Board of Directors

Meet the Board of Directors for Niagara Workforce Planning Board.

Click on a photo below to read the full bio of the board member.

Matthew Leask, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board Chair, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Matthew Leask, Board Chair

Associate, Lancaster, Brooks & Welch LLP

Growing up in nearby Norfolk County, Matt relocated to Niagara Region in 2012 and has established strong ties to the community. Matt is an associate lawyer at the firm Lancaster, Brooks & Welch LLP in St. Catharines where he focuses on real estate, corporate and commercial law. Matt prides himself on providing tailored solutions, and expert advice to local businesses in the Niagara Region.

Matt attended the University of Waterloo, where he completed an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science, and obtained a Graduate Certificate in International Business Management from Niagara College. After graduating from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2015 Matt returned to Niagara to join LBW as an articling student, and was called to the Ontario Bar in 2016.

Matt is also a member of the Town of Pelham’s Summerfest Committee.

Justin De Caire, Vice Chair, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Justin De Caire, Vice Chair

Assistant Controller, Hamilton International Airport

Justin resides in the Niagara Region and is the Assistant Controller for Hamilton International Airport. Previously, he worked for MNP providing auditing and accounting services to a variety of clients in Niagara and the Golden Horseshoe, and for KPMG in the audit practice where he began his accounting career in 2014. He brings a strong financial background and an understanding of various current business trends and needs across the Region.

Justin attended Brock University where he obtained a Bachelor of Accountancy in 2013 from the Goodman School of Business and later obtained a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance in 2016 also from the Goodman School of Business. Justin is also a designated chartered professional accountant (CPA, CA). Justin served as a cabinet member for gennext (St. Catharines United Way and District) from 2014-2018.

Karen Watt, Secretary, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Karen Watt, Secretary

Human Resources Professional

Karen has been Algoma Central Corporation’s Vice-President, Human Resources since September 2007. Prior to this role, Karen was Director, Human Resources of the Corporation from 2004. Karen is responsible for all people-based activity within the Corporation, both on an operational and strategic level and is specifically involved in resource planning and recruitment, training, policy development and implementation, labour relations, and compensation and benefits issues.

Prior to joining Algoma Central Corporation, Karen was employed by a Canadian specialty steel producer, where she began her career in the company’s Engineering department. After several years, Karen transitioned in to the Human Resources field, initially responsible for Health & Safety function and then being promoted to Labour Relations Officer and then ultimately to Corporate Director of Human Resources.

Karen is the Chair of the Georgian College Marine Advisory Committee and the Chair of the Canadian Marine Compensation Association Health & Safety Committee.

Ted Barnes, Treasurer, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Ted Barnes, Treasurer

Branch Manager, Meridian Credit Union

Ted Barnes gained his Undergraduate degree from the University of Guelph in Applicable Mathematics with an emphasis on Mathematical Economics. Since 2001, he has been a Branch Manager with Meridian Credit Union in St. Catharines, and has worked in financial services for over 20 years.

A graduate of Leadership Niagara’s Community Leadership program, Ted has a passion for leading and developing others in his community. He is a past President of Grimsby’s Rotary @ Noon, working to enrich both the local community and the world at large through charitable contributions and humanitarian efforts. He is also a former Treasurer on the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation Board, and currently an active board member of the Alzheimer’s Society of Niagara Foundation, on top of his work with NWPB.

Carol Nagy, Past Chair, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Carol Nagy, Past Chair

Executive Director, Hospice Niagara

Carol Nagy’s entire career, though diverse, has shared the common thread of voice and vision for those in need. After receiving her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Toronto, Carol began her career in Child Welfare in Toronto. She began working as a front line social worker helping single young mothers who were often victims of violence and poverty.

As her career progressed, Carol took a position with the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, writing various training curriculums and developing robust programs in this field to support indigenous Communities in Northern Ontario who were seeking to provide their own mandated child welfare services.

After 20 years of experience and success, Carol broadened her scope and began working in mental health where she managed the Counseling and Health Services departments at Sheridan College.

Niagara Falls born and raised, Carol returned in 2013 to build upon her already accomplished career to take on the challenge of Executive Director at Hospice Niagara. The opportunity allowed her to be closer to her aging parents and rediscover her love for the Niagara community. Carol continues to immerse herself in the Niagara Region, by joining the Board of Directors for both Quest Community Health Centre and the Niagara Workforce Planning Board.

Carol has two children; a daughter attending Kent University in England, studying her Master’s in Ecological Conservation and a son at the University of Waterloo, hoping to enter law school.

Mark Cherney, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Mark Cherney, Director

Business Manager & Financial Secretary, IBEW Local 303

Mark Cherney is a passionate local labour leader currently serving his second term as Business Manager and Financial Secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 303, representing electrical workers across the Niagara Region. Mark entered the electrical profession as an apprentice in 1998 and has been a Red Seal accredited 309-A Construction and Maintenance Electrician since 2004.

Mark has actively served the local union throughout the years beginning with the Niagara Peninsula Electrical Contractors Association (NPECA)/IBEW Local 303 Joint Apprenticeship Council in 2003 and went on to represent the local as Vice-President in 2007 and President from 2008 through 2010 when he was appointed as a full-time Business Representative.

In addition to dedicating his time as a member of the local union, Mark is also the current President of the Niagara-Haldimand Building and Construction Trades Council, Co-chair for the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association’s Labour & Management Health and Safety Committee in Niagara as well as a provincial trade committee representative, member of the NPECA/IBEW Local 303 Joint Conference Board which brings together labour and management, and he is a member on the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.

As an active member in his community of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Mark has many years of experience as a volunteer coaching minor hockey and soccer. He has also served as the Niagara-on-the-Lake Soccer Club’s vice president. One of Mark’s passions is speaking with students around the Niagara Region about the benefits of a career in the skilled trades, where it can take them and the fulfillment of building projects close to home and abroad. He works closely with the region’s local school boards to empower Niagara’s skilled work force.

Colleen Falco, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Colleen Falco, Director

Vice President, Human Resources, Niagara Casinos

Colleen Falco has lead significant organizational development initiatives and innovative HR practices for more than 20 years. As the Vice President of Human Resources at Niagara Casinos, Colleen leads a talented team of HR professionals focused on providing quality HR services that support the business and deliver a remarkable employee experience. Colleen’s work and leadership have been recognized with numerous awards on engagement strategy, diversity, financial health & pension communication, wellness, safety, psychological health, leadership training and communication initiatives.

Colleen has held a number of HR management positions. Prior to Niagara Casinos, she served as Program Manager for Hospice Niagara, where she was responsible for community based palliative care programs. Colleen has participated on advisory boards for the Ministry of Health, Niagara College and was an active member of the Hospice Niagara Board of Directors. Colleen holds degrees from the University of Ottawa, Brock University and her Ontario Teaching Certification. Her focus on adult learning has made her a regular presenter at industry events, Niagara College, and Brock University on both Human Resources and Palliative Care related topics.

Steven Gallagher, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Steven Gallagher, Director

Communications Specialist, Niagara Health

Steven Gallagher is a healthcare communications professional, leading the media relations and social media strategy at Niagara Health, a network of hospitals in the Niagara Region. Prior to joining the healthcare system, Steven spent nearly 20 years in journalism, working at newspapers across Canada. He also held several leadership positions at Niagara’s daily newspapers. Steven is a big booster of Niagara and lives in St. Catharines with his wife, Tiffany, and daughter, Olivia.

Katerina Gonzalez, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Katerina Gonzalez, Director

Director, Planning & Institutional Research, Niagara College

As Director of Planning and Institutional Research at Niagara College, Katerina oversees research and analytical work that supports strategic and operational planning, policy formation, and government reporting. The office prepares research data for reports to assist College officials in areas such as planning new and revised programs, marketing, recruitment, and reporting to the province on key performance indicators (KPIs). It also leads and coordinates institution-wide studies and surveys.

Katerina brings strong knowledge of post-secondary education from many years in the college and university systems, including four years at Niagara College and six years at Brock University. She has served on numerous committees and boards throughout the province and is currently an active member on the Community Advisory Committee for the Niagara Community Observatory.

Over her 24 year career in the public and private sectors, Katerina worked in a diverse number of communities, including Ottawa, Calgary, Toronto, Timmins, and Sarnia. She presently resides in the Niagara Region where she grew up.

Katerina holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences from the University of Ottawa and a Master of Education from Brock University.

Jennifer Guarasci, Niagara Workforce Planning Board

Jennifer Guarasci, Director

Associate Vice-President, Human Resources, Brock University

With more than 20 years of experience in Human Resources in both the broader public and private sectors, Jennifer has earned a reputation as a strategic thinker who values flexibility, innovation and creativity, balanced by a common sense approach. Jennifer is an experienced mediator, facilitator and negotiator with a proven track record of developing and maintaining principled, positive and constructive relationships.

In her current role as Associate Vice-President, Human Resources at Brock University, Jennifer is responsible for the strategic direction of the department and the leadership of a talented team of HR professionals who deliver the full spectrum of HR services to the Brock community. Currently, Jennifer is leading the development of Brock’s first institutional People Strategy. With a focus on leadership and engagement, Jennifer regularly presents at HR-related professional and student events and has taught for several years in the School of Business and Management at Niagara College. Prior to joining Brock, Jennifer lead the HR team at a large hospitality & tourism company in Niagara.

Jennifer has served on the Board of Directors of Opportunities Niagara and the Rosalind Blauer Day Care, in addition to undertaking committee work for the Business Education Council of Niagara. She has earned her CHRL designation and is a proud graduate of Brock University.

Betty-Lou Souter, Niagara Workforce Planning Board

Betty-Lou Souter, Director

Chief Executive Officer, Community Care, St. Catharines & Thorold

As Chief Executive Officer, Community Care, St. Catharines & Thorold, Betty-Lou is responsible for the overall management of the agency which provides emergency food and clothing, emergency assistance and access to shelter services and supports to the less advantaged in the communities of St. Catharines & Thorold.

With more than 40 years of experience in the voluntary sector, Betty-Lou has earned a reputation as a committed and dedicated volunteer. She was a member of the Board of the Trillium Foundation between 1989 and 1996, having served as Chair from 1994 – 1996, and was Chair of the Caring Communities Awards in 1997/98. She is a multiple Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship Recipient for her work within the community, the province and nationally, and was named Citizen of the Year by the City of St. Catharines in 2002. In 2003 she received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, and in 2012 the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2007, she was awarded the Power of Humanity Award through the Canadian Red Cross. She received the Business Volunteer Person of the Year from the Chamber of Commerce and the Communication In 2009, and Leadership Award of Toastmaster International in 2010. In 2011, Betty-Lou was one of 11 Ontarians who received the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship (OMC) from Lieutenant Governor David Onley. She received an Honourary Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree from Brock University in 2014.

Currently she is Vice Chair of the Pathstone Foundation and Vice Chair, Niagara Workforce Planning Board. She was recently appointed to the Federal Judicial Advisory Committee for the province of Ontario.

Betty-Lou’s familiarity with the social and health issues of the community coupled with extensive volunteer involvement at all levels has enabled her to develop a large network in all sectors of the community, locally, provincially as well as nationally. She has given voice to those who have not been heard and advocated for a healthy and vibrant community for everyone. She is considered to be the “Voice of Poverty” in Niagara.