Excellence in education through exceptional school board governance


Read about the people who work for the ASBA and the province’s school boards.

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

Val Dale

Senior Administrative Assistant

Kit Anderson

Administrative Assistant

Charlene Bearhead

Coordinator, First Nations, Metis & Inuit (FNMI)

Charlene Bearhead is a mother, grandmother, educator and innovator with 30 years of regional, national and international experience. Charlene currently serves as the Education Coordinator for the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, the Coordinator- First Nations, Metis and Inuit Relations for the Alberta Schools Board Association and Director of Professional Learning with the College of Alberta School Superintendents for the Alberta Joint Commitment to Action: Education for Reconciliation. Charlene also serves on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Indigenous Education Working Group, the Downie-Wenjack Fund Board of Directors, the Pathways to Education Canada Indigenous Education Advisory Circle, the Safe and Caring Schools Board of Directors and the National Film Board Education Advisory.

Charlene served as the first Education Lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. Prior to that she was the National Coordinator for Project of Heart, and for the National Day of Healing and Reconciliation. Ms. Bearhead also coordinated the Education Days within the TRC National Events for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Charlene has also served as a teacher, principal, education director and superintendent, both on and off reserve, over the years and holds permanent teaching certificates from both Alberta and Manitoba.

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, 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 ATCO Electric, and then 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.

Heather Mosher

Corporate Receptionist

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.

Laurie O’Shaughnessy

Learning Coordinator, Learning and Research

Laurie is passionate about education and is particularly interested in how people learn! She has spent most of her professional life involved in education. She was a classroom teacher for 17 years, teaching in both Canada and abroad with a focus on language learning. When she earned her master’s degree in educational psychology, she began to specialize in adult learning and professional development. For the past decade Laurie has been busy managing learning and development opportunities in a clinical setting as well as working in the field of applied educational research. She comes to the ASBA excited to put her knowledge of adult education and online learning to good use. Laurie is keen to learn more and is so happy to serve the ASBA membership.

Outside of work Laurie is a keen textile artist and a member of several needlework and fabric art guilds. She spends time each day creating something artistic. Laurie and her husband David are proud puppy parents to Beau and Pippin.

Anastasia Atwood

Information and Research Coordinator

Anastasia comes from a non-profit, library, and research background focused on strategic planning, usage trends, and digital libraries. She is a self-proclaimed governance and policy nerd, and is looking forward to applying her knowledge and passion to the Research and Learning team.

As a volunteer computer literacy tutor for PALS Edmonton, Anastasia values life-long learning and helping people satisfy their curiosity. In her free time she can often be found curled up with a good book and a cat.

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.

Education Services

Tash Taylor

School Boards Advisor

Tash is a certified executive coach and management consultant with more than 25 years leadership experience. Her career focus has been on capacity building and performance for organizations, teams and individuals. Tash’s expertise includes all aspects of governance, strategy and planning, evaluation, change management, and community participation. She brings executive experience in education and the non-profit sector to her consulting services, and believes in an action-learning approach.

Tash has worked with municipalities, school boards, governments, politicians, executives, entrepreneurs, indigenous communities, and affordable housing providers across the country. In 2016, Tash was invited by the Canadian Government to join the Official Canadian Delegation at the UN Summit on Housing and Sustainable Community Development, held in Quito, Ecuador. Most recently, Tash served as the inaugural Executive Director appointed to establish the Alberta Public Housing Association (ANPHA), a membership-based association for Alberta’s affordable housing providers. She has a deep appreciation for the clear relationship between education and stable housing in children’s development and achievement.
Tash grew up in Ottawa, and began her post-secondary studies at the University of Ottawa. She went on to complete her MBA specializing in executive management consulting at Royal Roads University. She completed the Queen’s Executive Strategy and Strategic Analytics Programs, and holds Certified Executive Coach and Certified Risk Management designations. Tash is also a trained practitioner for measuring Social Return on Investment. She is a member of the Canadian Association of Management Consultants (CAMC), International Coach Federation (ICF), Global Risk Management Institute, and the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD).

Tash’s Board experience includes service as Vice-President of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association and Board Governor with the Alberta Real Estate Foundation. She has also volunteered her time with Junior Achievement, Habitat for Humanity, and RCMP Victim Services. Tash lives in St. Albert with her husband, 20-year old daughter, and two very large dogs.

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 favourite 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.

*denotes contractor