Meet the Board
Gordon Tate, President
Gord spent his early career working in recreation in Northern BC and HRM. He owned a kayak outfitting company before landing in the Municipality of Chester for the past ten years as the Active Living Coordinator. In this position, Gord tries to inspire and activate citizens, and create a culture of physical activity that is supported by the built environment and policy changes that are needed to sustain the change.Gord has an unwavering belief that recreation is essential – for individuals, families, and communities. With RNS he will use this belief to advance the awareness and value society places on recreation as a means for social connection, appreciation of the natural world, and path to personal wellness.In Chester, Gord takes the lead on event planning for community runs/walks, bike rides, and hikes. He writes and edits the Municipal Recreation Guide which is used as a platform to spark citizens’ curiosity to explore our community, and to highlight the importance of recreation in our lives.He has been one of the developers of Steps to Connect - a program that helps citizens align their personal values to recreation opportunities in their communities and craft personal and social connections to activities that are meaningful, enjoyable, and attainable. He has also contributed to the creation of the South Shore Active Communities’ children’s outdoor play modules.As a member of RNS, in the past Gord has served as Program Committee Chair, Conference Chair, and a presenter. In 2018 he also served on the Provincial Recreation Organization review panel, which provided him with an invaluable window into the successes and challenges of the PRO community.He has served for several years on the NSFM Active Transportation Committee, and the NS Connect provincial management team. He currently volunteers on the Board of Our Health Centre in Chester and is logistics lead for the annual QEII Foundation’s Ride for Cancer.Lastly, Gord thinks his family is cool and doesn’t understand why more people don’t play bike polo.
Heather Kelday, Past President
After a 15 year long voyage working in the fields of experiential and outdoor education, Heather is still pushing the boundaries of her own journey at the helm of the Nova Scotia Sea School as Executive Director. Heather’s adolescence summer camp experience led her to pursue a career in outdoor recreation and she attended Lakehead University where in addition to mastering a variety of technical skills in paddling, climbing, hiking and winter travel, she also obtained a Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation and a Bachelor of Natural Science and proceeded to obtain a Bachelors of Education in 2005. In her 6th year as Executive Director for the Sea School, Heather is interested in increasing participation outdoors and facilitating networking opportunities for the outdoor professional community. In 2014, she chaired the 6th Canadian Adventure Therapy Symposium conference in Atlantic Canada and has participated in the Outdoor Advisory Council for over a year. She brings a unique perspective on risk management and program planning through her work at Sea School and in the field of experiential education.
Chris Atwood, VP of Finance
Chris Atwood grew up in Pictou County on the family sheep and vegetable farm with his parents and two older brothers. He graduated from the Nova Scotia Agriculture College with a BSc. (Agr) in 1990. Between 1990 and 1999 Chris worked internationally on a number of different development project taking him to Swaziland, Czechoslovakia, Nigeria and Thailand. He also worked on projects in St Vincent and the Grenadines and Moldova in the early 2000’s.
Chris and his wife Dolores moved to Yarmouth in 1998 where they raised their three children; John, James and Andrew). Chris was the Executive Director of the Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) Yarmouth from 2005 until 2018, taking on the responsibility for overseeing the growth of the CBDC Yarmouth’s loan portfolio. In the summer of 2018 Chris made a move from CBDC Yarmouth to CBDC Blue Water in Porters Lake in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
He has a passion for rural and local issues and his professional experience includes agriculture development initiatives in South Western Nova Scotia. An avid volunteer and community leader, Chris has served on various local and Provincial Boards including President of Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce in 2009 and 2014-17; Chair of the Nova Scotia Chambers of Commerce 2011 to 2013; President of the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists 2010.
Misty James, Vice President of Monitoring
Misty returned to Municipal Recreation as Community Recreation Coordinator with Yarmouth Recreation 10 years ago after being employed in the IT field for several years and is excited to be part of the recreation community. She has a passion for the outdoors and especially enjoys working with youth In leadership development. She has been involved with synchronized swimming at a provincial level for the past 25 years as a coach, evaluator and director of the provincial team program. Her spare time is spent both outdoors and in; kayaking, fishing, boating and hiking or crafting and gaming. Whatever it is, it is always an adventure.
Clare Steele, Recording Officer
After a six year career as an Elementary Education teacher, Clare returned to her Recreation roots 3 years ago as the Recreation Coordinator in Westville. Clare brings with her experience working with youth in a variety of areas including onboard Disney Cruise Line as a Youth Activities Counsellor. Clare’s passion for youth and community development are always at the forefront of her work and she is passionate about empowering youth to live an active and balanced life. In her spare time Clare can be found teaching yoga, paddling, or on a nearby trail with a couple of four-legged sidekicks.
Britt Vegsund, Director At Large (2 year)
Britt Vegsund is a physical activity promoter with a passion for research and learning outdoors. As the Project Lead for the Nova Scotia Active Smarter Kids Pilot, she is currently working with 6 elementary schools on the South Shore of NS to pilot a physically active teaching and learning method that was developed in Norway. The project aims to increase children’s daily physical activity levels, engagement in learning, and sense of belonging in school through fun, active lessons that take place primarily in the schoolyard.Britt is a strong believer in the power of collaborating across sectoral lines and knows that healthy communities flourish when everyone has a seat at the planning table.Transplanted from the west coast of BC, Britt has worked in the recreation sector in NS for the past four years.When not at work, Britt can be found sailing the Nova Scotian coast, hiking and cycling with her family, or planning her next big adventure.
Josh Kennedy, Director At Large (2 year)
Josh Kennedy is the Village of Bible Hill Parks and Recreation Director. Growing up in Cape Breton, Josh spent a lot of time in the outdoors. He spent a lot of time fishing, biking, and playing soccer and hockey as a child. Josh has worked in the recreation sector in NS for the past 10 years. Prior to becoming the Director in Bible Hill, he has worked in both Municipal Recreation in Colchester County and the Private Sector as a Recreation Director with Shannex. When not at work, Josh can be found playing or coaching hockey, golfing, snowboarding, kayaking, hiking and cycling with his wife and two boys.
Jeannine Faye Denny, Director At Large (1 year)
Jeannine is from the community of Eskasoni, the largest Mi'kmaq community in Nova Scotia. She is passionate about recreation and using it as a tool to support her community's wellbeing with a strong interest in improving the mental health of children and youth. A well respected leader in her community, Jeannine readily shares her knowledge of Mi'kmaw traditions with all those she encounters. When given the opportunity to personally recreate, Jeannine enjoys working out at the gym in her free time.
Joel Dawe, Director At Large (1 year)
After graduation from Acadia University many years ago (1986), I worked in the Community Services field as a counsellor with developmentally delayed children.
Began career in Recreation Facility management in 1995 as program director at the Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex. Held General Manager positions at DHMS, Shearwater Flyers Forum, and Colchester Legion Stadium. I have been in my current role as Assistant Director Parks Recreation and Culture with the Town of Truro since 2018.
I look forward to bringing my experience as a leader on several organizations to the RNS board – some which are, Recreation Facility Association of NS; Canadian Recreation Facility Council; NS Junior Hockey League; Brookfield Elks Jr Hockey; Project Hope Syrian refugee settlement committee.
I was privileged to work with the awesome RNS staff as co-chair of RNS conference held in Truro, October 2019. I am optimistic we can continue the important work RNS performs in the lives of Nova Scotians.
A long-suffering Toronto Maple Leaf fan I have high hopes that this will finally be the year for the Cup.
Kevin Waters, Student Director At Large
Kevin Waters is a Recreation Management student in his second year at Dalhousie University. As a member of the joint degree program at DAL, he is able to learn skills in both the recreation and management sides of the field. Kevin is from Hubbards, Nova Scotia where he has been a member of the Chester Recreation and Parks Department Team since the summer of 2015. The first 2 summers in Chester were spent as Summer Staff where he facilitated programs for youth in his community. Since May 2017, Kevin has worked for the Chester Recreation Department as the Summer Manager. In his new role, Kevin plans the summer programs and activities and coordinate the summer staff accordingly. Kevin is also a coordinator for the Dalhousie Recreation Orientation, which provides a friendly camp experience for first year Dalhousie Recreation students to become engaged with their fellow classmates. Finally, Kevin’s love of sport has brought him into the Recreation field. He now currently is an avid gym member and is a volunteer assistant coach for the South Shore Sledge Sharks, which is a para ice hockey team located in Bridgewater. Kevin hopes to use all these experiences and his time at Dalhousie to pursue a career in Recreation post graduation.