Board Profile


Governs the regulation of Ontario's nursing profession in the public interest. 

  • sets strategic direction, monitors adherence
  • incorporates public perspectives in decision-making
  • establishes and monitors governance processes
  • ensures compliance with legislated mandate
  • ensures financial health of the College
  • sets regulatory policy
  • establishes by-laws and standards
  • approves regulatory proposals to government
  • appoints Statutory Committee Chair and members
  • appoints Standing Committee Chair and members
  • establishes terms of references for Standing Committees
  • appoints the Registrar and CEO
  • reports annually to the Minister of Health

The following is a description of the optimal Board of Directors of the College of Nurses of Ontario (the College).​​​ This profile is aspirational, describing an ideal future and reflecting the collective membership of the Board. 

The College’s Board will be made up of 12 leaders who are committed to the College’s mandate in both word and action. This group of six nursing members and six public members will collectively bring an industry knowledge and experience mix gained from working in nursing, the health system, community leadership, the regulatory environment and business. Among the nursing members, there will be at least one RN, one RPN and one NP. 

Together, these effective communicators will have depth in protecting and acting in the public interest, evidence-based decision-making, stakeholder relations, relevant leadership and strategic planning. 

The Board members’ work will be supported by their collective, comprehensive knowledge of: nursing practice; patient rights; cross-cultural work with marginalized or vulnerable client groups; financial literacy and expertise; the post-secondary education system as it relates to the College's mandate; and human resources leadership. 

These adaptable, forthright, independent and inclusive directors will exhibit the Board’s governance principles as they act in the public’s best interests. They will share a commitment to equity, diversity, social justice, social responsibility and servant leadership. Together they will speak with one voice, unified and solidly standing behind their joint decisions. 

They are emotionally mature, collaborative in approach, constructive in tone and respectful to each other, the management team, employees, members and other stakeholders. 

Always willing to listen, learn and develop, they exercise professional judgement to the public’s benefit. They proactively solve problems and make astute, strategic evidence-informed decisions based on well-understood trends and proven benchmarks and best practices. 

These Board members can conceptualize on a systems level and are able to communicate this understanding to others clearly, concisely and accurately—both orally and in writing. 

Prior board experience will be helpful for conducting the work of the Board. 

The Board is individually and collectively committed to regulating in the public interest in accordance with the following principles: 

  • We make decisions in the public interest.
  • We are responsible for our actions and processes.
  • We meet our legal and fiduciary duties as directors.
  • We anticipate and respond to changing expectations and emerging trends.
  • We address emerging risks and opportunities.
  • We anticipate and embrace opportunities for regulatory and governance innovation.
  • We make evidence-informed decisions.
  • We seek external expertise where needed.
  • We evaluate our individual and collective knowledge and skills in order to continuously improve our governance performance.
  • Our decisions reflect diverse knowledge, perspectives, experiences and needs.
  • We seek varied stakeholder input to inform our decisions.
  • Our decisions address public interest as our paramount responsibility.
  • Our decisions are free of bias and special interest perspectives.


  • We participate actively and honestly in decision making through respectful dialogue.
  • We foster a culture in which we say and do the right thing.
  • We build trust by acting ethically and following our governance principles.
  • Our processes, decisions and the rationale for our decisions are accessible to the public.
  • We communicate in a way that allows the public to evaluate the effectiveness of our governance.


There are four dimensions of competencies and attributes:

  1. career knowledge and experience
  2. functional skills
  3. affinity attributes
  4. character attributes

I. Career Knowledge and Experience Competencies (Where have you been?)

Professional nursing experience (RN, RPN or NP)

Has experience in, and understanding of, nursing practice and conduct, especially related to public concerns, standards of practice and client safety.2

Regulatory experience

Has experience in the oversight of self-regulated professions, and the ability to understand and oversee regulations and standards setting and certification. Should have awareness/knowledge of the regulatory climate and evolving regulatory issues, regulated industries and their oversight regimes. May be, but not necessarily, a lawyer.

Patient rights

Is well versed in matters related to patient rights, including but not limited to the abuse of patients and boundary violations.

Cross-cultural experience

Has credibility based on experience working with diverse teams and marginalized or vulnerable client groups, e.g. working cross-culturally, internationally, experience with social, humanitarian, anti-oppression and LGBTQ- positive principles, sensitivity and knowledge dealing with victims, boundary issues, sexual abuse.

Broad health sector leadership

Has experience in a senior leadership position in a health care administrative setting.

Financial/accounting expertise

Has experience preparing, auditing, analyzing or evaluating financial statements. Has a strong understanding of generally accepted accounting principles and financial statements and their application. May have accounting credentials (e.g. CPA).

Education system

Understands the post-secondary educational system and its relationship to the College.

Information technology

Is familiar with the use of technology for working on Board or committee matters and operations.

Human resources leadership

Has experience as a human resource professional with a strong understanding of occupational health and safety, organizational structure and human resources oversight, including: compensation, recruiting, assessing and succession planning. Is well versed in assessing the competence and character of individuals based on a set of specific requirements.

1 The College’s future governance model calls for six nurses, including at least one RN, one RPN and one NP to serve on the Board.


II. Functional Skills Competencies (What do you know?)

Public interest

Has experience and understanding protecting and acting in the public interest.

Evidence-based decision-making

Demonstrates ability and advanced skills in locating, critically appraising, interpreting, synthesizing, weighing, evaluating and using evidence from qualitative and quantitative paradigms.


Is a proven decision-maker using different decision-making methods beyond evidence-based

Stakeholder relations

Demonstrates understanding and ability to provide effective oversight of engagement and communications with the public, government and other key stakeholders.


Demonstrates skills and ability to lead others to solve problems, adapt and manage change, innovate and achieve results.

Strategic planning

Demonstrates the ability to think strategically and has experience participating in, or leading, an organization in planning for its future, such as: conducting S.W.O.T. analysis, environmental scans, strategy design, planning, implementation and evaluation.

Risk management/oversight

Demonstrates a proactive, continuous and systemic approach to identifying, understanding and communicating hazard, operational, financial and strategic risks from an integrated oversight perspective.

Governance and boards

Has a strong familiarity and understanding of governance roles and responsibilities, current governance policy, issues and trends gained through prior board or committee experience in an organization of similar size, scope and complexity as the College, and/or governance education,  such as ICD.D (Institute of Corporate Directors), Pro.Dir. (Professional Director), C.Dir (Director's College).

Quality management/ oversight

Demonstrates skills related to relationship management, engagement, socialization of ideas, consultation and negotiation.

Change management

Has a functional understanding of systems, as well as some understanding of quality frameworks and how they support client safety and quality care.

Financial literacy

Is able to read and understand financial statements, preferably for organizations of similar size, scope and complexity of the College.

Chairing boards and/or committees

Has served as Chair and/or Committee Chair on at least one other board of an organization of comparable size and complexity.

Business and commerce

Understands modern, general business with a high degree of technological sophistication.

III. Affinity Attributes (What informs your thinking, your perspective?)2


  • Patient safety and broader social needs and safety
  • Gender diversity
  • Urban-rural diversity
  • Cultural/heritage diversity (including Francophone, Indigenous; seeking demonstrated commitment to equity and anti-racial bias)
  • Geographic diversity across Ontario
  • Age diversity
  • Diverse patient population needs (e.g. geriatric, paediatric, mental health, care settings)
2None of the affinity attributes were developed or validated with descriptors.


IV. Character Attributes3 (Who are you?)


Able to communicate clearly, concisely and accurately, orally and in writing.


Able to build relationships, being constructive and helpful.

Emotionally mature

Able to understand and skillfully manage emotions, especially when faced with conflict and confrontation; be self-aware and professional.


Able to meet the expectations set out in the Conduct by-law, with an unquestioned level of ethical integrity.


Able to put others’ interests first (servant leadership); has a passion for the public interest, commitment and drive.


Able to create a place for everyone’s voice; understands the concept of equity; is aware of and respects diversity such as social and cultural differences; is empathetic.


Able to think independently, while knowing when and how to consult others.


Able to apply learning to the public interest; demonstrates a willingness to learn and develop.


Able to listen and question to achieve understanding; is an effective and active listener.


Able to think proactively and to anticipate.


Able to move beyond the details to envision the grander future; is a strategic thinker.


Able to adapt easily and quickly to changing evidence and environments; demonstrates cognitive flexibility.


Able to present an unpopular or controversial position in the face of opposition or opposing views.

Professional judgement

Able to think critically.


Able to apply their knowledge in the context of Board-level decision-making and leadership.

Problem solver

Able to evaluate complex issues and to make effective decisions (find solutions).


Able to encourage divergent thinking and dissent from others, and to build consensus; stands behind the collective decisions of the Board in unity.

Systems-level thinker

Able to conceptualize on a systems level and communicate this understanding to others.

3These character attributes were developed from Governance Solutions’ meta-research, supplemented and customized with the Ontario Government Regulatory and Adjudicative Agencies’ core competencies. These are available at: These competencies are not mandated for regulatory colleges, but they are a helpful and relevant source. In general, all Board and committee members should possess these core character attributes.
Page last reviewed October 16, 2018