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leadership Team

CEO and head of school

sara blair

Chief Operations and Financial Officer

Phil Graham


Megan hedderick

Executive Director of Admissions and Advancement

James Blake

Director of Admissions

Elizabeth Coltart

Director of Educational Pathways and Partnerships

Mary Lue Emmerson

Creative Director

Juliana Mills

Executive Assistant to CEO and HEAD OF SCHOOL

Coco Yang


Board Chair

Karen clark Cole '86

Karen Clark Cole '86 is the CEO and co-founder of Blink UX, an award-winning, global experience design firm, and proud Mphasis company. Blink’s mission is to enrich people’s lives by creating products that people use, love, and remember.

Karen's leadership philosophy is grounded in what she calls being a “Possibility Thinker.” Her optimistic, fully present approach to life enables her to turn big visionary ideas into action and plant a seed for what is possible in everyone she meets. On a daily basis, Karen is primarily focused on growth, strategic planning, and upholding Blink's cultural framework.Karen's leadership at Blink UX has led to numerous accolades. She received the 2016 Enterprising Women of the Year award and was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2015. That same year, Forbes included Blink on its list of America’s Best 25 Small Companies. The company also earned recognition from the Puget Sound Business Journal as one of Washington’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies in both 2015 and 2012, and from the Women President’s Organization as one of the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Led Companies Worldwide in 2014. Additionally, Blink has consistently appeared on Inc. Magazine’s Top 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America list from 2012 through 2015.

Karen serves as council member on the SBA appointed National Women’s Business Council, to advise the president and congress on policy impacting women entrepreneurs. Karen is the Executive Director for the non-profit she founded in 2014, Girls Can Do. A speaker series for girls with the mission to inspire a generation of Possibility Thinkers and ignite a vision for equal opportunity. She also founded a farm animal retirement sanctuary, Heaven on Earth, in 2023.

Karen was born and raised in Victoria. Karen is the daughter of Canadian Hot Rod Hall of Famer, Al Clark, who is also the founder of the city's largest public event, Northwest Deuce Days, a pre-1952 car show that takes over the Inner Harbour every three years. She now lives just across the water on San Juan Island and works out of Seattle, WA.


rachel mielke

Rachel Mielke is the founder and CEO of Hillberg & Berk, a retail jewelry brand that blends design with purpose. Rachel's vision for Hillberg & Berk has always extended beyond simply creating beautiful jewelry; she has leveraged her company as a tool for social good, focusing on addressing gender-specific issues women face through philanthropy, campaigns, and organizing her business around a social enterprise model. Hillberg & Berk has proudly supported hundreds of organizations worldwide that uplift women. Rachel built Hillberg & Berk from her kitchen table into a national brand with 15 stores across Canada and a significant global online presence.

Rachel has served on many boards and philanthropic committees, including the National Board of Dress for Success Canada Foundation and Women Leading Philanthropy at The Royal University Hospital. She also serves as an honorary Captain of the Royal Canadian Navy. Rachel has received numerous awards and recognition for her work in business and philanthropy, including an Honourary Doctor of Laws honoris causa (LLD) from the University of Regina, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal, and being named to Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 list.


Dr. Mina Hoorfar

Dr. Mina Hoorfar, a trailblazer in engineering and the first female dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Victoria (UVic) in British Columbia, embodies the role of a transformative leader in a traditionally male-dominated field. Her journey began in Iran, where she earned her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Tehran, followed by a master’s and PhD at the University of Toronto after moving to Canada.

Dr. Hoorfar is deeply committed to fostering an inclusive academic environment, emphasizing the importance of education in unlocking opportunities. “Advanced education has given me tremendous opportunities far beyond what I ever imagined as a child in Iran,” she shares. This philosophy drives her efforts to support her colleagues and students in reaching their fullest potential, particularly advocating for women and equity-deserving groups in STEM. Prior to her current role at UVic, she significantly contributed to the establishment and growth of the School of Engineering at the University of British Columbia Okanagan and led the Advanced Thermo-Fluidic Laboratory, focusing on innovative solutions in energy, health, and environmental sustainability. At UVic, Dr. Hoorfar is leading the charge towards achieving 30% female enrolment in her faculty by 2030, a goal that is within close reach under her guidance. Her leadership not only enhances the faculty but also sets a standard for equity and diversity across the university and the broader Canadian society.


Alex Nelson '12

Alex Nelson '12 is a dedicated advocate and PhD candidate passionately working towards ending homelessness in Canada. Alex leverages their education and expertise to drive impactful changes in housing policies at national levels. Committed to ensuring the human right to housing, Alex focuses on community-based leadership to address and solve housing crises.

Beyond policy, Alex is deeply invested in sustainable development, community engagement, and promoting equity and diversity. They are a staunch supporter of non-binary people, actively working to include and uplift diverse voices in all aspects of their advocacy.


Kathryn Shaw

Kathryn Shaw, a visionary philanthropist and accomplished businesswoman, has devoted her life to advancing education and the arts, empowering future generations. Her philanthropic efforts span a broad spectrum, with a particular emphasis on educational causes.

Having served on several boards and committees, Kathryn advocates for equitable access to learning opportunities through scholarship programs. Her dedication to these initiatives has transformed countless lives, providing deserving students with the means to pursue a world-class education.

Her legacy rests on an unwavering belief that education is the foundation of progress. Through her philanthropy, board service, and scholarship endeavors, Kathryn continues to shape a brighter future for generations to come. Her impact resonates far beyond the present, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of education and empowerment.

In her philanthropic work, Kathryn has chaired major charitable galas, raising millions in support of education and the arts. Her commitment to paying it forward to future generations shines through in her generous gift of a world-class library to Shawnigan Lake School and her extensive support of the ZoĂ© VallĂ© Memorial Library in Nova Scotia. Kathryn’s impact reverberates far beyond the present, illuminating the path toward a brighter and more empowered tomorrow.


James McKenzie

James McKenzie has made Victoria his home since 1963. He studied at UBC and Queen's University, where he received his Engineering degree with Honours in 1978 and achieved a Professional Engineer designation in 1981. Currently, James is active in the business community as the Chair of the Monk Office Board of Advisors, Owner of Shawnigan Storage, and Owner of Camaxco Holdings Ltd. Additionally, James serves as the Chair of the Victoria Capital Club for 2024/2025.

James is the past President and CEO and principal owner of Monk Office Supply, which operates four retail stores in Greater Victoria and two more on Vancouver Island up to Port Hardy. The company also successfully runs a Commercial Office Products division and a Workplace Furniture division. Since 1963, James and his daughter, Caitlin, have successfully managed the transfer of Monk Office to the third generation of McKenzie family ownership.

Devoted to community service, James works hard to nurture a healthier business climate in Victoria. He is a past Member of the Patron's Council of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation, a Past Member of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation Recognition Committee, and a former volunteer teacher with the Junior Achievement Student Entrepreneurs Program, where he was named Volunteer of the Year for the Elementary School Program. James is also the Past President of the Victoria Chapter of the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise, past President and past Director of the Victoria Executive Management Club, and past Chair of the Education Committee for the Canadian Office Products Association. He has served on the Boards of Directors for the Canadian Office Products Association, Basics Office Products, Gold Leaf Office Products, and the Monk Office Advisory Committee, as well as being a member of the Victoria Capital Club.

James has held roles as Honourary Treasurer of the Victoria Symphony, Director of the Victoria Symphony Foundation Board, BC Governor for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Director of the Shawnigan Residents’ Association, and Past President of the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise - Vancouver Island Chapter. He has also been a Director of the Island Savings Credit Union Board, Vice Chair and then Chair of Island Savings Credit Union. James went on to be the Vice Chair of First West Credit Union, the third largest credit union in Western Canada.

Today, James actively mentors his two children to own and operate the businesses. He is a believer in the entrepreneurial spirit and strives to contribute to the business environment and community, creating opportunities for all members.


Iris Cheung

Iris is the proud mother of an SMS Kindergarten graduate and an upcoming Grade 1 student. She moved to Victoria two years ago from Hong Kong solely because her daughter chose St. Margaret’s School from all the options in Canada. Iris and her husband feel so grateful and proud that their daughter Ivanna's wish to join SMS has come true. It brings them immense joy to see how she is growing and learning happily and confidently at SMS every day.

Coming from a multicultural background, Iris’ family is a mixture of Indonesian, Singaporean, and Chinese heritage. Iris graduated from high school in Toronto and attended York University. She went on to work for one of the leading international airlines and then for nearly two decades at one of the biggest auction houses in the world, collaborating with colleagues from various countries and cultural backgrounds. Iris deeply understands the meaning, importance, and true value of diversity, equity, and inclusion within an organization.

Most recently, Iris worked for her husband Simon’s law firm. Simon, who studied in the UK, is a founding partner of his law firm and has been practicing mainly corporate law in Hong Kong since 2002.



Shelley is a senior trial lawyer with the Ministry of the Attorney General, specializing in criminal law. She attended law school at the University of Victoria and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia. Shelley served on the board of her children’s independent school during a period of challenge and transition. She was the founding chair of that board’s governance committee, overseeing the renewal of by-laws and procedures, as well as a community engagement process. Prior to serving on the board, Shelley set up and chaired a parent association at the school.

Shelley has also served on the boards of other community organizations, holding positions such as secretary, treasurer, and chair. Additionally, she has been on the organizational team of school fundraisers. She has been a leader with the Girl Guides of Canada, from Sparks through Pathfinders.

As a St. Margaret’s School alumni, Shelley is deeply appreciative of the benefits of single-sex education for girls and is passionate about creating opportunities for girls and nurturing their potential.



Jackie Hesketh, CPA CA, brings over 25 years of extensive expertise in accounting, corporate finance, business valuations, strategic analysis, and leadership. She is a seasoned professional with a proven track record managing both disruptive, young startups and large, high-growth public companies.

Currently, Jackie serves as Chief Financial Officer at Ekona Power. Headquartered in Burnaby, BC, Ekona Power is pioneering a revolutionary technology to produce low-cost, clean hydrogen. This technology aims to decarbonize heavy industry and combat climate change challenges. Ekona Power was named in the 2023 Global Cleantech 100.

Previously, Jackie held the CFO position at RecycleSmart (named Canada’s Top 50 New Innovators 2022) and Cryopeak LNG. Earlier in her career, she served as Director of Strategic Development at Teekay Corporation, one of the world’s largest marine energy transportation companies (NYSE:TK). She later held the position of Vice President at the Teekay Family Office, where she helped oversee and manage the trust's global assets.

Jackie is deeply committed to community service and children’s education, having served as Treasurer at Kerrisdale Elementary School PAC and Board President and Treasurer at Vancouver Child Study Centre.

Jackie holds a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) designation and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia.  

She lives in Vancouver with her husband, three kids, and their lazy golden doodle. She is a proud graduate of the Class of 1986.


Ramina Johal ‘84

Since graduating from St. Margaret’s in 1984, Ramina has focused on promoting gender equality and accountability in international migration, refugee, and humanitarian assistance policy and practice. A core value for Ramina is “action with intention,” emphasizing that how we approach challenges and opportunities is integral to achieving meaningful and respectful change. Through her professional experiences working for governments and international agencies (UN and non-profit), she has learned that facilitation, partnerships, coalition-building, and communication are as crucial as subject matter expertise.

As the daughter of first-generation immigrants to Victoria, Ramina benefited from learning from her parents’ experiences—her father was an Assistant-Secretary General at the United Nations, and her mother was an international expert on maternal and child health. Before joining SMS in Grade 9, Ramina attended the United Nations International School in New York and the International School of Kenya. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from McGill University in Montreal and a Master of Arts Degree in International Law & Organizations from The American University in Washington D.C.

Selected Work Experiences:

  • International Rescue Committee – Phoenix, Arizona (2010-2018): Established the first gender equality working group in the IRC’s US Resettlement Programming, which served as a model across 33 US-based offices. This led to changes in service delivery to refugees and greater support for female staff.
  • Consultant on Gender Equality – New York (2007-2009): Assessed the implementation of the UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee on Humanitarian Assistance (IASC) Gender Policy, with recommendations on bolstering work with local partners and streamlining implementation across members.
  • Women’s Refugee Commission – New York (1998-2006): Senior Coordinator, Women’s Rights and Protection. Founding member of the United Nations NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security. Represented and facilitated the Commission’s advocacy at the United Nations on Beijing Plus Five, Beijing Plus Ten, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), UN/Interagency Task Forces, and other forums.
  • Embassy of Australia (Washington, DC) (1996-1998): Research Officer for the Regional Americas Representative of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs. Monitored and reported to Canberra on US policy, research, and other issues related to immigration, migration, and citizenship.
  • The World Bank (Washington, DC) (1992-1995): Africa Region Technical Department, Gender Team. Researched and highlighted gaps in accounting for the contributions and needs of women in Bank projects.
  • Canada Employment and Immigration (Toronto, ON) (1989-1991): Assessed and made decisions on applications for family sponsorship and visas. Issued landing papers (permanent residence status) and advised the public on Canadian immigration law and policy.

Ramina recently relocated back to Victoria with her dog, where she especially enjoys reconnecting with family and friends.