Cuso International welcomes new members to Board of Directors and appoints Co-Chairs


Cuso International

Ottawa, Ontario –December, 12, 2022 Cuso International is pleased to announce that Board Members Darrell Gregersen and Lucie Edwards have been appointed Co-Chairs of the organization’s Board of Directors. Cuso International also welcomed three new members to its board: Zahra Esmail, from Vancouver; Alejandro Terrones, from Ottawa; and Gabriela Polanco Sorto, from Toronto.

For the first time, the Board chose to promote the vacancies through a public recruitment process, which generated a large number of applicants and interest. The Board of Directors serves a critical leadership role for Cuso International providing strategic direction to carry out its mission and vision by advancing priorities and supporting its partners and communities around the world, in delivering impact.

“I am honoured to serve as the Co-Chair of Cuso International. I continue to be highly impressed with our Board, staff and volunteers, who do their work with such passion and enthusiasm,” said Darrell Gregersen. “I have had the distinct pleasure, of working with Cuso International staff and volunteers in many different capacities over the years and it is an honour to be able to serve the organization as Co-Chair,” said Lucie Edwards.” This is an exciting time of renewal for the organization and its partners.”

Cuso International expresses its gratitude to departing board members, Chair, Patricia Perez-Coutts and Vice-Chair, Lynn Graham.

“Change at the board means new faces, but it is also bittersweet as we bid farewell to our colleagues and steadfast champions of our work. I want to thank our outgoing members, alumni Lynn Graham and chairperson Patricia Perez-Coutts, for their dedicated years of service,” says Nicolas Moyer, Chief Executive Officer. “I look forward to working with Zahra, Gabriela and Alejandro, and I know their experience will be a tremendous support to our team.”

The full Board of Directors includes Jeff Cates, Grant Curtis, Lucie Edwards, Zahra Esmail, Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, Darrell Gregersen, Rosemary McCarney, Gabriela Polanco-Sorto, Wayne Robertson, Lori Spadorcia, Alejandro Terrones, Rob Turpin and Justin Winchiu (Treasurer).

New Co-Chairs, Board of Directors

Lucie Edwards During her 34-year career in the Canadian Foreign Service, Lucie specialized in human rights and in international development. At the beginning of her career, she was assigned both to the Occupied Territories and to the townships in Apartheid South Africa. She won the Public Service Award of Excellence for her humanitarian work during the Genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Lucie has a special interest in food security, and global public health. She has played an active leadership role in the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), notably serving as Chair of the World Agroforestry Centre, co-Chair of the Gender and Development Program of the CGIAR, and Chair of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR). She recently stepped down as Chair of Partners in Health Canada. As Canada’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Environment Program, Lucie led Canadian teams at negotiations on climate change, forestry, and the creation of the Arctic Council. She served as Canada’s High Commissioner to Kenya, South Africa and India, and at Headquarters she was appointed Director General for Global Issues, Assistant Deputy Minister for Corporate Services, and as the Department’s first Chief Strategist. To mark her retirement, she was awarded the Department’s Lifetime Achievement Award of Excellence. Since her retirement, in 2009, she has taught International Relations and Public Policy at a number of Canadian universities.

Darrell Louise Gregersen, Mus.Bac, FAHP, ICD.D Darrell Louise Gregersen is an experienced fundraising professional who has earned an outstanding reputation in Canada leading major organizations to transformational fundraising results over the last 30+ years. In 2018 Darrell retired from her role as President and CEO with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation and is now a strategic advisor in fund development to a variety of Canadian charitable organizations in health, the arts, and global issues. While at CAMH she led two highly successful back-to-back campaigns of $400M for the hospital and its research institute. Darrell has held senior leadership positions at the Hospital for Sick Children and the National Arts Centre. She is a Fellow of the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy and a recent recipient of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Toronto Chapter Outstanding Fundraising Executive Award.

New Board Members:

Zahra Esmail Currently the CEO at Vantage Point, Zahra has more than 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector. She has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in globalization and international development from the University of Ottawa. In 2018, she completed a development leadership fellowship program with United Way of British Columbia. She is currently Chair of the BC Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee. Zahra has previous experience as a board member with multiple organizations, is a mentor with Dress for Success in Vancouver, and has volunteered at Woodgreen Community Services in Toronto. Aside from the work she has done in Canada, Zahra also has community development experience working in Haiti and India.

Gabriela Polanco Sorto Gabriela’s work in sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and diversity, equity and inclusion spans over 15 years. Originally from El Salvador, Gabriela is passionate about eliminating barriers faced by immigrants and refugees. Her career has spanned various global roles including at Scotiabank and Manulife Financial. Now she is the VP and Head of Purpose and Sustainability at Gore Mutual Insurance. She also lectures at the University of St. Michael’s College for the Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Graduate Diploma Program. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of British Columbia in 2002, before obtaining a graduate diploma in business administration from Simon Fraser University in 2004. In 2006, she completed her master’s in business administration at the Schulich School of Business. She comes to Cuso International’s board with previous experience as a board member with Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto and Sojourn House.

Alejandro Jose Terrones Alejandro has more than 18 years’ experience in international development and humanitarian aid. He is a proud Returning Volunteer of Cuso International, between 2006-2009 Alejandro volunteered with Cuso International in Bolivia as a youth socioeconomic development program officer. In his current role with the Canadian Red Cross, he is focused on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation initiatives for Indigenous and other under-served communities. Previous work in Canada includes advocating for the needs and rights of those affected by conflict, disasters, and inequalities. Internationally, he has worked in Nepal, Malawi, Haiti, Turkey, Liberia an El Salvador, running programs focused on food security, livelihoods, protection, and the empowerment of youth and women. Alejandro holds an honours Bachelor of Science in anthropology and zoology from the University of Toronto, a professional certificate in emergency management from George Brown College and a postgraduate certificate in infrastructure in emergencies from Loughborough University.

About Cuso International Cuso International is an international cooperation and development organization that works to create economic and social opportunities for marginalized groups. Together with our partners, we are focused on efforts to advance gender equality and social inclusion, improve economic resilience, and deliver progress on climate action. We believe that by sharing skills, we can build better futures. Founded in 1961, Cuso International works in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Canada.