Deafblind Community Services Board of Directors
Penny Hartin LL.D (Hon), National Board Liaison and Member
Penny Hartin is the Chief Executive Officer of the World Blind Union, which represents the views and needs of some 285 Million blind and partially sighted persons at the global level.
Prior to joining the WBU in 2006 as its first CEO, Penny spent over 25 years in senior management roles with the CNIB, the major provider of rehabilitation services for blind and partially sighted persons in Canada.
At the international level, she served for six years on the first UN Panel of Experts to monitor the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for persons with Disabilities, worked on the UNCRPD development and implementation work and frequently represents the WBU at the international arena including the United Nations and its agencies.
Penny has low vision, uses speech and screen magnification access technology and cherishes her guide dog named “Chicory”.
Bruce O’Neil, Chair
Bruce joined CNIB in 2008 as a volunteer in the London region. The following year, he was responsible for planning Louis Braille’s 200th birthday celebrations for CNIB Ontario – West Region. In 2010, Bruce began working with the Independent Living Specialists and Low Vision Specialists. He was also an Ambassador, Vision Mate, and member of the Regional Leadership Council.
In 2013, Linda Goldblatt (Executive Director, CNIB Ontario & Nunavut), Bob English and Bruce formulated and re-established a new Advisory Board for the Ontario-Nunavut region. In 2014, Bruce was appointed Chairman of the Recruitment and Development Committee of that Advisory Board.
A few years ago, Bruce moved to the St. Catharines/Fonthill area and became a Vision Mate and Ambassador., In 2016, Sherry Grabowski, Kelly Kimens, Janine Tucker and Bruce, established the first Advisory Board for Deafblind Services in Ontario. At that time, he was appointed Chair of the Advisory Board.
Kelly Kimens, Vice Chair
Kelly Kimens joined the advisory Board as the vice chair in 2016. Kelly is a previous graduate of the intervenor program at George Brown College and worked at CNIB in a number of roles including intervenor, case manager, coordinator of client services, human resource manager and the national director, human resources between 1996-2006.
Kelly has also served for two terms on the board for DeafBlind Ontario Services. Kelly spent a number of years working in the hospital sector. Since 2013, she has been working for Public Health Ontario as the Executive Director, Human Resources. Kelly holds her Certified Human Resource Leader (CHRL) designation and her Certificate in Executive Coaching (CEC).
Charlie Thompson, Treasurer
Born in Picton, Charlie grew up and went to school in London. He attended the University of Western Ontario and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. Then, he went to the University of Windsor where he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours).
He commenced his professional career with a firm of Chartered Accountants in Toronto where he started as a student in accounts and achieved partnership status. He left the firm in 1986 to move to Campellford to provide his family, including his three-year-old daughter, with a more relaxed lifestyle. He joined a regional firm of Chartered Accountants in Campbellford in 1987. He was a partner in the firm from 1988 to 2016 when he started the process of retiring from public practice.
He has been involved with various not-for profit groups, both on a professional and personal basis, over the years. While his volunteer involvement has not included CNIB, he was looking for a way to use his professional skills to give back to the community. His neighbour in Fonthill, Bruce O’Neil, had described his participation with CNIB, and his enthusiasm and his description of the growth process of the new sector suggested to Charlie that this might be an area that his skills might be of benefit to the organization.
Shari was born in Melville, Saskatchewan. She was born with hearing and became deaf when she was 10 months old from a high fever. Diagnosed with glaucoma in 2011, Shari has been a client of CNIB DBS for six years. Currently, Shari advocates for other people who are Deafblind as she realizes how isolating and lonely it can be when someone has dual sensory loss.
Shari worked as a Deaf interpreter and an intervenor in various places across Canada, mainly in Vancouver and Toronto. She also worked as an instructor at two different interpreter training programs, one in Vancouver and the other in Brampton.
Shari has lots of previous Board experience including; WAVLI (Western Association of Visual Language Interpreters), OASLI (Ontario Association of Sign Language Interpreters, CNSDB (Canadian National Society of the Deafblind), BCADB (BC Association of the Deafblind), GVAD (Greater Vancouver Association of the Deaf), OAD (Ontario Association of the Deaf), PAC (Program Advisory Committee) for GBC’s Intervenor Program, and now our DBS/DBL Advisory Board.
Robert Froom is a founding principal of CSV Architects in Ottawa. He has worked in the field of architecture since 1980.
Past volunteer experience includes the CHS Ottawa Region Advisory Board and Bytowne Brigantine Tall Ship Sailing. In addition to serving on the CNIB DBS Advisory Board, Robert is currently serving as Chair of the CNIB Lake Joseph Centre Advisory Board.
Robert’s brother David is Deafblind and has received services from CNIB since the early 1950’s. Robert remembers his brother receiving library books from the CNIB Library in the 1950’s, a practice that continues today. In advocating for his brother, Robert has had close dealings with CNIB Deafblind Services since its early inception
Currently employed with the Kingston Community Health Centre, Denise has worked for more than 20 years in the not-for-profit, health, recreation and education sectors. Prior to her recent move to Kingston, Denise worked for the Unity Project for Relief of Homelessness/London CAReS. Currently, she works in community development with seniors who are marginalized.
Denise has been very involved with Camp Wendake, a camp program for persons living with HIV/AIDS for the past six years, as Co-Director, and has just moved to be a Governance Committee member. In addition, Denise enjoys her role as a licensed wedding officiant, performing ceremonies for very happy people.
Veronica is thrilled to be asked to serve on this new board, and she brings many years of service and fundraising experience to the table. A self-described home economics major, she has spent the majority of her career involved in the decorating business, specializing in custom window coverings for commercial and residential clients.
Currently, she is a certified boxing instructor in a program for people with Parkinson’s called Rock Steady Boxing., She’s also involved in a women’s program called Boomerz Zoomerz.
Her lifelong friendship with a person with Ushers has given her a unique insight into the challenges faced by this community and she looks forward to contributing member to the board.
Penny Leclair lives in North Bay. She grew up in Vancouver, BC but moved to Ontario during the spring of 1997. Penny is Deafblind. She speaks for herself, and the hearing she has is from cochlear implants.
Penny lived without being able to hear speech for seven years before she got her first cochlear implant in 2004.
Penny has participated in several CNIB committees at the national, provincial and regional levels. Most recently, she served as a member of the community support services committee. Penny is an advocate for people who are blind and Deafblind. She has a certificate in adult literacy and has been a client of Deafblind services since 1997.