August 6-21, 2022
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Board of Directors

Meet our passionate, experienced and accomplished sport and community leaders.

Doug Hamilton

Board Chairman

Doug Hamilton was an Olympic medalist (1984) and World Champion (1985) rower. During his career as an environmental lawyer at one of Canada’s premiere law firms, Doug continued to contribute as a volunteer in several Canadian amateur sport organizations, including serving as VP High Performance of Rowing Canada, Board member of the Canadian Olympic Association, VP Sport and Venues of the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid Group, Chair of the Canadian Sport Centre Ontario, and Board member of TO2015. Doug was also Chair of Niagara’s Bid Group. Doug now lives in St. Catharines with his wife, Lynn, a former Canadian Olympic basketball player. Both sons have had careers in professional hockey: one in Calgary and Phoenix and the other currently in New Jersey.

David Veres

David Veres is the recently retired Associate Vice President, Academic & Learner Services at Niagara College. David has spent over 20 years working in post-secondary education as a professor and administrator. Dr. Veres developed the internationally recognized Event Management program at Niagara College and was inducted to the Festival & Events Ontario Hall of Fame in 2008. He has been involved in numerous community events and organizations including the 2004 Ontario Senior Summer Games, the Many Hands Project, and the Niagara Sports Commission. David's goal is to ensure that the Games provide a Human Capital legacy through experiential learning opportunities for both secondary and post-secondary individuals in the Niagara region.

Debbie Zimmerman

Ms. Debbie Zimmerman serves as Chief Executive Officer of Grape Growers of Ontario. Since 2003, the official organization that represents over 500 actively producing growers of 17,000 acres in the province’s three viticulture areas: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County. Embracing new technology and creating a focus on growing Ontario’s VQA wines is the culture embraced by the organization.

Debbie was actively involved in local politics for 36 years. Her political career began in 1978 as a local alderman for the Town of Grimsby, and in 1989 was elected to Regional Council. In 1997 Debbie was elected as Regional Chair for the Regional Municipality of Niagara, a position that she served for two terms. In 2014 Debbie decided to pursue other interests and did not seek re-election.

Debbie is the past Chair of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation for the Province of Ontario (2004-2010), and was assigned by the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario, to the 2015/16 Provincial Review Panel for Ontario’s Land Use Plans, including the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, and the Niagara Escarpment Plan. Debbie joined the Premier in November 2017 on the Provincial Trade Mission to China and Vietnam.

Along with sitting on the 2022 Canada Games Host Society Board, Debbie currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Buffalo/Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority and  McNally House. Most recently, Debbie was a member of the YMCA Board of Directors and a Co-Chair of the Pathstone “Mending Minds” fundraising campaign.

Debbie has been the recipient of many awards including the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce “Community Leadership Award” in 2013, the “Niagara Award” in 1998, the Niagara College “Board of Governors Award” in 2001 and the YWCA “Woman of Distinction” award in 2003. In 2015 Debbie was awarded the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation’s “Local Food Champion” award for her commitment to local food and her years of service to Niagara, and in 2017 Debbie was named a “Friend of the Greenbelt” for her work on the Provincial Review Panel.

Eleanor McMahon

Eleanor McMahon is a senior executive and former Parliamentarian.  

Her career has included senior roles in business, government and the not-for-profit sector and began on Parliament Hill where she worked in the press office of the Rt. Hon. John Turner, and as Press Secretary to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. She also held senior roles with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Petro-Canada, United Way Ottawa, the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the Ontario Medical Association.

Following the tragic death of her husband, Ontario Provincial Police Sergeant Greg Stobbart — killed in June 2006 while cycling —Eleanor initiated legislative reform to target motorists who drive while suspended, leading to the passage of Greg’s Law (2008) in her husband’s memory. 

With a desire to engineer legislative and societal change in 2007, she launched the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, Ontario’s cycling policy and advocacy organization. The organization is one of North America’s leading cycling organizations. Since 2007 it has mobilized community advocates, the private sector and policy makers to achieve significant public policy and legislative change including the largest investment in cycling infrastructure in Ontario history ($125M) in 2016.

In 2014 Eleanor ran for the Ontario Legislature, and was elected MPP for Burlington inspired by her desire to continue road safety and cycling legislative and policy reform. She served as Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport and President of the Treasury Board and Minister Responsible for Digital Government. She is fluently bilingual. 

Ms. McMahon is currently the CEO of the Trans Canada Trail (TCT), the Montreal-based organization that stewards the 28,000 km Trans Canada Trail, the longest recreational trail in the world.

Elizabeth Grimmond

Now retired, Elizabeth Grimmond is a motivated self-starter and results-oriented individual with expertise in Change/HR Management, Operations and Business Planning supported by a progressive career spanning over 35 years with RBC Royal Bank. She has been involved in leadership roles in many non-profit organizations including the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, Niagara Integrated Film Festival, Toronto Caribbean Children’s Foundation and St. Catharines & Regional Niagara Twinning Association. Her current roles include Board member of PenFinancial Credit Union, Niagara 2022 Games and Ntwyne Niagara; as well as a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee of the City of Niagara Falls.

A firm believer that learning never stops, she graduated in Business Management from Ryerson University and holds the professional Designations of Fellow (FICB) and Specialized Studies in Management Sciences (SSP) from the Institute of Canadian Bankers. She also completed project management and executive training at the Schulich School of Business. A devoted mother of 2 children; her hobbies include sewing, cooking, event management and interior home design and is a Certified Interior Decorator (CID) and Certified Event Planner (CEP).

Karen Natho

Karen Natho (BPHE, BSc, MSc) is the Executive Director of the Brock Niagara Penguins, the leading ParaSport program in Niagara. She was the Niagara region representative for the Canadian Paralympic Committee – Changing Minds, Changing Lives workshops and has conducted multiple seminars with educators and practitioners locally and around the world pertaining to topics such as disability awareness, adapted physical activity and therapeutic recreation. She worked for 7 years at the Niagara Children’s Centre leading in the creation of the service of Recreational Therapy for children with special needs in Niagara. Her research and activities in this area have been funded by the Ronald McDonald House Charities, United Way and Canadian Paralympic Committee. She completed her Masters of Science at the Steadward Centre at the University of Alberta, looking at the running gait patterns of athletes with cerebral palsy. Karen currently sits on the Niagara Accessible Sport Council (NASC) and is a member of the Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability. Karen also competed in the 1993 Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, BC in field hockey. She joined this Board to ensure that the Canada Games are as impactful for the young athletes as they were for her. Karen looks forward to being a leader for the Games, which will provide opportunities for not only the diverse citizens of Niagara, but also the ParaSport community who will benefit from the legacy of the Games.

Liz Palmieri

Liz Palmieri has worked and volunteered in leadership positions in Niagara’s non-profit sector for more than 30 years. Since her retirement in 2016 as the Executive Director of the Niagara Community Foundation, she has consulted with organizations facilitating their strategic plans, working on board policies, and conducting training workshops on a variety of topics, including risk management, strategic planning, and the roles and responsibilities of boards of directors. She is a passionate advocate for good governance in the sector and during her tenure at the Foundation she leads their work to become one of the first non-profit organizations in Canada to be accredited by Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. As a director of the Canada Games 2022 Host Society Board she wants to ensure that good governance practices are in place and implemented.

Mario D’Uva

Mario D’Uva is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist that was born and raised in the Niagara Region.  He is currently the Managing Partner of Fallsview Golf Inc., whose shareholders have developed and operated several hospitality and real estate projects in the Niagara region; including the Radisson Hotel & Suites, Thundering Waters Golf Club and Thundering Waters Village. He also serves as a director on several corporate boards. He is a Commerce graduate of McMaster University and completed the CIM program from the Canadian Securities Institute. He has had a lifelong passion for athletics; was actively involved as a coach, sponsor and volunteer in multiple minority sports organizations, including hockey, baseball, gymnastics and basketball. Mario believes that his past experiences in developing projects from inception to completion that have involved both public and private stakeholders will be of benefit to the 2022 Canada Games.

Mary De Sousa

A twenty-five-year financial services marketing professional, Mary De Sousa is currently on sabbatical from FirstOntario Credit Union.  Her experience in marketing and the financial services industry, combined with her extensive industry knowledge, led to her appointment of Executive Vice President of Marketing in 2013. Her responsibilities included public relations, advertising, branding, corporate strategy development, product development, corporate communications, retail banking sales, corporate social responsibility, government relations and most recently, overseeing facilities and property management. Within the last three years, Mary has negotiated corporate sponsorship contracts for FirstOntario Centre (formerly Copps Coliseum and includes sponsorship of the Hamilton Bulldogs), FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place), FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (Niagara), FirstOntario Arts Centre Milton (and Every Child, Every Year Program) and lead the partnership development for being the official financial institution of the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Mary currently sits on the Brock University Board of Trustees as well as the Oakville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.  Over the last five years she participated on or chaired several credit union professional committees both nationally and provincially. She was a Board Member for Oakville Economic Development and she served for two years as a member of the McMaster Children's Hospital Fundraising council. Mary was born and raised in St. Catharines, and she wants Niagara to be recognized for the great place to live and visit that it is. Being on this Board provides her the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way through the economic development and legacy infrastructure that the Games will bring to Niagara. Mary is also excited for the advancement in sport that the Games will bring to the region, and she is proud to be contributing her experience in marketing and communications to this endeavour.

Mary Turner

Mary Turner is a corporate director, serving on the Board of Directors for The Stars Group Inc. and Mackenzie Financial Corporation. Mary recently retired from her position as the President and CEO of Canadian Tire Bank. Mary was a partner at Deloitte & Touche in Toronto prior to joining Canadian Tire in 1992. She is a Chartered Accountant with the FCA designation and a Chartered Director. Mary is also a long-standing Board member and Treasurer of Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, and a member of the Board of Governors of Niagara College, and YMCA Canada. Mary was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2015 by the Women’s Executive Network. Mary has also been recognized for her dedication to the Niagara Voluntary Sector through the receipt of the Community Leadership Corporate Sector Award from the 2006 Peter F. Drucker Canadian Voluntary Sector Innovation Awards.

Michele O’Keefe

Longtime sport management leader and Welland native Michele O’Keefe was brought onto the Niagara College team as associate director of Athletics and Recreation, beginning July 3.  Michele returned to her hometown in Niagara after serving as president and CEO of Canada Basketball, where she worked to build stronger relationships with sport associations across Canada and was responsible for oversight of key government relations and sponsorship negotiations for Canada Basketball.  She is also one of the world’s policy-makers in the sport, as a member of the FIBA Central Board and the First Vice President of FIBA Americas. Michele began her professional career with NSF in 1994 as program coordinator for the World Basketball Championships for Men in Toronto and Hamilton. She has held a variety of positions in the NSF, including Manager, Communications, and Director of Basketball Operations. Michele was the Executive Director of Ontario Basketball before returning to Canada Basketball in 2010. After her first stint with Canada Basketball, O’Keefe spent time working at Fox 40 and then 3 years at CIBC in the Commercial Banking division. Michele joined this Board as a way of giving back to the Region that she grew up in.

Michele-Elise Burnett

Métis with Algonquin roots, Bear Clan, is President of Kakekalanicks, an Indigenous arts and consultancy company which helps promote and educate Indigenous art and artists to a broad audience.  Ms. Burnett serves as the Artistic Director of Celebration of Nations, an annual Indigenous gathering, which provides a far-reaching platform for the community to embrace and honour the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples through the arts; Associate Director of Landscape of Nations 360°, a unique national Indigenous education initiative which provides guidance to teachers and programmers in the Niagara Region and beyond; Vice President of Ignite the Spirit of Education Foundation, which promotes Indigenous literature, programming and literacy across Canada, and co-advancement director and inaugural unveiling producer for Landscape of Nations: The Six Nations & Native Allies Commemorative Memorial, at Queenston Heights to recognizing Indigenous contributions during the War of 1812.  Ms. Burnett sits on the Board of Trustees at Brock University where she is Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Education Council. She also serves as a Board member of the Ridley College Fund USA and recently has joined the Canada Games 2022 Board. Ms. Burnett started her career in the radio industry. After graduating from Ryerson University’s School of Radio and Television Arts, she became a third-generation radio business owner in an industry pioneered by her father and grandfather. Later, partnering with her mother, she owned and operated the most powerful signal in the Niagara Region, Spirit 91.7 FM Radio. The accomplished mother/daughter team were the first indigenous women to be granted a private broadcasting license in Canada.

Rob DePetris

Rob is a Tax Principal at WMKL He specializes in owner/manager clients and estate planning.. He is on the board of directors of the Canadian Automobile Association, Canadian Automobile Association of Niagara, Rotary Club of St. Catharines and the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. Rob has served in the past as chair of the board of the St. Catharines and Thorold Chamber of Commerce, chair of the board of the United Way of St. Catharines and District, and President of the St. Catharines Minor Baseball Association. Rob has a deep love of baseball and tennis.  He plays tennis on a regular basis. He looks at his role on the Canada Games Niagara 2022 Board as a commitment to make Niagara a better place and to help all the determined athletes in the competition succeed.

Sean Kennedy

Sean Kennedy is an experienced postsecondary leader with 20 years of experience leading teams in all areas of higher education.

Appointed Niagara College’s sixth president in January 2020, Sean has been a member of the College’s senior leadership team since 2006, when he joined NC as vice president of Student and External Relations, a role in which he oversaw the development of the College’s new branding and community engagement strategies. In addition, he was the CEO of the Niagara College Foundation, responsible for leading the College’s fundraising efforts. Active in the community, Sean has served on the boards of the Business Education Council of Niagara, Niagara Sport Commission, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Niagara.

Sean holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alberta and a Master of Public Administration from Queen’s University, and is currently completing his Doctoral studies in leadership in higher and adult education and comparative, international and development education at the University of Toronto. A sports and outdoors enthusiast, Sean holds a Level III National Coaching Certification in cross-country skiing. He and his wife, Kerry, live in Fonthill and are the proud parents of two sons.

Wade Stayzer

With more than 20 years of financial services experience, Wade Stayzer is Meridian’s Chief People and Culture Officer and Senior Vice President Business Banking. He is responsible for the Human Resources Business Partner team, Talent Acquisition, Learning and Development, and Corporate Communications. Wade also leads Meridian’s Business Banking network and Member Relations.  

Since 2005, Wade has been instrumental in shaping Meridian’s retail delivery strategy while establishing a culture of employee engagement. Over his tenure at Meridian, Wade managed key lines of business including Small Business, Retail and Wealth. He has also led various strategic initiatives including the branch and banking system integration of Meridian’s legacy Niagara/Guelph Wellington and Desjardins Credit Union mergers. 

A long-time supporter and champion of the Ontario credit union system, Wade has held a variety of roles and responsibilities at Niagara Credit Union – one of Meridian’s legacy credit unions. 

In 2010, Wade was recognized as one of Niagara’s Top 40 under 40 for outstanding business achievement and community leadership. That same year, he was also recognized by the St. Catharines Chamber of Commerce as the Young Professional of the Year.

A tireless community advocate, Wade is currently a Governor at Niagara College, a member of the Rotary Club of St. Catharines, and a proud member of the 2022 Canada Games Host Society for the Niagara Region.

Wade received his MBA from McMaster University and currently resides in Niagara.

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