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 Senior Counsel at Manulife. She lives in Burlington, Ontario with her four cats (Missy, Bella, Tippy and Smokey) and her Boxer (Bandit). Jodi is a founding Director of Soaring Spirits Canada.
Holly Wagg, Vice-Chair
Holly Wagg is a professional fundraiser and currently is a Partner and CEO at Good Works. She has more than 20 years of experience in the charitable sector with a particular expertise in annual giving that spans direct mail, digital and legacy fundraising. She’s a widowed, and re-married, mother of six (two adopted, one bio and three step-children) who does an abundance of CrossFit, yoga, hiking and eats dark chocolate to stay grounded. Holly’s incredibly brilliant wife – her name was Julia and we also called her the Ringleader of Magic – died in 2017 from leukemia.
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.
Monica Brightwell, Secretary
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.
Kathy Marcelline, Director
Kathy Marcelline believes in community engagement and volunteerism because we all have moments of small and great challenge. She also believes in the basic human rights of education, food and shelter, and she weaves the priorities of accessibility, inclusivity and diversity into her public service and personal lives.
Following the death of her ‘middle-school crush’ husband in early 2017, Kathy worked hard to ensure the wellness of their young teenage daughter and was introduced to the idea of Camp Widow Toronto but she wasn’t comfortable yet wearing the “widowed” label. When she did attend in 2019, it was like coming home: it offered an immediate comfort and community she didn’t know existed.
Michelle Dippel, Ex-officio Soaring Spirits International Board
Michelle Dippel grew up in Austin, Texas, attending Crockett High School and the University of Texas at Austin. She began her career in environmental consulting and has been in the transportation infrastructure business for 25 years and works for HNTB, a national infrastructure firm. Michelle is the President of HNTB’s Mid-Atlantic Division and is based in Washington D.C. She is a founder and at-large board member of Soaring Spirits International, USA, and has been on the SSI board since 2008. She served on the founding board of the Heart of Texas Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar and on the board of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, where she was the incoming mobility committee chair. She earned her Master of Arts in anthropology and a Bachelor of Arts in archaeological studies from the University of Texas.
Michelle’s interest in Soaring Spirits originated in her own experiences as a widow – her first husband Daniel died from throat cancer in 2005 – and her desire to make the tragedy of dealing with grief and loss more manageable and less lonely for others.
Michele Hernandez, Executive Director, Soaring Spirits International