Alice Bellavance, 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.
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.
Harrison Cooper, Director
Harrison is a lawyer at Oatley Vigmond Personal Injury Lawyers. Harrison has developed expertise in the field of acquired brain injuries while advocating on behalf of his clients. Having seen the impact of brain injuries on the lives of his clients and their loved ones, Harrison developed a passion for brain injury awareness, prevention, and recovery.
Prior to joining Oatley Vigmond, Harrison gained valuable insight into personal injury litigation from the defence perspective. This experience has provided Harrison with a unique viewpoint, allowing him to help his clients achieve the best possible results. Harrison is drawn to personal injury litigation because of his ability to make a positive impact for his clients and in his community.
Harrison is an active volunteer with Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing (CADS), an organization dedicated to promoting skiing and sit-skiing to persons with disabilities. Harrison also created and co-hosts a podcast called “Exhibit Eh” and many episodes focus on representing individuals with acquired brain injuries. Harrison is honoured to be on OBIA’s Board of Directors.
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.
Kamilah Francis, Director
Kamilah was introduced to the world of brain injury from a young age with the personal experience of growing up with a father who sustained multiple brain injuries. After reading a fiction novel about a young girl recovering from a car accident when she was 11 years old and the many professionals that assisted in her path to recovery, Kamilah’s path was solidified to pursue a career where she could help individuals faced with these kinds of injuries.
After pursuing an undergraduate degree in Behavioural Neuroscience, Kamilah began to comprehend the magnitude of how many people are impacted by brain injury. Kamilah began her career working on the frontline with an agency that serves individuals with brain injuries and she is now the Regional ABI System Navigator for Northeastern Ontario.
Kamilah advocates for increased access and service provision for individuals with brain injuries in her role as ABI System Navigator for Northeastern Ontario, and even beyond this role in her day-to-day life, where she passionately overshares about brain injury with anyone who will listen.
Outside of reading new research on brain injury and educating others, Kamilah also enjoys spending all four seasons on Manitoulin Island with her partner and two children.
Caron Gan, Secretary
Caron Gan is an RN, Registered Psychotherapist and Registered Marriage and Family Therapist with 30+ years of experience providing psychotherapeutic intervention to children, youth, adults, and families living with the effects of acquired brain injury (ABI). She retired in 2020 from her clinical role at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (HBKR) but continues as an Adjunct Scientist with the Bloorview Research Institute where her research has focused on family needs and family interventions after pediatric ABI.
Caron has also authored numerous peer-reviewed articles and five book chapters on Family Assessment After Brain Injury. She is passionate about the work of OBIA and her collaboration with parent caregivers has contributed to the development of Caregiver Workshops and the Pediatric Brain Injury module in OBIA’s Caregiving After Brain Injury Web resource.
In addition to her public sector work, Caron has a small private practice dedicated to enhancing the lives of youth and adults with ABI and their families.
Dave Gaylor, Director
Dave is the survivor representative of the OBIA Advisory Council to the OBIA Board. His sustained his brain in a motor vehicle collision in December 2000. His background includes both chemical engineering and occupational hygiene that included several leadership, consulting and training roles. Dave has been a member of the Hamilton Brain Injury Association (HBIA) since 2005 and on its Board of Directors since 2011. He has been a survivor member of OBIA’s Ontario Advisory Council for most of his time on the HBIA Board.
Dave ‘s other volunteer activities include guest speaking in McMaster University’s Occupational Therapy program as well as mentorship to pairs of OT, PT and SLP Master students in their exploration of the lives of people with disabilities. Dave is a founding member of Acquired Brain Injury Survivor Solutions (ABISS), an advocacy group dedicated to being a resource for other survivors of ABI received in an automobile collision. He has volunteered at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) Regional Rehabilitation Centre both on the ABI floor and the Patient and Family Learning Centre. More recently, Dave has become part of HHS’s Patient and Family Advisor Group.
Lastly, Dave’s strong sports interest is maintained as an active golfer and curler, as well as being part of the volunteer executive of the Dundas Real McCoys senior hockey team, who play for the Allan Cup, Canada’s oldest hockey trophy. Dave is married with 4 children and, so far, 2 grandchildren.
Jane Grech, Director
Biography is coming soon!
Teryl Hoefel, Director
Biography is coming soon!
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.
Dr. Fred Pelletier, Director
Fred is a registered psychologist who currently practices in Ottawa. He completed his PhD in Clinical Psychology at Queens University in 1988. His practice is dedicated primarily to Rehabilitation Psychology.
Fred has served in both hospital and private clinic environments in several areas including geriatrics, stroke rehabilitation, traumatic brain injury, concussion and post-concussion syndrome, pain, spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative disease. He was extensively involved with the design and development of The Robin Easey Centre and The Behavioural Rehabilitation Unit in Ottawa.
Over the last several years, Fred’s private practice has focused on individuals with complex injuries from motor vehicle accidents. When not assisting survivors of vehicle accidents, he provides treatment to individuals in the military and EMS sectors who are living with the effects of brain injuries, concussions and post-trauma challenges.
The Ontario Brain Injury Association has made a profound impact on Fred’s thinking and activities during three decades of professional service and advocacy. His membership on the Board of Directors gives him the chance to work with an organization that continues to be a source of professional inspiration.
Fred’s ongoing community involvements have included membership on community Boards of Directors and consultations with local service organizations. Fred, his wife and two sons are active in their local sports and recreation communities. They all share a commitment to public education, health promotion, volunteerism and advocacy.
Claire Smith, Director
Claire Smith was a member of the Canadian Equestrian Team from 1994 to 1997. In 1997, she fell from her horse and sustained a severe Traumatic Brain Injury. After six months in hospital, then a year of therapy, Claire tried to resume her old life. When she eventually realised that a return to the equestrian world was not possible, Claire enrolled at the University of Ottawa. She was awarded a MA (2004), followed by a PhD (2010). For both degrees, she conducted studies about head injury. Since then, she has published articles in numerous scholarly journals and has written chapters for academic books. Claire continues to write for these outlets.
In late 2017, her memoir, ‘Falling into Now: Memories of Sport, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Education’, was released. It has received much media attention from the head injury community as well as from the equestrian world. Claire has been a keynote speaker on several occasions, both before and after the memoir’s publication. Most recently, she spoke at the Equestrian Canada 2018 annual conference.
New to the board of OBIA in 2018, Claire is honoured to have been given the opportunity to serve on it. She brings with her not only her Olympic, academic, and head injury experiences, but also her passion to help others. From 2010 to 2016, Claire was a director on the Board of the Wings of Phoenix, a charitable organisation in Ottawa that raises money to provide rehabilitation services for individuals who have sustained Traumatic Brain Injuries. She was a director on the Board of the YMCA of Brockville from 2016 to 2018 and served on its Governance sub-committee. Since 2015, she has been a member of the Leeds and Grenville Accessibility Committee. She started coordinating student placements between the University of Ottawa and Carleton Lodge, a seniors’ residence, in 2011. She continues to do so and is also a friendly visitor to the residents at the lodge. In late 2017, she was nominated as an Amazing Person in the City of Ottawa for her volunteer work.
Claire lives in Merrickville, Ontario with her partner Michael. An avid swimmer many mornings, she devotes the rest of the day to writing academic material, volunteering, and working on her next full-length book.
Melissa Vigar, Director
Melissa is the Executive Director of the Brain Injury Society of Toronto. She is a Registered Social Worker who began her career in the social service sector in 1999 working with children and young adults who had complex neurological disorders and who required highly specialized support. In 2001, she began working with adults with moderate to severe acquired brain injuries. Throughout her career she has worked in both the private and non-profit sector, spearheading initiatives that have assisted clients with ABI and their support teams create and track goals and progress. She has created disaster, pandemic and emergency planning protocols for persons requiring assisted support and has completed and compiled research information on measuring outcomes of community integration programs, specifically in the ABI population. Melissa has also conducted training sessions and coordinated workshops on various topics in relation to the brain injury community. She is passionate about improving the quality of life for anyone who has suffered an ABI as well as ensuring that the individuals who support them are equipped with resources, education and strategies for self care.
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.