Board of Directors

Kris Foster, Board Chair

As a writer, editor and strategic communicator, Kris has spent most of his career in the post-secondary education sector. Before coming to the University of Saskatchewan—where he received a Bachelor of Commerce (marketing and management) and is currently the university’s news editor—Kris was the editor of Carleton University Magazine. His work has received awards from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Every day Kris sees how education can change lives and build communities. Literacy is key to health and happiness and he is excited to contribute to the work of READ Saskatoon.

Kris lives in Brevoort Park, the neighborhood he grew up in, with his wife Alexandra and their son Max.

Matt Coutts, Treasurer

Matt Coutts graduated from Edwards School of Business in 2015, and is the CEO of First Pass Technologies Inc. He joined READ Saskatoon in 2016 as a member of the Audit and Finance Committee. He is pleased to take up the responsibilities of treasurer for the agency this year. He believes literacy is vital to societal advancement. Matt has always been an avid reader and proud to work with READ Saskatoon to solve a global challenge of low literacy at a local level.

Jen (Jennifer) Bain, Secretary

Jen Bain has lived in Saskatoon, SK since 1995, and has her Bachelor of Commerce degree through the University of Saskatchewan.  Jen started her career with Freedom 55 Financial in 2000, and achieved her Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation in 2004.  She since has also achieved her Elder Planning Councilor (EPC), and strives towards continuous education and lifelong learning.

Jen has been involved with many volunteer positions including membership director for SYPE, and Leave a Legacy luncheon committee.  She has been involved with READ Saskatoon’s PGI Golf Tournament for Literacy and LIT UP! (Read ‘n’ Feed in her day), and she is now pleased to join the board of directors.

Literacy provides the basic stepping stones for success in life.  With the ever-changing technology world and the vast amount of information displayed and accessible, it is even more important just to be able to make informed life choices.  Literacy allows us to grow connections, self-reliance, and find our own path.

Leah Shipley, Vice Chair

Leah has lived in Saskatoon since 2002, after previously attending the University of Saskatchewan where she received her Bachelor of Commerce degree.  Working for Saskatchewan Blue Cross for the past 14 years, she manages a team responsible for training and process development in the Customer Service departments and leads many continuous improvement projects for the company.  She earned a Certificate in Adult Continuous Education through the U of S in 2012 to better meet the needs of the adult learners she works with in her training function.  She is also a certified Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) Practitioner and facilitates training sessions for her company.

This is Leah's first year as a member of the READ Saskatoon Board, after having been a member of the Governance Committee for the past 2 years.

Leah has always been an avid reader and sees the value of literacy for everyone.  She is excited to be part of this organization that combines her passions of ongoing education and opening the world of literacy to all of those in our community.

Lisa Dunville, Past Chair

Born and raised in Saskatoon, SK, Lisa obtained her Bachelor of Commerce degree (Accounting) from the University of Saskatchewan in 2003.  Lisa immediately began working at KPMG LLP and obtained her Chartered Accountant designation in 2006. She has taken on many leadership roles at KPMG and was promoted to Partner in 2012.

A former U of S track and field athlete, Lisa continues to be involved with track and field volunteer activities within Saskatchewan. Lisa joined the READ Saskatoon Board in 2012 and is excited to contribute to such a vibrant and important organization. As past treasurer, she has played a significant role in assisting the Board and membership to better understand the impact of short term funding on the agency’s health and viability.

Lisa is excited to be part of such a vibrant and energetic organization. She believes that READ Saskatoon is vital to enhancing community members' lives through improvement of literacy skills.

David Hutton, Member at Large

David works as the managing editor at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and prior to that was managing editor and executive producer for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. He covered city hall for the StarPhoenix from 2008 to 2012 and served as the city editor from 2012 to 2015. He holds a Master’s degree in journalism from Carleton University and a Masters' degree in English from the University of Saskatchewan. He has been nominated for a National Newspaper Award for feature writing, and won national science writing and emerging journalist awards. 

David first became involved in READ Saskatoon in 2012 and has served as a Member at Large, Vice Chair, and Chair. David has chaired READ Saskatoon's governance committee, nominating committee, and space committee. 

He lives in Rosewood with his wife, Amanda, and son, Calder. He plays on Great Britain’s national fastball team.

David believes READ Saskatoon is a vital organization in the city and literacy is critical to a healthy and prosperous community.

Liv Marken, Member at Large

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Liv is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan. A Lecturer for 13 years in the U of S College of Arts and Science, Liv is currently the U of S Writing Centre Coordinator and works with over 30 tutors to deliver writing assistance to students across the disciplines. In March 2012 the Writing Centre organized the first annual Speed Scrabble Tournament for Literacy as a fun way of raising money for literacy initiatives in Saskatoon.  The tournament drew a wide range of participants including students, MLAs, city councillors, journalists, community groups, teachers, university administrators, union reps, and professors, and successfully launched the Speed Scrabble Tournament as an annual event.

Liv leads the “Annual Speed Scrabble Tournament for Literacy” and just finished her first year with the Board of Directors.

"Repeated too often, the word 'literacy' becomes an abstraction. Defining it concretely as 'knowing how to read and write,' though, reduces it to a utility. Reading and writing, working with numbers, using technology, and finding information make us more than merely competent employees. Such achievements can bring freedom, enjoyment, human connection, empowerment, civility, and even peace."    - Liv Marken

Ray Morrison, Member at Large

Ray Morrison is currently serving his ninth term as board chair for Saskatoon Public Schools. He was first elected to the board as a trustee in 2003, and successfully ran for re-election in 2006, 2009, and 2012. He is currently a member of the Board for the Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation.

Ray has a long history of involvement in and advocacy for literacy in his current role. He is a tireless advocate for improving student outcomes in public education and society.  He was instrumental in the Board choosing Early Learning and Literacy as one of its priorities in 2004. This focus has been a persistent focus on literacy for students and has resulted in measureable improvements in the literacy levels of students of all ages.

Mr. Morrison is an advocate for partnerships and working together in order to improve the quality and diversity of education available to students.

In 2005, Ray was awarded the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal for his efforts as an advocate for public education and other volunteer work.

In his work life, he recently retired from SaskTel, as Director of Strategic Planning.

Ian Braaten, Member at Large

Ian Braaten is a Senior Manager at KPMG LLP.  Ian obtained his Bachelor of Commerce degree in Accounting from the Edwards School of Business in 2009 and obtained his Chartered Accountant designation in 2013.

Ian joined READ Saskatoon Audit and Finance Committee in 2013 and is excited to continue to be a part of the great work that READ Saskatoon accomplishes. As a past member of the audit and finance committee, he has played a role in reviewing the annual financial statements and budgets.

Ian believes that literacy is essential to building a healthy community and economy. Literacy and financial literacy are vital in building a strong community that is able to participate and make informed decisions.  Ian started with READ Saskatoon as a financial guru and also continues to teach accounting as a sessional lecturer at the U of S.

Avon Whittles, Member at Large

Avon Whittles, B.Ed., M.Ed. served as the Director of Education/CEO for Saskatoon Public Schools.  As a teacher, consultant, principal, superintendent, deputy director and director she maintained a focus on student and staff engagement, improving learning outcomes, and developing exciting educational opportunities for young people.  She was an enthusiastic champion of the Saskatoon Board of Education’s priorities Literacy for Life and Collegiate Renewal and worked at the provincial level to develop a new education sector strategic plan for Saskatchewan.  Avon has served on and has presented for a number of local, provincial and national organizations and is inspired daily by the gifts that young people and their families bring to learning and to those around them.   She has been an advocate for literacy development her entire career and knows how gaining these important skills can be life changing for individuals and for capacity building in our community.

Avon is currently working as an executive consultant for the Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation and for the Saskatchewan Educational Leadership Unit at the University of Saskatchewan and is thrilled to be a part of READ Saskatoon. 

Amanda Wapass-Griffin, Member at Large

Amanda hails from Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan. She is the Senior Learning & Development Consultant at Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA), a non-profit organization, meaning 100% of the profits are invested back into the 74 First Nations across the province; her team is responsible for supporting SIGA's commitment to education, training and professional development opportunities for its 1800+ employees. Amanda has a degree in Education and is anticipating entering the Master of Northern Governance and Development program, at the University of Saskatchewan, in September.

Amanda has been a member of the READ Saskatoon Board for over 2 years because she believes that everyone should have an opportunity to learn and that education changes lives. READ Saskatoon is a valuable conduit for the promotion of literacy in our community and Amanda is honoured to be able to contribute to the change that READ Saskatoon works tirelessly to achieve.

Faith Baron, Member at Large

Faith is an Associate Lawyer with Stevenson Hood Thornton Beaubier LLP in Saskatoon.  She holds a Juris Doctor as well as a Master's degree in English Literature from the University of Saskatchewan.

Faith is well aware of the challenges faced by individuals who are in the process of improving their literacy skills.  Previous to her law career, Faith worked extensively with new Canadians and international students learning English as a second language.  For these individuals, so much depends on acquiring sufficient language skills to obtain subsisting employment or complete a diploma or degree.  In law school and now in practice, Faith has met with many individuals as they navigate our legal system, which is perhaps one of the most daunting experiences any individual can face but particularly challenging for those of us who also struggle with literacy.

A new member of READ Saskatoon's Board of Directors, Faith is looking forward to serving and contributing to this organization and its mandate to support literacy in Saskatoon.

Chris Sicotte, Member at Large

Chris Sicotte, a proud Cree/Métis, was born and raised in Flin Flon, MB but has strong family connections to the Saskatchewan communities of Cumberland House Cree Nation and Muenster. He has worked in the financial services (banking) industry for the past 25 years with a particular interest in First Nations and Métis business and economic development for the last 16. He is presently employed as the Business Development Manager, Indigenous Partnerships with Affinity Credit Union based in Saskatoon.

Chris is involved with a number of Boards and Committees, including AFOA Canada, Saskatchewan First Nations Family & Community Institute Inc., Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, and Provincial Métis Housing Corporation, just to name a few. These commitments remind him how important literacy is for social, economic, and educational success.

Chris is married to Darlene Okemaysim-Sicotte and is the proud step father of Chris, Cory, Aren and Sunflower as well as newest family member grandson Albert Jr.

Derek Rope, Member at Large

Derek Rope, is a member of the Pasqua First Nation, and is a small business owner in Saskatoon. Derek received a Bachelors of Education from the UofS and has widespread professional experience in the private and non-profit sectors. Derek has devoted himself to promoting, developing and implementing youth programming throughout the province.  Derek also invests his time working with First Nation and Metis communities in the establishment of sustainable economic and community development initiatives. As a board member of the READ Saskatoon he recognizes the positive role literacy can play in fostering healthy and active life-style choices while developing character and skills fundamental for success in all areas of life.

Heather Persson, Member at Large

Heather Persson is the editor-in-chief of both the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and the Regina Leader-Post. A journalist for almost 25 years, she spent 11 years working in British Columbia before returning to her home province to take the helm of the Prince Albert Daily Herald. She has now been in Saskatoon for about a decade. An award-winning writer herself, Heather has led the StarPhoenix to the most National Newspaper Award nominations in its history. She also created the Raise A Writer program, which encourages people to explore their own personal stories and set goals through writing.

Serving with an organization focused on literacy is a natural role for a writer like Heather. An admirer of the work of READ Saskatoon for many years, she is excited to get down to work after joining the board in 2017.

Myra Potter, Member at Large

Myra recently retired from United Way of Saskatoon & Area where she worked for over 15 years.  In her role as Director of Resource Development she lead a staff and volunteer team that raised millions of dollars each year to invest in vital programs and services in our community.  Myra  also served as the Managing Director for United Way's work on the Plan to End Homelessness and as Interim CEO.  She was instrumental in developing the first Housing First Program in Saskatoon.  Myra believes that literacy is key to strong and resilient  people and communities.  She is thrilled to be part of the Read Saskatoon Board and contributing to Read's mission of addressing and supporting the advancement of literacy and learning in our community. 

Myra is married with four adult children and two little granddaughters who remind her every day of the joy of reading.