Our Team & Board
The Phelps Helps staff is comprised of university graduates with degrees and training in education, psychology, public health and literature. Our team is passionate about their work and each member brings a personal understanding of the specific challenges facing the local youth.
A native to the Eastern Townships, Katie returned to live in Stanstead in 2011 after completing her Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa and teaching internationally for 5 years. A self-proclaimed non-traditional educator, Katie jumped at the chance to develop an alternative approach to support student success in the Stanstead area. Katie has been instrumental in the growth of Phelps but believes that the driving force behind Phelps' rapid growth is its dynamic and innovative team. Always community minded, Katie's goal is to continue to offer programs that help foster strong partnerships between schools, community resources, and local employers and families. "Only by working together can we help our youth overcome today's barriers to education and employment".
DIRECTOR OF ADVANCEMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS
Sophie was born and raised in the United Kingdom. She moved to Canada in 2008 and her family made Stanstead their home in the summer of 2019 and has embraced being an active member of the community. As a Marketing Management and French BA graduate from Oxford Brookes University in the UK, Sophie has a particular interest in marketing for the non-profit world which has served her well in her role as Advancement and Communications Director. “I really value the exchange of knowledge with my exceptional colleagues at Phelps and I am proud to have the opportunity to make a difference to the young people in the community”.
Elizabeth moved to the Eastern Townships in 2011 to pursue post-secondary studies at Champlain College Lennoxville and immediately fell in love with the area. After completing her DEC at Champlain, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at Bishop’s University and a DEP in Production Animale: Laitière from the CFP de Coaticook. Elizabeth joined the Phelps Helps team in June of 2018 and is currently the High School Program Coordinator. “I enjoy helping students navigate the available opportunities and resources and providing them with the support I wish I had as a student.”
Geneviève is originally from the South Shore of Montreal, but the Eastern Townships has always had a special place in her heart. Spending summers here with her family since she was a young girl, Geneviève decided to make Stanstead her home in 2015. In 2017, Geneviève began as a dedicated Phelps en français volunteer tutor and fell in love with the organization. In April 2018, she joined the Phelps’ team as a Programs Assistant. She is now in charge of our elementary programs. ‘’I believe that Phelps is a wonderful organization where every little gesture can make a big difference and I feel lucky to be a part of it’’.
HIGH SCHOOL COORDINATOR
Jessica is an Ayer’s Cliff native, with roots in Stanstead, Graniteville and Ogden. She holds a Bachelor of Education degree from Bishop’s University, and a Graduate Diploma in Communication Studies from Concordia University. Equipped with teaching and previous community service experience, Jessica is a great fit to the Phelps team. Aside from a six year stint in Montreal, her heart has always remained at home in the Townships. As a proud, self-proclaimed “townie,” the High School Coordinator is familiar with the local area and its citizens, offering a familiar, friendly face to her new role. Upon returning home in 2015, Jessica says “I had an idea of the organization’s purpose, but it wasn’t until joining the Phelps family that I realized just how important and invaluable it is to our local students and to the community as a whole. This is exactly the place I want to contribute my time and energy to.”
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM ASSISTANT
Originally from the Eastern Townships, Tanya returned to her childhood community ten years ago after having spent time in Montreal and Ontario. She completed a BA in Canadian Studies with a focus on Environmental Programs at Trent University, and has cultivated a passion for writing and research. Her background includes working for environmental and women's employment non-profits, as well as in various administrative-focused roles. She also worked as a research assistant for Louise Abbott, Quebec writer and film maker, on many of her Townships-centered books and projects. Tanya began as an Educational Program Assistant in our High School Program in 2022. She also dedicates time to tutoring students at Stanstead College, and manages the beautiful gardens at the Colby-Curtis Museum. Tanya believes that Stanstead is a community with immense potential, and she feels privileged to contribute the transformative work Phelps is undertaking, supporting the youth in the community of their road to their best selves. “Joining the Phelps team has been a breath of fresh air; their innovative approach and dedication to the youth of the community resonate with my values.”
ELEMENTARY PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Josiane, a native of the Montreal North Shore, chose to move to Stanstead in 2007, to start a family. Involved in her community, she is always looking for new projects to help others. After many years of volunteering almost everywhere in town, she took the plunge in 2021, and joined the Phelps team as an assistant in the educational program, and in 2023 took over as the Elementary Program Coordinator. ‘’I am happy to work with an organization representing all that I have believed in for a number of years - that every child can dream bigger for his or her future - if we give them opportunities."
YOUTH CLUB COORDINATOR
Kaïsha grew up in Stanstead and began coming to Phelps in level 2 while attending Alexander Galt. She is now pursuing a degree in Elementary Education at Bishop's University in order to become a teacher. In 2022 Kaïsha got the opportunity to be our summer student and got the chance to plan the summer camp. She is now the Phelps Youth Club des Jeunes coordinator and dedicates her Friday nights to providing fun activities for the teens! Kaïsha dreams of one day creating a program like Phelps, wherever she may end up in order to help out other students.
“I am happy to be able to give back to the community I grew up in”.
COMPASS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Sarah began her schooling in Waskaganish, in Northern Quebec, and fell in love with the Townships while studying at Stanstead College. With a Bachelor of Arts in Education from McGill University, she has had a varied career with the Cree School Board as a teacher, consultant, Vice-Principal and Principal. She has taught at the Learning Centre at Alexander Galt, and spent a year teaching at North Hatley Elementary School. In 2021, she accepted the position of Registrar and Manager of Academic Organization at Champlain College – Lennoxville, which she held until she started at Phelps Helps in March 2023. In her role as Compass Program Coordinator, Sarah works with youth ages 12 to 35 to achieve their education and career goals.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH COORDINATOR
Growing up in both Stanstead and Northern Ontario, Kristy eventually settled in the Townships, where she truly feels at home. Her journey led her to a specialization as a Behavioural Technician and she has accumulated more than fifteen years of community and program development experience, complemented by a strong understanding of the non-profit sector. Townshipper unity never fails to inspire her, as locals stand together in remarkable ways. Now, stepping into the role of Community Outreach Coordinator, she is eager to fortify the ties between this remarkable community and the invaluable network of Phelps Helps. "I love collaborating to cultivate even deeper connections and further enrich the fabric of support woven throughout the Townships, with the goal of supporting or deserving youth!" Kristy loves being outdoors with her family, hiking, gardening and enjoying nature in all seasons and weather!
Heather Stratton grew up in Stanstead and began her schooling at Sunnyside Elementary where she has been the school secretary since 2010. Heather also went to Alexander Galt Regional High School and Champlain College where she studied Business. She has been an enthusiastic member of the Phelps team since its inception and enjoys having the opportunity to work closely with the students and educators. “It’s been wonderful to see how Phelps has grown and the impact that it’s had on so many of our students lives.” Heather is an avid reader as well as a passionate golfer and gardener.
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS ASSISTANT
Sarah Elliot grew up in the area and has always maintained strong ties to the Eastern Townships. Her parents and only sibling are all dedicated educators and she spent hours absorbing their classroom stories and embodying their tricks of the trade. She is a champion of children and finds great fulfillment in honouring and supporting them. Sarah is a keen writer and has two undergraduate degrees; one in Philosophy and another in Chemistry, which lend well to her helping students with their homework and daily challenges. She enjoys creative collaboration and has found her place at Phelps Helps amongst a team who is impassioned and determined. In her role as the High School Program Coordinator Sarah will put to good use all these wonderful talents.
Jayme is a proud Stanstead native. Like the vast majority of students in Phelps’ programs, Jayme made the often daunting transition from the small, local Sunnyside Elementary school to the substantially larger Alexander Galt Regional more than an hour away by bus from her home. Jayme went on to obtain her Masters of Public Health from the University of Guelph and has now returned to work in the Eastern Townships. “I was drawn to Phelps because of our community engagement, inspirational successes, and the impact the program was having on the community,” says Jayme. “I see so much potential for Phelps to grow in the coming years and am thrilled to be part of it.”
Catherine Van der Linden
PRESIDENT & CO-FOUNDER
Catherine Van der Linden, a Belgian and Canadian citizen, moved to Canada in 1991 and embraced the challenge of developing new markets in her role as international business development leader. During her 25-plus years of experience she spearheaded successful ventures throughout global markets for multinationals including Kraft General Foods, Unilever and Costco. Passionate about giving back, she has applied her entrepreneurial skills towards different causes, mainly in the fields of children’s health and education. Catherine initiated and chaired many fundraisers, holds several board positions, and has served on the corporate appeal committee for the Montreal Children's Hospital. Catherine has a master’s degree in History of Art and Archeology from Ghent University in Belgium. She is married, has a daughter and three stepdaughters. She loves hiking, history, biographies and history of art and architecture.
VICE-PRESIDENT & CO-FOUNDER
Jeanie Markwick was born and raised in Michigan where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Michigan. Her unconventional path started on the trading floor of the Chicago Board Options Exchange and led to New York, where she acted as an options specialist on the floors of the NYSE and the Amex. Marriage brought her to Canada in 1996 where she held senior institutional equity trading and management positions until retiring in 2009 to seek new pursuits. With the belief that one is never too old to learn something new, she returned to the workforce full time in 2015 to become the V.P. of Operations for a small investment advisory firm in Montreal. Upon retirement in 2022, Jeanie made the move to live full-time in the Townships with her husband, Eric and their furry sons, Zeppelin and T.C. Phelps remains her focus, coupled with a long-term interest in the local community.
Mark Derusha is the third generation to help his family business, Derusha Group, grow into a major North American player within the stone tooling and equipment industry. Starting as a project manager in 2005, Mark has grown with the company to his current role as President. Along with his BA in Business Management, with a specialization in Finance, Mark adds to Phelps the experience he has from sitting on several boards, the numerous lessons learned in business as an owner as well as his network of contacts. As a businessperson, but more importantly, as a father, he understands that a good education lays the foundation for a healthy and strong community by enabling employability at all levels of organizations. Mark believes that Phelps Helps is making an enormous impact in our small community by changing the perception of the youth and young adults towards education.
Lisa Smith, a graduate of Bishop’s University Department of Education, is a resident of Stanstead East, where she lives with her husband and various pets. After an eighteen-year teaching career at North Country Union High School in Newport, VT, Lisa now heads the Math and Science Department at Stanstead College and for the past 10 years, has also been the Coordinator of the Learning Resource Centre. Lisa love sports, the outdoors, cooking, crafts and being involved in the community. Many years have been spent coaching youth soccer, hockey, baseball and golf. Lisa has been involved with Phelps Helps since its inception and is extremely proud of the positive effect that the programs have had on the Stanstead youth and community. When not coaching during the winter months, Lisa is a regular tutor at the high school program. She also heads the Dufferin Heights Junior Golf program and is a volunteer on the Board of Directors of Sisken-Coutts http://siskincoutts.org/.
Lynn Johnston was born in Toronto, Ontario, and made her way to Montreal, where she earned her Bachelor of Commerce from Concordia University. She made a full-time transition to the Eastern Townships in 2013 and has been with Stanstead College for the last 6 years, where she currently holds the position of Director of Finance. Joining the Phelps board was a harmonized network between her belief in education and Phelps’ core mission of establishing one’s foundation for a life of autonomy. Changing mindsets, allowing one to dream, alter choices and the course of one’s life path. Away from work, she enjoys creating and the arts, reading, being in nature, and newest passion: tending her heirloom vegetable garden.
Founder and president of Knock on Wood Design for the past twenty years, this design and trend enthusiast has transformed unique and luxurious interiors throughout North America. For the past several years, she has been at the head of Dennis Wood Holdings, the Wood Family Foundation and the company Usinage Nado. As a mother of four, she has put her skills to work for causes close to her heart, including the Canadian Cancer Society and the Mental Illness Foundation. Alyson holds an EMBA degree (2017) from McGill University and the HEC. She is very involved in the accessibility of education and sits on the Board of Directors of the Red and White Foundation at Stanstead College and the Butters Foundation. Alyson believes that Phelps offers a unique opportunity for young people to experience the joy of learning, the reason she joined the board in 2018.
Nancy Layton, with a Master of Education from McGill, brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience as a teacher, coach and administrator at Trafalgar School for Girls for over 20 years, Principal of Kells Academy for 4 years and Head of Bishop's College School for 8 years. The wider community has benefitted from Nancy's community service, whether it be as a volunteer at Stanstead's Haskell Library and CAB-Rediker, and her involvement with the Centre de Santé de Vallée Massawippi in Ayer's Cliff among others. Nancy is a passionate golfer and is very active at Dufferin Heights Golf Club as Ladies' Captain and a volunteer with the junior programme. She chairs Golf Québec's Rules Committee and sits on Golf Canada's Rules & Amateur Status Committee.