The Board’s role is to provide direction to the Centre on behalf of the community. Board members provide leadership and support the Centre to ensure it meets its goals. They oversee the organization and work with the Executive Director who performs operational duties. The Board extends its support for collaboration by working in partnership with staff and the community to carry out the Centre’s mission.
Board Members 2021-2022
Mandeep Ahluwalia, Director (Term – September 29, 2020 – June 2022)
Mandeep was formerly trained as a physician outside of Canada. With the difficulty of foreign trained physicians obtaining a medical licence in Canada, Mandeep chose to help his community in other ways.
For the past 12 years, Mandeep has been a Police Officer in Toronto and now in Ottawa where he strives to break down community barriers and promote inclusivity. In his current role as a Police Officer, Mandeep is working in the recruiting section to help equalize representation of the police force to better reflect the community it serves.
Mandeep is quadrilingual and can speak English, Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu. Being a visible minority himself, he believes inclusivity, education and acceptance are the key to strengthen society as a whole. He has always had goals to support health, wellness and humanity.
Mike Bulthuis, Chair, (Term – September 29, 2020 – June 2022)
Mike engages daily in social policy, currently as an Analyst with the federal public service, on a team addressing homelessness in Canada. Over 20 years, in professional and voluntary capacities, Mike has worked in various positions at the intersections of policy, research and community practice – committed to health equity and to the creation of communities where everyone can thrive. Prior to rejoining the public service, Mike served as the Director of Making the Shift, a Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab, and earlier as the Executive Director of the Ottawa Alliance to End Homelessness. When not pursuing graduate studies in political science and urban geography, he had also worked in other positions in the public service, and for a time as a consultant with the national Vibrant Communities Initiative and the City of Ottawa’s Community Development Framework. Outside of work, Mike can be found running the paths and trails in the national capital region or walking his pup. He also serves on the Board of the provincial Alliance for Healthier Communities, and as a volunteer with Bruce House. He has lived in Ottawa – in a number of downtown neighbourhoods – since 1999, after growing up in Hamilton, Ontario.
Darcy DeMarsico, Treasurer, (Term – September 23, 2021 – June 2023)
Darcy is an executive at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, where she works to build globally competitive ecosystems in areas of Canadian technology leadership. Before joining ISED, Darcy spent six years at Rideau Hall, was chief of staff at the Federal Secretariat for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and managed Canada’s post-conflict support to end the use of landmines in the Balkans. She has experience as a board member and volunteer on community and athletic organizations, and has been a client at CCHC for 40 years. When it is time to recharge, she can be found singing in a local choir or knitting socks for her kids.
Meseret Haileyesus, Director (Term September 29, 2020 – June 2022)
Meseret is a social entrepreneur, community builder, and founder of both the Canadian Center for Women’s Empowerment and Maternity Today. With a background in midwifery, economics, and public health, she drives social change by advocating for high-quality and accessible sexual and reproductive healthcare for women on a global scale, with a goal of ending gender-based violence. Her passion for gender equality has led her to spend over 16 years working with various national and international non-profit organizations on dozens of projects centered on issues of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Public Health Research, Communicable Disease, Maternal Child and Newborn Health, Economic Justice and building community capacity to take action to advance social justice initiatives.
As the CEO of the Canadian Center for Women’s Empowerment, she inspires research, advocacy, and policy for economic justice in Canada with a keen interest in addressing systemic barriers and other challenges that prevent women and girls from fully realizing their human rights. Meseret is a member of multiple UN and World Health Organization programs, where she produces strategies to reinforce the maternal and newborn health components for health sector reform programs. She is also the Director for End Female Genital Mutilation Canada Network and Maternity Today an organization that strengthens maternal and child health through superior advocacy, research, innovation, and education. She is supporting the Centretown Community Health Centre’s grass-root community in Ottawa while building her plant-based wellness and lifestyle brand, Nacre Organics. She is the proud mother of one beautiful daughter who inspires and motivates her every day.
Valerie Repta, Co-Vice Chair, (Term – September 29, 2020 – June 2022)
Valerie works as a clinician-researcher. She has master’s degrees in psychology and social work, and has worked in social service and health care settings, both directly with clients and at the system/provincial level to provide evidence-informed practices to improve mental health care services. She values connecting direct intervention services with research and evaluation practices to improve client outcomes. Valerie has collaborated on new community and health care initiatives to support developing partnerships between sectors. She has lived in Centretown since 2009, served on the Board since 2016 and chaired the Quality Improvement Action Team since 2017. Valerie is proud to share the Centre’s values of engagement, inclusion, advocacy and diversity.
Charlie Thompson, Co-Vice Chair, (Term – September 29, 2020 – June 2022)
Charlie has worked in several roles related to public policy and public health in both political and non-partisan roles. Most recently, he has worked in healthcare advocacy and policy at HealthCareCAN – a non-profit organization that represents healthcare organizations on federal policy issues. These include antimicrobial stewardship, healthcare cyber security, and advancing principles of Reconciliation in healthcare among several others. In a previous life, he held positions at the Ontario Legislature and at Canada’s parliament in roles closely connected to the health portfolio at federal and provincial levels. Charlie has been based in Ottawa for the past seven years and enjoys close ties to the Centretown community both as a resident and as a CCHC patient. He holds a BAH in political studies from Queen’s University as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health from the University of Auckland, and he is on the precipice of defending his graduate thesis towards an MSc in Health Systems at the University of Ottawa. His research concerns reimbursement decision-making for medications in Canada’s provinces.
Dave Zackrias, Director, (Term – September 29, 2020 – June 2022)
Staff Sergeant David Zackrias believes that inclusion is key to public safety, and that celebrating, encouraging and respecting diversity makes Ottawa safer and stronger. A twenty-year veteran of the Toronto and Ottawa Police Services (OPS), he heads up the Ottawa Police Diversity and Race Relations Section, helping to build cohesion between Ottawa Police and the community.
Staff Sergeant Zackrias, who immigrated to Canada from India with his family at the age of 15, is passionate about building strong inter-community relationships whether he’s on or off the job. He serves as a board member with CCHC and volunteers as a Conflict Coach with Community Mediation Ottawa.
Rakhi Dhawan, Director (Term – September 23, 2021 – June 2023)
Rakhi is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) who has been working in the federal government for over 15 years, and has gained significant experience in audit, finance, and policy while taking on progressively more senior roles into the management level. She has a broad range of experience within the public sector, including program delivery, stakeholder relations, policy development, and compliance. She worked at the CRA’s Charities Directorate for five years, which exposed her to the not-for-profit sector and the intricacies and complexities around the legal requirements for ensuring compliant operations.
Rakhi also has experience as a volunteer member of a Finance and Audit Committee for a local not-for-profit organization where she provided advice and recommendations to the Board of Directors regarding the organization’s financial and accounting policies, financial reporting practices and audit process.
Based on her professional experience and educational background, Rakhi has developed a deep expertise in identifying, evaluating and mitigating risks. During her career, Rakhi has built a reputation for a deep and passionate commitment in all she endeavours to take on, and working with a high level of integrity. Rakhi has always believed in the power of helping others, and has developed an appreciation for how the not-for-profit sector seeks to improve the quality of life for individuals, populations and communities.
Paul Galipeau, Secretary (Term – September 23, 2021 – June 2023)
Paul joins CCHC’s Board of Directors with over 15 years of experience in communications and advocacy within the federal public service and with international NGOs. Paul has led advocacy campaigns and mobilized volunteers on a range of global health and social issues including girls education, equitable vaccine access as well as services and treatment for people living with HIV. He currently works for Aga Khan Foundation Canada as Senior Manager of Public Engagement where he leads a team and collaborates with international development professionals across the country and around the world to deliver public programs on Canada’s investments in long-term and sustainable solutions to end global poverty. Paul also joins the Board as a past Board member of the Rideau Trail Association which has provided access to healthy and affordable outdoor recreation in the region for fifty years. Fluent in French and English, Paul is a graduate of Carleton University and a life-long Ottawa resident who has held four different addresses in Centretown.
Tamir Virani, Director (Term – September 23, 2021 – June 2023)
Tamir (He/Him) is currently a Senior Manager at Frayme, a national non-profit in the youth mental health and substance use sector. Tamir has worked in the healthcare industry for 10+ years leading communications, marketing, advocacy and policy work across different sectors including healthcare quality improvement, end-of-life care and mental health. Tamir has worked alongside clinicians, researchers, patients and families across Canada to help showcase the work of service providers and experiences of service users to inform policy and health system transformation at the federal and provincial levels. Prior to this, Tamir worked as a journalist and as a peer support worker at the University of Ottawa. Tamir holds a postgraduate degree in journalism and communications and a Masters of Health Administration from the Telfer School of Management. Outside of work, Tamir freelances as a videographer and graphic designer.
Tamir is a second generation Canadian and a passionate mental health advocate. He has been a resident of Centretown for the past 10 years. He is an active volunteer within several sub-communities, including having chaired the Ottawa regional chapter of Start Proud for 2 years, an organization devoted to helping young members of the LGBTQ2S+ community develop their professional capacities through networking and capacity development events. Tamir hopes to use his professional experience and personal lived expertise as a visible minority and member of the queer community to help inform his work on the CCHC Board of Directors.
Joanne Weiss Reid, Director (Term – September 23, 2021 – June 2023)
Rebecca Wolsak, Director (Term- September 23, 2021 – June 2023)
Rebecca has worked as a Program Manager at Inter Pares since 2006, co-managing a large social justice program in Burma. Inter Pares is a small feminist international social justice organization, that has a non-hierarchical structure. As a co-manager, Rebecca has experience both as an employer and an employee in an organization that endeavours to change systems that perpetuate inequality, poverty and injustice. Inter Pares strives to ensure that people are at the center of their own development, supported in asserting their own agency. Rebecca’s work includes raising awareness in Canada, influencing Canadian foreign policy, especially as it relates to international development and Burma, and raising funding for grassroots organizations working to address systemic oppression. During her career in the non-profit sector in Canada, Rebecca’s advocacy efforts have also focussed on women’s rights, healthcare and feminist process. Rebecca has had the honour of working with hundreds of Indigenous healthcare workers from Burma who provide care in the midst of conflict, while working towards a future national healthcare system, with equity and inclusion at its heart. Rebecca is a proud client of CCHC and is grateful for the opportunity to be on its board.