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

Brenda Flaherty

Brenda Flaherty smiling
CHAIR

Brenda is in her second term on the National Board. 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.

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.

Neil Desai

Neil Desai smiling
VICE CHAIR

Neil is an executive with Magnet Forensics, one of Canada’s fastest growing technology companies. He previously served in senior roles with the Government of Canada in the Prime Minister’s Office and Global Affairs Canada.  He 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. Neil spent much of his time as a child and youth at the YMCA: He was a camper, played and coached basketball, was a camp councillor, camp director and youth programming director at various YMCAs in Ontario. He was elected to the National Board in 2015 and chairs the Federation Governance/Engagement Committee.

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

Colleen Albiston

Colleen Albiston smiling
DIRECTOR

Colleen is the President & CEO of the Humber River Hospital Foundation. Prior, she was the first Chief Marketing Officer for professional services firm Deloitte. She has served on the boards of the YWCA of Montreal, the Volunteer Centre of Calgary, LEAF Foundation, the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, and the YMCA of Greater Toronto, which also included a term as Board Chair. She is currently a director of the board and of the executive committee of ParticipACTION. Colleen’s achievements and contributions have been recognized with the Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 award and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Mary Beck

Mary Beck
Director

A long-time YMCA volunteer, Mary is a Board Member and Past Chair of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver and is a Trustee of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver Foundation. She became a member of the YMCA Canada Board of Directors in 2016. Mary is currently a member of the World Relationships Committee and the Chair of the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee of the National Board.  Mary is a retired member of the Law Society of British Columbia.  She has received the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Tyril Froese

Tyril Froese smiling
DIRECTOR

Tyril is currently a partner with accounting firm MNP LLP. He joined the board of directors of the YMCA of Brandon in 2008 as a young leader. Tyril has become widely known in the Brandon community as “the face of the YMCA.” As Board Chair for the past two years, he is especially proud of the YMCA of Brandon’s consistent scores in the coveted upper-right quadrant of the AHa! (Association Health Assessment) metric. He is actively working to expand the reach of the YMCA in Manitoba. When not spending time with his wife and two children, he also volunteers his time with the Westman Dreams for Kids Foundation and the MS Society.

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. 

Ruhee Ismail-Teja

Ruhee Ismail-Teja smiling
DIRECTOR

For Ruhee, the YMCA has been a part of life for as long as she can remember. In addition to her full-time role as Public Affairs Analyst with MEG Energy, she volunteers as a fitness instructor at the Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA. In 2016, Ruhee was a competing athlete and a member of the Finance Team for the Global Ismaili Golden Jubilee Games in Dubai. She is a former Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, Chair of the Queen’s University Alma Mater Society, and has served as both Board Chair and Executive Director of the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society. She is currently serving a two-year term as Government Relations Lead for the Ismaili Council for the Prairies.

Marcel Lauzière

Marcel Lauzière smiling
DIRECTOR

Marcel has worked in the charitable sector, as well as in government, here in Canada and abroad for over 30 years. He is the President & CEO of the Lawson Foundation. He has also served as President and CEO of Imagine Canada, Deputy Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development in the New Zealand Government, CEO of the Canadian Council on Social Development and ED of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Marcel is an active volunteer and he sits on the Board of the Public Policy Forum. He has received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to philanthropy as well as the Governor General’s Cross for Meritorious Service.

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.

Laurie Skinner

Laurie Skinner smiling
DIRECTOR

Laurie is currently the Chief Financial Officer of KMK Capital and provides strategic financial leadership to a diverse group of companies across several sectors. Laurie is the former Deputy Minister of Finance for Newfoundland and Labrador, and also served as Assistant Deputy Minister for three areas of the Department of Finance. Laurie is a past board director of the Brother T.I. Murphy Centre, and the Youth in Care Network of Newfoundland. She currently volunteers her time as a board director of The Gathering Place, a member of the Rotary Group of Northeast Avalon, and Board Chair of the YMCA of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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.

Mary Williams

Mary Williams smiling
DIRECTOR

As Vice-President of University Advancement for McMaster University, Mary leads a multiple-award-winning team with a mandate that includes communications and marketing, government and alumni relations, and fundraising. Mary also serves on a wide range of non-profit boards. It was her work on the board of the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford, as Vice Chair and then as Chair, that helped steer the organization through a period of massive transformation and growth. She was also instrumental in establishing the first formal partnership in Canada between the YMCA and a university. Mary has been recognized with the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education’s Outstanding Achievement Award, as well as the Ontario chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

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.

Immediate Past Chair

Craig Rowe

Craig Rowe
IMMEDIATE PAST 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.