The Emerging Leaders Council assists KidsAbility’s mission of empowering children and youth with special needs to
realize their full potential. Established by KidsAbility Foundation in 2020, it aims to engage a new generation of emerging
leaders and philanthropists to undertake an active role in fundraising and promote awareness of KidsAbility in new and innovative ways.
The Emerging Leaders Council provides individuals (aged 18-40) with opportunities to
engage with other peer leaders, while focusing on a mutual philanthropic
goal. It is a unique way for members to deepen their understanding and
connection to KidsAbility.
We celebrate, value and respect the strength, wisdom and insights that diversity brings. We actively welcome new members to the Emerging Leaders Council from diverse backgrounds, abilities and lived experiences. If you seek to make a difference in the lives of children and youth within Waterloo Region or Guelph-Wellington, please contact Sarah Witmer, Senior Development Manager – Leadership and Legacy Giving.
Emerging Leaders Council Members
Kristin is a Marketing Specialist with Waterloo company, eSentire, and a Social and Content Strategist for EdTech Startup YOURIKA/Orbits. She graduated from the Professional Communication Program at Ryerson University and was recognized for her strong academic achievement and co-curricular/extra-curricular involvement as the 2020 recipient of Ryerson's FCAD Gold Medal, the most prestigious faculty-wide award offered to graduating students. Kristen actively volunteered at the Children's Book Bank and ROAR Festival prior to turning her passions to volunteer at KidsAbility. In her spare time, she enjoys cycling, playing tennis, and spending time with friends and family.
Bio coming soon.
Leanne Hirabayashi is a Program Manager at Vidyard, founded and located in Kitchener-Waterloo. She holds a Bachelor of Administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University with a minor in Environmental Studies. It was through Laurier's business program that Leanne was first introduced to KidsAbility Foundation, as she worked alongside KidsAbility and other impact-focused organizations on consulting engagements. Inspired by the work and mission of this organization, Leanne was eager to get involved outside of the classroom. Apart from KidsAbility, Leanne also volunteers as the Chair of Vidyard's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. In addition to leading this committee, her responsibility is to support underrepresented groups and confront discrimination so that every employee feels comfortable being themselves at work.
Bryton Keyes is an Associate Investment Advisor at iA Private Wealth. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Waterloo with an MBA from the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University and retains the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation. He is excited to bring his passion for helping others achieve their goals by volunteering with the Emerging Leaders Council at KidsAbility Foundation. When not in the office, Bryton enjoys spending time with his amazing wife and two wonderful children.
Trent is an employee of Equitable Life of Canada in the Documentation Center, a position he has held for five years. Diagnosed at the age of four with a form of autism known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Trent brings his lived experience as an alumnus of KidsAbility's speech, physiotherapy and behavioural therapy programs to the Emerging Leaders Council with hopes that his involvement will bring awareness to how kids benefit from KidsAbility services and programs.
Kyle is a Portfolio Manager at TD Wealth Private Investment Counsel focused on serving the Waterloo Region. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree with a major in Finance from Griffith University and a Diploma in Financial Planning from Fanshawe College. As an employee of TD, Kyle has had the opportunity to work with KidsAbility and see the significant impact on services and support to children, youth and the broader community. He is excited to bring his perspectives and expertise to the KidsAbility Emerging Leaders Council. Kyle currently lives in Kitchener with his wife and enjoys golfing and spending time in Haliburton at their family cottage.
Keenan is a former journalism student and current Laurier communications and marketing major in his final year. As a young professional he has embarked on a career of advocacy and inclusion support for those with disabilities. This includes planning events, with organizations such as the Independent Living Center of Waterloo Region and providing customer support at KidsAbility. As a former client of KidsAbility, Keenan understands the importance of using his voice as an advocate for the disability community of the Waterloo Region. He has an immense passion for learning, writing, helping others and sharing stories. Upon finishing his degree, he hopes to engage with marketing strategies that focus on the representation and inclusion of people with disabilities. He is looking to bring energy and enthusiasm to this council.
Josie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Honors Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology from Western University. She began her volunteer journey with KidsAbility at the age of seven when she toured the Waterloo facility and instantly became inspired by the uplifting, “can do” environment. Ever since, she has remained involved with the organization, serving as a classroom and evening program volunteer, and as a committee member and fundraising advocate for various events. More recently, bringing together her passion for healthy cooking and supporting KidsAbility, she self-published a cookbook called Spilling the Greens – 100% of the cookbook profits are donated to KidsAbility. She is excited about this new opportunity to support the organization’s inspiring mission alongside other young leaders in her community.
Arden is pursuing a Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo and is in her final year of study. She works as a Product Designer in tech, specifically in cybersecurity and most recently in video. A passionate advocate for accessibility, universal design, and gender equity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), she volunteers regularly both inside and outside the university, as well as in her workplaces. You can find her hosting events and speaking on panels for the University of Waterloo’s Women In Engineering organization, as well as mentoring students who are interested in Engineering. She is excited to bring her knowledge of complex systems design to KidsAbility, as well as her passion for creating an equitable world. In her spare time, Arden likes to visit the library and read, as well as hike around local trails in Waterloo Region.