Meet our Board

Board of Directors

Peggy Chen is a youth engagement strategist, non-profit communications professional, and a community builder. She is experienced in diverse sectors, including international development and public education, facilitating youth programs focused on women and girls’ rights, community sustainability, cultural inclusion, and immigrant settlement and integration. Currently, she is a Youth Settlement Worker with the Richmond School District in Metro Vancouver, supporting newcomer high school students in their leadership development and integration into the community. Peggy received her Bachelor of Business Administration from Simon Fraser University, specializing in Marketing and Communications. She is an alumna of the Youth Ambassadors Program with Canada and a former RADIUS fellow on social innovation and entrepreneurship. Peggy first joined the YWCA movement in 2014 as a staff member of YWCA Metro Vancouver, before joining the Board of YWCA Canada in 2018. She is currently the co-chair of the Board’s Young Women’s Leadership Engagement Committee, and is passionate about amplifying young women’s voices in the movement.

Sarah Corman is a partner at Corman Feiner LLP in Toronto where she focuses her practice on commercial litigation, administrative and regulatory law, and professional liability and regulation.  Before co-founding Corman Feiner LLP, Sarah was a partner in the litigation group at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, where she practised for 12 years following her call to the bar in 2004.  Sarah acts for a broad range of clients including large and small companies, institutions, government entities and professionals. She has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Court of Appeal for Ontario, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and various administrative tribunals. She has also acted as counsel in complex commercial arbitration matters and inquests.  Sarah received her BA (Hons) in Philosophy and History from Queen’s University and her JD from the University of Toronto.  She articled as a law clerk for the Chief Justice and the judges of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and received her LLM from Osgoode Hall Law School.  Sarah is an active teacher of legal advocacy, serving as an Adjunct Professor in the Competitive Mooting Program and a member of the Faculty in the Upper Year Trial Advocacy Course at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. She is also an dedicated mentor of younger lawyers and law students.  She received the University of Toronto Faculty of Law Wilson-Prichard Award for professional excellence and community service, in part due to her commitment to the YWCA.  Sarah has been a YWCA volunteer since she joined the Board of YWCA Toronto in 2005 and served for 6 years on that Board.  She went on the Chair the Nominating Committee for YWCA Toronto and joined the Board of YWCA Canada in 2014.  Her two young kids (6 and 4) keep her energetic (and exhausted).  Sarah is also a Certified Sommelier and advocates for people who love wine via her blog: barristersbottle.com.

Sonja Foley is the Director of Intergovernmental Relations Director and Strategic Partnerships with the City of Vancouver where she works with the provincial and federal governments to advance City priorities such as housing, childcare, transit, and other top priorities for the City. Born and raised in Sweden with an Iranian background and later immigrated to Canada, Sonja is a global citizen who is proud to call Vancouver home. Educated in Canada and Spain, Sonja obtained her Diploma in Radio Broadcasting from British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Communications from Royal Roads University and a Masters in International Relations from Instituto de Impresa (IE Business School) in Madrid, Spain. She began her career in media working at a number of radio stations on Vancouver Island and Vancouver but returned to school to continue her pursuit of learning and desire to make change. Her passion and vision for working together to build a better world has been evident in her international participation at the United Nations in 2013, 2015 and 2018. Locally, Sonja was the Chair of the Coast Capital Savings Young Leaders Council in 2013 where young leaders granted community groups focusing on youth up to $1M of granting funds. Sonja has been on the Board of Directors of the YWCA Canada since 2014 and has chaired a number of committees such as Young Women’s Engagement and Leadership Committee and the Alumnae Committee.

Dr. Jessica Franklin’s passion for the rights of women and girls is reflected in all areas of her life. She currently works in the Ontario Public Service as a Team Lead in the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Her areas of focus include Anti-Human Trafficking and Violence against Women Programs. Prior to this, she worked as the Manager of Women and Girls’ Programs at YWCA Hamilton. In this role, she designed and delivered programming in the areas of young women’s leadership development, civic engagement and gender based violence prevention. She has led collaborative projects, including the Totally Awesome Young Women’s Breakfast and participated in a number of YWCA Canada initiatives including Think Big! Lead Now! Young Women’s National Leadership Summit and the National Cyber Violence Knowledge Exchange Project. Jessica has also worked with external stakeholders to develop anti-violence training, policies and response protocols for McMaster University and skilled trades employers in Hamilton. Dr. Franklin has designed and taught courses in International Development Studies, Labour Studies and Political Science and is currently a sessional faculty member in the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University. Her published works examine race and gender relations, intersectionality and women’s social movements in Latin America. She holds a PhD in International Relations from McMaster University, a MA in Political Science from The University of Western Ontario and a BA in Political Science and Global Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Karen Gilmore has been on the Board of YWCA Canada since 2014, and has been the Chair of the Board since June 2018. Prior to joining the National Board, Karen served for eight years on the Board of YWCA Metro Vancouver, where she was Chair for two years and also chaired the Governance & Nominating Committee. Karen is a lawyer, and is currently Vice-President & General Counsel for Fulmer Capital Partners Inc., a family investment company in Vancouver. She was previously Vice-President at Douglas & McIntyre, a Canadian book publishing company, and a partner in the national law firm of McCarthy Tétrault LLP, where she practiced corporate commercial law and founded and led the Technology & Intellectual Property Law Group in Vancouver.  In addition to volunteering with the YWCA, Karen is on the Executive of the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association—BC Section, and is a Director and BC Chapter Leader for the Womens’ General Counsel Canada. She has also served on the Grants Committee of the CKNW Orphan’s Fund. In 2016, Karen was awarded the BC Community Achievement Award, and the Agnes Amelia Blizzard Award from YWCA Canada.

Jessica Joss As a finance and accounting professional, Jessica works with a variety of clients to help them achieve their financial goals. Jessica prides herself on taking a creative approach to Financial Planning and providing customized solutions for clients. She has received career recognition by being named to the Million Dollar Round Table and recognized as “Top 40 Under 40” by her local Chamber of Commerce. She holds the designations of CPA, CA, CPA (Illinois) and CFP.  Jessica has been a proud board member of the YWCA Lethbridge and District for the past 5 years. Her credentials don’t tell you about her personal experience with harassment and discrimination in male dominated industries, the journey she has taken with her sister and wife as they navigate judgement and discrimination, or her own experience with fear leaving domestic partnerships. Her personal goal is to improve the lives of women of all ages, religions, races, and life circumstance. Her passion for creating safe spaces for women and girls has been evident in her approach to decision making and financial leadership at her local member association.  Jessica is excited about the contribution she can make in continuing the legacy of the YWCA at the National level.

Susan Kennard was nominated to the YWCA Canada national board in 2016. She is a member of the Governance and International Cooperation committees. From 2009 – 2016 Susan was on the Board of Directors of YWCA Banff, the last 4 years as Board Chair. Susan was a member of YWCA Canada’s delegation to the 57th and 59th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and also represented YWCA Canada as a delegate at the 2015 YWCA World Council in Bangkok Thailand. Susan lives in Banff and is on the management team for Parks Canada Banff Field Unit. Prior to that she was the Director and Executive Producer of the Banff New Media Institute at the Banff Centre for the Arts. She also worked for Dateline NBC New York, CBC Newsworld, CBC Radio and started her career in the campus/community radio sector at the local and then national level. Susan has an MA in communication for Development from the University of Malmö, Sweden, Graduate diploma in Communications Studies from Concordia University Montreal and a B.A. from the University of Regina.

Sereena King holds a Bachelor of Commerce with Distinction from the University of Saskatchewan and is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources. She has over 15 years professional HR experience with CNH, Hatch, and BHP. In addition, Sereena has spent a number of years as an instructor with the extension division at SIAST for the HR certificate program. She currently holds the position of Manager Human Resources for BHP Canada, with accountability for Projects and Operations. Sereena joined the YWCA Saskatoon Board in 2013 and in 2016 began her two-year term as President. During Sereena’s time on the board she has served on the following committees: Governance, Finance, Audit, Nomination, Recruitment, Strategic Planning, and Executive. Sereena was born and raised in Saskatoon where she is raising her 9-year-old son.

Beth Lyons is Executive Director of the New Brunswick Women’s Council, New Brunswick’s independent public advisory agency on women’s equality.  Previous to working with the council, Beth worked as Associate Director of YWCA Moncton. She worked primarily on youth, advocacy, and community engagement initiatives.  She is also a volunteer member of YWCA Canada’s Board of Directors. Over the past 4 years, Beth volunteered with the Ontario-based collective femifesto to support the creation of a media guide to reporting on sexual violence, Use the Right Words. She also serves as a community member on St. Thomas University’s Research Ethics Board.  Beth holds a Bachelor of Art (Honours) from Acadia University in English and Theatre Studies; her thesis focused on cultural studies and feminist theory. She is an alumni of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference and 21 Inc Atlantic Canadian leadership program.

Yasothini (“Yaso”) Mathu is a Crown Attorney with Manitoba Justice-Public Prosecutions Branch.  She has worked there since 2011 and lives in Brandon, Manitoba.  She has three degrees from the University of Manitoba: Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts and an LLB.  She has been on YWCA Canada’s Board of Directors since 2012. Prior to that she was a volunteer with the Board of Directors at her local member association, the YWCA Brandon.  She served as President of that board from 2008 – 2011. Yaso is married to her incredibly supportive husband, Ashley Joyce, and she has two young children, Samuel and Asha. She loves to shop, travel and watch movies in her spare time.

 Kate Nelischer is the Assistant Dean, Academic and Outreach Programs at the University of Toronto John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. She is also a PhD in Planning candidate at the University of Toronto, where her research focuses on smart cities. She is currently studying the land development, policy-making, and community engagement processes associated with the Google Sidewalk Labs plan for a new smart neighbourhood on Toronto’s waterfront. Kate previously worked in urban planning and community consultation for the City of Toronto and local firm The Planning Partnership. Kate regularly writes for a number of urban-focused publications, including Spacing, SITE, and Ground Magazine, and lectures on engagement practices for planning and design professionals. She has been a member of the YWCA Canada Board of Directors since 2013, where she has served as the Co-chair of the Young Women’s Leadership Miles Committee and is currently the Chair of the Nominating Committee. Previous to her time on the National Board, Kate served on the Board of YMCA-YWCA Guelph.

Brittany Tibbo, CIPP/C, CIPM, FIP  Senior Privacy Advisor, Government Advisory Directorate, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Brittany began her career in Privacy as a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information Privacy and IM team. Since 2014, Brittany has provided privacy guidance and expertise to Provincial eHealth Projects and Services as an Analyst, Officer and most recently as Manager of the department. In her current capacity at OPC, Brittany provides privacy related guidance and advice to federal government departments. Brittany completed her undergraduate studies at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and is a graduate of the Masters of Public Policy and Management Program at the University of York, UK.

Marie-José Ouellet has been involved in the YWCA movement for 12 years. She has been a member of the National YWCA Canada board since 2014. She is currently vice chair of the board and chair of the CEO evaluation committee. Marie-José is affiliated with YWCA Québec, where she first joined the board in 2006. She was elected President of the Board from 2007 to 2014. During her mandate, she initiated the renovation project of the YWCA Québec building and as president she worked towards the creation of the Résidence St-Gabriel which offers subsidized housing for women. In her professional life, Marie-José has been the executive director of Ressources Entreprises for the last 10 years, a nonprofit organization which helps entrepreneurs and small businesses and is a member of the Canada Business Network. She assists many women entrepreneurs in the creation of their business, in finding financing and in studying the market. Marie-José has worked in Spain, Portugal, and in Québec in the areas of economic development, industry, technology as well as in communications, graphics and branding agencies and in strategic business. She holds an MBA with a specialty in marketing from ESIC, Business & Marketing School located in Madrid, Spain and a BA in translation from the Université Laval, à Québec.  French, English, Portuguese, and Spanish are all part of her life and her journey. She is a mother to 2 young women in their 30s with whom she shares both personal and professional challenges. She practices yoga daily, her path to health, resilient, and clear conscience.

Kim van der Woerd is a member of the ‘Namgis First Nation from Alert Bay, BC. Kim is the owner of Reciprocal Consulting, an all-Indigenous consulting firm specializing in program evaluation and research. She has over 20 years of experience conducting local, provincial and national program evaluations managing almost 170 projects. Kim completed her PhD in Psychology at Simon Fraser University. Her dissertation was the recipient of the Michael Scriven Dissertation Award for Outstanding Contribution to Evaluation Theory, Methodology or Practice, 2007.  Kim also received the Canadian Evaluation Society Contributions to Evaluation in Canada 2014 Award for her mentorship of Indigenous students. More recently, Kim was awarded the BC Community Achievement and Mitchell Award through the BC Achievement Foundation. Kim has also been active in her community serving on many boards and is currently serving on the board of the YWCA Canada.

Yulena  Wan  was born, raised, and continues to live in Hamilton, Ontario.  She is a Chartered Professional Accountant and works by day as Manager of Corporate Services at the Hamilton Community Foundation, a leader in philanthropy working to create a vibrant and inclusive city.  She began her work in the movement on the local Board at YWCA Hamilton in 2010, participating in a number of Executive roles and committees.  In 2016, she joined the National Board at YWCA Canada. As the Treasurer of the organization, she chairs the Audit and Finance Committees. In her community, she is involved in a number of other governance roles, volunteers at income tax clinics and other community events, and was named a CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow.