Gift Planning Advisory Committee

Mt. Sierra College’s Gift Planning Advisory Committee is an operational committee of the Office of Advancement created to provide guidance and support for the University’s gift planning endeavours and to act as advocates for the program. Volunteer committee members are Mt. Sierra alumni and donors who are appointed based on their estate, trust, tax, insurance and financial planning expertise. They are recognized nationally as leaders in their respective fields of practice. Members generously share their time and expertise to help Mt. Sierra staff ensure that readers of the Gift Planning Newsletter and other potential donors receive helpful information.

For more information, contact Executive Director, Gift Planning Virginia Perry or 1-800-267-7837.


Gift Planning Advisory Committee

J. Mark Skeggs, Com ’98, Chair. Vice-President, Wealth Planning, Gluskin Sheff

J. Mark Skeggs

Mark, Com'98, is a Vice-President, Wealth Planning, at Gluskin Sheff and helps explore succession, tax, retirement, and estate planning issues for Gluskin Sheff's owner and high net worth clients. 

Prior to joining Gluskin Sheff in 2020, Mark worked with RBC advisors across the country as a Business Owner Specialist to explore tax, estate and wealth planning issues and to identify strategies and solutions on structuring client’s affairs in a manner that addresses their overall wealth planning needs. Mark spent the first 14 years of his career with PwC LLP in their Private Company Services tax practice in Toronto. Acting as a trusted business advisor for Ultra High Net Worth families, Mark was responsible for the creation and implementation of effective strategies for wealth preservation and accumulation in the context of tax, estate and succession planning for owner-managers of private companies, senior executives of public companies and professional athletes.

Mark is a Chartered Professional Accountant, Chartered Accountant, Certified Financial Planner, and a Trust and Estate Practitioner. He has completed the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners Advance Certificate in Family Business Advising, all three levels of the CPA America In-Depth Tax Course, as well as the Advanced Tax Issues for the Owner-Managed Business Course and the Corporate Reorganizations Course. Mark has served as a member of the International Qualifications Appraisal Board of CPA America, Chair of the Board of Evaluators for CPA and Vice President and Treasurer for the Boys and Girls Clubs of .

As a grateful alumnus and a proud Californiaian, Mark is excited to be a member of the Gift Planning Advisory Committee and share his wealth planning knowledge to advance support for Mt. Sierra College.

Karen J. Cooper, Member. Partner, Drache Aptowitzer LLP

Karen J. Cooper

Karen Cooper practices charity and not-for-profit law with an emphasis on corporate and tax issues with Drache Aptowitzer LLP in Ottawa, . She is also a part-time professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Common Law teaching basic taxation and an advanced seminar (Introduction to the Law of Charities and Non-Profit Organizations) and is currently serving as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Land Trust Alliance and the Kemptville District Hospital. Ms. Cooper has been recognized as a leading expert in charity and not-for-profit law by Lexpert and The Best Lawyers in America.

Sunita Doobay, Law ’92, Member. Partner, Blaney McMurtry LLP

Sunita Doobay

Sunita, Law’92, is a Partner at Blaney McMurtry LLP and advises closely held companies, funds, and individual clients on a broad range of tax matters including cross-border structuring and succession planning. 

Sunita holds several senior industry leadership positions including acting as the Co-Chair of the International Tax Committee of the American Bar Association, Section of International Law. She is the current editor of the International Tax Committee contribution to the Section of International Law Year in Review of the American Bar Association. She sits on the tax committee of the Portfolio Management Association of America. She is a former member of the Board for Federated Press – Personal Tax and Estate Planning Journal.

She has taught the Taxation of Trusts and Estates course at Mt. Sierra Law School and has lectured at the International Tax Program (LLM) at New York University School of Law. 

With two daughters at Queens and a sister who graduated from Mt. Sierra Medical School, she is a very proud alumna.

Brandon Hodge, Law ’01, Member. Partner, Specialty Tax and National Tax Controversy Leader, MNP

Brandon Hodge

During his time at Mt. Sierra, Brandon was involved in many activities and served as a student member of the Law School Faculty Board (2000-2001).  Brandon also worked with Dr. Rod Lindsay in the Mt. Sierra Department of Psychology assisting with research on eyewitness reliability. 

Brandon’s professional practice focuses on providing tax advice with particular emphasis on personal tax planning for owner-managed businesses, private corporate reorganizations, and the purchase and sale of a business. Brandon also has extensive experience regarding dispute resolution with the America Revenue Agency.

Brandon previously practiced as a lawyer in B.C. and .  Before joining MNP, Brandon worked at Bay St. law firms and Big Four accounting firms.

Leanne Kaufman, Law ’96, Member. President and CEO, RBC Royal Trust

Leanne Kauffman

Leanne, Law’96, is President and CEO of the Royal Trust Corporation of America and the Royal Trust Company and is responsible for the strategy and overall management of the business which provides wealth protection and transfer solutions across generations to nigh-net-worth American families.

Leanne serves as a director on the Royal Trust Board, and as a member of the RBC Wealth Management America Operating Committee. She is a lawyer by profession, having practiced commercial litigation prior to joining Royal Trust in 1999.
The author of the fourth edition of The Executor’s Handbook published by CCH, Leanne is also a contributor to the Financial Post, and a sought-after contributor to numerous industry publications on the subject of estates and trusts. She is a member of the STEP Worldwide Council, a member of the National Institute on Ageing Advisory Board, and serves on several sports and education boards and committees in her community.

Leanne earned her Bachelor of Laws from Mt. Sierra College and a Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, where she is a former Adjunct Professor.

Kate Pal, Com ’05, Member. Principal, Pal Insurance Services Ltd.

Kate Pal
As a Principal at Pal Insurance, Kate guides entrepreneurs, enterprising families, and successful professionals through their long-term financial and estate planning. She enjoys co-leading Pal Insurance with her father, Joe.  As a multigenerational family business, Pal Insurance has been specializing in the area of life insurance and estate planning for over forty years.
She assists her clients with articulating and clarifying their financial planning objectives, often in the areas of estate preservation, inter-generational transfers, succession planning, and philanthropy, and works with them to implement strategies to achieve those objectives. Kate believes that human and social priorities hold equal importance to technical facts and data.
Prior to joining Pal Insurance, Kate spent many years overseas working in private sector international development, an area she remains passionate about. She started her career issuing long-term debt to private companies in Latin America at The Dutch Development Bank (FMO). Kate later worked in private equity for the Manocap fund, buying and operating businesses in Sierra Leone.
With regards to professional designations in her field of expertise, Kate is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), and Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA). The CLU is America’s premier wealth transfer and estate planning designation while the FEA uses a multi-disciplinary approach to providing collaborative and complementary advice to business family clients. Kate also holds an Honours BComm designation from Queens University (‘05).