Canadian Down Syndrome Society Board of Directors



The Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) is actively seeking candidates for our board of directors. If you reside in Canada, have a strong desire to use your skills and experience to help chart a better future for individuals with Down syndrome, then we want to hear from you. Applicants must be willing to commit to serving a two-year volunteer term.

Prior board experience, while not mandatory, is an asset. While at the time we have specific needs for directors with experience in finance and non-profit law, we welcome all applicants. CDSS has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. We encourage applications from all eligible applicants and will provide appropriate accommodation for candidates with disabilities or accessibility needs.

As a CDSS Board Member you will be responsible for ensuring the organization meets legal requirements and that it is operating in accordance with its mission and for the purpose for which it was granted non-profit status. Members of the board must execute duty and care, which means they must attend meetings, be prepared to make informed decisions and request additional information as necessary.

The recruitment cycle is closed for 2021-2022. We continue to accept applications for consideration for the future.

Our Vision

All people are valued, fully participating citizens.

Our Mission

To empower Canadians with Down syndrome and their families. We raise awareness and provide information on Down syndrome through the prenatal, early childhood, school years, adulthood and retirement stages of life.

Expectations of Board Members

  • The CDSS board holds a weekday evening virtual meeting bi-monthly. Attendance is required at weekend board meetings twice each year and at the Annual General Meeting. All meetings will be virtual during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Board members actively participate on committees of the board during each term. Board members may join the Executive Committee any time after the first year is served.
  • Ongoing board and committee work and related conference calls are completed between
    in-person meetings and require a varying amount of time, commitment and self-direction.
  • Board members must be knowledgeable of responsibilities of a national non-profit organization.
  • Board members should have a basic understanding of Down syndrome in all life stages. No individual will be an expert, but the board as a whole will have combined knowledge to address issues. For this reason, individuals with a variety of professional and personal skill sets are identified and selected.
  • If a board member resigns prior to completion of the first two-year term, any travel costs paid by the board member and refunded by CDSS must be reimbursed by the resigning board member.
  • You do not have to be a member of the CDSS Board of Directors to participate in projects being developed by CDSS. If you have a particular interest or project that you would like to pursue please contact us to discuss your proposal. CDSS looks to its member groups and individuals for advice, expertise and potential partnering in various projects throughout the year.

About the CDSS Board of Directors

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society Board of Directors is made up of volunteers from across Canada who are committed to the vision and mission of the society. Currently the Board is made up of individuals who have a personal or professional relationship to people with Down syndrome. Each year nominations are accepted for vacant Board positions and new Board members are elected.

The primary accountability of the Board is to the members of the CDSS. The Board will govern the organization utilizing available financial resources to ensure the best possible services for the membership.

In the fulfillment of its mandate as the governing body of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, the Board of Directors will:

  • Conduct itself in an ethical and responsible manner.
  • Focus on the mission, vision and values of the organization.
  • Educate itself regarding issues affecting the society in order to make informed decisions concerning the future of the organization.
  • Establish policies to provide guidelines to implement the goals of the society as set by the Board.
  • Work in collaboration with the Executive Director and administrative staff.
  • Conduct itself as a deliberate decision-making body, speaking with one voice in matters which have been decided by the Board; and
  • Discipline itself in matters such as attendance, compliance with Board policy, respect of roles, confidentiality and conflict of interest.
  • Ensure the financial viability of the society through active participation in fund development.
  • Protect the society and its assets by considering risk and risk minimization when making decisions.
  • Be accountable to the membership and to the community at large of persons with Down syndrome and their families for the accomplishment of its responsibilities.

CDSS Board of Directors 2020- 2021

Executive Committee
Ed Casagrande  – Chair
Paul Crowley – Vice Chair
Yelman Siddiqi – Treasurer
Jackie Charchuk – Secretary

Board Members
Maria Borges
Jennifer Crowson
Dave Fischl
Dewlyn Lobo
Christine McConnell
Ben Tarr

Board Committees:
The Board Chair and the Executive Director serve Ex-offico to all committees

Governance Committee
Paul Crowley – Chair, Jackie Charchuk, Christine McConnell, Maria Borges, Dewlyn Lobo

Fund Development Committee 
Jennifer Crowson – Chair, Paul Crowley, Dave Fischl, Ben Tarr

Audit Committee
Yelman Siddiqi – Chair, Ed Casagrande, Laura LaChance


Ed Casagrande, Board Chair (Board Member since 2014)

Ed works as Vice President of Marketing in the animal health industry and holds an MBA from the University of Ottawa. He resides in Ontario with his wife and three children. His daughter has inspired him to be a strong advocate for the Down syndrome community.  Ed has continued to dedicate his business expertise to CDSS, helping to serve the Canadian Down syndrome community.

Paul Crowley, Board Vice Chair (Board Member since 2018)

Paul works as a specialized professional engineer for a global marine and aviation company.  He resides in British Columbia with his wife and children who inspire him in his efforts to connect and move the Down syndrome community forward.  Paul brings tact, expertise and dedication to the CDSS board and the organization’s mission and vision.

Yelman Siddiqi, Board Treasurer (Board Member since 2018)

Yelman is a Certified Professional Accountant and McMaster University Alumni who leads the finance team at a clean technology company. He brings his financial expertise to CDSS and can be credited with helping lead CDSS’ financial management.  He is a dedicated father of four young children, including a child who has Down syndrome, who has inspired him to contribute to the Down syndrome community in Canada.

Jackie Charchuk, Board Secretary (Board Member since 2011)

Jackie is a retired Special Education Consultant and lives with her family in PEI. She has spent over 30 years as an educator, administrator and consultant in PEI and Manitoba. Jackie brings her passionate, wide-ranging board experience from community living and inclusion organizations and has made great contributions to the CDSS Board. She continues to be driven and inspired by her greatest teacher, her daughter Janet, who has Down syndrome.

Maria Borges (Board Member since 2020)

Maria brings over 25 years of diverse senior management experience and business insight to the CDSS Board.  She shares a passion for sports and nature with her husband and two children in Alberta.  Maria is a strong community advocate for inclusion in schools and sports programs and continues to be a vital, active board member with Special Olympics Alberta.

Jennifer Crowson (Board Member since 2020)

Jennifer has over 24 years of experience working in the social services, non-profit and government sectors.  She is currently a Sessional Faculty Member in the Department of Social Work and parent advisor for CanChild at McMaster University.   She resides in Ontario with her husband and three children who have inspired her efforts and involvement in her local Down syndrome community.  Jennifer brings her passion and commitment for human rights and creating opportunities while supporting the mission and vision of CDSS.

Dave Fischl (Board Member since 2011)

Dave is an innovative and awarded thought leader who brings his knowledge and expertise in diversity and inclusion in the workplace to the CDSS Board.  He is an advocate for supported employment and has worked tirelessly at leading and mentoring workplace inclusiveness. He resides in Saskatchewan with his family and continues to be involved in the community and inspired by his grandson who has Down syndrome.

Dewlyn Lobo (Board Member since 2012) 

Dewlyn is a driven and strong self-advocate who brings her passion for community and people to the CDSS Board.  She resides in Ontario with her family, where she has paid, meaningful employment with the Government of Canada and continues to be involved with her local Down syndrome community as well as contributing her valuable knowledge and real- life perspectives to CDSS.

Christine McConnell (Board member since 2018)

Christine is a proud mother of three wonderful boys. After one of her twins was born with Down syndrome in 2009, Christine realized the importance of connecting with similar families and raising awareness about the abilities of her son to promote inclusion in all aspects of community life. Christine currently works as a Policy Analyst for the Yukon Government’s Department of Health and Social Services. Christine continues to help promote and advance CDSS’ mission and vision.

Ben Tarr (Board Member since 2015)

Ben is the President of a global advertising agency. Before he made the move to Canada, he spent seven years working for some of England’s top ad agencies.  Outside of agency life, Ben calls Ontario home with his wife and three kids and prides himself as a parent advocate. He brings his creativity and global thinking to the CDSS Board and continues to be inspired by the Down syndrome community.