Meet the Board
Chair: Jose Tovillo
Jose is a Registered Nurse with years of experience in different settings including Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry, and Geriatrics. He began his Ph.D in Nursing in 2018 and is working as an Emergency RN at the Royal Alexandra Hospital as well as a faculty member at MacEwan University-Department of Nursing Science and a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Alberta. Additionally, he continues to be involved in community and health as a member of the Alberta Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Research and Evaluation Operations Committee, which looks at examining the effectiveness of the PrEP Program in the Province of Alberta. My research interests are on PrEP uptake among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Canada.His desire for volunteerism and community involvement, as well as his passion for health education and promotion, led to his interest in joining the HIV Edmonton Board.
Why Jose is a Hero for Zero: “As a frontline health care provider, I work closely with patients and families who are affected by HIV. I am a Hero for Zero as I can use my voice, knowledge, and experience to help promote HIV awareness, education, and prevention- not only to individuals affected by HIV but to the Edmonton community at large. I believe all of these can help achieve the organization’s goal of “Zero new HIV infections, Zero stigma and discrimination, Zero AIDS-related deaths.”.
Vice Chair: Morgan Wadams
Morgan is a registered nurse with a background in the penal system in Canada and currently works at the Edmonton Remand Centre. Morgan obtained his Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2015 and is now pursuing his Ph.D. in Nursing at the University of Alberta. Morgan has always enjoyed educating others, which is why he serves as a teaching assistant within the Faculty of Nursing. Morgan has received numerous scholarships such as the Alberta Registered Nurses Education Trust and the Don Mazankowski Graduate Scholarship in Nursing. Morgan’s research interests explore the lived realities of people living with HIV who have previously been incarcerated and are transitioning into and out of correctional facilities. Currently, Morgan is a fellow with Universities Without Walls, a cohort of HIV researchers that seeks to move HIV-related evidence into practice with a focus on community-based research. Morgan has served as a volunteer at HIV Edmonton and at the Nursing Graduate Students Association (U of A). Morgan’s drive for working alongside individuals living on the margin of society led him to join the HIV Edmonton team.
Why Morgan is a Hero for Zero: “A lot of people living with HIV are invisible in society – they are often neglected, stigmatized, and discriminated against because of their various labels and social positioning. As a board member, I wish to attend to these issues by working alongside HIV Edmonton and the incredible people this organization serves”.
Secretary: Luiz Costa
Luiz is an Oral Pathologist with over 20 years of in-depth experience in Brazil’s Unified health system. He was the first dentist to assist patients, and families in ambulatory and home-care HIV and AIDS services which resulted in ultimately training teams and establishing a thorough oral healthcare public network for systemically compromised patients. He has been engaged in health, education and wellness organizations both while living in Brazil and in Montreal. Since arriving in Edmonton he began to volunteer at HIV Edmonton to contribute and provide his best knowledge and goodwill to those living with or affected by HIV in his new home community.
Why Luiz is a Hero for Zero: “I am determined to demystify misconceptions by using new approaches and preventing prejudices through education, a mission I have committed to for decades. I believe that by collaborating with HIV Edmonton I can continue my role in cooperative social labor”.
Treasurer : Darrell Wakaruk
Darrell is eager and excited to join the HIV Edmonton Board of Directors. With 30+ years of experience in the business sector combined with 4 terms on a great not-for-profit Governance Board here in Edmonton, Darrell brings the knowledge and experience that can help support the Vision, Mission and Values of the HIV Network of Edmonton Society.
His background includes diverse experience in both IT and Finance along with a solid understanding of how a not-for-profit Governance Board governs. During Darrell’s tenure as Board Member and Vice-Chair of the Edmonton Humane Society, he was instrumental in moving the board from an Operational Board to a Governance Board.
Additionally, as a member of the LGBTQ community Darrell is a strong supporter of removing the stigma associated with those who live with HIV and believes deeply in the value and support HIV Edmonton brings to his community.
Why Darrell is a Hero for Zero: “I volunteer with HIV Edmonton because I believe in the Mission and Values of the organization. My dedication to the organization is tied to being an advocate to help improve the lives of people affected with HIV/AIDS, promote informed awareness and to remove the stigma associated with HIV.”
Director : Ryan Fung
Ryan recently completed a Masters of Public Health in Health Policy and Management at the University of Alberta where he previously obtained a Certificate in Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies through Peter Lougheed Leadership College. Ryan has a passion for the life sciences and contributing to healthcare. His previous research experiences include the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Alberta and the United States Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. His interest centers around how the use of sound evidence can help inform policy decisions to generate the best population health outcomes. Ryan who takes pride in serving members of his community, has in turn, received scholarships through both the Laurence Decore Award for Student Leadership and the Dr. Gary McPherson Leadership Scholarship for his dedication to those he serves. His other interests include being an In-School Mentor with Boys & Girls Club Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton & Area, serving on the executive committee of Taking Strides Edmonton, and as a Member at Large on the Friends of University Hospitals Board of Directors.
Why Ryan is a Hero for Zero: “Individuals living with or affected by HIV and AIDS are often stigmatized and marginalized in society. HIV Edmonton’s work in providing support, development of educational resources, and frontline advocacy make me incredibly proud to serve with this organization to address the issues facing the population we serve”.
Director: Thomas Kuperus
Thomas is currently working as an experienced probation officer with the Government of Alberta. Thomas comes to HIV Edmonton with over nine years of leadership experience as a director, co-founder, and board member of Sunrise of Life, an international organization working with street involved youth in Tanzania. Tom has been an integral part of administering rehabilitative initiatives to vulnerable children in Tanzania in an effort to provide sustainable behavior change. Working within the Canadian criminal justice system, he is passionate about working with those affected by and at risk of acquiring HIV, both locally and internationally. Tom has been the recipient of the Paul Harris Fellowship through Rotary International, and the Government of Alberta Community Leadership Award.
Why Thomas is a Hero for Zero: “Working in the Justice System I recognize that reaching Zero can only be achieved through the combined efforts of many. I believe the collaborative approach of HIV Edmonton will be influential in achieving Zero”.
Director : Deborah Norris
Deborah has been a volunteer with HIV Edmonton since 1992, soon after her diagnosis with HIV in 1991. She has represented a voice of people living with HIV on local, provincial, national and international Boards whose primary focus has been support to people living with HIV. She has worked in the HIV sector as a frontline support worker, an outreach worker and an Executive Director. She brings her years of lived experience of being an HIV positive mom to two kids and an activist and advocate for people living with HIV. She believes that the voice of people with lived experience of HIV is essential to the work of all Boards of HIV service organizations. She is very excited to see the work of the agency unfold and be a part of that.
Why Deborah is a Hero for Zero: “I know first hand the importance of the work that HIV Edmonton provides. I know we will not achieve zero new infections, zero stigma and zero deaths unless organizations like HIV Edmonton are there to ensure the work continues. As a woman living with HIV, I have worked to reduce stigma in the lives of people living with HIV and to ensure they have the supports they need to live a long and healthy life. I continue to do HIV community education with HIV Edmonton and have provided education to thousands of people to ensure that everyone has access to the information they need about HIV. My mission in life is to see HIV eradicated, stigma stopped and people living with HIV to have healthy, happy lives. “
Director : Conar O'Neil
Conar is a physician and Assistant Clinical Professor with the University of Alberta’s Division of Infectious Diseases. He has a specific interest in HIV (including PrEP) and viral hepatitis and practices primarily out of the Misericordia Community Hospital and Kaye Edmonton Clinic. He studied Biology and International Development Studies and then Medicine in Winnipeg before completing residency training in Calgary (Internal Medicine) and Edmonton (Infectious Diseases). Conar is currently pursuing his Master’s of Science in Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety through Queens University. Conar volunteered for Nine Circles, a community-based HIV organization while in Winnipeg.
Why Conar is a Hero for Zero: “The privilege of caring for patients with HIV is one of the reasons I went in to medicine and I am looking forward to contributing my experience at the broader community level. I strongly believe that through these efforts we can improve the lives of people living with HIV”.
Director : Jennifer Njenga
Jennifer is a physician with nearly 20 years of work and lived experience in both Primary, Secondary care and the Community in several countries including South Africa, Namibia, Uganda, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. She has held clinical and non-clinical roles including Executive Director of Universal Health and Development Foundation in Uganda, Physician Liaison for Women and Children’s health and the Clinical Lead for the Regional Maternal and Child Health Committee in Auckland New Zealand, Clinical Lead for the Provincial Referral Team in Alberta, and Manager of Clinical Services – Integrated Care in the West Edmonton Primary Health Care Network in Edmonton. Jennifer is the CEO of Canada Homecare Group, an organization that was recently formed to provide afterhours care for all age groups across Edmonton, particularly for vulnerable population groups such as Seniors and Newcomers to Canada, whose needs were made worse by the Pandemic.
Why Jennifer is a Hero for Zero: “I have many years of experience working with patients, families and communities affected by HIV and AIDS in various parts of the world and in both clinical and non-clinical roles. I have a good understanding of the challenges that are involved with work around HIV and AIDS. However, I know of and have witnessed successes and wins made to curb and reduce the impact of this disease even in the poorest of resource settings. With a Public Health lens and a passion for working with vulnerable communities, I am committed to working with HIV Edmonton to raise awareness, reduce stigma, prevent HIV and reduce AIDs-related deaths and its impacts on these communities.
Director : Nerissa Young
Nerissa is the principal lawyer at Young Law Chambers, operating a general practice (basically most areas of law except for Criminal). She brings a wide variety of life experiences and perspectives. Born in Toronto but raised in Florida and Jamaica before returning to Canada (Edmonton) approximately 8 years ago, Nerissa has advised non-profit organizations on structure/re-structuring, internal policies, procedures, bylaws and other constituting documents. She has experience sitting on the Arts & Culture Council of Strathcona County (ACCSC) when employed in Sherwood Park. At the ACCSC, Nerissa provided practical legal information when necessary, including terms and conditions and waivers for events to protect the liability of the organization. She reviewed potential contracts with vendors or individuals/organizations that we planned to work with for a specific event or program for our members. Additionally, Nerissa sat on the committee to plan the annual Heritage Day event, which showcased local culture, heritage, and art. She takes pleasure in being personable, having a high level of professionalism, paying attention to detail, and having discretion.
Why Nerissa is Hero for Zero: “I would like to see the end of stigmatism and discrimination against those living with HIV face. I believe in working with HIV Edmonton I can do my part to bring about education and awareness in an effort to achieve those goals in our lifetime.”
Director : Aaron Singleton
Aaron comes from a public policy background having completed his B.A. in Political Science at the University of Alberta. Currently, he provides policy analysis and research support to Alberta Counsel which operates as a civil law and government relations firm in downtown Edmonton. He also spent six years working with the provincial government in Justice and Solicitor General with both the Provincial Court and the Court of Appeal of Alberta. He is no stranger to HIV Edmonton as he was the keynote speaker for the 2015 Superhero Run/Walk and has assisted in organizing one of our candlelight vigils. In 2015, he competed at the Spartan Death Race while raising funds for HIV Edmonton to honour his father’s memory. In addition to his work with HIV Edmonton, Aaron frequently engages in fundraising efforts such as the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics and the Hair Massacure.
Why Aaron is a Hero for Zero: “As much as we have learned about HIV and AIDS since the pandemic began decades ago, we still have not reached zero. Far too many people (including my father) have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS, and too many still face stigma in their communities. I have seen firsthand the support that HIV Edmonton provides to the community, and I believe with their help that zero is still possible. By joining the board, I hope to help HIV Edmonton get even closer to that goal in any way I can.”