Board of Directors
Heidi Semkowich - President
Heidi graduated from Grant MacEwan (now MacEwan) in 1997 and started her career as a legal assistant in Edmonton, Alberta. In 2015 she graduated with a diploma in Paralegal Studies from Capilano University in B.C. Heidi joined the AAPP in 2013 and became a Director on the Board in early 2017; being elected President in October 2017.
During her 20+ year career, Heidi has worked in several areas of law, including Oil & Gas, Insurance Defence, Criminal, Regulatory and litigation. She now works at a firm specializing in labour & employment , and human rights law. The bulk of her work is focused on WCB and disability claims.
In 2020, Heidi obtained her Legal Coaching certification and looks forward to assisting self-represented litigants with document review, preparation, and providing information on our court system.
Penny Doyle - Vice President
Do you remember when there was an Alberta Stock Exchange? When different colored ball point pens were required to manually amend court documents for filing? Penny does! With the start of her career in 1988, Penny was working on high profile corporate deals (Hibernia) having then transferred that experience into a 23-year career specializing in Business and Commercial Law. Before finding her preferred area, Penny worked in various areas of law, including Litigation and Immigration, returning back to Securities and Business Law in 1997.
In addition to working as a Paralegal for sole, regional and national firms, Penny has worked independently as a contract Paralegal for a number of lawyers/firms on various sized transactional matters from start to post-closing.
During a break, Penny took on a new challenge working as a legal support recruiter. Penny shared that this experience of being able to listen to her colleagues was a large motivator in joining the Board to take this information to task. Penny is looking forward to working with the Board in promoting the AAPP with those that share the same values and principles in education, peer support and ongoing community involvement.
Crystal Hallett - Treasurer
After graduating from college, Crystal started her career in Lloydminster Saskatchewan Throughout her 10 year career, she has worked in various assistant positions mainly centering on Family, Civil and Litigation Law.
In 2019, she relocated to Red Deer to work for the Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic as a Family Law assistant, and in 2020, she was given an opportunity to run a unique program as a Tenant Advocate. She is currently working towards designation in Certified Mediation and Dispute Resolution.
Crystal joined the AAPP as an active member in 2013, and became a Director at Large in 2020. In 2021, she became Treasurer. She also sits on the AAPP’s Education Committee and looks forward to all the upcoming adventures this committee has in store.
Outside of work, Crystal has a variety of hobbies including stained glass, fishing, quadding, reading and hiking in the mountains with her family.
Renee McMaster - Membership Director
Renee has worked in the legal industry since 2005 in various assistant and law clerk roles in mid-size and global firms. She has her CORES Level 3 accreditation, APPRES certification and has experience working in Corporate, Family, Employment, Real Estate, Collections, and Litigation. Renee also has experience in both corporate and litigation databases. She is currently working for a top tier litigation firm in Calgary.
Renee assists the Board with other items such as event planning, coordinating law day activities and assisting with membership perks and recruitment initiatives.
Anastasia Lussier - Director-at-Large
Anastasia received her Paralegal Diploma is 2016 in Calgary, AB. She possesses over 15 years of diversified administrative experience. She currently works in the areas of Civil Litigation, Real Estate, Corporate, Family, Wills and Estates and Elder Law.
Her favourite areas of legal interests are Theory and Philosophy of Law and has a passion and keen interest for Human and Women’s Rights. Anastasia aspires to mentor new Paralegal graduates.
Natesha Francis - Director-at-Large
Ryan McDougall- Director-at-Large
Ryan began her career 20 years ago and has specialized in family law matters. Completing her mediation and dispute resolution training in 2012, Ryan started a mediation practice focusing on keeping families out of the court system. Ryan returned to school and completed a degree in Governance, Law & Management in 2015.
Ryan continues her legal work employed at The Outreach Centre in Red Deer, AB where she assists victims of domestic violence needing protection orders and help navigating through the justice system.
She is passionate about the wealth of knowledge and experience paralegals can bring to citizens and is active on pursuing the regulation of the paralegal profession.
And she loves dogs.
Gale Harwood - Vice President
A graduate of MacEwan University, Gale Harwood has worked in the legal field for 30+ years and currently enjoys a career as a Corporate and Tax Law Paralegal with the firm of Stillman LLP in Edmonton. Gale is also a part-time Instructor in CORES Levels 1 and 3 with the MacEwan University School of Continuing Education and has been teaching for the last 10+ years. Gale loves to mentor students and other paralegals in corporate law.
Gale volunteers with many educational and community organizations in Edmonton and has also been an active member and supporter of the AAPP since 1983. Gale has in the past served on the AAPP Board as President, Secretary, Membership Director and Director at Large and is excited for the opportunity to volunteer for the AAPP again as Vice-President with a special focus on the education of Paralegals at this exciting time for the organization.
Michaela Russell - Secretary
Michaela graduated from Red Deer College in 2017 and currently works for the Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic as a Family Law and Estate Planning assistant.
Michaela joined the Board of Directors in 2020 as a Director-at-Large and moved into the Secretary seat in October 2020. Michaela also sits on the AAPP’s Education Committee, and does speaking engagements with students to promote the AAPP and our profession.
Outside of work Michaela enjoys reading, listening to music, bullet journaling and learning how to not kills plants.
Thomas Kannanayakal - Director-at-Large
Thomas began his career as a legal assistant in 2015 after graduating from Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's Legal Assistant program. After working for a few years Thomas was accepted into law school at the University of Alberta, where he has just completed his second year of studies.
Thomas joined the Board of Directors in October 2015, to serve as Membership Director, and transitioned to a Director-at-Large role in 2018.