Leadership Team

Michelle Martin, Executive Director


519-742-8518 x 2014


Michelle Martin joined the Society in 2016 as Executive Director. Michelle has over 17 years of experience working in Community Support Services in both front line positions and leadership roles. With a BA in Business Administration Marketing and a BSW in Social Work, her combination of education and practical expertise make her a leader in Waterloo Wellington’s Community Support Services community.

Michelle also holds a certificate in LEAN Management from Queen’s University and has used the LEAN process to restructure a large not-for-profit community services agency. Results yielded a 50% sustainable funding increase and 30% capacity increase within 5 years. Michelle hopes to bring this expertise to the newly amalgamated Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington.

Michelle lives in Fergus with her husband Ed and their 6 year old son Gabe. Life with an energetic young son is certainly an adventure and Michelle enjoys her family immensely.

Programs & Services Team

Gail Roth, Manager of Programs and Services


519-742-8518 x 2011


Gail grew up Kitchener and moved out west after high school to participate in a volunteer service-learning opportunity followed by studying theology for two years.  She finished her studies at the University of Waterloo with a BA in Social Development Studies. She has worked in various sectors and enjoys the opportunity to learn new things.  She began working with seniors as a Nurse's Aide in a local nursing home followed by working at the City of Kitchener in the Adult Day Program and Senior Centres.  Following this, she worked as a fundraiser at Saint Luke’s Place in Cambridge and Wilfrid Laurier University.   She also had the opportunity to work in a teaching centre at Laurier while studying part-time for her MSW.  In 2017 she achieved her MSW from Laurier and became a registered social worker.  

Gail enjoys working in the non-profit sector and is also a part-time counsellor at Interfaith Counselling Centre in New Hamburg. She recently joined the board of Community Support Connections as she believes in the value of helping people in our community live in their homes longer.  When Gail isn’t busy at work, she enjoys spending time with her two adult sons, her parents, good friends and her rescued dog, Marley.  Gail also treasures any time she can spend with her siblings who live in Ottawa and Germany.  Gail likes reading, gardening, puzzles, and filling her freezer with food from local farmers that her family enjoys during the winter months. Gail appreciates the collaborative team approach to education and support at the Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington and hopes she can provide encouragement to people with dementia and their care partners.  

Cara Dowhaniuk, Social Worker


519-742-8518 x 2020


After working with older adults at an adult day program for approximately 5 years, Cara joined the Alzheimer Society in 2008. She received her BA in Arts with a double major in Social Development Studies and Recreation and Leisure Studies in 2004, and received a Bachelor of Social Work in 2011.

Cara's interest in the field started when she was in her final year of high school and she volunteered in an art program at a Retirement home. She hasn’t looked back since! Cara also enjoys spending time being out and about with her husband and son.

Lynelle Drudge, First Link Care Navigator


519-742-8518 x 2012


Lynelle holds a BSc. in Social Work and certificates in Gerontology, Dementia Studies and Case Management. She has been with the Alzheimer Society for 10 years and has been involved in the non-profit sector for more than 20 years. On a personal level, her mother-in-law and family have walked the journey through Alzheimer’s disease. With her husband, she has two sons and two daughters, 2 daughter in-laws and three wonderful grandchildren between the ages of 3 months and 4 years. She loves family, camping and hiking, and traveling this awesome world we live in. She has traveled across Canada, to the United States, Holland, Turkey, Greece, Israel/Palestine and Kenya. Her self-care includes creating/piecing quilts and reading.

Natasha Ekelman, Social Worker


519-742-8518 x 2016


Natasha Ekelman joined the Alzheimer Society in June 2016. She completed her Master's of Social Work program at Renison University College (University of Waterloo) and is a registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). Natasha continues to be affiliated with Renison’s School of Social Work program as a Field Supervisor for BSW students and as the Field Supervisor Rep. on the Practicum Committee. In addition, Natasha is a Board Member for the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) – Mid Western Branch.

Natasha's areas of interest focus on holistic care, social determinants of health, health equity, person-centred care and strength-based approaches. She is passionate about healthy aging and quality of life for older adults. Natasha looks forward to combining her education, enthusiasm and positive engagement to the Society.

Colleen Martin, Social Worker


226-314-0949 x 2015


Colleen's journey working with persons living with dementia began in 2006 when she started working in a long term care home as an Administrative Assistant. In this role, she soon became connected with residents and their family members and thoroughly enjoyed serving this population. There were times however, that she felt a strong urge to have an opportunity to work more directly with persons living with dementia and their caregivers. This desire led her back to school where she earned three degrees: an undergraduate in Social Development Studies, a Bachelor of Social Work and a Masters in Social Work specializing in Gerontology.

During her education, Colleen had the privilege to intern at Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington. She became totally immersed in observing the various programs and services that the Society offered and was able to practice working with clients, groups and educational events. She was offered a summer position as a Public Education Support Associate, and internship at the Centre for Family Medicine where she observed memory clinics with Dr. Linda Lee and developed clinical counseling skills. Previous to her Social Worker role with the Society, Colleen also worked with Age Wise Solutions as a Social Work Consultant in long term care homes. Colleen is overjoyed to be back with the Society and is thoroughly enjoying her role as social worker serving persons affected by memory loss and their caregivers. On a personal note, her mother was diagnosed with mixed dementia about seven years ago and has recently moved into long term care. Both Colleen's education and personal experiences have enabled her to expand her knowledge and insight into memory related illnesses and have been the source of passion for serving this population.

Claire Brown, Social Worker


519-742-8518 x 4001

Gisèle Hauser, Navigatrice des services de soins, Premier Lien/ First Link Care Navigator


519-742-8518 x 2023

Gisèle Hauser is a Registered Social Worker, with many years working with mental health challenges, walking beside clients along their journeys. With a Master’s in social work, and previously a psychologist, Gisèle enjoys listening to each individual’s situation. French, English or Spanish - you decide which language works better for you.

Resiliency is the strength with which we face our journey, and when we fall, we get up, and when a loved one falls, we support them to get up. It happens to all of us - a client, a family member, a son, a friend, a neighbour. But together, we are no longer alone.

Janice Canning, Public Education Coordinator


519-742-8518 x 2017



Robin Smart, Public Education Coordinator


226-314-0949 x 3013


Robin Smart has been a Public Education Coordinator with the Alzheimer Society since 2005. Previous to that she worked in LTC since age 16, when she started as a nursing aid. Over the years she has worked in a variety of departments including dietary, recreation, activation and for many years as the admission coordinator for a local LTC home. Robin was an active member of the Palliative Care Team during her tenure in LTC.

Robin’s degrees are from the University of Guelph. Her master’s degree focused on helping people adapt to institutional living. Robin has also worked with individuals with a developmental disability at the Kiwanis Camp at Bellwood.

Robin sometimes describes herself as the single mother of two, her husband and her daughter. She enjoys music, theatre, travel (so far Italy is her favourite country) and really really enjoys chocolate. She gardens and cooks under moral obligation, and would usually rather be kayaking.

Raised in Guelph, and very happy to back living here, Robin has lived as far north as Thunder Bay, and for some time in a geodesic home in the desert in Arizona. Robin is fortunate to have her parents and sisters both living in the city, and spends much quality time beating them at cards. She participates in many volunteer activities to support Guelph at the River Run Centre, as secretary for the Lutheridge Board, and by organizing dinner downtown for the homeless 4 times a year. She is also an active volunteer in her church.

Janine Wilson, Public Education Coordinator


519-742-8518 x 4002


Janine Wilson joined the Alzheimer Society as the Public Education Coordinator in 2013. She is a mother to 3 wonderful children ages 14, 11, and 2 years old, and yes she started all over again and is loving every moment of it!! She moved to Cambridge from Brampton in 2000 after working as a Recreation Manager in a long term care facility in Toronto for 6 years.

Janine graduated from the Activation Coordinator Program at George Brown College and studied teaching and training of adults at George Brown part-time in the evenings. She continued her studies for Teaching and Training Adults at Conestoga College as well as accepting a full time position as a Recreation Manager at a local long term care facility. After 9 years she decided to take a big leap and try her hand at Retirement Living, where she began a career at Schlegel Villages as a Neighbourhood Coordinator for a Memory Care/Dementia home area.

Once on maternity leave with her beautiful surprise daughter she applied for the Public Education Coordinator Role at the Society. She is providing education to Care Partners through Family Education Sessions and monthly seminars that cover topics of interest and concern. In the community she provides education for retirement homes, long term care homes, group homes, senior centres, students, churches and a long list of other community partners.

Melissa Borgdorff, Minds in Motion® Public Educator and Volunteer Coordinator


519-742-8518 x 2045

Jennifer Newsom, Minds in Motion ® Coordinator


519-742-8518 x 2040

Thayna Walter, Community Programs Coordinator


519-742-8518 x 2018


Thayna Walter is the First Link® Coordinator for Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington. Thayna is also our Minds in Motion® Coordinator for this new and exciting pilot program. Thayna has been with the Society since 2008 and previously worked in Recreation in Long Term Care and Retirement Homes. She has a degree in Family and Social Relations and a diploma in Gerontology. Thayna has over 20 years of experience working with people living with dementia and their families and has a true passion for her work at the Alzheimer Society.

Thayna is married with three children and lives in Wilmot Township. She enjoys reading, going for walks and spending time with her family.

Development Team

Gina Dobben, Fund Development Assistant


519-742-8518 ext 2024

Barb Eastman-Lewin, Events and Volunteer Coordinator


226-314-0949 x 2019


Barb came to the Alzheimer Society in 2010 with significant experience in the Not-For-Profit sector. Her extensive professional experience has given her a creative and diverse knowledge of community outreach and relationship building in addition to planning, marketing and executing successful special projects and events. Barb understands the Alzheimer family journey, having lost her dad to Alzheimer’s a number of years ago.

Previous to working with the Society, Barb worked with the City of Hamilton, Eastman-Lewin & Associates, Lakefield College School, Mohawk College and McMaster University (Not For Profit Volunteer Management).

Barb holds a National Volunteer Management Certification in the Not-For-Profit Sector from Ryerson College / Centre For Philanthropy and a Certification of Achievement Destination Selling (Destination Marketing Association International). Barb was a nominee of the Toronto Sun’s ‘Women on the Move’ Award and recipient of the Greater Hamilton Tourism Award of Excellence. She also earned her English Rider 1 Certification and English Rider 2 Certification.

In Barb’s spare time she enjoy riding lessons with her equine buddy ‘Teddy’ (a ‘hobby’ Barb took up at 45 years old), walking her rescue puppy ‘Oliver’ and being bossed around by her 2 feline friends. Barb and her husband, Murray, reside in Guelph.

Jillian Treadgold, Development Strategy Coordinator


519-742-8518 ext 2021

Operations Team

Patsy Cerqueira, Receptionist


519-742-8518 x 2010

Jill Ross, Finance & Site Systems Coordinator


519-742-8518 x 2013


Jill joined the Alzheimer Society of Kitchener-Waterloo in 2005 in the role of Office and Finance Coordinator. In 2010, she moved into the role of Finance Coordinator expanding to include Cambridge and Guelph-Wellington. She has moved the organization from three separate sets of books and financial practices to one system. Jill’s primary community partner is the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN).

Having experienced the disease in her family and through her family’s retirement home business, she feels fortunate to see first-hand the hard work that the staff, board and volunteers of the Alzheimer Society Waterloo Wellington do for all those affected with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Jill has a Bachelor of Music performance degree. She was a part of the Elora Festival Singers, Guelph Chamber Choir and the St John’s Elora Parish Choir (a professional church choir) for over 21 years. Her performance travels have taken her from St Paul’s Cathedral in London to the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina. She now lives with her husband and daughter in a rural community where she grew up.


Last Updated: 01/27/2019