Who We Are

Board Of Governors

Our School is governed by a Board of Governors. This is a dedicated and diverse group of volunteers who have the responsibility to uphold the mission and charism of a Sacred Heart education expressed in the Goals and Criteria.

Each member is wholeheartedly committed to seeing the School grow and flourish. The Board of Governors is made up of present and past parents, alum, Religious of the Sacred Heart, a faculty appointee, and members of the wider community. The Board is accountable to the Provincial of the US-Canada Province of the Society of the Sacred Heart.

View Our Strategic Plan

Back Row (L-R) Dr. Vurain Tabvuma, Dennis Gillis, Mike Simms, Philip Bassil
Third Row (L-R) Valerie Patterson, Dr. Ramona Lumpkin, Monique Gogan, Dr. Simone Abbass
Second Row (L-R) Claudia Cubillos, Marlee Naipaul, Mary Shakespeare
First Row (L-R) Kim Harper-Given, Anne-Marie Conn, RSCJ, Treena Faloon, Dennis Phillips
Missing from the picture: Julie Briggs, Brian Curry, Dr. David Deane, Torquil Duncan, Archbishop Brian Dunn, Gwyneth Fountain, Paula Gruner, RSCJ, Sheila Hammond, RSCJ, Rebecca Hiltz LeBlanc, K.C.


The Board’s primary responsibilities are:

  • to assure that the Goals and Criteria of a Sacred Heart education are upheld;
  • to ensure financial stability;
  • to develop, approve, and review strategic directions and governing policies;
  • to review the general operation and management of the school annually.

Committees of the Board:

  • Finance
  • Planning
  • Facilities
  • Nominating and Governance
  • Engagement

Simone Abbass

Dr. Simone Abbass is a native of Sydney, NS, a graduate of Saint Francis Xavier
University and Dalhousie University Dental School.

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She practiced general family dentistry for 33 years before her retirement in 2019. She taught part-time in the faculty of dentistry for many years and remains associated with Dalhousie as a long-time member of the Dalhousie Dental Alumni Committee. For many years she contributed to her profession by her involvement with committees for the Nova Scotia Dental Association and the Halifax County Dental Society. She serves on the Board of Governors of STFXU.

In 1993 Dr. Abbass founded Isaiah House Special Care Society, a not-for-profit group which operates a small group home in Dartmouth, NS to care for her handicapped brother and two other men. Presently she continues to oversee the operation of the home and serves as Chair of the Board of the Society.

Philip Bassil

Philip S. Bassil has over 17 years of international business, finance, and energy experience in Canada, the US, and Europe.

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Mr. Bassil is a sought-after thought-leader and speaker at offshore wind industry events and M&A conferences. He is focused on providing strategic and financial advisory services to accelerate the global energy transition and the shift to a net-zero carbon economy.

A Managing Director and Head of Global Offshore Wind M&A at NORTHGREEN CAPITAL, Mr. Bassil is a former founding member and Advisory Board Member at Business Renewables Centre Canada at the Pembina Institute in Calgary, Alberta and was the head of Marathon Capital in Canada.  Mr. Bassil works closely with offshore wind developers globally and pension funds, insurance companies, as well as other institutional investors and infrastructure funds focused on accelerating the energy transition.

Mr. Bassil earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie University and a Bachelor of Computer Science with the Electrical Engineering Stream from TUNS. He has completed Level 1 and 2 of the CFA designation, the Canadian Securities Course (CSC) and the PDO.

Julie Briggs

Julie Briggs is Vice President, Finance of Blue Ocean Contact Centers, a member company of the IMP Group.

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In her more than 25 years with the organization, Julie has provided results-driven, strategic financial leadership that has contributed directly to Blue Ocean’s competitive advantage in the global BPO market. She is a key member of the Senior Leadership that has evolved Blue Ocean from a small, local operation to leader in innovative customer care with a roster of nationally and internationally recognized clients.

Julie has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Dalhousie University and a CMA designation from The Society of Management Accountants. She has served on the Finance Committee of SHSH since 2018. Her son Ethan has attended Sacred Heart since 2016, thriving on both the scholastic and athletic opportunities the school offers. Along with Ethan, and her husband Darren, Julie takes every opportunity to travel and to get out on the water, especially canoeing the rivers of her home province of New Brunswick.

Anne-Marie Conn, RSCJ

Sister Anne-Marie Conn is a Religious of the Sacred Heart who was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and graduated from Sacred Heart School of Halifax.  

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 She completed her undergraduate education at St. Francis Xavier University and then taught in both the public and private sector for 17 years.  In 1975 she entered the Society of the Sacred Heart and subsequently completed a MA at Boston College in Pastoral ministry. 

In 2011, Sr. Anne-Marie Conn returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia to reside at Barat Residence where we have now established a small spirituality centre.  From 2013-18, she was a member of the Provincial Leadership Team of the United States–Canada province of the Society of the Sacred Heart.  Prior to this she lived and worked for 5 years in the United States, following the15 years on the leadership team in Canada.

The beginning of her time in the USA was spent at Sprout Creek Farm, an educational learning center based on sustainable living.   In 2009, Anne-Marie left there to study in Oakland, CA at Holy Names University.  In the late 80’s, she worked at Anishinabe Spiritual Center in Espinola, ON and since then, has had a growing interest in an earth-based spirituality.  This was enhanced while Anne-Marie was at Sprout Creek Farm and led her to enroll at Holy Name University in the MA Culture and Spirituality program.  While there, Anne-Marie was engaged by the Cosmology program at Genesis Farm, based on the writings of Thomas Berry. 

 Her journey has now led her back to Halifax, where she collaborates with others around the work of Spiritual programming and Accompaniment in which she has been working since 1991 in a variety of settings.  She currently serves on the Facilities committee of Sacred Heart School in Halifax.  She is an avid gardener and enjoys oil painting.  


Claudia Cubillos

Claudia Cubillos is a teacher of French and Spanish at Sacred Heart School of Halifax.

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Claudia graduated from the private school Lycée Français Louis Pasteur of Bogota. Claudia holds a BA Honors in Fine Arts and two Master’s degrees, the first one in Education with a specialization in Second Language Acquisition and the second one in Spanish and Latin American Studies, both degrees earned from the University of Alberta.

She has been teaching since 1998, first as a teacher of French in Colombia and later as a teacher of Spanish at the University of Alberta and Dalhousie University before starting in 2015 at Sacred Heart. She has had the opportunity to teach in both Barat and Fountain schools at all senior levels.

Claudia lives in Bedford with her husband, Jean-Jacques, and her two teenage boys. She loves to travel and to spend her summers visiting her family in Colombia and France.

Brian Curry

Brian Curry is Director Regulatory and Corporate Secretary for Nova Scotia Power. 

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Prior to working at Nova Scotia Power, Brian practiced law in Halifax. Brian lives in Dartmouth with his spouse, Susan Taylor, and their two children, Henry and Hannah-Mae, both of whom attend Sacred Heart. Henry is a student in the Senior School and Hannah-Mae is in the Elementary School. 

Dr. David Dean

Dr. David Deane is a Catholic theologian who teaches at Atlantic School of Theology.

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His books include Nietzsche and Theology and The Tyranny of the Banal: On the Renewal of Catholic Moral Theology. Originally from Ireland, he lives in Dartmouth with his wife Jennifer and their daughters, Sophia, Chora, and Áine. Chora and Áine are both students of Sacred Heart.

Archbishop Brian Dunn

Most Rev. Brian Joseph Dunn was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts from King’s College as well as a Master of Divinity from the University of Western Ontario.

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He was ordained to the priesthood in 1980 for the Diocese of Grand Falls where he served as pastor and in a number of other responsibilities, including Vice-Chancellor and Chancellor. In 1991, he obtained a Doctorate in Canon Law from Saint Paul University (Ottawa) and soon after became a lecturer in the Diploma Program for Theology and Ministry at the Atlantic School of Theology, Halifax (1992-1999).

Beginning in 2002, he served on the faculty of St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ontario, and became Dean of Studies at the seminary until 2008. During this same time, Bishop Dunn also served as a lecturer in the Faculty of Canon Law at Saint Paul University (2003-2004 & 2007). He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Sault Ste-Marie in 2008, Bishop of Antigonish in November 2009, and Coadjutor Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth in April 2019.  He became the Archbishop of Halifax-Yarmouth in November 2020.

Treena Faloon

Treena Faloon is a Senior Manager of Consulting at Grant Thorton.

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Treena has previously been the Chief Financial Officer at the IWK Foundation. While her two girls were growing up, Treena
owned and operated Treena Faloon Consulting where she worked closely with CEOs to articulate their company vision, facilitated business planning with senior management teams, and supported their work in defining business models and financial planning.  Treena is married to Rob Faloon, their oldest daughter Julia attends Acadia University and their youngest
daughter Laura is currently in grade 11 at Sacred Heart.

Gwyneth Fountain

Gwyneth began at Sacred Heart in Junior Primary and graduated in 2019. Gwyneth is passionate about philanthropy and community service and is eager to continue her family’s support of Sacred Heart School by serving as a Board member. Gwyneth is currently working in the hospitality industry.

Dennis Gillis

Dennis Gillis is a professional engineer working as the senior director of facilities management at Saint Mary’s University. 

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Dennis previously held roles responsible for capital planning and campus development at the Nova Scotia Health Authority and Dalhousie University. He is an avid runner and enjoys playing the fiddle. He lives in Halifax with his wife Isabelle and their three daughters Caroline, Moira, and Alice all of whom attend Sacred Heart.

Monique Gogan

Monique is currently employed with the Wealth Management – Private Banking division of Scotiabank.

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For the past 30 years, she has built her career in the Operations side of Scotiabank, holding various positions in Operations and Human Resources. For the past 18 years, Monique has worked exclusively in the Wealth Management division and most recently assuming the position of Sr. Manager, Regional Operations & Service for Eastern Canada, involving responsibilities throughout locations in Ottawa, Montreal, and Atlantic Canada.

Monique holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree from St. Francis Xavier University. She is actively involved in supporting her community and has been a long-time volunteer and fundraiser for many local charitable organizations. She was also a former Treasurer of the Sacred Heart Parent Guild. Monique was born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia but has made Halifax her home for the past 30 years. She has raised two daughters, Hannah and Olivia, who both attend Sacred Heart School.    

Paula Gruner, RSCJ

Paula S. Gruner, RSCJ is a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart with a ministry in higher education and professional experience in both finance and education.

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She has been a member of the Board of Trustees at Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri since 2003, where she is a member of the Finance, Investment and Audit Committee. Sr. Gruner recently completed nine years on the Sacred Heart-Greenwich Board where she was a member of the Committee on Trustees and the Audit Committee. She has also served on the Boards of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles,
MO, and the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans. Prior to her current ministry as the Canonical Treasurer of the Antilles Province (Puerto
Rico, Haiti and Cuba) of the Society of the Sacred Heart, Sr. Gruner was the business manager for Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie, NY from 2016-2020. She served as assistant to the Provincial Bursar for the Society of the Sacred Heart’s Uganda-Kenya Province from 2010-2013. Before that, Sr. Gruner was the assistant treasurer and accounting manager for the Society of the Sacred Heart’s U.S. Province (1997-2008). She has held positions within the Network of Sacred Heart Schools: Josephinum High School in Chicago, Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco, and Doane Stuart School in Albany, NY.

A graduate of Capital University in Bexley, Ohio, she went on to receive a master of divinity degree from the Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio. In 1995, she received a master of business administration with a concentration in management accounting from DePaul University in Chicago. She joined the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1980.

Sr. Sheila Hammond RSCJ

Sr. Sheila Hammond, RSCJ is an alumna of Sacred Heart Schools on Sheridan Road in Chicago ’61, and Manhattanville College in New York ’65.

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She received her Masters Degree in Theology from St. Louis University. She is a Certified Pastoral Educator Emerita, member of the Association for Pastoral Education and Board Certified Chaplain. Her most recent ministry was as the RSCJ Provincial of the United States-Canada Province (2016-2021).

Prior to provincial administration she was Director of Pastoral Care and Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor at St. Louis University Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, and was the RSCJ Director of Formation for the United States province. She is currently on sabbatical and refreshing her Spanish language skills.

Kim Harper-Given

Kim Harper-Given was born and brought up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She attended
Mount Saint Vincent University and graduated with her Bachelor of Education in 1979.

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In 1982, she came to teach at The Convent of the Sacred Heart and worked there until 1988. She then went overseas to the Philippines to do mission work, and founded the NGO “Imagina”, which is still in operation today. Kim returned to Sacred Heart School in 2010 and taught various grade levels until 2020, when she retired from the classroom.

Kim is a mother to four children, two of which attended Sacred Heart School. Her daughter Cassandra is a graduate of Sacred Heart, and her son Jericho attended the elementary school and Fountain Academy. Kim continues to tutor students privately and works part-time at Adsum House. In her spare time, she enjoys horseback riding and learning to play the harp. Kim is pleased to have the opportunity to serve on the Board and to share her career and life as a Sacred Heart educator.

Rebecca Hiltz LeBlanc

Rebecca Hiltz LeBlanc, Q.C. is a lawyer and partner with McInnes Cooper in Halifax, practicing in the areas of commercial and estate litigation.

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Rebecca received her Queen’s Counsel designation in 2022. In addition to her involvement with Sacred Heart, Rebecca is a part-time instructor at the Schulich Faculty of Law at Dalhousie University, a Life Director of the Neptune Theatre Foundation, having served as Chair for four years and on the executive for ten, and is a 28-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. Rebecca lives in Dartmouth with her husband Mitch LeBlanc and their son Luc, who has attended Sacred Heart since Junior Primary. 

Dr. Ramona Lumpkin

Dr. Ramona Lumpkin, CM, President Emerita of Mount Saint Vincent University served MSVU as President and Vice-Chancellor from 2010 – 2017 and 2020-2022. 

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As President, Dr. Lumpkin’s many exceptional contributions included: enhancing student services and student retention; developing programs reflecting the Mount’s commitment to social justice; ensuring the Mount’s continued contribution to the advancement of women; supporting a culture of equity, diversity, inclusion and respect on campus; maintaining the Mount’s fiscal health through successful fundraising; and more. 

A member of the Order of Canada (2014), Dr. Lumpkin has also been the recipient of a Progress Women of Excellence Award (2013) and was thrice named by Atlantic Business Magazine as one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEOs. In 2017, she received the Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the goal of equality for women and girls in Canada. In the fall of 2021, Ramona led the university in a ceremony of apology and commitment in response to MSVU’s role in the tragedy of residential schools in Canada. In 2011, Ramona served on the search committee that recommended Sr,. Anne Wachter, RSCJ as the 44th Head of School for Sacred Heart. 

Dennis Phillips

Prior to joining Sacred Heart School of Halifax in August 2022, Dennis served as the Head of School at the Regis School of the Sacred Heart in Houston, Texas. 

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Prior to joining Regis, Dennis served as Head of the Middle School at Stuart Hall for Boys, San Francisco; as Director of Campus Ministry for the Schools of the Sacred Heart, San Francisco; and as Director of Religious Education and Campus Ministry at the Sacred Heart Schools, Chicago.

Dennis has served on numerous committees including the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS), National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and Sacred Heart Accreditation Teams. He also held leadership roles on committees including the Sacred Heart Commission on Goals, the Education to Mission Editorial Board, and the Network of Sacred Heart Spirituality Conference.

A committed learner himself, Dennis holds a BA in Geography and Environmental Science from Northeastern Illinois University, an MA in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University Chicago, and has taken graduate-level coursework from Washington Theological Union and Catholic Theological Union.

A Chicago native, Dennis is a Cubs fan and an avid cyclist. He is married to Lisa Buckley, a freelance graphic book designer and they have two children – daughter Sophia and son Devon.

Mary Shakespeare

Mary Shakespeare is a landscape architect who returned to Halifax in 2019 after spending 26 years practicing and teaching landscape architecture across Australasia and the Middle East.

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While living in Dubai, she was an active member of the Parent’s Association at the Dubai English Speaking School and served as the Chair there for a number of years. Mary was also very active with the “Gulf for Good” charity in Dubai serving as a volunteer and participant in its fundraising activities. Although her husband Robert still has one foot in Dubai, the Shakespeares have loved coming home and being part of the Sacred Heart community. Her two daughters, Olivia ‘21 and Isabel ’22, and her son James ’23 are following in the footsteps of their great grandmother who graduated in 1918.

Michael Simms, CHAIR

Michael Simms is a Partner in McInnes Cooper’s Halifax office.

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He practices corporate, commercial and regulatory law, primarily in the energy and natural resources industry. Mike holds an LL.B. and a certificate in Marine and Environmental law from the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, and is a former part-time faculty member there. He is also the Past Chair of the Canadian Bar Association’s National Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Section, and sits on the Board of the Maritimes Energy Association and the Carbon Capture & Storage Consortium of Nova Scotia.

Mike is also a volunteer with Scouts Canada and in the sport of sailing. Mike lives in Halifax with his wife, Lee and their four children, Charlie, Elspeth, Henry and William, all of whom are current SHSH students.

Dr. Vurain Tabvuma

Vurain is the Sobey Professor in Management and a Professor in the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University.

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In addition to volunteer work at Sacred Heart, Vurain serves on the board of Camp Kidston and is an occasional liturgical assistant at Fort Massey United Church. Vurain lives in Halifax with his wife, Clarissa Sit, and their sons Vurai and Kushinga, both students at Sacred Heart.