Gems For Gems Advisory Board

Founder: Jordan Guildford

I come from the small town of Scott’s Bay in Nova Scotia. I grew up with my sister and brother on a small hobby farm consisting of sheep, ducks and horses. My mother and father very much wanted us to have a simple and peaceful childhood. At least that was the plan…

Unfortunately, life did not go as planned.  My family suffered greatly. Food, hot water and other essentials were often a luxury. Despite all we suffered, we learned some valuable lessons; humility, kindness and compassion, truth, honor and courage. These are the principles by which I live my life and the foundation for Gems for Gems.

Humility: I have been committed to the concept of doing good, not for the recognition it acquires but for the satisfaction of the act itself. Mathew 6:3 “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what the right hand doeth.” Gems for Gems was founded on this concept. The growth of Gems for Gems has brought more notoriety; however, the importance of humble giving is maintained through the collaborative efforts and execution of both the ‘Christmas Jewelry Drive’ and ‘Zero to Hero’ events. These private events are geared exclusively towards women in shelters without public attendance or press.

Kindness and Compassion: It is of utmost importance that Kindness and Compassion be at the forefront of all my ventures, decisions and collaborative efforts both personally and professionally.

Truth: Who are you if you can’t be trusted?

Honour and Courage: I feel that honour and courage should drive any ethically aware company. Unfortunately, these principles are often lost in the pursuit of growth and greed or in the face of desperation. Acting with honour and making courageous decisions when tackling difficult situations is how we ensure we can grow while maintaining our humility, kindness, compassion and truth.

Gems for Gems remains true to these pillars. We are rising above all expectations due to our dedicated belief and assistance from a strong community of like-minded, compassionate people. People who are committed to the success of Gems for Gems. This unwavering support allows us to do an enormous amount of good and ensures we will be able to continue to “do good.”

I am and will remain incredibly grateful for all the faith and support both myself and Gems for Gems have received. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Abe Brown

Abe has spent the last 20+ years in leadership, business management, non-profit management and coaching roles, helping people and organizations achieve their goals and reach new heights. A professional speaker, coach, counselor and trainer who has spoken in North America and around the world, Abe is a dynamic, passionate, positive and practical coach who is results-oriented. Coaching individuals, businesses and leaders, Abe also has an extensive background in the non-profit and social work setting and is able to marry a business perspective with a social conscience. Abe strives for a holistic approach, focusing on spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, physical and financial factors. Abe has a Master in Business Administration from the University of Calgary and a Master’s Degree in Education and Counselling.

Abe is responsible for Life Coach Training in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland& Labrador, as well as Hong Kong.

Brian Foster

With a career ranging from retail to manufacturing, to distribution to marketing and sales, to career transition, to executive search in oil and gas, to human resources, and now international development and global fundraising, Brian Foster has a varied and highly interesting career.

Currently the executive director of Operation Eyesight Universal, Brian previously served as vice president of Advancement and IT, overseeing all aspects of global fundraising and communications. Under his leadership, the Advancement team’s focus raised significant funds from individual donors, foundations, corporations and service clubs for the fight against avoidable blindness.

Before joining Operation Eyesight’s leadership team, Brian served as chair of the board and was also a director and then chair of the Operation Eyesight Foundation. During that time, the board was instrumental in moving from an operational board to a governance one, which coincided with Operation Eyesight’s transition from an aid organization to one of development.

As a certified human resources professional, Brian has also served as a director on human resources boards locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. His work in both the business and not-for-profit sectors has allowed him the opportunity to travel extensively throughout North America, India and Africa.

Craig Bellefontaine

Craig Bellefontaine is a lawyer at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP in Toronto. His practice is focused on advising financial institutions on regulatory compliance, M&A, credit and pre-paid cards, consumer disclosures, anti-money laundering and corporate governance. 

Prior to becoming a lawyer, Craig held a number of positions on Parliament Hill with federal ministers, including the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance.

Craig completed his B.A. (Hons.) in Economics at Queen’s University and his LL.B. at Dalhousie University. 

“I am very much looking forward to assisting Gems for Gems in anyway I can both as a life long friend to Jordan but also because I believe this initiative will do amazing things for women in need.”

Kurt Ropchan

 Kurt Ropchan is a Chartered Professional Accountant by trade. His educational background includes a bilingual diploma (2002), a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry and Math (2007) and a CPA designation (2015). He has been in public practice since 2009 and is currently in talks to become a partner at the firm he is working at. 

Through his experience with NPO’s and Charities, it is believed that he can be a trusted resource for Gems for Gems when it comes to compliance, budgeting, financial statement preparation and day to day record keeping among other things. He is looking forward to using his skillset to help Gems for Gems as we provide our programs for women in need.

Michele Chiasson-Suart

Michele started her fund development career working on behalf of universities in Ontario. After a few years at home with her two sons and daughter, her career path rerouted when she joined the Calgary YWCA team to work on behalf of women and their children seeking shelter and leaving abuse behind. She then shifted to a campaign with nine agencies striving to eradicate homelessness in Calgary. Currently, Michele is at EducationMatters where her focus is to help level the playing field, and support all students at the Calgary Board of Education through enhanced educational opportunities.

When not at work, Michele kicks around a soccer ball with her women’s team, and  enjoys a couple of book clubs with girlfriends – for the talk, not always the book. She sits on the board of the Leighton Art Centre, and alongside her husband is playing the game of curling, and trying desperately not to fall.

Drawn to Gems for Gems through a single meeting with Jordan, Michele was compelled to help this important initiative.

Bre Tallon

“I am so honoured to have the opportunity to be part of such an amazing organization and work with this network of wonderful women.
Every woman has their story, whether yours is a fairy tail or a scary movie. Who we surround ourselves by will always be our strength to get through the good and the bad.
Gems for Gems creates a positive and encouraging environment for women to feel empowered to get through anything. To fulfill their dreams and looks forward to their future.
I look forward to helping women all over Canada and even the world by being part of this beautiful movement.”

“And one day she discovered that she was fierce and strong, and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears”. Marc Anthony