Dana Florence Co-Founder & Executive Director
Dan Shimmerman Chairman of the Board
Brenda Agnew Director of PAL
Jordan Ash Director
Jeffrey Kahane Creative Director
Dr. Freda Miller Chief Scientific Advisor
Jodi Frankfort Director
Ron Soreanu Director
Dr. David Kaplan Scientific Advisor
Dr. Paige Terrien-Church Scientific Advisor
Dr. Golda Milo-Manson Scientific Advisor
Dr. Samuel Weiss Scientific Advisor
Maureen Luther Pediatric Developmental Physiotherapy Advisor
Tema Stein Pediatric Therapy Advisor & Parent Advocate
Matthew Leibowitz Director
Dana Florence, Co-Founder & Executive Director
Dana Florence is the mother of triplets Taylor, Cole and Brody, who are the inspiration behind THREE TO BE. Before becoming a mother, Dana was a primary school teacher with a passion for helping children to reach their full potential. When her own three children were diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Dana’s unwavering tenacity and optimism for the discovery of treatments for neurological disorders moved her to become an advocate both for her children and all others living with neurological disorders in Canada and around the world. Dana is passionate about developing the foundation to advance research, education and therapies in this area. Dana founded THREE TO BE with the intention to make a difference in the lives of many children. Dana holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and a Bachelor of Education Degree from York University. She lives with her incredible three children in Toronto, Ontario.
Dan Shimmerman, Chairman of the Board
Dan Shimmerman is a founder of Varicent Software and serves as the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Dan is focused on growing Varicent, broadening its technologies, and strengthening its culture. Prior to founding Varicent, Dan gained more than 15 years of experience in the accounting, sales and technology fields. He worked most recently with Clarity Systems Ltd. Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from York University in Toronto, Canada and an MBA from the University of Toronto. Dan is also a chartered accountant.
Varicent Software Incorporated, a global pioneer in Incentive Compensation and Sales Performance Management, delivers innovative, industry-leading solutions for finance, sales, human resources and IT departments in high-performing companies across industries. Varicent solutions streamline administrative processes, maximize efficiencies and drive improved sales performance. In addition to ranking in the top 5 two years running, in the PROFIT 200 list of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies by PROFIT Magazine, Varicent was named the highest overall “hot” vendor in the Ventana Research 2011 SPM Value Index, and was ranked the fastest growing software company on Deloitte’s 2010 Technology Fast 500.
Brenda Agnew, Director of PAL
Brenda is the proud mother of two boys, Chase and Maclain. Her son Maclain has Athetoid Cerebral Palsy and profound hearing loss, and wears bi-lateral cochlear implants. Since receiving her son’s diagnosis, she has been tireless in her efforts to find the best therapies and treatments to help Maclain. As with many other parents of children with neurological disorders, Brenda was saddened by the lack of research and available medical resources in this area. Upon meeting Dana and Jared, and their amazing triplets, and realizing what a truly incredible organization THREE TO BE is, Brenda knew she wanted to be a part of something that would make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of children. Brenda is also determined to connect with and assist as many other families as possible while they navigate their journey through the special needs world. She hopes to continue to provide information, resources, advocacy, peer support, and to work on creating new initiatives to families who have a child with a neurological condition. Prior to beginning this new life with Maclain, Brenda was a part of the corporate world for over 20 years with positions in customer service, business development, client management and operational support. She holds a B.A from the University of Western Ontario. Currently she resides in Burlington with her husband Graham and their 2 sons. She plans to bring forward her experience, knowledge and insight, along with a personal commitment, to help make the hopes and dreams of THREE TO BE become a reality.
Jordan Ash, Director
Jordan Ash is a co-founder of Noospheer, a database technology designed for cross-disciplinary collaboration over the web. Noospheer’s goal is to provide researchers, activists, government, industry and enthusiasts with an open source means of data sharing, discovery and creation. Jordan is committed to realizing THREE TO BE’s vision as an organization, which will break paradigms and find solutions for the neurological disorders that affects millions of children worldwide. Being one of the uncles of the triplets who inspired the creation of THREE TO BE, Jordan is deeply committed to advancement of the Foundation’s mission. Jordan holds a BA in Recorded Arts from the School of Audio Engineering at Middlesex University, London.
Jeffrey Kahane, Creative Director
Jeffrey Kahane is the Creative Director behind THREE TO BE and has been an integral part of the project since its inception. As a graphic designer, creative coach and brand specialist, he has worked hand in hand with Jared and Dana, to develop the overall creative vision, materials design and brand strategy for the organization as a whole – including all creative concept and design for the THREE TO BE Stems Of Hope Gala. With over 25 years experience in Canada’s entertainment, hospitality and special event industries, Jeff has worked on some of Canada’s most notable gala fundraisers, product launches, corporate and private events. With a passion for creative problem solving and a keen insight into today’s hottest trends, Jeff has become well known for his ability to harness the energy of ideas. Jeff is a great believer in the choice to make a difference, and is confident that THREE TO BE is well on its way to becoming a major contributor for children with neurological disorders in Canada and around the world.
Dr. Freda Miller, Chief Scientific Advisor
Dr. Freda Miller is Senior Scientist in the Developmental & Stem Cell Biology program at The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, a professor at the University of Toronto, and holds the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Neurobiology. She has authored more than 100 scientific papers, reviews and book chapters and has 13 patents (issued and pending).
Dr. Miller is best known for her studies of neuronal stem cells and of neuronal growth, survival and apoptosis. Major findings from her lab have provided evidence that mammalian dermis contains a multipotent stem cell that can be isolated and purified, that the p75 neurotrophin receptor is apoptotic in neurons, and that a p53 family member, truncated p73, plays an essential anti-apoptotic role in the nervous system.
Dr. Miller is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Secretary-Elect of the American Society for Neurosciences, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute International Research Scholar. She obtained her PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Calgary in 1984 and completed her post-doctoral research at the Scripps Research Foundation with Dr. F.E. Bloom. She accepted her first faculty position as an Alberta Heritage Foundation Scholar at the University of Alberta. Five years later Dr. Miller moved to the Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill University as the Coordinator for the Centre for Neuronal Survival. She has held her current position in Toronto for the last five years. Dr. Miller is also a founder of Aegera Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology company based in Montreal and Ottawa. Dr. Miller is very proud to be the Scientific Advisor for THREE TO BE and firmly believes in the therapeutic potential of stem cells for children with neurological disorders.
Jodi Frankfort, Director
Jodi is the proud mother of two beautiful children. She is very honoured to be a part of THREE TO BE and feels so blessed to have an opportunity to help change the lives of precious children. In Jodi’s earlier years, before she was a wife and mother, she was an Early Childhood Educator. This made her realize how much she enjoyed teaching and watching her students grow and develop. In 2000, Jodi left teaching to start her own family and dedicated more time to the family business. Jodi’s son and daughter reminds her every day about love, patience and acceptance. She is a mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend who strives to be the best she can be. Jodi wants to continue to give her heart and commitment to THREE TO BE and focus on making a difference in the lives of children who need our assistance. She looks forward to entering a new chapter in her life knowing that change is upon us.
Ron Soreanu, Director
Ron Soreanu is a health policy and communications professional specializing in developing government and stakeholder engagement strategies. His clients have included international vaccine manufacturers, biotechnology companies and not-for-profit health charities. Over the last 10 years, Ron spent time with the World Health Organization in Switzerland, developing tools to improve prevention and treatment programs for AIDS, TB and malaria in Africa. Upon his return to Canada, Ron was an international policy advisor and senior advisor at the Public Health Agency of Canada. Following that, Ron worked in the Office of the Minister of Health advising on policy and programming related to public health.
Dr. David Kaplan, Scientific Advisor
David Kaplan received his BA from Clark University in Worcester, MA, in 1978, and his PhD from Harvard University in Cambridge, MA in 1987. His PhD thesis work with Dr. Thomas Roberts at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute identified and characterized the regulatory subunit of the signal transducing protein PI-3 kinase. Dr. Kaplan performed his post-doctoral studies from 1988-1990 at the University of California, San Francisco with Dr. Harold Varmus, identifying novel substrates that interact with growth factor receptors.
In 1990, Dr. Kaplan established a laboratory at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, MD where, in collaboration with Luis Parada’s laboratory, he identified Trk as the receptor for nerve growth factor. In 1996, Dr. Kaplan relocated his laboratory to the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill where he was a professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, research head of the Brain Tumour Research Centre, and William Feindel Chair in Neuro-oncology.
In 2002, he became a senior scientist and head of Cancer Research at The Hospital for Sick Children and professor, Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto. He holds a Canada Research Chair in Cancer and Neuroscience. His laboratory focuses upon examining signal transduction processes in neurons and neural tumour cells. Dr. Kaplan is looking forward to working with THREE TO BE and their mission to help children with neurological disorders.
Dr. Paige Terrien-Church, Scientific Advisor
Dr. Paige Terrien Church is an assistant professor in the Department of Paediatrics and the Clinical Director of the Neonatal Follow Up Clinic at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. She holds triple certification with the American Board of Pediatrics in Pediatrics, Neonatology, and Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics. Dr. Church is the first pediatrician in North America to complete this unique combined fellowship training in Neonatology and Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics. Dr. Church practices as a clinical Neonatologist in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and is the clinical director of the Neonatal Follow Up Clinic. She is also a consulting Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician at Bloorview Kids Rehab in the Spina Bifida/Spinal Cord Injury Clinic. Dr. Church’s area of interest is the long-term outcomes of children with neurological disorders and was the first recipient of the Sydney S. Gellis Young Physician Award for excellence in the care of children with complex medical conditions. Dr. Church is honored to be a part of Three to Be as the Developmental Scientific Advisor and excited to participate in a Foundation dedicated to the improvement of lives for children with neurological disorders.
Dr. Golda Milo-Manson, Scientific Advisor
Dr. Golda Milo-Manson is the Vice-President of Medicine and Academic Affairs at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. She is the Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee and is a member of the Quality Council of the Board and the Strategic Planning Advisory Committee. Dr. Milo-Manson is a developmental paediatrician and the Chair of the medical education committee at Bloorview Kids Rehab. Dr. Milo-Manson and is also the former Director of the Developmental Pediatric Subspecialty Training Program at the University of Toronto, which is housed at Bloorview. Dr. Milo-Manson’s commitment to education has put Bloorview Kids Rehab on the map as providing the largest training program in developmental pediatrics in Canada. Dr. Milo-Manson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Toronto and is the recipient of several teaching awards, including the Circle of Honour Education Award in 2005 and the Gerstein Teaching Award in 1998. Dr. Milo-Manson is very proud to be the Rehabilitative Scientific Advisor for THREE TO BE and is thrilled to be a part of a Foundation that aims to help children with neurological disorders.
Dr. Samuel Weiss, Scientific Advisor
Dr. Samuel Weiss is Professor and Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) Scientist in the Departments of Cell Biology & Anatomy and Pharmacology & Therapeutics at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine. He is the inaugural Director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, whose mission is to translate innovative research and education into advances in neurological and mental health care. In 1978, Dr. Weiss received his B.Sc. in Biochemistry at McGill University and in 1983 completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry (Specialization: Neurobiology) at the University of Calgary. Following post‑doctoral fellowships (1983-1988), funded by AHFMR and the Medical Research Council of Canada (MRC), at the Centre de Pharmacologie-Endocrinologie, Montpellier, France, and at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, Vermont. Dr. Weiss was appointed Assistant Professor and MRC Scholar at The University of Calgary in 1988.
Two major discoveries are the hallmarks of Dr. Weiss’ research career. In 1985, together with Dr. Fritz Sladeczek, Dr. Weiss discovered the metabotropic glutamate receptor – now a major target for pharmaceutical research and development for neurological disease therapies. In 1992, Dr. Weiss discovered neural stem cells in the brains of adult mammals.
This research has lead to new approaches for brain cell replacement and repair. Dr. Weiss sits on numerous national and international peer review committees, has authored many publications, holds key patents in the neural stem cell field and has founded three biotechnology companies. In 2002, Dr. Weiss was awarded the Foundation IPSEN (France) prize in Neuronal Plasticity, in 2004 he received the Canadian Federation of Biological Societies Presidents’ Award in Life Sciences Research, in 2008 he was named recipient of a Gairdner International Award “for his seminal discovery of adult neural stem cells in the mammalian brain and its importance in nerve cell regeneration”, in 2009 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 2010 he received the CCNP Innovations in Neuropsychopharmacology Award. Dr. Weiss is looking forward to working with THREE TO BE and being a part of their scientific advisory board.
Maureen Luther, Pediatric Developmental Physiotherapy Advisor
Maureen has her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Toronto and her Master of Arts in Special Education. She has received certification in several infant assessment tools as well Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT) and is a member of the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC).
Maureen has worked with children with developmental challenges all her professional career. She is presently a paediatric physiotherapist in the Neonatal Follow-up Clinic and in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center.
She has delivered numerous oral and poster presentations on topics related to prematurity in particular developmentally appropriate care for the Extremely Low Birthweight (ELBW) infant including positioning and feeding in the NICU and in Neonatal Follow-up Clinic. Maureen has recently published an article and an interactive Teaching CD related to feeding in the NICU.
Maureen is very passionate about providing the best care and opportunities to families and children with disabilities. She is very honoured to have been asked to participate in the Three to Be Foundation as the Developmental Physiotherapy Advisor.
Tema Stein, Pediatric Therapy Advisor & Parent Advocate
Tema Stein graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Physical Therapy degree. She received her DO (MP) – Doctorate in Osteopathy Manual Practice in 2001. She has spent most of her professional career working with the pediatric population. She has completed courses in neuro-developmental therapy, including advanced and baby courses; lower extremity and foot courses; seating courses and other manual therapy course She has served on various professional government and public advocacy organizations. She has taught numerous courses/workshops across the country, for universities, other therapists, osteopathic students and general audiences. Tema has over thirty-five years experience as a practicing therapist and department head at major pediatric facilities in Toronto and Vancouver. She is a partner at Footprints Therapy, which she founded in 1988. Footprints is the largest and one of the most highly respected private practices in Canada, providing PT, OT, osteopathy, massage therapy and naturopathy for babies, children, adolescents, and, now, adults with a broad spectrum of needs. Tema is very excited to be a part of the THREE TO BE team and is hopeful that this organization will make a significant difference in the lives of many children and their families.
Matthew Leibowitz, Director
Matthew joined Plaza Ventures as Partner in 2012. Throughout his career, Matthew has been involved in all aspects of the investment cycle having completed dozens of transactions of early stage technology companies. Matthew was formerly a Principal with an institutional investment firm in Toronto. Matthew focuses on origination, vetting, due diligence, negotiation and deal structuring of investments and private equity financing agreements across technology sectors, as well as the refining of business concepts, selecting appropriate business plans for investment and monitoring and enhancing the performance of portfolio companies.
Matthew is a frequent speaker at various conferences and events relating to Private Equity, Venture Capital and Clean Technology. Matthew is a guest lecturer at various universities. In addition, Matthew sits on the Board of Directors and/or Advisory Boards of numerous companies and charities. Matthew is currently the Investor In Residence for VentureLab Markham.
Matthew holds his Masters of Law from the University of Oxford and the University of Kent, a Master of Science in International Sustainable Development and Investment from the University of New South Wales and an Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.