Board of Directors

Youville Centre is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Our current Board Members are listed below.  Scroll down for full biographies.

Board Photo September AGM 2018



Shailja Verma
Manager, Adult Basic Education & Literacy, OCSB

Vice President

Shelagh Jane Woods
Director General (Retired), First Nations and Inuit Health, Health Canada


Colleen MacDonald
Coordinator/Teacher, Ottawa Catholic School Board


Valerie Caterino
Regional Operations Manager, Consulting, A Hundred Answers


  • Dr. Katherine Matheson
    Child Psychiatrist, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario


  • Heather Brown
    Fundraising Consultation, Good Works


  • Chantal Guay
    Community Member


  • Elizabeth Rodgers
    Fundraising Professional


  • Gen Madden
    Constable, Ottawa Police Services


  • Kelly Raymond
    Human Resource Professional


  • Kim Royer
    Human Resource Professional


  • Liz O’Neill
    Retired Principale OCSB


  • Rachel Leck
    Lawyer, McCague Borlack LLP



Shailja Verma – President

Shailja Verma retired after 35 plus years of service in education as a teacher and then as the Manager of Continuing and Community Education for the Ottawa Catholic School Board.  She has always believed that providing opportunities for self sustainment leads to a brighter and better future in building communities and strived to ensure that access to quality educational programs was at the forefront. Over the years Shailja Co-Chaired the National Working Group on the Development of the Canadian Language Benchmarks, was involved with TESL provincially and nationally, held various offices on the Boards culminating as President of TESL Ontario and TESL Canada. Shailja also represented the Ottawa Catholic School Board on the Governing Council of the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership Board and was involved in anti-racism training for the local and national police forces.  In recognition of her work she has received many awards some of which are the Ottawa Citizen Literacy Award, the YM-YWCA Woman of Distinction and the Ontario Newcomer Champion Award. More recently Shailja has been on the patient advisory committee for CCAC to provide a voice for those who are primary caregivers trying to navigate the Ontario health care system.

Shelagh Jane Woods – Vice President

I am retired after a 25+ year career in the Federal Government where I held a number of Executive positions in the Privy Council Office, the Climate Change Secretariat, and Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, inter alia.  I am involved with the Executive Committee of Lac St.-François-Xavier Association in Montfort, Québec;  and One World Grannies Ottawa (associated with the Stephen Lewis Foundation).  I was the recipient of three Deputy Minister’s Awards: Indian Affairs and Northern Development; the Privy Council Office; and Health Canada.  My personal passions are sewing, reading, gardening, quilting, walking, piano, and the Montreal Canadiens.  I support Youville because of the strong evidence of the invaluable work that Youville does to help young mothers and their children improve their lives and develop their potential.

Colleen MacDonald – Secretary

Colleen has been involved in Education for 32 years, all of which has been with the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Initially a teach for grades K-6, Colleen assumed a leadership position in the Elementary Student Success Department as a Consultant for the Primary Years. Most recently, she accepted the position of Coordinator for Early Years and supports the implementation of the Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program. She is a much sought after speaker at international conferences such as The International Reading Association and National Association for the Education of Young Children. She has shared knowledge in the areas of Developing Literacy, Early Intervention and Pedagogical Documentation. Her article; “Closing the Gap Early: Implementing a Literacy Intervention for At-Risk Kindergartners in Urban Schools” was published in the Reading Teacher, International Reading Association. She has been recognized be receiving the Capital Educators Award and the Director of Education Award, OCSB. Colleen resides in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband and two sons. She is a life-long learner and believes in giving back to her community.

Valerie Caterino – Treasurer

I grew up on a farm in the Ottawa Valley but have been living in the Ottawa area for over 30 years. I am the Regional Office Manager for MNP LLP, an accounting and business advisory firm. I have a passion for helping people. I have coordinated committees at A Hundred Answers Inc and now MNP LLP to give back to our community by volunteering at the Snowsuit fund distributing snowsuits, delivering Christmas and Easter hampers for the Food Bank, and organizing a scholarship for Aboriginal youths with the University of Ottawa to name just a few. I have two children and one grandson. I was a single mother with my daughter and am very aware of the challenges of raising a child on your own.  I am now the Treasurer on the Board of Directors at the Youville Centre. I support the Youville Centre because I am a strong believer that education is a key element in making the best life possible for oneself and your children. The Youville Centre supports young women in achieving this goal and I am proud to be a part of this organization.

Heather Brown – Director

I believe that most of us want to do good in the world. We try and practice tolerance and compassion in our daily lives, and we teach our children these same values.  If given the opportunity, I think most of us would choose a career that would allow us to contribute to positive change. My career is just that – an extension of that desire to make a positive impact.  As a fundraising consultant with Good Works, a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP Ottawa Chapter) and a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), I have the pleasure of working with many amazing charities. What I do is help connect donors with the causes they care about, and help cultivate and build meaningful relationships.

Raising my daughter on my own was not always easy, but if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. We have developed a bond so strong that I believe is unique to single parent families. We’ve pulled together in tough times, and we’ve laughed together during the good times.

I truly believe that being a parent is the most important and rewarding job in the world and I want to help support other young mothers on their own parenting journeys. I have so enjoyed my work with Youville Centre over the years. As a Youville Mentor, I have had the pleasure of building a special relationship with Nikki, one of Youville Centre’s young moms. I’m so proud to share that Nikki graduated in June 2016 and was chosen as the valedictorian of her class! As a member of the Mentorship Program Steering Committee, Youville’s Development Committee and a Youville Centre Board Member, I look forward to continuing to support more young women like Nikki.

Chantal Guay – Director

Chantal is a highly motivated bilingual executive with a successful track record in association management, business development, people, operations, and financial management. She has excellent communication skills, with the ability to build, mobilize, and lead successful teams. She is driven by high quality standards with a customer-focused approach. Chantal is a member of the Women’s Golf Club, plays recreational volleyball, and volunteers for NSERC for the Engineering Design Chair Committee, as well as the Women in Science and Engineering Chair Committee. Her passions include gardening, reading, golfing, sports, singing, cooking, and travelling. She has joined the Youville Centre Board with a goal of empowering young women, especially those who are in difficult situations and have children to care for.

Rachel Leck – Director

Rachel Leck is a civil litigator with expertise in employment and human rights law, and insurance defence. She particularly enjoys her work providing advice to clients in the non-profit sector. In addition to her work, Rachel has been a volunteer board member for nearly 20 years with a number of non-profit organizations in Toronto, Simcoe County, and Ottawa. Her board expertise lies in governance and strategic leadership, as well as risk management.  Rachel approaches her board work from a critical feminist, anti-racist/anti-oppression, and harm reduction framework.

Rachel is a proud mum to two teenagers, and her family regularly hosts high school students from Northern Canada, Europe and Asia. You can generally find a handful (or more!) of teenagers hanging out around the house. Rachel strives to be a positive adult in the lives of the teens she meets, and is delighted to be a board member serving Youville Centre’s mission.

Gen Madden – Director

Gen Madden graduated from Youville Centre in 2000 and went on to complete a diploma in Child and Youth Work from Algonquin College. She has worked in various residential settings including Interval House, Elizabeth Fry, as well as programs within the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. She was a foster parent with the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa for six years, parenting children from newborn to 12 years of age. In 2008, she changed careers and became a Constable with the Ottawa Police Service. After 5 years as a Patrol Officer in the downtown area, Gen transferred to the School Resource Unit in 2013 and has continued serving local area schools and programs, including Youville Centre.

Katherine Matheson – Director

I am a Pediatric Psychiatrist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa.  I am a Medical Doctor and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada.  I belong to the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Ontario Psychiatric Association and the Ontario Medical Association.  I received the “Making a Difference” Award from CHEO/The Royal in recognition of outstanding contributions to mental health service for youth (2015) and the “Rising Researcher” Award from CHEO (2015).  I have had eight articles published in multiple medical journals and sixteen abstracts published at various medical conferences.  I am passionate about my work, particularly infant and early childhood mental health, ultimate frisbee and mindfulness.  I believe that the work that Youville does is crucial to prevent the intergenerational transmission of mental illness, as young mothers and their children are some of the most vulnerable members of society.  Youville is one of the only locations in all of Ottawa offering attachment-based therapy (infant and early childhood mental health services).

Kelly Raymond – Director

Kelly Raymond is a Service Director with the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa. She holds graduate degrees in social work and has dedicated her career to working with children, youth and their families. Her research has focused on women’s issues, with a specific focus on the social representations of mothers. She is the provincial lead for French Language services and Education and leads several local initiatives such as and leads several local initiatives such as the Integrated Plan of Care and Mental Health Services. Kelly’s 26 years of experience have make her keenly aware of the needs of young women and their children as well as their strengths and possibilities. She is aware that no single approach is the right one for every individual and she has been exposed to a number of different approaches for helping women and children manage through adversity. Coupled with her knowledge of different intervention strategies, she also has significant experience in working with organizations that support women and children’s well-being. Kelly has served as Board Member with Maison Interlude a women’s shelter in Hawkesbury, Ontario and held the role of President for 3 years. In joining the board and supporting the work at Youville Kelly’s background will be an asset in fully supporting the work of the Centre.

Elizabeth Rodgers – Director

Elizabeth Rodgers is the Manager of Philanthropy at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation, focused on fundraising for the current capital building campaign.   Prior to joining the Heart Institute, she worked at United Way Ottawa, managing the Leadership Giving portfolio.  Elizabeth got her start in non-profit at McGill University, where she earned her degree in Political Science and International Development Studies while working as a fundraiser.  Elizabeth holds a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation and actively volunteers with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) on various committees.

Liz O’Neill – Director

As a niece of Sr. Betty Ann Kinsella, Liz O’Neil has a special connection to Youville. Liz feels fortunate to have watched this incredible woman create such an important outreach for young Moms and their babies. She is honoured to help continue her legacy. Liz is a retired educator, with 30 years of experience with the Ottawa Catholic School Board. She taught in elementary schools for 11 years –  2 of those years were spent in Japan. Always looking toward the next challenge, Liz then spent 11 years in secondary schools where shetaught grades 7 through 12 before moving into the Student Services department as a Guidance Counselor for 4 years. Her next move was into Administration once she completed my Principal Qualification courses. Liz spent one year as a Vice Principal then 7 years as a Principal in 3 different schools. She have a lifelong joy of learning, travel and meeting new people. Liz look forwards to contributing to the future and spirit of the Youville community!

Kim Royer – Director

Kim Royer is an experienced bilingual HR leader that has had the opportunity to work in a variety of industries. She is currently working in a business partner capacity with the Cowan Insurance Group. With 15 years of progressive HR experience in all facets of HR, Kim is a strong believer in supporting an engaged workforce. Kim grew up in the Gatineau/Ottawa area where she is now raising her family.