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About the Synergy Approach

“I have retained Mel’s services on numerous occasions during the past 10 years as Executive Director of The Canadian Institute of Actuaries, Katimavik and the Canadian Hemophelia Society. I have always been impressed with the consistent high quality of his work, whether facilitating a board session on good governance practices or helping design appropriate internal policies. I’ve been able to count on his strong expertise and ability to provide advice tailored to the organization’s specific needs and context.”
Daniel Lapointe, ED 2012

"Thank you for leading our recent governance session. Feedback from members was that we found it very helpful and a good investment. All thought you did a very good job with the discussion points and that the case studies and other information were helpful."
Diana Dalton, Chair, Canada – Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, 2009

"You approach the assessment of the board from an affirmative inquiry stance. You note issues that need to be addressed but also acknowledge the strengths that can be built on and your theme is developmental, one of enhancement and improvement. I find your approach quite compatible with building competence in governance."
Alan Shugg, Senior Policy Advisor, Alberta Ministry of Family and Children's Services

"I found you to be very knowledgeable in the area of corporate governance models appropriate to CIRA as a not-for-profit corporation performing a quasi-public function. Your final report revealed that you had a good grasp of CIRA's challenges and key issues. You proved to be very cooperative in adapting the review process and the approach taken in the final report to meet the particular needs of the organization. I would be happy to recommend your work to other organizations."
Deborah M. Duffy, General Counsel, Canadian Internet Registration Authority

"All of us on the Board recognize and appreciate the comprehensive and professional job that you and your IOG colleagues did. We have learned a great deal from the process and the care and flexibility with which you carried it out. In particular, we honour your openness to opposing views as well as your frankness and persistence in presenting your own. The tremendous work you did and the way you did it spoke loudly to us of your commitment to good governance as an organizational principle."
Steve Rison, Chair, CEN Transitional Board

"I enjoyed working with you this weekend. Your intervention was quite helpful. I hope we will have the opportunity to work together again in the future."
Alan Riccardi, Chair, Parkinson Society Canada

"Thanks, Mel, for sharing.  Your session was a "must attend" for me this year, as I recalled a thoroughly marvelous session by you at an earlier (ARNOVA) conference. I appreciate your willingness to share both of these documents."            
Debra L. Beck, University of Wyoming

"I thought the Board’s discussions on the 25th were the best they have ever had regarding governance.  Usually they can be difficult to engage in these types of discussions. We have to keep in mind to examine best practices rather than trying to fit some label."
Kent Walde, Director, Policy and Board Secretary, Public Employees Benefits Agency, Regina, SK, 2007

Speaking Engagements/Presentations

Mr. Gill is a thoughtful, energetic and effective communicator with extensive experience
in public speaking and media relations. He is available for keynote presentations at conferences and annual meetings on subjects covered in this website.

"Mel, what an outstanding presentation to the MHA group! You gave such a great overview of the governance phenomenon pulling it together around all the critical points. I very much appreciated you taking the time and making such a personal commitment in your presentation, preparation and delivery. It was greatly appreciated by all. Many thanks!"
George Langill, MHA Course Coordinator, Executive in Residence, University of Ottawa & former CEO, Royal Ottawa Health Care Group (Spring 2006)

"Mel is very knowledgeable and has an outstanding ability to hear and answer questions appropriately. This is a real skill! Well-researched content with good variety of teaching tools.excellent presentation, handouts and exercises, large and small group discussions, checklists, and book. Planning exercise and evaluation framework challenged the boundaries of my understanding and allowed us to apply it to our own organizations. Provided a big picture, comprehensive overview of governance and validated the need to customize to our own organizations. Every topic taught me or validated my views as a board member."
Participants in Planning and Evaluation and Governance workshops, Calgary, Spring 2006.

"My thanks for a really comprehensive, excellent luncheon address. I know that all of the delegates appreciated the research you did. I look forward to having you speak again at a future conference."
Presentation on 'Corporate Governance after Enron', Calgary, Dec 2002
Karen Cole, Conference Coordinator, Insight Information

"I found the breakfast meeting interesting and educational. Mel delivered a very good speech and I look forward to reading his book."
Garret T. Meikle, Senior Manager & Team Leader, Scotiabank Real Estate Lending

" A good communicator, knowledgeable on the topic, session materials were presented in an organized manner."
Board Match Alumni Breakfast Feedback

"Excellent! Simply Excellent!"
International Quality & Productivity Center Workshop Participants

"Excellent knowledge and content! Very good delivery!"
Canadian FundRaiser Workshop Participants

"A very informative session. Feedback from Directors has been very positive. We still have a lot of work to do, so hopefully we will see you again (soon)."
Credit Institute of Canada

"Thanks, Mel, for sharing. Your session was a "must attend" for me this year, as I recalled a thoroughly marvelous session by you at an earlier (ARNOVA) conference."
Debra L. Beck, University of Wyoming

Governance Reviews

“Mel helped develop a less complex governance structure (new bylaws, governance policies, Code of Business Conduct) for the not-for-profit Canadian Institute of Mining (13,000+ members organized in branches and professional societies). This helped us establish a strong business culture essential for ensuring our long-term viability. He offered valuable insights to our particular needs, contributing to a very fruitful outcome, and continues to be a valuable resource to us. I recommend him as a person who could assist any organization in appropriate governance development.”
Jim Popowich, Past President, Canadian Institute of Mining (CIM) 2012

"Thank you for the excellent work that you recently performed on our board governance review. Your approach to the Board and Chair evaluation was handled with discretion and understanding and the resulting product was a significant improvement over what we had done in the past. WE have already implemented a number of the suggestions that came out of the review and I believe that they will have a very positive impact on the way that we function going forward."
R.W. Murdoch, Chair, Gov & HR Committee, TimberWest Forest Corp., 2009

"This process provided us with the objective feedback needed to assess our progress, identify gaps, and to set measurable milestones for improvement. We will celebrate the results of our work as the report demonstrates the tangible positive outcomes of the Board's focused effort in governance. We are more aware of what we need to focus on to further improve. The assessment tools and access to skilled and knowledgeable expertise in governance would benefit many other charities."
Joyce Gordon, Osteoporosis Society of Canada

"Let me express the enthusiasm and interest we shared for your governance review. We have worked hard these past years to meet the obligations and responsibilities we assumed as a governance board. Your study and report left us with a positive sense of accomplishment and confirmed for us that we have been successful in our efforts. We also appreciated receiving the objective perspective you offered on areas that we could improve upon." Claudia Buck, Co-Chair, Child and Family Services Authority, Grande Prairie, Alberta

"The process was both helpful and provocative, especially considering the work that the Board is involved in concerning the model of governance for our organization. The report was really helpful. It shed light on a number of things that have been troubling us."
D.F., Executive Director, an Association for Community Living

"I really like it (the report). It was just what I needed. It gives me something to work with my board on now."
Ida Labillois-Montour, Executive Director, Native Friendship Centre of Montreal

"I am quite impressed with the content of your report. The findings and recommendations of your project will be an excellent resource for the not-for-profit sector."
Marty McNamara, Executive Director, York CAS

"I just wanted to say thank you and congratulations for the fine job you did with the Reference Group meeting. I think it far exceeded everyone's expectations, and provides a basis for moving forward."
Cathy Wilkinson, Environmental Consultant

"It was indeed a very good meeting. You guys have done some good work. I have to admit I was impressed."
Helen Forsey, CEN Reference Group member and editor of The Union Farmer (National Farmers' Union newsletter)

"Mel, I want to thank you for your recent work with our Board in the development of our governance structure and the help you provided us in developing our organization's governance materials and board manual. The materials you provided were of great usefulness and indeed we culled from these much of the documentation we needed for our board manual."
Raymond Lemay, Executive Director, Services to Children and Adults, Prescott-Russell

"It was good to see your name on the screen -- like meeting an old comrade... you did a great job, and I'm very grateful especially for your work on by-laws."
Linda Whalen, Director, Canadian Environmental Network

About the Governance Self-Assessment Checklist (GSAC)

This provides a very useful basis for self-study of key aspects of governance. The GSAC has proven effective in measuring differences in board effectiveness at different times in the organizational history, in identifying differences in perspective between board members and between board and CEO, and in setting priorities for strengthening areas of weaker performance. Research Participants

"The process of answering the questionnaire was thought-provoking and stimulated much discussion about the Board's role and responsibilities, what it needs to know, format for reporting this information, and pointed to the importance of a strong orientation process."
Joyce Gordon, President & CEO, Osteoporosis Society of Canada

"I'd like to use this in my business. Many aspects of this are relevant to my organization."
Will Nicolls, Board Chair, NFCM, business owner

"Just what we need to improve CEO accountability to hospital boards and get boards actually governing."
Pat McKay, Former Chair, Metro Toronto Hospitals Council and Board Member of St. Michaels and Toronto Sick Children's Hospital

"I am very impressed with the depth of the questions and the amount of 'territory' the survey covers."
D. Tanguay, Director, Canadian Internet Registration Authority

"We have an excellent Board…but the Checklist made me think of a lot of areas in which we could do even better…it was very useful…immediately prompted me to initiate development of a 'Conflict of Interest' policy."
Diana Hodgson, Past President, Canadian Council on Social Development

"Overall the questions (on the GSAC) are great and they do make you think!"
Roland Chiasson, Board Member, NBEN and NB Federation of Naturalists

"Mel, thank you so much for taking the time to facilitate our Board discussion this week. It was very helpful, as was the analysis you prepared beforehand. It was very interesting to be part of this survey, an opportunity we haven't had before, to do a comparative analysis with other organizations. We now have a very useful list of governance items to be addressed over the next few months."
Barbara McInnes, Exec Dir, Community Foundation of Ottawa

"I think this report (GSAC research participant) is going to be very helpful for our board."
Maggie Fietz, Executive Director, Family Service Canada

Synopsis of Governance Models & Governance Do's and Don'ts

"Wonderfully useful and comprehensive. I'd like to provide it as a reference to my students."
Vic Murray, Adjunct Prof., U of Victoria; Chair, 1999 ARNOVA conference

"We need to see models that are not Carver…to have ways of exploring a variety of options and making choices for our own organizations…The grey hairs would be vastly reduced if there were a made in Canada guide for all of us."
Suzanne Lawson, National Executive Director, ALS Society of Canada

"I've been asked to prepare a paper on different models of governance that would be available for our Board members to consider. I'm aware of the Carver Model (which is what they are looking at adopting), however, they would like to be able to compare it to other models of governance. Can you help me out here? The research on line, as well as my timeline, is quite narrow. If you can point me in the right direction I would be forever grateful!!!"
Gisele Fortier, Canada Career Consortium

"I had a copy of your Synopsis, part of the material I have been assembling to develop learning modules for 18 new regional authority boards in children's services for whom all the factors and issues you raise are very relevant."
Alan Shugg, Senior Consultant, Community Support, Alberta Children's Services

"Governance models were excellent. Gave me more confidence in our governance structure (traditional) and helped me formulate ideas for new board member orientation. Hearing case studies of Board Governance situations put the material in context and was most helpful. Nice to know that other groups are experiencing similar problems and that there are solutions."
Feedback from participants in a focus group with New Brunswick environmental organizations.

"I really liked the work you did from your study. I have seen various parts of it in my travels and the materials you sent me. Just thought I would send a quick congratulations."
Pat Bradshaw, Professor, Nonprofit Management School, Schulich School of Business, York University, author of numerous articles on nonprofit governance

"I forwarded your study (Governance Do's and Don'ts) to my father who is one of the founders of a 25 year old nonprofit called the Banff Television Festival. He shared it with the management committee and everyone found it useful."
Zacharias Ezekiel, Project Officer, IOG, Malaysian office

"Just went to your board governance learning tools site. Excellent stuff! I do training on board governance from time to time here, and this will be helpful. I've also passed along the link to our best practices person in the US. I think he'll appreciate it too."
Brenda Melles, crwrc - Uganda, Kampala office

"I've been browsing through the excellent website including the governance self-assessment tools. You have some excellent resources and it is great that they are available to all via the internet. Thank you for providing guidance in quarters that you may not have expected! We don't have the same practical resources available in Australia although there are moves in that direction but they are a bit decentralized."
Eleri Morgan-Thomas, Executive Director, NSW Federation of Housing Associations, Australia

Copyright 2004 Synergy Associates Inc.  All Rights Reserved