Phone: 519.853.8082       Fax: 519.853.8935


Professional Director™ Certification Program - Online Program Faculty

The faculty for this online board of directors training program comprises the principals of Governance Solutions Inc., the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, and experienced board directors and academics with a broad range of specialized skills and knowledge in issues directly related to ensuring excellent in governance across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.  

David A. H. Brown

B.Comm(Hons), Pro.Dir., C.Dir.
Executive Director, Governance Solutions Inc.

David Brown is Canada’s leading thinker, speaker, writer and practitioner in corporate governance.  Since 1995, David has co-founded over a dozen board governance education programs including university accredited certification programs for the Health, Colleges and Universities and School Board sectors, the International Corporate Governance Centre, the National Awards in Governance, the Public Enterprise (Crown Corporation) Governance Centre, and the Directors College.  David is probably best known for articulating and championing principle-based governance, built on economic agency theory and deriving 18 core competencies of board members.  Principle-based governance underpins all of his work, and is foundational to corporations selecting the right governance model and board practices.  This framework has been adopted by organizations as diverse as one of the GCC’s leading telecom providers, one of Canada’s big banks, two Canadian provinces’ Crown sectors, universities, health authorities, pension funds and military commands. David augmented his undergraduate business degree from Queen’s in accounting and finance with post-graduate courses at the University of Alberta’s law school.  Having served both as a CEO and a Board member, David is well-positioned to help corporations deal with issues in the boardroom.  David is the author of the definitive Canadian chapter in the international handbook Corporate Governance Around the World (2008: Routledge.)    David was invited to serve on his first board in Montreal at age 17, and his second board in Toronto at age 22.


Dr. Debra Brown

DMin, MDiv, Pro.Dir.
President and CEO, Governance Solutions Inc.

Debra Brown is the founder, President and CEO of Governance Solutions Inc.  Since founding GSI in 1991, Debra has developed it into a full-service firm providing governance consulting, research, training and tools on both a customized (organizational) and public basis (including on-line.)

Under Debra’s leadership, GSI has developed and tested a comprehensive, principles-based governance system that has been adopted and adapted by award-winning, leading governance organizations including The Conference Board and BMO Financial Group (Bank of Montreal) in Canada’s private sector, federal and provincial governments in the public sector, and numerous not-for-profit organizations and associations.  It is also the foundation on which GSI created the program and curriculum for The Directors College, and The Professional Director Certification Program™ and other governance education and university accredited certification programs for the Health, Colleges and Universities, School Board and First Nations sectors. 

Comfortable and confident with both boards and executives, Debra’s mix of experiential and conceptual insights uniquely qualify her to advise organizations on their governance.  She has served twice as a CEO, reporting to boards, and as a board member of several organizations, including as Board Chair and Governance Committee Chair, and so she is able to see governance issues from both sides of the boardroom table.

Debra’s doctoral thesis topic “Using Governance as a Tool to Transform Organizational Culture,” enabled her to develop a proprietary, leading edge diagnostic tool by which boards and executive teams can identify their dominant culture, and work on steps to capitalize on cultural enablers and mitigate cultural challenges.

Currently, Debra serves on major international non-profit corporation boards, and has worked in corporate governance as far afield as Malaysia, Bahrain, Indonesia, Cuba and Guatemala.  She is an acknowledged and sought-after thought leader in corporate governance, authoring over two dozen major research articles published in Canada and internationally, and editing Governance Matters, the Canadian Co-operative Association’s governance periodical.

Prior to forming Governance Solutions, Debra spent several years in the Canadian financial sector, working most recently as CEO.  Debra holds a Doctor in Ministry and a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where she graduated magma cum laude.


Rob DeRooy

B. Comm, Pro.Dir, C.Dir.
Principal, Governance Solutions Inc.

As a Principal at Governance Solutions, Rob, a skilled presenter and teacher, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our clients.  His expertise in corporate governance, strategic planning, member and stakeholder engagement, branding, quality (ISO) and change management and oversight is deep at both the board and executive levels.  Having served both as a CEO reporting to the Board, and as a Board member on several boards, Rob has walked in your shoes and is able to see governance and strategic issues from both sides of the boardroom table.   Rob has held a number of executive positions including his appointment as President of Concord Elevator where he successfully engineered a strategic restructuring, reducing overhead while increasing production and profitability.  In 2001 he moved to California and assumed the duties at the international corporate level of Managing Director Concord Elevator UK and Vice President Sales Ricon Group.  Rob has served on the board of the Accessibility Equipment Manufacturers Association where he chaired the membership committee, as well as on both the Brampton and Orangeville Curling Clubs.  As a dedicated fundraiser within his community he has chaired fundraising committees and organized sporting events on numerous occasions, raising tens of thousands of dollars for local charities. Rob earned his Bachelor of Commerce degree at McMaster University, majoring in finance and economics.


Dr. Michael Atkinson

Professor, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, and Associate Member, Department of Political Studies, University of Saskatchewan

Michael Atkinson is a Professor in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan campus. He has held a number of academic administrative appointments including Associate Vice President Academic at McMaster University (1995-97) and Provost and Vice President Academic at the University of Saskatchewan (1997-2007). He served as the founding Executive Director of Johnson-Shoyama (20087-2015) and has also held visiting appointments at Duke University, Western University and the Université de Strasbourg. In the early 1990s he served as editor of Governance: An International Journal of Policy and Administration. His academic background is in political science and he has published extensively in that field and in public administration and public policy.  He is a past-President of the Canadian Political Science Association and in 2012 was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s gold medal for achievement in public administration. His research interests include public sector compensation, political ethics and the broad topic of good governance.


  • PhD, Carleton University
  • MA, Carleton University
  • BA, University of Alberta

Recent Awards

  • Winner with Murray Fulton and Boa Kim of the J.E. Hodgetts Prize for the best article published inCanadian Public Administration 2014.
  • President of the Canadian Political Science Association, 2012-2013.
  • The 2012 Lieutenant Governor’s Gold Medal for Excellence in Public Administration, Province of Saskatchewan
  • Winner with Gerald Bierling of the McMenemy Prize for the best article published in the Canadian Journal of Political Science in 2005

Dr. Murray Fulton

Professor, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan; Director, Centre for the Study of Co-operatives

In addition to being a professor at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School, Murray Fulton is the Director of the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives; the Co-operative Retailing System Chair in Co-operative Governance, and a Fellow in Co-operatives and Public Policy. His research and teaching interests are focused in a number of areas, including industrial organization, agricultural and rural policy, and public sector and co-operative governance. He is the co-author of a number of books and reports, including Canadian Agricultural Policy and Prairie Agriculture and Co-operatives and Canadian Society. Fulton has also written many articles and papers on industrial organization, agricultural policy, and co-operatives. One important area of research has been an examination of the changes that are occurring in agriculture and the response of organizations – including agricultural co-operatives – to these changes. His current research is focused on governance and executive compensation in the public and quasi-public sectors. He is also interested in behavioural economics and its application to business strategy and public policy formation.


  • PhD, University of California, Berkeley
  • BA, Oxford University
  • MSc, Texas A&M University
  • BSA, University of Saskatchewan

Jim Marshall

Lecturer and Executive-in-Residence, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

Jim Marshall is currently a Lecturer and Executive-in-Residence at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. Prior to this, Mr. Marshall served in the Public Service of Saskatchewan for 34 years, occupying senior policy and executive positions in the Department of Finance and Industry and Resources and at the Crown Investments Corporation. Prior to coming to Saskatchewan, Mr. Marshall lectured in economics at Brandon University and conducted research at the Library of Parliament in Ottawa. Mr. Marshall has lectured in economics and public policy at JSGS, the University of Regina, Faculty of Administration and the University of Regina, Department of Economics. He is a graduate of Brandon University and the University of Calgary.

Current Research

  • Funding of First Nations Education
  • Accounting for public goods in macroeconomic indicators
  • Behavioural economic and public policy

Dr. Kathleen McNutt

Executive Director, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

As JSGS executive director, Kathleen's current research interests focus on digital government, climate policy and energy. She is currently embarking on a research program looking at the impact of social media on policy processes, the public sector and governance. In addition, she is examining the potential of integrated digital strategies (web, mobile, social media) to improve public engagement. McNutt regularly facilitates workshops for the school's executive training program. Kathleen teaches various public policy courses at the school including policy analysis, advanced policy analysis, program evaluation and gender based analysis. She has recently been published in such academic journals as Governance, Energy Policy, Internet and Policy, Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Canadian Public Policy, and Canadian Journal of Political Sciences.


  • PhD, Simon Fraser University
  • MA, University of Alberta
  • BA, University of Regina 

Dan Perrins

Executive-in-residence, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

As a JSGS executive-in-residence, Dan Perrins is able to draw on his experience as a long time public servant with the Government of Saskatchewan. In his 36 years with the province, he started as a frontline social worker before going on to hold a number of increasingly senior positions in Social Services, Health, Education, Post-Secondary Education and Skill Training, concluding his career as the Deputy Minister to the Premier and Head of the Public Service. Perrins is based at the University of Regina where he is responsible for the facilitation of many of our Outreach and Training seminars, lecturing extensively on public administration, social policy and the machinery of government. Dan has been awarded the Queen's Gold Jubilee Medal, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal and the Institute of Public Administration Canada's Lieutenant Governor General's Medal for Distinguished Service. He also serves as chair of the St. Thomas More College Board at the University of Saskatchewan and is a member of the Board of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC). Perrins is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan and the School of Social Work, University of Regina.

Recent Grants/Awards

  • Queen's Gold Jubilee Medal
  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • Saskatchewan Centennial Medal
  • Institute of Public Administration of Canada's Lieutenant Governor's Gold Medal for Distinguished Service

Brown Governance 

University of Regina University of Saskatchewan