In CRISIS? Contact COAST 1-866-550-5205, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, or visit Crisis Services Canada.

You are currently on the:

Niagara

Visit our provincial websites

Board of Directors

CMHA Niagara is governed by a dedicated volunteer board of directors. The membership is drawn from individuals either living or working in the Niagara region. Efforts are made to provide diverse representation while considering required skills, experience and knowledge.

To learn more about joining our board of directors, please review our Board Application Package 2022.

Christopher Yendt

President, CMHA Niagara

Read Bio

Christopher Yendt

Possessing a deep and personal interest as a champion for those less fortunate, defender of rights of those who’ve experienced marginalization, Christopher is a dedicated advocate for mental health and addictions and for the Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ communities. Currently a candidate in the Master of Education, Administration & Leadership in Education program at Brock University, Christopher is also a three-time alumni of Brock, holding Bachelor’s of Education in Adult Education and Teacher Education, as well as a Bachelor of Arts History, English Language and Literature. Since joining the Board of CMHA Niagara in 2015 Christopher has served as lay director, Treasurer, Vice President, and currently President of CMHA Niagara. Passionate about governance and process, Christopher has shared his knowledge and expertise in board governance, public policy, not-for-profit management, human resources, and finance to help the organization continue to develop and grow.

Beyond CMHA Niagara Christopher remains active throughout the region and beyond, serving as the President and CEO of Brock University Graduate Students’ Association; Vice-President, Board of Directors of Compass Community Health; Chair of Rainbow’s End Community Development Corporation; Member of the Brock University’s Board of Trustees; as well as a committee member for the Joint Board of Governors of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH).

Andrew Bassingthwaighte

Vice-President

Read Bio

Andrew Bassingthwaighte

Employed as a Student Talent Performance Consultant at Brock University, Andrew holds an MA in Social Justice and Equity Studies, B.Ed. Adult Education, and is a Certified Career Development Professional. Affiliated with mental health and equity committees in his current employ, his areas of interest and expertise include Governance and Policy management, Social Justice and Equity, Career Development and Equity of Access. Andrew joined CMHA Niagara’s board in 2016, spurred by wanting to make a difference in the community having witnessed both family members and clients being impacted by mental health concerns.

Matthew Mahler

Treasurer

Read Bio

Matthew Mahler

As Senior Commercial/Agriculture Account Manager at RBC, Matthew has a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in finance from the University of Detroit Mercy. Born and raised in Niagara, Matthew also volunteers as a Track and Field Coach. His passion for mental wellness and desire to effect positive change in the lives of others and community at large prompted him to join the CMHA Niagara Board in 2018, where he now holds the position of Treasurer.

Dawn Shickluna

Board Director, Chair of Service Outcomes/Quality Committee

Read Bio

Dawn Shickluna

As Clinical Director at Human Connections, Dawn Shickluna, MA, MEd, PhD, joined the CMHA Niagara board in 2018. Prompted by her passion to support mental health organizations and initiatives, she contributes to the board with her specialized knowledge in Social and Community Development, Leadership and Adult Education, Stakeholder engagement and research. While continually seeking to develop further competencies, her areas of interest include Quality improvement, Trauma-informed care, Anti-oppression frameworks, and strategic planning.

Sarah Cacilhas

Director

Read Bio

Sarah Cacilhas

As a life-long Niagara resident, Sarah’s passion to advocate for positive mental health and resources in the community prompted her to joined CMHA Niagara’s board in 2021. A Senior Manager at Niagara Casinos, she brings vast experience in media, marketing, events, community relations and non-profit organizations. She is a graduate of 2017 Leadership Niagara and holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Business Communications from Brock University. Sarah also serves on the YWCA Niagara Region Board of Directors.

Leah Jeffery

Director

Read Bio

Leah Jeffery

Leah Jeffery is currently a Clinical Manager within the developmental sector. With a Masters in Social Work, she has spent the last twenty years in the social services field. Leah has spent the last ten years specializing in complex trauma and developmental disabilities. This work has included working with Canadian Mental Health Association in their crisis programs including COAST, Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team and their residential Safe Beds program where she worked as a mental health crisis worker and behavioural consultant. Leah’s passion is to teach and equip others in the field of mental health, trauma and developmental disabilities. She is a trainer with Safeguards specializing in building capacity in the community in understanding trauma and its impact and has been teaching Mental Health First Aid since 2001. As a part time faculty member of Mohawk College, Leah teaches a variety of courses in Social Services Worker program through Continuing Education.

It is with great pleasure that Leah serves on the Board of Directors for Canadian Mental Health Association. Her desire to make a difference in her own community, particularly with those living with mental health needs, continues to drive her motivation to seek out opportunities to share her experiences and knowledge.

Lindsey Marois

Director

Read Bio

Lindsey Marois

Joining the CMHA Niagara board in 2018, Lindsey brings vast experience in human resources, strategic planning, manager coaching, recruitment and policies and procedures. Currently the Human Resources Operations Manager at Niagara Casinos, she holds a Certified Human Resources Leader certification, and BA Honors specializing in sociology and majoring in childhood and family relations. Her decision to join the board was a combined desire to support her local community as well as to advocate for and contribute to CMHA’s mission and vision of supporting mental illness and strengthening mental health in Niagara.

Chris Ventura

Director

Read Bio

Chris Ventura

As a Legislative Coordinator at the Niagara Region, Chris holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science and a Masters in Education Leadership and Administration, offering specialized knowledge in Government relations, capacity building, and strategic planning. He joined the CMHA Niagara Board in 2020, moving back to Niagara and being inspired by the life-saving services CMHA Niagara offered to his family in a time of crisis. Inspired by the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team as a model of effective public safety practice, and interested in the intersectionality of access to and utilization of mental health resources and services by marginalized communities, Chris’ advocacy and policy perspectives contribute greatly to the board. He is also a Board Director with Brock University Alumni Association.

Tara McKendrick

Ex Officio / Executive Director

Read Bio

Tara McKendrick

Tara’s social services career path has been well aligned with her passion to help people and have a positive impact on the lives and well-being of those in her community. Over the past 20 years she has held roles in emergency response services, child protection services, hospital emergency services and mental health and addictions with a focus on suicide prevention, crisis intervention and resolution, advocacy, awareness and facilitation of curriculum regarding suicide prevention and mental health and addictions.

Her tenure at CMHA Niagara began in 2004 as a Crisis Intervention Worker. In 2012 she assumed the position of Quality and Program Manager, followed by a promotion in 2017 to the role of the Executive Director. She has been a provincial appointee to the Niagara Regional Police Service Board since 2018.

Tara holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (with honours) from Brock University, Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) from University of Windsor, and Certificate in Community Health Leadership from University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Our board policy and procedures can be found here.