Our Board

Our Board of Directors

The Foundation’s Board of Directors is made up of nine volunteers, who oversee the work of the Foundation and are accountable to our donors.

Joanne Murphy, Chair

Joanne is proud to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors for the RTO-ERO Foundation. This voluntary Board includes a diverse mix of gender, age, skills and knowledge. Because of this mix, the Board brings a unique perspective to the mission of improving the quality of lives of seniors.

Joanne joined RTO-ERO after a career as a classroom teacher, a music co-ordinator and a principal. She was active in her local Federation serving as President. During her tenure as principal she served as President of the local Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario.

During her term as Provincial RTO-ERO President Joanne travelled across Ontario and British Columbia meeting members. It was this that inspired Joanne to work on behalf of aging adults through the RTO-ERO Foundation. She has been a tireless advocate for the Foundation’s mission ever since.

Joanne’s advocacy work began many years ago.Her older sister had multiple disabilities. Joanne spent many hours advocating on her behalf to ensure that she received the proper care.

Appointed the Chair of the Foundation in 2016, Joanne is a significant donor as well.

Harold Brathwaite

Jim Grieve, Secretary, Executive Director, RTO/ERO

Appointed in November 2009 as Assistant Deputy Minister of the Early Learning Division for the Ontario Ministry of Education, Jim was responsible for the provincial implementation of full-day kindergarten for four and five year olds, leading the work of creating a seamless early learning experience for children in Ontario from birth onward.

Following an exemplary career as a teacher, school administrator and superintendent in the North York Board of Education, Jim served as Director of Education in Ottawa-Carleton for four years before moving to the Director of Education role for seven years with the Peel District School Board, Canada's second largest school board. He holds a Master’s Degree from OISE/University of Toronto, as well as undergraduate degrees from York University and Victoria College of the University of Toronto. 

Known as a highly visible and approachable leader, Jim was selected as Communicator of the Year by the International Association of Business Communicators in 2013. In 2015, he was honoured to receive the Ministry of Education Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Jim replaced Harold Brathwaite as Executive Director of RTO/ERO in 2015, and was subsequently appointed to the Foundation Board of Directors.

Jack Panozzo

Jack is responsible for the Social Justice and Advocacy Program for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto. He liaises with the 26 member agencies of Catholic Charities, developing policy statements, advocacy briefs and engages in actions together with multi-faith groups, non-profits and NGOs related to provincial, municipal and federal issues related to housing, poverty and social services. He manages media outreach as well as website and social media development.

He was for more than two decades with Development and Peace, the Catholic overseas development and relief organization for Canada, managing Communications at the Toronto bureau of the organization. 

He has worked as an editor and journalist in Canada and the United States. He has written broadly and been the subject of articles in the media including the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Newsweek, CBC Radio and TV, CTV and with other regional media and broadcasters.

He is a past chair of HelpAge Canada, one of six founding organizations of HelpAge International, the global network of over 80 organizations whose mission is to improve and maintain the quality of life of older persons in order to lead secure, healthy, active and dignified lives.

He is also a member of the board of Oikocredit Canada, a part of Oikocredit International, which finances and invests in microfinance institutions, co-operatives and small and medium enterprises in developing countries, providing micro-entrepreneurs, small businesses, agricultural co-operatives and other productive enterprises with the capital they need to expand their businesses and improve their livelihoods.

He is a member of a number of committees focussing on social justice and advocacy including the Steering Committee of the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition (ISARC), the Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness, and a past chair of MultiFaith Alliance to End Homelessness.

Valerie Mah

Valerie Mah, District 16, Toronto joined RTO /ERO in 2003 following 43 years as a classroom and special education teacher, and Principal. She has since served as President and Past President in her District, where she remains active. Valerie is currently the President of TEOF, where she raises funds for school nutrition programs. She has been involved with several other organizations including WoodGreen Community Services and sits on the Board of Governors of two Chinese seniors’ centres Mon Sheong and Yee Hong, which she has helped establish.

Valerie was recently recognized for her years of dedicated community service with the Constance E. Hamilton Award at the 2014 Access, Equity and Human Rights Awards hosted by the City of Toronto. Valerie was the Inaugural Chair of the Foundation Board from 2011-2016.


Martin Higgs

Martin is currently our RTO/ERO Provincial Past-President. Before being elected to our Provincial Executive he served as member and later Chair of the RTO Provincial Communications Committee. With RTO/ERO locally, he has been President of District 36, Peterborough, and is currently their newsletter editor and webmaster. During his 34-year teaching career he was a teacher and vice-principal at the elementary level. He was elected OPSTF District President for 5 years. At the OPSTF provincial level Martin chaired the Collective Bargaining Committee, was a member of the Budget Committee and was one ETFO’s representatives on the Qualifications Evaluation Council of Ontario. He was a winner of OPSTF’s 75th Anniversary Award for his federation work. After retirement, he worked as a consultant for the Ontario Teachers’ Federation for nine years. Martin is on the Board of Directors of the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre and was the first male ever invited to join the Board.

Previously, he was President of the Board of Directors of the Peterborough Community Legal Centre for six years. Martin believes that volunteer service should be productive, rewarding and fun and that all issues need to be approached in a collaborative manner, keeping a sense of perspective and a sense of humour. It is this leadership ability and this attitude he brings to his work with RTO/ERO.

Ted Whiteland

Ted has been active with RTO/ERO for several years at the local level. He is currently Past President of District 20 – Frontenac, Lennox & Addington. He served as a classroom teacher, consultant, and school administrator with the Leeds & Grenville/Upper Canada District School Board for 34 years.

Ted was also a former President of the Ontario Principals’ Council (OPC) and founding member and Chair of the Ontario Principals’ Council Learning Foundation from 1999 – 2005. Following a term as President of the Canadian Association of Principals from 2005-2006, Ted served as Executive Director of the British Columbia Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association. He has participated on multiple provincial and national committees and on Boards of several not-for-profit organizations throughout his career.

Outside of RTO/ERO, Ted is actively involved as an Intake Consultant with the Ontario Principals’ Council and Program Manager for the Crown Ward Education Championship Team for Renfrew, Lanark, Leeds & Grenville.