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.
Ryan McDougall - Vice-President
Ryan became a member of the AAPP in early 2016 and joined the Board as vice president in fall 2017. She is a graduate of the Legal Assistant Program of Red Deer College and completed her Bachelor of Professional Arts degree in Governance, Law & Management through Athabasca University.
Ryan has specialized in family law since 2001 as a paralegal. She achieved her designation of Qualified Mediator through the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Alberta and has a private practice as a family law mediator in Central Alberta.
Meghan Russ - Treasurer
Meghan began her career as a junior criminal legal assistant and has since gained experience in real estate, wills and estates, and corporate/commercial litigation. The majority of her experience is working within family law, focusing on divorce and matrimonial property division. She graduated from Grant MacEwan College (now MacEwan University) in 2014 with her legal assistant diploma, and in 2019 with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Business Law. Meghan has also served on the Board of Directors for her condo since September of 2013, and was elected President in 2016.
One of Meghan’s passions is volunteering to assist low-income individuals through Edmonton Community Legal Centre. Meghan assists ECLC during family law legal advice clinics with self-represented litigants, assisting family law lawyers volunteering, as well as other administrative and record keeping tasks delegated to her by the Volunteer Coordinator. As one of the newest members of the AAPP Board of Directors, Meghan is excited for what this new opportunity will hold.
Renee McMaster - Secretary
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.
Gale Harwood - Membership Director
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 Finlay Maxston Law 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 and Director at Large and is excited for the opportunity to volunteer for the AAPP again as Membership Director to help expand the membership at this exciting time for the organization.
Thomas Kannanatakal - Director-at-Large
Thomas currently works as a Legal Assistant at Burnet, Duckworth & Palmer LLP, in Calgary, Alberta. He joined the firm in 2015 after graduating from Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's Legal Assistant program. He continues to assist lawyers who practice litigation and corporate law. Before joining BDP, Thomas worked as a research assistant in biology labs.
Thomas joined the Board of Directors in October 2015, to serve as Membership Director. He is excited to be a member of AAPP and in its cause.
Rina Mendoza - Director-at-Large
Rina currently services as a senior corporate paralegal for ConocoPhillips Canada. She has over 18 years of prior collective work experience in a large law firm, small law office and an in-house legal department.
Rina earned her BA in sociology from the University of Calgary, and her Legal Assistant Diploma from SAIT. She has her CORES 1, 2 and 3 and APPRES accreditations.
Rina currently serves as a Director-at-Large on the AAPP Board, and volunteers for various non-profit organizations in Calgary.
Crystal Hallett - Director-at-Large
Bio coming soon!