2018-2019 Board

Chair/Past Chair: Margaret Riffell, Retiree

Treasurer:  Maria Nuyda, Red River College

Secretary:  Colin Russell, University of Winnipeg

Membership Chair: Gary McNeely, Brandon University

Administrative Assistant:  Kristi Dorian, Red River College

Members at Large: Stacey Thorarinson and Hannah Gifford, Red River College

Promotions Chair:  All Board Members

Program Planning Chair:  All Board Members



Chair/Past Chair:  Margaret Riffell, Retiree

Margaret has been involved in RPL since the 1980s. Projects include:

The integration of RPL in educational programs. Using a superior level expertise in PLAR concepts, Margaret completed the following RPL tasks:

  • Consulting with stakeholders and steering committees to establish PLAR framework including goals and timelines for PLAR integration
  • Demonstrating strong leadership qualities to train and motivate a cohesive PLAR working team
  • Collaborating with management to develop PLAR procedures within PLAR policy framework
  • Collaborating with faculty to develop for programs: Program Learning Outcomes, PLAR performance indicators for each outcome, PLAR standards, PLAR criteria, and flexible assessments
  • Planning, designing, and managing PLAR project processes and activities within defined timelines
  • Designing, developing and implementing PLAR documentation such as Candidate and Assessor manuals, Prior Learning Self-Assessment and Portfolio Development Workbooks
  • Developing and delivering training workshops for PLAR assessors and advisors
  • Advising PLAR candidates on developing portfolios
  • Supporting and motivating PLAR candidates throughout PLAR process
  • Working with program coordinator to determine cost and flexible offering for gap training


Research on PLAR/RPL in Canada. Combining research methods and techniques and in-depth knowledge of PLAR, Margaret completed tasks such as:

  • Writing proposal for CAPLA (Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment) research funding
  • Designing and developing research questionnaire on major aspects of PLAR to determine the extent to which organizations in Canada have implemented PLAR
  • Collaborating with experts to face validate and pilot test questionnaire to establish validity and eliminate ambiguity and bias
  • Collecting, clarifying, and analyzing PLAR data
  • Striking and working with steering committees to keep research activities on target
  • Establishing focus group of experts in the field and conducting focus group session to create foundation RPL Principles on which to build holistic RPL Systems
  • Collaborating and working with Canadian educational institutions, professional bodies, accreditation and licensing bodies and immigrant serving agencies regarding their RPL Systems
  • Using RPL Principles to evaluate Canadian RPL Systems for foreign-trained individuals
  • Submitting progress reports and documenting final results in formal report format
  • Presenting PLAR/ RPL research at national and international conferences

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Secretary: Colin Russell, University of Winnipeg

Colin Russell is the Registrar at The University of Winnipeg, and has been involved in the University’s PLAR initiatives since their inception.  He was a member of the committee that produced a report in 2005 on the assessment of UW as an Adult Learner Friendly Institution (ALFI), and hired the Coordinator of Adult Learner Services and PLAR when he was Director of Academic Advising and Special Needs.  Colin has been engaged in the implementation and administration of UW’s Adult Learner and PLAR-related initiatives, including the CIM to BA (later BBA) program with Boeing, Standard Aero, and Manitoba Hydro; establishment of an evening adult learner advisor position through funding from the Province; and establishment of Military PLAR for veterans and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces.  Colin served for two years on the PEARL (Pursuit of Excellence in the Assessment and Recognition of Learning) Awards committee of MPLAN, and has been a member of MPLAN for a number of years.



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Treasurer:  Maria Nuyda, Red River College

Maria Nuyda has been in the education sector for over 25 years in a diverse and multicultural setting. Her experience in curriculum development, teacher mentorship and training, instructional design, standardization and quality assurance in education is what she brings to Red River College’s Program and Curriculum Development (PCD) team. She believes that the kaizen (or continuous improvement) spirit defines a progressive and innovative institution.

Maria holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and graduate degrees in Educational Management and Information Technology in Education.

Her other commitments include being a core member of the Friends of Filipino Immigrants in Manitoba and a volunteer English Conversation facilitator at the Immigrant Centre.


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Member at Large:  Hannah McKinnon, Red River College

Hannah Gifford has served on the MPLAN Board for two years as a member-at-large and this year, she is serving as Secretary. She has worked in Admissions at Red River College for almost ten years and currently holds the position of International Credential Assessor and Transfer Credit Officer.

Recognition of prior learning, in all its various forms, plays an important role in the work that she does to support student success. 

Hannah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Winnipeg (2006) and has had training in international credential assessment and RPL concepts and practices.



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Membership Chair: Gary McNeely, Brandon University

Gary McNeely was instrumental in the drafting and implementation of Brandon University’s PLAR Policy and Procedures in 2000. Since 2008, he has served as PLAR Coordinator with the expressed goal of expanding RPL services in academic departments across campus. One project developed in coordination with the Admissions Office included enhancing assessment procedures for recognizing prior learning attained by Canadian Forces personnel. As an instructor in the Faculty of Arts, he has embraced a competency-based pedagogy in his courses that span various departments including English, Fine Arts, and Philosophy.

Most recently, Gary has been very active in applying RPL principles in the board area of rural policy and rural community development as a researcher for the Rural Development Institute (RDI) at Brandon University. He is working with RDI Director, Dr. Bill Ashton, to develop a Graduate Diploma in Rural Policy designed for graduate students and policy practitioners, incorporating at its core a competency- and experiential-based educational model with provisions for RPL. Gary has also been involved in developing bridging services for foreign trained workers / immigrants who have settled in rural regions of Manitoba, yet have experienced challenges in having their credentials and prior learning recognized.

He has been a member of MPLAN and CAPLA since 2000. He has acted as Membership Coordinator on MPLAN Board from 2009 to the present and has served on the CAPLA Board of Directors for a two-year term from 2002 to2004, first as Member-at-Large and then as Secretary. He has assisted in the revision of both organizations’ Bylaws, once for MPLAN and twice for CAPLA.

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Administrative Assistant:  Kristi Dorian, Red River College

Kristi Dorian brings her entrepreneurial spirit, diverse work expertise and passion for connecting with people to her role as administrative assistant for MPLAN. Kristi monitors and maintains the MPLAN website, email address and Mailchimp account and a variety of other duties as directed by the board of directors.

Kristi currently works full time at Red River College as an administrative assistant - part time in the Recognition of Prior Learning department and part time in the Program and Curriculum Development department.

Kristi also publishes a long-standing community newspaper and manages its’ vibrant website and online community – Enlighten Up with The Aquarian. In this role, she manages editors, writers and volunteers; oversees all day-to-day operations and systems; as well as graphically designs advertisers’ promotional material and the publication itself. Kristi’s dedication to quality, diversity, education and professionalism are assets to the MPLAN team.

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