KW Counselling Services Board of Directors

KW Counselling Services’ board consists of up to 20 Directors who each serve up to 3 three-year terms. The Board’s primary role is to provide strategic leadership and governance for KW Counselling Services in accordance with the organization’s Mission and Vision.

To fulfil its role, the board engages in long-term planning and ensures accountability to the public. As well as meeting for two hours each month, board members are asked to volunteer three to five hours per month on various committees. New board members are nominated at KW Counselling Services’ annual meeting each spring.

Those interested in volunteering as a Board Director may email for more information.

Board of Directors 2021-2022

Jeff Desbiens

Past President:
Elaine Read

Kristine Schmeiss

Colleen Heinrichs

Rebecca Webb, Executive Director

  • Ameer Abdulla
  • Neil Bailey
  • Lynda Chau
  • Kimberly Culkin
  • Maria de Boer
  • Soha Masri
  • Amanda Reed
  • Ilidia Sa Melo
  • Melanie Van Alphen
  • Rebecca Wagner

Ameer Abdulla holds a HBBA degree from Wilfrid Laurier University with an Accounting concentration and has held progressive senior roles at EY Private Client Services providing tax and advisory support for clients. He gives back to the community through his volunteer work in a leadership role in his church and has also been involved in a campaign committee for United Way. In his spare time he enjoys gardening, golf and soccer.
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Neil Bailey graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor of Business Administration. He has spent 28 years in Commercial Banking in numerous roles and is now with Bank of Montreal as Vice President Cash Management for South Western Ontario Division. Neil has lived in KW for 28 years and served many years on the Board and Executive of the K-W Granite Club as well as on organizing committees for many national and provincial curling events. Neil joined the KWCS BOD in 2013 and is part of our Financial Management Committee.
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Lynda Chau is a strategic marketing leader with over 20 years of experience, Lynda specializes in helping companies uncover their compelling purpose and use it to align strategy to execution, and to inspire employees, customers, and partners. With expertise in brand development, market strategy, and ecosystem building, Lynda has helped companies to not only lead their markets, but to also redefine them. Lynda is currently serving as the VP of Marketing at Clearpath Robotics. Lynda has also founded a market strategy consulting practice called CommonFrame and served as Chief Marketing Officer at Miovision. Lynda holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing from the University of Alberta. She spends her free time attempting to keep up with her young daughter, Monica.
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Kimberly Culkin is a Global HR Senior Leader for opentext, supporting employees and executives within the Corporate Function. Her career in HR began in 2007, when she moved from Financial Services to the field of HR, as a Recruiter. Kimberly studied Criminology, Human Resources Management and received her Certified Human Resources Leader designation in 2011. Kimberly is a highly energetic, results oriented HR Leader and has spent the last 10+ years working throughout the Waterloo Region in both the Public and Private sector. She is a proud member of the 100+ Women Who Care Waterloo Region and consistently looks for opportunities to stay connected within her community.
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Maria de Boer worked at Extend-A-Family (EAFWR) for 35 years, 32 of them as Executive Director. Prior to EAFWR Maria worked at a variety of hospitals both in the USA and Canada as a medical record librarian. In 1980 she took on the role of Administrative Assistant for a research project in the Jane/Finch area and began her love affair with community development. Maria holds a BSW and MSW.

Maria has volunteered as a member of the District Health Council, both member and President of Jane/Finch Community Centre, Board member of Childcare Network, council member of Stirling Mennonite Church, and is currently on the Board of the Volunteer Association of St. Mary’s Hospital.

Maria is retired, loves to read, attend the theatre and movies, get involved in politics and spend time with her friends and family. She is a very happy and involved grandparent.
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Jeff Desbiens has been the Vice President, Human Resources at Economical Insurance for the past three years. Jeff is a pragmatic and hands-on HR Executive and business partner experienced in aligning HR strategic plans to positively impact the achievement of business results and employee engagement. Capitalizing on strong leadership and team building skills, Jeff thrives on creating and delivering HR services in complex organizations.

Jeff holds a bachelor of Commerce from the University of Windsor, an MBA from Royal Roads University and is a Certified Human Resources Leader. Jeff lives in Waterloo with his wife and three children. Jeff and his family canvass for the Heart and Stroke foundation and are active supporters of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
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Colleen Heinrichs s a senior finance and risk executive in the insurance industry with over 16 years of experience in risk management, finance, accounting, insurance regulation, and compliance. She has experience implementing risk management programs, serving as chief contact for regulators, ensuring regulatory compliance, strengthening corporate governance for boards, and partnering with senior leadership to monitor company financials and budgets. Colleen graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Science in 1998. She started her career with KPMG Canada in Toronto and achieved her designation as a Chartered Accountant in 2003. Colleen is member and Co-Chair of her local school parent council and is a parent volunteer with a local swim club. In the past she has coached local youth soccer and acted as treasurer for a non-profit group. Colleen enjoys playing tennis and being a parent to two competitive swimmers.
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Soha Masri is an Ontario licensed lawyer and has a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA). Her practice is focused primarily on corporate and commercial transactions; throughout her years of experience between North America, the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf countries, she handled reviewing and drafting legal documents such as joint ventures, software licensing, SaaS (software-as-a-service), distribution agreements, direct sale agreements for hardware, software (ERP), non-disclosure agreements, Intellectual Property and various other IT-related contracts.

Currently, Soha is in-house legal counsel with MindBeacon Software Inc. handling corporate commercial contracts and transactions, in addition to starting her own law office in Waterloo. Her goal is to inspire young women to challenge the perceived barrier to success and see that anything is possible. She is an entrepreneur passionate about inclusion and gender equality, straight-talking and continuous learning

Soha is a member of the Coalition of Muslim Women, a member of the K-W Women Empowerment group, and is an Active member of Claire Hills Community. Previously, she volunteered with the International Labour Organization (ILO) as a legal researcher covering child labour in the Middle East. She was a Field researcher with the World Health Organization (WHO) on a project concerning mental health issues post-civil war.

She is a mother of two, a six-year-old boy and nine year-old girl. She loves nature and extended hiking trips.
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Elaine Read attended Wilfrid Laurier University in the Business Administration co-op program and obtained her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1996. Elaine pursued a career in accounting and completed her co-op work terms while at Laurier with Deloitte LLP. Upon graduation, Elaine began her career with Deloitte and achieved her designation as a Chartered Accountant in 1997. Elaine continues to work with Deloitte LLP and is a Partner in the Assurance and Advisory practice where she works with private companies, public sector organizations and not-for-profit organizations in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Elaine joined the KWCS BOD in 2013 and currently serves as the Board Treasurer and Chair of the Financial Management Committee.
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Amanda Reed is paralegal licensed by the Law Society of Ontario. She graduated Sheridan College in 2011 with High Honours and as class Valedictorian. She worked previously with the Halton Community Legal Clinic before returning to a career at the Ontario Court of Justice in Kitchener. She is an avid snowboarder, skier, runner and traveler. She lives in Kitchener with her son and is proud to be a member of KW Counselling Services’ Board of Directors and Fundraising Events Committee.
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Ilidia Sa Melo has been working in the public sector for more than 30 years, including holding positions with the Clerk’s Offices at the Region of Waterloo and City of Cambridge. Ilidia currently works in the Records Management Program at the Township of Woolwich, a position which gives her time to support many charities in Waterloo Region, including Zonta International, Argus House, Cambridge Self Help Food bank, Haven House, the Cambridge Humane Society and the YWCA. Ilidia has also been involved in supporting Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, representing the City of Cambridge at fundraisers. Ilidia and her husband Victor have been married for 27 years and have two adult children. They enjoy travelling, golfing, working out, camping and spending time with their dog Zoe.
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Kristine Schmeiss and her husband Ted, a local small business owner, reside in Waterloo. Together, they enjoy travelling, are avid football fans and love spending time with family. Kristine works for RBC Royal Bank and currently holds the role of Regional Manager of Sales Support in Commercial Banking. Her career in the Financial Services industry began in 1999, the last eight years Kristine has held various leadership roles where she has demonstrated her passion for helping clients and the personal development of her team. Kristine has volunteered on several fundraising and event planning committees including Jeans ‘N Scrubs and the Outstanding Women of Laurier she has also organized the collection and delivery of items for the youth at Lutherwood over the last few years. She has also recently joined an Employee Resource Group within RBC Royal Bank in Southwestern Ontario supporting Lean In Circles.
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Melanie Van Alphen graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. As a mother of three children, she is passionate about inclusive education and supporting various initiatives across Waterloo Region that promote a community and environment where all people feel welcome, safe and valued. This passion led Melanie to run for the position of School Board Trustee for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board where she was elected in 2014 and is currently the Vice-Chair representing Waterloo, Woolwich, and Wellesley.

Melanie has experience as a Strong Start volunteer in as elementary school, as treasurer and member of school council, and co-chair of the annual school fundraiser event. She has also coached soccer for the Woolwich Youth Soccer Club. Spending quality time with her family is important to Melanie, often enjoying nature walks, reading, game nights and much more as they cherish special moments together.

Rebecca Wagner currently works as Director of Stakeholder Relations with the Office of MPP Daiene Vernile. Rebecca has held leadership and advisory roles with organizations such as Healthy Minds Canada, Elections Canada and the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre. She has volunteered extensively in Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo, including with Women’s College Hospital, Cota, Western University, and the Centre for International Governance Innovation. Rebecca holds an Honours BA in Political Science from Western University and a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Waterloo and is currently completing a French Certificate.
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