GAMA Board of Directors


GAMA International Canada's volunteer Executive Committee and Board of Directors are comprised of leaders in the financial services industry. Click on the title to view biography.

Contact for information



Ted Girard, CFP, CHS, CLU
Sun Life Financial - North York Financial Centre
1900-5775 Yonge St.,
North York, ON M2M 4J1
Office (416) 512-0400 x2208

Ted Girard

Ted Girard is a Financial Centre Manager with Sun Life Financial in North York (Toronto), Ontario, Canada. He's been the leader there for 7+ years. Prior to leading his current operation, the North York Financial Centre, Ted led the Hamilton-Burlington Financial Centre for 3 years. Ted has been with Sun Life Financial for 18 years, having been an advisor, sales manager, associate manager, regional manager (Ottawa and Atlantic Canada) and senior associate manager prior to leading a financial centre.

He obtained a CFP designation in 2007, a CHS designation in 2013 and a CLU designation in 2015. Ted is a perennial recipient of the GAMA Canada Agency Achievement Award, National Management Award, and Agency Builder Award. The North York Financial Centre has 35 Advisors, 3 Managers and 4 financial centre staff. Under Ted's leadership, the North York Financial Centre has won a multitude of awards including 2014's Sales Force Leader award for being the top net gain office in Canada, as well as the most health sales active office in Canada in 2014 as well. The management team in North York prides itself on advisor development.

First Vice President

Jonathan Schjott, CFP, CLU, CHS
Regional Vice President, Brokerage Sales
RBC Insurance
483 Bay Street, 10th Floor
North Tower Toronto, ON M5G 2E7


For well over a decade, Jonathan has been laser focused on helping financial advisors and leaders in financial services accelerate their business growth and their development. He’s worked with hundreds of advisors and managers achieve sales targets, campaigns, conventions and earn promotions. His work philosophies have been published in industry leading magazines and I’ll soon be sharing what makes me successful as a speaker at one of North America’s largest financial services leadership conferences, LAMP.

Jonathan holds a BA in Economics from the University of Calgary. He started his career with Sun Life in 2006 as a financial advisor. Since 2009, Jonathan has held numerous leadership roles including Sales Manager, Financial Centre Manager and Regional Manager.

Past President

Peter Gillespie
Freedom 55 Financial
330 University Avenue, Suite 110
Toronto ON M5G 1R8
Tel: (416) 552-5801

Peter Gillespie

Pete joined London Life as a financial security advisor in 1992. He enjoyed his time as an advisor, and decided to enter management in the spring of 1999 as a manager of new representative development. He has taken on roles of increasing responsibility and is currently Director, Practice Development in the Toronto Central Financial Centre with a team of over 35 advisors.

Pete thoroughly enjoys recruiting and introducing the career to potential candidates, as well as consulting with senior advisors to take their practices to greater levels of success. He was actively involved in the development of Freedom 55 Financial's economic grower process, a fact finding process designed for younger clients. He is a multiple time recipient of GAMA's agency builder awards. Pete is a proud member of Advocis and GAMA, and enjoys learning from fellow leaders, particularly at LAMP, GAMA’s annual leadership conference. He has been a featured speaker at LAMP on the subject of recruiting.

A graduate of the University of Western Ontario (BA Economics) and York University (MBA), his fondest education memories belong with his high school, Brebeuf College in North York, where he is involved with the alumni association. Pete is active in the community with a number of local charities, and recently passed 200 aphaeresis donations with Canadian Blood Services.

Pete enjoys spending time at the cottage and at the farm in Shelter Valley with his beautiful wife of 24 years Mary, and their two sons, Bob and Tommy.


Jason McMahon, B. Comm, M.Sc., CFP, CHS
Freedom 55 Financial
1223 Michael St North, Suite 300
Ottawa, ON K1J 7T2
Tel: (613) 748-3455 x522

Jason McMahon

Jason began his career with Freedom 55 Financial in 2008 as Financial Security Advisor and held that role for approximately 2 years, before being appointed to the role of Director, Business Development in Peterborough, ON. Jason previously held various management roles within General Motors, and spent time teaching at Durham College, in Oshawa, ON, as well as teaching grade school in Lilliesleaf, Scotland.

Jason graduated with his Honours, Bachelor of Commerce Degree in 2002 from the University of Windsor, attained his Masters Degree in 2006 and achieved both his CHS and CFP designations in 2014. He is a part of GAMA International, and a member in good standing with the Ontario College of Teachers.

Jason has a passion for recruiting and developing talent, and he is looking forward to the next chapter in his career; working with Field Management across Canada.

Special Projects Director (Independent Channel)

Chris Paterson
5000 Yonge St. 8th Floor
Toronto, ON M2N 7J8
Tel: (416) 883-5824

Chris Paterson

Chris entered the industry in 1995 to satisfy his curiosity and learn about a diverse industry that has a positive impact on the lives of clients. He worked in all of the various advisor support roles with one of North America's largest financial services companies. Chris helped build the organization’s MGA channel into its largest channel. He ultimately led a multi-channel national wholesaling team of 30 specialists. His team doubled the number of advisors selling living benefits insurance to 14,000 from 7,000 over two years.

Chris has been an advisor; consulted in the private wealth management industry; and has been an advanced case consultant for high-end financial professionals. Chris currently manages a cross-channel team of specialists. They enhance the work of traditional wholesalers and recruiter-coaches by offering tools, resources and training that focuses not on product, but on the advisor-client relationship and the advisor–"Sales/coach/marketing rep" relationship. As well, the team of specialists uses behavioural science to drive results rooted in personalized business plans.

Chris has been an insurance columnist for, a Rogers Media financial industry website. He is a highly respected member of Advocis and CALU. Chris has sat on national committees for both organizations. He is a former president of the Advocis Halton-Peel chapter. In his spare time, he has served as a board member for numerous charities/non-profits. He has also coached baseball and T-ball throughout Ontario, with his teams winning regional and provincial championships.

Chris lives in Oshawa his wife Susie and sons Finlay, Miles and Henry. He is an avid fan of sports, music, and literature; and loves to travel.

Marketing & Communications Director



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Membership & Development Director

James Wingrove, CLU, CH.F.C.
The Co-operators
130 Macdonell St.
Guelph, ON N1H 6P8
Tel: (519) 824-4400 x2356


Jim Wingrove is Vice President of Agency Distribution and Sales Support for The Co-operators. Having been with the company for 30 years, he has progressively held more responsible positions. Jim began his career as an Advisor in Fredericton, N.B., and subsequently moved into various Field Leadership positions. While serving as a District Manager for eight years, Jim led his district to achieving Regional Builder Status consecutively during the duration of his role and achieved Executive Builder status four years in this position.

Since moving to Head Office in 1997, Jim has held various positions within the Agency department. Jim's department has responsibilities for agent and field manager recruiting, selection, contracting, training and development, Wealth and Estate Planning support, licensing and retail market conduct. Jim acts in the capacity as the advisor's liaison and is actively involved chairing Agent Advisory Committees.

Jim is actively involved with affiliated committees and organizations. He serves as Chair of the Distribution and Intermediaries Committee for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA). He is also an active member of LIMRA's Multi-line Exclusive Distribution Committee, where he has previously served as Chair. Jim participates as an active member of Advocis and GAMA.

Jim holds a Chartered Life Underwriters designation (CLU), a Chartered Financial Consultants Designation (CH.F.C.) and LIMRA's LLIF designation.

While residing in Guelph, Jim spends his free time with his wife Sandy and their two children Katelyn and Nicholas. Being active in the community is very important to Jim, spending endless hours over the past 42 years refereeing hockey. If you can't find him at the office or at home you are likely to find him at the local hockey rink.

Professional Development Director

Susan Gagnon, LL.B., PI. Fin.
Desjardins Financial Security
1, Complexe Desjardins
Montreal, QC H5B 1E2
Tel: (866) 647-5070

Susan Gagnon

Susan Gagnon learned to sell before learning to walk. She has been with Desjardins Financial Security since 2003. Susan began her Desjardins career heading the education and training team in sales-savings for groups and businesses. Since 2008, she has been the Desjardins Financial Security regional sales manager for the groups and businesses part of the Wealth Management and Life and Health Insurance Executive Division.

As well, Susan has been the director of the training and skills development team since 2013. Her mandate is training the Desjardins Canadian advisor network, to develop the potential of leadership, coaching sales skills and business best practices.

Prior to joining Desjardins, Susan was an institutional advisor for 16 years with Caisse Insurance and Annuities, in the Estrie region of Quebec. She holds both a business management certificate and a bachelor of law from Laval University.

Member at Large

Abbie MacMillan , CLU
Freedom 55 Financial
255 Queens Ave, T165
London, ON N6A 4K1
Tel: (519) 435-7567

Abbie MacMillan

Abbie MacMillan marks her twenty-sixth year with Great-West Life in 2018. In May 2017, she was appointed vice-president, Freedom55 Financial. Prior to that, she served as vice-president sales, employee benefits; and as vice-president, sales & marketing centres in the GWL product distribution organization.

Abbie started with Great-West Life in 1992. Between 1992 and 2013, she held various field positions in the Great-West distribution world, focused mainly on sales leadership and advisor coaching in Mississauga, Ont.; the Fraser Valley, B.C., and London, Ont.

In 2014, Abbie was recognized by the Insurance Journal as one of 50 Women of Influence in the life insurance industry. She is a certified Jack Canfield Success Principles trainer, obtaining her certification in 2011. Abbie holds a bachelor of business administration with a marketing major from Brock University.

A native of St. Catharines, Ont., she is passionate about personal development and travel. When she isn't working, Abbie is busy learning something new or planning her next adventure. Her latest goal is to master the game of golf.

Member at Large

Cathy Hiscott , CFP, CHS
Financial Horizons Group
255 Queens Ave, Suite 1280
London, ON N6A 5R8
Tel: (519) 601.3540 x 1668

Cathy Hiscott

Cathy began her career as an advisor in 1991 with MetLife and since then has held numerous leadership roles in the exclusive and independent advisor network.

Cathy joined FHG as Vice President, Sales for the Ontario Region in July 2018 and was appointed to President for the Ontario/Atlantic Region effective January 2019.

An Ambassador for the Financial Planners Standards Council, a member of Advocis, and a member of several LIMRA committees, Cathy believes in giving back to the industry.

Cathy and her husband Tom live in London, Ontario, and are empty nesters since their daughter Sarah moved to Toronto to follow in Cathy’s footsteps within the financial services industry.

Member at Large

Donna Starr, FCIP, CRM
The Co-operators
130 Macdonell St
Guelph, ON N1 6P8
Tel: (519) 767-3925 x 6336

Donna Starr

Donna joined The Co-operators in 1995 as a Licensed Insurance Representative. Having been with the company 25 years, she has taken on roles of increasing responsibility and is currently Manager, Talent Acquisition and Business Development. Donna has had the opportunity to develop skills in multiple areas of the company including sales, claims, training and development and most recently supporting the recruiting and business acumen of our Financial Advisor network.

Donna currently manages a team of Recruiters and Business Development Consultants. The Talent Acquisition side of her team leads the recruiting process for Financial Advisors across Canada using innovative and creative approaches to recruitment. The Business Development side of her team has been instrumental in implementing the Model Agency platform; an onboarding approach built on foundation of coaching principles focused on skill development, empowerment and accountability. The platform is designed to produce high performing Financial Advisors and accelerate their time to proficiency in a meaningful way. Donna is a proud member of Advocis and GAMA and enjoys learning from fellow leaders at the annual LAMP leadership conference.

A graduate of the University of Guelph (BA Arts) she is committed to lifelong learning and skill development with a focus on leadership, coaching, recruiting, retention and onboarding. Donna resides in Guelph and enjoys spending time camping with her husband of 18 years Gord, and their two daughters, Mikaela and Nikita.

Member at Large

Randy Little
DFS Independent Network
Suite 200 -880 Lady Ellen Place
Ottawa, ON K1Z 5L0
Tel: (613) 220-2600

Randy Little

In 2009, After a 12 year career with one of Canada's leading financial institutions, Randy joined the DFSIN Ottawa Financial Centre. He now is Associate Director responsible for the recruiting, coaching, training and supervision of new advisors in the centre. He continues to be actively involved in the business as a Certified Financial Planner as well, working with families and business owners in the Ottawa region.

Randy takes great satisfaction from being the support of a strong team. He enjoys listening to and understanding how people think, what their concerns are and how they can be helped to make good decisions. Showing advisors how to take clients and prospects through a well-defined, comfortable and repeatable process remains one of his greatest passions. Perpetually a learner he knows the value of being surrounded by great people to learn from.

Randy spends most of his down time doing family things with his awesome wife Johanne, and best-kids-ever Evan and Nadia. He plays guitar and drums with great effort, but not terribly well.

Director GAMA International Canada

Celia Ciotola
10 Lower Spadina Ave, Suite 600
Toronto, ON
ON M5V 2Z2
Tel: 416.342.9857

Celia Ciotola