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
Vice Chair

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.

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.

Sandy Thompson-Hodgetts

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.

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.

Jane Reid

Jane is a Senior Organizational Change Management and Communications professional with 25+ years of experience. She has worked with both public and private sector organizations at the executive, director, and manager level, developing and implementing change management and communications strategies.

Barbara O'Neill

Barbara is a registered nurse with an MBA and MSC in International Public Health. She has worked in various aspects of the health system in Alberta for over 33 years. She has also been an instructor at Grant McEwan University in both the faculties of nursing and business.

Shelby Engelking

Shelby is a HR Coordinator at Sherritt International. She was introduced to GRIT in 2021 through the Leadership Certificate Program at the Alberta School of Business. During her time on the board, Shelby was a Student Director and served as a member of the Executive Director Evaluations Committee. Shelby has always had a passion for diversity and inclusion, and she is delighted to be serving on the board.

GRIT Leadership Team