Kent Schroeder, Executive Director
Kent has led a variety of development initiatives in Bhutan since 2006 and joined BCF in 2019. His work has focused on building capacity within Bhutanese institutions to help strengthen the country’s young democracy. Kent has also undertaken a major research agenda that was formally recognized by the Prime Minister of Bhutan in 2015 for its contributions to Gross National Happiness, the country’s national development strategy. He has a PhD in International Development Studies/Political Science and is the author of Politics of Gross National Happiness: Governance and Development in Bhutan.
Catherine Smart, Project Director, Trans Bhutan Trail Project
Catherine joined the BCF team in September 2019. Catherine has provided leadership to many organizations during her career including Independents Afloat (founder) and Smart Move Inc. (founder), March of Dimes, Outward Bound, Tourism Toronto and Toronto Brigantine Inc. She has also been a board member for many charitable and service activities including Canadian Standards Association (Chair), Ontario Head Injury Association, Camp Awakening, Blue Mountains Chamber of Commerce (Chair), among others. Her areas of expertise include project management, accessibility solutions, leadership coaching, marketing and communications. Cathy is certified through the Coaches Training Institute and holds a Diploma in Recreation Therapy. She has trekked, paddled, skied and sailed in many places around the world.
Stephen Couchman, Project Director, Trans Bhutan Trail Project
Stephen joined the BCF team in September 2019. For 18 years Stephen worked in philanthropy as Senior Advisor to an anonymous donor. More recently he was Executive Director of the Huronia Community Foundation. Stephen has held several volunteer positions including founding director and Chair of the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, advisor to Ashoka Canada and Futurpreneur. Stephen has helped to establish and expand new programs and organizations including Vital Signs, the Canada Learning Bond and Global Entrepreneurship Week (Canada). In his early career, he was a Program Director with Outward Bound Canada and helped to found Summit Training & Development. Stephen holds a BA in International Development, a Masters in Environmental Studies and Executive Development Certification with the Ivey School of Business. Stephen spends his free time in the outdoors supporting local environmental and community activities, blazing trails and building bridges.
Karma Tshering, Field Director
Karma joined BCF when it first open its doors in 2009. Karma has an extensive career working in development in Bhutan, which to date spans over 30 years. Prior to BCF, he has worked with a number of internationally funded development projects, most notably the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for almost two decades. Karma has held multiple positions within BCF and has supported numerous activities to facilitate partnerships and build capacity within the education sector. In his spare time Karma enjoys playing archery, the national sport in Bhutan.
Kezang Wangmo, Program Officer
Kezang joined BCF in March 2018. She has previously worked as a marketing executive in a private company and as a reservation manager in one of the travel agents in Bhutan. She holds a Bachelor in Business Administration (BBA) from International Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS), India. She enjoys engaging in social interaction and meeting new people. She also likes working with her hands from cleaning to manual work.
Sonam Rinchen, Senior Project Director, Trans Bhutan Trail Project
Sonam joined the Trans Bhutan Trail project as its Senior Project Director in March 2020. Sonam had an extensive career in the Royal Government of Bhutan and held numerous positions in the Bhutanese civil service. He superannuated in 2018 from the service after 35 years of successful tenure in service of Tsawa Sum (The King, Country and People). The last position he held was as Dzongda (Governor) of Trongsa Province. Sonam holds a Masters Degree (MPA) from the Pennsylvania State University (USA). In his spare time, he enjoys playing archery.
Chair of the Board
Sam Blyth, Founder and Chair
Sam Blyth was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge (MA), and the University of Paris. In addition to leading his successful company Blyth Academy, established in 1978, Sam has spent much of his adult life working and traveling around the world. After being introduced to Bhutan by Pierre Elliot Trudeau in 1988, Blyth has revisited the country on a number of occasions and has visited several Bhutanese students who have studied in Canada. His love for education and passion for the nation led him to launch The Bhutan Canada Foundation in 2009.
Directors of the Board
A. Ian Aitken, Director
Mr. Aitken is a professional investor and long-time supporter of entrepreneurship education in Canada. He is the Managing Partner of Pembroke Management, the Chief Executive Officer of Pembroke Private Wealth Management and the Chief Executive Officer of The GBC American Growth Fund. In addition, Mr. Aitken serves as the Chairman of Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship, a registered Canadian charity and as a Director of the John Dobson Foundation. He is also a past president of the St. Andrew’s Society of Montreal. Mr. Aitken has had a great interest in Bhutan since his first visit to the country during 1997.
David Beatty, Director
David is a Professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto where he runs the David and Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation which studies board of directors of all kinds across Canada and internationally. He still overseas the Canadian Directors’ Education Program now in its 15th year having already trained some 6,000 prominent Canadians. He has served on over 40 Boards of Directors of publicly traded companies and been Chairman of 8 in Canada, Australia, Mexico, the USA and the UK. He is an angel investor in a number of start-ups in Canada and the US.
Stewart Beck, Director
Stewart Beck is the President and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Prior to joining APF Canada, Mr. Beck served as the Canadian High Commissioner to the Republic of India with concurrent accreditation to the Kingdom of Bhutan and to Nepal. He joined Canada’s Department of External Affairs and International Trade (now Global Affairs Canada) in 1982 and served abroad in the United States, Taiwan, and the People’s Republic of China. In Ottawa, he held a number of progressively more senior positions, including Director General of the North Asia Bureau, Director General Responsible for Senior Management and Rotational Assignments, and Assistant Deputy Minister for International Business Development, Investment, and Innovation. He was Consul General in Shanghai and prior to his posting to India, he was Consul General in San Francisco.
Madeleine Blyth, Director
Madeleine runs the Techstars Barclays fintech accelerator, arguably the world’s most selective fintech programme. In this role, she has invested in, and supported, over 20 startups over the last two years. At just 25, she has scouted and held meetings with upwards of 400 entrepreneurs in more than 12 countries and is a fixture judge and mentor at London startup events. Prior to this, Madeleine has managed business development and growth for several London-based startups.
Madeleine has had a lifelong love for Bhutan. Growing up, her house was a billet home for Bhutanese students, some of whom remain like members of her family. She has travelled to Bhutan several times and, in 2012, she spent a month in Bhutan conducting anthropological field research for her thesis on the relationship between the introduction of the internet and the discovery of a democratic voice in Bhutan.
Lucie Edwards, Director
Lucie is based at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo; her research centres on the use of science and technology for the poor, with a particular focus on initiatives to support the “bottom billion” in Africa and South Asia. She moved to the University of Waterloo in 2009 following a 34 year career in the Canadian Foreign Service. She served as Canada’s High Commissioner to Kenya, South Africa and India, and was appointed Canada’s first Ambassador to Bhutan in 2004. [In 1995, she received the Public Service Award of Excellence for her humanitarian work during the genocide in Rwanda. She also received a merit award for her human rights work combatting Apartheid at the Canadian Embassy in Pretoria in 1989. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of Excellence by the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2009.
Lynn Haight, Director
Lynn is the Chair of the independent Audit and Oversight Panel of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Geneva. She is also a Board Member of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board of Canada and Somerville College Development Board, Oxford University. She has recently retired as Chair of the Consortium Board of International Agricultural Research Centre in Montpellier, and retired in 2009 as COO and CFO of Foresters Financial. Lynn is Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Professional Accountants in Canada. She has a Honours MA degree from Oxford University.
She has always enjoyed international development work, and has been a consultant to the UNDTCD, UNDP and the World Bank in different countries which gave her insight into the impact of climate change and the extreme difficulty of maintaining a national culture. She visited Bhutan with the Chairman’s tour in 2019, and fell in love with the country.
Gwendolyn Julien, Director
Gwendolyn maintains a multifaceted career in organizational development and people development as a business consultant, leadership coach and educator within the public, private and non-profit sectors. She obtained a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com) at Ryerson University, a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) at the University of Toronto, Professional Coaching Credentials (CPCC) with The Coaches Training Institute, and a Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University. Her Master’s thesis was titled “Developing a Strategic Approach to Stakeholder Engagement at SOS Children’s Villages Canada”, which sparked a passion for helping organizations better understand and utilize their social capital. Gwendolyn’s work with Directors of non-profit organizations started with a focus on board effectiveness. Gwendolyn is a relentless champion of personal expression and fulfillment in work and life and she regularly participates in arts, culture and wellness activities. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.
Jane Pepino, Director
Jane is a lawyer practicing planning and development law, based in Toronto at Aird and Berlis. She is a long time active volunteer, presently serving on the Board of Women’s College Hospital, and Governing Council of the University of Toronto. She enjoys travel that does not involve a beach, pool, or resort. Interests include grandchildren, as well as a large vegetable garden and orchard, bee keeping and coping with produce in a variety of ways. Jane was a traveler with the Chairman’s Trip with BCF in April 2017.
Doma Tshering, Director
Doma Tshering is the new Permanent Representative of Bhutan to the United Nations.Prior to her new appointment, Ms. Tshering was the Director of the Multilateral Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thimphu between 2012 and 2017. She served as Chief of the Foreign Ministry’s Policy Planning Division from 2009 to 2012.Previously, Ms. Tshering served as Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, from 2007 to 2009. She held the position of Counsellor from 2005 to 2006. From 2004 to 2005, Ms. Tshering headed the Europe and Americas Division, and from 2000 until 2003, she served as Under Secretary in the Policy Planning Division. She also served as First Secretary in Bhutan’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York from 1995 to 2000.