Board of Directors

KidsAbility Board Members

Elizabeth Witmer

Elizabeth Witmer

Chair

Elizabeth is Chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and has a 35-year history of public service as a trustee and school board Chair, Kitchener-Waterloo MPP, Deputy Premier, Minister of Labour, Health & Long-Term Care, Environment and Education. As an MPP, she was a tireless community advocate and brought the Cancer Centre to Grand River Hospital and the Cardiac Centre to St. Mary’s Hospital. She has received many awards such as the Paul Harris Fellowship Award from Rotary, the Social Work Doctors Award for her strong commitment to a just and caring society, the 2013 Kitchener-Waterloo Citizen of the Year Award and in 2014, was the first recipient of the Asthma Society of Canada Innovation in Public Policy Award for her role in beginning Ontario’s coal phase-out. Elizabeth is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Althouse College of Education and the ICD Rotman Program.

Theresa Fischer

Theresa Fischer

Vice Chair and Treasurer

As a Chartered Professional Accountant and Senior Manager in Ernst & Young’s (EY’s) accounting and assurance practice, Theresa’s focus is on the private and mid-market companies in Southwestern Ontario. Theresa has over 20 years of public accounting experience—providing accounting, business advisory and auditing services to growing organizations, including early stage technology companies, manufacturing companies, service-based entities and not-for-profit organizations. Theresa is Past Chair of the Board of Governors of the Grand River Hospital Foundation and is currently a member of its Finance Committee. She holds a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Waterloo and currently lives in Waterloo with her family.

Eileen Polson

Eileen Polson

Secretary

Eileen is Shad Canada’s national lead on program strategy development and execution. Knowing her work makes a difference in the lives of youth, Eileen thrives on helping prepare the next generation of Canadian leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs make a meaningful difference in communities around the world. Prior to joining Shad, Eileen spent over 20 years as a human resources executive in the financial services sector, fostering peoples’ highest possible engagement, potential and performance. Eileen has an HBA in Sociology, an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University and completed the Adult Education program at St. Francis Xavier University. In her spare time, Eileen lends her time to not-for-profit organizations, cheers on her son from the baseball stands, and loves to cook and eat, bike and travel with her husband and son.

Peter Haney

Peter Haney

Past Chair

Peter is a retired lawyer, having practiced law for over 30 years at a local law firm. Peter was born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo and completed his undergraduate degree at Wilfrid Laurier University before leaving town for law school. Peter was first introduced to KidsAbility in the 1970s when he was a high school student at Kitchener Collegiate. At that time, he volunteered at the Rotary Centre School where his mother Elaine was a long-time employee. It was through that experience that Peter learned of the importance of the organization’s role in the community and the dramatic impact that it has on the children and families that it serves. Peter resides in Waterloo with his spouse. They have three adult children.

Uzma Bhutto

Uzma Bhutto

Uzma is a global community builder and an engaged citizen with over fifteen years of passionately working in the not-for-profit sector spearheading rights of marginalized communities. She has undertaken endeavours that have instilled in her the capacity to appreciate diversity and respect integrity, both required to support communities in today’s dynamic globally interconnected environment. Be it in far flung rural hospitals of Pakistan’s shanty towns of Lyari and Orangi serving marginalized women as a gynecologist or collaborating with Chinese and Pakistani communities on domestic violence against women, Uzma has been at the forefront of selflessly serving her grassroot stakeholders. In Canada Uzma has spent countless hours in volunteering towards organizational Boards, causes of mental health, equity, diversity, and social inclusivity supporting our vibrant populations, helping to make Kitchener-Waterloo a great place to live in.

Presently she is working as Coordinator, Women Building Women delivering numerous projects with the Coalition of Muslim Women (CMW) in the Region of Waterloo. Uzma’s latest project is leading the first ever breakthrough grassroot project that is aiming towards marginalized Women Social and Economic Empowerment. Uzma for her work in the community has received several awards, such as The Leading Women/Leading Girls Building Communities Recognition Award that celebrates women and girls whose volunteer work has improved the lives of others in their community, the 5 Year Service award from CMW, and the 10 Year Service Award by CMW. With a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Waterloo she is the first amongst her medical doctor MBBS graduates from Pakistan to step into the exciting field of not-for-profit and public health in Canada. Through her enriching experiences she has gained valuable understanding of global health issues, with a focus on women and mental health initiatives. Uzma is very proud to be a Muslim woman with a modern outlook towards life. One who crossed borders to accept challenges and struggled her way up to assume leadership roles in our energetic community.

Ashley Biddiscombe

Ashley Biddiscombe

Ashley is a mom of two children with disabilities who have participated in many of KidsAbility programs. Prior to adopting in 2016, Ashley was a therapeutic horse back riding instructor and volunteer coordinator at Pride Stables. Her and her wife Ashley own Daisy Fresh Cleaning Inc in Kitchener and is also a gallery artist and published author.
She brings past knowledge of being on the executive board of directors at St.Johns Christian Nursery School and her experience for working in the non-profit sector.

She has a passion for disability advocacy and advocacy in adoption and trauma-based education as well as creating safe spaces for parent and caregiver support through her parent support group. She also works closely with New Start Standardbreds, fostering and rehabilitating neglected and abused racehorses.

Eric Davis

Eric Davis

Eric is a lawyer with SmithValeriote Law Firm LLP and is a Certified Specialist in Municipal Law by the Law Society of Ontario. He practices exclusively in the area of Municipal & Planning Law, where he acts for both municipalities and private sector clients. Eric regularly assists with planning-and zoning-related matters, including re-zonings, plans of subdivision, site plans, minor variances, and severances, as well as OntarioLand Tribunal appeals. He also regularly handles municipal conflicts of interest, prosecutions, by-law drafting, municipal tax sales, heritage matters, public procurement, and municipal elections. Eric regularly appears before local boards, Municipal Heritage Committees, Committees of Adjustment, the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board, the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal and the Ontario Land Tribunal. Eric is a long-time volunteer in Waterloo Region, notably as a former President of the Rotary Club of Waterloo and, in 2019, he received the Waterloo Award (the City of Waterloo’s highest civic honour). He resides in Waterloo with his wife and two children.

Adrian DeCoo

Adrian DeCoo

Adrian is a founding partner in the training and organizational development firm of Great Lakes Learning Inc. For more than 30 years he has had extensive experience working with a variety of clients in leadership training, developing strategic direction, facilitation of management of change, team building and development of teams at all levels. He has been an active member of the Rotary Club of Kitchener since 1986 in a number of administrative and committee roles and a board member for the past 11 years. He has been a part of the District Training Committee for the past 15 years and has just completed his fifth year as the Director of Training for Rotary District 7080. He is currently the Chair of Rotary Leadership Institute, and Chair of the District 7080 Strategic Planning Committee. He is a multiple recipient of a Paul Harris Fellowship, one of Rotary’s highest honors.

Vikki Dupuis

Vikki Dupuis

Vikki was born and raised in Guelph and is a graduate of the University of Waterloo. She and her husband Jake have four children and five granddaughters. Vikki has had a long and winding journey with KidsAbility, beginning in 2001 as the manager of the newly opened West End Community Centre, which was also the new home for the KidsAbility Guelph site. Working with Denise Watson this partnership grew and strengthened quickly. In 2010, her son and daughter in law were blessed with a daughter who was a micro preemie and six months after Ella’s birth, began a new relationship as a “Nonna” to a KidsAbility client. Her Ella is a past Guelph Ambassador. In 2017, Vikki retired from the City of Guelph after four decades of service but shortly thereafter agreed to become the project manager for the new KidsAbility site that would now include Autism services. After a successful completion of the project and grand opening she applied to become a board director. Vikki is currently Vice Chair of the Wellington Catholic DSB and has been a trustee for 25 years. In 2019 she received the Provincial Award of Merit for outstanding service. In 2017 she was awarded the Tony Brenner Mentor Award from the Ontario Recreation Facilities Association. Vikki champions children every chance she gets, believing that “every child is gifted, they just unwrap their packages at different times.”

Tim Forestell

Tim Forestell

Tim Forestell is Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer at DOZR – North America’s trusted source for heavy equipment rentals. Leading 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.

With extensive leadership experience, Tim previously served as VP of Operations for one of Ontario’s largest landscaping companies. Tim also holds a BHSc from the University of Western Ontario.

Tim resides in Guelph with his husband and daughter.

George Georghiades

George Georghiades

George is the CEO, Co-Founder, and Principal Investor at Lexington Park, a real estate investment, asset management, and development firm. Lexington Park’s mandate is to build positive economic impact in the communities it serves.

Prior to co-founding Lexington Park, George held progressively senior roles at McKinsey & Company, serving both its Privat Equity and Institutional Investor Practice and providing guidance on a wide range of issues related to alternative asset class investing, specifically real estate and private equity.

George has been active in public service for over 25 years. A Loran Scholar from the Class of 1995, George currently serves on the board of the Loran Scholars Foundation. He has also served as Board Treasurer for the Design Exchange, Canada’s Design Museum.

George holds a BA in Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario, an MSc. in Real Estate Economics and Finance at the London School of Economics, and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University. He is also a graduate of the ICD-Rotman Directors Education Program.
George lives with his wife and four children in Toronto and Waterloo.

Sandra Hanmer

Sandra Hanmer

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.

Valerie Hoag

Valerie Hoag

Valerie first became involved with KidsAbility as Chair of the 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 practising with a boutique litigation firm in Hamilton and with Kay Law Professional Corporation locally.

Mary Law

Mary Law

Mary has lived in Cambridge for the past 41 years. Mary is an occupational therapist by training and worked at KidsAbility (then the Rotary Children’s Centre) from 1977-83. She then worked for many years as a Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University. Mary is co-founder of CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, a multidisciplinary research centre at McMaster University. She participated in many evaluation and outcome studies about children’s rehabilitation until retiring in 2014. In Cambridge, Mary has been actively involved on the Board of several community organizations. In 2018, Mary was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Rick Martin

Rick Martin

Rick is the General Manager of Wallenstein Feed & Supply Ltd. WFS serves Ontario agriculture by providing feed, premix, and nutritional services for about 25% of the farm animals (poultry, swine, cattle, etc.) in the province. Rick and his wife Nancy (Accountant at WFS) live in Elmira. They have two daughters: Shelley, who owns and operates Arts Abound, an inclusive arts center for kids in St. Jacobs, and Stephanie who works at the family business (WFS). Rick has a B Math from University of Waterloo and an MBA from York University. Rick serves on many boards and wants to make a difference in the local community. His charitable interests include addiction, homelessness, affordable housing, income disparity, human trafficking, welcoming immigrants, health, education, and the arts.

Chris Sajecki

Chris Sajecki

Chris has over 20 years’ experience at TD Bank where he assists clients in senior debt commercial lending transactions, including secured loans and acquisition financing. Chris’ expertise includes structuring creative lending solutions, as well as working closely with subordinated debt and private equity firms. Chris is actively involved in the Region of Waterloo supporting local business and community organizations. Chris, a graduate of the University of Western Ontario, resides in North Dumfries with his wife and three children.

KidsAbility Foundation Board Members

Valerie Hoag

Chair

Valerie first became involved with KidsAbility as Chair of the 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 practising with a boutique litigation firm in Hamilton and with Kay Law Professional Corporation locally.

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 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

Suk 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

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 inspire her as a Foundation board member to share the story and impact of KidsAbility, and encourage support for the organization across the community.

Foundation Directors

Rebecca Aavasalmi

Rebecca 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

Tom 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

Shankha 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

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 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

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 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

Leslie 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

Sue 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

Alexa 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

Donna 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.