Board of Directors

The Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks is governed by a nationally representative, multi-stakeholder board of directors.

Souhaël Bouallagui

Souhaël Bouallagui has been the Director of Customized Training Division and French as a Second Language at Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia since 2017, where he is also the Director of Department of Education Sciences.

He holds a Master’s degree in linguistics and language didactics, and he has been working in the field of adult language education since 2007, first in Europe and then in Canada.

Although teaching remains as his greatest passion, through his role at Université Sainte-Anne, Souhaël is currently responsible for the administrative management of academic departments, the development of new programs and the supervision of projects such as the CLIC centre at the university.

Out of keen interest in languages, Souhaël joined the Board of the Halifax Languages Consortium and that of the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks. He is the Vice Chairperson of CCLB Board of Directors since 2021.

Vice Chairperson
Jennifer Cummins

Jennifer Cummins has been working in the field of EAL instruction since 2007. In that time, she has worked in a variety of contexts, including private, non-profit, and public organizations. She has participated as a subject matter expert for both private and government organizations and has extensive experience in curriculum development, assessment, and quality assurance.

Jennifer’s most current role is Assistant Department Head in the EAL department at Vancouver Community College in Vancouver, BC. Additionally, she volunteers as a Board Member for the CCLB, and sits on the board of BCTEAL as Board Secretary and Chair of the Membership Committee.

Jennifer has a Masters of Education in Educational Psychology from Simon Fraser University, as well as a leadership certificate through their continuing studies program. She has also received a post-graduate certificate in e-learning from the University of Calgary. Recently she was awarded the VCC research fund for two consecutive years to study faculty attitudes and behaviour in relation to plagiarism. Her professional interests include online and blended education, assessment, curriculum development, anti-oppressive pedagogy, and EDI.

Yves Page

Yves Page has a vast professional background in both manufacturing and corporate management, with over thirty years’ experience of helping small, medium, and large companies improve their bottom line. In 1998, he founded GEMS Consultants Inc. in Moncton, New Brunswick. As a corporate advisory service company, GEMS offers small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners the necessary navigation tools to fully comprehend their state of business and to realize desired business objectives. Specializing in business start-ups, consulting, training and more, Yves and his dynamic team strive to offer affordable, flexible, and professional services across the Maritimes, Canada, and internationally.

Yves has been a member in good standing for over 30 years with the Association of Professional Engineers of New Brunswick (APENB). He has also sat on various boards in different roles, including former President of the Verification Committee (Caisse Populaire Beauséjour), Secretary of the Executive Committee – Board of Directors (Caisse Populaire Beauséjour), Vice President of Moncton Minor Hockey Association (MMHA), Coordinator of Volunteers (2010 World Junior Games – WIIF), and Regional and Provincial Judge (School Chess Tournaments).

With such knowledge and experience, Yves has proven his ability to quickly grasp the problems that business owners may face as their businesses grow. He can quickly help identify business owners and leaders’ ways to improve productivity and achieve corporate goals. Fluent in English and in French, Yves is a graduate from the Université de Moncton with a bachelor’s degree in applied science (Industrial Engineering) and a master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA).

Christianne Wojcik

Christianne Wojcik began working in education in 2002 and has held positions in the United States and Canada in public K-12 education, charter school leadership, public-private partnerships, higher education administration, and nonprofit executive leadership.

She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English (1998), Master of Liberal Arts (2004), Master of Education in Curriculum and Development (2013) and post-graduate credentials in Literacy, Reading Interventions, and ESL. Christianne holds teaching certification in the US and Canada, and previously held faculty positions in both the Department of English and College of Education and Human Development at Louisiana State University in Shreveport for eight years. She is passionate about learner-focused educational practices, UDL, teacher training, and project-based learning.

Christianne’s current role is Executive Director of Kingston Literacy & Skills in Kingston, ON. Additionally, she sits on the Board of Directors for CCLB, Community Literacy of Ontario, and Kingston Immigration Partnership as well as advisory committees for the City of Kingston. Outside of her professional interests, Christianne holds a number of volunteer leadership positions in arts and culture and EDI advocacy.

Diane Hardy

Diane Hardy is an associate dean in the School of Global Access, Bow Valley College in Calgary, Alberta. She has over twenty years of experience in the field of English language learning and post-secondary education. She has worked as a program coordinator, project manager, and English language instructor. She has been responsible for program management, curriculum development, teacher training, online learning, innovative programs, and applied research projects. Diane is committed to academic excellence, and is a recipient of the Bow Valley College Awards of Excellence for Faculty, the Canada Post Community Literacy Award for Educators, and Calgary Learns’ Life of Learning Awards for Designer/Director. She is a past President of Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language. She has also worked in the private sector and has professional experience in the areas of marketing and communication and fund development.

James Papple

James Papple is an English for Academic Purposes Manager from York University, with 20 years of teaching experience to international and domestic students.

He graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor’s in Linguistics and Psychology (1999), a Masters in TESOL (2007), and a Human Resource Management certificate from Niagara College (2008).

As Chair of TESL Ontario (2016-2017) he had the opportunity to network through the provincial community of practice, a role that he has carried on with TESOL International’s Affiliate Network and Professional Council (2018-2021).  Currently, he sits on Program Advisory Committees for Niagara and Centennial College and is a founding member for TESL Ontario’s College and University committee.

Over the course of his career, James has published three textbooks of EAP materials, the last two with Oxford University Press. Additionally, he has written and developed classroom and testing materials for publication and recently appeared as a guest blogger for TESL Ontario.

James also volunteers his time with Leadership Niagara, helping young entrepreneurs forge connections to Niagara’s vibrant non-profit community.

Jessica Durepos

Jessica Durepos (M.A. Ed, BA) is a passionate Assistant Manager of the Second Language Education Program at Éducation Permanente (ÉP) school within the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE), a role she has held since 2019. She oversees provincially funded ESL and FSL language programs at ÉP-CECCE, where her focus includes integrating best practices for educational technology in remote classrooms. Jessica’s current initiatives include developing an internal onboarding learning management system for ESL and FSL instructors, encompassing new instructor orientation, teaching principles for ESL and FSL classes, Avenue support, and guidance on CLB/NCLC and PBLA/ELBP.

With a decade of combined experience in program coordination and teacher training, Jessica is committed to advancing second language education best practices in Canada through innovative teaching methodologies and comprehensive program development. She has developed online learning activities and resources, as well as created and implemented professional development programs aimed at educators teaching second and international languages, catering to both domestic and international language instructors.

Jessica’s expertise extends across various educational settings, including adult education, post-secondary institutions, and early childhood education. She has instructed university students in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and French immersion programs at uOttawa, along with teaching ESL and FSL classes in adult and continuing educational settings.

As a researcher in second language education, Jessica focuses on linguistic identity. Her Master’s thesis explored the linguistic identities of first-year undergraduate French immersion students transitioning to post-secondary education in Canada. Her research interests span the experiences and identities of language learners and teachers in continuing and post-secondary education, language instructor and teacher training, plurilingual teaching and learning, and learner retention in settlement contexts.

Jessica has been actively involved in research projects analyzing language-mediated activities’ impacts on learners, investigating computer-assisted language learning strategies, and exploring literacy development through screen capture technologies in second language classrooms. She has also evaluated the effectiveness of language and professional training programs for international teachers from minority backgrounds.

Driven by her Franco-Ontarian identity, Jessica’s own linguistic and cultural identity underpins her dedication to language teaching and facilitating learners’ discovery of their own identities. Her deep-seated interests in second language acquisition have led her to contribute to the Board of Directors at the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks.

Jessica Leslie

Jessica Leslie has over 20 years of experience in education, including 15 years working with diverse children and adults, she is a detail-oriented instructor well-versed in curriculum development, program management, and adult learning principles. Jessica has a proven track record in writing training materials and facilitating professional development in areas such as Supporting Diversity in the Classroom, Trauma-Informed Classrooms, Dyslexia and EAL, and Integrating Students with Sight Loss.

Jessica’s strong and empathetic communication skills are supported by a Professional Development Certificate in Intercultural Communication from The University of British Columbia, a BA in Linguistics and TESOL, and a Master of Education in Supporting Diverse Learners from Mount St Vincent University. Jessica has taught the gamut of EAL, LINC, EAP, and EFL from literacy all the way up to college prep in multiple countries and has taken roles including head instructor, PBLA lead, Team Lead, and currently, as Accessibility Support Program coordinator at Immigration Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) for the past 6 years.

Additionally, she volunteers as a Board Member for the CCLB and serves on various accessibility-focused committees and working groups both locally and nationally.

Maria MacMinn Varvos

Maria MacMinn Varvos is an Adult Educator with a BA in Languages and Literature and a Bachelor of Education with a specialization in English. Maria has had a broad and comprehensive career in the private and public-school career training and ESL sectors for over 30 years.

Now retired, Maria was recently the Campus Director for Brookes College in Calgary overseeing career training programs in the business, education, health, and IT sectors that are primarily delivered online. Retirement has given her an opportunity to focus on  consulting through her company, MMV Educational Consulting, that has been working with public and private post secondary colleges on program research, teacher training, curriculum development and licensing, strategic planning and writing proposals for new training initiatives.

Her work experience has also encompassed administrative leadership in the private and non-profit management such as Campus Director of Robertson College and Mosaic Learning Institute as well as leadership positions with Columbia College, The Immigrant Education Society (TIES) and Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA). She has had board level involvement in professional associations and committees that are representative of the Adult Education and ESL sectors. Maria has had a range of volunteer leadership positions on Boards and committees for organizations such as Alberta Association of Career Colleges (AACC), National Association of Career Colleges (NACC) and past President of (ATESL) Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language. These experiences provided Maria with the opportunity to advocate for quality post-secondary education in the career training and ESL sectors.

Maria has a passion for working in the private and nonprofit post-secondary adult education sectors. She has learned about the operational and academic challenges of these organizations as well as the challenges of their diverse group of students. Her passion extends to working collaboratively with team members to achieve the vision, mission and mandate of the organization guided by a servant leadership philosophy.

Naomi Frey

Naomi Frey (she/her/hers) is the Program Manager in the Extended Education division at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Prior to her current role, she worked as a program manager for Red River College Polytech. She has more than two twenty years of experience in the fields of English Language Learning (ELL) and of language assessment in higher education in Canada and abroad. She has worked as a program manager, a quality assurance manager, an English language instructor, and an English language assessor. In her numerous roles, she has been responsible for program management, program delivery, curriculum development, teacher training, online/blended/HyFlex (hybrid) delivery, and research projects.

Naomi has knowledge and experience in working with a broad range of EAL (English as an Additional Language) learners, from literacy to internationally educated professionals, and has also worked closely with remote learners in rural communities in Manitoba with the challenges of accessing online learning. She is very committed to the accessibility of education for all (including newcomer children) in ELL classes. She is a former recipient of Red River College Polytech’s BRAVO Award for being an employee of innovation, leadership, and professionalism in contributing to a culture of safety.

Ricardo Arisnabarreta

Ricardo Arisnabarreta is the Manager of Language Services at the Regina Open Door Society (RODS) in Saskatchewan. Ricardo has an undergraduate degree in English and in Spanish as a Second Language and an M.Ed. with research in the internationalization of higher education, language, and power. He is also a PhD student at the University of Regina and a sessional instructor of Spanish credit courses in the International Language department of the same university. His research interest is in the intersection of language, race, accent, and immigration, as well as in how they all affect the lived experiences of non-native English speakers.

Ricardo has significant work experience, which includes teaching and administrative roles. He has taught EFL (English as a Foreign Language), EAP (English as Academic Purposes), LINC, theory and methodology in second language acquisition, and standardized assessment classes. Ricardo has worked as a language assessor and taught at Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the University of Saskatchewan. Ricardo is a former Vice-President of TESL Saskatchewan and a former Chair of the Accreditation Committee, in which roles he spearheaded significant changes in accreditation processes and standards. Currently, Ricardo manages provincially and federally funded language programs at RODS, where he also helps instructors navigate the CLBs and the PBLA.

Tehreem Zafar

Tehreem Zafar works as Manager, Immigration and Settlement Services at YWCA Hamilton and oversees Settlement, Employment, Gender Based Violence and Violence Against Women (GBV&VAW), Community connections, and 2SLGBTQIA+ programming. Being an immigrant herself, she uses insights from her first-hand experience to remove the barriers immigrants face in different phases of settlement and integration, so when they look back, they consider it a success, not just a mere survival. Hence, from direct service delivery to management and advocacy on local and national levels, she has held numerous roles including Language Program Head, LINC Program Manager, LINC Coordinator, and Assistant Coordinator at Saskatchewan Intercultural Association and English Language Learning Supervisor at Newcomer Learning Centre, Hamilton Public Library. She has also taught LINC (Literacy – CLB 7), the ESL (University of Saskatchewan), and the Seniors ESL (Hamilton Public Library).

Tehreem has served on various committees, working groups, and boards. Being Director of the TESL Saskatchewan board, she volunteered as Chair of the Board’s Communication Committee and is also a former member of Saskatchewan’s advisory committee of Language Assessment and Referral Centre (LARC) and the province’s settlement umbrella organization, Saskatchewan Association of Immigrant Settlement and Integration Agencies (SAISIA). Currently, in Hamilton, she sits on Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council, HIPC’s Social Inclusion and Community Engagement Committee and is part of the Afghan Settlement Task Force and the Ukrainian Working Group. She has a master’s degree in English Language and Literature, a B.A. in Economics, a Certificate in TESL (University of Saskatchewan), a Certificate in LearnIT2Teach Stage 3, and a Certificate in Language Program Management (London Language Institute). As an Ontario Certified English Language Teacher (OCELT), she has TESL Ontario Certificate of Accreditation for Adult ESL Teachers and International Certificate in Teaching English as an Additional Language (ICTEAL).

Tehreem is blessed to be the mother of two awesome boys, Mohammad and Haider. They are the source of joy in her life. When Tehreem is not busy working, she can be found decorating her home, reading a book, or making a floral arrangement. This makes her relaxed and refreshed to start another day or week with new energy.