2015-2016 Board of Directors

Board Members

Catherine St.Louis, President

Born in the Nation’s Capital, Catherine is the only sibling to her brother Paul, who has a developmental disability.  A graduate of Carleton University, Catherine has worked for Public Works and Government Services Canada, for 16 years. She raised three children as a single parent, and was a caregiver to her parents in their declining years. As a young adult she became increasingly involved in advocating for her brother. In 2012, she became his full time caregiver. Through these roles, she has developed a unique perspective and in-depth knowledge of Ottawa’s programs and services, how to access them, and achieve optimum solutions.  Catherine is keen to be involved with Families Matter Co-op and looks forward to sharing her journey, and learning from others, as they work together to effect changes for those with special needs in our community.

Vania Karam, Treasurer

Vania is a native of Ottawa. She has board experience as both President and Treasurer and volunteers her time with an array or organizations including CPA Canada's Financial Literacy Program and the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. She works for the Government on small business issues, including social enterprise. She brings to this role her experience and knowledge of accounting, finance, economics and risk. She also operates a small tax preparation business. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CGA) and a Certified Risk Manager. She values perseverance and empowerment and is a firm believer that with hope, hard work and a bit of luck, you can do anything. It is these values that drew her to Families Matter Co-Op.

Shana Davis, Secretary

Shana has a Bachelor of Arts with a specialization in Communications from the University of Ottawa and a Master's of Industrial Relations from Queen's University. After working as an HR Advisor for a major Bank, Shana decided to switch gears by joining the family business in 2008 where she currently works as the Administrative Director. Her background in HR and business administration has given her a passion for community involvement and social enterprising. Shana also has a love for dance and has spent some time volunteering as a dance instructor teaching ballet and creative movement to children. Shana enjoys her work with FMC and looks forward to continuing learning about what matters most to families and working on issues relating to housing, employment and meaningful community involvement.

Sharon Edwards, Director

Sharon, a retired training consultant, worked in the public and private sectors in education, social work services, marketing and sales.  Sharon has a son in his 40's with Aspergers Syndrome.  She became involved with Families Matter when she was desperately seeking information on how to access financial assistance, housing and job opportunities.  Over the years, her family and son have benefitted greatly from the sharing of information and ideas with other FMC families. Sharon has served on the board in various capacities and is a firm believer in ensuring that families living with adults with developmental disabilities receive guidance to navigate through the maze of information to find needed support for their family member.

Stephanie King, Past President

Stephanie has been working with individuals with an intellectual disability and their families since 1993. She is also an aunt and advisor to a wonderful nephew who has an intellectual disability. Her educational background includes: DSW Diploma, B.A. in Psychology, B.Ed. Elementary, Intermediate qualifications, and specialist qualifications in special education and english as a second language. Stephanie is presently a special education teacher in the Community Living Program at Glebe High School. Stephanie has given workshops to parents, teachers and individuals with an intellectual disability on transition planning, educating for the future, and literacy for individuals with an intellectual disability. She is always willing to share her resources, time and support to individuals with a disability, their families and fellow educators.

Benjamin Felix, Past President

Benjamin is a graduate of Northeastern University (BSc Eng ’11) in Boston, Massachusetts, and Carleton University (MBA ’13) in Ottawa, Ontario. He lives in Ottawa with his wife and sons. Benjamin has volunteered as a Peer Support volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society, a basketball coach at the Boys and Girls club, and a mentor in Junior Achievement’s Company program. He gained experience with the issues that families with a disabled child face through his work as a financial advisor. Working with families in this situation resulted in Benjamin’s involvement in FMC.

Branka Gudelj, Director

Branka has worked in the non-profit sector for the last 29 years, specializing in fundraising and project management. She holds a Master of Science degree in project management and is a Certified Fundraising Executive. Branka has fundraising experience as a volunteer fundraiser, fundraising consultant and remunerated fundraiser. She has worked as a fundraiser for the Canadian Mental Health Association, National Office, Family Services Ottawa (FSO) and as a board member for the Fragile X Research Foundation of Canada.  She has a 21 year old son with Fragile X syndrome.

Bernice McKeown, Director

Prior to moving to Ottawa, she was employed by The London District Catholic School Board for 24 years in the capacity of Benefits Administrator. Over the years she has been involved in fundraising both with her employer and associations connected to her son Jason. Jason is developmentally delayed and had lived independently (for 11 years) with daily support and worked in an Arc environment, prior to moving to Ottawa. She has been shocked to find Ottawa's housing and support for special needs clients behind other communities with major waiting lists for housing, work, and support. Her main objective is to help develop grass roots ideas, plans and execution of proper accommodation living and support for our loved ones.

Louis Carvalho, Director

Louis is in his twentieth year of policing with the Ottawa Police Service and has gained valuable knowledge and experience while working in various roles as a police officer. During this period of time, he has earned an exceptional reputation for his commitment and dedication to his career. He has excellent decision-making skills along with the ability to work well with others and to communicate fluently in both official languages. As a father to four young girls and having a family member with developmental disabilities, he has developed patience, compassion and a strong desire for community service. He has volunteered as assistant coach on numerous soccer teams with Ottawa South United, as well as volunteering for events and functions in his children’s schools. He has the ability to manage a budget and to help determine how funds should be distributed based on where they are needed the most. This, combined with his strong leadership skills and his desire to give back to the community serve him well as a member of Families Matter Board of Directors.

Marlene Morrow, Director

Marlene Morrow is a mother of 2 boys and stepmother to 4 girls and a boy. These 7 children range in age from 22 to 33. She has had her hand in a few different pots since she graduated from the Child and Youth Counselor course at Algonquin in 1981. Over the years while raising her children, Marlene worked in various positions for several local organizations that provide day programs or residential care for developmentally and physically disabled adults: Robert Smart Centre, OCAPDD, Christian Horizons and ICSS.  She has been an Educational Assistant at OCDSB and until her early retirement in 2015, Marlene had been a Child and Youth Counselor on the psychiatric ward at CHEO since 2003.  She has now started a business Orange Heart which supports Adults with Disabilities as well as Seniors. On the Board of Directors for Families Matter Co-op, she is looking forward to being in this community again, as she has really missed it. She is interested in helping out with fundraising events and any other areas where she can be useful.


Meet the Staff

Jeff Bond, Executive Director

Jeff studied Non-Profit & Volunteer Sector Governance and Management at Carleton University.  His career spans over 20 years in the not-for-profit sector.  He spent a little over 10 years as the Manager of Programs and Training with Volunteer Canada, Manager of Programs with Volunteer Ottawa and most recently as the Owner and Chief Consultant of Red Acorn Consulting which designs and introduces solutions to help businesses and non-profit organisations cultivate exceptional working environments, build strategic relations and increase impact and productivity.



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