Meet Your Board

President  |     Laura Ross-Giroux, 2016-18



A life-long volunteer, Laura has always had a passion for libraries; some of her earliest memories are of spending hours in the children’s corner in the basement of the Glengarry Public Library in Calgary. She has over twenty five years’ experience being a library volunteer and is currently on her tenth year with the Taber Public Library Board and her ninth year with the Chinook Arch Regional Library Board, three years as Chairperson. Laura is a tireless advocate for libraries and trustee education and loves the fluidity of the library world and all that it has to teach her.

With a background in management, administration and marketing, Laura is a Councilor with the Town of Taber and sits on numerous committees. In her spare time, she works as a farm auction clerk and works around southern Alberta on a never ending quest for a deal or a treasure. She looks forward to serving on the ALTA board and continuing her library advocacy work and meeting all the wonderful people that share her enthusiasm for libraries.

Area 1 (Peace) |     Raoul Johnson, 2015-17


Raoul Johnson is currently in his second term on the M.D. of Smoky River #130 Council. As a Councillor for M.D. #130 Raoul sits on the Falher Library Board and Peace Library System Board, and is a strong advocate for local and regional library services. 

Raoul has over fifteen years experience as a heavy duty mechanic and first aid instructor.



Alternate: Position now open! Apply here.


Vice-President, Area 2 (Yellowhead) |    Tanya Pollard, 2016-18


I have always been one to volunteer my time. I love to be involved in my community. I am currently the Board Chair for the Westlock Intermunicipal Library board, serving my second term. I became involved with library governance by happy accident; first volunteering to help with a book sale and then somehow I got elected to Board Chair. Currently, I home-school my children and work as a Program Facilitator for Each One Teach One Literacy Society.

I am a self-proclaimed professional student, as I can never seem to be NOT learning something. I started out very early in post-secondary, and I hold degrees from Harvard University, Simon Fraser University, The University of Alberta and Wild Rose College.  I really wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up! Unfortunately, after three years of law school, I changed my mind. I currently hold a PhD in Sociology (specializing in family studies and youth deviance) from Harvard University and a Masters of Education from Simon Fraser University.

In a past life, I was a special education teacher, until, through the miracle of adoption, I became a Mommy to two amazing little girls. When I am not working with little people, advocating for my library in our community (and others) or searching the web for new craft ideas, you can find me curled up with a good book, digging in my garden or sewing my latest project from Pinterest.

Alternate: Position now open! Apply here.


Area 3 (Parkland) |    Bob Green, 2015-17


I have lived in Alberta for the past 40 years, and have been in Carstairs since 1996. I have retired from a 38 year career in the airline industry, where I worked in many different areas, mostly in the customer service area, and the sales area. I am in my third term as a town of Carstairs councilor, and I have been on the board of the Carstairs Public Library for the past 5 years. I am also a current executive committee member sitting on the board of the Parkland Regional Library.

I am also involved in a number of other community and charitable organizations. At present, I am the president of the Friends of Alberta Junior Hockey Society, a non-profit organization whose goal is to financially assist young athletes with scholarships to continue to play hockey at a competitive level, yet pursue their education at the post-secondary school.

Alternate: Jane Skocolopole


Area 4 (Marigold) |    Lois Bedwell, 2016-18

In 1989 I joined the Oyen Municipal Library Board as a trustee. I have become a lifer! My day job is at South Central High School as the school librarian. Working in the library, I get the opportunity to promote everything libraries have to offer – e-resources, audiobooks, video conferencing, book clubs, etc. I served on the Marigold Library Board for a number of years and there I gained the knowledge and confidence to run for municipal office.

For the last six years I served on Town Council as a Councillor and then Deputy Mayor. My involvement in the community now consists of being secretary of the Oyen & District Historical Society, membership in the Big Country Agricultural Society, Cemetery committee, Disaster Services, Tax Assessment Review Board and Big Country Victim Services. Libraries, books and learning new things have always been my passion.

My husband and I have three grown children and seven terrific grandchildren. We love to go camping and hiking in the summer.

 Area 4 Alternate: Susan Roper


Area 5 (Chinook Arch) |   Vic Mensch, 2015-17

I am a teacher by profession and am currently employed with Alberta Distance Learning Centre where I am the English Department head.  I have been involved with the library world for many years; first of all as the Council representative to the Coaldale Public Library and was in that position for a number of years.  I was the chair of the Coaldale Public Library and have served terms as President, Vice-President, and Treasurer of ALTA. I have also been involved in Chinook Arch Regional Library System for many years in a variety of postions such as Chair, Vice-Chair and Treasurer. Not all at the same time but at different points in my career.

I am currently in my my second term on the Lethbridge Public Library Board and am serving as chair of that board. I live in Lethbridge and have lived in that area for most of my life.

Area 5 Alternate: Doug Logan


Area 6 (Shortgrass) | Catharine Richardson, 2016-18 

I have been a board member on the Redcliff Library board for the last 4 years. For the last 2 years I have headed the Finance Committee. Before I joined the board, I was just a dedicated library patron.

It certainly has given me a different view of what goes into running a library.  When I joined the board, I had the vague idea that we’d discuss book collection and acquisition. My eyes have certainly been opened to the wide variety of topics that a board must deal with. I’ve also been really impressed with the services provided to a small rural library like Redcliff, by being part of the Shortgrass library system.

I have enjoyed the experience and felt good about contributing to my community.

When I attended the Alberta Libraries Conference this spring I felt the same sense of connection and purpose among the attendees. It was really inspiring. And I realized how little I understood about the larger function of ALTA.  Being an ALTA representative was something I set aside at the time. However, now there is a vacancy for the Shortgrass position I certainly want to fill it.  I hope to grow into the ALTA representative position; as I have grown as a trustee.

My “day job” is heavily involved with computers and technology. I run my own company which provides support for MS Office applications. Over the past few years, I’ve also branched into the areas of mobile and EIM systems. I teach computer applications in the Continuing Studies department of Medicine Hat College. Prior to arriving in Medicine Hat I taught computer applications for 7 years.

Area 6 Alternate: Ernest Mudie


Area 7 (Metro Edmonton) | Stuart McGowan, 2015-17

I am 57 years old and I originally hail from Ontario and moved to Alberta twelve years ago. I am very involved in my community and I belong to the Fort Saskatchewan Library Board where I serve on the Personnel Committee as Chairman and am a member of the Fund-raising committee. I have been part of this board for two years.

I have been involved as a member of the Fort Saskatchewan Historical Society for the past several years as a board member, most recently taking on the responsibility of promotion and communications. I also act as M.C. for the annual People Of The North Saskatchewan that attracts upwards of 1100 school children each year.

My day job is a Safety Training Manager and Logistics Manager for a plumbing, electrical and heating wholesaler. I travel to all the branches of the company in Alberta, B.C. and up to Yellowknife to perform the training. I also represent the company as a board member of the Fort Road Business Association.

Area 7 Alternate: Colleen Burton-Ochocki


Area 8 (Northern Lights) |    Larry Tiedemann, 2016-18



I was born in Tofield, Alberta; and have spent most of my life, so far, in rural Alberta. After obtaining my Agriculture degree from the U of A, my wife and I moved back to Tofield to raise our family of 3 girls (which now includes 5 grandchildren (2 girls and 3 boys)). For over 29 years, I was a negotiator for the oil patch (a land agent). In 2010, I chose to go into semi-retirement, and have worked the last two summers at the Ukrainain Village as a historical interpreter, doing first person interpretation of the CN Rail Station. I am scheduled to return again in April.

I was elected as town councilor for the Town of Tofield for 4 consecutive terms, beginning in 2001.

I became a library trustee in 1999 with the Tofield Municipal Library (for 7 years, including being chair for 3 years), and have been a library trustee ever since. In 2000, I joined the Northern Lights Library System board, becoming chair in Oct 2005 (for 7 years). Currently, I am a member of the Northern Lights Library System Board.

I have also been a board member for Beaver Foundation (who operate the senior lodges within Beaver County) in 2007, becoming chair in 2009 (for 4 years).

I strongly believe in continuing education, communication, and advocacy. I also strongly believe in our form of government, especially at the local level.

Alternate: Position now open! Apply here.


Calgary Public  |    Avnish Mehta



Avnish is the Principal at Stand and Command. Born and raised in Calgary, Avnish graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a degree that focused on Human Resources and Public Policy. Avnish had a successful career in the corporate sector as a currency trader, in the risk management industry, and then finally as an owner and operator of a recruitment company dedicated to recent post-secondary graduates from all across Canada. This experience, combined with his voluntary work, shifted his career  towards the not for profit sector. He is the past Chair for Youthlink Publications Society, a nonprofit group that focuses on children’s literacy, a past Board member with the HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector and an advisor to the Calgary Refugee Health Clinic.


CPL Alternate: Judy Gray


Edmonton Public  |    Jill Scheyk



An avid reader, Jill is passionate about literacy and access to lifelong learning for all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. Her relationship with books has been a constant in her life, creating a love for storytelling which translated into a career in marketing. Jill spends her days at Incite Marketing teaching clients how to tell their story and her nights writing stories about imaginary people.

Jill’s library card is the one that says “Information Ninja.”


EPL Alternate: Nazir Mulji



Executive Director  |    Heather Coulson


Heather brings a valuable combination of non-profit, business and government experience to the Executive Director role.  Attending Brandon University, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a minor in Political Science.  Committed to lifelong learning, she has become a Bunraku puppetry Master/Trainer and enjoys sailing, brain gym, yoga, hiking, meditation garden and spending time with her family.

Before joining ALTA, Heather was the Community Coordinator with Community Relations and Strategic Planning with the City of Edmonton, Program Manager and Health Promotions Director with EEA, Alberta MS Public Relations Director and Canadian Red Cross Manager of Volunteers and active with the National Red Cross Disaster Responder Team.

Heather co-owned and launched the first interactive corporate theatre company in Western Canada. Contracting with Hotels and Conference Planning Managers, theatre and entertainment productions were customized and developed for National and Provincial Events. She was chosen for the role of Producer Assistant in the development of a CBC television history movie documentary.

Growing up in a small prairie town in Manitoba, Heather frequented her local community library always trying to take out more books than what was allowed (two books) and to persuade the librarian to purchase more of her favorite books.

Heather is committed to supporting Library Trustees across Alberta.