Board of Directors


Mary Minna

Mary Minna (Co-Chair)

Mary Minna is a retired Accountant.  Mary graduated in Bachelor of Business Management from Ryerson University.  Mary also attained her CPA designation in 1983.  Mary worked for Suncor Energy Inc for 35 years in various accounting roles and left in 2015 as Manager of Inventory Accounting.

Deborah Peniuk

Deborah Peniuk

A multi-passionate, serial entrepreneur, ‘Dee’ has criss-crossed the globe thanks to a respected twenty year career in the elite wellness and travel industry. Clients in public and private sectors trusted her Aya-Life Travel firm to manage travel, hotel, itineraries, excursions, dining, programming, custom creation of promotional products and on-site emergencies.  Then, in 2015 Deborah was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Priorities shifted and her public cancer battle led to profiles in short films, talk shows, campaigns and documentaries. Today, Deborah has integrated her two worlds; Wellness Travel & Cancer Fundraising/Advocacy.

  • Speaker for Gilda’s Club over the past 3 years.
  • Board member & paddler for “Dragons Abreast” dragon-boat racing team. 
  • Communications Manager and Ambassador for After Breast Cancer. Cancer thriver of the month featured in their 2018 calendar. 
  • Requested speaker focused on the well-being of cancer survivors and life with lymphedema.

Deborah has a voice and experience that matter. She remains an in-demand wellness travel specialist and documents these passions on her social media channels: Life, Bliss and All of This.

Patricia Thangaraj

Patricia Thangaraj is a Health Care Communications, Public Relations and Marketing Advisor with 18+ years of work experience in collaborating with officials in international health care agencies such as PAHO/WHO, medical associations, public health departments, hospitals, medical universities, other research institutions, pharmacies, health care foundations, not-for-profits and other health care organizations aimed at helping them achieve their strategic communications and other organizational goals.

Specialities include: Writing; editing; photography; videography; social media; digital media; website development; content strategy; brand voice and alignment; multimedia design; omnichannel marketing; stakeholder engagement; media relations; strategic planning; project management; donor cultivation strategies; targeted fundraising campaigns; strategic communications; issues management communications; crisis communications; event planning; developing and executing strategic communications plans while managing an associated budget and recruiting, managing and mentoring high performance marketing and communications teams in the development of digital, video and print campaigns and content.

She holds a Master of Global Management Degree, postgraduate diplomas in Corporate Communications and Human Resources Management, a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, an Associate Degree in Mass Communications, a Certificate in Computer Graphics, a Certificate in Information Technology and a Diploma in International Radio Broadcasting.

Gratia Derde

Gratia is a Senior Manager with a masters degree in Business and International Relations, Audit and a certificate in Health Economics. The first part of her international career is situated in her native country, Belgium in the spearheads of insurance – healthcare – human resources/payroll and the senior living industry.

She is a strong and passionate people manager – goal oriented without losing sight of the human aspect. Her main goal in management is to reach their goals by inspiring people to do things they thought they never could – she strongly believes a healthy management style thrives on empowerment and trust in her team members.

Leadership development, change management and continuous improvement are a few core competences.

Besides her career, Gratia is a mom of 3, and a cancer survivor.

In her spare time she wants to give back to her community and volunteers:
1) In Academos, being a mentor on this platform for young people in search of their future. Being a certified coach helps her in this volunteering.

2) Executive board member of the Belgian Canadian Business Chamber: being passionate about contributing to good international relations more specifically between Canada and Belgium.

And who says Belgium, says delicious patisserie… in her spare time Gratia loves to bake to turn around the “stressed” times into “desserts” time.

Finally her meditation/fitness is singing, gardening and hiking in the beautiful Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Joyce Chehade

Joyce has been in the pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical industry for over 20 years. She brings with her a broad range of experience in medical marketing, sales management and market access in specialty therapeutics and rare disease. She worked for various private and global size companies which included Bayer, Pendopharm, Ferring and CSL Behring.

Her dual background in business and science allowed her to assume different positions from marketing to sales management to medical affairs and market access. She is a big proponent of amplifying the patient voice in her strategies and has partnered extensively with patient organizations effecting policy changes and promoting access to therapies. Joyce is an active and contributing member of the diversity committee on Women leaders in Pharma and an active member on Women Get on Board.

Elie Betito

A fluently bilingual Pharmaceutical Specialist with 34 years in the industry. He also has expertise in all areas of government and regulatory affairs including experience working with federal, provincial and international governments. Elie Betito has also managed major philanthropic projects. This includes experience working with charitable groups in Canada and across the globe in every aspect of giving. He has also worked with both patient groups and healthcare institutions.

Veronica K. Rodie-Fazio

Veronica K. Rodie-Fazio is an International Wedding & Event Planner of Veronica Events Inc., Editor-in-Chief of The Wedding Planner Lifestyle Magazine, Speaker, Host, Vice-President, Business Development and Strategy for Naija Wives of Toronto, and President of The International Wedding Planners & Travel Agents Association(IWPA) Canadian Chapter. 

Twice nominated RBC Woman of the Year in 2013 & 2016, the first Black woman to lead a  wedding magazine, and due to her love and passion for the business of weddings, she is the first wedding planner to produce a bridal show in Canada to showcase small business owners who are extremely talented, yet advertising dollars is a major barrier in promoting their business to their target market and high-end clients. She is a published, and featured wedding expert for HLNTV.com, award winning community leader, and she sat, and currently sits on the Board of Directors for many charities in Toronto.  

Skip Schwartz

Skip Schwartz was trained as an architect, specializing in health care facilities design. He was Partner-in-Charge of Healthcare at NORR partnership, a large practice in Toronto. He and his team designed award winning hospitals and clinics across Canada, doing groundbreaking work in architectural planning, long term care design, and accessibility. He was, for several years, in charge of the health care practice in Canada for HOK – one of the world’s largest architecture firms. 

For 10 years, Skip was the CEO for a pioneering Canadian-based health services venture, Interhealth Canada. During that tenure, he operated clinics and hospitals in various parts of the world. Finally, for the past 35 years, Skip has been an executive advisor and partner at the Kluaynamthai (KNT) Group, a large healthcare system located in Bangkok, Thailand. KNT operates hospitals, clinics, homecare services and a school mostly for the poor in Bangkok.