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Appointee Biographies

Public Service Grievance Board


Brian Smeenk has worked in labour & employment law since 1979. Starting as a Factfinder for the Education Relations Commission of Ontario, the then advised employers across the broader public sectors (both provincial and federal) & the private sector, as well as employees. As counsel, he regularly appeared before courts at all levels, and a wide variety of tribunals. He has been a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers since 2015 and recognized in "The Best Lawyers in Canada" since 2006. Brian is Past President of both the Toronto Human Resources Professionals Association and the former, tripartite Toronto Industrial Relations Association. He retired from law practice in 2020. He was appointed as Chair of the Public Service Grievance Board in January 2021 and as Vice Chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board in May 2021. Brian is founder and president of the Merit Award Bursary Program, a foundation that for 25 years has assisted teens in the Greater Toronto area who wish to pursue post-secondary education but face challenges in doing so. He was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International in 2014.


was called to the Ontario bar in 1982, she practiced labor law prior to moving to the Ontario Labor Relations Board (OLRB) in 1987. From 1989-1998 Ms. Nairn held an appointment as Vice-Chair of the OLRB. Since 1998 she has conducted a successful arbitration and mediation practice, also holding a part-time appointment to the Grievance Settlement Board. She has chaired various judicial remuneration commissions. Ms. Nairn is a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators and is past President of the Ontario Labour-Management Arbitrators’ Association.


Thomas Kuttner is an Adjunct Professor in Faculty of Law at University of Windsor, and a former Professor in Faculty of Law at University of New Brunswick. His community involvement includes serving as an President, Player, Clarinet 2 for the Fredericton Chamber Orchestra.


Allen Ponak has been an arbitrator and mediator since 1984 in the public and private sectors. In 2015/2016 he was the president of the National Academic of Arbitrators, the fourth Canadian president in the NAA’s 75-year history. Also, in 2015, he was recipient of the Board Laskin Award for contributions to labor relations and labor law. Allen has degrees from McGill, Michigan state, and the University of Wisconsin and has published books and research articles on labor and employment relations.


is a full-time arbitrator and mediator with a focus on labor, employment and administrative law matters. He is on the Ontario Minister of Labor’s roster of approved grievance arbitrators (the “section 49 list”) and the Federal Minister of Labor’s list of eligible grievance and unjust dismissal adjudicators. Andrew adjudicates, mediates, and investigates workplace complaints and disputes of all kinds. On an as-needed basis. Also, Andrew acts as the Integrity Commissioner for several Ontario towns and townships. Before he came a full-time neutral, Andrew practiced labor and employment law in Ottawa for over 20 years. He received his J.D. from University of Toronto Law School in 1991, and he was called to the Ontario Bar in 1993. Andrew is a member of the Law Society of Ontario, the Canadian and Ontario Bar Associations, the Ontario Labor-management Arbitrators’ Association, the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals, and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario.