

Ann is a current board member of the University of Toronto Alumni Association, the Foundation for Athletes and Sport Training and she is also actively involved in the CAN Fund which supports Canada’s Olympians. Ann also teaches children cross country skiing at Hardwood Hills, Orillia.

Ann has two sons—Michael and Andrew.

1992-1993: Dan Thompson (Swimming)

(Provisional Chair with Ann Peel – see bio above)

Dan Thompson is no stranger to sport. In the late 70’s and 80’s, Dan spent seven years as a member of the Canadian National Swim Team. He was a gold medalist in the 100 metre butterfly at the 1978 and 1982 Commonwealth Games, attended two World Championships and was a member of the 1980 Boycotted Moscow Canadian Olympic Team.

Dan graduated from the University of Toronto in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical and Health Education and then proceeded to launch a career in marketing. Over a 25 year period, Dan worked in various marketing capacities most recently at MacLaren McCann Inc., one of Canada’s largest integrated marketing firms. At MacLaren, he was the President of Momentum where he led the development of experiential marketing and integrated sponsorship programs for some of Canada’s largest corporations.

With his competitive swimming days behind him, Dan re-entered the sporting world in 2004 to help rebuild the sport he loves by serving as Volunteer President of Swimming Natation Canada. He held that post for four years and is currently serving as a Vice President of Swimming Natation Canada.

In 2007, Dan joined Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities™ as President. In this capacity, Dan has used his sport and business acumen to develop a strong brand and successful program delivery system for Canadian Tire Jumpstart®. Canadian Tire Jumpstart provides financially disadvantaged kids, ranging in age from 4 to 18, the opportunity to participate in organized sport and recreation. To date, the program has 279 Chapters and has helped more than 176,000 kids across Canada ‘get in the game’.

Dan lives in Aurora, Ontario, with his wife and two daughters who are active in sport as competitive swimmers.


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