KidsAbility Foundation Board of Directors (2023-2024)
Valerie Hoag, Chair, first became involved with KidsAbility as Chair of the KidsAbility School Authority. During her previous association with the school, she was awed by the spirit of the children and impressed with the commitment of school and Centre staff. One of her children benefitted from the work of the amazing team at the Centre. Valerie believes strongly in giving back to her community. To that end, she has held many volunteer roles, from leadership roles with Centre In The Square, KW Synchronized Swimming Club, the Clinical Research Ethics Committee at the University of Waterloo, and the Waterloo Region Law Association, to numerous hands-on roles with community groups. Her legal career of close to 35 years included being a partner with Sims, Clement, Eastman, teaching law full-time at Conestoga College, and practicing with a boutique litigation firm in Hamilton and with Kay Law Professional Corporation locally
Kate MacDonald, Secretary is a mediator with MacDonald Mediation Inc., specializing in resolution of insurance related matters. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 1987 and is a graduate of Dalhousie Law School and attended the Advanced Mediation training at the Harvard Negotiation Institute, Cambridge, Mass. Kate served as an executive on the Board of Directors of the Guelph Synchronized Swim Club for five years and is the President of the Mayfield Park Community Association. Kate lives in Guelph with her husband and two daughters.
Suk Bedi, Treasurer has over 15+ years of experience analyzing and assessing business strategies and related business processes and systems to help management understand and address business objectives, requirements, risks, controls, and improvement opportunities. He serves a variety of organizations including not for profit, education and government institutions. Suk spent seven years as an internal audit director for ten (10) school boards in South Western Ontario where led internal audit team members in helping leadership and audit committees address operational, financial and student risks. Suk has taught at Wilfrid Laurier University on a full time and part time basis. He knows how fulfilling it is to be able to develop students’ abilities/skills and shape the future generations of kids. Suk is a Certified Internal Auditor and holds a Certification in Risk Management Assurance. Suk lives in Waterloo with his wife and two kids and enjoys spending time with family and the outdoors.
Kate Durdan, Past Chair has spent 30 years working in Operational and Human Resources leadership roles spending 18 years in a variety of management and director roles at Mutual Life, Clarica, and SunLife. For the past 12 years she has worked in the manufacturing sector most recently overseeing HR for Barrday Advanced Material Solutions in Cambridge Ontario. Kate has an Honours B.A. in Political Science from Queen’s University as well as various industry designations including her CHRP (Certified Human Resources Professional) designation. She has been involved with a variety of charitable organizations including Big Sisters, KWAG, and The Museum as well as in numerous capacities in the schools and sports organizations with which her two sons were involved. Even the smallest moments at KidsAbility make a difference in the lives of the children, youth and families involved. It’s witnessing these moments that inspire her as a Foundation board member to share the story and impact of KidsAbility, and encourage support for the organization across the community.
Rebecca Aavasalmi is a Vice President at MEDUCOM
Health Inc., a healthcare communications agency located in Guelph. Her keen
interest in science and language led her to a earn a double major in Biology
and French with honours from Wilfred Laurier University, followed by a Master’s
degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Guelph. When she’s
not serving as a strategic partner for her clients, playing group sports or
volunteering in the community, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog,
Obie. She was inspired to join KidsAbility after holding a position at a
community living centre during her undergrad. Her excitement was reignited
after digging into the wonderful work KidsAbility does for children and youth in
the community. Her passion for helping others and applying her skills and
experience to benefit the people around her made this position the perfect match.
Todd Aitchison is a Commercial Insurance Specialist with Josslin Insurance Brokers of Waterloo Region, joining the brokerage with his CIP Designation in 2008. Todd graduated with a BBA from Northwood University in Midland Michigan in 2000. His years of building relationships within the community, both for business and volunteerism, started when he became a member of The Kitchener-Westmount Rotary Club in 2003. Todd served as President of the Kitchener-Westmount Club in 2013-2014 and then went on to the District level as Assistant District Governor 2015-2018. Todd remains an active Rotarian and has also volunteered on Charity Golf Tournament Committees for Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region and Carizon Family & Community Services. Todd resides in Waterloo with his wife and their two daughters.
Shankha Bhattacharyya is a professor of Accounting at Conestoga College where his responsibilities include
teaching, course co-ordination and creating digital content. His industry experience in finance and accounting spans 16+ years across various industries including IT, chemical manufacturing and hospitality. His academic background includes an MBA in
Finance and Business Strategy from Schulich School of Business at York University
(Toronto), and both Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and Certified Management
Accountant (CMA) designations from CPA Ontario. He believes in applying his
skills and experience to benefit a broad section of society. It is this belief
that brought him to his current role at KidsAbility Foundation. He lives
in Waterloo with his wife and daughter.
Dave Brune is currently a Vice President and Portfolio Manager at the RaeLipskie Partnership, a private wealth management firm located in Waterloo. He has been with the firm for three years, having previously been a Portfolio Manager at CIBC Wood Gundy. Dave is a University of Waterloo alumni with an Honours BA in Rhetoric and Professional Writing. He is also a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and a CFA Charterholder. He was inspired to join after he and his wife attended an infant hearing screen test for their newborn son. After doing more research, he learned of the breadth of work that KidsAbility does for children. It was very much an eye-opening experience and one that inspires him to help every way possible that he can.
Wayne Chang is currently a Vice President at KPMG Corporate Finance, where he provides broad range of financial advisory services to his clients, including sell-side M&A, buy-side due diligence and capital advisory. He has a deep understanding of accounting, business valuations, corporate finance and financial consulting services. Wayne is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charterholder, and a Chartered Business Valuator (CBV). He is an alumni of University of Waterloo with a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and a Master's degree in Accounting. During university, he instructed math at Grand River Chinese School, where he facilitated classrooms of 15 to 20 young students. In this role, Wayne saw so much potential in his students. He seized the opportunity to contribute back to the local community as a Director on KidsAbility Foundation’s board to support the organization’s mission to help youth living with disabilities realize their full potential.
Leslie Doherty has engaged in the private practice of law, served as Adjudicator for the Board of Inquiry, Police Services Act, Ontario, and most recently and for many years has acted as a prosecutor of criminal law as an Assistant Crown Attorney, Ministry of the Attorney General, Ontario and as an Agent for The Public Prosecution Service of Canada. She is a graduate of Dalhousie University, B.A. and Dalhousie Weldon School of Law, LLB. Leslie has been actively involved and held leadership positions in many charitable organizations including: Board member, Participation House, Brantford; Board member and Fundraising Chair, Library and Gallery, Cambridge; Board member and Chair of various committees for The Cambridge and North Dumfries Community Foundation, among others, as well as numerous school and community organizations and committees. Leslie lives in Cambridge with her husband and fellow lawyer, and has a son and a daughter, both well launched.
Sue Hallman has been involved with many charities including YWCA, St Mary’s Hospital, Grand River Hospital, Lyle S. Hallman Foundation and Strong Start. She loves facilitating her Senior Group at her church. Sue is a member and part of the programming committee for Twin City Probus. Over the past 20 years Sue has devoted many hours to KidsAbility serving on the Foundation and Centre Boards, as well as volunteering in the classroom. Sue is very proud to have introduced Strong Start to KidsAbility School four years ago, where she has been the coordinator since its inception. Sue and her husband love to travel, alone or with their travel group. Their claim to fame is a motorcycle journey across North America over a course of six years, putting on 60,000 km on the bike. In her spare time, Sue enjoys reading, walking, exercising, golfing in the summer, curling in the winter, and spending as much time as possible at her cottage.
Alex Kinsella is the owner of Kinsella Marketing Inc, a writing and content marketing agency based in Kitchener. Before starting the agency, Alex worked in product management, public relations, and marketing roles at BlackBerry, Thalmic Labs, and Communitech. He is also the brains behind the TL;WR newsletter – Waterloo Region’s weekly events newsletter. Alex is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Russian and Eastern European Studies. In 2017, he completed the Ivey Leadership Program at the Ivey Business School at Western University. Alex lives in Kitchener with his wife and three daughters – two of whom benefited from KidsAbility’s fantastic team. It was those interactions that inspired Alex to get more involved with KidsAbility Foundation’s mission.
Donna Kuppers is the co-founder of Kuppers & Company Chartered Accountants and JDK Management Services Inc. For the past 15 years she has managed these practices while providing accounting, tax and small business coaching to their clients. Prior to this Donna was the Vice President of Finance for a large local privately held distribution company. Donna has recently embarked on a teaching endeavour as a part-time Professor of Accounting at Conestoga College. Donna is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Chartered Accountant (CA) and Certified Coach. She is currently enrolled in the Not-for-Profit Certificate Program through Chartered Professional Accountants Canada. Donna has volunteered for a variety of organizations including Zonta Club of K-W, Kitchener Minor Hockey, and Parent Council at MacGregor Senior Public School. She is Toronto-born, and Business graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University. Donna lives in Kitchener with her husband and has two boys.
Eric Strassburger is a Wealth Advisor with BMO Nesbitt Burns in Waterloo. For the past 20+ years he has provided Investment, Retirement and Estate Planning advice to a select group of clients in Southwestern Ontario. In addition to volunteering his time with KidsAbility, he also serves on the Board of Directors with The House of Friendship. In the past he has served on Boards with The Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Kitchener. Eric is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University with a B.A. in Economics. When he's not at advising clients, volunteering in the community or coaching hockey, he enjoys spending time with his wife and his two sons.
Tim Forestell (Ex Officio, KidsAbility) is co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer at DOZR – North America’s trusted source for heavy equipment rentals. With extensive leadership experience in the organization’s sales, revenue and customer success strategy, Tim takes pride in designing, orchestrating, and improving customer experiences across a complex range of customer interactions. Tim holds a BHSc from the University of Western and resides in Guelph with his husband and daughter.