CDSS Board of Directors


Thank you for your interest; the applications for 2024-2025 are now closed.

family moment

Expectations of Board Members

CDSS Board Members

attend a one-hour weekday ZOOM meeting bi-monthly, alternating either during business hours or evenings.

attend two annual weekend-long ZOOM meetings (Saturday and Sunday). 

Note: one of the weekend-long meetings may be in person (Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday). 

Board members actively participate on committees of the board during their term. Except in unique circumstances, 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 the responsibilities of a national non-profit organization.

Board Members will actively support and connect CDSS initiatives with their personal networks.

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.

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 groups and individuals for advice, expertise and potential partnering in various projects throughout the year.

2023-2024 Board Members

Jennifer Crowson headshot

Jennifer Crowson

Board Chair (Board Member since 2020)

Jennifer has over 24 years of experience working in the social services, non-profit and government sectors. She is a part time Sessional Instructor in the Department of Social Work at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and she also works as a Disability Employment Inclusion Specialist with the Ontario Disability Employment Network. 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.

Peter Wright headshot

Peter Wright

(Vice Chair, Board Member since 2023)

As President of The Planning Group, Peter advises boards and the leadership teams of corporations, charities, associations, NGO’s, universities and regulators to develop clear and measurable strategies to help each organization achieve new levels of performance and strategic outcomes. Along with international experience, Peter is recognized for his expertise in strategic planning within the non-profit sector in Canada.
Peter lives in Southern Ontario and is a frequent speaker on topics related to board strategy effectiveness and governance. He teaches strategic planning for the GPC.D program as a faculty member at Governance Professionals of Canada.

Rohit Singla

Board Treasurer (Board Member since 2021)

Rohit is a senior finance professional with over 15 years of experience with startups and public corporations across a variety of industries. He obtained his MBA from the University of Toronto and CPA, CMA designation in Ontario. Rohit resides in Ontario with his wife and two young boys. His younger brother continues to inspire Rohit to be a strong advocate for those with Down Syndrome and to support the CDSS mission and vision.

Paul Crowley headshot

Paul Crowley

Board Secretary (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.

Elizabeth Kennedy

Elizabeth Kennedy

(Board Member since 2023)

Elizabeth is an inclusive and strategic leader with over twenty-five years of experience in environmental consulting and government. She is currently the Executive Director of Policy, Planning and Sector Relations for Government of Nova Scotia in the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing and responsible to support welcoming, healthy and climate-resilient communities in Nova Scotia. Elizabeth believes strongly in the value of diversity to support a healthy environment and strong businesses, policies and social systems. She is highly motivated to support CDSS and promote equitable access to the health care and training opportunities to ensure the Down Syndrome community can participate fully in the workplace and society.  Elizabeth lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her two sons, husband, and her silly dog.

Derek Love

(Board Member since 2022)

Derek is an award-winning executive in the construction and engineering industry with over 15 years of progressive leadership experience. He resides in Ontario with his wife, Erin, and their three children who inspire his efforts to push for advances in advocacy, education, and access for people with Down Syndrome every day. Derek holds degrees in Engineering and Law and brings to the board strong corporate experience and committed dedication to the advancement of the CDSS’s mission and vision.

Christine McConnell photo

Christine McConnell

(Board Member since 2018)

Christine, a devoted mother of three energetic teenagers, discovered her passion for advocacy when one of her twins was born with Down syndrome in 2009. This experience ignited her dedication to fostering awareness about the remarkable abilities of her son and advocating for inclusivity in every facet of community life. Christine has over 20 years of experience working in the education and health sectors, currently working as a Policy Advisor at the Government of Yukon’s Department of Health and Social Services. Christine continues to help promote and advance CDSS’ mission and vision to positively impact individuals with Down syndrome and their families. 

Dan Purdham

(Board Member since 2021)

Dan is a senior leader in the medical department at a global biopharmaceutical company and holds a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Western Ontario. He resides in Ontario with his wife Adelle and their 3 daughters Ariel, Elyse and Penelope. The birth of his 10-year-old daughter Elyse inspired him to get involved in volunteering and advocating for those with Down syndrome. Dan is excited at the opportunity to help the CDSS fulfill its mission and vision.

Samar Qureshi

(Board Member since 2024)

Samar Qureshi, a University of Toronto graduate, is a dynamic serial entrepreneur known for his multifaceted expertise spanning sales, marketing, operations, HR, and senior management. With a career rooted in startup environments, Samar has significantly contributed to the growth of various startups. In 2021, he launched his own venture, prioritizing integrity in talent acquisition—setting a new industry standard. Beyond business, Samar is profoundly influenced by his younger brother with Down syndrome, driving his commitment to disability advocacy. He actively supports SMILE Canada, advocating for children and youth with disabilities, and has been involved in community sports for adults with disabilities. Currently, Samar serves on the boards of Studio.89 and Kind World Charity, furthering social justice and community improvement. His life and work are guided by integrity, evidenced by his roles as a dedicated family member and advocate for those living with disabilities.

Krista Smith

(Board Member since 2022)

Krista is an RN and works in a director role overseeing multiple care areas with Nova Scotia Health. She holds a MN from Dalhousie University and is a Certified Health Executive. She is deeply grounded in equity, diversity, and inclusion and continually challenges herself and others to ensure an EDI lens is embedded into their work. She resides in Cape Breton, NS. with her husband and three children, their youngest has Down syndrome. Krista brings her administrative skills, healthcare/nursing background, and inspiration from her son and the entire Down Syndrome community to her commitment to building a truly inclusive society.

Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson

(Board Member since 2024)

Paul Wilson is a Professor at Trent University and a former Canada Research Chair in DNA Profiling, Forensics and Functional Genomics. His research focuses on the application of genetics and genomics to the conservation of wildlife and species-at-risk like wolves and caribou. Paul has spent more than 20 years volunteering on Boards in the Special Needs sector including Children’s Rehabilitation and Treatment Centres and Community Living. Paul’s commitment to the Special Needs sector and Down syndrome specifically, is motivated by his oldest Matthew. As Matthew moves out of the school system, understanding and advocating for his son as an adult is a significant transition where the Canadian Down Syndrome Society provides an important platform for Paul to learn and to contribute in support of this amazing population.

Joe Yacoub

(Board Member since 2024)

Joe Yacoub is a civil law graduate from the University of Ottawa, currently pursuing the Québec bar, with a Bachelor’s in Supply Chain Operations Management from Concordia University. He is passionate about law, business, finance, philanthropy, and sports. Committed to community service, Joe draws personal inspiration from his partner’s adult sibling with Down syndrome, which deepens his commitment to advocacy and support within the community. He is excited to pursue his first mandate as a Board Member of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society.