Meet O’Brien Farm Board of Directors
The OBF Board of Directors is comprised of individuals from the community with diverse experience and skills.
Sharon, a cancer nurse in her working life, is now retired from that rewarding career and taking on volunteer activities. Her graduate program in nursing helped her to understand and be sensitive to issues of marginalization, and the relationship of policy to practice. She is Chair of the O’Brien Farm Foundation, and sits as the family representative on the Pippy Park Commission, and member-at-large on the St. John’s Women’s International Film Festival Board. She is interested in food security, travel, community development and history. Having raised two fine children she finds her free time full of all things O’Brien, establishing an arts residency at her family’s historic general store, and previewing films.
Jerry Dick, Vice-chair, is former Director of Heritage with the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and is currently Executive Director of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador where he supports the preservation of the province’s built heritage. Raised on a farm in Southern Ontario, he has a great love of gardening and food in all its aspects. His focus has been on the restoration of Thimble Cottage Garden and grounds and he chairs the Infrastructure Committee.
Hazen Scarth, Secretary, worked with the Department responsible for Agriculture for most of his career with major responsibilities for agricultural land management and environmental programming. His focus for the O’Brien property is land renovation, trail development, landscaping around Thimble Cottage and Christmas Tree production. Hazen chairs the Farm Stewardship Committee.
John Barry, P. Eng., was formerly Senior Project Engineer with the City of St. John’s and a winner of the Southcott Award for the restoration of St. Bonaventure’s College Oratory using volunteer labour. He is a member of the Infrastructure Committee and is interested in the restoration of historical properties for modern day use.
CPA, CA, Treasurer
Adam is a Senior Tax Manager with Grant Thornton LLP where he is responsible for income tax matters for clients of the firm’s Newfoundland offices, particularly small and mid-sized businesses. In addition to serving as the Treasurer of the O’Brien Farm Foundation Inc., Adam volunteers with organizations like Samaritan’s Purse and the Salvation Army. He grew up on Cumberland Crescent, next to the O’Brien Farm and continues to reside in St. John’s with his wife and five children.
Ian Froude lives in St. John’s with his wife Stephanie, son Simon, and their two dogs Desmond and Riley. He is: the owner of a small business, the Bite-sized Farm; A civil engineer and past board member of Engineers Without Borders Canada; a former Executive Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources; and the Founder and Executive Director of the St. John’s Tool Library.
Ralph Jarvis has broad experience in environmental education, heritage communication and tourism product development with an established capability in planning natural and cultural history attractions, exhibits and programs. His background also includes management, planning, policy development, skills training and administration including financial operations and human resources. Raised on a farm on the Burin Peninsula, he is an avid gardener and formerly operated his own garden nursery.
Mary Olivia (Maura) Mannion. When she arrived with husband John (both natives of Ireland) in St. John’s in September 1967 from Ireland (he was researching Irish immigration for his Ph. D. at the University of Toronto) they were quickly advised that he should talk to Aloysius O’Brien. In January 1968, they finally met the three O’Brien brothers, an event that changed the course of their lives. Moving back to live here in 1969, they purchased a cottage across the road from O’Brien’s, built a new house on the site and have lived beside the O’Brien Farm ever since. After Aly’s death in 2008 they served as joint executors, ensuring that his wishes to preserve the farm as a green space were realized. As a member of the board Maura continues to work toward the realization of Aly’s dream.
Shannie Duff was first elected to the city of St. John’s council in 1977. She has served as mayor, deputy mayor. She has also served as a member of the Newfoundland House of Assembly for the district of St. John’s East. Throughout her political career Shannie has been a champion of good urban planning, affordable housing, downtown revitalization, heritage conservation. In addition to her municipal career, Shannie has extensive involvement as a volunteer with many local, provincial and national community organizations including as founding chair of the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. She has received many awards in recognition of her lifelong contributions as a volunteer and in 2003 was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada.
Alice Furlong, with her combined interest in education, gardening and history along with the additional experience of restoring and rehabilitating two older houses, made the O’Brien Farm restoration project a compelling one for her.
She believes that the O’Brien farm holds tremendous potential for unique and valuable educational experiences with historical and cultural linkages. She serves as Chair of the Interpretation Committee and enjoys working with people who are very committed to the vision for the Farm.