Robert Opara, President
Robert is a world explorer with an interest in economics and geopolitics. His parents emigrated to Canada from Poland, and Robert is a first-generation Canadian. While backpacking through Europe, he met his amazing wife Joanna, and they welcomed baby Alexandra into their lives in 2019. Robert finished both his BComm and MBA at the U of A School of Business, and he works as a Manager with CIBC’s Public Sector and Not-for-Profit team. He deeply believes in the mission and vision of the Heritage Festival Association and feels privileged to be part of this amazing celebration of our cultural diversity.
Must-try Festival dish: mango sticky rice from the Thailand pavilion, hibiscus tea from the Egypt pavilion, and any type of grilled meat on a stick!
Robert Rohatyn, Vice President
Born in Edmonton and raised in northern Alberta,Robert has been actively involved with the Edmonton Heritage Festival Association for the past 6 years. As a grandchild of Ukrainian immigrants, the importance of culture was instilled in him from a young age through food, dance and music.
He is proud to be a part of a world-class festival that helps to preserve intangible cultural heritage and celebrates multiculturalism. Every August the Heritage Festival gives us the opportunity to connect with our home.
"I encourage everyone to attend. You will never feel more alive!"
Must try festival dish – Riskrem from Scandinavia, Spicy Chicken from Liberia
Immediate Past President
Narmin is a seasoned communications professional with more than 20 years of experience in the public sector. Her areas of expertise include strategic communications, issues management, project management, event planning, and marketing. As the first Canadian-born child of Ugandan refugees, social justice, lifelong learning, and volunteerism are major driving forces in Narmin’s life. In addition to serving on the EHFA board, Narmin also volunteers with the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton, the Ismaili Council for Edmonton, and supports the World Partnership Walk, an annual event that raises money for and awareness about global development. Narmin is one of Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40, holds an MBA and BA from the U of A, as well as various diplomas and certificates from other Edmonton post-secondary institutions. Narmin loves Edmonton, and as someone who spent several summers volunteering for local festivals, thinks “festival city” is a spot-on description. During her tenure as president, Narmin has had many great memories of the Edmonton Heritage Festival including honoring Horst Schmid and hosting Lt. Governor Lois Mitchell in 2019. One of her favorite early memories of the festival is dancing on stage during her teens.
Must-try Festival dish: Too many to pick just one! Hibiscus tea (Egypt), poffertjes (Netherlands), mango sticky rice (Thailand), and hoeori gamja (Korea).
Evonne Li, Secretary
Evonne is a Human Resources professional and in-house Immigration Consultant for PCL Construction, overseeing the company’s immigration program for Canada, the US, and Australia. She holds a Bachelors of Arts from the University of Alberta with a major in Chinese language and literature, a certificate in Immigration Consulting from Humber College, and a Culinary Arts diploma from NAIT. Evonne is fortunate to be able to combine her two passions, multiculturalism and food, into every aspect of her personal and professional life. She is a hospitality enthusiast at heart and has over 20 years of experience in every imaginable position from busser to the bartender to restaurant owner. Prior to joining EHFA Evonne was a proud attendee of the festival, enjoying the sights, entertainment, and of course food, for the past decade. She never passes up an opportunity to eat and to try new dishes.
Must-try Festival dish: Beef crepes from Russia. They’re so light and delicious you could, and should, eat 3 of them!
Executive Member At Large
Sherilyn is a humanitarian, world explorer, and news junkie. Always curious, she is a lover of music, good food, and dance…but not always in that order. Sherilyn works in international relations at the University of Alberta, promoting education abroad programs and welcoming international students in the Faculty of Arts. She completed her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Alberta and Tec de Monterrey in 2006. She has a passion for multiculturalism, social justice, and community service and has extensive volunteer experience with the Canadian Red Cross Disaster Management team, AIESEC Edmonton and as the co-founder for ACT Alberta: the Action Coalition on Human Trafficking. Along with her husband, Sherilyn is an exhausted parent of two active toddlers. As a proud Edmontonian, Sherilyn feels privileged to be on the Board of the best festival in Edmonton and has many fond memories of attending and volunteering throughout the years in rain or sun.
Must-try Festival dish: Cheese empanadas from Chile
John Mikhail, Treasurer
John is an accountant at heart with an auditor’s mind. He’s been a CPA since 2011 and completed his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Alberta in 2016. He works for ATB Financial as an internal auditor and also volunteers at St. Mary and St. Mark Coptic Church in Edmonton. His favorite memory of the Edmonton Heritage Festival (EHF) was seeing his face on the cover of the official EHF guide, due to his experience dressing as Pharaoh (representing the Egyptian pavilion). He has a passion for the city of Edmonton, the Oilers, and loves seeing growth for the city he is from.
Must-try Festival dish: Hibiscus tea from the Egypt pavilion and Empanadas from the Peru pavilion...omg I wait for these yearly
Pearl is a Financial Regulatory Compliance Specialist with Canadian Western Bank for over 16 years. Originally from Nova Scotia, Pearl was raised in Alberta and has been a patron and volunteer of the Edmonton Heritage Festival for over 30 years. Always with her next trip planned, Pearl is a world explorer and loves seeing the world. With the Festival, she doesn’t have to leave Edmonton to do so! Pearl has fond memories of bringing her children to the Festival for an annual family-friendly weekend and exploring the diverse entertainment and endless food options. Pearl has inspired other long-term volunteers of the festival, including her daughter Cherise and friend Val.
Must-try Festival dish: Japanese Chicken Karaage and Croatian Lamb
Marta L. Gomez
Marta is an Executive Director at The King’s University Foundation with 18 years of experience in strategic partnerships. She holds a Masters of Business Administration for Executives, a diploma in trade and project management, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and a certificate in Globalization and Global Governance. She has dedicated a decade to the economic development of Alberta and considers the relationships developed with her husband, son, and Beagle, as the most strategic partnerships and accomplishments of her life. Marta is passionate about education, philanthropy, stakeholder satisfaction, international affairs, spirituality, trade, and economic opportunity identification, politics, and recreation. Involvement with Hope Mission, Mustard Seed, Bissell Centre, and Edmonton Heritage Festival as a volunteer and financial donor has been a source of fulfillment for Marta. Her favorite memory of the Festival was being the volunteer judge of the cultural displays at the 2018 Festival. In her words, “It was enlightening to give back to a festival that brings me so much joy AND to experience the pavilions on a deeper level.”
Must-try Festival dish: Chilean Cheese Empanadas and Colombian Fried Plantains are a must.
Daniel Hernandez Armada
Daniel hails from the beautiful colonial town of Querétaro in Mexico. He made Edmonton his home in 2011when he came to the University of Alberta to do Graduate studies in the Department of Chemistry. Upon completion of his degree, Daniel stayed at the U of A as the laboratory manager of the Core Services Laboratory of the Canadian Glycomics Network, where he does contract research work. When not working, Daniel loves spending time in Edmonton's River Valley either jogging, biking, hiking, or having a bbq. He can also be spotted at some of the local restaurants scattered around the city trying the great food options the city has to offer. Daniel is in his 4th year as a Board Member of the Edmonton Heritage Festival Association and in his 5th year volunteering with it.
Must-try Festival dish: 1) Riskrem (rice pudding with raspberry sauce) from the Scandinavian pavilion, and 2) anticuchos (delightfully spiced beef heart) from Peru.
Bruce Hogle is a born and raised Edmontonian who loves to explore the world. He has strong ties to the community with some of his spare time, he sits on other boards and volunteers. The Edmonton Heritage Festival has always been one of his favorite festivals as it celebrates Canada’s multiculturalism and helps bring communities together. For Bruce, this festival also allows him to celebrate his Vietnamese culture with other Edmontonians. For him, this is important as it helps share his mother’s culture as she had to escape from the communist regime in Vietnam.
Bruce is a passionate business leader in Edmonton who inspires people to do great things and give back to their communities. As a leader who is always working on developing his skills, he has completed his Master of Business Administration through the University of Alberta and is constantly learning something new.
Must-try festival dish: Poffertjes from the Dutch pavilion or Jagnjece Pecenje (lamb) from
Preetam worked for the City of Edmonton as an operator, retiring in 2014. He served as president for numerous charitable and nonprofit organizations, including the Hindu Society of Alberta, the Alberta Hindi Association, the Shanti Niketan, the Society for Seniors and Semi-Retired, and The Council of India Societies of Edmonton. He also served in many other organizations as a Director or Executive. I received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for my years of volunteering in 2012. Before joining the EHFA board, I was India’s pavilion chair for over ten years. Preetam’s has many favorite memories of the festival, but clearly remembers the year when India won the best entertainment award.
Must-try Festival dish: Samosas, pakoras and elephant ears
Prathavan (Pro) Venkatraman, Past President
Pro joined the Edmonton Heritage Festival Association Board of Directors after 30 years of nearly continuous annual attendances as a patron, eventually enjoying his role as the President of the Festival during and including the Festival’s 40th-anniversary celebrations.
Pro was an immigrant to Canada, and has now fully adopted and immersed himself as a Canadian, while retaining roots and culture with his country of birth. In addition to his continuing roles with the Heritage Festival and other volunteer associations and groups in the City of Edmonton, he keeps busy in private practice as a Lawyer.
Beyond the amazing entertainment and interactive displays of the Festival, Pro highly recommends the Mango on a Stick from the Guatemalan pavilion. Simple, refreshing, and utterly delicious. It remains a favourite for Pro and his family on any of the hot summer "Heritage Days" while enjoying the myriad of sounds and entertainment from the pavilions of the festival.
Must-try Festival dish: Mango on a Stick (Guatemala)
Sally was engaged in the export business before she immigrated to Canada. She was a dedicated member at various chapters for Toastmasters International for 29 years and achieved Distinguished Toastmasters in 2007. In 2011, she attended her first Heritage Festival and discovered the Taiwan Pavilion, and made many new friends. In 2013, Sally became the President of the Edmonton Taiwanese Association (ETA) and went on to chair the Taiwan Pavilion during the Heritage Festival for two years. After finishing her position as the President of ETA, she joined the Festival Committee of EHFA to continue volunteering for cultural activities.
Sally is proud to be a Board Member of this outstanding organization that brings people together to showcase and celebrate multiculturalism.
Must-try Festival dish: Taiwanese bubble tea, rice noodles