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.
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.
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.
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.
Catherine has been a proud Hamiltonian for 25 years and currently is the Director of Security for Mohawk College. Catherine has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Lake Superior State University and is continuing her education in the area of Emergency Management. Catherine has been a support volunteer for CityKidz Saturday programs for the past several years and is excited to share her leadership abilities as part of the Board of Directors to further support the mission of the organization.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 has spent over 25 years in the HR Consulting staffing industry field serving the Hamilton and Brantford markets. In this role she makes a difference in people’s lives by providing them with job opportunities and providing companies in these markets with the talent they need to grow their businesses. She is a strong believer in investing in people and the communities where she lives and works. She has chaired the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Committee, served as a Team Captain for CityKidz, and provided support on CityKidz HR committee. Rachel is very passionate about reaching out and making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable children in our city and is excited to focus her skills and experience in furthering the mission at CityKidz.
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.
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Inspire Big Dreams
Help us build strong foundations of faith, hope and love into children’s lives and watch them thrive.