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.


Brian Hutchings, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Chairman, Board of Directors

Brian Hutchings, Chairman

Vice-President, Finance & Administration, Brock University

Brian Hutchings joined Brock University as Vice-President, Finance & Administration in 2012. He also served as Brock’s Acting President and Vice-Chancellor from July through September 2016.

A native of the Niagara Region, Hutchings joined Brock University as the Vice-President, Finance & Administration in 2012. He is a graduate of Grimsby Secondary School and Ridley College. He obtained his Bachelor of Commerce degree from Saint Mary’s University and following graduation, he received his CPA-CGA designation. In 2014, he received a Master of Laws degree from the University of Toronto.

Prior to his arrival at Brock, Hutchings was a senior staff member at the Niagara Region. As Commissioner of Corporate Services/Regional Treasurer, he provided support to all regional departments, boards, agencies and commissions within the $1-billion organization.

Hutchings plays an active role in his community and has served as a volunteer on many organizations. Currently, Hutchings is a Board Member of the Wise Guys Charity, McNally House Hospice and a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Alumni Executive. He has served as a Treasurer and Associate Vice-Chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Board Chair of the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital, co-founder of the Foundation of Resources for Teens (FORT), Treasurer of the Alzheimer Society of Niagara, and as a board member of the Niagara Sport Commission and the St. Catharines and District United Way.

In 2003, Hutchings was honoured as the Citizen of the Year by the Grimsby Chamber of Commerce and in 2008 he was presented with the Niagara Award from Niagara College in recognition of his contributions to the Niagara community. Hutchings was the recipient of the 2011 Partnership Award, presented by the Business Education Council, and also received an honorary diploma from Leadership Niagara in 2012.

Betty-Lou Souter, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Vice Chair, Board of Directors

Betty-Lou Souter, Vice Chair

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.

Wade Stayzer, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Treasurer, Board of Directors

Wade Stayzer, Treasurer

Vice President, Sales & Services, Meridian Credit Union

With more than 20 years of financial services experience, Wade Stayzer is Meridian’s Vice President, Sales & Services. In this role, he oversees the strategy for Meridian’s Retail, Wealth, Mobile, Broker and Small Business lines of business, while also supporting the Sales and Service efforts of the frontline.

Wade has been instrumental in shaping Meridians’ retail delivery strategy while establishing a culture of employee engagement.

A long-time supporter and champion of the credit union system, Wade has held a variety of roles and responsibilities at Niagara Credit Union – one of Meridian’s legacy credit unions.

In 2010, Wade was recognized as one of Niagara’s Top 40 under 40 for outstanding business achievement and community leadership. That same year, he was also recognized by the St. Catharines Chamber of Commerce as the Young Professional of the Year.

An Active volunteer in the Niagara community, Wade is a member of the Board of Trustees of Niagara College, a Director with Niagara Workforce Planning Board and an active Member of the Rotary Club of St. Catharines. Wade has also served as Board Chair of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, Board Chair of Family and Children’s services Niagara, and as a Board Member of Niagara Health System and Niagara Community Foundation. Wade holds a MBA and a Bachelor of Commerce from McMaster University.

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

Matthew Leask, Secretary

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.

Mark Cherney, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Mark Cherney

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.

Daniel Peat, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Daniel Peat

Niagara Regional Labour Council representative

Daniel was born in Niagara and returned here to work in secondary school education in 1989. He is a teacher qualified in Physics and in Communications Technology, and was President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) in the District School Board of Niagara from 2014 until his retirement in 2016. Daniel was also a Governor of the Ontario Teachers Federation (OTF) from 2005 to 2011, and is a Fellow of OTF. He was the President of the Niagara Regional Labour Council from its founding in 2010 until 2015, and has been a Director of the NWPB since 2010.

Hugo Chessire, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Hugo Chesshire

Policy & Government Relations Manager, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Hugo Chesshire is the Policy and Government Relations Manager at the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC), the largest business organization in Niagara and the third-largest Chamber in Ontario. His role is one of counsel to 1,600 members of the GNCC and of advocacy on their behalf. As a political expert, he advises the organization’s board, staff, and membership on policy and its impact on their operations. He also advocates for Chamber members and the business community at large to all levels of government.

Born in Birmingham, England, Hugo has lived in the Niagara region since 2000 and is a dual Canadian/U.K. citizen. He holds a B.A. (1st Class Hons.) in Political Science and Labour Studies and an M.A. in Political Science from Brock University. He was top of his class in both and received a dozen merit-based awards and scholarships. His research has been presented at top-tier academic conferences across North America.

Hugo has lived, worked, or studied in the U.K., Canada, France, China, the Philippines and the Czech Republic. Before retraining in politics, he worked in the call centre industry as a corporate trainer, and set up outsourced overseas centres. He has also worked as a researcher and editor on books such as Union Power: Solidarity and Struggle in Niagara, a history of the Niagara labour movement, and Socialist Cowboy: The Politics of Peter Kormos, a study of the late, long-serving M.P.P. for Welland.

Hugo was previously Project and Research Manager at Niagara Workforce Planning Board. Believing strongly in the organization’s mission, he readily agreed to re-join NWPB as a Director in 2015. Accurate, detailed labour market information is a critical decision-making tool to both the businesses and governments he regularly works with, and he is proud to be involved with an organization that delivers it.

Carol Nagy, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Carol Nagy

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.

Lori Watson, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Lori Watson

Director of Social Assistance & Employment Opportunities, Niagara Region

Lori is the newly appointed Director of Social Assistance and Employment Opportunities for the Niagara Region.  Prior to taking on the role of Director, Lori was accountable for the development, implementation, leadership and management of Community Services’ employment services.  Lori brings with her over 12 years of leadership experience in the area of building partnerships with Niagara Economic Development and Employment Ontario to ensure programs meet the current and future needs of job seekers and employers.  Lori has participated on a number of community based boards and is also a member of numerous provincial committees.  At present, she is the past Board Chair of Hospice Niagara.  Lori is an inspirational leader who fosters a work environment characterized by a commitment to values, engagement, innovation, problem-solving, and continuous improvement.  Lori holds a Bachelor of Arts from Brock University and is a graduate of Leadership Niagara.

Lisa Benger, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Lisa Benger

Director Human Resources, Walker Industries Inc

Raised in Niagara, Lisa joined Walker Industries in 1998, after completing her MBA at York University. Lisa has held a number of progressive roles in the Human Resources department and has been instrumental in the integration of the company’s culture as it has grown to a National and International business. Lisa’s areas of expertise include labour law, compensation, performance management and labour relations.

Lisa has volunteered with a variety of community organizations and is currently also on the Board of Directors for the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. Lisa has been part of the NWPB board since 2012.

Katerina Gonzalez, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Katerina Gonzalez

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.

Karen Watt, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, Board of Directors

Karen Watt

Vice President, Human Resources, Algoma Central Corporation

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.

Executive Member, Editor, Human Rights Committee, Women’s Committee, UNIFOR

Susan Erskine-Fournier

Executive Member, Editor, Human Rights Committee, Women’s Committee, UNIFOR

Born and raised in St Catharines, Susan Erskine-Fournier is a community leader and labour advocate who serves on the executive board at UNIFOR, one of Canada’s premier trade unions. She has also served an executive member of Niagara Regional Labour Council. She ran as the NDP candidate for St. Catharines’ local MPP in the 2015 federal election.

A graduate of Denis Morris High School in 1978, Susan went on to receive her RP Level One Certificate, Behavioural Modification/Social Services from Mount Royal College. She also earned her BA from McMaster University in Labour Studies.

Susan served as a Labour Program & Services Coordinator for St. Catharines district’s United Way, working to create stronger connections between the labour market and non-profit organizations throughout the Niagara region. She has over 30 years of experience working in the automotive industry with General Motors, where she helped educate human rights trainers. As an active member of her union, Erskine-Fournier petitioned solutions to unemployment, poverty and substandard housing. She also served on the federal EI Board of Referees.