Our Board of Directors fosters the growth of the YMCA across Canada. These dedicated and skilled volunteers are elected for a three-year term by YMCA National Council, the federation’s senior legislative and policy body with representation from each Member Association in Canada.

The Board promotes sound stewardship to National Council and ensures that YMCA Canada follows best practices in governance and operates effectively in accordance with YMCA Federation values (collaborative, accountable, inclusive, sustainable, proactive), by-laws and policies.

National Board Resource Centre

Officers

Craig Rowe

Craig Rowe
Chair

Craig's connection with the Y began when he joined the YMCA-YWCA of Northeast Avalon in St. John's, Newfoundland as a fitness member more than 25 years ago and eventually led to his participation as a Board member and Chair, and chair of the Ches Penney Family Y Project. He was a member of the YMCA Canada National Resource Creation and Capacity Building Committee, Chair of the National Board's Governance Committee, and member of the Executive Human Resources Committee prior to becoming Chair of the National Board. Professionally, Craig has worked, written and presented extensively in the insurance and risk management industries across North America. In 2006, he founded ClearRisk, a risk management software company and in 2014, he founded Optimized Risk and Insurance, an independent insurance brokerage. Craig and his wife, Heather have three children that are growing up too fast.

Helen Francis

Helen Francis
Vice Chair

Helen is the Director of Business Effectiveness, Base Metals at Vale Mining Company where she leads a team designed to assist the Base Metals Operations globally to achieve operational excellence. In her previous role at Vale, she led the implementation of the largest business transformation project within the company in several years. She is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Sudbury.

Marcel Lauzière

Marcel Lauzière
Vice Chair

Marcel has worked in the charitable and nonprofit sector, as well as in government, here in Canada and abroad for over 25 years. He is currently President & CEO of the Lawson Foundation. Prior to this he served as President and CEO of Imagine Canada, Deputy Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development in New Zealand, and President of the Canadian Council on Social Development. Marcel is an active volunteer and sits on a number of national boards including the Public Policy Forum and the Accounting Standards Oversight Council. In 2012, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to philanthropy in Canada. 

Ron Stewardson

Ron Stewardson
Vice Chair, Finance and Audit

Ron is serving his second term on the National Board and is in his fourth year as a member of the Finance and Audit committee. In addition to his current role on the National Board, Ron served on the Board of the YMCA of Okanagan for eight years, including four years as Board Chair. Ron's participation also included many committees, as well as a $5 million dollar capital campaign. He continues to serve as a member of the YMCA of Okanagan's, Finance and Audit committee. Ron brings an extensive knowledge of finance, business, leadership and strategic planning to his volunteer roles, gained through a thirty one year career in commercial banking.

Directors

Jennifer Babe

Jennifer Babe
Director

Jennifer is in her second term on the National Board. She now serves on the Audit Committee, and was formerly a member of the Governance Committee. Her previous experience with the YMCA includes a term as Chair of the YMCA of Greater Toronto's Central YMCA Regional Council as well as membership on its Board of Directors and its Audit, Development and Investment Committees. Jennifer is a partner at Miller Thomson LLP in Toronto, practicing in the area of corporate-commercial law. She teaches and writes for the Law Society and the Bar Association, and is a published author of numerous books and journal articles. She is a certified director by the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Mary Beck

Mary Beck
Director

Trained as a lawyer, Mary is Vice-President, Compliance with Odlum Brown Limited where she manages all aspects of the regulatory compliance responsibilities of an independent investment dealer and the wholly-own US subsidy. She also holds the position of Corporate Secretary at Odlum Brown. A long-time YMCA volunteer, Mary is the Immediate Past Chair of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver and a graduate of the Directors Education Program of the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Neil Desai

Neil Desai
Director

Neil is an accomplished global public affairs executive with experience in both the public and private sector. He currently serves as the Director of Corporate Affairs at Magnet Forensics. He is a former Chief of Staff to the Minister of International Development at the Department of Global Affairs and a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Prime Minister. Neil is a contributor to the Globe and Mail's editorial page and a Fellow with the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto and the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. 

Brenda Flaherty

Brenda Flaherty
Director

Brenda chairs the World YMCA Relationships Committee and is a member of the Executive Human Resources Committee. She is Past Chair of the Board of the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford, and has served as Chair of the North Hamilton Community Health Centre Board. She is presently serving as the Vice Chair of the Board of The Change Foundation and is the Chair of the Governance Committee. Brenda is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at McMaster University Faculty Health Sciences. As Executive Vice President, Clinical Operations and Chief Operating Officer, she is responsible for the clinical programs at Hamilton Health Sciences, representing seven hospitals and a cancer centre in the region. 

Deidre Green

Deidre Green
Director

Deidre is an Assistant Deputy Minister with the Department of Environment and Local Government in New Brunswick. Deidre earned her Chartered Accountant designation and began her professional career with Deloitte and Touche and Grant Thornton. She has since held numerous senior positions in the Provincial Government including the Office of the Auditor General, Department of Post-Secondary Education Training and Labour and Department of Education. Deidre is a member of the YMCA of Fredericton's Board of Directors where she chairs the Audit and Finance Committee. She is a long standing member of the Board of Directors of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living. 

Larry Karass

Larry Karass
Director

Larry is serving his second term as a National Board Director and is a member of the World YMCA Relationships Committee. He was Tangente Danse Actuel Board Chair from 1984 to 2004, and has held numerous other governance and advisory board positions. He is serving his third term on the Board of the YMCAs of Quebec where he chairs the Nominations Committee and is Vice Chair. After growing successful food, manufacturing and packaging businesses, he founded Stratik International Inc. in 2014. Stratik provides strategic, governance and entrepreneurial know-how to dynamic businesses worldwide.

Richard Payette

Richard Payette
Director

Richard is an advisor to high growth businesses and is a member of many advisory boards.  Until recently, Richard was the CEO, Americas Region, BDO International (Montreal). In this role, he was responsible to lead, support, implement and drive strategic initiatives in the region consisting of Canada, USA, and Latin America and Caribbean. He has significant experience as a strategist and leader with accomplishments in business transformation and team leadership.

Betty-Lou Souter

Betty-Lou Souter
Director

During her first term, Betty-Lou was a member of the World YMCA Relationships Committee and now in her second Board term, she is a member of the Advocacy Committee. Betty-Lou has served on the Board of the YMCA of Niagara for more than a decade, including three years as Chair, during which she oversaw the amalgamation of four Associations into the YMCA of Niagara, as well as the opening of three new membership centres and the renovation of another. She is a recognized expert and frequent task force member on issues related to poverty and social inclusion, and has been honoured with numerous awards for her advocacy, leadership and volunteerism. In 2014, Betty-Lou was awarded a Honourary Doctor of Laws LLD by Brock University. 

Mary Turner

Mary Turner
Director

Mary is the President and CEO of Canadian Tire Bank and Senior Vice President, Finance Transformation at Canadian Tire Corporation.  During her 25-year career with Canadian Tire, Mary has held positions of increasing responsibility in finance, enterprise risk management, information technology, customer service, credit risk and operations.  She is a Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Director.  She is an active volunteer in the Niagara community and a long-time member of the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Board of Directors.

Jennifer Wilson

Jennifer Wilson
Director

During Jennifer's first Board term, she was a member of the Plan Y Metrics Committee and now in her second term, is a member of the Governance Committee and Nominating Committee. Jennifer's extensive work with youth, health care initiatives and social agencies, coupled with her career as a farmer, enables her to bring a unique perspective to the National Board. Jennifer and her husband are owner-operators of Wilson Holme Ltd., a fifth-generation family farm. Jennifer joined the YMCA of Chatham-Kent Board in 2008, later serving as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Governance Committee. In 2010, Jennifer also joined the Board of the Sarnia-Lambton YMCA, and was part of the process of merging the two YMCA Boards into the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario. In 2014, Jennifer became Board Chair of the YMCAs across Southwestern Ontario.

Cathy Winter

Cathy Winter
Director

Cathy leads DiverseCity onBoard at the Global Diversity Exchange, Ryerson University. The program recruits and connects qualified, pre-screened candidates from visible minorities and under-represented communities to volunteer board positions in the non-profit and public sectors. It provides training in governance through an on-line learning platform supplemented by in-person discussions and events. Prior to joining DiverseCity, Cathy was a senior manager in the Ontario Public Service. She currently serves on the board of the Anne Johnston Health Station, and on committees of the United Way of Toronto. 

Jonathan Woolley

Jonathan Woolley
Director

Jon is a partner with Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP in Winnipeg, where he maintains a practice emphasizing construction law.  Jon has been a member of the Winnipeg YMCA-YWCA since 2003 and joined the Board of Directors in 2007.  From 2012-2014, Jon served as the Chair of the Winnipeg Board, and has recently completed his term as Past Chair.   Jon also volunteers for the Manitoba Legal Help Centre and has coached hockey and soccer since 2012.

Wynne Young

Wynne Young
Director

Wynne has been a member of the Regina YMCA since 1994 and began serving on its Board in 2004. She served two years as Board Chair. During her first term as a member of the National Board, Wynne chaired the Plan Y Metrics Committee and the Advocacy Committee and is currently Vice-President. Formerly a Deputy Minister with the Government of Saskatchewan for 16 years, she led a number of Ministries including Education, Social Service, Post-Secondary Education and the Public Service Commission. She also works internationally in developing countries helping to build their government capacity in policy and human resources and teaches board governance in Saskatchewan.

Immediate Past Chair

Bahadur Madhani

Bahadur Madhani
Immediate Past Chair

Bahadur Madhani brings a lifelong dedication to public service to his role on the YMCA Canada National Board. Bahadur is stepping off the Board but will continue in 2015-2017 as Past Chair and an Officer in a non-voting capacity. A former Chair of the Board of the YMCA of Greater Toronto, Bahadur is also former chair of the United Way of Greater Toronto and of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (Canada). Bahadur has served on the boards of the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Advisory Board of the Toronto Community Foundation, and the Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner's Community Advisory Council; and has volunteered with the Aga Khan Ismaili Community around the world. In 2001, Bahadur received the Order of Canada in recognition of his contribution to volunteerism in Canada. He is president and owner of Equiprop Management Ltd., a property management and real estate syndications company.