Board of Directors
The Niagara Falls Community Health Centre is governed by a volunteer board of directors comprised of Niagara Region community members. With the board’s leadership, experience, & expertise, the NFCHC continues to move forward towards achieving its vision of empowering individuals, creating a stronger community through quality health care in the City of Niagara Falls.
Carol Stewart-Kirkby - Chair
Born in Manchester, England, Carol came to Niagara Falls with her parents and brother in 1970. She attended Westlane Secondary School and graduated with a journalism degree from Ryerson in 1980. After several roles in newspapers, she moved to a position with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food to edit magazines for rural organizations. It was at this workplace that she first became involved in the United Way as a volunteer. Since then, she served in various capacities with the United Way, culminating in her current role as Executive Director of the United Way of Niagara Falls and Greater Fort Erie. Carol lives in Niagara Falls with her husband and family dog, Jackson. She is the proud mom of three sons. She likes to read and from time to time attempts to play golf!
Brett Fusco - Vice Chair
Brett is currently in the second year of his first term on the NFCHC Board, and he is the secretary. Brett attended Fanshawe College for a Liberal Arts and Sciences diploma from 2003-2005 and also attended Niagara County Community College in Sanborn NY, for the registered nursing program from 2006-2009. He left that program for personal reasons, but successfully graduated with an Associate’s degree in Humanities and Social Sciences. Brett began working with Niagara Support Services as a behavioral support worker with adult special needs in 2009 but decided to continue his education in 2011, entering into the Primary Care Paramedic program from Niagara College. Graduated in 2013, certified with the MOHLTC and obtained his A-EMCA registration. During that time, Brett was actively involved in volunteer work as well as sitting on the Paramedic Advisory Committee. It was those experiences that sparked Brett's interest to sit on the Board of Directors for the NFCHC.
Along with currently working at Niagara Support Services, he also works for Goodlife Fitness in Niagara Falls, is an instructor for Red Cross of Canada First Aid and CPR as well as a Volunteer firefighter for the City of Welland fire and emergency services. When not working or volunteering, he spends time with his fiancé and their two year old German Shepherd, Gotham, plays in multiple bands (A Book for Wanderers and the Ages), and plays in an adult men’s hardball league with his twin brother for the Meritton Alliance.
"I volunteer for the NFCHC because I enjoy being an active participant in the city I grew up in. I believe in positive change and standing together as a society. I believe that the NFCHC makes Niagara Falls a proud place to call home, which it will always be to me," Brett states, "I volunteer for the City of Welland because I want to contribute to the community I am apart of now. I believe it is important to put people first, above all else. I love the Niagara region and feel proud to represent it as much as possible."
Haven Alexander - Treasurer
Haven is serving his second term on the board. A mortgage advisor at CIBC and a member of the Niagara Falls Rotary Club, he learned about the community health centre through board chair, Joyce Morocco. He was inspired to join the board for the opportunity to give back to the community. Haven says he likes the concept of preventative healthcare, as it saves funding dollars longterm.
"You think everyone is taken care of. That really isn't so," he says about Niagara's healthcare system. "This is an opportunity to help those who have barriers," adding that community health centre staff taking the time to address clients' multiple issues during each visit is very beneficial to clients.
Susie Tombs - Secretary
Susie was born in Montreal, Quebec and moved to Ontario in 1978. She has been employed at the Niagara Parks Commission for 36 years, over the years working in various departments, presently in the horticulture department in an administration/logistics position. Susie also has a small side business that caters mostly to seniors. She teaches people about computers in their homes, assists with their taxes, helps them downsize when moving, and she also drives them to appointments. Susie says that her greatest gift is her son Brandon, who she is very proud of. Brandon is completing his second diploma at Niagara College in Gaming and Animation, and he is on the honour roll. The remainder of Susie's spare time is spent with friends, family, and her dog Maggee Mae; a 90 pound Mastiff/American-Bulldog that is gentle by nature and full of love.
Susie helps out community charities, such as the United Way, which she had the privilege of sitting on the board for two terms. "I learned so much about our community and myself during the time on the United Way board, I always felt that my voice was heard and taken seriously" Susie says, "When I was approached about being part of the Niagara Falls Community Health Centre as a Board Member, I was thrilled. The dedication and commitment of the NFCHC team is fascinating. Kudos to Henri-Louis and his team. I am looking forward to the day when we finally move into our new location. Hopefully I will still be part of the NFCHC team."
John Armstrong - Director
John Armstrong is president of Armstrong Strategy Group, a strategic communications and public affairs firm he started in 2011. John began his career as a public liaison officer for former Ontario premier William Davis and completed his bachelor's degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in political science and his Masters of Arts degree in political science.
John has worked in the private sector as manager of a cable advertising channel and has taught current affairs and the media to Niagara College journalism students and lectured in Canadian Studies at Brock University. His commitment to leadership also took him to Ottawa and the office of former Reform Party of Canada leader Preston Manning, as a strategist, speech-writer and communications specialist and has also served on the staff of Labour Minister Jim Flaherty.
Since becoming a consultant in 1998, John has delivered strategies to clients in all sectors including large multinational corporations to various levels of government, the broader sector, industry associations and not-for-profits. The depth of and breadth of his regional understanding reaches into healthcare, tourism, agri-food, manufacturing, municipal and electricity sectors.
John is also Chair of the Bi-national War of 1812 Bicentennial Legacy Council, and founder of the Lou Cahill Society, John has also been on the Board of the Niagara Community Foundation, is past chair of Niagara College's Public Relation's Program Advisry group, has been on numerous fundraising campaigns and a judge for the Canadian Healthcare Public Relations Awards.
Irene Duford - Director
Irene Duford has been a resident of Niagara Falls all of her life, and says she has seen many changes in the community over the years. Irene worked for the Niagara Parks Commission for over 30 years and has worked with a great many people and thoroughly enjoys getting to know and helping others. Irene joined the NFCHC as a client in 2011 and has participated in nearly all the wonderful groups that are offered (some more than once)! Irene likes to help out with different groups here at NFCHC, such as Gentle Fit, Coffee Club, Peer support and many others. Come a visit her in one of our groups today!
"I became a Board Member because the staff at NFCHC literally gave me my life back." she says, "So I really wanted to help in any way that I could to serve others in the community."
Susan Berry - Director
Susan was born in Truro, Nova Scotia. In 1959, she moved with her family to Ontario. She began her Nursing career at the Ottawa Civic Hospital in the late 60's
After moving to Niagara Falls in 1981 she began working on the Continuing Complex Care Unit at GNGH. She spent 14 years on the Unit and helped initiate the non-profit registered charity, The Nurses' Care Fund to raise funds for air-conditioning on the Morris Unit. After that the nurses and many supporters raised funds for comfort aids for patients and started the first Quiet Room at the hospital. It was a room for a patient and a family, at the end of life, so they could have privacy and time together.
She was also involved in fundraising for the Employee Fundraising Committee, the in-hospital United Way Campaign, and was also on the Board of the Grenigen Social Club.
In 1996 she became the Co-ordinator for Palliative Care. This was more than a job. At that time patients and their families were followed in hospital and in the Community. She said that they had amazing volunteers who sat with patients overnight or during the day so families could have some respite. Her expertise was in Pain and Symptom Management. She had graduated from the Palliative Program at Niagara College in 1996 and also was a Certified Hospice Palliative Care Nurse (CHPCN.C). Again fundraising was also important so comfort aids could be bought for patient use. Two more Quiet Rooms were furnished for patients and family.
She was pleased to represent her profession on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Palliative Care Association for 2 terms, Later at the NHS she was on the Board of Bio-Ethics and later a Board of Ethics.
Since retirement in 2009 she has kept busy with some travel, more time with family. She enjoys reading and belongs to a Book Club She has done some volunteering with United Way, Rotary when needed, and now the CHC.
She says that she is looking forward to the next few years with the CHC and has been inspired by the skilled and compassionate Team and the many Programs that they offer to the Community.
She is married to her wonderful husband David. They have 4 children and 8 grandchildren who add joy to her life.
Franco Piscitelli - Director
Franco has lived in Niagara Falls for nearly 40 years where he and his wife, Renni raised their 4 children. Franco has worked his entire career in the field of Law Enforcement (retiring as an Immigration Intelligence Officer after 35 years and following with an 8 year career as Municipal Law Enforcement Manager). Franco has a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration. He has sat as Director and Chair on several local boards. Franco hopes to serve the Board by following in the footsteps of his wife, Renni who was the First Chair of the NFCHC.
Jaelynne Sonke - Director
My name is Jaelynne Sonke (Jae for short) I am a Registered Nurse currently employed by Niagara Health; I have been fortunate to work within the healthcare setting in the Niagara Region for over 27 years. Over the many years at Niagara Health I have demonstrated my skills and gained extensive experience and knowledge at many levels, I am currently the clinical nurse manager for the perioperative program, a position I have held for approximately 9 years.
I originally graduated as a registered nurse from a community college, eventually earning my Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Brock University and most recently an MBA from the University of Fredericton.
I was involved at great length with the Niagara Health System’s development and plan for the new hospital build and its eventual move to its current site. As a clinical nurse manager and a health care leader I have been involved in strategic planning and development as well as being instrumental in initiating and sustaining many quality and patient safety initiatives. I have participated in many accreditation processes, through these processes I have assisted with developing many step-by-step pathways, leading Niagara Health towards continuous quality improvement.
I am excited to say this is my first year as a member of the board of directors, a position I take great pride in. I look forward to my new position and value the opportunity of working collaboratively with many community partners and healthcare providers to ensure quality healthcare is accessible and available to all who require assistance; this is something I consider very important to me and the community we live and work in.
Diane Vanecko - Director
Born and raised in Niagara, Diane Vanecko is a first-time board member. Diane is inspired by the Niagara Falls Community Health Centre’s achievements, and is eager to bring her health background and experience to take the organization’s vision further and make it a reality through sound strategy development. Diane strives to improve the residents’ quality of life, one person at a time.
Diane is the Director of Organizational and Foundational Standards division at Niagara Region Public Health, overseeing communications, research and evaluation, and continuous quality improvement and education. She has been employed with Niagara Region for 19 years, beginning her career as a Public Health Nurse, and has held a variety of positions in the organization. Diane is currently leading the development of a new Public Health office in Niagara Falls.
Diane graduated from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1996 and completed her Masters of Business Administration in 2007. Diane is married to her high school sweetheart Darren, and they have two teenaged children. Diane loves watching her son play hockey and her daughter play basketball. In her spare time, she enjoys running the Niagara escarpment trails and hiking with her family.