Board and Staff Members
Board of Directors
President: Tim Hewitson, BASc, BEd, MEd: Passionate about advocacy and community development, Tim is a born and raised Hamiltonian who has led many successful initiatives throughout the Hamilton, Burlington and Brantford communities. Tim brings with him a personal identification with both ADHD and a Learning Disability and actively applies his learned coping to his teaching and leadership experiences in public and higher educational institutions, as well as numerous not-for-profit and charitable agencies. He currently leads community access initiatives and is a part-time faculty member with Mohawk College as well as a Teacher with Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. Aside from his community work, Tim’s current portfolio is informed by his training in Applied Behavioural Therapy and further research work in community-engaged education with the Faculty of Science at McMaster University. This, coupled with his presence in the community and formal teacher education training at Brock University, has led him to his current pursuit of a Master of Education specializing in Leadership in Equity, Engagement and Achievement at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.
Vice-President: Christa Keating-McKay
Past President: Diane Vandenbossche, HDSB SEAC rep. Diane has 29 years of teaching experience; 25 years as a special educator. Her experience spans both the elementary and secondary panels providing service to most of the exceptionalities in a range of programs from self-contained to resource support, on a withdrawal or in-class basis. Throughout her career and in retirement, her focus has centered on advocacy for students with Learning Disabilities.
Sept./89 to June/92 and Jan./96 to June/2000, she was seconded to the Ministry of Education and held the position of Resource Services Consultant at Trillium School, a Provincial Demonstration School for Students with Severe Learning Disabilities.She has been a member of Council for Exceptional Children for over 40 years. Presently she is on the executive of the Subdivision for Learning Disabilities and the Ontario Pioneers Subdivision (both subdivisions of CEC).
In June, 2000, she retired but is still a dedicated special educator. Currently, along with serving on the Board of Directors of Learning Disabilities Association of Halton-Hamilton as Past President, she is the organization’s Resource Facilitator and SEAC rep for Halton District School Board.
Treasurer: David Mahon. David was born and raised in Oakville and has spent his adult life living in various cities across Canada. He has recently returned to Burlington with his family. The greater part of David’s professional career has involved equipping learners with the information and tools they need to find their own personal success within the education space. From that experience and knowledge, he has become an empowered and vocal advocate for his son who has a learning disability. His family has experienced the highs and lows of his son’s struggles as he transitioned through both elementary and secondary school, during which he has learned to celebrate his successes and those that have helped him along the way. David passionately believes in the impact that evidence-based individualized learning strategies can have for all learners in terms of independence, engagement, success and personal fulfilment. David’s previous experience as a Board member with LDA-Durham Region also reinforced the idea that together we are stronger in making a difference for all, and he hopes to continue to do so with the LDAHH.
Director: Maureen Pangan
Director: Francesca Rollo
Director: Matthew Belan: Possessing a Master’s Degree from McMaster University, Matthew has been involved teaching in post-secondary institutions since 2015. He has an extensive experience in working with youth-at-risk, and those with learning disabilities or learning differences. Matthew has also worked for Ontario-funded employment centres, working with those who have disabilities in order to find long-term employment. Presently, Matthew teaches at McMaster University for the faculty of Social Sciences in their experiential education office, where he continues to assist students in their academics, as well as finding them internship placements. Matthew also owns a therapy dog, Moose, which comes to McMaster to help students feel relaxed during stressful times of the academic year
Director: Tim Rye. Tim lives in Burlington with his wife Heather and children Daniel and Lauren. As an active member of the community he can often be found coaching hockey, running around to various activities or actively working on school council projects and other community programs. In his professional life Tim is the Vice President of Canadian Lending Technologies for the global Fintech company Finastra with overall responsibility for the Canadian organization. He brings to the board many years of corporate, strategic and channel development experience along with a strong passion for equality and driving change through positive engagement.
Director: Hugo Troccoli: Hugo is a Direct Support Professional with a passion for making connections and developing skills using social media and new tech. Hugo spear-headed the social media presence for Community Living Oakville – leading to the creation of the award winning In The Loop Media program.
Director: Natalie Warren
Director: Evangeline Chima: Evangeline Chima is the founder of Black Mentorship Inc. BMI – an organization dedicated to fostering Black professionals’ professional growth and personal expansion. BMI was born out of her personal experiences as a Black professional woman in Canada. In her role as the Executive Director, Evangeline helps organizations close the diversity gap and create exceptional atmospheres that increase production without additional cost. In addition to leading BMI mission and developing workshops and training sessions, Evangeline has a master’s degree in Information Technology Services, diplomas in Computer Network, Project Management, and Business Analysis –along with numerous professional certifications. She has accomplished a record of driving process initiatives that support corporate change, stakeholders’ requirements and employee engagement.
Alison has been with the LDAHH since 2016, first as a member of the Board (Treasurer and President) and now as Executive Director.
As Executive Director, Alison is the key management leader of the Learning Disabilities Association of Halton-Hamilton (LDAHH). She is responsible for overseeing the staff, administration, programs, and strategic plan of the organization. Other key duties include fundraising, marketing, and community outreach. Alison reports directly to the Board of Directors.
Alison brings a wealth of expertise to this role:
- Chartered management accountant and award-winning entrepreneur (BDC Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Ontario, finalist for E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year, nominated for Rotman’s Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year)
- Applied Learning Disabilities Specialist
- Academic Life Coach
- Mindfulness Instructor
- LDAO Certified Resource Facilitator
- and most importantly, a parent to a child with learning disabilities, ADHD, and anxiety.
Communication & Events Coordinator
Amna joined the Learning Disabilities Association of Halton-Hamilton in July 2020 as a staff member. She attended McMaster University (Hon. B.Arts) where she studied Communication and Multimedia. Amna supports the overall communications strategy and execution based on the Association’s mission to improve the well-being of those with Learning Disabilities. She is also responsible for planning and preparing an annual calendar of events and signature programs within budget.
Amna has a passion when it comes to volunteering to help local causes. She is passionate to learn more about the field of Learning Disabilities and to support those with Learning Disabilities as well as their families. When she is not working, Amna enjoys hiking, drinking tea and watching her favourite classics.
Katie Jacobs, MA
Katie joined the Learning Disabilities Association of Halton-Hamilton in August 2014 on the Board of Directors, and as a staff member in 2015. She manages all operations, programs and services in accordance with the mission statement of the Association.
Katie’s background is in Child and Youth Development, having obtained both a Bachelor of Arts degree (2012) and a Master of Arts degree (2014) in Child and Youth Studies from Brock University. During her studies at Brock University, Katie’s undergraduate and graduate research focused on Learning Disabilities; specifically the social-emotional component. Katie volunteered and partnered with the Learning Disabilities Association of Niagara Region (LDANR) during this time; having participated in the Reading Rocks program as a tutor and research assistant, partnering with them for her research projects and facilitating an after school program she had created which was offered through the United Way of Niagara. It was her relationship with the LDANR that introduced her to the Learning Disabilities Association.
Katie is passionate about the field of Learning Disabilities and highly motivated to support children, youth, and adults with Learning Disabilities as well as their families.
Fran O' Donnell (They/Them)
Fran joined the Learning Disabilities Association of Halton-Hamilton in November 2020. They are a recent graduate of McMaster University where they received their Honours Bachelor of Arts in English & Cultural Studies. Fran has always been passionate about pedagogy and learning, and they have a deep and abiding love for working in the non-profit sector.
They are honoured and delighted to be working with LDAHH to make learning accessible to everyone, and to make the world a better and more inclusive place. When not working, Fran can be found writing, and hanging out with their cat, Lyric.
Debbie Levy-Stock, BA, BEd, ECE, Certified OG
Certified Orton-Gillingham Tutor
Debbie joined the Learning Disabilities Association of Halton-Hamilton as a parent and volunteer in 1998. The organization was instrumental in providing support to be an effective advocate. In 2003 she received training organized by the organization in the Orton-Gillingham Approach, a research based methodology. Since then she obtained certification through the Orton-Gillingham Academy and has been working in the tutorial program as an instructor helping students to become accomplished in all areas of language and at the same time discussing students’ needs and progress with parents and educators.
Debbie has over 30 years of experience working with children and is a member of the College of Early Childhood Educators and the Ontario College of Teachers. Debbie is a certified Member of the Orton-Gillingham Academy of Educators and Practitioners and, she is dedicated to equity and skill development for students with learning disabilities.
Afshan Parvaiz, BA, Associate OG
Associate Orton-Gillingham Tutor
Afshan has been associated with the Learning Disabilities of Halton-Hamilton since 2004 providing one on one tutoring.
Afshan has over thirty years of teaching experience in primary and secondary schools covering a wide variety of subjects including English Language, English Literature, World History, Science, Maths etc. She spent three years in UK (1998-2001) going back to school to study GCSE courses in English and Mathematics. While in the UK she pursued and completed a one year Certification Course in Special Needs (Dyslexia) from John Hunt Institute, accredited with Oxford/Cambridge Universities and Royal Society of Arts (UK). Afshan completed a Diploma in Dyslexia from Hornsby International Dyslexia Centre in London, UK.
She moved to Canada in early 2002 as a landed immigrant and is now a Canadian Citizen. She has a working knowledge of Orton-Gillingham, Hornsby and Hickey methodologies in supporting children with learning disabilities (Dyslexia). Afshan is an Associate of the Orton-Gillingham Multi-Sensory approach, having completed her Associate level coursework (60 hours) and her supervised practicum.
SOAR Transition Skills Program and Reading Rocks Program
Samantha Sweet, B.Sc., B.Ed, OCT
SOAR Transition Skills Program Facilitator, e-Tutoring Program Coordinator
Samantha attended McMaster University (Hon. B.Sc.) and Western University (Hon. B.Ed.) and continues to take additional qualification and professional development courses to further her learning. She has been a teacher with the Halton District School Board since November 2016. Samantha is qualified to teach Kindergarten through to Grade 12. She was born with Cerebral Palsy, and as a result has a true passion for Special Education. Samantha is eager to begin her new role, and is looking forward to getting involved in the organization in a number of ways. When she is not teaching, Samantha enjoys travelling, reading and finding unique ways to stay healthy and fit.
Typing Skills Program
Typing Skills Program Facilitator
Assistive Technology Program
Ryan Hamilton, MEd, OCT
Assistive Technology Program Facilitator
Ryan holds a Masters of Education from York University. He has taught in grade 7 and 8 classes for the past 9 years focusing on making learning possible and meaningful for all students. As a learner with a disability himself, Ryan knows what brings success to students. Success does not come from mastering various technological platforms. Instead, success is the result of blending the instruction in basic skills with the use of technology to bridge the learning gap.
Social Skills Program
Shawna Kelly, B.A., CYC
Social Skills Program Lead
Shawna is a Child and Youth Counsellor living and working in Halton Region. Shawna holds a B.A. in psychology from McMaster University as well as an advanced diploma in Child and Youth Care from Mohawk College. She has experience with children and adolescents in various settings including inpatient psychiatry, day treatment programs, group home, secure treatment, classroom, and private clinic.
Areas of particular interest for Shawna include child and adolescent mental health, therapeutic programming, and counselling.
Shawna is looking forward to bringing her strengths-based approach, enthusiasm, and bad jokes to her programming at the LDAHH.