Board of Directors

 

Board Member

Position

Board Member Biography

Barbara Claiman President Barbara Claiman has been co-owner and Director of Services of Community Solutions Ltd. since 1994. With over thirty-five years of case management and service design and delivery experience involving adults and children with various challenges and differing abilities. During her tenure in senior management positions, she designed, coordinated, and implemented numerous habilitation and rehabilitation teams. At Community Solutions, Ms. Claiman coordinates a network of professionals, therapists, specialists and rehabilitation support workers with a wide range of experience in the provision of individualized community based services and supports for people with acquired brain injury. She specializes in assisting people with various challenges to re-establish themselves and their lives within their own home, work, and community context. Ms. Claiman has an undergraduate degree from the University of Montreal in Psychology, and an M.A. in Special Education from the University of Toronto/OISE. She has been a professor at Vanier College in the Department of Special Care Counselling and at Centennial College, teaching courses for the Developmental Service Worker Program. Ms. Claiman has participated in a publication with the late Mark Ylvisaker et al, published in 2009 in Neuropsychological Rehabilitation: Errorless Learning of Functional Life Skills in an Individual with Three Etiologies of Severe Memory and Executive Function Impairment. She has also been published in the Journal of Leisurability; an article entitled “Leisure Lifestyle Planning: One Path to Empowerment for Individuals who have sustained an Acquired Brain Injury. Her professional affiliations include the Ontario Brain Injury Association, Brain Injury Association of Durham, Four Counties BIA. She is a member of the Central East ABI Network, was a member of the Board of Directors and past president of the Four Counties Brain Injury Association and currently holds the position of President of the Board of Directors for the Ontario Brain Injury Association. Ms Claiman is a Registered Rehabilitation Professional (RRP), has her Master’s Certificate Vocational Professional (MCVP) designation, and is a member of the National Case Management Network (NCMN).
Alice Bellavance Co -Vice President Alice has been at Brain Injury Services of Northern Ontario (BISNO) almost 25 years. She has served in many roles on provincial committees, the District Health Council, volunteer boards of local non-profits and her various places of employment. These indicate not only Alice’s commitment to comprehensive health/social services and working toward positive resolutions to the current health/social service delivery challenges, but also nurturing the Community Development approach to a more holistic and integrated system. Alice has worked in hospital settings from acute to chronic to long-term care. In the community she has worked in respite care, group home settings for developmentally challenged youth, physically challenged children & youth, services for adults with a variety of special needs and most recently more active in the mental health and addictions sector.
Recently, Alice was re-appointed to the Board of Directors of the Ontario Brain Injury Association of Ontario (OBIA). She also has completed 6 years on the board of CONNEX Ontario and is in her last year with Addictions and Mental Health Ontario. Alice has three adult, adopted children, 3 grandchildren and had an almost 30-year relationship with her husband, Terry (deceased 16 years ago) who lived with a Spinal Cord Injury. She has family life experience with neurotrauma, FASD, mental health and addictions.
Sabrina Chagani Co -Vice President Sabrina Chagani is a registered Occupational Therapist and currently works at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in the Serious Injury Program. She has worked at the WSIB for over 13 years. Also, during her tenure at the WSIB she was involved with Change Management, implementing several healthcare initiatives and other projects to help modernize the WSIB. Sabrina has worked and volunteered in a variety of other settings including hospital administration, quality management, community mental health and addiction, education, training and development human resources and hotel management. Sabrina obtained a Bachelors of Applied Science degree in Gerontology from the University of Guelph. Subsequently, she also holds a Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy and also a Masters of Health Administration (MHSc) from the University of Toronto. She holds an adjunct Instructor status only appointment with the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto where she participates in lectures and supervises OT students assisting them in integrating theoretical and practical knowledge. Sabrina is also a Certified Health Executive (CHE) and active member of the Canadian College of Health Services Executives, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists and Canadian College of Occupational Therapists. Sabrina devotes considerable time keeping abreast of the changing developments in her area of practice and continuing education. Most recently, Sabrina obtained her certification in Green Lean Belt Healthcare, as well as Adult Learning and Development.

As a strong advocate of community service, she has had the opportunity to manage a training and development portfolio with the Aga Khan Health Board of Ontario since 2005. Sabrina is passionate about volunteering within her community and received the Volunteer of the Year Award from the City of Toronto. Sabrina is a strong believer in maintaining a work-life balance and continually strives to achieve balance in her life. She shares her time between family, friends, and work commitments, as well as her personal interests which include; travelling, reading and engaging in a healthy lifestyle

Brad Borkwood Treasurer Brad is a Chartered Business Valuator and Chartered Accountant, and lends his skills to our financial committee and the Board as a whole.  Brad has a degree from Brock University, and has been working with clients with brain injuries for 10 years.  He is part of bluepoint Valuations, which operates in Burlington.  Brad has grown an interest in OBIA and the good work that it does through his observation of its impact on people with catastrophic injuries, including brain injuries, and the community on a whole.  He has been married to his lovely wife for almost 10 years and spends time with family and friends, playing sports, hiking, biking, and playing with their pug Rosey.
Dr. Debby Vigoda Corporate Secretary Debby earned her doctorate in Educational Theory from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto with a primary focus on educational gerontology. She taught staff and students in community colleges and universities, senior centres and community agencies in working effectively with older adults and provided learning opportunities for older people. Debby was a charter member of the Ontario Gerontology Association (OGA), its second President, and its Executive Director for 18 years, and planned most of the annual conferences. She retired as Executive Director of the OGA at the end of 2006. Almost 11 years ago, her husband had a freak accident in a men’s wear store, resulting in an ABI.  Although he received magnificent care in the acute care hospital, when he was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, much of the staff ‘wrote him off’ because he was 86. With care, stimulation and involvement in the long-term care home he lived at and in the community, his quality of life was inspiring, until shortly before his death in late 2011.
Wendy Charbonneau Director Wendy Charbonneau and her husband Robert have been married for 47 years and are the parents of 4 children, 7 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. Her husband, a Gloucester Firefighter, was injured in a work related accident May 3, 1986. It took her almost 5 years of care giving to finally realize that she needed to swallow her pride and ask for help. She got involved with the Brain Injury Association of Ottawa Valley more than 20 years ago. Wendy is the President of the Brain Injury Association of the Ottawa Valley and volunteers daily at their offices facilitating numerous programs and working with members of the Step Up Work Centre focusing on abilities as opposed to disabilities. Learning from her experience, she tries to advocate with caregivers to make sure that they take time for themselves and to seek help as soon as they become overwhelmed. The journey can be made much easier if you allow yourself to trust in your family and friends for help and support. Wendy enjoys time with their grandchildren, watching football, her walk/run group and most of all, her weekly visit to her acupuncturist.
Christina Cunningham Director Christina Cunningham brings more than 12 years’ experience as a healthcare communications and public affairs expert leading key external and internal projects for healthcare organizations, both in her professional life and as a volunteer.

Currently, Christina is responsible for strategic oversight and account direction in NATIONAL’s Healthcare practice. Previous to NATIONAL, Christina developed key government and media relations campaigns for the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) that worked to raise awareness of the issues facing Ontario’s patients.

Mary Lou Dalaire Director Mary Lou Dalaire has been a brain injury survivor for over 20 years, having recovered from meningitis, encephalitis and pneumonia. Since the time of her illness she has been regaining some of her abilities through extensive support and rehabilitation. As a very new survivor she enjoyed family activities and family support meetings along with her parents through her local association which is the Brain Injury Association of Niagara (BIAN). As a single adult she attended Friends Helping Friends group survivor support meetings and now attends the Moving Ahead with Brain Injury group support meetings. Mary Lou realizes the value of family support in recovery and the importance of fellow survivor friendships, support and encouragement received at these group meetings as this greatly helps in dealing with everyday life’s special challenges.

Mary Lou’s involvement in her local brain injury association continues to be an important part of her life. She has been an avid volunteer for many years, encouraging and supporting her fellow group members, developing close friendships, public speaking on life experiences with brain injury, educational presentations such as “Walk in My Shoes”, writing articles for the BIAN newsletter, the survivor book “Winds of Change”, collating and mailing the newsletter and attending art programs. A few years ago her volunteering got a boost with the addition of her husband, Pierre. Now they both volunteer regularly at BIAN and at OBIA Conferences together. About two years ago Mary Lou became the Friends Helping Friends Board President (which is BIAN’s peer support group) and later accepted the honour of being BIAN’s representative at the OBIA Advisory Council (OAC) meetings. She feels this has opened many new doors for her, introducing her to other OAC representatives from across the province and to the agencies they represent. Mary Lou feels that there is great value in these meetings as there is great energy from the representatives attending and that it is a wonderful opportunity for sharing ideas and accomplishments, thus creating goals for the future is endless. Mary Lou is honoured to be the OAC Representative on the OBIA Board of Directors.

Roger Foisy Director Roger R. Foisy is an experienced Ontario Personal Injury Lawyer with an expertise in brain injury cases. Since 2007, Roger’s Mississauga-based law firm has provided a very personal level of attention to each client, helping accident victims and their families receive the settlements they deserve. To better serve his brain injury clients, Roger has completed courses in Neurorehabilitation, Advanced Brain Injury Rehabilitation, and Neuropsychological Assessments: Beyond Testing from Brock University.
Over the years, Roger has seen the impact brain injury has had on many of his clients. Due to this, he has become a passionate advocate for brain injury awareness, prevention, and recovery.He is a member of the Ontario Brain Injury Association and his local association the Brain Injury Association of Peel and Halton. Roger is honoured to be on OBIA’s Board of Directors.
Caron Gan Director Caron Gan is an Advanced Practice Nurse/Family Therapist who has worked at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital for the past 25 years, providing psychotherapeutic intervention to youth, adults, couples, and families living with the effects of acquired brain injury. Caron is also a Registered Psychotherapist, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist, and Certified Clinical Traumatologist. She holds Adjunct Lecturer Appointments at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Institute for Health Policy, Management & Evaluation at the University of Toronto. She is a frequent speaker at local, national, and international brain injury conferences, having delivered over 100 keynote lectures and invited workshops, and 90 peer reviewed presentations. Through her cross appointment to the Bloorview Research Institute as a Clinical Team Investigator, she has co-led research studies focusing on family interventions and family needs after pediatric brain injury, including a 5-site international validation study. She is also primary developer of the Brain Injury Family Intervention for adolescents (BIFI-A), which has been designated a leading practice through Accreditation Canada. She has authored over 20 peer-reviewed articles including four book chapters on Family Assessment and Intervention after brain injury. In addition to her public sector work, Caron also has a small private practice dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with brain injury and their families.
Jane Grech Director Bio to come…
Zeenat Khoja Director Zeenat Khoja graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy in 2000 and subsequently became a licensed Ontario pharmacist. Her clinical experience was primarily in providing in-patient pharmaceutical care at The Hospital for Sick Children, Mount Sinai, and the Scarborough Grace hospitals. Although she is no longer in clinical practice, Zeenat remains a member of the Ontario College of Pharmacists.

She also has 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Zeenat is currently the Director of Pricing, Reimbursement, and Patient Access at the Canadian affiliate of the multinational Eli Lilly and Company.  In this role, Zeenat is a Six Sigma Black Belt, the Co-Chair of Lilly Canada’s Diversity and Inclusion Network, and Director of the team mandated with generating and expanding access to Lilly’s medicines to help improve the health outcomes of Canadian patients.

In her personal life, Zeenat was deeply affected by the impact of an acquired brain injury on the life of her cousin, who was a vibrant, articulate mother with a passion for reading until she lost the ability to form sentences and basic words, as a result of an inoperable brain tumour. Her cousin’s experience helped Zeenat live and understand the importance of supporting people in these difficult circumstances. Additionally, as the mother of two busy and active teenagers, she is particularly energized by the OBIA’s work to prevent brain injuries.

Zeenat is eager to join the mission of enhancing the lives of Ontarians living with the effects of acquired brain injury through education, awareness and support, and she will bring all of her commitment to healthcare, her business experience, and her passion for people to the OBIA.

Chrisanthi Lefkimmiatis Director Chrisanthi (Chrissy) Lefkimmiatis graduated from Nipissing University in 2009 with an Honors Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She has been working at St. Michael’s Hospital since 2011 in the Trauma and Neurosurgery program on both inpatient and critical care units.  She holds certifications in Critical Care, Neuroscience Nursing and Advanced Trauma Care for Nurses and currently occupies the role of Clinical Nurse Specialist for Neurosurgical Outreach. She recently completed her Masters in Health Science in Health Administration at the University of Toronto and received her Certified Health Executive designation.  As a member of the Neurosurgical Educator and Outreach Network (NEON), Chrissy has collaborated with her provincial peers to implement neuroscience education for non-neurosurgical referral centres across the region and to improve system-wide access to neurosurgery. As a part of the Ontario Concussion Strategy, she is also actively involved in research and best practice implementation for early management of concussion in Ontario. Chrissy is extremely passionate about the work and values of OBIA and is delighted to have an opportunity to serve on the board of directors.
Keith Lindsay Director Keith Lindsay has been Director of Services for Central and Northern Ontario with Bartimaeus Rehabilitation Services since 2001. Keith has over thirty years in providing support to children and adults within the mental health and rehabilitation fields, working in various positions of frontline, management and training.

In his position at Bartimaeus Rehabilitation, Keith coordinates a team of Rehabilitation Support Workers in providing community based services and supports for people with acquired brain injury. He specializes in supporting people with challenges within their own home, work, and community.

Keith graduated from Cambrian College with an Advanced Diploma in Child and Youth Work. He previously served as President of the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care, and as Treasurer of the Simcoe County Brain Injury Association.

Keith lives in Innisfil with his wife Margaret and their two children, and is honoured to be serving on the OBIA Board of Directors.

Nancy Nicholson Director Nancy’s professional background is legal, finance and education. Nancy holds a B.Ed, MBA and LLB.

Nancy practiced law from 1987 to 1999 when she retired as a consequence of a brain injury. Nancy has been active in the volunteer sector of her community, which has earned her 3 awards from different organizations for her outstanding commitment to various charitable organizations.

Veronica Pepper Director Veronica has worked in the field of acquired brain injury for more than 20 years. She started her career as a Behaviour Therapist and eventually the Program Director of a privately funded ABI residential rehabilitation program. The majority of her career was as a Community Intervention Coordinator with the Hamilton Health Sciences Acquired Brain Injury Crisis Management Team where she managed the most complex brain injury cases across the province. In 2010 Veronica started in her her current role as the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Acquired Brain Injury System Navigator. This is a new role initiated in 2010 by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care which aims to improve access to and flow through acquired brain injury services. Veronica was involved for 5 years with the Erie Shores Acquired Brain Injury Association. She led the Survivor Social Recreation Program for 2 years and was the President for 3 years. She volunteered for many years with “Bikes, Blades and Boards”, a program that teaches grade 2 students head injury prevention through sound helmet safety. She also ran “Brain Walk”, an educational, hands-on experience that was run as part of Brain Injury Awareness month in June. She has also volunteered with the Simcoe and District Humane Society. Currently she also sits on the Board of Directors with the Norfolk General Hospital including Chair of the Governance Committee. Veronica has been married to her husband Jim since 1986 and together they spend much of their time raising their furry family of 2 dogs and 7 cats, many of who have physical and intellectual disabilities at their home in the country, “Misfit Manor”. She also enjoys long distance running and sprint triathlons.
Tim Slykhuis Director Timothy is an experienced veteran in the world of Traumatic Brain Injury recovery. Being university educated in economics and biology, working in a supervisory position in a laboratory setting sculpted his previous professional life. Following a tragic bicycling accident in 1989 his main goal has been to understand effective strategies for brain improvement and helping others navigate through the world of disability while recognizing their potential. Developing effective improvement strategies started early as he contributed innovations to therapeutic approaches while he was still a patient in the hospital. Since his brain injury he has acquired his teaching certification in white water canoeing, as well as, alpine skiing which he acquired in his capacity, teaching and guiding the sight-impaired to ski. Timothy stretched his body and brain cycling and exploring on five continents, then competed on the international stage in dragon-boat racing. From 2006 he has been involved with the Brain Injury Association of the Ottawa Valley and served on the committee with respect to the establishment of their Step Up Work Centre Program and is Ottawa’s survivor representative at the OBIA Advisory Council.  Since that time he has been elected to sit on the advisory council for the board of directors of the Ontario Brain Injury Association, which is one of the most active and effective associations advocating for people with Acquired Brain Injury anywhere. Recently, publishing his autobiographical book Starfish Sky, Timothy outlines newly recognized neurological brain improvement strategies and the importance of nurturing both physical and emotional health.
Dr. Mary-Ellen Thompson Director Mary-Ellen Thompson, Ph.D., is a speech-language pathologist (Regd. CASLPO, CCC(SLP))  who, for over 25 years, has been working collaboratively with multidisciplinary teams to develop comprehensive models for language and cognitive-communication rehabilitation for brain injured individuals in community settings.  She has experience working in educational settings, hospital environments and the community.  Mary-Ellen holds Hons B.SC., M.Sc., M.H.Sc., and Ph.D.  In 2010, she was awarded “Professional of the Year” by the Ontario Brain Injury Association for “outstanding contribution to improving the lives of those living with acquired brain injury.”  In 2012, she won the Saint Elizabeth Clinical Research award for a project entitled “Moving Forward After Traumatic Brain Injury:  Maximizing Potential by Sharing Experiences and Strategies” by Speech-language Audiology Canada.
Hazel Wood Director Hazel Wood owns and operates Rehab Results Inc, a private health management company. Rehab Results provides assessment, treatment, case management and life care planning services across Ontario and in other parts of Canada. Hazel is internationally certified in Impairment and Disability Rating with the American Board of Forensic Professionals, is a Canadian Certified Life Care Planner under the International Commission on Health Care Certification, and is a Roy Matheson Certified Ergonomic Evaluation Specialist.
Hazel graduated from McGill University with a B.Sc in occupational therapy. In 1999, she completed her MBA at the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management.
She has worked in the hospital, community and insurance sectors. She was the Treasurer for the Alliance of Community Medical and Rehabilitation Providers. Hazel has done strategic consulting for a number of not-for-profit agencies. As the Executive Director for Bone and Joint Decade Canada she raised more than $1.3M in funds for various initiatives and in September 2010 was awarded the honour of international Ambassador for the Bone and Joint Decade. She is a member of the Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) board of directors.