PEI BioAlliance Staff
Rory Francis | Chief Executive Officer
TELEPHONE 902-367-4402 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Rory Francis has 30 years experience in professional, management and leadership roles in the public and private sectors. As an experienced senior executive, Mr. Francis has led transformative change in several public sector organizations encompassing economic and social policy, programs and services.
Mr. Francis is a native of Prince Edward Island. He earned a BSc in geology and chemistry from Mount Allison University and an MSc in Hydrogeology from the University of Waterloo.
Since 2004 he has been CEO of the Prince Edward Island BioAlliance, a not-for-profit network of bioscience businesses, academic and research organizations, and government agencies. The role of the BioAlliance is to facilitate the growth and development of the province’s emerging bioscience cluster, working with industry, researchers, and government partners to establish the next generation of the Prince Edward Island economy.
From 1991 to 2003 Mr. Francis held Deputy Minister positions in several provincial government departments, including Environment; Agriculture and Forestry; Fisheries and Aquaculture; and Health and Social Services.
Mr. Francis is a member of the Canadian BioAccord and serves as a Board member with the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, the PEI AgriFood Alliance Inc. PEI Institute for Human Health Research, the Regional Advisory Board of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC-Atlantic), and is President of the Eastern Canada Oilseeds Development Alliance. He chairs the Advisory Board for the Culinary Institute of Canada’s Technology Access Centre. In 2008-09 he co-chaired The Commission on the Future of Agriculture and AgriFood in Prince Edward Island.
Mr. Francis is an avid naturalist and is active in community work. He resides in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island with his wife Ann. Their three children have left the nest.
Jason Cleaversmith | Executive Director, Incubation and Infrastructure
Jason is no stranger to the PEI Bioscience Cluster community and has an extensive network both nationally and internationally. Most recently he was VP Health and Nutrition for the Center for Aquaculture Technologies and General Manager of Canadian Operations. He has also served as Managing Director of AKVA Group Scotland, Director of Operations and Business Development at the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Center, and Head of Novartis Aqua Health in PEI overseeing manufacturing and R&D. He was also an industry expert with HATCH Blue, an innovative aquaculture accelerator supporting a cohort of 13 technology companies on three different continents.
Previously, Jason led the bioscience portfolio on behalf of the Government of Prince Edward Island as Senior Investment Manager. He currently sits on the Board of the University of Prince Edward Islands technology transfer office (Synapse) and on the Innovate UK Animal Sector Advisory Board.
Jason is a graduate of Edinburgh University in Scotland, majoring in natural sciences followed by a PhD in Marine Geochemistry. He also completed an Executive MBA with the University of Glasgow, where he gained a Distinction.
Clara Deacon | Director of Communication and Marketing
Clara Deacon is a senior communicator with more than 10 years of experience working in private, public and non-profit sectors. With a strong background in communications planning and strategy, Clara has proven strategic communications skills in media relations, reputation management, crisis communications, internal and change communications, as well as research storytelling.
She holds a bachelor of public relations from Mount Saint Vincent University (BPR) and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Calgary.
Hardik Upadhyay | Biopharmaceutical Trainer / Site Manager - Charlottetown, Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL)
Over the past seven years, Hardik has worked in the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry with Resilience and Therapure Biopharma Inc, including roles such as DSP Supervisor, manufacturing supervisor, and capacity enhancement supervisor. During this time, he had the opportunity to lead and train teams for various biopharma projects including recombinant therapeutic proteins, mRNA vaccines, viral vector vaccines, plasma proteins and infusion-based Amikacin liposomal inhalation solutions. He also successfully operated pharmacy retail, wholesale, and distribution businesses in India, handing the businesses over to his family prior to moving to Canada in 2015. He grew up in India and completed his Bachelor of Pharmacy from RGTU University as well as a post-grad in Pharmaceutical Research and Development from TIPT, Scarborough.
Paul-Xavier Etter | Director of Technical Training | Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL)
Paul-Xavier is a highly skilled senior executive with more than 20 years of industry experience in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry including roles with Sanofi Pasteur, Medicago, and GlaxoSmithKline. He is experienced in process development, technology transfer, green fields, production in cGMP and GLP environments, and Lean Six Sigma project management standards. Paul-Xavier has led multidisciplinary teams as well as large and complex projects from research and development to commercialization. Over his career, Paul-Xavier has contributed to the commercialization of over a billion doses of vaccines and in recent years was at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis with Medicago and Inventprise. Paul-Xavier’s passion for developing individuals to enhance their performance and deliver safe medicines to patients was applied in his role with projects in collaboration with the prestigious Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Over the span of his career, he successfully helped drive change and implement new processes internationally. He was an influencer at Sanofi Pasteur Canada to introduce Industry 4.0 in a major capital project.
Magdalena Mahlstedt | Academic Partnerships Manager | CASTL
Magdalena studied biotechnology at the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences (Germany). She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham (UK) in stem cell tissue engineering, specializing in defined culture systems for pluripotent stem cells, followed by postdoctoral work at Nottingham developing cell culture automation technologies for biomaterials screening. She then returned to Canada to join CCRM in Toronto as a Development Scientist in Cell Manufacturing. In addition to her breadth of scientific know-how, she has completed the post-graduate certificate in Research Administration (Mohawk College) and brings her research Project Administration and Project Management (UPEI) skills to the CASTL team.
Magdalena spent the last four years in the start-up world at Solarvest (PEI) Inc. as Regulatory and Quality Manager and Director of Stem Cell Development at Because, Animals Corp. At Because, Animals, she set up an R&D laboratory, trained a team of technicians and led the bioprocess development of scalable stem cell culture to create cultured meat for pet food.
Gordon Dixon | Chief Financial Officer
Gordon has been a Professional Accountant for over 30 years. He started his career and received his designation with the Grant Thornton team. He worked with various industry partners (public companies, entrepreneurs, not for profits and municipalities) while he was with Grant Thornton. After his time at Grant Thornton Gordon has led various sized finance teams in organizations of the salmon aquaculture, bakery, university research and media industries.
He has always been a partner with all co-workers and has worked on large projects including accounting and operation system updates, product launch and redevelopment, company purchases & sale and capital project management. Gordon is excited to work with the BioAlliance team to continue to provide the best services for the Bioscience Cluster.
Gordon received his Bachelor of Commerce degree from Mount Allison University and obtained his Professional Accounting Designation while working in Nova Scotia.
Gordon was born and raised on PEI and has worked/lived in New Glasgow, NS; St Stephen, NB and Halifax, NS before returning to PEI.
Heather Lizama | Corporate Administrator
TELEPHONE (902) 367-4400 | email@example.com
Heather Lizama has a background in geomatics with over 10 years of IT experience, specializing in client services. Heather received her undergraduate degree in Geography from Trinity Western University in B.C. and a post grad in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) from the B.C. Institute of Technology. She excels in documentation design, solution architecture, time management, prioritization and management of enterprise databases and applications.
Heather has a variety of public and private sector work experiences across Canada at universities, remote sensing firms, Canadian Forest Products, the National Capital Commission, and numerous consulting firms. Through these diverse work experiences, she provides the following roles for the PEI BioAlliance: coordinating and troubleshooting systems and software, URL maintenance, support to the Executive Director and BioAlliance Board of Directors, and provides assistance in project and event execution.
Angela Penney | Accountant | PEI BioAlliance
Angela Penney has over 5 years working in the accounting industry. She has previously held roles with Dyne Holdings Ltd. and Red Shores Racetrack and Casino. Angela specializes in bookkeeping and enjoys helping clients with accounting needs. She is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland and has furthered her education with the University of Prince Edward Island where she obtained her accounting certificate.
Ellen Ross | Project Assistant, Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL)
Ellen is a recent graduate of the UPEI Bachelor of Business Administration program and holds a diploma in Architectural Technology from Holland College. Prior to entering the Business Administration program at UPEI she worked in the construction industry as an architectural technologist.
While at UPEI Ellen was part of the case program which provided many opportunities to travel and compete with other post-secondary students and institutions. Academic and other awards include being on the Dean’s List at UPEI (2017-2019) and receiving the Gold Medal, Architectural Technology and Design (2016) from Skills Canada. An active community member and volunteer Ellen has worked with the Queen Charlotte Intermediate Field Hockey Association and the PEI Women in Business Association, among others.
This past summer Ellen worked with Innovation PEI as a member of their Student Case Program. The purpose of this program and these teams is to develop creative solutions for local businesses facing an array of problems including the challenges associated with navigating a COVID/post COVID world.
Kelsey Turner | Program Assistant | Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences (CASTL)
Kelsey Turner is a versatile clinical education professional with more than 15 years of experience in program development and curriculum enhancement. Kelsey comes to CASTL having worked as the Clinical Training Coordinator at a Toronto-based international medical aesthetics company, where she was the primary administrator for the company’s global LMS portal for training physicians, medical professionals, employees, and clients. In addition to her background in curriculum development and facilitation, Kelsey has coordinated a robust team of clinical trainers and has organized marketing and training events across North America.
With an endless aptitude for continuous learning and a passion for community development, Kelsey has supported both not-for-profits, community-based programs, as well as clinical training programs for medical professionals. Most recently, Kelsey’s dedication to client success has been demonstrated through the conception and rollout of client training and business development initiatives in the surgical robotics and medical aesthetics industry.
Kelsey holds a bachelor’s degree (Honours) in Psychology from the University of Winnipeg and has worked extensively with youth groups, both professionally and in volunteer capacities. She is passionate about social equity issues and is committed to diversity in education.
Jennifer Lenentine | Manager, Corporate Services
As Manager, Corporate Services, Jennifer has been a valued member of the PEI BioAlliance team since 2005. She has lead responsibility in the execution and management of core and project funding agreements, providing support to the PEI BioAlliance Board of Directors and overseeing corporate governance practices.
Jennifer is the lead liaison with PEI BioAlliance partner companies and manages industry projects such as the Commercial Services Initiative and the Partners in Prosperity Program. Together with the BioAlliance team, she organizes and provides support services for a number of Bioscience Cluster events, including the BioTechnology and Human Health Symposium, International BioPartnering Missions, and the International VetHealth Global Conference. In addition to her responsibilities with the PEI BioAlliance, she also provides corporate services management for the Prince Edward Island AgriAlliance and its Board of Directors.
Jennifer began her career as a Personal and Small Business Banking Officer with Scotiabank. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Prince Edward Island and has advanced professional training in Canadian Investment Funds. She has volunteered for many years with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization.
Dr. Don Ridley | Mentor-in-Residence, PEI BioAlliance
Don Ridley obtained a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Guelph, followed by an NRC industrial post doc with the Swiss multinational Ciba-Geigy. He subsequently joined that company as a research scientist. He had a 23-year career with Ciba-Geigy with progressively senior research, product development, marketing and management positions culminating as Managing Director for Ciba-Geigy S.E. Asia based in Singapore. After the merger of Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy to form Novartis, Don returned to North America and joined CanTox US Inc., a scientific and regulatory consulting firm, as Managing Director and Senior Scientific Consultant a position he held until he retired in 2004. He returned to Canada and settled in Prince Edward Island. He occupies his retirement as VP Business Development of Nautilus Bioscience Canada Inc. as well as assisting the PEI BioAlliance in supporting the bioscience cluster on PEI.
Penny Walsh-McGuire | Executive Director, CASTL
Over the past fifteen years, Penny has held leadership roles, including CEO, Executive Director, and Chief Marketing Officer for several not-for-profit organizations. As CEO of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, she has led the organization’s operations and strategic initiatives on behalf of the Chamber’s more than 1,000 members. Through this work, she convened a group of 20 business organizations and industry associations in developing a private-sector-led economic development action plan through the PEI Partnership for Growth.
Penny is passionate about workforce development and has consistently advocated for programs and services to support the growth of PEI’s talent pipeline.
As a highly motivated business leader and communications professional, Penny led marketing and communications for the Confederation Centre of the Arts and the University of Prince Edward Island. As CEO of the Prince Edward Island 2014 celebrations, Penny led a multi-disciplinary team in the strategic development and implementation of a year-long program engaging private-sector, community organizations, and governments at all levels. Penny has most recently served as chair of the Holland College Board of Governors.
A graduate of the University of Prince Edward Island, she holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in business and a diploma in Events and Conventions Management from Holland College.
Chelsey Rogerson | Director, Communications and Marketing
TELEPHONE (902) 213-7351 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsey Rogerson is a senior communicator with experience leading communications and marketing in both the private and public sectors. She has worked extensively in political communications, providing strategic advice and support. Chelsey has a strong background in communications planning and strategy, social media management, stakeholder relations, media relations, and reputation management and has extensive experience executing large scale events. She has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Prince Edward Island and a Diploma in Public Relations from Algonquin College.
Sven Ansorge | Associate Director of Technical Training | CASTL
Sven has more than 15 years of experience in biopharmaceutical industry and R&D. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Polytechnique de Montréal and has led teams and projects within academic and industrial/GMP manufacturing environments. He is specialized in bioprocessing for the production of viral vectors, vaccines, recombinant proteins and cell therapy products.
His previous role (2019-2022) was with ExCellThera, a clinical stage cell therapy company, where he led the manufacturing and process development activities and contributed to developing a cell therapy product towards commercial approval.
Previously, he was working at the National Research Council Canada (2014-2019) where he built and managed a team focusing on scaling-up cell culture-based suspension processes. This included process development and technology transfer of upstream bioprocesses using multiple cell line platforms. One of the focus areas was the development of perfusion-based lentiviral vector production processes, which Sven started to work on in 2006 as a PhD student under Amine Kamen’s supervision. Together with collaborators and colleagues, he has published more than 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Since 2019, he is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at McGill University.
Vivian Beer | Manager, HR Strategy
Vivian Beer has worked on several projects for the Prince Edward Island BioAlliance over the past eight years, including the VetHealth Global Conference and the Biotechnology & Human Health Symposium. Most recently, she has taken on management of the PEI Bioscience Cluster HR Strategy, which supports successful recruitment in the PEI bioscience sector through targeted outreach efforts to build key networks and track sector growth.
Vivian has over 15 years experience working in senior management and operating her own marketing company. Projects have included international business development, HR planning, market research, sales/marketing management, events organization, business-to-business partnering programs and digital media marketing.
Vivian has a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Public Administration Diploma from the University of Prince Edward Island. She is a published writer and photographer and is actively involved in community work. Vivian is part of a professional affiliation that tracks marketing, technology and communications trends.
Eddie Francis | Business Development Associate
As an intern in the Emergence Incubator, Eddie has been a member of the PEI BioAlliance team since 2015.
Eddie manages relations with existing and prospective clients and assists with the pre-incubation process, admission process and establishing service contracts. He also provides support to the Emergence Mentorship Program and actively participates in the recruitment of companies to the Emergence Incubator.
Eddie has a B.Sc and a M.Sc in Molecular and Cellular Biology from UPEI where his research focused on inhibiting early stage cancer progression pathways. Eddie has spent the last 15 years in the private sector in early stage companies as an owner, operator and project manager.
Sidney Reid | Program Manager, CASTL
Sidney Reid has been working in the not-for-profit sector for more than 13 years in project and program management, relationship management, and evaluation.
As a naturally inquisitive person with strong communication skills, Sidney has led teams on a diverse range of projects and activities that include the development of online learning resources and Learning Management customizations, management of external consultants and advisory committees, and developing and delivering reports to analyse the effectiveness of projects and programs.
Having worked in both economic development and with an organization that develops and delivers technology enhanced learning, Sidney has knowledge and experience in fostering growth in the economy and understands the power of education and training to drive success within a sector. With an MA in Sociology from the University of Guelph and a BAh from UPEI with a double major in Sociology and Anthropology, Sidney is excited to bring her professional experience and education to the team.
In her spare time, Sidney is happiest when reading a good book or having coffee and conversation with friends.
Sarah Nguyen | Director of Business Development | CASTL
Over the past 17 years, Sarah has developed client partnerships, nurtured and grown business across a diverse customer base in the Life Science industry. Most recently with MiliporeSigma and previously with VWR International, she attributes her successful career to providing an unparalleled customer experience, where customer success and company success are one and the same. Having earned her MSc from McGill University, she has been able to leverage her scientific background to develop strategic business relationships in the Pharmaceutical, CRO, Academia, Environmental, and Food and Beverage markets across Canada. Born and raised in Montreal, Sarah enjoys gardening as well as creating custom cakes.
John Storrie | Biopharma Manufacturing Trainer | CASTL
John holds a BSc in Biology with a primary focus in Microbiology from Acadia University.
In his previous role (2020-2022) at Elanco Canada, he started as a production technician. His primary focus was working with a small team to scale up an existing process, where he then gained an aptitude for the process and equipment. Shortly after, he was then promoted to fermentation specialist, which made him the leader of a small team and the expert on the equipment and process.
Prior to working at Elanco, John worked as a production technician at BIOVECTRA (2019) focusing on bringing existing processes to commercial status from engineering development. Prior to his work at BIOVECTRA, he was employed as a research assistant through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. John’s work covered biofilm formation within environments typically found in food processing facilities and how they gain resistance to common disinfectants.