Board of Directors

Sean Messing, Board Chair

A graduate of the University of British Columbia with a B.Sc., Sean began his career with CIBC Wood Gundy in 1995. He also holds the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®) designation. Sean has provided wealth management through multiple market cycles with a team of advisors. He loves what he does and is deeply committed to every single individual that he works with. 

Spending time with family is extremely important to Sean. He also enjoys running marathons, cross country skiing and volunteering in the community.

Sean has been a long time supporter of MitoCanada and TEAMmito, devoting his time to raising awareness and funds for the organization.

Melissa Paauwe, CPA, CGA, Treasurer

Melissa Paauwe is Accounting Manager for Tetranex Solutions, Inc. where she specializes in financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting. Melissa has been involved with Team Mito since 2016, organizing the women’s team that took down the 24 hour Women’s Treadmill Record. She is an avid runner and running coach.
Melissa is a CPA, CGA and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Okanagan University.

Shannon James, Secretary

Shannon has been MitoCanada’s legal consultant for several years. She is an associate at BLG Tax and Family Wealth Counsel Group in Calgary. Fluent in both French and English, Shannon focuses her practice on a broad range of Canadian income tax and estate matters. She acts and assists on a broad range of matters including tax litigation, estate and trust litigation, tax and estate planning.

Blaine Penny, Director and Co-Founder

Blaine’s commitment to MitoCanada is legendary. He is a co-founder of MitoCanada, chairing the Board from 2009 – 2015 and served as President and CEO from 2018-2020. In 2008, Blaine’s son, Evan, tragically suffered an unexplained brain injury and went from being a healthy typical 4-year-old boy to a spastic quadriplegic, who is non-verbal and tube fed as a result of mitochondrial disease. Blaine has poured thousands of hours into helping raise awareness and funds for mitochondrial disease research, and building a Mito community connecting patients, scientists, clinicians, and industry. Outside of MitoCanada, Blaine has spent over a decade as an executive in the Engineering and Technology sectors in various leadership roles. Blaine has significant corporate governance experience through sitting on 8 Boards and is currently a Director with the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders (CORD), Executive Advisor with Mito2i, and Chairman of the Intricate Group.


David Mosher, Director 

David holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and Management from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Dave’s beautiful daughter Victoria was diagnosed with Mito in 2003. Now, his goal is to do everything in his power to make sure that patients get the right diagnosis, treatment and ultimately a cure so they can lead long and fulfilling lives. As someone who has dedicated his career to healthcare, Dave says it is an honour to serve as Board Chair.

David is currently the Vice President of Sales for Logibec — a healthcare IT corporation specializing in the development of solutions that enable healthcare facilities to optimize, manage, and coordinate their care activities, leading to improved and impactful care practice.

Previously, David was a Director with McKesson Canada responsible for RelayHealth, a solution which facilitates virtual patient-physician clinic visits and allows patients to access their health information. David was also a Global Consulting Manager for Hewlett-Packard and responsible for directing their Canadian healthcare strategy.

Julie Drury, Director

Julie’s daughter Kate passed away on November 30, 2015 after a bone marrow transplant to treat a rare form of mitochondrial disease called SIFD. Julie was Kate’s medical coordinator and strongest advocate during her 8 short years of life.

Julie has been involved with MitoCanada and teamMITO since the organization was founded in 2009. Julie is a regional lead for teamMITO and has been a champion raising awareness with the media, in addition to leading fundraising efforts.

Julie background is in human kinetics and exercise physiology. She works for Health Canada as a senior health policy advisor. In addition to her work, Julie is a mother and tri-athlete, completing 8 marathons including the Boston Marathon. She is a writer and a parent advisor for health care system navigation and complex care. Julie speaks regularly about family-centred care as well as her family and Kate’s patient experience to healthcare professionals, research forums and at fundraising events.

Benedict Albensi, Director

Dr. Albensi is a Board of Director and chairs MitoCanada’s Medical Science and Technology Committee. He is the principal investigator in the division of neurodegenerative disorders at the St. Boniface Research Centre and Professor at the University of Manitoba’s Department of Pharmacology; the Dr. John Foerster Centre for Health Research on Aging’ Professor, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, University of Manitoba; Manitoba Dementia Research Chair; and, the Everett Endowment Fund Chair.

Dr. Albensi’s is trained in both basic and clinical research. He has worked in academic and industrial sectors on several novel drug discovery and drug development projects and is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba.

Claudia Aguirra, Director

Claudia has more than 25 years of experience in strategic planning and market research across different industries and countries and has been part of the executive teams guiding marketing and branding strategies for many flagship brands such as  Parks and Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, Walmart and Coca-Cola. 
She was VP Strategic Planning for Foote, Cone & Belding New York and Regional VP Strategic Planning for Leo Burnett in the Latin American, Caribbean and US Hispanic Market regions and special projects in Eastern Europe. 

Claudia was the first Mexican women speaker at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival, she was also awarded as one of the 40 before 40 in Mexico in 2007 and was a member of the global strategic council for Procter & Gamble for more than 5 years. She has won several international awards in the creative and strategic areas. Claudia holds a Major in Marketing with a specialized degree in non-for-profit organizations and a diploma in statistics applied to marketing. 

She has lived in Calgary since 2007, where she opened Lemonade Strategy & Branding five years ago collaborating as a branding expert for several international, local and national brands and start-ups. 


Kate Murray, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President

Kate Murray is no stranger to MitoCanada. As past Director of Program Development and interim CEO, Kate is passionately motivated and inspired by the strength of the mito community and driven to build capacity to impact the lives of those living with mitochondrial diseases.

Kate has extensive not-for-profit experience working for small charities and Foundations, founding her own children’s charity, Robbie’s Rainbow with her son. Previous to not-for-profit life, Kate’s career began in the food and beverage industry, working for one of the largest brands in the world, Coca-Cola. As one of just three women to hold a distribution management position within Coca-Cola Canada, Kate turned one of the country’s poorest-performing locations into one of the top five in North America.

Kate’s passion is being outdoors! Her pride is being a mom of three energetic teenagers; a traveller, a swimmer and a budding artist. Kate and her family are no strangers to the complexities of chronic illness, as her eldest was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at the tender age of six. Kate volunteers her time as a member of the SickKids Family Advisory Network (FAN). She is a steering committee member of CIDsCANN: Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Network and the IBD Project.

Catherine Mulvale, Chief Development Officer (CDO)

Catherine believes that individual comments, people and deeds can change the world. A confident, articulate and experienced innovator with extensive marketing, communications, public relations and fundraising expertise, she drives collaboration with passion and purpose to bring about remarkable outcomes. Catherine is respected for her ability to develop innovative programs which attract funding, provide meaningful benefits to recipients and supporters, and improve quality of life.  After being given a 10% chance of surviving a life-threatening illness in 1996, Catherine began investing her efforts and experience as a patient, educator, philanthropist and entrepreneur to help others. She has supported the advancement of small businesses, national corporations and global charitable foundations; developed countless educational programs across multiple mediums for the public, businesses and health care professionals; founded and transformed several national charitable organizations; and, raised over $27 million.

Catherine is the founder of Dynamite Design, Strategies for Life, and the Global Friends Foundation; has been executive director for the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation and the Canadian Foundation for Infectious Diseases; is the recipient of the YMCA Peace Medal Award and Leading Women Community Award; and, along with her husband, Tom, is the proud parent of two joyful, socially-conscious 20-something humans.

Nella Perri, Finance Manager

Nella began her career at Export Development Corporation in Ottawa.  She later relocated to Toronto where she joined Baxter Canada as a Marketing Analyst holding various positions over a 15 year period. 

As a mother of two, she volunteered in their various activities.  She joined the board of a local not for profit offering recreational and competitive programs for children where she held numerous positions including Treasurer for over ten years.    

Nella joined MitoCanada in 2017 and continues to support various local charities.

Summer Interns

Emily Ing, Events and Community Awareness Coordinator

Emily is a recent graduate from McMaster University earning an Honours B.A. in history.

As our summer Events and Community Awareness Coordinator, Emily will be helping us plan and promote special events, activities and fundraisers. She says she’s looking forward to bringing awareness to MitoCanada and mitochondrial health.⁠

Emily sees a future where families and communities are empowered with knowledge and resources that help their loved ones live energized lives.⁠

Mahimah Reancy, Grants and Fundraising Coordinator

Mahimah just graduated from the Honours Biology and Environmental Science program at McMaster University.

She joins us as our summer Grants and Fundraising Coordinator helping us identify grant, partnership and sponsorship opportunities.

Mahimah says a world powered by healthy mitochondria means a better, richer quality of life for many people around the globe.

Marvin Yan, Patient Education Coordinator ⁠

Marvin is a biology and pharmacology co-op student at McMaster University.⁠

He’s joining TeamMito for the summer to help develop a series of educational animations. Marvin hopes to promote awareness and education of mitochondrial diseases. He says that a future where all lives are powered by healthy mitochondria ultimately means a healthier future for all.