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All locations of the MFRC will be closed from Saturday July 1-4, re-opening July 5. We are still available via our 24 Hour Information Line at 250-363-2640 (toll free: 1-800-353-3329).

Board Member Bios

Learn more about our board of directors and what they bring to the MFRC.

Samantha Krzywonos

Samantha is a Central Development Officer with the University of Victoria and a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She has been working in the fundraising and communications sector since completing the UVic Public Relations program in 2004. She previously spent ten years in the Canadian Navy as a Naval Combat Information Operator serving on the HMCS Vancouver and HMCS Protecteur. Samantha has mainly lived in Victoria for 18 years and enjoys contributing her skills to local charitable causes in event planning, communications and building community relationships. An active volunteer with the MFRC since completing her service, and four years on the Board, she feels it’s a great privilege to serve military families with the Esquimalt MFRC. Samantha and her husband (an AESOP Warrant Officer with 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron) enjoy spending time outdoors on their Saanich Peninsula acreage with their very active young son.

Phil Cady

Phil Cady is the President of Cognitive Leadership Strategies West (CLSWEST) and founding partner of the LEADS Learning scholar practitioner network. He is an Associate Faculty member in the Master of Arts in Leadership (Classic and Healthcare Specializations) and MBA programs at Royal Roads University, and the Conference Board of Canada’s Director’s College. Phil also serves on several organizational boards and frequently volunteers his services to non-profit and social-mission-driven organizations. He is an active Doctor of Social Sciences student at RRU and is studying and researching in the area of complexity science and social systems leadership in a healthcare context. Phil has brought leadership and learning opportunities to organizations of all sizes and complexity from across the world. His passion for studying, designing, and facilitating whole systems transformation has afforded him many incredible opportunities to study and provide consultation on system leadership and strategy formulation for many private and public organizations. He has observed and coached over 500 teams in simulation and workplace settings, designed, delivered and managed leadership development programs and online leadership assessment tools for private and public companies alike. Phil lives in beautiful North Saanich on Vancouver Island where he also enjoys a busy family life with his spouse, Cindy, and three young children aged eight and under.

Kathy Cook

Kathy Cook has been a military spouse for over 24 years. She is employed as a paralegal and has worked primarily in family law since 1991. Kathy and her husband have two children (22 and 17) who were involved in competitive sports for many years. Her husband coached field lacrosse for 10 years as well, so by default she too became involved. Kathy managed his teams for 10 years and held executive positions in field and box lacrosse at the local, regional and provincial level. She was a tournament coordinator for four provincial and two national lacrosse tournaments and was the Zone Coordinator for field lacrosse at the BC Summer Games in 2008 and 2010. She also sat on the executive for the Island Hoppers Precision Jump Rope team for three years. Volunteering is important to Kathy and she likes to stay connected in some way to the community. Being a part of the MFRC Board will allow her to continue to do that and assist military families at the same time.

Nick Withers

Nick is an emergency room physician with Island Health and Medical Director for 24/7 Occupational & Emergency Medicine Solutions. He received his MD from Memorial University and completed his Family Medicine training at the University of Calgary. He retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in August of 2015 after completing a 22-year career within the Health Services Group. His military career brought his family from coast to coast and beyond, serving in Winnipeg, Goose Bay, Ottawa, Comox, Geilenkirchen, and finishing in Esquimalt. Career highlights include being the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command Surgeon as well as commanding the Health Services Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2011. Prior to retirement from the position of Pacific Regional Surgeon, Dr. Withers was instrumental in the revitalization of the Maritime Forces Pacific Health & Wellness Strategy. His broad experience in the delivery of health care in the both the military and civilian sectors provide a unique perspective of the challenges facing military families as they move across the country. Dr. Withers is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of British Columbia. In addition, he is a member of the Victoria Division of Family Practice and has a keen interest on improving military family access to primary care in the Victoria area. He is married to an exceptionally supportive wife Heather who is also employed in the health care sector as a Public Health Nurse. They are the proud parents of three delightful and energetic children.

Pierre Berube

Pierre is a retired officer who served for 35 years in the Canadian Armed Forces.  In addition to his operational experience, he possesses a wealth of experience in military personnel policy development.  Pierre and his family lived military life to the fullest, with all of its challenges, during numerous assignments that included two overseas postings and a NORAD assignment in the U.S.A.  He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, deploying for six months in 2006.  Pierre is fully bilingual and works easily in both of Canada’s official languages.  He and his wife Terri, who is employed as a DND public servant here in Victoria, have two grown sons, both proudly serving in Canada’s military.  Together with Terri, Pierre enjoys sailing and is also an active volunteer with the Canadian Forces Sailing Association (CFSA) Esquimalt Squadron.

Catherine Williamson

Catherine is a Registered Nurse currently working in the Pediatric Department at the Victoria General Hospital. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Dalhousie University in Halifax NS, where she met her husband Shawn, who is an Air Combat Systems Officer at 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron. Catherine previously worked in two Pediatric Trauma Centers as an ER Nurse and admires children and youth for their endless energy, creativity, ability to negotiate and resiliency. She loves working with children and believes that military children have the potential to be leaders in all of these areas. Having moved several times, she has had many experiences working with youth all across the country. She has had many ups and downs with relocating, changing jobs, assisting her children establish themselves in new schools, on hockey teams, climbing gyms, etc.  She is intimately connected to and aware of the unique challenges that military families encounter when duty calls. The Military Family is an honorable term that for Catherine conjures up images of support, dedication and sacrifice. During her dealings with postings and operational deployments, she has been an active volunteer in her children’s schools, for minor hockey associations, and has recently joined the Esquimalt MFRC Board of Directors where she looks forward to giving back to the Military Community.

Emily Zhong

Emily is a military spouse and mother of two energetic young daughters. She acquired a Diploma in Business Administration at the University of Victoria and graduated from Royal Roads University with a Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies in 2015. Emily is currently working as a Civilian Employee at DND. Previously, she has assisted over five hundred refugees and immigrants in their career transition through her 8 years at the Victoria Immigrant & Refugee Centre Society. Emily has been part of the military community since her oldest daughter started at the MFRC daycare when she was one and a half years old. While pregnant with their second daughter and with her military husband on course in Winnipeg and Gagetown for most of a year, the MFRC provided much needed support. Emily and her family love the island lifestyle. She enjoys being active in her community by volunteering at a variety of organizations and events. For the last 3 years she has supported the Esquimalt MFRC in various volunteering opportunities.  She believes that resilience and maintaining a positive attitude can help a military family through even the toughest time. The military community is important to Emily, and by joining the MFRC Board, it will allow her to bring her non-profit organization management and operational skills, as well her community connection.

Leta Young

Leta Young is currently an employee with the Vancouver Island Health Authority where she works as a Patient Care Quality Officer.  In this role she is responsible for working with a wide range of stakeholders to help patients and their families find resolution to any concerns they may have with the quality of care that has been delivered by the Health Authority.  In addition to her work at the Health Authority, Leta also has 8 years of banking experience working at Coast Capital Savings and has also worked for the Department of National Defence doing policy and procurement work at Base Logistics.  Her formal education includes a Bachelor of Commerce and an MA in Dispute Resolution.  Leta’s volunteer history includes coordinating volunteer teams of 15 -20 people annually at Operation Track Shoes for the past 6 years, holding an Executive Member position on the University of Victoria Commerce Student Society, and coordinating and planning multiple formal banquets and networking events for upwards of 200 attendees for the students of the Gustavson School of Business. Leta has a partner in the Navy, her first-hand knowledge of the military family lifestyle will be a great asset on the Board of Directors for Esquimalt MFRC.

CPO1 Gino Spinelli

Chief Petty Officer Robert (Gino) Spinelli joined the Royal Canadian Navy in February 1984 as a Boatswain. He has sailed in nine major warships and has completed four operations overseas. Operation TOUCAN (East Timor) in 1999/2000 with HMCS PROTECTEUR, Operation APOLLO (Arabian Gulf region) in 2002/2003 with HMCS WINNIPEG and Operations MOBILE and ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR (Libya/Mediterranean Sea) in 2011/2012 with HMCS VANCOUVER. He was promoted to his current rank of Chief Petty Officer first class in March 2008 and was posted to FMF CAPE BRETON as the Unit Chief. As far as his land postings/courses go he has attended several trade courses over the years both in Halifax and Esquimalt. He was posted to CFB Esquimalt in 1996, where he took on the duties as Skipper STV GOLDCREST. He was posted to FMF CAPE BRETON in 2003 to take on the role as Certification Officer for a 3 year stint. After that rewarding posting he was posted to Sea Training Pacific and in 2008 was posted to CFFSE Seamanship Division as the Division Chief. In July 2015, he started his new job as CFB Esquimalt Base Chief. He is a resident of Saanich BC and is married to Melanie. He has two daughters who presently live in Langley BC and one who lives Sydney Australia. He has 3 grandchildren who live in Langley BC and one who lives in Sydney Australia. In his spare time he enjoys riding his Harley, playing golf, tennis, baseball etc and outside carpentry work.

CPO1 Derek Kitching

CPO1 Derek Kitching grew up in Sudbury, Ontario and, in June 1988, he joined the Navy as a Marine Engineer Technician. After completing recruit training he spent his first three years in the Navy attending college St. Lawrence College in Cornwall Ontario under the Marine Engineering Technologist Training Program (METTP). In 1991, after successfully completing METTP, Derek was posted to Esquimalt were he would spend the next fifteen sailing on west coast ships including HMCS YUKON, CALGARY, OTTAWA, VANCOUVER and REGINA. After completing his tour as the Chief Engineer on HMCS REGINA, Derek and his family were posted to the city of Ottawa as the Deputy Project Manager for HMCS WINDSOR’s Refit in the Director Maritime Equipment Program Management (Submarines). In the summer of 2011, Derek was appointed as COXN of HMCS CALGARY and in 2012 was appointed as COXN of HMCS REGINA and deployed on Operation ARTIMIS. Upon his return in 2013, Derek attended a yearlong French Course. While attending this course, he was invested into the Order of Military Merit. In 2014, Derek was posted to Personnel Coordination Centre (PCC) as its Unit Chief and was appointed as Fleet Chief in July 2016. Derek, along with his lovely wife Laura, two children, Devon and Paige and when there’s food involved, faithful greyhound, share a house in beautiful Langford, BC.

CPO1 Gilles Grégoire

Chief Petty Officer Grégoire enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces on the 1st of November 1986 as Naval Weapons Technician. He served at sea in HMCS TERRA NOVA, YUKON, MACKENZIE, ANNAPOLIS, FRASER, HALIFAX, VILLE DE QUÉBEC, ST JOHN’S, TORONTO and Sea Training Atlantic. During his sea time, he has conducted the following operational deployments: Op FORWARD ACTION, Op SHARPGUARD, Op APOLLO, Op UNISON and Op REASSURANCE. In his shore posting, he served extensively at the Canadian Forces Naval Engineering School in such duties as Halifax Class equipment instructor, Halifax Class Senior instructor, Naval Weapon Technician course scheduler and as the Naval Weapons Training Chief. Additionally, he also served as a Special Projects Technician at Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare Centre (Halifax) and as the Deputy Parade Chief for the Consecration of the Queen’s Colors on the 27 th June 2009. Chief Petty Officer Grégoire became a member of the Order of Military Merit in 2009. He is a graduate of the NCM Executive Professional Development Program at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston earning a Certificate of Military studies in 2013. He assumed his first appointment as Coxswain of HMCS ST-JOHN’S in June of 2013 and was able to support the Replace in Position (RIP) to help sustain HMCS TORONTO in OP ARTEMIS. In April of 2014, Chief Grégoire was appointed as Coxswain of HMCS TORONTO where he carried out his last major deployment in support of our NATO allies as part of Op REASSURANCE measures. As of July 2015, Chief Petty Officer Grégoire has been appointed as the CWO of the Chief of Force Development organization which is responsible for developing future capabilities required to produce strategically relevant, operationally responsive, and a tactically decisive military forces. CPO1 Grégoire assumed his current appointment as Formation Chief Maritime Forces Pacific in September 2016.

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