June 8, 2023
YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin announces proposed slate for Board of Directors for 2023/24.
Helen Button – Helen grew up in rural southwestern Ontario. She attended grad school and worked as a writer in the communications field for several years before becoming a lawyer. Helen practiced for a number of years in Simcoe, Ontario, before joining a local St. Thomas law firm in early 2020. Helen is an active volunteer and has held positions on several not-for-profit boards, including the Norfolk Association for Community Living, Routes to Root Film Festival, and the St. Williams Conservation Reserve Community Council. She also enjoys choral singing, hiking, cooking, and reading. This will be Helen’s 2nd year as Vice Chair.
Surbhi Chaturvedi – Surbhi has been into banking since 2009 where she has educated many people with financial literacy. For the last 14 years, she has helped many families and individuals achieve dreams of their perfect weddings, favorite car, dream home, and higher education. She believes, ” Setting a goal is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible “. Surbhi immigrated to Canada in 2019 and made St. Thomas her home with her husband and two beautiful kids. Working with TD she always feels thankful and blessed to be part of this community. She is passionate about her community and is always ready to be part of any event to help and give back to this lovely community. This will be Surbhi’s 1st year on the YWCA Board.
Alicia Connolly – Alicia is entering her 2nd year on the board of directors for the YWCA. Alicia completed Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at Brock University. She is employed as a Family Resource Facilitator at LHSC Children’s Hospital, supporting families of paediatric patients, in a peer support role, empowering families and facilitating connections to community resources. Although she did not grow up in St. Thomas, Alicia has been a lifelong visitor, has called it home for the last decade, and continues to raise her daughter here. Alicia is passionate about 2SLGBTQI+ rights, as well as diversity, and inclusion. Alicia believes we all have a social obligation to leave the world a better place then we found it.
Ashley Dunn – This is Ashley’s 6th year on the Board and 2nd year as Chair. Ashley has been with Scotiabank for over 8 years, where she has helped people commit to achieving their financial dreams, most recently she has taken the position as a Wealth Associate under Scotiabank Wealth Management. Originally from Aylmer, she now calls St. Thomas home with her husband and daughter. Ashley strives to be a positive role model to her daughter by instilling a strong sense of core values. Ashley believes everyone has a responsibility to make the communities where they live and work a better place.
Maria Fiallos – Maria immigrated to Canada when she was a young girl and has thrived in this community while keeping strong connections to her roots in Nicaragua. Her strong link to her ancestral lands come from the three businesses she runs related to importing, roasting, and preparing coffee and is solidified with her charitable organization that encourages education, alleviates poverty, and preserves the environment in the communities from which the coffee beans are sourced. Maria has actively supported the YWCA at the Women’s Day event, as a guest speaker and workshop facilitator. In 2018 she was awarded the Newcomer Leader Award from St. Thomas Elgin Local Immigration Partnership in recognition of the community building efforts here in St. Thomas. Maria is grateful of the opportunities she has had living in Canada and shows her appreciation by giving back to the community whenever she has the opportunity. Maria begins her 5th year with the YWCA Board; 1st year as Treasurer.
Claire Hinatsu – Claire grew up in St. Thomas. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing as well as a Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario and currently works for both STEGH and TVDSB. Claire is a strong advocate for community engagement and feels passionate about giving back to her local community through her work as well as through volunteering. Claire lives in the St. Thomas area with her husband and new baby daughter. Claire begins her 6th year on the Board.
Natalie Huston – Natalie was born and raised, and continues to live in downtown St. Thomas. She has worked in Social Services for over 23 years, providing front-line service to those most vulnerable in our community including women, men, and families at risk of violence, deep poverty, homelessness, and other forms of oppression. Natalie is committed to a trauma-informed, strength-based, and person-centered approach to supporting individuals and families on their path to safety, security, and empowerment. Natalie is inspired by the natural world and seeks solace in nature. Her current goal is to hike the 900km Bruce Trail and is making slow but sure progress. This will be Natalie’s 2nd year on the Board, and she has found satisfaction and purpose in her role working with and for the benefit other women.
Kat Jacobs – Kat is entering her 3rd year on the YWCA Board; 2nd year as Secretary. Kat grew up in St. Thomas and completed her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at Western University. She then went on to complete her Masters of Science at Western. Kat was a member of the varsity women’s hockey team at Western University and enjoyed volunteering with organizations such as Hockey for the Blind, Parkwood Institute Spinal Rehabilitation Program, and the Early Outreach Conference. She and her wife moved back to St. Thomas in 2019. She has worked at STEGH for the last years a Process Improvement Specialist and is co-chair of the DEI committee. Kat appreciates the opportunities St. Thomas offers for volunteering and continues to organize and participate in annual not-for-profit charity events to raise funds for local organizations.
Kara Lynds – Kara was born, grew up, and now lives in St Thomas with her family. She worked in the financial world for 8 years before going back to school in 2008 to obtain her Early Childhood Education diploma. This is where she found her niche and passion of working with and supporting children and their families in her community. She has worked in Community Daycares and Before and After School Programs, local Public Schools, and most recently as a Mentoring/Volunteer Coordinator. She has volunteered with the Eat 2 Learn Program, as a casual Meals On Wheels driver, sat on the YWCA Women’s Day committee for the past 2 years, and is a Community Big Sisters/Mentor for the past 16 years. She enjoys gardening, “birding”, walking/hiking, and practices Reiki Energy healing. Kara is looking forward to her second year on the Board.
Carrie O’Brien – Carrie is employed as a Land Development Planner with Drewlo Holdings Inc. where she oversees all stages of the land development, acquisition, and approvals process, requiring extensive interaction with all levels of government, as well as other members of the constructure and building industry. She is a strong advocate for the environment and is passionate about housing. This is Carrie’s 7th year on the YWCA Board and her 2nd as Past President. Carrie grew up in Elgin County and studied Environmental Science at Western University followed by Urban Planning/GIS at Fanshawe College.
Heather Stillitano – Heather was born and raised in rural St. Thomas and has worked in the healthcare field for almost 20 years. Heather completed a degree in Massage Therapy and worked as a Registered Massage Therapist before moving into heath care administration and currently works as a Coordinator of Administrative Services at London Health Sciences Centre. Heather is strongly dedicated to ensuring a healthier community and is a committed advocate for equitable access to quality care for health and wellbeing. She speaks fluent movie quotes, and currently resides in St. Thomas with her husband and two young sons. Heather is entering her 2nd year on the Board.