KidsAbility Board of Directors
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 - Vice Chair
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.
Gwen Yun Weng - Treasurer
Gwen is an actuary and AVP,
Portfolio Risk and ALM at Equitable Life of Canada, a proud Waterloo-based life
insurer, where she is a leader and subject matter expert in the intersection of
actuarial analysis, investment, and risk management. She has extensive
experience working with complex financial models as well as navigating change
and uncertainty. A graduate of University of Waterloo, Gwen is a Fellow of the
Canadian Institute of Actuaries, a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)
charterholder, and a Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst. Passionate about urban
planning, active transportation and youth empowerment, Gwen and her husband
Joel are avid community volunteers and live in the heart of Waterloo with their
two young children.
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 - 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 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 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 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 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 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."
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
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 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 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, Chair of the KidsAbility Foundation Board, 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
Linda Kenny, Chief Executive Officer
Linda Kenny is the Chief Executive Officer of KidsAbility Centre for Child Development. Prior to her appointment to KidsAbility in April 2013, Linda was the Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Association of Children’s Rehabilitation Services (OACRS) the provincial umbrella group representing all 20 Children’s Treatment Centres. Linda has over 25 years of experience in the field of disability, having held positions with SCI Ontario, March of Dimes Canada and the Simcoe County Association for the Physically Disabled. Over her career, Linda has consistently demonstrated her leadership skills in service delivery, client affairs, government relations, community development and sector knowledge. Dedicated to the pursuit of an integrated and seamless system of supports and services for Ontario's families, Ms. Kenny brings extensive experience in strategic leadership, organizational development and stakeholder relations.
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 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 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.
Lisa Talbot, CFRE - Executive Director, KidsAbility Foundation
For over two decades, Lisa has been helping individual donors, corporate partners and community leaders find their philanthropic purpose to help local children and youth reach their goals and realize their potential. A graduate of the University of Guelph and a Leadership Waterloo Region alumnus with a CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) designation, she is responsible for the comprehensive strategy and development program that includes her accountability to the Foundation Board of Directors. Lisa is proud to be part of a dedicated team of professionals committed to helping local children thrive, one child at a time. Her leadership continues to enable KidsAbility Foundation to develop strong community support for KidsAbility as an innovative leader and knowledge-sharing organization.