KidsAbility Foundation Board of Directors (2019-2020)
Michael Duschenes, Chair
Michael Duschenes has spent over 35 years as a senior executive and management consultant. As Managing Director and COO at the Perimeter Institute since 2004, he has worked alongside Directors Howard Burton, Neil Turok and Rob Myers overseeing a major period of growth, establishing the institute as one of the world’s leading centres for foundational theoretical physics. Prior to joining Perimeter, Michael held a number of leadership positions, primarily in the not-for profit sector. He has also worked as a management consultant specializing in strategic and business planning, revenue generation, and organizational development. Over the course of his career, Michael has been involved with organizations and projects in Canada, the United States, Europe, South America and Asia. He is a native of Montreal and a graduate of McGill University. Michael saw firsthand what an incredible resource KidsAbility is in our community when one of his children benefited from the Centre’s services. He strongly believes that a caring and supportive community makes sure no child is left behind. He is committed to helping grow the Foundation’s base of support to ensure that every child and youth with special needs has access to KidsAbility’s exceptional services.
Kate Durdan, Vice-Chair
Kate 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 inspires me as a Foundation board member to share the story and impact of KidsAbility and encourage support for the organization across our community.
Mardi Witzel, Past Chair
Mardi is a graduate of Queen's University with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Political studies. After working in the advertising industry with J. Walter Thompson and Brighthouse Inc., she obtained an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University. Mardi spent ten years working with AT&T Payment Processing Solutions, leading their worldwide product management and marketing groups. She has previously been a regular contributor to the Waterloo Region Record. Mardi lives in Waterloo with her husband Terry and has four children. She previously served as a member of the KidsAbility Foundation Board (2000-2006).
Karen Grogan, Treasurer
Karen is the Partner in Charge of KPMG’s Forensic practice for Southwestern Ontario. With 25 years of experience, Karen has conducted forensic reviews and investigations for public, private, municipal and not-for-profit organizations as well as business valuations for tax and dispute purposes. She has testified as an expert witness in criminal and civil proceedings in both the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Vancouver Supreme Court as well as been involved in various mediations and private arbitrations. Karen is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), a Chartered Accountant (CA), a Chartered Business Valuator (CBV), is Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) and was designated by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants as a specialist in Investigative and Forensic Accounting.
Karen served as the Treasurer on the YWCA Kitchener-Waterloo Board of Directors from 2009 to 2015 and has been an active member of its Finance Committee since 2003. At KPMG, Karen has also been involved in various volunteering activities assisting local organizations such as House of Friendship, St. Monica House and Steckle Heritage Farm.
Kate MacDonald, Secretary
Kate 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 5 years and is the President of the Mayfield Park Community Association. Kate lives in Guelph with her husband and two daughters.
Dave 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 graduate of the University of Waterloo with an Honours BA in Rhetoric and Professional Writing. He is also a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and a CFA Charterholder, having attained the designation in 2014. Dave lives in Kitchener with his wife and son. What inspired me to join was the birth of my son where I went to Kidsability to get his hearing test. After doing some more research, I was exposed to all the wonderful breadth of work that KidsAbility does for children. It was very much an eye-opening experience and one that inspired me to join so I could help in anyway I could.Wayne Chang
Wayne 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 graduated from the University of Waterloo. He holds a Master's degree in Accounting and a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics. Wayne is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charterholder, and a Chartered Business Valuator (CBV).
During his time in university, Wayne was a math instructor at Grand River Chinese School, where he had the opportunity to facilitate classrooms of 15 to 20 young students. In this role, Wayne saw so much potential in his students. When Wayne had the opportunity to contribute back to the local community as a Director on KidsAbility Foundation’s board, he seized the opportunity to support the organization’s mission to help youth with special needs realize their full potential.
Leslie is a graduate of Dalhousie University, B.A. and Dalhousie Weldon School of Law, LLB. She 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. 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, John, and has a son and a daughter, both well launched.
Leigh is currently the President of Win-Leader Corp., a family company who have been in business for 32 years. Her husband, Curtis and daughter, Mackenzie also work at Win-Leader. Leigh recently became a grandmother to a beautiful little boy, Jackson, who means the world to her and her husband. Leigh is a past President of the Kitchener Waterloo Business Women’s Association and is currently on the Fundraising Committee for St. Jerome’s University.
She is extremely passionate about KidsAbility and all the work they do to provide for countless families in our community. Serving her 2nd year on the Foundation Board of KidsAbility, she is committed to accomplishing all that is needed to make this year a huge success.
Since retiring in 2005 from their family business, volunteering has become Sue’s full time job. She 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 is on 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 Jim love to travel, alone or with their travel group. Their claim to fame is a motorcycle journey across North America over a course of 6 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.
Valerie is delighted to be associated with KidsAbility again, this time as a Director on the Foundation Board, after having served as Chair of the School Authority a number of years ago. During her previous association with the school, she was awed by the spirit of the children who attended the school and impressed with the commitment shown by the staff of the school and the Centre towards the children. She is glad to be part of the team that works to ensure that the Centre’s efforts continue to make a difference for the children.
She has served as Chair of Centre In The Square, Chair of the KW Synchronized Swimming Club, acting Chair of the Clinical Research Ethics Committee at the University of Waterloo, and Trustee with the Waterloo Region Law Association.
Her legal career of almost thirty-five years included being a partner with Sims Clement Eastman locally, teaching as a full-time law professor at Conestoga College, practising in Hamilton with a boutique litigation firm, and practising with Kay Law Professional Corporation locally.
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 The Zonta Club of K-W, Kitchener Minor Hockey, and Parent Council at MacGregor Senior Public School. She is a native of Toronto and Business Graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University. Donna lives in Kitchener with her husband Kevin and has 2 boys Justin and James.
Leanne makes great ideas grow as a marketing and business leader. She is currently a Director of Marketing at IC Wealth Management where she’s leading a team to drive field marketing and community engagement. She is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University, where she obtained both her BBA and MBA with the School of Business and Economics. Through her career, Leanne has worked across a variety of industries as a marketer, leading initiatives for not-for-profit, tech and small business clients. Her hobbies include multi-tasking to audiobooks, touring our local wine country, and spending time with her twin daughters. She joined the KidsAbility Foundation Board because she was inspired by the large impact that the organization has on her local community.
Jennifer has practiced Canadian Immigration law for more than 20 years in Kitchener, Ontario, helping people to choose where they wish to belong. Originally, she came to Canada as a teenager from South Korea, with no English. After completing her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Guelph, and receiving her law degree from the University of Victoria, she has settled in Kitchener, Ontario where her spouse, John, resided. She has twins graduating high school in June 2020. One of her twins has autism, and received much needed assistance from KidsAbility between 2005 and 2008. Supporting children with or without a disability to reach the impossible, is her life passion, along with her Christian faith.
Sandra Hanmer, Board Chair, KidsAbility
Sandra has devoted her professional career to providing senior leadership in health service organizations in Canada and internationally. Her focus has been on supporting an organization’s commitment to providing accessible, smooth and effective community-based health and disability services that make a real difference to people’s lives. Sandra has and continues to serve on a number of boards at the local, provincial, national and international level. She holds a Masters of Health Science from the University of Toronto. Recognized as both a visionary leader and strategic thinker, Sandra has an impressive ability to move programs forward from conception to implementation. She is an accomplished community building and visionary governance leader who thrives on developing strong community leaders.