RCHS is a non-profit, community-governed health and social service agency governed by a 12 member Board of Directors.

Janet Cosier (Chair)

Janet Cosier (Chair)

Janet is an accountant by training and is now retired from the Bank of Canada where she was advisor to the Governor on strategic planning and risk management. She has extensive Board experience, currently also serves on the Queensway Carleton Hospital Board and until recently on the SE LHIN Board. She lives on Highway 43 between Smiths Falls and Merrickville. Janet and her husband, Tony, enjoy attending local theatre productions, and hiking and canoeing in the Rideau River system region.

Terry Gilhen (Secretary)

Terry Gilhen (Secretary)

Born in the Ottawa Valley, Terry Gilhen spent his childhood years as a “military brat” moving every two to three years across the country and Europe before arriving in Ottawa where he attended university, got married and settled down.  His 38 year career was spent almost entirely within the local non-profit sector and was dedicated primarily to promoting access and inclusion for people with disabilities.   Terry was also actively involved on several committees and networks including the City of Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, the Ottawa Community Support Coalition and the Province of Ontario’s AODA Transportation Standards Development Committee.  In 2013 Terry and his wife Dennise decided it was time to leave the City for the quieter life in Merrickville-Wolford.   As a newcomer, Terry sought out volunteer opportunities recognizing that by becoming involved he would more quickly feel “at home”.    He currently sits on several committees of Council including the Strategic Planning Committee.  Now “semi-retired” Terry takes on the occasional consulting contract but mostly enjoys the slower pace of country life and getting to know his new community.

Michèle LeBlanc (Treasurer)

Michèle LeBlanc (Treasurer)

Michèle holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. She held various senior positions in the federal government related to research, policy and business, and retired in 2019 as Director of Operational Business in the Canadian Coast Guard. Michèle now devotes her time to family, volunteer activities, and musical pursuits. She lives in Oxford Mills.

Deb McGuire

Deb McGuire

Deb lives in rural Lanark County where she and her partner are raising their 2 children. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and is employed in Community Health where she works as a Counsellor. Deb also co-owns a wellness business where she facilitates workshops, runs a private counselling practice and co-hosts a podcast. She is passionate about social justice issues and is committed to discovering creative ways to support and build community.

Katie Weststrate

Katie Weststrate

Katie is a Naturopathic Doctor and yoga teacher, based out of her clinic Ahimsa Naturopathic in Merrickville. She holds a Master’s Degree in Community Health, Addictions and Mental Health and is passionate about empowering wellness at both the individual and community level. Katie lives with her partner and two young children outside of Easton's Corners.

Don Palmer

Don Palmer

Don Palmer has over 45 years of experience in the field of human services and business management, 35 of which have been in senior and middle management positions. His experience is very broad-based. He has managed programs and provided direct services to persons with a variety of disabilities. He has extensive experience working with and designing programs for persons with severe and multiple disabilities. Mr. Palmer has published numerous articles relating to program management, staff training, supported employment and equity employment for persons with a disability in the U.S. and Canada. Mr. Palmer was the Executive Director of Causeway Work Centre (a community economic development agency serving eastern Ontario) from 1992 until 2019, and he has been a resident of Merrickville for 27 years. Now retired, his primary activities centre around cycling and reading.

Dorothy Thomson Photo

Dorothy Thomson

Dorothy presently lives in Perth after retiring from a lengthy career in Cochrane. Her nursing career has encompassed acute care and long term care, home care and working in a physician office. She was a Patient Care Coordinator within the hospital and a Director of Nursing/ Assistant Administrator of a long term care facility within this hospital, which she helped to design and develop. While in Northern Ontario, she was an active member and chair of the Cochrane District Health Council, as well as District Long Term Care and Mental Health committees. She was a also a member of numerous local community committees in Cochrane including accessibility and health care resources. She is one of the founding members of the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital Patient Family Advisory Council and currently serves as chair. She has also been involved in other volunteer organizations within Perth.

Jackie Lord Photo

Jackie Lord

Jackie was born and raised in Smiths Falls, and currently lives outside of Perth. She spent her career of over 35 years working in the education field in the roles of teacher and principal, having had the opportunity to work in Smiths Falls, Carleton Place, and Perth High Schools.  Jackie holds a master’s degree in Psychopaedagogy from Ottawa University.  She is an active member of the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council, and pre-COVID, volunteered at the local Big Brothers Big Sisters Store in Perth. Currently retired, Jackie enjoys playing and watching sports, travelling, and spending time with her spouse, and their King Charles Spaniels.

Veena Ravichandran Photo

Veena Ravichandran

Veena Ravichandran and her partner live in a newly built passive house in Perth, which is part of “Perth Works” a sustainable housing project led by Algonquin College and the Town of Perth. Veena holds a Ph.D. in Physics and is a Certified Management Consultant, CMC. Her professional experience covers research and grants management in science and innovation. She has worked with Canada’s International Development Research Centre, Carleton University, and the Royal Ottawa Institute for Mental Health Research. She is a lifetime Fellow of LEAD, Leadership for Environment and Development. She has two adult children and is passionate about climate action, social justice and social equity issues.

Sandra Shaw Photo

Sandra Shaw

Sandra retired to her Ontario roots after having lived in Montreal for 45 years, where she raised her son and ran her businesses.  An entrepreneur at heart, she returned to McGill University in 2010 to obtain her master’s degree in Bioethics to turn her company into an organisation offering strategic and tactical development in the healthcare services and industry in Canada.  Her undergraduate degree in Genetics from Guelph has served her well, allowing her to understand the complexities of health and wellness, from users’ needs to government policies.  Sandra lives just outside Portland with her two huskies and the varied wildlife for which the Rideau Waterway has always provided sanctuary.

Christine Joli-Coeur Photo

Christine Joli-Coeur

Christine lives in the County of Leeds & Grenville with her adolescent, soon-to-be adult children.  She currently works as a Health and Safety Consultant/Ergonomist for the Public Services Health and Safety Association. She has spent numerous years working with employers in the public and private sector as part of the safe work associations in Ontario and has been helping employers in improving their health and safety programs in Eastern Ontario since 1999.  She particularly enjoys working with front line workers, committees and supervisor making practical, and lasting improvements that improve workers lives. Prior to this, she had worked with children with disabilities, and was later involved in returning injured workers back to work.

Christine is also currently on the Canadian College for the Certification of Professional Ergonomists board and is the VP of her local union.  She has past board experience on the MTJB daycare board.  She is excited to join the RCHS Board to make a difference in the lives of residents within her community.

Christopher Cummings Photo

Christopher Cummings

Chris has lived in a number of communities in Ontario but has called Smiths Falls home for the last 25 years, where he raised his two children together with his wife Linda. He has worked as a small business manager and financial advisor for some of the largest financial institutions in Canada over the last 33 years. Chris has a long history of community involvement, having sat on dozens of advisory committees, task forces and has been involved in fundraising campaigns. He was a member of the Kinsmen Club for 20 years in several communities in Eastern and South-Western Ontario, and was elected to Smiths Falls town council in 2006, where he served three terms before choosing to retire from elected office in 2018. Chris has also served as Library Trustee & Board Chair from 1998-2010 on the Smiths Falls Public Library Board, and as a member of the Smiths Falls Police Services Board from 2010-2018. Chris helped form the Smiths Falls Economic Development Board, The Smiths Falls Municipal Heritage Committee and The Smiths Falls & District Arts and Culture Council.