BCB Catholic School Council Candidates for the 2023-2024 school year election

The following are the nominated candidates for the BCB Catholic School Council elections to take place on Tuesday October 3rd  2023:

Victoria Akene, Tricia Bacchus, Evelyn Bak, Vanessa Carr, Lidia Civello, David Elie, Francis Gonzalez, Alosha Khan, Diana Lai, Diana Letra, Mae Menlove, Melissa Pourgoutzidis, Sarah Serrano, Anita Soares, Joanna Thommee, Dagmar Wong.

The election will be held in person on Tuesday October 3rd at 6:30 pm in the school library and the first CSC meeting will follow. 

Following the YCDSB School Councils Constitution, the maximum number of parents on council is 18, 19 if there is no Student Rep.

Below are some of the candidates’ biographies:

Victoria Akene- I am a passionate mom who works as a real estate mentor and coach. Our family lived in Stouffville many years ago and are so happy to return home, ready to contribute to the community again.  Being a leader has allowed me to help many businesses grow and make an impact. I have a YouTube channel helping new agents start off their business.  I have been on numerous committees including board of directors for my daughter’s last daycare.  I love to give a fresh perspective on ways to improve morale and productivity. Being a part of this council would be an honour to make a difference in our children’s education and impact change for a better future.

Tricia Bacchus- My husband Darryl and I have two boys at Blessed Chiara Badano – one in Grade 4 and one in Grade 2, plus we have a 2 year old daughter at home. I am an Environmental Project Coordinator in the transportation industry. I enjoy working out, travelling, cooking (and eating) and spending time with my family. Our kids love being active (dodgeball!) , playing video games, and art projects. I am eager to work with the staff and parents and help build the BCB community to the best it can be for our kids.

Evelyn Bak – Serving previously on Council at St. Mark has given me much insight into what is involved in sitting on CSC. I brought 3 new programs to the school and offered my time on other committees. Having 2 children currently at BCB encourages me to become an active member at school and in the community. I am looking forward to working with other parents on council to bring opportunities to our children and parents from two different schools.

Vanessa Carr- I am a busy mom of two. I am a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and have a BA in French Studies from Glendon College, YorkU. I have a lot of experience working in the Financial Industry including Administration, Coordination, , Event Planning, Information Security, Policy Development and Implementation and Physical Security. I’m a textbook introvert; my favourite things include my family, cooking a good meal or baking a sweet treat, reading a great book and I’m happy! Having previously served on a school council, I know what a difference it can make, and I look forward to a position on the Blessed Chiara Badano Catholic School Council.

Lidia Civello- I am an RECE and am the supervisor of BCB B&A program. I have volunteered with the Markham-Stouffville Stars (Girls Hockey). I have also worked with St. Mark’s church with the First Communion and catechism children over the years. I would love the opportunity to have a say in Blessed Chiara Badano’s School Council for this very special first year!

David Elie- BBA, PMP, Real Estate Broker, Author. Mr. Elie is a graduate of York University’s Faculty of Business, with a degree in Business Administration. He has a Certificate of Advanced Project Management from Seneca College and PMP designation from the Project Management Institute.  Mr. Elie is also a registered Commissioner for Affidavits in the province of Ontario, a licensed Real Estate Broker and serial Entrepreneur.  Mr, Elie is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Author titled “Supreme Leadership & Figure Minds, How to grow and lead a 7-figure business”.

In 2012 Mr. Elie decided to venture into business as an entrepreneur, co-founding Rhyno Equity Group, a mid-size Mergers and Acquisitions Firm that specializes in home improvement manufacturing. Rhyno’s portfolio includes unique premium brands such as Irpinia Kitchens, Euroline Windows and Doors, Marble Industries, and Perma Corp. In leveraging the synergies amongst these companies, he then founded the Elite Class Group of companies in 2017, where he currently holds the title of President and CEO.  Elite Class Group specializes in real estate development, construction, trading , and investments. Currently, Elite Class is in development which is a Tarion approved builder specializes in mid- and low-rise construction projects across the GTA and Golden Horseshoe Region.

Francis Gonzalez- I am a Chartered Insurance Professional with 20+ years of experience and passionate about learning and sharing my knowledge.  I’m also an avid cyclist participating in various fundraising events in the community including the annual Ride for Brain Health supporting Baycrest and Sick Kids foundation Great Cycle Challenge. I have been a parent volunteer in both the private and public school settings since my daughter entered the provincial school system in 2017 until now.  I participate in my employer’s Summer Student program as a mentor to provide guidance and leadership to college and university student hires.  I’m willing and happy to volunteer my time and talents for the benefit of the students. If elected, I will be honoured to work with council members and school staff to ensure we optimize the learning environment for our children, focusing on the core work needed to shape our new school community at BCB CES and help to make our children’s elementary school years a positive and enjoyable experience.

Alisha Khan- Alisha is a warm, energetic, and caring individual who enjoys spending quality time with her two children. She recognizes the hard work that goes into running a safe, welcoming, and inclusive school environment, and she would like to be part of the team that works with school faculty and administration to do it. As an emergency and business continuity management professional in the critical infrastructure world, Alisha has a knack for identifying risks and considering strategies to reduce them, keeping a community safe. She is passionate about promoting a school environment that enables joy, safety, learning, and growth for all. She is excited for the opportunity to join the Catholic School Council for 2023-2024.

Diana Lai – I have been a resident in Stouffville for 10 years and grew up in Markham. I have 2 daughters, ages 4 and 6. My youngest started kindergarten this September at St. Mark CES and my oldest started Grade 1 at Blessed Chiara Badano. Both children are happy to be back in school and I’m looking forward to the day when both will be attending Blessed Chiara Badano together! Endorsement from another parent nominating Diana:Diana Lai is a mother, a corporate professional and has always made herself available when it comes to our community’s children. She is practical, intelligent, pragmatic and efficient. She has always been a thoughtful communicator and contributing member to the Cornerstone committee. Any committee would be lucky to have her dedication and energy. 

Diana Letra- I am a secondary teacher with TDSB. I teach Canadian and World Studies & Careers.  I was previously apart of the Catholic School Council at St. Mark CES during the 2021-2022 school year.

Melissa Pourgoutzidis- As a mother of two, with both kids in different sports, I have been an active role in their activities for the past few years. I was involved in the implementation and execution of bringing a gymnastics coach to Canada from the Ukraine and I have participated in multiple fundraising activities. As BCB is a new school with new little faces and new voices, my hope is to be one more voice for our children to grow and experience!

Sarah Serrano- My name is Sarah and my son and I have been a part of the St. Mark’s community for two years, we are both very excited to be part of building a new school community with Blessed Chiara Badano. I joined the BCB cornerstone committee at the end of the last school year and I look forward to contributing to the formation of a strong and caring community as we come together to form BCB. 

Anita Soares-  I am proud to be a part of the YRDSB family for over a decade as a dedicated teacher. My passion for education extends beyond the classroom, as I am also a parent of two wonderful children who currently attend Blessed Chiara Badano CES.
I believe that a strong partnership between parents, teachers, and the school is essential for creating a nurturing and enriching environment for our children. That’s why I am excited to take on an active role in our school’s Parent Council.

Joanna Thommee- I am committed to making our school a fun, engaging and empowering environment for all of our students. Although I’ve had many successes throughout my career, I see my kids as my greatest achievement. My daughter is in Grade 1, and she’s extremely excited to be starting her educational journey in this school.  As a professional, I am an innovative, results-driven self-starter with a passion for strategy and creative thinking with over 25 years of experience in marketing, events, client and vendor management. In my current role as Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships, I am responsible for all marketing, communications, events, advertising, social media, sponsorships and vendor management. I create events for CEOs and senior executives of multinational corporations that have been ranked as 4.8/5.0 over the past 8 years. If some of the most senior executives in the country enjoy the events that my team and I put together, think of the amazing things we can do for our kids! I’m able to simplify complex multi-dimensional projects into effective program plans with ease. Whether it’s planning school trips, dances or fundraising campaigns – I am a great resource. I have negotiated major deals with fantastic results, and I’m confident I can help in this area as well. If we need to create communication campaigns or digital artwork – I am the person you want on your team. The years that children spend in Elementary school are where they begin to learn about themselves – their passions, their talents, who they are as people. It is up to us – the teachers, school personnel and the Catholic School Council, to support our kids in their journey and to create a positive environment that fosters learning, engagement and confidence. I would be honoured to be part of BCB’s Catholic School Council Committee to help our students thrive. 

Dagmar Wong- I am a working mother, was also a member of the Cornerstone Committee, and volunteered at any and all school trips I was able to attend. I have various professional backgrounds, including as a professionally trained chef, a small business owner and presently work as an operational assistant for the TTC. I feel my experience and skills would be a valuable asset in a well rounded council.

Wishing all the best to our candidates!