Board of Directors
A 14 member Board of Directors is elected by the membership at the Annual General Meeting. The Board meets monthly to address ongoing and new issues, successes and concerns related to activities in and around Sydenham District.
2017-2018 SDA Directors
Laura Knap - Chair
Neil Donnelly - Vice Chair, Tree Committee Chair
Ken Ohtake - Past Chair
Holly Mabee - Treasurer
Jane Gordon - Membership Secretary
Susan Thorne - Pump Co-editor
Patricia Cruickshank - Pump Co-editor
Donald Mitchell - Director-at-large
Meredith McDonnell - Director-at-large
Sue Wiercinski - Director-at-large
Stefano Hollands - AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner
LAURA KNAP – Chair
I attained my Master's degree in Architecture from the University of Waterloo and landed in Kingston following love. My husband and I moved to Sydenham District about 4 years ago, drawn by the area's walkability, and the magnificent texture and character of its streetscapes. We spend as much time as we can enjoying the Waterfront Trail and City Park with our 2-year-old.
I am passionate about the physical fabric of the city: its workings as an urban system, the architecture of buildings themselves, and the health of green spaces. I also bring with me a background in co-operative, not-for-profit leadership and with that an interest in building vibrant, diverse and engaged community.
NEIL DONNELLY – Vice Chair/Tree Committee
Neil has been a resident of Sydenham District and Kingston ON since Oct 31, 2011, having moved from Barrie ON where he and Carolyn raised 3 children during their 38 years there. Here in Kingston Neil and Carolyn have two daughters and their families with 4 grandchildren. Their son lives in Toronto with his partner and their 2 children; for a total of 6 grandchildren.
Neil is 93% retired and in that 93% he has as his first priority the care and attending to, of the grandchildren. Also within that 93% is volunteering with Hospice and the Church Athletic Minor Hockey League. Playing old-timer hockey and golf fills in some of the gaps.
In the remaining 7% Neil maintains a labour relations and conflict resolution business that involves being a roster Mediator in the Ontario Mediation Program and with the Mediation Centre of Southeastern Ontario.
Neil’s past Board experience has been as Chair of the Board of the Women’s Crisis Centre Barrie, and Board member with VON Ontario and the Out of the Cold Program Barrie.
KEN OHTAKE – Past Chair
Ken has lived in Sydenham District since 1967 - first as a student tenant, then as a “regular” tenant and finally as a ratepayer. The only role he has missed is that of landlord. A graduate of Queen’s, Ken has spent most of his career directing Kingston operations of non-governmental, social and health services including the Ontario March of Dimes and the Kingston Clubhouse and Activity Centre (Canadian Mental Health Association).
An active community volunteer, Ken has served on the Boards of the Kingston Access Bus, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Sydenham Public School Community Association, Sunnyside Children’s Centre, H’Art Studio, Citizens for Responsible Development in Kingston and the Church Athletic League of Kingston. Ken looks forward to contributing to the role that the Sydenham District Association can play in steering balanced development that respects resident families and other “permanent” residents and integrates the best, pro-social aspects of the vibrant student population. Balance is the key.
JUSTIN CONNIDIS – Corporate Secretary
Justin has been a resident of Sydenham District (Old Sydenham Ward) and member of the SDA since 2004. Justin spent his childhood in Kingston, graduating from Queen’s law in 1979. From 1979 to 2004, he lived in Toronto, although he has maintained a connection with Kingston as an adjunct professor at Queen’s since 1988. Justin is Counsel to the Toronto office of Dickinson Wright LLP, an adjunct professor at Queen’s, and a business person. He is involved with several not-for-profit and charitable organizations as a volunteer and board member, including Wintergreen Studios, The Kingston Prize Association, Bedford Mining Alert and MiningWatch Canada, and Student Pro Bono.
HOLLY MABEE – Treasurer/Tree Committee
I moved to Sydenham District in January of 2017. I moved to Kingston from Vancouver in 2008 when my husband Warren took a professorship at Queen's. Our boys Eldon (12) and Braedon (9) are at Rideau Public School. I was a researcher in the faculty of Forestry at UBC in my "pre-mommy" life. I enjoyed being a full time mommy until a couple of years ago when I changed paths and opened a Kindermusik studio at Renaissance Music. I enjoy teaching group music & movement classes to children aged 0-6 and their families. I also teach at the Wolfe Island Early Years Centre, and at the Waterford Retirement Residence. I joined the SDA board because I believe in community building and in preserving the beauty and vitality of downtown Kingston
JANE GORDON - Membership Secretary
Jane was born in what used to be known as Sydenham Ward at KGH, moved several times with her family to London, ON, the US and Europe, and returned in 1975 when she attended KCVI and Queen's University. After 17 years in the US where she obtained an MA in Political Science and raised a family, she decided enough was enough and came back yet again, in 2003. Since that time, she has worked at the University Hospitals Foundation Kingston and Queen's University (currently as the Curricular Coordinator for Clinical Clerkship, Undergraduate Medical Education), volunteered on a number of political campaigns and is an avid recreational runner/post-run coffee drinker (it's what makes the running fun). She has two sons, both of whom have graduated from Queen's, and her parents still live in the district as well.
SUSAN THORNE – Co Editor, The Village Pump
Susan Thorne is a retired independent journalist, whose work has been published in over thirty Canadian and international professional and trade periodicals, newspapers, and general readership magazines.
A resident of the City since the 1970's, she has served on the volunteer boards of a number of Kingston organizations including the Children's Aid Society, Frontenac Historic Foundation, Kingston Montessori School.
PATRICIA CRUICKSHANK – Co Editor, The Village Pump
Patricia moved to Kingston after living in Toronto for 40 years. After an early retirement from a large corporation she volunteered with her community organization and was the editor of their newsletter for 6 years. It published monthly, had paid advertising and a circulation of about 4,000. In 2010 she and her husband were drawn to the old world charm of the Lime Stone City and relocated to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle and their cottage on the Upper Rideau. To get to know the people and community of Kingston, Patricia volunteered as a “Kingston Gets Active Ambassador” following that volunteering with the Public Health as a “Food Skills Ambassador”. She also volunteered in a number of activities after joining the Kingston New Comers Chapter.
STEFANO HOLLANDS - AMS Rep
Stefano Hollands is the Alma Mater Society's Commissioner of Municipal Affairs. Stefano graduated from Queen's University in 2017 with a medial in Global Development Studies and Political Studies. He is returning to Queen's in 2017-18 to advance town-gown relations and represent the student body in all community issues.
DONALD MITCHELL – Director-at-Large
Don has been a professional Artist for three decades. He is presently the operations manager of Sydenham Street United Church, now called The Spire, which is actively transitioning into a hub for culture and community building. For three years Don has been on the Municipal Accessibility Advisory Committee. During that time, he has been an accessibility representative on many City policy and built-form projects. He’s lived in Victoria, Prince George and Terrace in British Columbia before moving to Ontario to live in Oakville, Toronto and Kingston. He lives in a long-time family home that his wife Michelle has known since childhood; and together they raise their children William and Adele, while enjoying the beautiful district walks to work, school and downtown. Don plans to participate and learn more about the municipal process through involvement with the SDA and its work on behalf of area residents.
MEREDITH MCDONNELL, RN, BScN– Director-at-Large
Relocated to Kingston in 2013 to have a better place to raise 3 young girls.
My husband and I were fortunate to both find jobs at KGH and HDH hospitals, and wanted to live close to where we worked so chose to live in Sydenham District.
I was one of the many people that helped to mobilise and fight commuter parking proposed by the city 2 1/2 years ago, when the city wanted to sell spaces to commuters when there was adequate parking available in area parking lots for commuters. And most recently I helped to mobilise the community to fight for change of the current bylaws to protect our historic neighbourhoods; helping to organise the Town Hall meeting that was attended by more than 200+ Sydenham residents, as well as multiple meetings with City Staff and the Mayor to fight for adequate protection of stable neighbourhoods in Sydenham. I joined SDA in November of 2016 and am looking forward to mobilising the community and bringing it together.
SUE WIERCINSKI, BA (HONS), MIR - Director-at-Large
Vice President, Human Resources, MedSleep Inc.
Sue was born, raised and educated in Kingston, Ontario. She obtained a BA (Hons) in Economics and a Master of Industrial Relations both from Queen’s University. She works for a rapidly expanding, national, healthcare company and works both in Toronto and Kingston. Her career experience spans automotive, technology and healthcare industries. She specializes in Human Resources as it relates to entrepreneurial companies. Sue recently joined the S.D.A in May, 2017.