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A message from the Board Chair

A lupus diagnosis can be life changing. It is a chronic disease with a variety of symptoms, with no known cure. People living with lupus have to plan well and make some pretty tough choices about the tasks they do everyday. They may need new treatments and medications, and have to educate their families, friends, and employers. But they don’t have to do it alone.

Lupus Canada works to improve the lives of people living with lupus, through research, advocacy, public awareness and education. Our dedicated staff and volunteers are working to better understand this often-mysterious disease, for people living with lupus and for the general public. With new research, we can help to advocate for better treatment and supports, to overcome the burdens that lupus presents, and ultimately one day find a cure.

Join us. We need your support, whether adding your voices or donating your time or money, so we can reach more doctors, researchers, and government. Together, we can improve the quality of life for those living with lupus.

Thomas J. Simpson
Board Chair

Board Members

Thomas Simpson

Thomas J. Simpson (He/Him)


Thomas Simpson has years of experience in stakeholder and government relations, building powerful advocacy campaigns, and operational oversight of national and regional non-profit programming. Currently, he is the Executive Director of Public Affairs and Come to Work at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Thomas joined Lupus Canada in 2016, to enhance the voices of people living with lupus and enhance supports and services, and access to treatments, to make life easier. He holds an Honours Bachelor of Social Science, Specializing in Political Science, with a Minor in History, from the University of Ottawa. He is currently completing a Certificate in Public Relations, at the University of Victoria.

Holly Jones Taggart

Vice Chair

Dr. Holly Jones Taggart is an associate professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ontario Tech University. Holly holds an Honours Bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University and a PhD. from Western University. Her teaching expertise is in the area of human genetics and molecular diagnostics. Her research focus is laboratory based and her students currently investigate the molecular mechanisms of cell behaviour in health and disease. Holly joined the board of directors at Lupus Canada to help advance research and education that affects the lives of persons living with lupus and their families.

Vikas Tiwari

Vikas Tiwari


Vikas is an experienced wealth management professional. In the early stages of Vikas’ career, he held several roles across two of Canada’s largest banks. During this time he developed a focus on financial advice. Presently, Vikas manages an independent wealth advisory practice with clients based throughout North America. He established his educational foundations with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and advanced them with the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Investment Manager (CIM) designations. Vikas has come to understand lupus through his experience as a primary caregiver and advocate.

Shane Dungey

Shane Dungey

Director, Executive Committee

Shane is an experienced finance executive with experience in the Capital Markets for the last 25+ years. His background includes institutional asset management with AEGON Capital, institutional sales and trading with boutiques and international investment banks. Shane has extensive knowledge equity financings, private placements and institutional equity research. He has held the position of Managing Director at Altacorp Capital in Calgary along with time at Macquarie Canada and Tristone Capital, VP Investor Relations and Capital Markets for a senior Cannabis LP. Now a partner at 4Front Advisory, a team with a combined 80+ years of market experience ranging from investor relations, investment management, equity research, and corporate finance Shane leads the way to provide clients with valuable insight to help navigate the challenges a company faces with a professional mindset and alignment on business success. His previous volunteer commitments include Play4Kids, a non-profit organization founded by the Dungey Family that aims to improve the lives of children through PLAY. Shane holds a Hons BA in Political Science from York University. Subsequent to joining the industry, he played professional hockey throughout Europe and the minors in North America.

Kendal Alston


Kendal holds a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Health Education, a Master of Arts in Kinesiology, and a Master of Business Administration.  She has worked in the BC Public Service for over ten years, focusing predominantly on the provision of quality health services to seniors and adults with complex care needs.  For the last fifteen years, Kendal has volunteered for Special Olympics Victoria, most recently as the Local Coordinator.  Kendal lost one of the most important people in her life to Lupus.  Her decision to join the Board was inspired by this individual, and by their constant dedication to helping those around them.

Dr. Ellen Chow


Dr. Ellen Chow is a resident physician in family medicine at the University of Toronto. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and an M.D. from McGill University. During her time in medical school, Ellen co-founded a student organization to raise awareness about the consequences of language barriers in healthcare and to help patients access interpretation services through an online platform. Ellen recognizes the challenges of living and working with lupus through her aunt who has lupus nephritis. She joined the board of Lupus Canada to contribute to bettering the lives of those affected by lupus.

Andrew Chudnovsky


Andrew is a corporate lawyer specialising in advising early-stage start-ups and privately owned business in Canada. His educational background is a Honours Degree in Political Science, and he obtained his law degree at the University of York, in England. Andrew has served as a board member on Student Unions, and as the President of a not-for-profit sports club. Andrew has a keen desire to use his professional knowledge of corporate governance and corporate outreach to give back to communities that matter to him and better the lives of those living with lupus.

Benoit Ferland


Benoit has been a firefighter for 15 years+. He is currently the fire safety and training manager for Les Chenaux County in Quebec and an instructor in the fire officer health and safety program at the Garneau College in Quebec City. He holds an emergency management certificate from Polytechnique the Montreal and is on his way to complete an organizational leadership certificate at HEC Montreal.

In 2020 Benoit started a fundraising initiative ‘Au combat pour ells/Fight for her’, for the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation. He raised with the help of the firefighter community, more than $30k for the cause. He was also involved in the committee for the high-rise challenge in 2021 for the Muscular Dystrophy at the Cité de l’Énergie in Shawinigan where he was also a firefighter at this time.

Benoit now runs the Lupus Quebec funds in association with CHU de Quebec, where Dr. Boilard and Dr. Fortin are leading researchers in the field of lupus research and development. Benoit’s decision to join the Lupus Canada Board was inspired by his commitment to the cause and his ability to make lupus visible in honour of his best friend who lives with lupus.

Mauricia Ambrose


Mauricia is a seasoned IT professional with 25+ years in IT project development, analysis and project/program management. She has a master’s degree in computer science with experience in the manufacturing, banking, and insurance industries. She is a mother, real estate investor and author.  Mauricia has always had a keen interest in giving back to her community through volunteering and has sponsored children with World Vision for almost 20 years. She was diagnosed with lupus in her last year at university and after almost 25 years of surviving lupus, lost her kidneys in 2015. In 2023, Mauricia won the International Women’s Day speaker competition at RBC where she had an opportunity to tell her story to approximately 8,000 of her colleagues.  Because of their response, she felt driven to do more for individuals struggling with this invisible illness. She has joined the board of Lupus Canada to help others survive as she has.

Malcolm Gilroy

Malcolm Gilroy

Past President

Malcolm Gilroy is a seasoned financial services executive with extensive African experience. He has recently returned from Nigeria where he lived for eight years. Initially he was sent to Nigeria as a Technical Advisor to the World Bank Group, mandated to review the financial landscape of the country and to advise the Nigerian Government on ways to rejuvenate their dormant bond market. He continued to work in Nigeria as an investment banker and consultant. Prior to going to Nigeria Malcolm had a successful career as a bank treasurer and investment counsel in Canada. He is currently a Principal of Pax Terra Inc. a Washington based development and private equity consultant and is also an associate of Logan Wealth Management, a Canadian based Investment Counsel. In addition to being a former President with Lupus Canada, Malcolm sits on the Boards of The Jane Goodall Institute of Canada and CSCDL Funds (Nigeria) and is a former Chair (President) of the ALS Society of Canada.


Leanne Mielczarek Head Shot

Leanne Mielczarek

Executive Director

Leanne joined Lupus Canada in 2008 and was appointed Executive Director in 2016. In this role Leanne leads the vision and initiatives of Lupus Canada while overseeing operations, revenue development, advocacy and research efforts and industry partnerships in Canada. Leanne is committed to increasing public awareness of lupus and ensuring lupus patients across Canada have access to care. With over 25 years experience in the not-for-profit sector Leanne’s previous roles as the National Walk Coordinator and National Manager within the organization illustrates Leanne’s commitment to ensuring those impacted by lupus have a voice. Prior to joining Lupus Canada Leanne worked for a National Software Developer and the Canadian Liver Foundation.  Leanne studied Sociology at York University.

Cora Novacut Lee headshot

Cora Novacut-Lee

Manager, Donor Relations/Special Programs

Cora joined Lupus Canada in 2013. Cora’s dedication to the organization has been instrumental to furthering our initiatives. Cora holds the role of Manager, Donor Relations/Special Programs and reports to the Executive Director. She studied Business Administration and Project Management at Humber.

Ariana Ranjbar

National Digital Marketing Specialist

Ariana recently graduated with a Bachelors Honours Degree in Sociology from Queen’s University which fueled her interest in the not -for-profit field. Ariana’s experience managing fundraisers, hands on work experience with Lupus Canada for the past two summers combined with her education founded her interest to pursue creative outlets in which to communicate knowledge and make it accessible. Ariana is passionate about working on projects with organizations that address the solutions and policies to challenge various social relations within the community, whether that is through arts, media, or education.

Heather Coates

National Fund Development & Engagement Officer

Heather is thrilled join the Lupus Canada team in the role of National Fundraising Development Officer. Her experience includes not-for-profit event planning, corporate production coordination as well as, most recently, a successful self-employed decade in the wellness world. She feels driven by the opportunity of creating meaningful & impactful change in the lives of people living with lupus.

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