Board of Directors

Karen Lynch

Karen is a respected community and civic leader. Karen’s forte is creating and nurturing networks of people. Graduating with a degree in Economics, she served in senior positions in communications before following her passion for community volunteerism and political engagement. In 2012, Karen received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her dedication to non-profit sector leadership.

Barrett Westerlund

Barrett is the co-parent of a child with a developmental disability who accessed GRIT’s support early in his life. Now 16 years old and in grade eleven, he’s positively thriving at home, at school, and elsewhere in the community. Board leadership provides an opportunity to both celebrate Jake’s belonging and support other families similarly realize their “best selves” unique to their life journey, for none are alone on this walk taken together.

Bernie Bolton

Bernie Bolton is an accomplished leader with extensive experience working collaboratively with executive and Boards. She is a professional accountant (CPA) and internal auditor, with expertise in strategic planning, performance evaluation, risk management, and board policy. Bernie is thankful for the opportunity to play a part in positively impacting the lives of the children and families GRIT serves.

Sandy Thompson-Hodgetts
Recording Secretary

Sandy is an associate professor, an occupational therapist, and director of the Supporting Kids Inclusion and Participation Lab in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. She has a long-term interest in the wellbeing and inclusion of children who experience disability and their families, including participation in their communities.  Sandy has heard accolades of GRIT and is delighted to be engaged with the board.

Christina Radyo

Christina is a water-resource engineer at Urban Systems Ltd. She was introduced to GRIT in 2019 through Girls on Boards, a program offered by Fora (formerly G(irls)20) that places experienced young leaders from diverse backgrounds on non-profit governance boards in their communities. During her time on the board, Christina has served as a member of the board’s governance committee and as the board secretary. Over the past three years, she has had the immense pleasure of learning about and witnessing GRIT’s leadership in the early childhood learning sector. Christina enjoys snowboarding, running, and travelling.

Jeff Bisanz

Jeff has had a long-term interest in the wellbeing of children and serves on the Edmonton Council for Early Learning and Care, the Steering Committee for the Community-University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families (CUP), and the Board of Directors of the Muttart Foundation. He is retired from the University of Alberta, where he served as a professor of developmental psychology.

Andy Akle

Andy is and has always had the entrepreneurial spirit. Andy’s current role is a Certified Financial Planner with IG Wealth Management.  Andy is married with three children, one of whom was a part of the GRIT program. Giving back to the community is a guiding principle that Andy leans on.

Freddie Martinez

Freddie is the Director of Information Systems and CI&TO with Morgan Construction and Environmental. Freddie is a visionary and success-driven Senior Executive offering 20+ years of experience in transformational leadership, enterprise architecture, business transformation, and business continuity.
Freddie is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Woman Building Futures and has served on multiple boards such as the National CIO Association, CIO Association Edmonton Chapter, Canadian Cloud Council, Senior Assisted Transportation Servers (SATS), and LIFT Drive Happiness.

Debbie Couch

Debbie Couch is foremost a people person. Debbie has applied her professional accounting designation across numerous industries to arrive in an HR Director of Pension and Benefits role where she created an innovative pension plan that garnered corporate accolades, and national interest. She has volunteered her expertise for nearly 24 years with corporate, not-profit and humanitarian boards.

GRIT Leadership Team