Niagara College Community Employment Services 905-641-2252 ext 4670

Our Team


Board of Directors

David Veres, Chair

David spent over 23 years as an educator and administrator at Niagara College. Prior to retirement he was the Associate Vice-President of Academic and Learner Services at the college and was engaged in numerous college and community initiatives.

Most recently he has joined The Centre for Leading and Living, where he provides consulting services associated with leadership development, strategic planning, policy analysis, quality assurance and curriculum development. He also teaches at Niagara University in their Ph.D. Leadership and Policy Program, and supports Master’s Thesis students at Royal Roads University.

David holds a Ph.D. in Leadership & Policy, MA in Leadership, BA (honours) in Geography, and a Diploma in Recreation Leadership. He is actively involved in a number of community boards and committees including; 2021 Canada Games, QUEST Community Health Centre, YMCA of Niagara, and the Welland Development Commission.

He lives with his wife Louise in Fonthill and enjoys hiking, baseball, and bridge. He joined the Leadership Niagara board in January of 2018 and is looking forward to supporting the development of community leaders in Niagara.

Jeff McGuffin, Vice Chair

Commercial Analyst
Meridian Credit Union

Jeff is a Commercial Analyst for Meridian Credit Union who works to help provide our Commercial Members with the financing required to help them grow their businesses, and as a result of this, our community.

Jeff holds an Honours degree in History and Human Geography from Brock University.

Residing in the Niagara region since 2002 Jeff has enjoyed making Niagara his home. He and his wife enjoy hiking the Bruce Trail and cycling around Niagara-on-the-Lake to enjoy all that the area has to offer.

Ruth Gatzke, Treasurer

Regional Vice President, Wealth Services
WM Gateway Inc.

I grew up in Niagara on a small fruit farm. Like many young people at that time, left the area for the big city to pursue an education and work opportunities. After getting married to another small-town soul, we decided to raise our family back in Niagara.  We now live on a 15-acre organic farm that my husband runs. We have a 40 member CSA, attend two farmers’ markets and work with a few local restaurants. We also partner with Pelham Cares through our corporate donorship program.

I spent most of my career at CIBC, the last 15 years in leadership roles. I decided to explore credit unions as their values and commitment to local community aligns with mine.

During the last 8 years, I enjoyed working with two regional credit unions leading their investment and wealth departments. I recently accepted a role with WM Gateway Inc. as their Regional Vice President, Wealth Services. Here I am working with a number of small to mid-sized credit unions in Ontario. I support their growth and help them enhance their member experience.

I joined Leadership Niagara in 2017.

Michael Bronzi

Community Manager
Royal Bank of Canada

Mike has lived in Niagara for the past 20 years. Currently, as the community manager for RBC, he leads a team of dynamic individuals living our purpose of helping clients thrive and communities prosper.

Mike is actively involved in the community sitting on the board of directors for various not-for-profit community programs. Mike is also actively engaged in helping the youth within our community by working directly with the business programs at Brock University and Niagara College.

Outside of work and his other commitments, Mike has a passion for the outdoors and you may have seen him hiking or biking on one of the gorgeous trails within Niagara with his wife Heather and their children.

Lesley Calvin, Program Advisory Committee Chair

Life, Leadership & Organizational Culture Coach, Facilitator & Consultant
Lesley Calvin Coaching, Facilitating & Speaking

Lesley Calvin is a Leadership Development Consultant, Coach and Trainer, and is highly revered as an Emotional Intelligence Specialist with a warm, dynamic, and impactful approach to her coaching, facilitation and speaking engagements.

As a former Higher Education Administrator and Leader of People and Departments, Lesley has dedicated almost two decades in her passion-driven career, to the personal, professional and leadership development of individuals and organizations, with the mission of furthering Positive Forward Motion in the FAST Lane© of your life, leadership and workplace in order to fuel productivity, positivity, increase engagement and drive results.

Lesley is known for building high-performance individuals, teams and cultures.


Working with individuals and organizations looking to increase their positive leadership capacity is her niche. Building emotionally-intelligent high performing skilled professionals, leaders, and positive organizations is her mission. Fostering awareness of self and others, optimizing individual and collective Emotional Intelligence, and increasing adaptability and tolerance in times of change, and stress is her deliverable.

Amanda Fletcher

CAA Niagara

A Niagara native, Brock University graduate and 2017 Leadership Niagara alum, Amanda is passionate about nurturing the next generation of community leaders and advancing the conversation around mental health.

She is currently Director of Marketing & Business Development for CAA Niagara and brings to the Leadership Niagara board more than a decade of experience in communication and brand development.

Recently awarded the Women in Business Young Professional Award, Amanda lives with her husband in Niagara Falls and spends her free time reading, renovating her house and chasing cats off of counters.

Michelle Grocholsky

Empowered EDI

Michelle Grocholsky is the founder and owner of Empowered, a boutique consulting firm on a mission to make equity, inclusion, and diversity (EDI) an ingrained part of how organizations and their people operate. 

Empowered was born out of Michelle Grocholsky’s 15+ years of experience designing and leading global EDI strategies across industries including Financial Services, High Tech, Land, Property and Construction. She draws extensively on her graduate training in Organizational Psychology and experience as an International Coach Federation Associate Certified Coach to address both the systems and mindsets crucial to meaningful progress.

Michelle lives in Welland where she is kept busy chasing around a toddler, baby, husband, and dog.

Meredith Maxwell

Manager of Communications and Engagement
Niagara Region Public Health

Meredith Maxwell is a public health communications professional with more than 15 years of progressive public relations, crisis communications and event management experience. She is currently the Manager of Communications and Engagement at Niagara Region Public Health and leads a team of professionals who are responsible for the Region’s pandemic communications.

Meredith has a Master of Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Communications from Brock University.

She and her family live in Vineland.

Colleen Smith

Executive Director
FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

Colleen Smith is a Canadian arts executive with experience that spans strategic planning, organizational development, financial management, digital innovation and execution of large-scale events.

Prior to accepting the role as Executive Director of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines (May, 2020) she has held executive leadership roles responsible for national and international teams from Toronto to Calgary to the East Coast. Serving as Project Director of Phase 1 of the Massey Hall Capital Project and in 2019 co-leading the Arts, Culture and Digital Transformation Summit at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Smith weaves industry knowledge with a curiosity for innovation and a pursuit of excellence.

An MBA graduate from the Schulich School of Business, Smith recently worked as a business consultant in Western Newfoundland in designing and implementing a national rollout strategy for a provincial multidisciplinary arts organization that resulted in the successful development of partnerships with the Aga Khan Museum, Humber College School for the Creative and Performing Arts and the Banff Centre. Her work often intersects government relations and advocacy, as well as funding and policy development at both a provincial and federal level.

She is humbled and inspired by the artists and colleagues that she has met throughout her work, and regularly gives back to her community through volunteer service with various mentorship programs and service organizations.

Current and past Board membership and committee work include involvement with the NYC-based International Society of the Performing Arts, The Downtown-Yonge Entertainment District BIA and the Entertainment District BIA (Toronto), and the national advocacy committee for the professional Association for Canadian Theatres.

Tara Stephens

City Clerk
City of Welland

Tara has been working for the City of Welland for over 14 years. During this time she has held multiple positions within the Clerk’s Division. Tara has been the City Clerk for over 5 years. As City Clerk, Tara is entrusted with the responsibility of recording the decisions which constitute the building blocks for the municipality. In addition, Tara is responsible for ensuring legislative processes are followed and oversight of the protection of public records.

Tara has two diplomas from Niagara College being Office Administration (Executive) and Occupational Health and Safety. In addition, Tara has successfully completed multiple programs through the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO), which includes Municipal Finance, Administration, Law and Human Resources.

Residing in Welland with her husband and son, Tara is looking forward to becoming more involved in inspiring leadership, and working alongside successful individuals to create new innovative and imaginative approaches to civic leadership and learning in the Niagara Region.

Neil Wilkinson

Managing Director
Equation Angels

Neil recently joined Equation Angels, Canada’s 2nd largest angel investor network, in the Managing Director role. Prior to this, he spent 8-years in leadership roles in college applied research offices. In that time, he developed and managed applied research teams and projects that provided innovative new products and solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses in agriculture; food and beverage; advanced manufacturing; and the digital health sectors. Working collaboratively with key stakeholders, Neil has written proposals for, and been awarded, over $21,000,000 in research grants.

Neil holds an MBA in Innovation Leadership from the Sandermoen School of Business at the University of Fredericton, an Ontario Graduate Certificate in Research Analysis from Georgian College and a BSc in Applied Biochemistry from Liverpool John Moores University in the UK.

An eclectic career with experiences in laboratories, entrepreneurship, marketing research, and software programming means Neil brings a breadth of experience as a product developer, service provider, and end customer to his work. Neil’s passions are supporting small- and medium-sized businesses on their innovation journeys to commercial success and working with early-career professionals and watching them grow into well-rounded leaders.

Christopher Yendt

President & CEO
Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) | Brock University

Christopher Yendt first came to Niagara in 2009 to study concurrent education at Brock University, over a decade and three degrees later he has become enamoured with the local community and dedicated to improving the lives of others. He is serving his second term as the President of the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) at Brock University while completing a fourth-degree, a Master’s of Education.

Christopher’s personal experiences within the field of mental health sparked a passion for community service. He currently serves as the Board President for the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), having served previously in the roles of Vice-President, and Treasurer. He has also served on the Board of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and as Past-Chair of NEXTNiagara.


Program Advisory Committee

Ann Harrison - Chair

Retired Educational Leader

Why do I care / why I am I involved with Leadership Niagara?

A current community volunteer.

What do I bring to the team?

Caitlin Armstrong - Co Chair

Human Resources Business Partner
Meridian Credit Union

Why do I care / why I am I involved with Leadership Niagara?

I am involved with Leadership Niagara because I love being part of a group comprised of individuals who are just as passionate as I am about the communities we serve.  I get energized by the ability to help shape the programs that contribute to the success if Niagara’s future leaders.

What do I bring to the team?

  • An academic and career background in human behaviour, performance management and leadership development.

  • A life long Niagara resident who has a deep understanding of the communities challenges and opportunities.

  • Passion for Diversity & Inclusion

Will Warren - Secretary

Why do I care / why I am I involved with Leadership Niagara?

Will is an experienced computer systems engineer with over a decade in cloud computing. Having worked for both scrappy startups and Niagara-based non-profits alike, he has a passion for building reliable, stable experiences on the web that can scale to meet the demands of modern internet users. Years in the trenches prepared Will for the transition into Engineering Management where he loves to engage and unlock the potential in his fully remote team.

Feeling a desire to give back to the community as well as a wealth of experience working with teams remotely for the last 6 years, Will decided to get involved with Leadership Niagara. The online-only delivery format was new to a lot of people but Will was able to contribute behind the scenes as a tech facilitator.

What do I bring to the team?

Mike Britton

Britton Consulting

Why do I care / why I am I involved with Leadership Niagara?

I want Niagara to win – and we need good leaders for that to happen.

As a civically-minded lifelong resident of Niagara, I am always looking for opportunities to contribute to our Region’s continuing success and believe investing in our upcoming leaders is a vital component: Leadership Niagara does just that.

What do I bring to the team?

  • Community building, development, and collaboration experience from my time as an elected official.

  • Strong, long-term relationships with many Niagara community groups, agencies, and governments.

  • A great deal of board experience with many Niagara not-for-profits and charities covering a diverse range of topics and services.

  • Passionate commitment to help make our Niagara community an incredible place to live, work, and play.

Lesley Calvin, MA CPC ACC

Coach | Facilitator | Speaker
Lesley Calvin Coaching, Facilitating & Speaking

Why do I care / why I am I involved with Leadership Niagara?

I am involved in Leadership Niagara because I truly believe in the process of developing a community of proactive, engaged, and motivated leaders. I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the LN program. I feel that for as much as I am able to contribute, I take away so much more from my peers on the program advisory committee, the LN participants, and my co- facilitators in the LN core program delivery.

What do I bring to the team?

  • An academic and career background in organizational and leadership development.

  • A Master Practitioner certification for the Energy Leadership Index Assessment and a Certified Professional Coaching approach to leadership, transition and strategic development.

  • An unending willingness to give back, by sharing any and all of my acquired capacity, knowledge and experience with the Leadership Niagara community.

Kevin McPhillips

Why do I care / why I am I involved with Leadership Niagara?

What do I bring to the team?

Michelle Ross

Organizational Development Consultant
Niagara Health

Why do I care / why I am I involved with Leadership Niagara?

I am passionate about developing and empowering the emerging leaders in our community. The unique developmental experiences offered by Leadership Niagara are a wonderful way to invest in the people of Niagara while positively impacting the growth of our community.

What do I bring to the team?

  • Background in Human Resources and Organizational Development with specific expertise in leadership development

  • Experience in adult education, curriculum design and delivery

  • A passion for inspiring learners through diverse experiences

  • Commitment to building a community of leaders