Advisory council meetingThe Advisory Council of the Department of English Language and Literature is the brainchild of the University of Waterloo English alumnus and Arts Alumni Achievement Award winner Eric Friesen.

Composed of alumni and other supporters in various professions and walks of life, the council provides insight and guidance on all aspects of the future of English Literary and Rhetorical studies at the University of Waterloo. 

The council exists to help further the goals of the department by advising the Chair of English. It acts as a body of leadership, influence, and support with the department's alumni, the university, and other interested parties or well-wishers.

The council also provides a link to those individuals and organizations with the resources, knowledge, and contacts that can help the department achieve its goals. The council may also assist graduates of the Department in securing professional opportunities in a variety of fields.

The council meets twice a year; its members are appointed by the Chair of English for terms of three years; its inaugural meeting occurred on December 4th, 2009.

Explore individual council members' profiles below:

Mandy Lam (Chair)

Mandy Lam

Mandy Lam is a uWaterloo alumna, having received her B.A. and M.A. in English. During the completion of her M.A., Mandy helped develop an online version of English 210F and was the instructor of the course for three years. She has also worked at several companies in the Kitchener Waterloo area since 2002, including Agfa and Open Text, primarily in product marketing.

Ricardo Olenewa (Vice-Chair)

Photo of Ricardo Olenewa.

Ricardo Olenewa is Manager in Engineering Education at Google. He graduated with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Waterloo. He started his career teaching computer programming at George Brown College. Later, Ricardo led I.T. departments for social service agencies in Toronto, and co-founded two start-ups, before returning to Waterloo to study for an M.A. in English Literature. During his Master’s studies, he received a Mitacs Accelerate grant to design a conversational speech interface for email with a local start-up.

After his Masters’ studies, Ricardo went on to write developer documentation at BlackBerry. He now leads a team that creates training and documentation for Engineers at Google.

Louise Dennys

Louise DennysLouise Dennys is Executive Publisher, The Knopf Random Vintage Canada Publishing Group and Executive Vice-President, Random House of Canada Limited. The three imprints under Louise’s direction as Executive Publisher of The Knopf Random Vintage Canada Publishing Group are Knopf Canada, Random House Canada and the paperback house of Vintage Canada. She was appointed to The Order of Canada, Canada Monarch (CM), 2005, for her contribution to Canadian culture.

Louise started her career as a bookseller. After graduating from Oxford University, she managed a bookstore in the Charing Cross Road in London before moving to Canada and working at Clarke Irwin for 3 years, first as the coffee girl/assistant then Editorial Assistant and briefly Editor. At the age of 25, she started her own 2-person publishing house under the banner of Anson-Cartwright Editions. Soon after (in 1979) she went into partnership, as Publisher, with Malcolm Lester, helping to build what became the internationally renowned Lester & Orpen Dennys, publishing such major Canadian books as The Illustrated History of Canada, Irving Abella’s None is Too Many and Joy Kogawa’s Obasan, and writers such as Rudy Wiebe, Alberto Manguel, Josef Skvorecky, Marie-Claire Blais, Antonine Maillet, Susan Swan, and Michael Ondaatje. A former Chair of the Association of Canadian Publishers' International Export Committee, she led the first Canadian Publishing Trade Mission to the United Kingdom in 1984, and the first Canadian Publishing Trade Mission to China in l986. Louise is herself an award-winning Editor of both non-fiction and fiction, twice winner of the Canadian Booksellers Association (CBA) Libris Award for Editor of the Year.

Charles Finlay

Photo of Charles Finlay.Charles Finlay is Director of Policy at the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. He has an honours English degree from Queen's, an MA in English from the University of London, and an LL.B. (Legum Baccalaureus) from Dalhousie Law School. Charles has been Vice President and Senior Counsel at Bank of Montreal in Toronto, and has worked as a journalist for leading publications, including The Globe and Mail and Canadian Business Magazine. Charles has worked as a volunteer with former prison inmates, and with those suffering from mental illness. He currently serves on the boards of The Gerstein Centre, a mental health crisis centre in Toronto.

Eric Friesen (Past Chair)

Eric FriesenEric Friesen is a veteran broadcaster, writer and speaker on music and culture. Under the umbrella of Prairie Boy Speaks Inc., Eric is serving a wide variety of major cultural organizations in Canada. He has spent much of his life as a network classical music host and producer of CBC Radio and Minnesota Public Radio (NPR). For CBC he has hosted programs such as Studio Sparks, In Performance, and Onstage at Glenn Gould Studio, as well as the celebrated documentary series The Concerto According to Pinchas, The Concerto According to Manny, and Peter and the Symphony. He has also recently completed 6 podcast documentaries called Eric Friesen Presents for marking the 40th anniversary of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. In July he interviewed novelist Ian McEwan on classical music in his novels for Angela Hewitt's Trasimeno Music Festival in Umbria. Excerpts from this interview appeared on CBC Radio's The Sunday Edition, as well as NUVO magazine and Queen's Quarterly. Eric graduated from the University of Waterloo with a B.A. in English.

Sandra Iacobelli

Sandra Iacobelli is Counsel at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and provides Canadian legal and related transactional support to CIBC’s investment banking, equity capital markets, debt capital markets and institutional securities trading businesses. She has an honours English degree from the University of Western Ontario and an LL.B. (Legum Baccalaureus) from Dalhousie Law School. Prior to joining CIBC, Sandra practiced as a corporate finance lawyer with Torys LLP in Toronto.

Sandra Martin

Sandra MartinSandra Martin, a senior features writer with The Globe and Mail, has won the Atkinson and Canadian Journalism Fellowships, gold and silver National Magazine Awards, the best long form obituary of a celebrity from the Society of Professional Obituary Writers, and was Harvey Stevenson Southam Lecturer in the writing department at the University of Victoria in 2010. She was the co-editor of the annual Oberon Best Short Stories and Coming Attractions anthologies from 1984 through 1986 and is the co-author of three books, including Rupert Brooke in Canada and Card Tricks: Bankers, Boomers and the Explosion of Plastic Credit, which was short listed for the Canadian Business Book Award in 1993. Her latest book is The First Man in My Life: Daughters Write About Their Fathers, an anthology of original essays which she commissioned and edited for Penguin in 2007. A past president of Poets, Essayists, and Novelists (PEN) Canada, she is the mother of a grown son and daughter. She lives in Toronto with her husband, historian Roger Hall, and her cat, Alice.

Steven Palmer

Steven PalmerSteven Palmer is an Associate Professor in History and Canada Research Chair in the History of International Health at the University of Windsor. A Latin Americanist who received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1990, he has also worked on Canadian and US histories of medicine and health, and on the story of Newfoundland nationalism. His book, Launching Global Health: The Caribbean Odyssey of the Rockefeller Foundation, was published by the University of Michigan Press in February 2010. Between 1993 and 2000, Steve was a writer and performer. He created, wrote and co-produced The Great Eastern, which aired on the CBC Radio network from 1994 to 1999. Steve has written 15 works of radio drama and a number of radio documentaries that have aired on such CBC programs as Ideas and As It Happens. His stage play, Uncivil Servants, was produced at the Longshoremen's Protective Union (LSPU) Hall in St. John's in 1998.

Archana Rampure

Archana RampureArchana Rampure completed a BA (Hons) in English from the University of Waterloo before obtaining her MA from Alberta and her PhD from Toronto. She taught English, Liberal Arts, and Women's Studies at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design), Toronto and Waterloo and spent a year teaching Cultural Studies at Dalhousie. She then held a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Postdoctoral Fellowship at the School of Information Management at Dalhousie. Leaving academia behind, she went on to work for Jack Layton, then leader of Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP). She is now a National Researcher for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, where her portfolio includes social policy, and legislative and campaign support for the Ontario Division of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees).

Ray Siemens

Ray SiemensRay Siemens is Canada Research Chair in Humanities Computing and Professor of English at the University of Victoria with appointment also in Computer Science. The editor of several Renaissance texts, Siemens is also the founding editor of the electronic scholarly journal Early Modern Literary Studies; he has authored numerous articles on the intersection of literary studies and computational methods and is the co-editor of several book collections on humanities computing topics, among them Blackwell's Companion to Digital Humanities (with Susan Schreibman and John Unsworth) and Companion to Digital Literary Studies (with Susan Schreibman).

Russell Smith

Photo of Russell SmithRussell Smith is a prominent Canadian novelist and literary commentator. His previous novels, including How Insensitive and Girl Crazy, are records of urban frenzy and exciting underworlds. He writes a provocative weekly column on the arts in the national Globe and Mail, and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Guelph. 

Scott Wahl

Photo of Scott WahlScott Wahl has worked for 20 years at  technology companies including BlackBerry, with responsibility for technical communications, localization, release management, beta programs, and developer operations. He currently works at Dematic, a global leader in warehouse automation and material handling, as director of their R&D Software office in Waterloo. Scott has a B.A. (Honours) in English Literature from the University of Waterloo, an M.Sc in Technical Communication from Utah State University, and an MBA from  Wilfrid Laurier University. He lives in Waterloo with his wife and two sons.

Barbara Willis-Sweete

Barbara Willis-SweeteA founding partner of Rhombus Media, Barbara Willis-Sweete has produced and directed more than 30 films with Rhombus since the company’s inception in 1979. She is now considered to be one of the world’s pre-eminent directors of films related to music and dance. Ms. Willis-Sweete's films have been screened at major film festivals around the world and have received top awards in Toronto, Montreal, Banff, New York, Chicago, Columbus, Houston, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Paris. She has directed several live Cinemacasts at the Metropolitan Opera of New York, including Lucia di Lammermoor, Hansel & Gretel, Tristan und Isolde, Salome, Damnation of Faust, Orfeo ed Euridice and La Sonnambula. Her film The Young Romantic: A Portrait of Yundi Li won four Gemini Awards in 2009, including Best Director and Best Performing Arts Program. 

Past Council Members

George Elliott Clarke

George Elliot ClarkeGeorge Elliott Clarke is E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto, a position established specifically for a poet-professor. He is the author of nine poetry texts, three chapbooks, four plays in verse (and three opera libretti), a novel, a scholarly essay collection, and has edited two anthologies. His plays and operas (one composed by James Rolfe and two composed by D.D. Jackson) have all been staged, and his two screenplays have been televised.

Although acclaimed for his poetry, Clarke has also won laurels for his work as an anthologist and scholar of African-Canadian literature, a field of study that he has pioneered. His honours include The Governor-General’s Literary Award for Poetry (2001), The National Magazine Gold Award for Poetry (2001), The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Achievement Award (2004), The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellowship Prize (2005), The Frontieras Poesis Premiul (Romania, 2005), The Estelle and Ludwig Jus Memorial Human Rights Award (2005), The Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction (2006), The William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations (2008), The Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (2009), appointment to the Order of Nova Scotia (2006), and appointment to the Order of Canada (2008). Clarke has also received seven honorary doctorates.

Giuseppina D'Agostino

Giuseppina (Pina) D'AgostinoProfessor Giuseppina D’Agostino joined the Osgoode Hall Law School faculty in 2006 and brings creativity and passion to her role as Founder and Director of IP Osgoode, the Intellectual Property Law and Technology Program at Osgoode.  She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the IPilogue (, the first IP law blog of its kind, and Founder and Director of Osgoode’s IP Intensive and the Innovation Clinic. Before her appointment at Osgoode, she was recruited by the federal government’s Recruitment of Policy Leaders (RPL) program for the Department of Canadian Heritage and worked at the Copyright Policy Branch.

Patrice Dutil

Patrice DutilPatrice Dutil is Associate Professor and Undergraduate Director in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University. After receiving his PhD in History from York University, Dutil started his career in the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs in 1987 as a policy advisor, and then joined TVOntario where he worked in corporate policy and then in programming. He became Director of Research at the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) in 1999. In 1991, he founded and edited for five years the monthly Literary Review of Canada (now in its 20th year). He is the President of the Champlain Society and is the director of the "Parliament-to-Campus" program of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians.

The author, co-author or editor of six books, Patrice Dutil’s main research interests are political and public sector leadership, institutionalism and the policy development process. Dutil is a frequent commentator on public affairs on radio and television, and his op-ed pieces have appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Winnipeg Free Press and La Presse.

Lynne Magnusson

Lynne MagnussonLynne Magnusson is a Professor of English at the University of Toronto, the Director of the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies for 2010-15, a Trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America, and a recipient of a Canada Council Killam Research Fellowship. She has published extensively on Shakespeare’s language, early modern women’s writing, the genre of the letter, and discourse analysis. She is the author of Shakespeare and Social Dialogue: Dramatic Language and Elizabethan Letters, a co-author of Reading Shakespeare’s Dramatic Language: A Guide, and co-editor of The Elizabethan Theatre, volumes XI to XV. She is currently at work on The Transformation of the English Letter, 1520-1620 and the Norton Critical Edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

Tai Nahm

Tai NahmTai Nahm is a Partner in the Intellectual Property Group of Miller Thomson's Waterloo office. His practice focuses on acquisition, exploitation and management of intellectual property (IP) rights, including patent drafting and prosecution, patent opinions, procurement of industrial design (design patent) registrations, copyright, licensing, due diligence, patent portfolio management, and related matters. He has worked with some of the largest multinational companies in the information and communication technologies sector, as well as small-to-medium enterprise (SME) companies in general manufacturing, health care, clean tech, and medical devices. Tai also enjoys working with individual inventors, start-ups and SMEs to help them identify and protect their IP rights and establish a competitive IP strategy. Tai is a Registered Patent Agent in Canada, and is also qualified to represent Canadian patent applicants before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the international Patent Cooperation Treaty Office. Tai also represents Canadian patent applicants around the world through a network of foreign patent associates.

Winnie Ng

Winnie NgWinnie Ng is the Candian Auto Workers (CAW)-Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Ryerson University. For over three decades, Ng has championed the rights of workers through her involvement with various community and labour organizations. She started in the labour movement as a union organizer with International Ladies Garment Workers' Union back in the late 1970s. As a longtime community and anti-racism activist, she helped found the Ontario Coalition of Visible Minority Women and the Alliance for Employment Equity. Prior to her appointment at Ryerson, she was the Ontario Regional Director of the Canadian Labour Congress. 

She is currently the  co-chair of Good Jobs for All Coalition. Ng holds a MA and PhD from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

Avvey Peters

Avvey PetersAvvey Peters is the Vice President, Operations at Communitech in Waterloo, Ontario, where she provides strategic communications, advocacy, and project management support. Avvey has more than 15 years experience in public relations, including speech-writing, media relations, and stakeholder communications. Before joining Communitech, Avvey spent seven years working in external relations at the University of Waterloo, where she was director of government relations, was responsible for media relations, and was the primary speechwriter and strategic communications officer for the president of the University. Avvey has worked as a news writer for CTV Southwestern Ontario, has written for University Affairs and The/La Source magazines, and has been the editor of The University of Waterloo Magazine. Avvey is a former Executive Director of the Business & Education Partnership of Waterloo Region, a charitable organization that connects youth to careers, with particular emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Avvey holds a Master of Journalism from Carleton University, and a degree in Rhetoric and Professional Writing from the English Department at the University of Waterloo.

Ernie Regehr

Ernie RegehrErnie Regehr is the co-founder of Project Ploughshares, Adjunct Associate Professor in Peace and Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, and a Fellow of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). His publications on peace and security issues include books, monographs, journal articles, conference papers, Parliamentary briefs, and op-eds - as well as his current CIGI blog, "DisarmingConflict." He has served as an non-government organization (NGO) representative and expert advisor on a number of Government of Canada delegations to multilateral nuclear disarmament forums. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada.