Global Risk Institute Team

Our Global Risk Institute team brings a broad scope of experience and expertise to plan, strategize and execute the collective understanding of financial risk through research, education, and training. Together, our team works to develop practical strategies for GRI members to better manage risk and return.
Sonia Baxendale
President and Chief Executive Officer

Sonia Baxendale

President and Chief Executive Officer

Sonia Baxendale is a highly respected executive who has more than 20 years’ experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services industry. She serves on the Board of Directors for a number of Canadian and international corporate and not-for-profit organizations. As the President and CEO of GRI, Sonia leads the premier risk management organization for the financial services industry globally.

In this role, Sonia brings together leaders from industry, academia and government to focus on emerging risk management issues. The global economic, political and geopolitical environment is frought with uncertainty – geopolitical tensions, climate change, the proliferation of AI, systemic racism, social and economic disparities. Under Sonia’s leadership, GRI has stepped up to develop strategic research and education. She has brought together experts from across the country and the globe to focus on long-term, sustainable solutions to help ensure the future stability of the Canadian financial system.In addition to her role with GRI, Sonia is a Director on the board of Laurentian Bank, Foresters Financial, and The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited. She is Chair of the Board of SickKids Foundation and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Hospital for Sick Children. 

Prior to joining GRI, Sonia was President of CIBC Retail Markets where she led Retail and Wealth Management businesses. She played a key role in developing strategy and direction for CIBC and held various leadership roles including Senior Executive Vice-President, CIBC Wealth Management, Executive Vice-President, Asset Management, Card Products and Collections, and Executive Vice-President of Global Private Banking and Investment Management Services. Prior to CIBC, Sonia held various positions with American Express Canada and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Sonia is a graduate of the University of Toronto, where she was named University of Toronto, Victoria College Alumni of Distinction in 2017. She was named one of the “Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada” for three years in a row and then joined the ranks of the Top 100 Hall of Fame in 2010. In 2000, she was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40.

Vanda Vicars, Chief Operating Officer & Corporate Secretary at Global Risk Institute

Vanda Vicars

Chief Operating Officer & Corporate Secretary

Vanda Vicars is Chief Operating Officer at Global Risk Institute since 2019, where she leads corporate services such as Finance, HR and IT and Office Services.

A respected C-suite executive with more than 20 years of executive leadership experience in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector, Vanda has held senior roles at leading organizations including CEO, Canada Infrastructure Services, Capgemini; President Capgemini Canada; Senior Vice President of ICT Solutions, Bell Canada; and Vice-President Technical Support IBM Canada.

Vanda oversees the cyber risk file at GRI working with researchers and delivers board level education on the topic of cyber security oversight. Over the course of her career, she and her teams have delivered project and cyber services to the financial sector and various government entities.

Currently on the Quantum-Safe Canada Governing Board, Vanda has served as a corporate director on the boards of Bell Capital Markets Solutions, Createch Business Solutions, Capgemini Canada, and Women in Communications and Technology Canada.

Vanda holds a BBA, Management Science, from Bishop’s University. In 2009, she participated in the Fellows program of the International Women’s Foundation (IWF) at Harvard’s Business School (U.S.) and the Changes in Global Leadership Program at Cambridge’s Judge Business School (UK). She completed the Director’s Education Program at University of Toronto (2018), holds the ICD.D designation, and has completed her CERT Certificate in Cybersecurity Oversight from Carnegie Mellon University, Software Engineering Institute (2022).

A portrait of Gerard McDonald

Gerard McDonald

Managing Director, Head of Research

Gerard McDonald is a leader with experience in risk management, governance, and compliance. In his role with GRI, he leads both internal and external research projects. He actively engages with members to optimally allocate research resources, manages research partnerships in Canada and abroad, and ensures the delivery of industry-leading content.

With experience in the financial sector spanning more than two decades, prior to coming to GRI, Gerard held a number of senior positions over 17 years with BMO Financial Group, including Vice-President, Risk and Compliance, Canadian Personal and Commercial Banking, from 2018 to 2022. Earlier in his career, he worked as an Engagement Manager with McKinsey & Company. 

Gerard holds a Ph.D. in Economics and an M.Phil in Economics, and was an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, and Cowles Prize Fellow. He sits on the board of the Revue Film Society and has previously served on the board of Howard Park Children’s Centre.

 
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SukYee Ang

Director, Finance

SukYee Ang is Director, Finance, at Global Risk Institute. She brings over 20 years of experience and expertise in financial accounting and reporting, variance analysis, payroll preparation and administration, strategic planning and cash management. Prior to joining GRI, SukYee was the Controller for 10 years at one of Canada’s leading providers of health and productivity solutions for employers and organizations. SukYee is a Chartered Professional Accountant, CGA and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto.

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Chris Burke

Director, Member Services

Chris is primarily responsible for creating and implementing the plan for recruitment of new Global Risk Institute members and the retention of current members. He is an enthusiastic, committed relationship manager with 20+ years experience in sponsorship activation, national event marketing and supporting communications. Chris has managed corporate partnerships with dozens of national/international organizations including Refinitiv, S&P Dow Jones Indices, National Bank Independent Network, Horizons ETFs, TMX Group, Scotia Global Asset Management, AstraZeneca, CIBC, Moneris, Toyota and WestJet.

As Corporate Relations Manager, CFA Society Toronto, Chris helped develop and implement comprehensive acquisition and stewardship strategies and contemporary membership benefits programs, delivering value-add opportunities for existing society sponsors and widening the range of digital communication opportunities for new and prospective sponsors.

With Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Chris led the national marketing campaigns for the CIBC Run for the Cure and based in Charlotte, NC, activated the Mike’s Hard Lemonade national brand sponsorship of a NASCAR professional team.

A former amateur competitive road bicycle racer, Chris launched his professional career in sports marketing as manager of the Schwinn/Toyota Canada mountain bike team and has a Sociology/English degree from Trent University.

Madalina Bonilla

Director, Events and Education

Madalina Bonilla is Director, Events and Education at Global Risk Institute. Her responsibilities include managing and executing the various education programs and events delivered to GRI’s members.

Madalina brings over 17 years of international experience in leading the design, implementation and measurement of learning and development solutions across the financial and mining industries.

 

Prior to joining GRI, she was Director, Enterprise Learning Advisory at CIBC, where she implemented several innovative and impactful learning solutions for the Inclusion, Wellbeing, and Leadership Development areas. Madalina developed capability building and talent development strategies for various CIBC business units including Finance, Administration, Internal Audit, Technology, Enterprise Risk and Security Services.

 

In 2012, Madalina worked with SNC Lavalin’s Local Resource Development Initiative team in Panama, where she designed and promoted training programs for local workers from the communities adjacent to a copper mine.

 

 

Madalina holds a Master of Education in Workplace Learning and Social Change and an Honours Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Economics, both from the University of Toronto.

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Audrie Chad

Director, Research

Audrie Chad is an accomplished Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) and Investment professional, with extensive experience across ERM second line of defence functions as well as first line of defence, with transaction experience in corporate, commercial, project finance and real estate lending, private equity and direct infrastructure investment. Audrie is recognized for her keen insight into complex risk issues influenced by regulation, policy and market developments, as well as ESG considerations. She has deep knowledge, experience and expertise with respect to equity and corporate debt structuring, financial modelling, technical and contractual aspects of transactions.

Most recently, Audrie served as Head of Enterprise Risk Management at the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), a federal crown corporation with a mandate to invest $35 billion in concessionary financing in support of targeted public impact objectives. Prior to the CIB, she held progressively senior positions within corporate lending and private equity at major Canadian and international financial institutions. Audrie is a thought leader in her field, and is passionate about risk management, emerging risk fields including sustainability (particularly as it relates to the energy transition and implications for financial assets in the banking and pension sectors), and developing strong and dynamic teams.. 

Audrie obtained concurrent Honours in Business Administration and Bachelor of Health Sciences, graduating with distinction from the University of Western Ontario, Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ontario. She completed her last term at the University of Economics in Prague on an exchange program. Audrie is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder.

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Dennis Fei

Director, Financial Reporting and Budgeting

Dennis Fei joined GRI in May 2013 as Director, Financial Reporting and Budgeting. He has over 30 years’ experience in developing and implementing financial, budgeting and reporting systems and controls in various industries.

Dennis holds a Double Major BA in Economic and Actuarial Science from University of Toronto.

Headshot of Nancy Tibbo, Director, Marketing and Communications, GRI

Nancy Tibbo

Director, Marketing and Communications

Nancy Tibbo is Director, Marketing and Communications, at the Global Risk Institute. She brings more than 25 years of proven expertise and leadership to the role. Before joining GRI, Nancy was Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications for Canada’s largest pharmacy benefit manager. In addition to other key leadership roles, she also served as Senior Manager of Marketing and Public Affairs for the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Nancy holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Windsor in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia University.

Tori Adams, Graphic Designer and Desktop Publishing Specialist at Global Risk Institute

Tori Adams

Graphic Designer and Desktop Publishing Specialist

Tori Adams is Graphics Design and Desktop Publishing Specialist at GRI. With degrees in Sociology and Illustration, they have a varied academic background, and an eye for communicating complex ideas in compelling ways. Tori has worked in a number of roles focused on customer satisfaction, graphic design, and communications, for not-for-profits as well as local and national companies.

Yibo Bu, Climate Research Analyst

Yibo Bu

Climate Research Analyst

Yibo Bu, a certified FRM member, is Climate Research Analyst at Global Risk Institute. In this role, she contributes her expertise to various research projects, and to GRI`s engagement with partners in academia and government, across climate risk related topics.

Prior to joining GRI, Yibo was a Financial Advisor at the Cooperators, and served as vice president of a non-for-profit organization. She has passed the Level 1 CFA exam, holds a Master’s of Financial Accountability from York University, and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business with a specialization in risk management. 

headshot of Jan Beckerleg

Jan Beckerleg

Program Manager

Jan Beckerleg is Program Manager for riskLIT, GRI’s micro-learning initiative, which includes managing and executing various deliverables to the GRI membership.

Jan brings over 30 years of experience in the financial services sector across a variety of departments and delivering various complex initiatives.

Prior to joining GRI, she was Senior Director, Global Operations at CIBC, where she lead large operational teams in multiple locations overseeing the bank’s mutual fund distribution and manufacturing business.  She also gives her time as a volunteer at the Red Cross Food Bank.

Jan holds a BComm, majoring in Quantitative Methods from Concordia University in Montreal. 

Yusuf Bulbulia

Research Analyst

Yusuf Bulbulia is Research Analyst at Global Risk Institute. His research interests are in the areas of immigration, inequality, social welfare, climate change risk and natural resources. At GRI, Yusuf contributes to numerous research projects covering a broad area of topics and actively engages with GRI’s partners and government.

Yusuf holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in Political Science from the University of Toronto. His research has been presented at numerous academic, government, and industry platforms across North America. Prior to joining GRI, Yusuf gained research experience in academia and management consulting. 

Sunny Chen

Manager, Events

Sunny Chen is Events Manager at Global Risk Institute. She brings over eight years of experience in managing corporate events within the non-profit sector.

Prior to joining GRI, Sunny was the Events Manager at various non-profit associations where she led the team in delivering large scale conferences, exhibitions and sponsorship activations, and managed projects and events in virtual, hybrid and in-person formats. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Taiwan Cheng Kung University and a Project Management Post-Graduate Diploma from the University of Winnipeg.

Omid Ghavibazoo

Research Associate

Omid Ghavibazoo is Research Associate at the Global Risk Institute. His research interests are in the areas of Digitalization (Big Data, Machine Learning, AI) and Catastrophe Risks (Financial, Climate, Pandemic). His academic research has been published in journals such as Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance and the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics.

Before joining GRI, Omid collaborated in multiple research and industry projects at the University of St. Gallen, focusing on longevity and healthcare risks, and brings over 4 years of experience as an Actuary within the insurance industry.

 Omid holds a PhD in Finance from the University of St. Gallen and a MSc in Actuarial Science from Allameh Tabataba’i University.

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Jill Hamilton

Digital Communications Associate

Jill Hamilton is Global Risk Institute’s Digital Communications Associate. Jill brings her 13 years of experience as an entrepreneur to this role. She creates engaging and informative content and visuals for our website and social media platforms.  Jill is also a Board Member for the Oshawa Aeronautical Military and Industrial Museum (also known as the Ontario Regiment RCAC Museum).

Jill has a post-secondary diploma as a Legal Assistant, certification as a Law Clerk as well as in photography and graphic design. As a business owner, she was an early adopter of social media, and oversaw all aspects of digital communication.

Other roles Jill has held in her career are event host, graphic designer, community connector, administrator, photographer, videographer and social media coordinator.

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Sandi Lebed

Executive Assistant

Sandi Lebed brings over 40 years of experience to her position of Executive Assistant. Sandi has worked for a number of diverse corporate and public entities ranging from Automotive (Magna International) and Real Estate (Johnston & Daniel) to Financial/Banking (Wood Gundy and CIBC). During this time Sandi has worked with, and supported, executives at senior levels of management for these companies and brings a high level of expertise to Global Risk Institute.

Breanna Lynch

Event and Office Coordinator

As Global Risk Institute’s Event and Office Coordinator, Breanna is adept at anticipating and addressing potential issues before they arise, ensuring that all aspects of an event or office operations run smoothly. She has a proven track record of successfully executing high-profile events and managing complex office logistics.

Breanna joins GRI with over 10 years of experience in arts and entertainment, most recently with the Toronto International Film Festival. Her previous experiences also include live music venue operations, and Sony Music Canada.
Breanna enjoys building strong relationships with clients, vendors, and colleagues. She takes a collaborative approach to her work, working closely with her team to ensure that projects are completed on time and to the highest standards.

Al Maggi

Manager, Content Creation

Al Maggi is Manager, Content Creation, bringing 25 years of diverse experience in a number of communications, media relations and content management roles. Al specializes in distilling complex ideas into digestible content for a broad audience. He has done so as Marketing Manager at IBC, Director of Communications at CFIB, and is happy to add GRI to his list of impressive acronyms.

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Alexey Rubtsov

Senior Research Associate

Alexey Rubtsov is Senior Research Associate at Global Risk Institute and a Tenured Associate Professor of Mathematical Finance at Toronto Metropolitan University. His areas of focus are Artificial Intelligence, Systemic Risk, Climate Change Risk, and Asset Allocation. Alexey’s academic research has been published in such journals as the Journal of Banking and Finance, Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, and Annals of Finance, among others. He holds a PhD in Operations Research and an MSc in Financial Mathematics from North Carolina State University.

Andrea Sayde

Manager, Member Services

Andrea Sayde is Manager, Member Services at Global Risk Institute. Her responsibilities include supporting the recruitment of new members and retention of existing members. She is an authentic, intentional, inclusive, and fun relationship builder and manager bringing over 6 years of experience in membership stewardship and growth within the non-profit sector.

Prior to joining GRI, Andrea was Membership Manager at the Centre for Social Innovation where she developed and implemented new member stewardship processes and expanded upon value-add offerings to existing members. As VP of Member Relations at Young Women in Business, she was able to support a network of professionals from various industries through events, education, mentorship, and programming. 

Andrea holds a Master of Environmental Studies and Bachelor of Environmental Studies focusing on Politics, Governance, and Policy, both from York University. 

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Kaleed Tayfour

Business Analyst

Kaleed holds a B.A. in Financial Business Economics and is a member of the Virtual Economics Journal at York University. He is interested in the design of systems that can withstand the challenges posed by unforecastable risks. He is responsible for managing data requirements and a number of reporting functions, both internal and external to GRI.

A portrait Anmol Wadera

Anmol Wadera

Data Analyst

Anmol Wadera is Data Analyst on our Marketing and Communications team, responsible for enhancing our data management capabilities, ensuring the quality and integrity of the data and overseeing the migration to a new, dynamic database tailored to our organizational needs. Prior to joining GRI, he served as a data analyst at a startup in the field of professional career guidance and higher education. Anmol holds an Honours Bachelor of Science in Statistics from the University of Delhi and post-graduate certificates in Data Analytics & Business Decision Making and Artificial Intelligence Analysis, Design, and Implementation from Durham College.

Anmol is a data enthusiast with a passion for analytics. He is eager to make impactful contributions to the evolving field of data science and aspires to play a pivotal role in shaping its future.

Lorianne Weston

Manager, Pension Hub

Lorianne Weston joined Global Risk Institute as Manager, Pension Hub, after a career that has given her the opportunity to develop a number of competency areas, including law, adult education, project management, communications and not-for-profit governance. Prior to moving to GRI, Lorianne worked in the role of Advocacy and Communications Manager with the Association of Canadian Pension Management. She has been working for more than a decade with not-for-profit associations, where she has been able to make strategic connections between her unique combination of skills and the varying needs of different organizations. Lorianne holds dual law degrees (LL.B. and B.C.L.) from McGill University, a Certified Training and Development designation (CTDP) from the Institute for Performance and Learning, and has completed a mediation certification.

Chenlan (Maggy) Xu

Research Analyst

Chenlan (Maggy) Xu is a dynamic professional with a passion for financial risk management, currently serving as Research Analyst at Global Risk Institute. She actively contributed her research expertise to GRI’s project focused on green bond market performance. As a member of the research team, Chenlan is dedicated to leveraging her knowledge and skills to bring value to GRI and its members.