The Alberta Order of Excellence Council is made up of prominent volunteers who represent Alberta’s diverse backgrounds and geographical regions and demonstrate career and community leadership. Council carries out duties to ensure the Order meets its objectives, including reviewing nominations received from across the province, country and internationally; recommending persons to be granted membership in the Order to the Chancellor; advising the Chancellor on matters concerning the Order; and promoting the Alberta Order of Excellence in the community.
Current members of council
Her Honour, the Honourable Salma Lakhani, AOE Chancellor
The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta serves as the Chancellor of the Alberta Order of Excellence.
Salma Lakhani was installed as Alberta’s 19th Lieutenant Governor on August 26, 2020. Her longstanding service as a community leader and volunteer has been guided by her deep commitment to the values of pluralism and inclusion and her dedication to championing those who face barriers in life.
Andrew Sims, AOE Council Chair
Andy Sims has practiced law in Edmonton since graduating from the University of Alberta in 1974. His practice focuses on arbitration and mediation in labour relations matters plus administrative law for quasi-judicial tribunals.
Andy served as the full-time Chair of the Alberta Labour Relations Board for 9 years, with a further 21 years as a part-time Vice Chair. He also served 3 years as a Vice Chair with the Canadian Industrial Relations Board.
He has undertaken major legislative or tribunal review projects, on behalf of both the Alberta and Federal Governments. In 1995, he chaired a Task Force to review Part 1 of the Canada Labour Code. Major reviews for the Government of Alberta have dealt with WCB Appeals, Construction and Post-Secondary Labour Relations and Labour Code reforms.
He has authored many hundreds of reported labour law decisions. He is a standing arbitrator under collective agreements across Canada. He frequently mediates or chairs interest arbitrations and conciliation panels in collective bargaining disputes. Andy provides administrative law counsel to tribunals and has appeared frequently before the Courts on their behalf.
Volunteer and professional activities have included serving as a member of the Alberta Law Reform Institute for 9 years, a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta Law School for 14 years and as a board member of both the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice and the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals.
Andy was designated Queen’s Counsel in 1990. He is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators. He received the Alberta Centennial Medal and the University of Toronto's Bora Laskin Award for his "outstanding contribution to Canadian labour law."
Andy has lived in Edmonton since 1970. He has two sons, Peter, an instructor teaching at the London School of Economics, and David, a criminal lawyer with Royal and Co. in Edmonton.
Diane Ablonczy, AOE Council Member
The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, BEd, LLB, PC, was honoured to represent Calgary constituents in the Parliament of Canada for over two decades. Ms. Ablonczy was first elected in 1993. She later became a key member of the shadow cabinet of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, serving as chief critic for Citizenship and Immigration, Health, and Human Resources Development. Upon her Party forming government in 2006, Ms. Ablonczy was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. In 2008 she became Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism), a position she held until 2010, when she was appointed Minister of State (Seniors). From January 2011 to July 2013, she held the position of Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), representing Canada in the Americas and overseeing consular affairs around the world. Ms. Ablonczy was also a member of a number of Cabinet Committees.
Throughout Ms. Ablonczy’s long political career, she sought to be a strong voice for accountability in government, for fiscal conservatism, and for values underpinning strong, stable families and communities.
Prior to entering political life, Ms. Ablonczy enjoyed a varied career, which ranged from teaching junior high school to managing a grain farm operation to building a successful law practice.
Currently, she coaches in an executive coaching program, participates in a writers’ group, and is a member of the board of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians.
Ms. Ablonczy lives in Calgary with her husband Ron and has one daughter, four stepchildren, and nine grandchildren.
Stan Blade, AOE Council Member
Dr. Stanford Blade is Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences (University of Alberta). The Faculty is made up of 500+ faculty and staff, 1600 undergraduates and 550 graduate students. ALES is focused on teaching, research and community service in its departments: Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Sciences; Renewable Resources; Human Ecology; Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology and the University of Alberta Botanic Garden.
Stan is a 2012 graduate of the Wharton Business School’s Executive Development Program (University of Pennsylvania). He currently serves as Trustee of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture-a leading international development research organization serving sub-Saharan Africa. Stan is a board member of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, Edmonton Global, Livestock Gentec and the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute.
Stan was founding CEO of Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions (2008 to 2014). He previously served as the Deputy Director General (Research) for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Stan received his Ph.D. from Macdonald College of McGill University for plant breeding/cropping systems research completed at IITA.
Stan’s expertise has been recognized through his many invitations to speak at international fora on the role of innovation in creating prosperity in the agriculture and food sectors and through his participation in research reviews conducted by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology, European Union Research Framework, Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Food and Agriculture Organization, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. In 2018 Stan was elected as an International Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry.
Melissa Blake, AOE Council Member
Melissa Blake of Fort McMurray was elected six consecutive times to serve the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo starting in 1998. She was elected Mayor from 2004 – 2017. Being the top elected official in one of Canada’s largest municipalities brought with it tremendous challenges and opportunities. Wood Buffalo is the heart of Canada’s energy industry, and is often subject to global scrutiny. Melissa led her community during the 2016 Horse River Wildfire that forced the evacuation of 88,000 people.
Melissa has served on numerous organizations including the Northern Mayors and Reeves Association, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and others related to development, protective services, community services and affordable housing.
Prior to her elected service, she spent 10 years with Syncrude Canada Ltd in multiple roles including public affairs, materials and services and human resources.
Melissa has received many awards over the years including the Global Television’s Woman of Vision, Alberta Venture’s 50 Most Influential People in 2005 & 2016, Athabasca University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Keyano College’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Circle of Honour for the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women. She has been honoured with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Alberta Centennial Medal.
Melissa currently serves as a federal representative on the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments, Co-Chair of the Arctic Winter Games 2022 and board of director of the Wood Buffalo Community Foundation. She continues to live in Fort McMurray with her husband Peter Jurak and their two sons.
Sharon Carry, AOE Council Member
Sharon devoted more than four decades to a career rooted in her passion for creating opportunities for access and student success at four Alberta postsecondary institutions. Now President Emerita of Bow Valley College, Sharon was hired to lead the college through a transition from a provincially-administered institution to a board-governed college. Over the two decades of her tenure as President and CEO, Bow Valley became the largest and fastest growing college in Alberta, welcoming some 15,000 students from 142 countries each year, while expanding campuses in the region surrounding Calgary and extending educational services to more than 20 other countries.
Building on three degrees from the University of Calgary (BA, BEd, and Masters of Communication Studies), Sharon’s career has led her through progressively more responsible academic and administrative roles at Bow Valley College, Olds College, Mount Royal College (now University) and the University of Calgary. When honoured with a Blackfoot name and headdress, her ceremonialist chose the name Niipaitapiaissksinimatstohki, which translates to Lifelong Educator.
A lifelong committed volunteer in her profession and community, Sharon has been recognized with the Alberta Order of Excellence, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Alberta Centennial Medal, Calgary Award for Education, as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, and with her profession’s national Distinguished Service Award. She has received honourary bachelor’s degrees from Olds College and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, and the first honourary Masters of Fine Arts degree awarded by the Alberta College of Art and Design (now Alberta University of the Arts).
A resident of Cochrane, where she is still close to her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren in Calgary, Sharon also serves as a Director of the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation; as Past Chapter Chair of the International Women’s Forum; and as a Member of the YWCA Calgary Board, Governance Committee and YW Transformation Campaign Advisory Committee.
Colleen Pound, AOE Council Member
Colleen Pound is a Partner at Deloitte and is focused on building the mid-market consulting practice in the Prairies.
Colleen has spent more than 20 years as an Executive Advisor on Strategy, Leadership, and Change; advising CEOs and Boards. Her clients include come of Canada’s best-known businesses. Over the years, Colleen’s engagements and board work have become progressively larger and more complex. She is called upon during the most strategic scenarios a business can face and advises her clients with bold thinking, strong governance and risk management in mind. An expert in transformation, strategy and driving deal value from acquisitions, Colleen thrives helping organizations unlock their potential.
Colleen has extensive experience in the sectors of energy, technology, professional services, utilities, retail, construction, and not-for-profit, with a combination of private, family owned, and publicly traded companies.
A curious and avid learner, Colleen has an International MBA spanning Canada, Denmark and France, and completed her Corporate Directors designation (ICD.D) through Rotman in 2015. She is proud to be part of the Alberta Order of Excellence Council, the University of Calgary Senate, the Commissionaires of Southern Alberta, the Mental Health Review Panel and the Management Advisory Committee at Haskayne School of Business. Previous board work includes the Calgary Public Library, the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, the Organization of Women in International Trade, and a private, Denver-based start-up.
The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta serves as Chancellor of the Alberta Order of Excellence. Chancellors automatically become members of the Order.
Chancellor from 2015-2020
Chancellor from 2010-2015
Chancellor from 2005-2010
Chancellor from 2000-2005
Chancellor from 1996-2000
Chancellor from 1991-1996
Chancellor from 1985-1991
Chancellor from 1980-1985