Allow us to introduce our current Board of Directors.
Eric Demers CD, BSc, CCPA, CAPM
Eric was born in Hawkesbury, Ontario. He joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1994 as a Medical Technician and released in 2017 after 23 years of service and this is where Eric graduated from the Physician Assistant Program in 2010. During his time in the military, Eric served multiple missions overseas and on submarines where he acquired a specialty in Submarine and Diving Medicine. He calls Victoria, BC home, where he lives with his wife and two wonderful children. Eric also holds a certificate in Business Administration from the University of Victoria, a Primary Care Paramedic certificate from JIBC and is a Certified Associate in Project Management (PMI). He has been involved with CAPA since 2008 and was on the membership committee, a question writer for the national certification exam and most recently the vice-president of the Pacific Chapter. Eric is honoured be the director of the BC chapter and hopes to see PAs recognized in regulated in BC in the near future.
Leslie St. Jacques, CCPA, BHSc PA, BA hons, MES (Planning), MSW, RSW
Leslie St. Jacques is a Canadian Certified Physician Assistant from the inaugural class of the PA Education Program at McMaster University (2010). Leslie has worked in Neurosurgery at the Krembil Brain Institute at Toronto Western Hospital since 2014. She has also worked as a PA in Neurosurgery for the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg (2013) and in the Cardiovascular Surgery ICU for Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) (2010-2013).
Leslie is currently the Interim PA Lead for the University Health Network (UHN) and has been the elected President of their PA Council since 2014. Since 2010, she has been involved in creating structures to enable PA practice at the local level, working with pharmacists to develop the first set of Medical Directives for HHS, and then later for UHN. Leslie has worked to revise the UHN PA policy, create templates for required documentation to ease the on-boarding process, and worked with the IT department to create a platform for PAs within the electronic medical record system. Successful integration pathways have supported the steady increase in the number of PAs working at UHN, currently 29 and counting.
Leslie is studying research methods at McMaster University through the Graduate Diploma in Clinical Epidemiology. She is an advocate for Physician Assistant involvement in research and in teaching, and will be facilitating problem-based learning sessions in neurology and psychiatry for McMaster this semester. Leslie is a new preceptor for PA students’ placements in neurosurgery for both University of Toronto and McMaster University. She has presented clinical material for CAPA’s annual conference in both poster and lecture formats, as well as contributed to the Journal of Canada’s Physician Assistants.
Chris Rhule, MHS, PA-C, CCPA
Chris began his career in the Winnipeg Reserves before joining the US Navy. In the navy he was exposed to PAs and upon accepting an honorable discharge embarked on a journey to become a PA. In 1999, Chris obtained a Master’s degree from the Quinnipiac University PA Program in Hamden, Connecticut. Chris practiced in the US in cardiac surgery prior to moving back to Winnipeg. He has played a key role in the growth of the PA profession. He contributed to the creation of the first Master’s Degree PA program at the University of Manitoba and played a consultative role in the development of both Ontario’s PA educational programs. He co-authored the Ontario PA Scope of Practice Statement and Competency Profile. From 2005 to 2014 Chris was the Director for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority PA Program. For the last 2 years Chris has been traveling abroad working in developing countries providing care for under privileged communities.
Prior to joining Santis, Patrick served as the Executive Director of Public and Corporate Affairs at the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), the voice of the province’s 34,000 physicians. Over ten years with the organization, he led the OMA through several strategic communications campaigns, a comprehensive governance review, as well as a major rebranding of the organization itself. Under his tenure, member satisfaction with the OMA doubled to a record high while over the course of a recent five-month advocacy campaign the profession has witnessed a remarkable 12% increase in public trust. From 1998-2003, Patrick worked in senior communications roles in the Ontario government. As an aide to Ontario’s Minister of Health, Patrick led the issues management and legislative agenda.
Provincial Director, Alberta
Kirsten Luomala, CD, MPAS, CCPA
Born and raised on a farm outside Vancouver, Kirsten joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 1987 upon graduating from high school. Joining as a medical technician she served in a variety of postings from training systems, to the Army, Air Force and on multiple deployments, Haiti, twice to Afghanistan and Alert (North Pole). In 2007 Kirsten was selected to the CAF PA program and graduated in the inaugural PA degree class in 2009 receiving her Bachelor of Science from the University of Nebraska. After graduating, she was posted to the Canadian Forces Medical School assigned to teach in the CAF PA program as well as assisted in developing a Combat PA program for the Afghanistan National Army in 2013. While on her 2nd deployment to Afghanistan in 2013 she completed her Master of PA studies in Education and ER medicine from the University of Nebraska. Kirsten retired from the CAF in 2014 to accept a position in Alberta’s Demonstration Project in the Department of Neurosurgery at University of Alberta where she currently works. During her time in Alberta, Kirsten has been involved in many speaking engagements promoting the PA profession to various organizations within the University of Alberta. Currently she resides in Spruce Grove Alberta with her husband and 3 daughters.
Provincial Director, Saskatchewan
Todd Bryden, BSc, CD, CCPA
Todd Bryden originally from Sydney, Nova Scotia joined the Canadian Armed Forces in September 1995 and over his 22 years in the CAF was posted to numerous locations throughout Canada. He completed his Physician Assistant training in 2010 with a Bachelor of Sciences Degree from the University of Nebraska, and practiced as a PA in the CAF onboard HMC Ships and within Health Services clinics until 2017 and final posting to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan where he retired from the CAF and started work with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority with the Department of Surgery in the Section of Urology. Todd is married to his lovely wife Melissa and has 3 children, 7-year-old twins RJ and Olivia and 15-year-old Beth.
Todd has been an active member of CAPA and volunteers on the Physician Assistant Council of Canada Exam Committee. He is an avid supporter of the PA profession and looks forward to being a strong advocate for integration of PAs into health care in Saskatchewan and across Canada.
Provincial Director, Manitoba
Steven Piotrowski, B.Sc., M.Sc., MPAS., CCPA
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba Steven completed his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Manitoba in 2005. In 2011, he finished two years of an Athletic Therapy degree before entering his Master of Science in Human Anatomy and Cell Science. It was during his master’s degree, where Steven learned about the Physician Assistant profession while teaching physician assistant, medical, pharmacy and respiratory therapy students in the gross human anatomy laboratory. In 2014, Steven was accepted to the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program at the University of Manitoba. Following graduation in 2016, he accepted a position in Beausejour, Manitoba working as a family medicine/emergency medicine physician assistant. In addition, Steven is passionate about teaching physician assistant students as both a preceptor and instructor. Furthermore, Steven has been married to his amazing wife Kim for the past four years and they have two wonderful children, Luke and Kate.
Provincial Director, Ontario
Deniece O’Leary, MPAS, PA-C
Deniece is an American trained physician assistant (PA) with a Master’s Degree in Physician Assistant Studies. After graduating, she worked in a Southern California low-income family practice specializing in pediatrics and women’s health. Deniece moved her family from California to Ontario in 2009 to accept a position as an assistant professor at McMaster University’s newly established Physician Assistant Education Program. At McMaster, she taught clinical skills and problem based learning for 5 years. Now, Deniece is currently a faculty member at the University of Toronto Campus for the Consortium of Physician Assistant Education Program. She is also working as a clinical PA part time with a family physician in Hamilton and an Orthopedic Surgeon in Burlington. Deniece has proudly served as both the President and Vice President of the Canadian Physician Assistant Education Association (CPAEA) and is a member of the PA Integration Committee through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Throughout her career, she has been fortunate to teach and mentor many PA students and clinicians. Having spent over 10 years in clinical practice, 8 years as an educator, she has valuable knowledge concerning the struggles facing Ontario PAs. She is committed to working hard to build a better future for PAs in the province. Deniece enjoys advising physicians and physician assistants on effectively integrating PAs into both practices and hospitals in Ontario. She is grateful to serve the PAs in Ontario for another 2-year term as their Provincial Director.
Provincial Director, Québec
Louis-François Robichaud, CD, CCPA
Louis-François is the Interim Provincial Director, Québec for the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants. He was born and raised in Quebec City. Upon completing secondary school, Louis-François enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces as a medical technician. After having served almost 20 years, he was selected for admission in the Canadian Armed Forces Physician Assistant Education program at the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Borden, Ontario. In 2007 he graduated and was posted to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) in Esquimalt, British Columbia and then subsequently to CFB Borden, Ontario, CFB Bagotville, Québec and CFB Valcartier Québec. Over the past 30 years Louis-François has served in Croatia, Bosnia and Sierra-Leone. He also had the opportunity to work on board Royal Canadian navy ships, in remote locations in Northern Canada and on many military bases across the country. He is presently working at the CFB St-Jean, Quebec.
Provincial Director, New Brunswick
Kevin Dickson MMM, CD, MPAS, BHSc, BA, CCPA
Originally from Burlington, Ontario Kevin joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1995. After 14 years as a Medical Technician he was selected for the Physician Assistant program and graduated in 2011. He practiced in Primary Care in Ottawa for four years until he was posted to Fredericton New Brunswick. He retired from the Forces in 2015 and has been working in the Emergency Department of the Dr Everett Chalmers Hospital since. He and his wife, Kelly, are happy to raising two young sons in beautiful central New Brunswick. In addition to his Physician Assistant degree, Kevin has received an undergraduate degree in Geography from McMaster University and has completed his Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from the University of Nebraska.
Provincial Director, Nova Scotia
Christiane Lonergan, CCPA
Christiane was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. She joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1979 as a medical assistant. Her medical practice ranged from hospital settings, clinics, recruiting centres, instructor and her most favourite, as the Ship’s Junior Med Tech and Physician Assistant. She participated in Operation Sharp Guard in 1994 and Operation Altair in 2004. Christiane completed her PA Course in 2001. Retired from the Regular Forces in 2007, she continues to serve as a Regional Cadet Medical Liaison Officer for the Cadets Organizations. She enjoys Fibre Arts, Reading and expanding her home based business. Christiane wishes to promote the PA profession and see it well integrated in the civilian health care system in Nova Scotia and in all of Canada.
Provincial Director, Newfoundland/Labrador
Vincent Lacharité, BHSc (PA), CCPA
Vincent graduated from McMaster’s Physician Assistant program in 2011 and worked critical care in Hamilton for two years prior to moving to Newfoundland. After moving to Newfoundland and finding that PAs were unable to work in the province, Vincent has been working as a PA in remote sites, providing care to individuals at sites generally only accessible by air. A big believer in the use of PAs to provide care in remote and under-serviced areas, including very progressive scopes of practice, he hopes to be able to bring PAs to Newfoundland to help provide better healthcare in the province.
Canadian Armed Forces Representative
Major Stuart Russelle, MMM, CD, MPAS, CCPA
Stuart was raised in Sudbury, Ontario. He joined the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves in 1991 and transferred to the Regular Force in 1994. He graduated from the CAF PA program in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science and went on to complete his Master of PA Studies in 2013. Presently posted to Ottawa he actively works in Canadian Forces clinics and the ER. He has been fortunate to deploy on a number of diverse operations around the world, including humanitarian missions in Pakistan, peacekeeping in Bosnia, development of a PA program in Afghanistan, and most recently in Lebanon, as part of the Government of Canada’s initiative to resettle 25,000 Syrian Refugees. Currently the CAF PA – National Practice Leader, he is actively working on new PA regulation policy within the Canadian Forces Health Services.
Carmen Konzelman is currently in her first year of the Master of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of Manitoba. Carmen completed her 4 year BSc with honours at the University of Winnipeg where she majored in Biology. Throughout undergrad Carmen spent 5 years volunteering in various hospitals in Winnipeg to gain experience. Prior to starting the MPAS program, Carmen was working with children and adults with neurological motor disabilities at The Movement Centre of Manitoba which she found incredibly rewarding and reinforced her decision to want a career working with and helping others. Outside of academia and work Carmen plays both basketball and soccer. She also helps coach high school basketball. Carmen enjoys traveling, camping, hiking and pretty much anything that involves being outdoors.
For more information on their roles and responsibilities, we encourage you to consult our bylaws.