The Best Medicines Coalition Board of Directors is comprised of representatives of the coalition’s member organizations. Board members share a common passion for improving pharmaceutical care for Canadian patients and ensuring the patient voice is heard in health policy discussion.
Gail Attara, Chair – Gail Attara became Chair of the Board of Directors in 2010 and is committed to the goal of expanding the network of knowledgeable patient advocates within the healthcare system. She represents the Gastrointestinal Society, an organization she co-founded and is President and Chief Executive Officer. Gail’s motto, “the patient comes first”, directs her resolve for patient-focused healthcare and commitment to increasing awareness about the seriousness of gastrointestinal illnesses. She is a regularly invited speaker on many topics, at venues from coast-to-coast, to wide-ranging audiences, which include patients, doctors, pharmacists, and health care decision-makers. Gail has a solid background in public relations and fundraising and is an active community volunteer in Canada serving on numerous Boards, and overseas, where she has worked with orphans. She is also a published freelance author.
John Adams – John Adams, a Board member since 2015 and Treasurer since 2016, represents Canadian PKU and Allied Disorders, a non-profit organization he co-founded and where he serves as President and Chief Executive Officer. He has an adult son with PKU, a rare genetic disorder, and John is a subject matter expert and published author on newborn screening for specific inherited conditions, including PKU. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Organization of Rare Disorders. John also volunteers as chair of the advisory committee of the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario and as an advisor to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada. He is the global director of business development for OZ Systems, which provides information management solutions for newborn screening, early childhood health and education programs. John is a seasoned management consultant and has worked as a Globe and Mail reporter, chief of staff to an Ontario Cabinet Minister, and was elected to Toronto City Council three times.
Diana Ermel – Diana Ermel, a Board member since 2015, represents the Canadian Breast Cancer Network, where she is on its Board of Directors and a past President. A breast cancer survivor, Diana brings extensive health services experience having worked in nursing, education and in volunteer roles with numerous cancer-related organizations. She is a founding member of Saskatchewan Breast Cancer Connect, a long standing member of the Canadian Cancer Action Network, on the Board of the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance as a patient representative, and is a member of the Health Canada Scientific Advisory Committee on Oncology Therapies. Her activities with these organizations have been informed by her vision of a future where people affected by cancer have the information and support they need, when they need it, as well as ease of access to all services and programs needed throughout the cancer continuum. Diana has been involved with the research funding process through her engagement as a community reviewer on scientific peer review panels for the NCIC, CIHR and U.S. Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Project.
Katharina (Kathy) Kovacs Burns, MSc, MHSA, PhD – Katharina (Kathy) Kovacs Burns, MSc, MHSA, PhD, is a long-time member of the Board of Directors and a past Chair. She represents the Health Coalition of Alberta, where she is Chair of its Board of Directors. She researches and advocates with and for patients, their families and the public to be meaningfully engaged in discussions and decisions to prevent health risks, reduce psychosocial burdens and improve health and social policies, and services access and utilization. Her work and research also involve community organizations, government and health system care providers and decision makers collaborating with patients, families, caregivers and the public to explore and measure their person-centred care experiences and outcomes. Kathy has been involved with Patient Safety Canada and the International Alliance of Patient Organizations. She is a professor with the School of Public Health, University of Alberta and Senior Manager, Alberta Health Services (Quality Healthcare and Improvement).
Gerald Major – Gerald Major joined the Board of Directors in 2017 and represents the Canadian Spondylitis Association where he is the incoming President. Gerald was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and Psoriatic Arthritis in his early twenties and has had seven surgeries over seven years to repair damage caused by these arthritic conditions. He became involved as a volunteer as part of his personal search for answers about the healthcare system and one of his advocacy goals is to improve care for all patients based on a belief that no one should have to struggle through illness. Gerald is also Co-Chair of the Patient Advisory Board for Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM), Consumer Representative on the Arthritis Alliance of Canada (AAC) board, on the Patient Advisory Board of the Ontario Best Practice Research Initiative (OBRI), a pain management instructor with The Arthritis Society and is a Health Mentor at the University of Toronto Medical Program. Gerald attended York University where he studied Kinesiology.