Board of Directors
Co-Chair of OCC
Chair of Partnership Development Working Group
Cheryl has been a member of OCC for 8 years. She also represents OCSA (Ontario Community Support Services Association) on the Coalition. As well, she has chaired the Awareness & Communications Working Group/Committee at OCC. Cheryl joined Skylark in January 2018 as Senior Director of System Services and Complex Special Needs. In this role, Cheryl oversees a 30 million dollar budget and multiple system navigation services for both the children's mental health sector and developmental services sector. Prior to this, Cheryl worked at VHA Home HealthCare and was responsible for overseeing and building VHA’s charitable programs province-wide. These programs are dedicated to serving those who are most vulnerable and marginalized in our community. Cheryl holds an MSW from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Schulich. The skills she brings to OCC include business development, strategic planning, marketing and partnership building.
Chair of Membership and Governance Committee
Sam has been a member of OCC for 3 years. He has been a caregiver since 1990, when his wife was diagnosed with MS. She has been in a wheelchair since 1992. Sam’s legal experience includes serving as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at the Canadian Red Cross. His areas of expertise include corporate and commercial law, the law of charities and not-for-profits, and the governance of charities and not-for-profits. He currently also teaches Business Law at Carleton’s Sprott School of Business. Sam is currently chairing the OCC Membership & Governance Working Group/Committee.
Co-Chair, Research & Advocacy Committee
Rose-Marie has been a member of OCC for over 6 years. She has served as a co-chair of the OCC Research & Advocacy Working Group/Committee for the past 2 years. She has also brought her experience to many external committees in her roles as a part-time Social Worker on a Medical Oncology Team at the University Health Network and a Professional Practice Leader. Rose-Marie believes “nothing has impacted my life more than being a caregiver to a family member with a mental health diagnosis, a daughter who has had a heart transplant and caring for an ageing family member with early-onset dementia."
Patricia (Patti) Lennox
Membership & Governance Committee
Patti has been with the OCC for 7+ years. Now retired, she chairs the Successful Aging Advisory Committee of United Way East Ontario-Lanark. LC-SAAC is a partnership of donors, interested citizens, service providers, organization representatives, coalition members, business leaders, government, labour, educators and other funders. The purpose of the committee is to provide leadership, direction and support to United Way and agencies related to seniors and ageing through the development of resources, partnerships, alliances, projects and initiatives within and across sectors. The priority goal is: "Seniors are able to stay in their homes and remain engaged in the community, and all caregivers feel supported. This can be done by reducing the factors that lead to isolation and vulnerability while respecting seniors’ independence and by establishing caregiver support strategies." Prior to retirement, Patti spent 20 years in health care with VON and Community and Primary Health Care. Her primary focus has been caregivers and caregiver support. As well, Patti served as School Board Trustee for five years at the Upper Canada District School Board.
Co-Chair, Research & Advocacy Committee
Lauren brings almost 30 years of experience in policy analysis and development to OCC. Her background as a lawyer gives her a strong understanding of legislative and policy frameworks, while her history of community connections grounds her in the lived experience of law and policy, particularly among vulnerable and marginalized communities.
While at the Ontario Human Rights Commission, she championed and led a major project on the human rights of family caregivers (“The Cost of Caring”). At the Law Commission of Ontario, she led law reform projects on ageing, disability, legal capacity, and the end of life that were designed to include the experiences of caregivers. As Director of Policy at Wellesley Institute, she supported projects that centred the under-examined experiences of culturally, linguistically and ethnically diverse older adults and their family caregivers. In her own life, she has provided care and support to several family members. Lauren says, “I know well that much of our society rests on the invaluable but all-too-frequently taken-for-granted efforts of family caregivers, and that it is a role that brings both joy and difficulty. I also understand that the struggle of women for equality is deeply entwined with the recognition of and support for family caregiving.”
Dana is the Director of Services at Wesway, a not-for-profit respite organization that supports family caregivers living in Thunder Bay or in a rural or remote community in Northern Ontario. Dana has been working in the respite field for over 30 years and has focused on creating responsive respite services for family caregivers who are supporting individuals with challenging care needs from birth to senior years. She firmly believes that caregivers are the true experts in relation to their care and is committed to ensuring that services are shaped to meet the unique needs and preferences of family caregivers. Dana is also a founding member of the International Short Break Association (ISBA), an organization that provides a platform for knowledge exchange, courses of action and working practices within the field of short breaks (respite) worldwide.
Andrea first became involved with OCC when she worked at VHA Home HealthCare as Regional Manager Community Support Services. She was employed there for 15 years and became Director of Client Services at Circle of Care in May 2020. Andrea has been the primary caregiver to her mother since 2011. She said that both her personal and professional experiences have motivated her to explore opportunities to sit on a Board of Directors. She said that she believes one of the key issues facing caregivers is that they are “not recognized” and do not have a strong enough ‘voice’. She would like to be involved in the opportunity to help OCC be a ‘bridge’ to advancing caregiver priorities. Andrea described her interest in the opportunity to fill a vacancy on the OCC Board in this way: “In addition to expertise, I believe to be a successful OCC board member, acting with integrity, transparency and nurturing an inclusive environment that encourages and supports fresh ideas and develops talent is required. These are integral to the way I work.”
For several years, Claire has been a quiet follower of the OCC. As the in-home caregiver for a parent with MS and dementia, and an adopted child with Autism and ADHD, she said she often had her “hands full.” However, she adds “I am now at a stage of family and career life where I am able to take on a greater role in advocating for the big and small changes that will better support caregivers like myself, and the vulnerable people for whom we care.
Claire brings three primary skills and experiences to the Board. First, she formerly practised law before pursuing her passion to work directly as a social worker with vulnerable people. As such, she has experience working in diverse groups, and has strong written and verbal communications skills. Her experiences have included writing materials for social media and websites. Second, she has experience as an active community member, including either leading or participating in teams who have received grants from community organizations and government bodies. These grants have helped to fund successful research and community development projects.
Finally, and most importantly, Claire said, “I have diverse, lived experience as a member of the ‘sandwich generation’. This has included, for both an older adult and child/teen with a disability, providing daily care, navigating health and social systems and advocating for systemic changes. My experiences have fed my passion for supporting other caregivers and for advocating for appropriate supports so that we can continue to do the essential work we do.”
Chair, Awareness & Communications Commitee
Member, Research & Advocacy Committee
Daniel currently serves on both the Research & Advocacy and the Awareness & Communications Committees at OCC. He is currently working as the Advocacy Manager (Hospice Palliative Care) for the Canadian Cancer Society, where he is responsible for, among other things, supporting their advocacy work regarding palliative care, financial supports for people with cancer, and supports for caregivers.
Before taking the position at the Canadian Cancer Society, he spent eight years in various MPP and Ministers’ offices in the Ontario government and managed and worked on a variety of political campaigns. He believes this experience, where he worked closely with a variety of volunteers and limited resources to affect change, will serve him well as a board member for the OCC.
Lastly, and most importantly, Daniel said “I am passionate about this work because of the losses I have experienced and because of my loved ones with chronic illnesses. The work the OCC does is personal to me and I have a deep personal commitment to seeing the OCC fulfill its goals.”