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Staff & Board of Directors

OUR TEAM

Shabnam Weber

President

Shabnam Weber has spent the last twenty years in the tea business as an entrepreneur. As owner of a specialty tea company, a tea school and a Director on the Board of the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada, she has a unique perspective on multiple angles of the tea business. She is the author of THAC’s well known and recognized Tea Sommelier® program and a big driver in both consumer and industry education. Shabnam values the diversity offered by all parts of the tea industry, both in Canada and beyond and focuses always on the bigger picture. Shabnam is a graduate of the University of Toronto with an Honours degree in Political Science and she also holds a post-graduate diploma in Psychology.

Adi Baker

Communication & Programs Coordinator

Adi Baker joined the Association team in 2012. She holds an undergraduate degree from Queen’s University and a Masters of Arts from York University. In 2014 she earned her certification as a TAC Tea Sommelier® Professional. At the Association Adi’s main focus is on communications, membership relations, member events and the Tea Sommelier® Certification Program. 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Michael Higgins

Chair

Michael Higgins is the Co-Chairman of Mother Parker’s Tea & Coffee Inc., one of the largest coffee and tea manufacturers in North America. Mother Parkers has been family owned and managed since 1912. It
currently specializes in premium, private label coffee and tea brands for both retail and foodservice channels, in a variety of formats and packages. Mr. Higgins and his brother are the third generation to steer Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee to growth and expansion. He has held a number of sales and marketing roles in the Company and has personally led the relationships with many of North America’s largest grocery and restaurant chains, many of which have been Mother Parkers customers for decades.

Sylvia MacVey

Vice-chair

Sylvia MacVey, is President and CEO of G E Barbour Inc. located in Sussex New Brunswick. Having spent most of her career as a part of the management team of Barbours in positions of increasing responsibility, Ms. MacVey consolidated controlling interest in Barbours in 2011. Since then, she continues to build her company’s reputation as an innovative, reliable partner in the branded, private label and co-pack food processing business in North America.

Kurt Hatherly

TREASURER

Kurt Hatherly is the Country Head for Canada at TATA Consumer Products. He as been with TATA since 2008, serving in several roles

Carman Allison

Director

Carman Allison serves as VP of Consumer Insights for Nielsen Canada. Carman has his finger on the pulse of the CPG landscape and is relied on by manufacturers and retailers to provide them with the consumer insights they need to make strategic and impactful business decisions. He shares his insights on consumer shopping, industry trends and buying and media consumption behaviours and attitudes through thought leadership reports, industry presentations and his two monthly columns in Canadian Grocer and Grocery Business magazine

Visvajit De Alwis

DIRECTOR

Visvajit De Alwis is the Vice President Procurement Tea & Ingredients at Harris Tea Company, a leading producer of black, green, decaffeinated, herbal, specialty and organic teas, with manufacturing locations in North America & Europe.

Richard Enticott

Director

Richard Enticott is the President and owner of Meridian Trading based in Boulder, Colorado. Meridian is a global Importer and distributor of botanical raw materials to industrial clients primarily in the tea and beer industries. Richard has been in the tea business for over twenty five years beginning with a five year apprenticeship in tea tasting at Tetley Tea GB, where he became a senior tea buyer. Thereafter in 1999 he joined James Finlay USA as Director of North American Tea Trading. In 2003 he joined Martin Bauer USA as President & CEO responsible for botanical ingredient sales to the US food, beverage, and dietary supplement industries.

Henry Evans

Director

Henry Evans is the Vice President for Twinings North America.

Kevin Gascoyne

Director

British tea taster Kevin Gascoyne has been buying tea in Asia since 1989. He started his career as a tea writer for publications in the U.K., the U.S.A. and Japan. Over the years his passion for the black teas of India has spread to the plantations of many other countries. In Canada he is one of the owners of the Camellia Sinensis Tea Houses and Tea Schools of Montréal and Québec City. He also co-authored of the prize-winning book ‘Tea, History, Terroirs, Varieties’.

John Hales

Director

Steeped in tea since before birth, John’s father worked for Brooke Bond from the end of World War II. John started his career in 1976 at S.S.Smith & Son Tea Brokers, where he took a holiday job in the sample room. In 1979 he began working for Ridgways Tea, one of very few “specialty” tea companies (at a time when specialty only meant Jasmine, Lapsang Souchong and Earl Grey). From 1985 to 1989 John worked for Teekanne GmbH in Duesseldorf . After which he returned to UK and started at Overseas Tea Marketing Ltd in Sir John Lyon House – at the time the centre of the UK trade and the then home of the London auction. In 1991 he moved with growing family to Mombasa to be MD of East African Tea Exporters Ltd. (a subsidiary of OTM) and bought, sold and exported East African tea around the world from there. In 1994 John moved back to London and back to OTM as a Director until 2004. In 2005 he made his move to Canada to work as the General Manager at The Metropolitan Tea Company Ltd.

Robin Lavooij

Director

Robin Lavooij is the Managing Director at Van Rees North America.

Laraine Miller

DIRECTOR

Laraine Miller is the President of ekaterra Americas where she is responsible for delivering the P&L and leading a large cross-functional team across the Tea business of North and South America, with brands including Lipton, TAZO, Pukka and PG Tips. Laraine is a results-driven general manager with a proven track record of growing highly successful brands, leading breakthrough launches and creating business turnarounds through her 20+ years of experience in the consumer packaged goods industry across a range of categories. Laraine has always had a passion for understanding consumer psychology and translates those insights into active problem-solving that benefit the top and bottom line.

Christian Sauve

DIRECTOR

Christian Sauve discovered the wonderful world of teas at the age of 8. He has been with Trans-Herbe for 21 years. As director of innovation and a proud Four O’clock brand ambassador, Christian has collaborated with the R&D for the amazing & unique blends of Four O’clock.

Sarah Segal

Director

Sarah Segal joined DAVIDsTEA in 2010 and has filled multiple roles including Board Member, Head of Tea and Product Development and currently serves as the Company’s Chief Brand Officer. Sarah’s passion for tea stems from living in China after University and during the field work portion of her Master’s degree. Her ongoing commitment is to make tea both accessible and easy to understand in order to reach broader audiences. Sarah’s academic background is in Environmental Science and Water Policy and Management, with degrees from McGill University, the London School of Economics and Oxford University. She is passionate about the ways the tea industry can push the conversation on climate change and adaptation.

Kirsten Sullivan

Director

Kirsten Sullivan is the Director of Corporate Food Safety and Quality at Bigelow Tea, family tea blenders since 1945, located in Fairfield, Connecticut. Though new to the tea and herbal industry, Kirsten has spent 22 years in food and dietary supplement manufacturing and the last 12 in the food safety, regulatory and quality arenas. Her role encompasses the whole of the supply chain from partnering with ingredient and material suppliers to developing the FSQ systems and programs that enable Bigelow to deliver uncompromising quality to the consumer.

Sri Lanka Tea Board

Director

Ms. Chandima Kiriwandala is the Consular (Commercial) at the Sri Lanka Consulate General Office in Toronto. The Sri Lanka Tea Board is responsible for regulating the activities of tea industry, viz. production, increase of cultivation, replanting, rehabilitating old gardens, establishment of factories and monitoring their operations.

Tea Board India

Director

Saurav Paharl is the Chairman of Tea Board India. The present Tea Board is functioning as a statutory body of the Central Government under the Ministry of Commerce. The Board is constituted of 31 members (including Chairman) drawn from Members of Parliament, tea producers, tea traders, tea brokers, consumers, and representatives of Governments from the principal tea producing states, and trade unions.

Tea Board of Kenya

Director

Ms. Peris Mudida is the Head of the Tea Board of Kenya. Their mandated to license tea manufacturing factories; to register buyers, brokers, packers, management agents and any other person dealing in tea; and promote Kenya tea in both the local and the international markets.