Public Interest Alberta Staff

Joel French, Executive Director

Joel French, Executive DirectorJoel is the Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta, a position he has held since 2015. He previously served as the organization’s Communications Coordinator and has also served in staff positions with Friends of Medicare and former Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason. He has a degree in Middle Eastern and African Studies and Religious Studies from the University of Alberta and a diploma in Computer Systems Technology from Lakeland College.

He has worked on election campaigns at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels for progressive candidates. He also currently serves in positions that help guide the work of the Parkland Institute, the Next Up youth leadership program, and the Alberta Green Economy Network.

Monica Walker, Financial & Administrative Officer

Laura Kruse, Communications Officer

2010-20 Board of Directors

Public Interest Alberta is governed by a Board of Directors drawn from our member organizations and individuals from the community. The Board is elected by the membership at our Annual General Meeting. 

Terry Price, President

As a retired teacher and activist, Terry has served in various elected and staff positions with territorial, provincial, and national teachers' organizations for the past 26 years. Terry served in various capacities in the Canadian Teachers' Federation from 1993 to 2005 including two years as President. She served as a staff officer of the Manitoba Teachers' Society from 2006 until her retirement in November 2017, when she moved to Edmonton to be closer to family. Terry has been active with Public Interest Alberta as a member of the Board of Directors, Secretary of the Executive, and Chairperson of the Seniors' Task Force and guided the planning of a highly successful Citizens' Forum on seniors' issues held in Red Deer in March 2019.

Larry Booi, Vice-President

LarryBooi_0.jpg Larry has long worked to strengthen education and support the public good. He is the former President of the Alberta Teachers’ Association and was Vice President of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. Larry also served on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Council on Learning. He has been actively involved in curriculum development, has written textbooks used in Alberta schools, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Education. Larry has played a central role in the establishment and growth of Public Interest Alberta and is Chair of the Democracy Task Force.

Siobhán Vipond, Vice-President
Alberta Federation of Labour

SiobhanVipond.jpgSiobhan Vipond is in her third term as Secretary Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour. The AFL represents more than 170,000 unionized workers in all sectors of the Alberta economy, and works to advance the rights of working people throughout the province. Siobhan is a passionate leader who believes in the power of collective action for the common good. Prior to joining the AFL, Siobhan worked as a stage and film technician and is a proud member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Siobhan is an alumni of the 2015 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference and the Cornell University Workers Institute’s National Labour Leaders Initiative.


Jonathan Teghtmeyer, Treasurer
Alberta Teachers’ Association

Jonathan Teghtmeyer is the Associate Coordinator, Communications for The Alberta Teachers’ Association, and the proud father of two and happy husband. His primary responsibilities are in communications, political engagement and advocacy. He has a Bachelor of Education and a Masters of Arts in Communication and Technology from the University of Alberta. Prior to coming to the Association, he taught high school Math and Drama at Breton High School with Wild Rose School Division. He also serves on the board of directors for the Friends of Medicare.

Donna Staszenski, Secretary

Donna is a retired teacher and school principal. Throughout her career, she was committed to nurturing children’s success in learning and supporting good teaching practices. Through her work as an ATA Economic Consultant, an Alberta School Employees Benefit board member and a leader in school curriculum initiatives, she contributed to the defence and integrity of public education. In several federal, provincial and municipal elections, she successfully developed organizational and volunteer capacities. Currently, Donna serves as chair of the Public Interest Alberta Child Care and Early Learning Task Force. She supports the importance of advocating for establishing a public system of early learning and child care programs which are of high quality, accessible, affordable and well-regulated.

Mike Parker, Director
Health Sciences Association of Alberta

Mike_Parker.pngMike Parker has been a first responder since 1992, volunteering in his local community of Coaldale, Alberta. He went on to work in the private ambulance industry in Andrew, Lamont, Morinville and Athabasca, before moving to Edmonton in 1996. He graduated as a paramedic in 1999. He has been involved in the labour movement for many years, serving as a steward and as vice-president of his local with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). He became a member of HSAA in 2009 and served as a board member before being elected as HSAA vice-president in 2015. The following year, he became president. Mike has always been a strong proponent of the role of unions in protecting the rights of citizens and also of the public sector in providing vital services. Mike has also served as a volunteer with Canadian Medical Assistance Teams (CMAT), providing emergency assistance after disasters in the Philippines, Pakistan and Nepal.

Heather Smith, Director
United Nurses of Alberta

HeatherSmith.jpgHeather is the President of the United Nurses of Alberta, a position she has held since 1988. Born and raised in Ontario, she came to Alberta to work as a nurse at the Edmonton General Hospital. She quickly became involved in her union and served as President of her Local for two years. She also sat on the provincial negotiating committee during the 19-day illegal strike in January 1988. Heather has been a key figure in defending public health care in Alberta, including campaigns to oppose Bill 37, Bill 11 and the Third Way.

Carol Wodak, Director
Seniors’ Action and Liaison Team (SALT)

Carol's reputation as a researcher and advocate in the field of eldercare has been increasing steadily over the past twenty years. She came to this activity for intensely personal reasons: her mother experienced almost the full range of continuing care options after suffering a series of strokes from 1995 to 2006, and Carol believes very strongly that the system failed her mother. In addition to individual work, Carol is a founding member of Citizen Watch, an active member and Vice-Chair of the Seniors’ Action and Liaison Team (SALT), and a member of several other community advocacy groups. Carol’s employment with the Alberta Human Rights Commission proved to be good preparation for her current activities.

Rod Feland, Director
Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE)

RF-smile_2.jpg In 2017, Rod Feland was elected Vice-President from AUPE Local 038. For more than 30 years, his unionism has paralleled his work as an educational laboratory technologist at NAIT, where he prepares people for careers in environment, fisheries, and parks. Feland became an active and vocal AUPE member almost as soon as he joined the union. In 1982, he filled the role of Steward followed by many Local positions including Chair and Provincial Executive. Feland currently chairs AUPE’s Environmental Committee. Dedicated to standing up for his fellow workers, he has also been a bargaining team member and represented members in grievances. In those roles, he learned that sometimes all it takes is a few workers standing their ground in the face of inequitable employers to reignite and enliven a whole membership. Supporting this kind of engagement is key to Feland’s leadership. As representative for the Northwest region, he knows even physical distance and isolation can be overcome by giving members the tools they need to inspire participation and a culture of inclusion among each other. Feland knows it’s the members who hold the real power to advocate for each other; and he’s here to support them in any way possible.

Quinn Benders, Director
Non-Academic Staff Association (NASA)

QuinnBenders.jpgQuinn is Vice-President of the Non-Academic Staff Association (NASA) at the University of Alberta. He serves on various NASA committees focused on political education and advocacy work. Quinn advocated for the creation two of NASA’s newest committees: the Political Action and Membership Education Committee and the Equity and Diversity Committee. He also works on projects encouraging NASA members to become better connected to the larger labour movement. Quinn is currently chairing Public Interest Alberta's Post-Secondary Education Task Force and has a strong desire to improve post-secondary education in Alberta. Quinn has spent much of his adult life volunteering with social justice and locally-based initiatives and hopes to continue to positively engage with the broader community.

Scott Crichton, Director
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 424

Scott works in membership development, community liaison/advocacy, and political education. Scott has extended Local 424’s outreach to include the movers and shakers in the growing renewable energy sector along with energy efficiency advocates in business and government. Scott is always seeking to expand the green energy field and is working with an Edmonton area high school to design and install rooftop solar panels pairing union labour with student involvement. A Red Seal electrician, Scott has completed photovoltaic courses at 424’s Electrical Industry Training Centre.

Collin Anderson, Director
Alberta Federation of Union Retirees


Collin is a Past President of the Calgary and District Labour Council and prior to retirement was the President of the Telecommunications Workers Union Locals 204 and 205. He is currently the President of the Calgary Area Council of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada (CURC) and on the Executive of the Alberta Federation of Union Retirees (AFUR). Within the roles with CURC and AFUR, Collin advocates on behalf of retirees and seniors on issues such as health care, long term care, housing, and pensions. A prime focus in 2018 will be to continue the opposition to Bill C-27, an attack on pensions by the federal government.

Greg Mady, Director
Edmonton & District Labour Council

Greg Mady, Board Member, Public Interest Alberta

Greg Mady is the President of the Edmonton & District Labour Council. Greg has obtained degrees in Philosophy & Political Science from the University of Alberta & Waterloo. Working in the service industry throughout his schooling he eventually found his way to Canada Post where he worked as a mail carrier and volunteered tirelessly with his union, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). In 2013, Greg was struck by a vehicle while working and sustained serious injuries. After a month in the hospital and a year in rehabilitation, he returned to work where he continued to educate others and push hard for fair treatment of health and safety concerns. In his current role with the Edmonton & District Labour Council, he sits on many boards in his effort to better the lives of all working Edmontonians on behalf of dozens of affiliated union members.


Rory Gill, Director
CUPE Alberta Division

Rory Gill has worked in the public sector with the City of Calgary for over 20 years. He first joined the City as a seasonal parks labourer in 1997 and worked in several different capacities until he was promoted to foreman in the Parks Department in 2000.

In 2006, Gill became active in his local union, CUPE 709 – the Calgary Civic Foremen’s Union. He joined the local Executive in 2011, and was later elected as the local’s Vice-President in 2012 and then the President in 2014.

At the same time, Rory was active with CUPE Alberta Division and attended its conventions since 2011.  In 2016, he was elected to the division’s Executive Committee as Calgary Area Vice President.  The following year, he was elected Southern General Vice President and served in that position until he was elected President of CUPE Alberta in March 2019.

Rory is originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, though he primarily grew up in Calgary. He is the proud father of two sons.


Ex-officio members

Ricardo Acuña, Director
Parkland Institute

RicardoAcuna.jpegRicardo is the Executive Director of the Parkland Institute, Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta – a position he has held since May 2002. Previous to that he worked for nine years as Projects Coordinator for Change for Children Association, an Alberta-based international development organization working in Latin America. He has a degree in Political Science and History from the University of Alberta, and has over 20 years experience as a volunteer,staffer and consultant for various non-government and non-profit organizations around the province. Ricardo is a regular speaker to students, teachers, and community groups around Alberta. He has spoken extensively and written on issues of water, NAFTA, commodification of the commons, and energy policy in Alberta. He is a regular media commentator on public policy issues, and writes a regular column for VueWeekly in Edmonton.

Sandra Azocar, Director
Friends of Medicare

SandraAzocar.jpgSandra has been a social activist for more than 30 years in Alberta. Her previous experience is working as a child protection worker, a community organizer, and a labour activist. Prior to coming to Friends of Medicare, she worked as a Vice President of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). She was a member of the Board of Directors of Friends of Medicare for 6 years before becoming its Executive Director in 2012.