Jenn Thornhill Verma is an investigative journalist, landscape painter and filmmaker from Newfoundland and Labrador, living in Ottawa. She is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and works as the Executive Lead for the secretariat of the Global Commission on Evidence to Address Societal Challenges, which is based at the McMaster Health Forum at McMaster University. Jenn holds a Master of Science in Medicine (Memorial University of Newfoundland), a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction and Bachelor of Journalism-Biology (University of King’s College). She serves in several governance roles, as board members of Nourish, Bruyère Continuing Care and an officer of the University of King’s College Alumni Association Executive.
Jenn’s journalism and writing appears in such publications as The Globe and Mail, The Narwhal, Canadian Geographic, Reader’s Digest, Downhome magazine, Inside Labrador magazine and The Independent (NL). She is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, the Canadian Association of Journalists and Science Writers and Communicators of Canada. For three years running (2019-2021), Jenn was a silver finalist for Best Profile Article at the Atlantic Journalism Awards (AJAs). Jenn was also a finalist for Best New Magazine Writer (National Magazine Awards, 2019) and a nominee for the Critical Eye Award for arts reporting (Excellence in Visual Arts EVA Awards, 2021). Her first book, Cod Collapse: The Rise and Fall of Newfoundland’s Saltwater Cowboys was shortlisted for the Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing, (Atlantic Book Awards 2021). Cod Collapse was released in Canada in fall 2019 and is available in print, e-book and a forthcoming audiobook. Upon its release, The Hill Times listed Cod Collapse as no. 19 on their top 100 Non-fiction Canadian Books of 2019. The book also received praise from musician and author, Alan Doyle, the late fisheries scientist, Jeffrey A. Hutchings, and author David MacFarlane (The Danger Tree), among others. In 2021, Jenn co-produced – with animator Kat Frick Miller and filmmaker Matt LeMay – an animated short-film that extends the life of Cod Collapse – see Last Fish, First Boat, which was featured in several fall 2021 film festivals and made the CBC Shorts (NL) and Next-Gen Shorts (NS) lists. The filmmaker trio just received word of their next Canada Council for the Arts Funded film – to be released in 2023; details forthcoming. Meanwhile, learn more about Cod Collapse, its early praise and book reviews. Also, see Jenn’s writing portfolio or preview quotes from her writing in her keepsake gallery.
Seaside scenes are Jenn’s primary landscapes for Jenn’s artwork. Since 2016, Jenn has been an apprentice painter with Ottawa-based, Canadian landscape painter, Gordon Harrison. Her landscape and nature artwork have been featured in galleries in Ontario and Newfoundland, and she has hosted several solo art shows since 2019 (“Downhome Seascapes” in 2019, “For the Love of SEAnery” in 2020, “Coastal Reflections” in 2020-21, “East Coast Heart” in 2021, with solo shows forthcoming in 2022). She is represented at Santini Gallery in Ottawa. In 2020, Jenn’s artwork was recognized at the AJAs for Best Cover (Gold recipient) for the fall 2019 cover of Atlantic Books Today. In 2019, Jenn’s artwork was featured as cover art (for her first book, her publisher’s fall catalogue, and the fall issue of Atlantic Books Today) as well as in the pages of [EDIT] magazine (this issue became an insert to The Globe and Mail) and Newfoundland Quarterly (online). Jenn is a member of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada and CARFAC Ontario. She recently received the Denis Diderot Grant as part of a forthcoming (2023) Artist-in-Residence at Chateau d’Orquevaux in France. Jenn predominantly paints in oils, but sometimes uses acrylic. Like her mentor, Harrison, Jenn’s art loosely combines realism and impressionism, wherein the primary subject is recognizable (realism, based on photographs), yet is depicted with bold shapes and colours (impressionism, using a variety of bold brush strokes, knife work and an equally bold palette mixed by hand). Learn more about Jenn’s artwork and contact the galleries where she is represented.
Jenn brings vast leadership experience, having started a new role in 2021 as a senior advisor with the McMaster Health Forum, where she also serves as the executive lead of the Evidence Commission. She worked for 15 years with the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (now Healthcare Excellence Canada), where she designed the foundation’s quality improvement collaborative approach, bringing together frontline providers, policymakers and system leaders (including patients and families) to spread and scale innovation across Canada. She has published and contributed to more than forty articles in healthcare, presents at national and international conferences and guest lectures for graduate-level programs. She joined the Board of Bruyère, a multi-site academic health care organization, as a Community Representative in 2019 and is a member on the Quality Management & Mission Effectiveness Committee. In 2021, she became a full director and serves as the board’s CHSO designate. She also serves as a board member of Nourish, which is all about the intersections between food, planetary and human health. Jenn also co-chairs the Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR), Collaborative Healthcare Improvement Partnerships theme group.Throughout her career, Jenn has served on a number of national health committees including the Advisory Council on Population Health (Canadian Institute for Health Information); the Policy Legal and Regulatory Affairs Advisory (Canadian Patient Safety Institute); the Quality Mental Health Care Network (Mental Health Commission of Canada and HealthCareCAN); and the Collaborative Healthcare Improvement Partnerships theme group (Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research).
Previously, Jenn worked as a producer/reporter in public and private radio in Newfoundland and Labrador.