From the ice to the boardroom, Curling Canada's new CEO has traveled a different path than any of his predecessors.
Three-time Brier champion Nolan Theissen was selected to the federation's No. 1 spot after a comprehensive search conducted by an outside agency as well as the Curling Canada Board of Governors. He replaces Katherine Henderson, who left in August to take over as CEO and president of Hockey Canada.
“I am truly humbled by this opportunity, and I know it comes with a great deal of responsibility, but I have a great team around me that is well-positioned to continue to move our sport forward and build on what Kathryn has done during the season,” Thiessen, 43, said in a press release. Her time at Curling Canada.”
“Our sport has many ways forward and we look forward to reaching new communities and making our sporting events and tournaments more inclusive and welcoming. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for curling in this country.”
Thiessen has been with Curling Canada since 2016 and has been part of the senior management team for the past four years. His most recent role was Executive Director of Marketing and Fan Experience.
He will be tasked with overseeing a federation that is trying, among other things, to improve Canada's performance at the international level, having fallen from its once-dominant position.
Canadian men have won the world championships just twice in the past decade, while women have captured two titles since 2009. At the last Olympics, Canadian curlers only managed a bronze medal in men's play while the women's mixed doubles event was shut out.
Additionally, Thiessen will lead a team that hopes to grow the game at a grassroots level and help curling clubs improve their business models and attract new players.
Thiessen, a native of Pilot Mound, Manchester, won the Brier in 2010, 2014 and 2015. He added a world championship title in 2010.
He retired as a competitive curler after the 2015-16 season and took over the duties of Curling Canada's sports communications officer in 2016 and also served as a consultant. He was officially appointed two years later.
Thiessen has also been active internationally, serving on the World Curling Federation's Athletes Committee for more than five years (and chairing the committee for three of those years), then moving to the World Curling Federation's Competition and Rules Committee a year ago.
Outside of curling, Thiessen, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba, is a member of the Chartered Accountants of Canada and holds the designations of a CPA and CA. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Sports Tourism Authority
“We said at the beginning of this process that we were not going to leave any stone unturned, that we were going to take the time to make sure we did it right, and I firmly believe we did that with Nolan Theisen,” said Michael Szajewski, president of curling. Board of Governors of Canada, in a statement.
“He has been instrumental in helping our organization move forward over the past few years, and his vision aligns perfectly with the Board on what needs to happen to continue this forward progress.”
Thiessen takes over his duties as full-time CEO this week, succeeding interim CEO Danny Lamoureux, who will resume his retirement plans that were postponed to help Curling Canada transition following Henderson's departure.
“Danny has been and will continue to be a source of wisdom and we could not be more grateful for his efforts over the past few months as we began our search,” Szajewski said.