Staff & Council


Ontario Museum Association Secretariat

Ontario Museum Association Council 20/21

The Ontario Museum Association's governing body is its Council, whose 12 members are elected by the membership at the Annual General Meeting. Council gives strategic policy direction to the Secretariat. It also works to strengthen the Ontario museum community by representing the interests of members to government, the public and private sectors, the media, to public and other related institutions, and to citizens all across the province. 

Executive Council
President: Paul Robertson, City Curator, Cultural Services, City of Kingston
Past President: Petal Furness, Museum Manager, Grey Roots Museum & Archives
Vice President: Cathy Molloy, Director, Markham Museum
Secretary: Michael Rikley-Lancaster, Executive Director/Curator, Mississippi Valley Textile Museum
Treasurer: Sonia Mrva, Senior Curator, Heritage Strategies, City of Hamilton

Cheryl Blackman, Director, Museums and Heritage Services, City of Toronto
Joe Corrigan, Volunteer, former Museum Manager, Lang Pioneer Village Museum
Kathy Fisher, Curator / Supervisor, Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site
Alexander Gates, Executive Director and Curator, Canadian Automotive Museum
Heather Montgomery, Education and Evaluation Specialist, Bank of Canada Museum
Sascha Priewe, Associate Vice President, Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships, Royal Ontario Museum
Sean Stoughton, Village Coordinator, Waterloo Region Museum

Council Biographies



Second Year of a First Two-Year Term

Petal Furness is the Manager of Grey Roots Museum & Archives. Prior to managing, she led the Heritage Interpretation team for ten years developing in-house exhibits, events and programs. Born in Vancouver and raised in foster care, she chose to pursue Native Studies. Petal’s love for history and storytelling became her career; she worked summers as an Aboriginal student at Fort Langley N.H.S, and relocated to Parks Canada’s regional office in Calgary to take the position of Heritage Interpretation Specialist and later, Aboriginal Liaison. Petal traveled across Canada working with Indigenous groups, helping them tell their stories – primarily liaising with the Haida and the Siksika (Blackfoot) First Nations. In 1999 she relocated her family to Owen Sound, to lead the Ontario Native Literacy Coalition and then Ningwakwe Learning Press. Petal is a professional photographer taking lots of pictures of her three sons, one daughter, and almost 4 grandchildren. Petal offers cross-cultural presentations on Indigenous history by sharing her story descending from the Secwepemc people (pronounced suh-Wep-muhc) or Shuswap people. Petal explores her matrilineal timeline going back to the first newcomer arriving in the 1840s, and leads participants in an empathic exercise, allowing participants to put themselves in Indigenous shoes.

“I have truly enjoyed the past two years serving as President of the OMA board. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the other members of the board and for the amazing staff of the OMA and the work that we accomplish.”



Second Year of a First Two-Year Term

Paul Robertson became the City of Kingston’s first City Curator in 2011. He holds degrees in journalism and Canadian history. A material history specialist and social historian for 30 years, Paul learned his trade working in federal institutions in Ottawa, including the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History) and community museums in Kingston. Paul’s currently leads the curatorial team interpreting community history at Kingston’s two municipal museums and historic City Hall. Paul seeks to build stronger working connections between museums and governments that help all institutions to meet their mandates and the needs of our communities more effectively.

“Ontario has a rich tapestry of museums and historic sites – without them, we would be significantly diminished. Museums today face a growing opportunity to reflect and respond to the changing face of Ontario in a way that is diverse and inclusive of all residents. I am excited to have an opportunity to play a role in fulfilling the vision in Ontario’s Museums 2025 plan as it becomes a reality. As a member of OMA Council, I hope my experience working in the cultural heritage sector at the national, provincial and local levels can continue to benefit the Ontario museum community as we work together to build a sustainable and responsive museum sector.”



Second Year of a First Two-Year Term

Cathy Molloy is the Director of Markham Museum.  Working in the most demographically diverse city in Canada, Markham Museum has developed a program direction where the entire community feels welcome. Through the examination of basic human technologies that we have in common, Markham Museum creates a shared understanding of our past and present day. Cathy’s educational background is a mix of archaeology and accounting, with work experience in both the corporate and museum world.

“Although we have come a very long way, Museums still struggle to validate their relevance to their community. Many government and business leaders recognize the benefits that Museums bring to quality of life and economic development. However, we need to continue to work with our stakeholders to ensure we stay connected to our communities. The OMA is a venue to help all Ontario museums learn and develop, and help us continue the good work that we all do. I look forward to working with the OMA and the larger Museum community.”

Sonia Mrva        


Second Year of a First Two-Year Term

Sonia is responsible for the management of cultural heritage resources for the City of Hamilton.  Her most recent work includes the Downtown Built Heritage Inventory Project, a cross departmental initiative between the Heritage Resource Management section and Cultural Heritage Planning.  This project was a departure from traditional built heritage inventories through its inclusion of the community in developing an understanding of the value placed on heritage resources.  Sonia believes that the inclusion of community is critical in developing a better understanding of the role Museums plays in our society.  Prior to her current position, Sonia held Curatorial positions at both Whitehern Historic House and Garden and Dundurn National Historic Site.  Sonia has a Bachelor of Arts, History with post graduate work in Museum Studies, Cultural Management and Leadership.

“Increasingly, communities are recognising heritage as having both social and cultural capital.  Our Museums enhance communities by providing a tangible connection to the past and emphasizing a community’s identity and sense of self while encouraging community cohesion.  By better understanding the role which museums play in society and the value derived from a “visit”, we can better position our institutions for the future.  The OMA is a venue which encourages these ideas of sustainability and encourages development in our field through shared learning.  I look forward to connecting with colleagues across the Province through the OMA Council.”



Second Year of a First Two-Year Term

Born and raised in Chatham Ontario, Michael has been Executive Director/Curator of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum since July 1, 2007. He studied Fine Arts at Fanshawe College in London Ontario, before receiving a diploma in Applied Museum Studies from Algonquin College in Ottawa. He was employed as Assistant Curator at the Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum, and then Program Coordinator for Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations with the Canadian Museums Association. He has served on the Council of Heritage Organizations Ottawa, as well as the Lanark County Tourism Association board of directors and the Municipality of Mississippi Mills Downtown Almonte Heritage District Study Committee and the Community Heritage Ontario Board of Directors. He currently sits on the Heritage Advisory Committee, and the River Walk Working Group for the Municipality of Mississippi Mills and is part of the Lanark County Museum Network. Michael also, sits on the Ontario Historical Societies, Museums Advisory Committee. Michael is the 2014 Cultural Achievement Award winner for the Young Award within the Municipality of Mississippi Mills.

“From my experience of being on the OMA’s “Looking Ahead” Steering Committee and the 2017 Conference Planning Committee, I have gained insight into the way forward for Ontario museums. With 20 years of experience working in the field, mostly in a small-town museum setting, I would like to give insight into the challenges of small museums. A primary interest is to work on a committee to assess operational funding for small museums in Ontario, specifically to reassess (increase) CMOG funding for museums that meet CMOG standards, and to explore a renewed definition of museums.”



Second Year of a Second Two-Year Term

Cheryl Blackman is the Director of Museums and Heritage Services with the City of Toronto where she is responsible for the ten city-owned and operated historical museums, the city collection of historical objects, archaeological specimens, moveable fine art and an extensive portfolio of heritage buildings. Prior to joining the City of Toronto, Cheryl served as the Assistant Vice-President of Audience Development at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). Her responsibilities included managing the front of house, audience research, and acting as the Museum’s liaison to more than 1300 Volunteers. She established the ROM’s Community Access Network (ROMCAN) which she grew to more than 80 partnerships with community organizations. Cheryl holds a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), and is a Fellow of Inclusion and Philanthropy from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). She is the Chair of the Board at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery.

“Museums are essential parts of Ontario’s culture.  It is this belief that grounds me in my commitment to fulfilling the mission, vision, and values of the OMA.  I have seen how the work of the OMA is strengthening the voices of museum professionals across Ontario, and I look forward to supporting OMA members and the OMA in continued efforts to make museums vital and vibrant in Ontario.”



Second Year of a First Two-Year Term

Joe Corrigan holds a B.A. in Economics and History from Glendon College of York University, a degree from Fleming College's Museum Management and Curatorship Program, a certificate in Web Design from Fleming College, and a certificate in Managing and Leading in a Municipal Environment through Loyalist College. He was the Trust and Operations Officer for the National Trust Company from 1977-2001, and the Museum Manager of Lang Pioneer village Museum from 2003-2018. Joe’s community service includes being a volunteer cadet instructor and Commanding Officer of Navy League of Canada Cadet Corps in Ajax and Oshawa, and being a member of the steering committee for the OMA AGM and Annual Conference in 2004, among many others.

“I have worked in a variety of roles in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors over some 40 years. Many of the most rewarding experiences have come since I joined the museum community as Museum Manager of Lang Pioneer Village Museum. My work resulted in several successful initiatives which have a lasting impact on your community and inspire me to continue to take an active role in the leadership and support of our regional tourism industry. Recognizing the potential for growth in the cultural heritage industry, I would very much like to apply this experience to supporting the initiatives outlined in the OMA’s Strategic Plan “Towards 2025”.



Second Year of a First Two-Year Term

Kathy has been the Curator / Supervisor at the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site for seventeen years, and was the Curator / Director at the Sault Ste. Marie Museum prior for seven years.  Being in Northern Ontario within an attraction based museum has lead Kathy to become well versed in the tourism industry, specifically RTO 13.  Her role oversees the day to day operations of the Site, gift shop, revenue generating programming, user groups, venue rentals and historic cultural festival and events.  Currently, she is involved in the Cultural Plan Steering Committee for the City of Sault Ste. Marie and FutureSSM, Culture Days Sault Ste. Marie in conjunction with Ontario Culture Days, Festival and Events Network (an Algoma region network of FEO) and 4Culture – a museum and art gallery partnership program within Sault Ste. Marie.  In 2017 -2018, Kathy was one of the museum advisors in the OMA’s diversity and inclusion program and symposium.

“I look forward to being a resource and voice in the Northern Ontario museum community on the OMA Council.  As a Curator /Director of small to mid-sized museum(s), I understand the diversity of needs of our sector. I would like to provide my experience to Council and our community, as well as to become more versed in today’s museum field through the other Council members, OMA staff, and affiliations.”



Second Year of a Second Two-Year Term

Alexander Gates has served as the Executive Director and Curator of the Canadian Automotive Museum since 2014. Originally from the United States, he previously worked as the Executive Director and Curator of the North Berrien Historical Museum in Coloma, Michigan. Alex holds a B.A. in International Relations from Drake University, a Masters of Museums Studies degree from the University of Toronto, and studied French at the Sorbonne in Paris while working as a guide on the Eiffel Tour. As one of Canada’s only automotive curators, Alex represents Canadian heritage around the world, working with international partners to tell Canada’s unique car stories, while also serving as a local community partner in the redevelopment of downtown Oshawa.

“My interest in this position is driven by a passion to strengthen the museum community through advocacy and collegiality, In particular I am an advocate for transportation museums, which are undervalued and underfunded by the Province of Ontario, despite their popularity with the public. As a museum professional that has worked in both the United States and Canada I look forward to bringing my experience to the OMA and demonstrating to government officials that museums are a vital part of society and not an easily reduced budget item.”



Second Year of a First Two-Year Term

Heather Montgomery is the Education and Evaluation Specialist at the Bank of Canada Museum. She has worked in education, visitor experience, evaluation, and management in museums in Ottawa and Gatineau for the past decade. She was the Education and Visitor Experience Manager at the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, during which time she developed a school program on conflict resolution which won the 2015 Ontario Museum Association Award of Excellence in Programs with a WOW! Distinction. She was a Learning Specialist at the Canadian Museum of History and also worked for four years as a part-time instructor in the Applied Museum Studies program at Algonquin College. She has an MA in Archaeology from Newcastle University and a Graduate Professional Certificate in Cultural Heritage Studies from the University of Victoria.

“Over the past ten years I have has the opportunity to work at a variety of museums in Ontario, and I am very passionate about the work that the OMA does in advocating for small, medium, and larger institutions in this province. I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to support the work of the OMA, especially as it relates to diversity and inclusion, supporting emerging professionals and museum studies education, and advocating for reliable funding for museums in Ontario.”




Sascha is the Associate Vice President, Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships, Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, Canada. Previously, Sascha was the ROM’s Managing Director – Culture Centres. Before joining the ROM, he was the Curator of Chinese and Korean collections at the British Museum and prior to that served as a diplomat in the German Foreign Office, including as a cultural attaché at the German Embassy in Beijing. Sascha co-founded the North American Cultural Diplomacy Initiative (NACDI;, a think tank that has created a transdisciplinary partnership, including academics, policymakers and practitioners from North America and beyond, to establish cultural diplomacy as a critical practice. He is a Research Fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, a Senior Fellow of Massey College, Toronto, and an Associate Member of the Posthumanism Research Institute at Brock University. Sascha is also cross-appointed as an Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Toronto, and is an Affiliated Associate Professor in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. He also serves on the board of ICOM Canada and as Vice-President of the Society for East Asian Archaeology. Sascha holds a PhD in archaeology from the University of Oxford, an MA in art history and archaeology from SOAS University of London, and an MA in culture and media management from the Hamburg University of Music and Theatre. He completed his undergraduate degree in public administration at the German Foreign Office.
“For me, museums have a striking claim to increased relevance in the world today. Thrown into relief by the pandemic, museums can be a catalyst for social cohesion, learning/education and self-development, democratic citizenship and collective expression. They can also connect global trends and their local manifestations. The OMA is a crucial forum to advance an ambitious agenda for Ontario’s museums. As a member of the OMA council, I hope that my global experience as a museum professional and a practicing museum diplomat will be of benefit to and support our museum community.”


Originally from Holland Landing, Ontario, Sean is a graduate of Western University with a Combined Honours Degree in History and Anthropology. Starting as a volunteer excavator at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, Sean has since worked as an interpreter at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto and the Waterloo Region Museum in Kitchener. He is currently the Village Coordinator with the Waterloo Region Museum. Sean is also a graduate of the Ontario Museum Association’s Certificate in Museum Studies program, and a member of the OMA since 2009.  Always interested in material culture, Sean has a continuing fascination with historic trades and industries, as well as the archeology of tool making and technology. Sean is an avid blacksmith, and is currently the Vice President of the Ontario Artist Blacksmith Association. He lives in Kitchener with his wife Heather and their countless pets.

“I have been a member of the Ontario Museum Association since 2009, and have participated in conferences, committees, and the CMS program. I have gained a great deal from my involvement with the OMA. In particular, I would like the opportunity to help the OMA in it is efforts to address the issues and challenges facing Ontario’s municipal and living history museums, and to support the goals of the Ontario’s Museums 2025 Strategic Vision and Action Plan.”



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