As a newly formed charitable organization, Soaring Spirits Canada has established an autonomous Board of Directors of Canadian representatives.
Jodi Skeates, Chair
Jodi Skeates’ husband suffered an anoxic brain injury during a technical diving accident and died in 2017. It wasn’t until she attended Camp Widow in 2019, that she found the support and understanding she’d been lacking as she struggled with PTSD and trauma from lengthy repatriation, government investigations and media attention. Jodi is an Associate at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP in Vancouver, British Columbia. She lives in Burlington, Ontario. Jodi is a founding Director of Soaring Spirits Canada and Chair of its Board of Directors.
Monica Brightwell, Vice-Chair
Monica Brightwell is an Environmental Advisor and has been an avid volunteer within her environmental community. From 2009 to 2015 Monica took a break from volunteering to spend more time with family after her husband was diagnosed with ALS. After 5 years of learning how to be a spouse first and a caregiver second, Monica’s husband, Roger, passed away after choosing not to continue his care. Monica’s journey from there has led her to become involved with a local grief centre as a volunteer facilitator and with Soaring Spirits.
Kassia Mabbayad, Treasurer
Kassia Mabbayad began her career working in a public accounting firm where she earned her designation as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA). During her time in public accounting, she headed up many committees and initiatives and worked in various industries including public sector, foundations, not-for-profit housing, agriculture, insurance, bereavement and fitness.
Kassia has an array of experience working with family-owned business, large corporations, charities and not-for-profit organizations. Kassia is currently working in the real estate industry as a Controller for Drewlo Holdings Inc. and is based in London Ontario. She has a business degree from Wilfird Laurier University and has been a Soaring Spirits Regional Group Leader since 2018.
Kassia found Soaring Spirits after losing her husband Alfred suddenly, just months after they were married. She is passionate about accounting and about the work of Soaring Spirits and is always up for making a positive change in the world.
Stacey Brown, Secretary
Stacey Brown has served widowed people since 2013 by leading a Soaring Spirits Regional Social Support Group in her hometown of Fredericton, NB. Stacey lost her first great love at 35 when her husband Andre died of heart disease. It is with the love and understanding of her supportive new husband, family, and friends that Stacey continues to volunteer to pay forward the many wonderful ways Soaring Spirits has shaped her life as a widowed person.
Stacey is a graduate of UNB Law and a policy and governance specialist with experience in board training and policy development for registered charities, non-profit organizations, and education boards. Stacey brings over 20 years of conference planning, volunteer coordination, and plain-language resource development; she looks forward to using these skills to support and expand Camp Widow and other resources for widowed people across Canada.
Greg Mais, Director at Large
Greg Roman, Ex-officio Soaring Spirits International Board
Greg Roman was born in Philadelphia, PA but grew up as an Air Force military brat all over the world. He is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SudoLynx Inc, a defense contracting company specializing in cyber security services. As an avid Denver Broncos fan, and less than adequate weekend golfer, Greg fulfilled a long standing dream of owning a sports bar, and is co-owner of one of the most popular bars, Rhinos Sports and Spirits, in Colorado Springs, CO.
Greg graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1979 and spent 23 years in the military as an Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance officer. He served in various operational and staff assignments before retiring from the Air Force as a Colonel. Greg then served in a variety of corporate officer positions with three defense contracting companies before starting SudoLynx Inc. in March of 2017. Greg is a former President of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Freedom Through Vigilance Association, a professional intelligence fraternal organization, a 25th Air Force Hall of Honor inductee, and is active in a number of Wounded Warrior programs.
Greg lost his wife, Patricia Flannery, to breast cancer in 2003, beginning a new journey as a widower, and is committed to service to others in dealing with widowed grief. Greg feels very fortunate to start a new chapter in his life with Dr. Nancy Saltzman, a widow, breast cancer survivor, and national recognized educator. They married in August of 2014, witnessed by their family and their former spouse’s family. Nancy chronicles her life in a best-selling memoir, Radical Survivor. Greg likes to tell people that Chapter 20 is the “fun” chapter because it highlights Greg’s bad dating techniques. Both Greg and Nancy believe in service to others and love being part of the Soaring Spirits community.
Greg lives in Colorado Springs with Nancy and their two dogs, Teddy and Finn. Weekends are devoted to long hikes in the woods and mountains behind their home. Greg has a son Jordan, an aspiring film producer and director in Hollywood, CA, and two step-sons Ted and Jon, and four grand-children.
“The road to life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn’t make a decision.”
Michele Hernandez, Executive Director, Soaring Spirits International
Michele Neff Hernandez is the CEO and Founder of Soaring Spirits International. Michele founded the Soaring Spirits Resilience Center at Schreiner University in Kerrville Texas and serves as the center’s Director. She is also a speaker, a community activist who has received local, state, and national recognition, as well as the author of Different After You, her first book which was recently released.
Michele resides in Simi Valley, California with her three amazing kids, one great son-in-law and one very Australian husband.