Board of Directors

The YW has a strong volunteer Board of Directors that serve as great ambassadors of the programs and services we offer. 

2022/2023 YWCA Niagara Region Board of Directors

Julie Rorison ( Former President)

Julie is a public servant and community leader with experience working with elected officials, municipal government, university administration and currently with senior leaders and municipal stakeholders at a provincial agency. Julie enjoys working directly with stakeholders and people who share their passion for innovation and change. She strives to be part of diverse and dynamic teams to deliver results for women and families in Niagara. 

Sheryl L. Johnson (President)

Sheryl is a partner at Sullivan Mahoney LLP practicing in its Employment and Labour Law GroupSheryl was raised in and has been a long-time resident of Niagara-on-the-Lake, recently making the move to relocate her law practice from Toronto to the Niagara Region (St. Catharines and Niagara Falls). Sheryl has a wealth of knowledge and experience in all aspects of employment, labour and human resources law, advocacy, governance, strategic planning, leadership, relationship building and provision of training.

Sheryl believes that only with education and understanding can we overcome barriers that exist for all members of our society to equally participate and flourish. To this end, Sheryl is passionate about writing, presenting at educational conferences, providing training and appearing on TV as well as an expert witness before the HUMA Committee in order to share her wealth of knowledge and experience

Sheryl is the author of Sexual Harassment in Canada: A Guide for Understanding and Prevention and is on ongoing contributor to The Niagara Independent’s business column.  During her spare time, Sheryl strives to give back to her community and does so by supporting and volunteering at various community organizations, engaging in fundraising and sitting on a number of Boards and committees locally.      

Rachel Kleiman (Vice President)


Rachel is a lifelong Niagara resident and a proud Brock University and Mohawk College alumna, holding a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Social Service Worker Diploma. Rachel is a Regional Manager at Anchor Rehabilitation Support Services and a Consultant at the Brain Injury Association of Niagara. 

Rachel is passionate about building community relationships and giving back to the community through volunteerism. Rachel is an active volunteer with various non-profit organizations and currently serves as Vice-President on the YWCA Niagara Region Board of Directors and Vice-President on the National Chronic Pain Society Board of Directors. 

Rachel is the proud recipient of both the Hamilton (2021) and Niagara (2022) Top 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Awards. 

Erin Amirault (Secretary)


Erin is Associate Director, Finance Operations and Systems for the Regional Municipality of Niagara. Prior to joining the Region in 2017, Erin held progressively more senior finance and accounting roles across several industries including manufacturing, retail, travel, and not-for-profit. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Saint Mary’s University and an MBA from Brock University. 

Raised in Newfoundland and Labrador, Erin is now a Lincoln resident, by way of Halifax and Toronto.  She previously spent six years volunteering on the board of a non-profit organization that operates more than 20 childcare centres across Niagara.  Erin believes that quality, affordable, and accessible childcare is one of the keys to ending gender inequity.  As such, she connects with the YWCA’s mission and vision and appreciates the opportunity to help further them by serving on its board. 


Shawna Chen

Shawna Chen is an associate professor of entrepreneurship and the LCBO Spirit of Inclusion Initiative Research Scholar (2021-2024) at Goodman School of Business, Brock University. She is passionate about empowering the overlooked and underestimated. Her research interests focus on mentoring and training the mind of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ2S+, as inequality in labor, capital markets, and workplaces continue to undermine representation in industries and among start-ups. Her research is funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Prior to entering academia, Shawna was an investment banker and a serial entrepreneur in information technology with multiple exits. Shawna is a newcomer in Canada and a registered yoga instructor (RYT-200). During her spare time, she enjoys exploring the Niagara region with her partner and kid or practicing yoga.  

Kate Chiera (Treasurer)

Kate is a manager at Durward Jones Barkwell & Company where she provides accounting, assurance and tax services to not-for-profit organizations and privately held, owner-managed businesses in a variety of industries. Kate received her Chartered Professional Accountant designation in 2020 after graduating from Brock University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Accounting (Honours) degree with First Class Standing.  She also completed an international exchange at the University of Torino in Italy.  

Kate is a lifelong Niagara resident and an active member of the community, participating in various charity events and initiatives, including offering personal tax preparation services to vulnerable members of the community.  

During her spare time, Kate is an avid traveler and has been to over 20 countries.  


Kattawe Henry

Kattawe has both a lived experience of intersectional feminist issues of the Niagara region as well as an academic understanding of the theories and complexities of feminist issues. 

As a Brock alumnus with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Master of Arts in Gender Studies and Feminist Research from McMaster University, Kattawe brings a background enriched with experiences and understandings of the difficult conversations that are essential to developing lasting and effective change. She is moved by the resilience of marginalized communities and has committed her research and professional career to understand the themes of racism, mental health, and sexual violence and harassment to understand and draw parallels to the social and structural nature of racism. 


Joanne Heritz 

Joanne is a resident of St Catharines. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Brock University where she currently teaches Public Policy and Public Administration. She previously taught Canadian Studies and Political Theory and has taught at McMaster and Waterloo. Her PhD is in Comparative Public Policy from McMaster University. She has Master and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science from Brock University and a Master of Information Studies degree from the University of Toronto. Research interests focus on representation of marginalized minorities, urban politics, and urban Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Joanne formerly was the Merritt Branch Librarian in the St Catharines Public Library system. Community experience includes volunteering and supporting voluntary sector and cultural organizations in Niagara. 


Constance McKnight 


Constance McKnight is a Moose Cree Metis woman.  Recently retired (September 2022) from her position of Chief Executive Officer of De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre where she served for more than a decade, Constance continues to serve the Indigenous peoples of Ontario as the past President and current Vice-President of the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle. 

To her credit, amongst too many to name, Constance has served as Co-Chair and Vice Chair of the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council, as a Public Member with the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario (2009 – 2019), and she played a key role in moving mental health on to the Canadian federal agenda. 

Although she has been an experiential learner for most of her years, Constance successfully completed her Canadian Society Executive (CAE) education from the Canadian Society of Association Executives in 2008, and a Non-Profit Leadership Development Program Certificate from Brock University in 2018.  She has been a partner, co-author, and participant in numerous CIHR research projects since 1995. 


Katie Keays 


Katie is proud to have her roots firmly planted in Niagara Region. Born and raised here, Katie has lived experience navigating social services and the housing support system and brings this experiential knowledge to her work on the Board. Katie has an undergraduate degree in Psychology (2016) and a master’s degree in Social Justice and Equity Studies (2022) and considers herself an intersectional feminist and an ally to marginalized women, men, and gender-diverse people.  


Heather Salter


Called to the Bar 1990. B.E.S., University of Waterloo (1986); LL.B., Osgoode Hall (1988); M.P.A., University Western Ontario (2009). Former Director of Legal and Clerks Services and City Solicitor for the City of St. Catharines (2012-retired April 2022). Prior to joining the City, she was the Director of Legal and Legislative Services and Town Solicitor for the Town of Fort Erie (2007-2012) the Deputy City Solicitor for the City of Greater Sudbury (1993-2000). She has also worked as an Appeals Officer for the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and as an associate with the Etobicoke firm Reble, Ritchie, Laurent, Wright and Ketcheson. Member of the Ontario Bar Association and the International Municipal Lawyers Association. Outside of her professional role, Heather is married and the mother of two adulting children, and an avid modern quilter. She believes that a full and balanced life includes creative expression and lifelong learning.