Board of Directors
Cheryl Perera, Skylark
Chair of OCC
Cheryl has been a member of OCC for 6 years. She also represents OCSA (Ontario Community Support Services Association) on the Coalition. As well, she has chaired the Awareness & Communications Working Group/Committee at OCC. Cheryl joined Skylark in January 2018 as Senior Director of System Services and Complex Special Needs. In this role, Cheryl oversees a 30 million dollar budget and multiple system navigation services for both the children's mental health sector and developmental services sector. Prior to this, Cheryl worked at VHA Home HealthCare and was responsible for overseeing and building VHA’s charitable programs province-wide. These programs are dedicated to serving those who are most vulnerable and marginalized in our community. Cheryl holds a MSW from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Schulich. The skills she brings to OCC include business development, strategic planning, marketing and partnership building.
Chair of Membership and Governance Committee
Sam has been a member of OCC for 1 year. He has been a caregiver since 1990, when his wife was diagnosed with MS. She has been in a wheelchair since 1992. Sam’s legal experience includes serving as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at the Canadian Red Cross. His areas of expertise includecorporate and commercial law, the law of charities and not-for-profits, and the governance of charities and not-for-profits. He currently also teaches Business Law at Carelton’s Sprott School of Business. Sam is currently chairing the OCC Membership & Governance Working Group/Committee.
University Health Network, Committee Member, Research & Advocacy Committee
Rose-Marie has been a member of OCC for over 4 years. She has served as a co-chair of the OCC Research & Advocacy Working Group/Committee for the past 2 years. She has also brought her experience to many external committees in her roles as part-time Social Worker on a Medical Oncology Team at the University Health Network and a Professional Practice Leader. Rose-Marie believes “nothing has impacted my life more than being a caregiver to a family member with a mental health diagnosis, a daughter who has had a heart transplant and caring for an aging family member with early onset dementia.”
Patricia (Patti) Lennox
Community and Primary Health Care, Ottawa
Patti has been with the OCC for 5+ years. Now retired, she chairs the Successful Aging Advisory Committee of United Way East Ontario-Lanark. LC-SAAC is a partnership of donors, interested citizens, service providers, organization representatives, coalition members, business leaders,
government, labour, educators and other funders. The purpose of the committee is to provide leadership, direction and support to United Way and agencies related to seniors and aging through the development of resources, partnerships, alliances, projects and initiatives within and across sectors. The priority goal is: " Seniors are able to stay in their homes and remain engaged in the community, and all caregivers feel supported. This can be done by reducing the factors that lead to isolation and vulnerability while respecting seniors’ independence and by establishing caregiver support strategies." Prior to retirement, Patti spent 20 years in health care with VON and Community and Primary Health Care. Her primary focus has been caregivers and caregiver support. As well, Patti served as School Board Trustee for five years at the Upper Canada District School Board.
Michelle Lewis serves as the Executive Director of the Young Caregivers Association, a not-for-profit agency with a mission to serve caregiving children, youth, young adults and their families. Michelle has been with the organization since 2012 and has focused on thinking strategically around barriers family caregivers experience. Having been a young caregiver herself, she uses her lived experience and passion to find ways to support as many young caregivers as possible and to give a voice to these hidden family caregivers. Michelle was raised in Hagersville and now lives in St. Catharines with her husband and two daughters.
Dana is the Director of Services at Wesway, a not-for-profit respite organization that supports family caregivers living in Thunder Bay or in a rural or remote community in Northern Ontario. Dana has been working in the respite field for over 30 years and has focused on creating responsive respite services for family caregivers who are supporting individuals with challenging care needs from birth to senior years. She firmly believes that caregivers are the true experts in relation to their care and is committed to ensuring that services are shaped to meet the unique needs and preferences of family caregivers. Dana is also a founding member of the International Short Break Association (ISBA), an organization that provides a platform for knowledge exchange, courses of action and working practices within the field of short-breaks (respite) world-wide.