Susan Brindisi - Chair

Susan is a self-employed Bookkeeper/Accountant in Collingwood. She belongs to the Bruce Trail Club and leads a hiking group called "Georgian Triangle Hikers. She is a graduate of Humber College’s Accounting program. Her interests include hiking, snowshoeing, dancing and singing. As Board Chair, she enjoys working with board members as” we have a high level of respect for one another and our meetings are very productive. Everyone has a passion for our mission: to create a safe haven for women and empowering them to rebuild their lives for their future.” She was prompted to join My Friend's House when attending one of their fundraisers. “I saw how many men, women and children are impacted by domestic violence. I knew that I wanted to be part of an organization that helps women who are victims of domestic violence and to serve as voice in our community on the importance of this issue. We are put on the earth to help one another, if we are not doing that, why are we here?" Susan sees a huge impact being made on our young people who will carry the message of treating women with respect to their own children someday

Mary Ferguson - Vice Chair

Mary joined the board of My Friend’s House when she recently retired and moved to Collingwood after decades of visiting the community with her family on weekends. She brings more than 35 years of experience as a journalist, communications director and public relations consultant. She worked as a communications leader in public health, the Ontario government, the Canadian Red Cross and a public relations agency. She has served as a volunteer throughout her life both as a front line volunteer and a board member of non-profit agencies in the Toronto area. She is currently a director on the boards of the United Way of Simcoe-Muskoka and the Collingwood Cycling Club. She volunteers with Special Olympics and enjoys membership in the Collingwood Curling Club, Toronto Ski Club and the Georgian Triangle Hikers. Mary is married and has two adult children. I am always impressed with the level of support and respect My Friend’s House has earned in the South Georgian Bay area. It is an extremely professional organization that provides a vital service to our community.”

Zahra Saigar - Secretary Chair

Sheila Smith - Treasurer

Sheila joined the Board as treasurer in September 2019. She retired in 2010 from the accounting firm of Ernst & Young where she was a tax partner for 18 years. She graduated from Western University with a degree in Honours Business Administration and subsequently earned a chartered accounting license.(53)Sheila has been a regular visitor to Blue Mountain for more than 20 years, initially to enjoy winter ski weekends. She now resides in the Town of Blue Mountains and has joined the Board to become more involved in the community. “My Friend’s House is a great way to contribute to the community. As a single mother, I know how hard it is to find yourself suddenly on your own, living in an area with no family support. Providing support at just the right time, can make a difference to the entire family. I now have an expanded family with two wonderful grandchildren.”

Julie Benson - Member

Julie is a grandmother, and the author of 2 books, Lonely Kings & Queens, and F*ck Fear.The latter of which she writes a riveting chapter that removes the mask of Domestic Violence and references My Friend’s House in the process to elevate awareness. With over 20 years of marketing and business development, and working on projects globally in China, Europe and N.A.; Julie brings a unique skillset to the board. Julie holds a patent in plastics and has spent her career developing significant programs for such brands as Revlon, Dixie Cups, and Hybernite CPAP, to name a few.A human right’s advocate, she champions for those that can’t. Supporting the community in a volunteer capacity is one way she likes to give back. She is also a member of the executive team at the Collingwood Legion Branch 63.

Jesse Dees - Member

Jesse Dees, CFRE, is the Development Officer at the Collingwood General & Marine Hospital Foundation. Jesse has worked in Collingwood for over 5 years and lives in Essa Township with her husband Dylan and two rescue dogs. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Sciences from York University and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Fundraising and Resource Development from Georgian College, where she served on the Advisory Committee for the program after graduating. Jesse also has a certificate in Major Gifts Initiatives & Capital Campaigns from the University of Wisconsin’s Graduate School of Business and the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. Jesse earned her Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation in 2017. In August 2018, she was named as one of the Association for Health Care Philanthropy’s Top Forty Under Forty Leaders in North America. In June 2018, Jesse began volunteering on the My Friend’s House Board of Directors and is a member of the Sustainable Revenue Development Committee. Jesse is a proud monthly donor to My Friend’s House and through this has seen the direct impact donations have on ensuring hundreds of local women and children receive the safety and support they need to rebuild their lives.

Karen Redpath - Member

Karen Redpath, RN BScN MHM CHE, is a lifelong resident in the Collingwood and Clearview area. She and her husband have raised their two boys here and enjoy outdoor activities and local sports with friends and family. She has served as a Registered Nurse at the local hospital and truly “loves where we live!” Karen is the Director for the Acute Care programs at the Orangeville hospital and has a passion for positively influencing healthy communities. She has a Master’s degree in Health Management from McMaster University and is a Certified Health Executive with the Canadian College of Health Leaders. “When I decided to give back to my community I was drawn to My Friend’s House. It was always a symbol of compassion and support in my neighbourhood growing up in Collingwood. Since I joined the Board of Directors, I have been continuously inspired by the stories of the women and children this organization supports.”

Michelle Kemper - Member

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