Our 2015 / 2016 Board of Directors

Volunteer Board of Directors

President Keith Hernandez
Keith is from Ajax, Ontario. He is an experienced bilingual HR professional within the Canadian financial industry. In 2007, after 20 plus years of service with CIBC and Scotiabank, mainly in the various disciplines of Human Resources, he took an early retirement to become an entrepreneur. His company KAH Consultants provides various Human Resources support, including HR audits and revision of HR infrastructures. He also provides management consulting support to companies, settlement services agencies and related government entities for intercultural competency, inclusiveness at the leadership level, diversity awareness, and newcomers’ integration strategy. This includes speaking engagements and workshops on facilitating newcomer integration and moving careers forward for Canadians with an immigrant background.

Keith has become an advocate for supporting newcomers with their careers through mentoring, while coaching them on enhancing their networking skills. He writes articles for several magazines on career advancement for newcomers and for Canadians with an immigrant background. Keith is the Board President of the Community Development Council of Durham (CDCD) and Board member of the Conseil des Organismes Francophones de la Région de Durham (COFRD), the lead Francophone organization for Durham region. Keith has been on the CDCD Board since 2011.

Vice President Michelle Davis
Michelle is from Whitby, Ontario. She holds a Social Work degree with a minor in Public Administration from Ryerson University in Toronto. She specializes in the field of community health and safety promotion within the Public Housing sector. With over 15 years’ experience, Michelle provides strategic guidance on matters pertaining to community safety and crime prevention through social development initiatives for at risk communities with highly vulnerable populations in Toronto.

Michelle takes an anti-oppressive, social justice approach to her work and comes with extensive experience both in Canada and the United States. She has been recognized for her expertise in community development and engagement, strategic partnerships, stakeholder relations, individual and family counseling, advocacy, board governance, and social policy. In addition to being the President and Chair of New Hope Dwellings, Michelle currently serves as a Board member with the Denise House, Durham Children’s Aid Society’s (DCAS) and most recently the Community Development Council Durham (CDCD). Michelle is highly motivated and enjoys giving back to her community in many ways. Her energy is well balanced amongst work, church, family and volunteering.

Treasurer Rahim Panjwani
Rahim Panjwani is from Ajax, Ontario. He has more than 18 years of experience in audit, tax, corporate governance, treasury, finance and project management. Rahim works at the Bank of Montreal in Toronto as Director of Independent Controls. Before migrating to Canada from Pakistan in mid-2014, Rahim worked with Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) for nine years in a variety of roles such as Head of Internal Audit, Corporate Secretary, Business Planning Manager and CFO & Company Secretary for a wholly owned subsidiary. He has managed high profile assignments for SCB in UK, UAE, South Africa, Lebanon and Jordan. Prior to joining SCB, Rahim worked with KPMG, Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and HSBC in Pakistan.

Rahim is a fellow member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) and is also qualified as a Certified Internal Auditor (USA), Management Auditor (London School of Economics) and a Certified Director (Pakistan). Rahim is actively involved in community service at the AKDN and has held key board positions over the last 15 years in various not-for-profit companies of AKDN involved in health, education, resettlement of refugees and social services sectors. Rahim has recently joined the CDCD Board this year.

Secretary Liza Serra
Liza is a life time resident of the Durham region and loves her community. She currently works for the Durham Regional Police Service. Through both her job and volunteer work, she has had the privilege of learning about many things relating to her community and those who reside within it.

Liza feels that her life has been enriched by experiencing various cultures, religions, and food. She feels very blessed to have had many great experiences.

She is a daughter of immigrant parents and is very thankful to have grown up in a diverse household. In her home, she learned about differences and inclusivity.  Liza enjoys sharing her knowledge to others and is presently working on a Professional Practice Designation in Cultural Diversity through Mount Royal University.

Liza has recently joined the CDCD Board and is very excited to be a part of the team. She hopes her participation will help with the growth and development in the community!

Director Neha Kohli
Neha Kohli is from Ajax-Pickering, Ontario. She is a qualifying CPA, CA who is currently working at Deloitte LLP, specializing in personal tax issues, as well as corporate tax and audits. She graduated from the Schulich School of Business in 2013 and continues to give back to the community by judging various business case competitions. In the past, Neha has worked a wide range of roles from Communications at Taking It Global and Team Lead at the Gap. Neha currently also assists students in studying for the CPA, CA professional exams by marking through Deloitte’s professional pass program.

Neha is passionate about supporting newcomers as a result of growing up with immigrant parents and seeing the issues they faced first hand. She has been with the CDCD Board since 2014.

Director Thelson Desamour
Thelson is from Pickering, Ontario. He is a litigation lawyer specializing in insurance matters. He is currently an in-house counsel at Desjardins, prior to which he served as in-house counsel at another national insurance company. He has also served as a mediator with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.

Thelson attended the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and York University, where he obtained his Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts degree respectively. Thelson is a former board member of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, and has been published in Lawyers Weekly. Thelson has recently joined the CDCD Board this year.

Director Donna Bright
Donna has lived in Bowmanville for almost seven years. She has three children and her first grandchild is on the way. She is the Chief Librarian and Executive Officer of the Ajax Public Library. Donna has a B.A, B.Ed from the University of Toronto and a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Western Ontario.  She has lived, taught, or worked in libraries in Nigeria, Botswana, Lesotho, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Thunder Bay, and Cobourg.

Currently, Donna sits on the Board of the Rotary Club of Ajax as well being the public library sector representative on the Local Diversity and Immigration Partnership Council (LDIPC).

Donna decided to become a member of the CDCD board through her work at the library, as well as being the former Chair/member of the Town of Ajax’s staff Diversity and Community Engagement Plan Committee, and as a member of the LDIPC.

She believes CDCD and the Welcome Centre, like the public library, help the community and its residents to develop collective and individual capacity. Although she is a new Board member, she believes it will be a very rewarding experience to be associated with an organization that adds such value to the community it serves.

Director Caroline Anderson
Caroline is from Whitby, Ontario. She is a Branch Manager for Scotiabank. Currently, she leads a team of Financial Advisors, Small Business Advisors and Service Advisors at the Uxbridge branch. She has her personal Financial Planning designation through the Canadian Securities Institute and holds an Honours BA in Economics from the University of Toronto. She also sits on the hiring panel for the GTA East District interviewing potential Financial Advisors.

She has sat on the Board of Directors for the Local Diversity and Immigration Partnership Council (LDIPC) and belongs to the Region of Durham immigration portal.

When she’s not banking, she enjoys running, yoga and being an active dance mom to her youngest of four children. Caroline has recently joined the CDCD board this year

Director Melanie Blackman

Melanie has lived in Durham Region for over 25 years. Born in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, her family immigrated to Canada when she was a toddler. Raised in Pickering, she attended both elementary and secondary school in Durham Region. She has an Honours B.A from the University of Toronto Scarborough where she currently works as a Community Development Coordinator.

Through various roles and volunteer opportunities, Melanie has collaborated with diverse groups to build capacity in local communities; these initiatives include working with East Scarborough Multi-Sport Collaborative programming committee, fundraising for New Hope Charitable Society in India and participating in youth mentorship programs across the GTA. She is also passionate about sports and the arts; in her spare time she co-coaches the UTSC Women’s Intramural Basketball team.

Melanie is excited to be a new member of the board this year and hopes her passion and past experience will assist in the continued development of community within Durham.