Our Founder & Board of Directors

CityKidz was founded on a big dream to see a future free of child poverty; a future where all children have equal opportunity to thrive and achieve their full potential.

Though CityKidz has grown and changed since its founding in 1993, our mission to serve vulnerable children and their families has never wavered, nor have the values guiding us on this winding journey. Through faith, hope, love, and the wisdom of our leadership team, we strive to transform lives and end child poverty, one child at a time.

Rev. Todd Bender

Meet Rev. Todd Bender

Founder & Executive Director

Inspired to be a force of love and stability for the most vulnerable children, Todd moved to Hamilton in 1991 in search of a way to live out this calling.

He began working as a children’s pastor organizing games, activities and events and building a rapport with local children from the low-income neighbourhoods his church served.

These sporadic kids’ events gradually developed into a Saturday drop-in program that would, with the help of volunteers, supporters, staff and board or directors, grow and develop into the CityKidz programs we have today.

Todd is an ordained minister with Global Christian Ministry Forum. He is currently pursuing his MBA while he continues to lead the CityKidz team with grace, humility, and a relentless determination to see all children thrive.

Rev. Todd Bender

Meet our Board

Our Board of Directors bring insight, passion, and a wealth of knowledge to their role as stewards of CityKidz mission. In addition to guiding our national vision, they also provide oversight and direction to CityKidz’ Ottawa and Regina branches.

Join Our Board!

Help us transform Canada one child at a time.

David Marks


David is a partner at the Hamilton accountant firm KPMG and has over 20 years of experience serving a wide variety of clients. David is proud and honoured to be able to return to the CityKidz Board of Directors after previously serving from 2009 to 2016. He brings to the Board leadership skills, critical thinking, and valuable past CityKidz experience.

Sera Filice-Armenio


Sera is a business and community leader. As President & CEO of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation Hamilton and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation Guelph, she is responsible for providing leadership to the diverse fundraising, donor relations, and communications portfolios of both Foundations. Sera is a Past President of the Hamilton Gallery of Distinction and Vice Chair of the Board for Today’s Family Early Learning and Childcare. Sera is honoured to join the CityKidz Board and to share her skills and expertise to further the organization’s mission.

Laura Gillespie


Laura Gillespie is a Chartered Professional Accountant with almost 20 years’ business experience. While initially focusing her career on both personal and corporate income taxes at a national accounting firm, she is currently a local business owner. Laura is passionate about the Hamilton community. She is looking forward to both sharing her knowledge and learning from the Board to help us carry out our mission.

Richard Bialachowski


Richard is a retired lawyer and former Deputy Judge of the Hamilton Small Claims Court. A veteran of the Canadian Forces, Richard is now actively involved in the community including participating as a board member on various non-profit organizations. He is a past President of the Rotary Club of Stoney Creek and a past Chair of the Hamilton Branch of St. John Ambulance. From 2005 to 2018, Richard was the pro bono legal counsel to CityKidz.

Philip Dehm


A graduate of McGill University’s Faculty of Law, Philip has been practicing family law in the Hamilton area since 2016 and lives here with his wife and two daughters. Philip sits as a member of the Stewards Committee of the Hamilton Boldness Project and, over the years, has proven himself a skilled and passionate advocate for the people who call Hamilton home.

Jennifer Liscombe


Jennifer was born and raised in Hamilton and for more than 17 years has worked for the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton. She’s a hope bringer and has been a Saturday volunteer with CityKidz for over a decade. Jennifer is also a Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructor and looks forward to continuing our mission of building resilience in families – one child at a time.

Santo Pasqua


As the Deputy Chief of the Hamilton Paramedic Service, Santo is responsible for paramedic performance and development, ambulance service operations and regulatory compliance. He has been involved in numerous community fundraising events such as food drives and taking part in Emergency Services Cook Offs for St Joseph’s Hospital. Santo is honoured to join the CityKidz Board to further support the mission of the organization.

Rachel Buesink


Rachel has spent over 25 years in the HR Consulting staffing industry field. In this role, she connects people with job opportunities and provides  employers with the talent they need. She is a strong believer in investing in people and the community where she lives and works. She has chaired the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Committee, served as a Team Captain for CityKidz, and on CityKidz' HR committee. Rachel is  passionate about supporting the most vulnerable children in our city and using her skills and experience to advance the mission of CityKidz.

Denise Minardi


Denise is an educator with 30 years of experience working with children and supporting diverse school communities.  She was a school administrator from 2007-2022 with the HWDSB.  Denise has been a supporter of CityKidz for 10 years and is delighted to join the CityKidz Team as a member of the Board of Directors. She is dedicated to improving children's opportunities and outcomes and believes that every child deserves a champion. She is an active volunteer, sponsor, and member of several Hamilton organizations including the Hamilton Foundation for Student Success, Hamilton Food Share, Food4Kids, the Strathcona Community Council, ADK Psi Hamilton and local School Councils.  Denise is committed to helping realize the CityKidz mission of increasing resiliency and inspiring big dreams for Hamilton children.

Louise MacRae


Louise was born and raised in the Hamilton Area, but she started her career in nursing in the Northwest Territories. After an amazing experience in Canada’s North, Louise and her family moved back to Hamilton where she joined the leadership team of Hamilton Health Sciences in 2001. Louise is currently the Director of Neuroscience and Medicine, facilitating Health system integration across multiple programs. Louise started volunteering as a bus driver for CityKidz in 2017 and has been blessed by the opportunity to welcome children onto the big red bus on Saturday mornings.  Louise is excited to be a part of the CityKidz' Board of Directors to help further the mission of inspirational experiences and positive personal relationships. She has seen first hand, the impact CityKidz has on fostering positive outcomes for vulnerable youth in our city.   

Wendy Sherren


Wendy joined the Board of Directors after retiring from more than four decades of work, including almost 20 years in the private college sector in both Vancouver and the GTA. She brings significant non-profit experience as a past president of The Children’s Aid Foundation of Halton, a Big Sister, a former Rotarian and a District Manager with The Canadian Federation of Independent Business for more than 6 years. Children’s charities, where she can support individuals and organizations in achieving their goals, have always been her focus. Wendy completed an MBA at Athabasca University in 2009 as well as the McMaster/United Way Governance Course. She also volunteers as a Tutor with The Hamilton Literacy Council where she helps individuals with low literacy improve their reading and writing skills so they can more fully participate in life.


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