Board of Trustees

The Nova Scotia Highland Village Society is led by a volunteer Board of Trustees elected by the membership of the Society at its annual general meeting. The board meets six times per year.

The following are the trustees of the Society, as elected by the membership at our November 30, 2022 Annual General Meeting:

  • Hector MacNeil, Castle Bay (Exp. 2023/26) - President
  • John Hugh Edwards, Ross Ferry (Exp. 2024/27)
  • Gordon Campbell, Whycocomagh Portage (Exp. 2022/25) - Treasurer
  • Dena Pruski, Islandview (Exp. 2023/26) - Secretary
  • Matthew Cooke, Reserve Mines (Exp. 2024/27)
  • Madeline Harvey, Estmere (Exp 2022/25)
  • Jodi MacDonnell-Scott, Coxheath (Exp. 2020/23)
  • Joanne MacGillivray, Northside East Bay (Exp. 2023/26)
  • Kenzie MacKinnon, Halifax (Exp. 2024/27)
  • Donnie MacNeil, Beaver Cove (Exp. 2020/23)
  • Wilfred MacNeil, Johnstown (Exp. 2022/25)
  • Michelle Smith, Skye Glen (Exp. 2020/23)
  • Roland Thornhill, Baddeck (Exp. 2023/26)
  • Rhonda Walker, Red Islands (Exp. 2025/28)


Board of Trustee Bios

Gordon Campbell is originally from Big Bras dOr. He graduated with his BBA from UCCB in 1987 and received his CA designation while working with Deloitte & Touche in Sydney. For 27 years, Gordon has held a number of senior finance roles, primarily with the Empire/Sobeys. Married to Vera, they have 3 adult children and currently reside in Whycocomagh Portage.

Matthew Cook has worked with Parks Canada since 2008. He is currently the Acting Visitor Experience Manager at Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck. He was a board member and treasurer of the Old Sydney Society and a member of the CBRM Heritage Advisory Committee. He has bachelor degrees in commerce and history and is pursuing a masters degree in Scottish history at the University of Dundee. His interests include genealogy, gardening, reading, and birding. He has two daughters, aged 19 and 16.

John Hugh Edwards was born and raised in Sydney Mines and has lived in Ross Ferry for the past thirty years, minus periods of exile in the United Kingdom and Ottawa. In 2002, John Hugh facilitated a province wide series of meetings on the future of Gaelic in Nova Scotia. A report on the consultation was released by the NS Department of Tourism and Culture in December 2002.

Madeline Harvey grew up in Northern New Brunswick. She came to Cape Breton and Parks Canada as a student interpreter while attending St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. She has worked in various segments of the hospitality industry as well as in the private sector, prior to a return to Parks Canada in 2005. She retired earlier this year. She currently sits on several community boards. Madeline and her husband, Paul, currently live on the shores of the Bras dOr Lake on the Iona Peninsula.

Jodi MacDonnell-Scott is a registrar with the Nova Scotia Community College, Marconi Campus. She lives in Coxheath with her husband Dave.

Joanne MacGillivary grew up in Northside East Bay, graduated from Dalhousie and has been teaching in Northern Quebec & Cape Breton since then. Her Dad was John Joe MacGillivary who was a founding member of the Cape Breton Gaelic Society in the early seventies. She is also related to Donald MacEachern who was well known in the Cape Breton Gaelic Culture circle. Joanne taught in Eskasoni & has in interest in the Mi'kmaw & Gael's working together along with her own personal interest in the Gaelic way of doing things.

Kenzie MacKinnon graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with a Major in Political Science, following which he studied at the University of Edinburgh. He has law degrees from Dalhousie University and the London School of Economics. Kenzie was awarded the designation of QueensCounsel in 2013. His practice has been in the area of family and matrimonial law. Kenzie is active in his community, having served on several boards, and being involved in the political process, both at the federal and provincial levels.

Donnie MacNeil grew up in Big Beach and graduated from Rankin Memorial High School and Mount Allison University. Donnie spent 9 years working in BC. He and his family moved back to Cape Breton in 1999 to live in Beaver Cove and work with the Nova Scotia Community College as a Manager of Information Technology. Donnie is currently retired. Donnie and his wife Theresa, have 2 daughters. Donnie a grandchild of the Allan Js (Angie) from Christmas Island, but is more commonly referred to as Donnie Leona” (MacKinnon) after his father passed at an early age.

Hector MacNeil was born and raised in Portage. He completed a BA in Celtic Studies at UCCB and an MA in Celtic Studies at St. F.X. in Antigonish. Retired from the Gaelic College and Cape Breton University, Hector worked throughout his professional life as a Gaelic teacher and promoter. He also served with a number of community organizations over the years. Hector has taught Gaelic language and song to students of all ages in many different settings and has been a regular contributor at Gaelic storytelling sessions, milling frolics and anywhere Nova Scotia Gaels gather to celebrate their language and their culture. He lives in Castle Bay with his wife Gisele.

Wilf MacNeil is a former teacher and administrator with the public school system. He is currently CEO of Learn North Inc in Port Hawkesbury. He is involved in several community and regional development organizations. He resides in Johnstown with his wife Betty.

Dena Pruski is retired from Bell-Aliant where she was an Operations Manager for Small Business. Currently Dena is a volunteer at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in hospice palliative care and is a member of the East Bay and Area Community Council. She also volunteers as a reader/lector at St Mary's Church in East Bay and assists the CWL with their lunches for funerals and other activities. Dena and her husband Mike live in Islandview. 

Michell Smith came to Cape Breton 35 years ago to study Gaelic language and culture and ended up staying to live, farm and raise her family. In that time she has become noted for her knowledge about traditional agriculture and heritage seeds. She served as secretary on the board of Seeds of Diversity Canada for six years and continues to volunteer for a wide range of farming and community development projects. She has three grown children - Rosie, Laurel & Linden.

Roland Thornhill is a proud Newfoundlander who can tell a story as well as any other Newfoundlander and better than most. Born in Grand Banks, he attended Memorial and Dalhousie Universities. He served as Mayor of Dartmouth from 1967 to 1973 and MLA for Dartmouth South in the NS House of Assembly from 1974 to 1993. He held various cabinet posts including Minister of Development, Chair of the Treasury Board and Deputy Premier, Minister of the Environment, Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce. He was appointed Minister of Tourism in 1988 and finally Minister of Community Services. He was honoured with Queen Elizabeths Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. He has sat on many boards. He lives in Baddeck with his wife Bonnie.

Rhonda Walker is a retired civil servant who spent the last 16 years of her career with the NS Dept. of Communities, Culture & Heritage (CCH). She held a variety of roles, most recently Executive Director of Archives, Museums, and Libraries. She has worked closely with volunteer boards, providing advice and support. Now living in Red Islands, she was raised in Sydney and spent many summers at the Walker farm in Ottawa Brook helping to bring in the hay (old school with horses and pitchforks). It was there that she first heard of the Highland Village and of course Highland Village Day. She was excited to support the Village's work and plans for expansion and "Next Chapter" while at CCH.