The MCC board brings directors dedicated to patients and equipped with extensive experience in legal, communications, government relations and public affairs, healthcare and advocacy fields, the majority of whom are patients themselves.
Gerald Major – Chairperson
Deepak Anand, Materia Ventures – Vice-Chair
Vijay Sappani, Ela Capital – Treasurer
Trina Fraser, Brazeau Seller – Governance Committee Lead
Omar Khan, Hill & Knowlton Strategies
Max Monahan-Ellison, Proof Strategies
Esther Ferreira, Lawyer
Gerald Major (Chairperson)
Gerald is a medical cannabis patient, staunch chronic illness advocate and arthritis warrior. He joined MCC in 2016 to reduce the barriers he saw first hand facing patients like him and wanted to ensure they had more support. Showing symptoms of inflammation in both knees at the age of 14, he was diagnosed at 23 with Ankylosing Spondylitis and Psoriatic Arthritis, both inflammatory arthritis that ends in fusion in the back and peripheral joints. Gerald’s Arthritis took him out of work 7 years ago where he was Senior Vice President of Operations for Citibank Hedge Fund Services North America.
Always putting the patient first, he is also a board member and consumer group chair of the Arthritis Alliance of Canada, Best Medicine Coalition board member and member of the Ontario Best Practice Research Initiative patient advisory committee.
Deepak Anand (Vice-Chair)
Deepak is recognized as an expert and innovator in the global cannabis space. He joined MCC after seeing the challenges faced by patients and wanting to make a difference. Deepak leverages his long term relationships with government and key bureaucrats to ensure patient issues are top of mind and is always looking at how decisions impact patients. In addition to his board position at MCC, he currently serves as the co-founder & CEO of Materia Ventures, a European-focused supply and distribution company for medical cannabis and CBD products, and sits on the board of NORML Canada.
He previously served as vice president of business development and government relations at Cannabis Compliance, a Canadian cannabis consulting firm; vice president of Zenabis, a Health Canada-licensed producer; and as a board member for various pharmaceutical associations across Canada, the United States and Europe.
Vijay Sappani (Treasurer)
Vijay has two decades of multinational experience in healthcare, government, and security. He actively engages in philanthropy through the Sappani Foundation which focuses on education, healthcare, and public policy impacting marginalized communities.
Vijay Sappani is an angel-investor and serial entrepreneur with a focus on life-sciences and emerging technology start-ups. He is the founder and CEO of Ela Capital Inc., a boutique investment and advisory services firm with operations around the world. Vijay is a founder of several companies including TerrAscend, a publicly listed cannabis company. As a long time patient rights activist and parent of a rare disease child, Vijay joined MCC to support medical cannabis patient needs.
Vijay has been on over a dozen boards. He is currently on the boards of Canadian Organization of Rare Disorders,Macdonald-Laurier Institute, CDG Canada and Asha for Education Canada. Vijay holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy and a post-graduate in marketing management.
Trina Fraser (Governance Committee Lead)
Trina saw a close family member with Dravet syndrome struggle to get the treatment they needed in 2013 and has been advocating for medical cannabis patients ever since. A partner at Brazeau Seller Law and head of BSL’s CannaLaw® group, Trina joined MCC in 2018 and has provided expert regulatory and legal guidance essential to the organization.
Trina is also incoming Chairperson of The Snowsuit Fund, an Ottawa-based children’s charity.
As a medical cannabis patient, Omar has seen first-hand the barriers to access facing the patient community in Canada. He is a seasoned political and public policy professional, bringing focused experience in strategy development for effective public affairs and crisis communications, As the National Cannabis Sector Lead at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, former Chief of Staff to the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and early member of the Ontario government’s cannabis legalization steering committee, he is essential in informing policy and advocacy strategies.
With a diverse policy background across healthcare, economics, regulatory affairs, and labour relations, Omar has a proven track record developing complex policy proposals, building stakeholder coalitions and leading communications plans. Omar also serves on the board of directors for War Child Canada and is an active member of Civic Actions Escalator advisory board.
A medical cannabis patient, Max saw first-hand the challenges facing the community and joined MCC as a volunteer in 2018 to make a difference, spearheading the strategy and development of programs and campaigns for the organization, now joining the board to continue this work even further. Max is a Senior Consultant, specializing in healthcare and emerging therapeutics at integrated communications and public affairs firm, Proof Strategies, bringing diverse communications and public affairs experience from the healthcare sector.
Starting his career working on clinical trial enrollment strategy in biotech, Max pivoted to communications and advocacy work across the sector, working on rare diseases, oncology, health insurance, public health and cannabis.
With experience navigating the medical cannabis system as a patient and industry professional, Esther brings a balanced perspective and collaborative mindset in addition to her strong regulatory and legal knowledge. Esther is a lawyer and a registered Canadian Trademark Agent with a background in pharmaceutical sciences. She has a wealth of experience in the healthcare industry, regulatory matters, intellectual property (“IP”) and litigation.
Most recently, Esther was the Vice President of Medical, Health & Wellness Program at a Canadian Licence Holder. In private legal practice, Esther represented generic pharmaceutical companies in IP matters to bring affordable, generic medicines to market. She also advised pharmacy retailers on brand protection, IP enforcement and compliance with federal regulations for scheduled drugs, natural health, food and cosmetic products. Before embarking on a legal career, Esther was a pharmacist in community settings where she assisted patients with achieving their health outcomes.