Denise was born and raised in Toronto and enjoyed her 20-year corporate career there as a Director for Loblaw Companies Limited, developing President Choice products. She has a daughter, Kyra, whom she adopted from Romania, and now a wonderful grandson, Cameron.
After her tenure at Loblaws, Denise and her daughter moved to Southern Georgian Bay to enjoy the rural lifestyle. She ran her own business, still developing private label food products but for retailers in the US, secured her license as a mortgage agent to help self-employed businesses secure mortgage financing, and owned and operated a Bed & Breakfast, Serenity in the Beach. Volunteering much of her time with The Wasaga Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Women’s Business Association, being active on both boards, is when she realized just how much she enjoyed working with and supporting businesses in the community.
Then almost 5 years ago, an opportunity presented itself in the Niagara Region so Denise and her family moved here. “It was a very good decision to move to and work in West Niagara and I truly love the communities here and what each one has to offer. It’s a wonderful place to work and raise a family”.
Her passion for helping others and community businesses, plus her experience gained over the years and most recently from working with the Lincoln and Grimsby Chambers of Commerce, compliment Denise’s desire to be our Office Manager here at our West Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. “If I can do anything at all to help support your business, I’d be happy to. Just reach out to me here at the chamber!”
Rob Wood – Rob Wood Home Inspections
New to the Niagara Region in 2013, Rob has quickly become an engaged and committed community leader. He has a long history as a volunteer, from his 20+ years as a youth coach in hockey, basketball, baseball, and soccer, to helping out at Interim Place in Brampton & Mississauga, and assisting where needed at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Mississauga.
Since moving to a rural property outside of Smithville, Rob lends his hand as a volunteer at West Lincoln Community Care, where he continues to fix “previously loved” furniture for resale and makes weekly food pick-ups from local grocery donors on behalf of the Food Bank. And, with his usual creative flair, Rob gained notoriety for the decorated “chicken” he entered in the Smithville Poultryfest’s Corporate Chicken Challenge in 2014. Affectionately known as “Peck”, Rob’s chicken, while not judged in the top 3, was nevertheless a standout, if only because it was the only chicken entered that sported neon pink and orange feathers and shark’s teeth.
Rob’s dedication to his business as a Home Inspector lead him to become a member of the West Lincoln Chamber of Commerce. His integrity, work ethic, energy, and common sense approach to projects spearheaded by the Chamber quickly resulted in his becoming a valued member of the Board. Rob became Vice President, and subsequently President, in 2016. He is excited about the future of business in West Lincoln and the Niagara Region and will bring his leadership skills and vision to ensure that the West Lincoln Chamber of Commerce is an integral partner with local businesses, for their promotion and growth for years to come.
Paul Robertson – Employment Help Centre
Paul joined the family of the Employment Help Centre in 2017 and became a Board member with the West Lincoln Chamber of Commerce in 2018. In his short tenure working in West Lincoln, Paul has grown to adore the great community of West Lincoln and wants to assist in the current growth and advancement of the community in any way possible.
Paul is a graduate of Mohawk College where he obtained his diploma in Social Service Work. Prior to his pursuit of a career in Social Services, he was a commercial insurance broker in the Hamilton and Burlington areas for 10 years. His time as an insurance broker coupled with his schooling has allowed him to develop a deep understanding of the local economy as well as the varying challenges faced by employers and job seekers.
As a Job Developer, Paul strives to assist individuals to find a job they can be passionate about. As a board member, Paul hopes to continue building and fostering relationships with local employers, business leaders and the community alike.
Paul lives in Hamilton with his wife Georgia and step-daughter Gwyneth. He also contributes his time as a youth basketball coach and Vice President of a local basketball club.
Lou Stranges – Stranges & Associates
Marlene Bergsma – Smithville Christian High School
Marlene Bergsma is passionate about building community and about telling good stories. After more than 25 years as municipal affairs reporter at the St. Catharines Standard, she is now pleased to be telling the amazing stories of Smithville Christian High School and helping to build a vibrant community in West Lincoln. In her spare time, she hikes, paddles, reads, writes and knits, and is pursuing her Master of Communications Management degree at McMaster University. She cares about faith, community, equality, inclusion, the environment, and good food. She is married to an IT professional and is the inordinately proud mother of three students in various stages of their post-secondary careers – in physics, wine, and anthropology.
Wilma DeHaan – Smithville Christian High School
Alejandra Wichartz – Deliveries Unlimited
Alejandra is the founder and CEO of Calibrator Coaching & Consulting; a company inspired by her passion for helping organizations create the organizational culture and people-capability required to achieve their goals. She also provides support to the family business, Deliveries Unlimited, a printing and flyer distribution company that has served Niagara for more than 30 years.
Alejandra has held various roles at Brock University and Randstad Canada, and she has been consulting since 2017. Her experience includes organizational development, talent attraction, training and development, business and partnership development, strategic planning, community engagement, and government relations. In each of her roles, the fundamental purpose has always been the linkage of individuals to the knowledge, skills, resources, and opportunities they need in order to thrive.
Outside of the office, Alejandra is the vice-chair of the Town of Grimsby’s Economic Development Advisory Committee and sits on the board of directors for both the West Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, and the Employment Help Centre of West Niagara. The proud mama of two is navigating parenthood with a focus on raising daughters that are confident, independent, and simply take no guff. She has also run a few marathons and has recently taken up cycling – although she can’t bring herself to trying those clip in shoes just yet.
Jennifer Ahlstedt – Brant Mutual Insurance
Jennifer was born and raised on a family dairy farm in Cayuga. Growing up and working on the farm you learned you could never predict the day that was ahead of you. Farming is a way of life that is centered on hard work, patience and dedication. As a farmer you do not work until the sun goes down; you work until the job gets done. Jennifer stands by these work ethics today to service and care for her customers. Jennifer enjoyed participating in 4-H, showing her families dairy cattle and competing with her horses.
With over 15 year’s experience in the insurance industry, Jennifer has become one of the top Insurance Account Executives at Brant Mutual Insurance for the greater Niagara and Hamilton area. Jennifer has a long record of success building long-term relationships with her customers and their operations, so that they purchase a custom insurance policy that is tailored to their insurance needs when unforeseeable tragedies happens to their investments.
Jennifer now lives in West Lincoln with her family and is an enthusiastic member and volunteer in the community. Jennifer and her husband are proud active charted members of Kiwanis West Lincoln. Jennifer enjoys competing with her horses, participating in agricultural events and spending valued time with her family.
Melissa Vanderbrink – CIBC