Kate Venn, Vice President of Human Resources and Risk Management
Bio: Joining the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka in 2012, Kate has over 20 years’ experience specializing in providing guidance and leadership to senior executives across a variety of industries.
Her broad experience includes recruitment, consulting, insurance, benefits, legislative compliance, performance management, employee relations, talent acquisition and management. She has experience in various industries including the technology, global market research and not-for-profit industries.
In her current role as Vice President of Human Resources and Risk Management for the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, Kate provides oversight to the strategic direction of the human resources function for a staff complement of over 1000 employees, volunteer management strategy for over 600 volunteers, and risk management practices for the association. Since 2012, Kate has represented the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka on a number of Y Canada "Canadian Urban Group" programs, including the national insurance program, national benefits program, employee engagement survey, and executive compensation review.
Kate earned her Honours B.A. in Canadian Studies, an M.A. in History and a Certificate in Public Administration from the University of Windsor. She later completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Resources Management from Georgian College and holds a Certified Human Resources Professional designation (CHRP) and Certified Human Resources Leader designation (CHRL) from the Human Resources Professional Association of Ontario.
Shirley Smith, Vice President of Finance and IT
Bio: Shirley brings over 26 years of experience in corporate finance, taxation and management. As Vice President of Finance for the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, Shirley oversees a broad range of departments including finance, accounting, payroll and other related corporate services. She has responsibility for budget, financial analysis, accounting, and tax functions, as well as financial operations, which includes procurement, accounts payable, and payroll. Shirley also plays a critical role in ensuring the integrity of the YMCA’s financial reporting and compliance functions.
Prior to joining the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka in 2009, Shirley spent over 18 years in the private sector at such organizations as PPG Canada Inc. and The Source by Circuit City where she managed the finance and accounting departments. Her areas of expertise include treasury, investment, budgeting, forecasting and planning. In 2003 Shirley decided to share her knowledge of the finance world by teaching accounting courses at Georgian College and CMA Ontario.
Dedicated to her community, Shirley currently volunteers at Barrie Out of The Cold. She holds numerous industry designations including Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Certified Professional Accountant (CPA). Shirley earned her Bachelor of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo.
Brian Shelley, Vice President of Philanthropy, Brand & Community Development
Bio: Brian Shelley is Vice President of Philanthropy, Brand and Community Development. In this role, Brian leads the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka’s stakeholder strategy—including all corporate giving, community relations and sustainability efforts and has strategic oversight and accountability for communications, marketing and branding initiatives. Brian also provides oversight and support to all YMCA Government-funded programs and the Y's Leadership Development Certificate Program in partnership with Lakehead University.
Prior to this role, Brian provided leadership to the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka’s Camping and Conferencing Departments. As a leader within the Y community, Brian currently chairs the YMCA Ontario Employment/Immigrant Services Steering Committee. Brian also represents the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka as Co-Chair of the Simcoe County Coalition of Children, Youth and Family Services and has provided leadership to the YMCA’s Youth Engagement movement. Brian is passionate about giving a voice to young people and has been asked to speak locally, nationally and internationally on the youth engagement development that the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka has achieved through its strategic plan.
Before joining the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, Brian held leadership roles at the YMCA of Western Ontario and the YMCA of Kingston.
Brian holds an Honours B.A. in English Literature and History from Queen’s University. He is active in the community and has worked in a voluntary capacity for numerous non-profit organizations including Barrie East End Social, North Simcoe Victim Services, Sharing Place Food Bank and Ontario Camps Association.
Karen Pulla, Vice President of Health, Fitness & Aquatics
Bio: As Vice President of Health, Fitness and Community Recreation for the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, Karen has worked over the past five years to provide leadership for the eight health, fitness and aquatics facilities, which includes overseeing operating agreements with three municipalities, improving member satisfaction and program quality assurance.
Over the past 29 years Karen has been in senior YMCA leadership positions at the YMCA of St. Catharines and the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka. A Y member all of her life, Karen joined the YMCA of St. Catharines in 1987 and worked in child care as a Regional Manager for community school age operations. Karen’s strategic leadership then led her to the Barrie YMCA where she helped grow the department to over 55 child care centres and 350 staff over the next 20 years. During that timeframe, Karen provided leadership and managed change for the amalgamation of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka in the areas of child care, family development, employment, literacy, immigrant services, conference services, human resources, as well as day and overnight camping.
Karen has taken part in a number of YMCA certifications, training and development programs. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Child Psychology from Brock University and has represented the YMCA extensively on a number of committees in the region including most recently, the Georgian College Recreation, Fitness and Sports Admin Advisory Committee,and community health teams.
Karen continues to lend her expertise on YMCA committees across Ontario
as well as Nationally through the Y Federation.
David Grass, Vice President of Facility Development & Asset Management
Bio: David has over 35 years of experience as a Y professional, volunteer and member. In his current role as Vice President of Facility Development, David provides project oversight on major capital and planning projects for the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka. David also provides leadership and support to the staff at YMCA Geneva Park. The "Park", as it is affectionately known, is located on 150 acres on Lake Couchiching and has an over 100 year tradition of leadership development.
David’s first experience with the YMCA was in the late 1950’s as a member of the Boys Club at the Central YMCA in Toronto. After a brief career in marketing, David joined the staff of the YMCA of Toronto in 1979.
From 1981 to 1991, David managed the growth of programs in the Scarborough and east Don River community. Concurrently, David was a project member of the facility development team that provided leadership to the creation and building of the Scarborough YMCA with a construction value of over $12.5 million.
In 2005, David joined the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka and has led and managed countless projects including improving YMCA Geneva Park, renovating the Midland YMCA, and overseeing the creation of the operating agreements with local municipalities, which consequently led to the construction and opening of the new Wasaga Beach YMCA in 2006 and the Innisfil YMCA in 2008.
David holds a Business Degree from Ryerson University and a Civil Technology Certificate from Seneca College.
Fiona Cascagnette, Vice President of Children & Youth Development
Bio: Fiona has over 25 years of leadership experience at the YMCA. In her current role as Vice President of Child and Youth Development, Fiona is responsible for the operation of over 70 licensed child care centres, eight day camp locations and one overnight camp.
Fiona began her career at the Burlington YMCA in 1990 as a camp counsellor and lifeguard. She has since held leadership positions in the areas of health, fitness and aquatics, community services and leadership development at the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka.
Fiona is a member of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka’s Not-for-Profit Professional Development Certificate Program faculty. Her speaking and coaching expertise are regularly sought out by YMCA’s across Canada as well as other community organizations.
Fiona volunteers as a Director with the Huronia Community Foundation and is actively involved in the Huronia community. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Commerce with Sports Administration from Laurentian University.
Rob Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer
Bio: A 36-year career at the YMCA, Rob currently holds the position of President and CEO of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, focusing on investing in communities, ensuring all people have access to the Y and implementing programs that are helping thousands of youth and families to learn and thrive.
Prior to joining the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka in 2011, Rob held senior leadership positions at the YMCA of Edmonton, YMCA of Owen Sound, YMCA of Cambridge and most recently at YMCA Ontario where he held the position of Senior Vice President and provided counsel to 24 independent YMCA associations across Ontario. Under Rob’s leadership, the YMCA Ontario team provided training and support in the areas of province-wide initiatives, board governance, strategic planning, crisis management, and government relations.
Since coming to Simcoe/Muskoka, Rob has taken an active leadership role in the Child, Youth and Family Services Coalition of Simcoe County and Barrie’s Pathways to end homelessness. He served on a number of boards including local Community Foundations, Affordable Housing, Parks and Recreation Ontario and the Minister of Health Promotions Health Advisory Committee.
Rob holds an Honours degree in Physical and Health Education from Queen’s University and has since augmented his education with advanced courses from the Harvard Business School of Entrepreneurship, Ivy School of Business and Queen’s University Executive Education Program.