Excellence in education through exceptional school board governance


Read about the people who work for the ASBA and the province’s school boards. Summarized contact information is available here (PDF–91K).

Executive Office

Suzanne Polkosnik

Chief Executive Officer

Suzanne has significant experience and success in both the private and public sectors and an ongoing commitment to public service, most recently as President and CEO of Legal Aid Alberta. In her former roles with EPCOR as Chief Compliance and Ethics Officer, Associate General Counsel and as Director, American Water Integration, she engaged in stakeholder consultations, regulatory submissions and contract negotiations, as well as corporate policy development and implementation, and board governance activities. Suzanne’s interest in education comes naturally, with both her parents serving in the public school system, her mother as a principal and her father as a trustee, and she has two daughters currently in public school. Very active in her community, Suzanne is a former member of the Edmonton Police Commission, the Governance Committee of the Law Society of Alberta, the Canadian and International Associations of Legal Aid Plans and has been an active volunteer in her children’s activities.

Tatiana Hagerty

Executive Assistant

Association Business

Heather Tkachuk

Chief Officer Association Business

Heather Tkachuk joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) in 2003 in the education services department. Her current role encompasses various governance aspects including strategic planning, policy/bylaw processes, and evaluations as well as supporting advocacy and government relations activities. Before joining the ASBA, Heather worked with the ministry of education. A graduate of the University of Alberta, Heather holds a master of business administration degree.

Rae Thygesen

Manager of Communications

Rae is a dedicated and energetic communications professional with experience in strategic communications planning, issues management and media relations. ASBA’s new communications manager, Rae brings with her a wealth of experience in both private and public sectors. Rae kicked off her career in the marketing agency world, developing strategy for some of Alberta’s most well-known brands before taking her talents to the public sector as a senior public affairs officer at the Government of Alberta. With a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Alberta; a public relations diploma from MacEwan University and a master’s degree in professional communications from Royal Roads University, Rae is excited to take on the unique world that is school board governance.

Jennifer Klarenbach

Coordinator, Governance and Committees


Heather Rogers

Chief Officer Operations

Heather Rogers oversees the association’s financial operations. She earned a bachelor of commerce degree at the University of Alberta, holds a chartered professional accountant designation along with a certified management accountant designation. Heather brings more than 20 years of accounting and audit experience in both profit and not-for-profit enterprises to the ASBA. She is also a member of the ASBA management team and has worked for the association since 2001.

Shannon Watson

Manager Human Resources

Teresa Ergezinger

Administrative Assistant

Teresa Ergezinger joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) in 1986. Initially she provided support to the association as corporate receptionist and administrative assistant to the manager of finance. After an internal re-organization in 1997, she continued as corporate receptionist but reported to the manager of communications. Currently she provides secretarial and administrative support to the directors of finance and corporate services as well as to the executive director’s office.

Elaine Pallister

Corporate Receptionist

Elaine Pallister joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) in 2009. Elaine is the corporate receptionist for the association and she also provides secretarial and administrative support to the directors of finance and corporate services. Elaine comes to ASBA with 20 plus years of experience in the financial and health and wellness sectors.

Learning & Research

Valeria Palladino

Chief Officer Learning & Research

Valeria is a life-long learner who has a passion for education, training and organizational development.

Her professional achievements include leading training teams, building curricula for local and provincial boards, presenting for local, provincial, national and international conferences, working with post-secondary faculties, teaching in high school and working as executive director for a non-profit organization. She has grown and built wonderful relationships with colleagues from the City of Edmonton, the government of Alberta, University of Alberta, the International and Heritage Languages Association (IHLA) and NorQuest College. She is a skilled presenter and holds a certification as a translator for the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Alberta (ATIA). She holds a Master Degree in Communications Technologies (MACT) and a Master Degree in Secondary Education; speaks three languages and volunteers with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Canada.

With a love and passion for reading and walking, she enjoys travelling with her family and cooking for anyone who accepts an invitation to her place in Edmonton. She shares these passions with her husband Nick, their two boys, Michele and Marco, and their queen puppy Cleo. She is grateful and excited to be serving ASBA in support of excellence in public education.

Noreen Pownall

Administrative Assistant

Noreen Pownall joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) in 1998. She provides secretarial and administrative support to the director of communications and helps organize conferences and general meetings. Prior to this Noreen worked for the labour relations and corporate services departments.

Noreen’s favorite teacher
Noreen’s favorite teacher was her junior high music teacher Ms. Zmean. She was a tiny lady with huge charisma and could easily command a classroom of teens even though most of us were taller than her. She instilled a lifelong love of all types of music.

Retained Services - Education Services

Jim Gibbons*

Education Consultant

Education consultant, Jim Gibbons joined the ASBA in June 2010. He came to the association from Chinook’s Edge School Division where he served as superintendent of schools for ten years. A past president of the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) and the Canadian Association of School Administrators (CASA), Jim is on the governing board of the American Superintendents’ Association (AASA). He was appointed to a six-year term as chair of the Council on Alberta Teaching Standards and he serves on University of Calgary Senate. He is a member of the Inspiring Education Steering Committee. Jim has been an associate faculty member for San Diego State, Royal Roads and the University of Alberta Masters’ programs. He is a trainer/facilitator for Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Jim was awarded the Alberta Centennial Medal and the EXL award for his leadership in education. He was awarded an honorary degree from Olds College at convocation in June 2010.

Terry Gunderson*

Education Consultant

Terry Gunderson joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) as an education consultant in May 2001. Terry brings 35 plus years experience in public education to his work with the association. He served as a principal, associate superintendent and superintendent. Terry has served on numerous boards, including the Lakeland College Board of Governors and APEGGA’s Board of Examiners. After being named a dean’s list graduate at Teachers’ College in Saskatoon in 1964, Terry earned a B.Ed. with great distinction and a B.Sc. cum laude at the University of Saskatchewan and a M.Ed. in educational administration from the University of Alberta. He assists school boards with executive searches, superintendent evaluations, board self-evaluations, strategic planning, specific system reviews, policy redevelopment processes and customized studies and workshops.

Terry’s favorite teacher
Terry’s favorite teacher was his Grade 1 teacher Mrs. Ferster. Terry could not speak English when he started Grade 1. Mrs. Ferster  demonstrated care and compassion in teaching Terry both the English language and Grade 1 learning outcomes.

Jennifer Elsinga

Administrative Assistant

Currently an administrative assistant in the education services department, Jennifer Elsinga first joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) in 2000 as a senior legal secretary. She previously had been a legal assistant for many years with the law firm of Fraser Milner Casgrain and she has also worked as a freelance court reporter.

Jennifer’s favorite teacher
Jennifer’s favourite teacher was Mr. VanEerden, who taught high school chemistry and biology. In addition to being an excellent instructor, he occasionally would blow up things in the lab and leave dent marks in the ceiling, which was always hugely entertaining.

Retained Services - Legal Services

Yvon Prefontaine

Acting Senior Lawyer

Yvon Prefontaine joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) legal department in 2001. His duties at the ASBA include providing legal service assistance and advice to member boards, the association and supporting member board development and education. As acting senior lawyer, he is also responsible for the administration of the legal services department and overseeing the provision of legal services to school boards. He practised law in New Brunswick starting in 1994 and in Saskatchewan beginning in 1999. He has been involved in the general practice of law with a primary focus in the area of litigation. Before entering the legal profession, Yvon earned a double honours degree in French literature and political science from the University of Saskatchewan and completed his law degree at the Université de Moncton.

Maggie Baczynski


Maggie Baczynski joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) legal department in 2013 from a career in private practice where she practiced primarily in the area of employment law. She has experience assisting both employees and employers in all aspects of employment law including wrongful dismissal claims, employment standards and Alberta human rights complaints, drafting employment contracts and policies and providing general advice and direction. Maggie completed a bachelor of arts degree in criminology with distinction at the University of Alberta and obtained her law degree from Dalhousie University. Outside of work, she enjoys volunteering her time with the Goodhearts Foundation and playing volleyball with the Edmonton Sport and Social Club.

Maggie’s favorite teacher
Maggie’s favorite teacher was her junior high math and science teacher Mr. Pryma. He was a classically trained opera singer with a tremendous sense of humour. His ability to engage with his students and create a learning environment that was fun and entertaining made teenaged students look forward to morning math class. A difficult feat indeed.

Shasta Desbarats


Shasta Desbarats joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) legal department in 2013. She brings over 15 years of experience in the area of employment and labour law to the association. Shasta has experience advising on all employment-related matters, including labour relations matters, wrongful dismissals, employment standards and human rights complaints in the private and public sectors. Shasta completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Manitoba in political science and philosophy and her Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Western Ontario. She has practiced labour and employment law in Ontario, Boston and Alberta.

Shasta’s favorite teacher
Shasta’s favourite teacher was Mrs. Campbell. When Mrs. Campbell found a pair of shorts that someone had left in her Grade 1 classroom she attempted to put them on. No more shorts were ever left in Mrs. Campbell’s classroom.

Rakhi Pancholi


Rakhi Pancholi joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) legal department in 2014 after spending eight years with the Government of Alberta, primarily with Alberta Education. She has extensive experience with the education system and legal expertise in the areas of labour/employment law, legislative interpretation, administrative law, privacy law, governance issues, and constitutional/human rights law. Rakhi played a key role in the development and drafting of education-related legislation and has experience in issues related to First Nation education in Alberta. She completed her law degree at the University of Toronto and her bachelor of arts degree in political science at the University of Alberta.

Angela Town


Angela Town joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) legal department in 2002. In her position with the ASBA, Angela provides legal advice and representation to school boards throughout the province on a wide variety of matters. She has been practicing law in Alberta since 1996. Angela began her law career in private practice and was employed as legal counsel in the health sector. Before entering the legal profession, Angela completed her bachelor of law degree and her undergraduate degree, a bachelor of commerce with distinction, at the University of Alberta. In private practice, Angela carried on a general practice of law primarily focused in the areas of: corporate/commercial, environmental, municipal, wills and estates, employment, and general litigation. While employed as legal counsel in the health sector, Angela advised management and staff on a variety of contractual and general legal matters.


Val Dale

Senior Legal Secretary

Val Dale joined the Alberta School Board Association (ASBA) as senior legal secretary in 2008. She provides administrative and legal secretarial assistance and support to the association’s staff lawyers. Val brings 17 years of experience as a legal assistant with law firms and with Alberta Justice – Civil Division to her role at the ASBA.

Kit Anderson

Legal Secretary

Kit Anderson joined the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) as legal secretary in 2012. She provides administrative and legal secretarial assistance and support to the association’s staff lawyers. She earned her bachelor of science and education degrees from the University of Alberta.

*denotes contractor