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Who We Are

At Niagara Children's Centre, we’re driven by our dedicated group of 130 staff members who come together to create a welcoming and supportive environment for the children and youth we serve. We are a place where families are at the heart of all we do. While the majority of our staff are rehabilitation therapists with specialized training in child and youth development, we also employ administrative and support staff to keep operations running smoothly, and a development team focused on fundraising for new and innovative programs. Our organization is overseen by an 11-member board of directors and a leadership team. Together, we’re committed to our mission of seeing “Niagara’s children and youth at their best”.

Vision, Mission and Values

Our Vision

Niagara’s Children and Youth at Their Best.

Ends Policy (Mission)

We enable children and youth with physical, developmental and communicative delays or disabilities to achieve their optimal potential within their home, school and community environments.

We do this through delivering a continuum of therapeutic supports and services to children and families and by working with our partners to deliver coordinated, integrated and family-centred care.

Our Values

  • Children and families come first
  • Excellence and innovation are cornerstones of our achievement
  • Teamwork and partnerships are vital
  • Respect underlies all we do

Board of Directors

Niagara Children’s Centre is governed by a volunteer board of directors operating under a policy governance model. Board meetings occur monthly, from September to June. The Centre’s annual general meeting is held each June.

For further information about board of director meeting dates or to enquire about attending a meeting, please contact Oksana Fisher, chief executive officer, at 905-688-1890 ext. 102 or oksana.fisher@niagarachildrenscentre.com.

2024-25 Board of Directors

Ms. Lois Ouellette, Chair

Lois Ouellette joined the board of Niagara Children’s Centre in 2016. She is currently the board’s chair.

Lois, a chartered professional accountant, spent her entire 39-year career at KPMG LLP, retiring in 2021 as an audit partner. At KPMG, Lois often worked with not-for-profit agencies, providing a variety of specialized accounting services.

Lois’ inspiration to join the board came from a personal connection – her grandson receives services from the Centre.

“Niagara Children’s Centre makes a huge difference in the lives of children and families,” said Lois. “What people often don’t understand is that when you have a child with special needs, it can be challenging to find the help you need. That’s where the Centre comes in. They work with families and create plans and goals specific to each child’s needs. And they get results. It’s amazing what they do for families. They give people hope.”

Lois holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Waterloo. In addition to serving on the Centre board, Lois also currently sits on the board of Empowered Kids Ontario. She has previously contributed her time to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the St. Catharines Chamber of Commerce, and her local church.

Lois lives in St. Catharines with her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. In her spare time, Lois enjoys reading, walking, and giving a helping hand by volunteering her time for various not-for-profit organizations.

Ms. Angela Davidson, Vice-Chair

Angela Davidson has served as a board member for Niagara Children’s Centre since 2019.

As a long-term employee of the City of Niagara Falls’ business development department, Angela brings various expertise to her role as a board member, including business administration, entrepreneurship, strategic planning, small business consulting and government relations.

“I’m really proud of the work the Centre accomplishes every year and the work we do with families in the Niagara Region,” said Angela. “Children are our future and the staff here are extremely helpful and committed. Everything they do to help children and families contributes to a more sustainable community.”

Angela joined the City of Niagara Falls’ business development department as a small business advisor in 2009 and was promoted to her current role of economic development officer in 2013. She holds a bachelor of social science from the University of Western Ontario, a graduate certificate in international business management from Fanshawe College and a master of business administration from Niagara University.

Angela also serves on the City of Niagara Falls United Way Committee. She contributes her time and expertise to a variety of business groups, including the Niagara Economic Development Corridor Partnership and the Strategic Advisory Committee for the Niagara Region.

Angela was born and raised in Niagara Falls and resides in the city with her husband, Jason, and their dog, Zoe. In their spare time, Angela and Jason enjoy exploring the Niagara Region, particularly the South Coast in Crystal Beach, and taking part in outdoor activities such as golfing and hiking.

Ms. Lynne Burnside, Director

Lynne Burnside joined Niagara Children’s Centre's Board in June 2023.

A senior marketing professional, Lynne has been building brands across a variety of industries for more than 30 years. Prior to retirement, she was the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Walker Industries, with previous positions at Andrew Peller Ltd., Coca-Cola Ltd., and Nabisco Brands.

A graduate of the Ivey Business School at Western University, Lynne has worked in marketing her entire career. She believes marketing is essential to the success of all organizations in order to garner awareness and achieve objectives. Based on this belief, Lynne is happy to provide her marketing perspective as a Board member to support the essential and important work of Niagara Children’s Centre.

Lynne is a native Torontonian who moved to Niagara by way of Brandon, Manitoba approximately 20 years ago. She has long been passionate about women’s and children’s issues having volunteered with Birchway Niagara, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation and La Leche League. Lynne is happily married with two adult daughters and a new rescue pup, Sherman. 

Mr. Frank Demizio, Director

Frank is one of Niagara Children’s Centre's newest board members, joining in 2023.

His experience in the healthcare field has spanned more than 40 years, including roles as an Ambulance Attendant, Respiratory Therapist and later as a Clinical Instructor for the Algonquin College Respiratory Therapy program.

His career path would lead him into a managerial role, joining Queensway Carleton Hospital in Ottawa as the Director of Cardio Diagnostics, Rehabilitation and Diagnostic Imaging Services. He would also become the Administrative Director of the Valley Laboratory Program which oversaw Lab services at the Ottawa Valley Hospitals.

He continued to build his experience by assuming the role of Vice President of Clinical Services and Site Administer for the Niagara Falls and Fort Erie Hospitals for the Niagara Health System from 2005 to 2011. He is now the principal owner of HRI Healthcare Consulting and also provides consulting services for RPG Consulting in the areas of Master Planning and Functional Programming.

Frank is a member in good standing with the College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario (CRTO) and the Canadian College of Healthcare Leaders (CCHL). He has been a Surveyor/Accreditor with Accreditation Canada since 1999 for both Canadian and International healthcare facilities. He holds a Master's in Health Administration and is a Certified Health Executive with CCHL.

Frank believes that volunteering at a progressive organization like Niagara Children’s Centre is very rewarding, and heartwarming and provides the satisfaction of making a difference. During seven years with Habitat for Humanity Niagara, his roles included Board Chair, Chair of the CEO Relations Committee, and a member of the Governance and Finance Risk Committees. In addition, he has volunteered on the Board of the Niagara Falls Community Health Centre, Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce and is currently an Advisory Board member for the School of Dreams Foundation.

In his personal time, Frank enjoys gardening, playing soccer and spending time with his four grandchildren.

Ms. Dolores Fabiano, Director

Dolores Fabiano has served as a board member for Niagara Children’s Centre since 2021.

During her time on the board, Dolores has seen firsthand the Centre’s positive impact on children and families in the Niagara Region.

“Through my work on the board, I’ve come to realize there are so many families in Niagara that use the Centre’s services,” said Dolores. “You never know what someone is going through, and with the Centre, people feel they have support and can get meaningful resources for their children. Serving on the board has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me personally.”

Dolores began her career in 1990 as the executive director for the Welland/Pelham Chamber of Commerce. In 2014, she accepted the additional role of executive director for the South Niagara Chambers of Commerce (Niagara Falls, Port Colborne-Wainfleet, and Greater Fort Erie). Dolores holds a diploma in journalism-print from Niagara College.

In addition to her work as a board member for Niagara Children’s Centre, Dolores also sits on the boards for a number of community organizations, including the Niagara Foundation for Catholic Education, the Niagara Falls Tourism Association and Mapleview Charities.

Dolores lives with her husband in the Niagara Region. They have two grown daughters. In her spare time, Dolores and her husband enjoy walking their dog on the Steven Bauer Trail.

Mr. Lorne Gretsinger, Director

Lorne Gretsinger has served as a board member for Niagara Children’s Centre since 2021.

Through his role as principal of Central French Immersion Public School in Grimsby, Lorne provides a unique insight and perspective to his position as a board member.

“As a public school principal, I get to see firsthand the Centre’s positive impact on the lives of students with special needs and their families, and how Centre programs and services help children and families integrate into a strong and vibrant public school system,” said Lorne.

Additionally, Lorne uses his experience working with marginalized communities to find opportunities to continually improve and maintain the Centre’s strong emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion.

Lorne began his career in 1992, working as a teacher for several schools in the Niagara Region. He was promoted to vice-principal in 1999 and principal in 2001. Lorne holds a bachelor of education from Queen’s University, a master of education from Brock University, and is currently pursuing his doctor of education at Western University.

In addition to sitting on the board for Niagara Children’s Centre, Lorne serves as vice-president of the Ontario Principals’ Council, and has also contributed his time and expertise to United Way Niagara, the Silver Spire United Church, and musical theatre and arts organizations.

Lorne was born, raised and currently resides in Beamsville. In his spare time, Lorne enjoys spending time with his daughter and singing with gay and lesbian choruses.

Mr. Larry Kent, Director

Larry Kent joined the board of Niagara Children’s Centre in 2019.

Larry spent his entire career with TD Bank, holding a number of progressive management positions, and working throughout southern Ontario – primarily in the Niagara Region. Larry retired from TD in 2015.

Larry says being a board member for the Centre has helped to educate him about the needs of children and families in Niagara.

“There are presentations made to the board on a monthly basis from children, parents, Centre therapists and social workers,” said Larry. “With each presentation, your eyes are open to the challenges these children face and the important work the Centre does to help children and their families.”

In addition to serving on the board for Niagara Children’s Centre, Larry has also been a member of the Rotary Clubs of Welland and St. Catharines, and has served on the boards of United Way of South Niagara and Family and Children’s Services Niagara. He has also volunteered with the YMCA for a number of fundraising initiatives.

Larry lives in Grimsby with his wife, Eleanor. Larry and Eleanor enjoy spending time with their two sons, and three granddaughters.

Mr. Vic Kerschl, Director

Vic Kerschl re-joined the board of Niagara Children’s Centre in July 2014, after previously serving on the board from 2004-2013. During his first tenure, Vic served as board chair from 2009 to 2011.

Vic has been a Rotarian for more than 40 years and the Rotary Club’s motto – “Service Above Self” – was part of Vic’s inspiration to volunteer as a board member for the Centre.

“From a personal point of view, I find it extremely rewarding to help provide assistance to members of our community and our society who are in need,” said Vic. “It’s personally satisfying to be involved in the operation of providing these services, and that is a common feeling among board members at the Centre.”

Vic worked for the City of Welland for more than 30 years, holding several roles including planning director, economic development commissioner, and his final role of chief administrative officer, which he held for 10 years before retiring in 2001. Vic holds a degree in geography and urban planning from Wilfrid Laurier University and attended graduate studies at the University of Toronto.

Vic is also the current president of the Rotary Club of Welland and is the current chair of the Alzheimer Society of Niagara Foundation. Vic previously chaired the foundation boards for Niagara College and the Welland Hospital.

In his spare time, Vic enjoys boating, hunting, and traveling. Vic and his wife, Farida, have raised two sons. Vic and Farida reside on their rural property on the outskirts of Welland.

Mr. Mathew Siscoe, Chair

Mat Siscoe, who has served on the Board since 2015, was inspired to join Niagara Children's Centre because of a personal connection.

“My two youngest boys have both received services from the Children's Centre over the last several years for speech and language therapy, as well as a number of therapies related to my youngest son's autism. If there is one organization I feel I need to give back to, it is Niagara Children's Centre. They've done more for my family than I could ever hope for.”

Formally a physics teacher at Saint Paul Catholic High School in Niagara Falls, Mat is currently the Mayor of St. Catharines. He has also served as a Niagara Regional Councillor representing St. Catharines and as a St. Catharines City Councillor representing St. Patrick’s Ward. Mat holds a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering from Queen’s University and a bachelor of education from the University of Ottawa.

In addition to serving on the board for Niagara Children’s Centre, Mat has also contributed his time to the Out of the Cold program, Community Care of St. Catharines and Thorold, and as a coach through the Niagara Youth Flag Football League and CYO Hockey.

Mat lives in St. Catharines with his wife, Chrissy, their three sons, Xavier, Canaan, and Darius, and their daughter, Sophia.

Ms. Kate Wiley, Director

Kate Wiley joined the board of Niagara Children’s Centre in 2022.

Kate has worked at Niagara College since 2019 as an accessibility consultant and an educational developer. In her roles, Kate works with staff and students to make education accessible to all students with disabilities. Kate’s professional and personal experience inspired her to join the board.

“I have three kids and my youngest was born with a disability,” said Kate. “We have received services through the Centre for years. The building has become like a second home and the staff like a second family. I joined the board because I wanted to give back in any way I could and I felt that my work experience and lived experience would bring a unique perspective.”

Kate is passionate about supporting equity, diversity and inclusion and has worked with people of all ages in the field of mental health and disabilities for her entire career. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Ottawa, a certificate in addictions counselling from McMaster University, and continuously pursues professional development in the field of inclusion and accessibility.

In addition to sitting on the board for Niagara Children’s Centre, Kate is also a member of the City of St. Catharines’ accessibility advisory committee and is council chair for Jeanne Sauvé French Immersion School.

Kate lives in St. Catharines with her husband, their three children, and their many pets. In her spare time, Kate enjoys spending time outdoors with her children and coaching her kids’ softball teams.

Ms. Barb Van Der Heyden, Director

Barb Van Der Heyden joined the board for Niagara Children’s Centre in 2022.

One of Barb’s grandchildren is on the autism spectrum and this personal experience helped inspire Barb to join the board.

“I truly want to have a better understanding of the challenges faced by children with special needs and their families and to understand what we can do to better their lives,” said Barb. “With my interests and skills sets, I believe I can help make a difference.”

Barb retired in 2020 as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters South Niagara, a role she held for nearly 11 years. Barb held many other roles in her career including executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Simcoe, executive officer for the Greater Barrie Homebuilders’ Association, instructor at Georgian College, and entrepreneur, owning and operating two businesses.

In addition to serving on the board for Niagara Children’s Centre, Barb is also the current treasurer and past president for the Ladies’ Niagara Peninsula Shrine Club, past high priestess of Bokhara Court #22, and an honorary aide of the Ladies’ Oriental Shrine of North America. Barb has volunteered throughout her adult life, with an affinity for children’s charities. In her career, Barb has volunteered for more than one dozen charitable organizations as a board member, fundraiser and organizer.

Barb lives in Niagara Falls with her husband. They enjoy spending time with their three grown sons and three grandchildren.

Ms. Oksana Fisher, Ex-Officio, Chief Executive Officer, Secretary

Oksana Fisher has served as the Chief Executive Officer since 2010. Oksana’s background as a health care professional and senior administrator has spanned various areas of health care, developmental services and children’s services, located in hospitals and community agencies. Oksana graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy and later completed her MBA at the Schulich School of Business at York University. She completed the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management Public Sector Leadership Institute program and the Ivey School of Business Community Shift Program

Board of Directors Core Principles

Members of the board of directors for Niagara Children’s Centre embrace and adhere to the following core principles:

  • They are committed to Niagara Children’s Centre’s Vision, Mission and Values
  • They are committed to the local and regional roles of Niagara Children's Centre
  • They serve as leaders for the functioning and work of the Centre
  • They are ambassadors for the Centre, and are committed to actively promoting the Centre and its initiatives
  • They are committed to supporting the fundraising initiatives of the Centre
  • They are committed to nurturing an environment based on respect and inclusivity

Board Recruitment

Annually, the board’s nominations committee is responsible for reviewing the terms and composition of the board, and for recruiting new board members when vacancies arise. Directors serve three-year terms, renewable for up to two additional terms.

Board Member Eligibility

Persons wishing to apply to serve on the board of Niagara Children’s Centre are required to meet the following criteria:

  • Have their principal residence or place of work located in the Niagara Region
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Not be an employee of Niagara Children’s Centre
  • Not be a family member of any employee of Niagara Children’s Centre
  • Undertake, as a condition of membership, to act only in the best interests of Niagara Children's Centre and not on behalf of any single issue or cause

If you are interested in learning more about the opportunity to serve as a board member for Niagara Children’s Centre, please contact Oksana Fisher, Chief Executive Officer at 905 688-1890 ext. 102 or oksana.fisher@niagarachildrenscentre.com.

Leadership Team

Oksana Fisher
Chief Executive Officer
905-688-1890 ext. 102

Kathy Bell
Director, Clinical Services
905-688-1890 ext. 200

Tammy Davey-Wiebe
Director, Corporate Services and Finance
905-688-1890 ext. 103

Marla Smith
Director, Development
905-688-1890 ext. 106

Kristen Groom
Director, Human Resources
905-688-1890 ext. 217

Clinical Leadership Team

Kathy Bell
Director, Clinical Services
905-688-1890 ext. 200

Rebecca Main
Clinical Manager
905-688-1890 ext. 257

Michelle Maxwell
Clinical Manager
905-688-1890 ext. 259

Julie McNamara

Clinical Manager
905-688-1890 ext. 130

Jackie Van Lankveld

Clinical Manager
905-688-1890 ext. 158

Kate Van Helvert
Quality and Decision Support Manager
905-668-1890 ext. 317

Empowered Kids Ontario

Niagara Children’s Centre is a member of Empowered Kids Ontario-Enfants Avenir Ontario (EKO-EAO). EKO represents Ontario’s publicly funded child development and rehabilitation sector – the centres that help kids with disabilities and their families live their best lives.

EKO promotes investments, policies and programs based on the best research and thought leadership available, from sources all over the world. They look for smart, innovative approaches to care at home, in schools and in communities across Ontario.

EKO members embrace a sense of belonging for every client. And we believe that families and kids must be at the centre of care decisions.

Established in 1978 (as the Association of Treatment Centres and later the Ontario Association of Children’s Rehabilitation Services), EKO is marking more than 40 years of dedication to a network of child development services that is easy to navigate and all about kids and families. EKO is governed by a board of directors made up of volunteers.