Board of Directors & Executive Team

Susan Kennard, President

Susan  Kennard  works  for  Parks  Canada as the Heritage Programs Manager, Banff  Field Unit and is leading program renewal for the Banff Park Museum, Cave and Basin and Rocky Mountain House National Historic Sites

Prior  to  working  with  Parks Canada Susan was the director and executive producer  of the Banff New Media Institute at The Banff Centre, leading the training,  production,  research, and development activity of the institute and the engagement of artists and researchers with new media aesthetics and digital  culture.   In  the  mid  90’s  Kennard  worked in television as an associate  producer  for the “International Hour”, “CBC Newsworld” Calgary, and  “Dateline NBC” New York. In radio she was a writer/broadcaster for CBC Radio  Calgary,  fundraising coordinator for CKUT Montreal, station manager for  CKIZ Community Radio Pincher Creek, and board member with the National Campus/Community  Radio Association.  Susan was a co-founder of, an early hybrid net/fm art/pirate/community radio station.

In 2005, Kennard concluded  a  master’s  degree  in  communication  for development from the University  of  Malmö, Sweden, on the relationship between contemporary art practice,  social change, and civil society in post-war Sarajevo. She holds a  B.A  from  the  University of Regina, a Graduate degree in Communication Studies  from Concordia University Montreal and  is currently registered in the   University   of  Victoria’s  Diploma  program  in  Cultural  Resource Management.  Susan’s  writing has been published in Glocal Times (2006) and Euphoria  & Dystopia: The Banff New Media Institute Dialogues (2011). Susan participates on numerous juries and review committees in Canada and abroad.

christineChristine LaRocque, Vice-President

Christine has called Banff home for 15 years, and has been the BanffLIFE Coordinator for the past 5 years.

She is very passionate about her position as BanffLIFE Coordinator and you are sure to see her out in the wilds of Banff National Park on one of the BanffLIFE trips.   She loves mountain biking after work or taking her dogs out for a nice long quiet walk.

Christine enjoys volunteering in the community and is always happy to share a smile with everyone that she meets.

Suzanne White YWCA of Banff Suzanne White, Secretary

Suzanne has lived in the Bow Valley for five years, splitting her work life between Canmore and Banff. This has allowed her to get to know the Bow Valley community and have great conversations with amazing people who call this place home.

Prior to her move to the valley, Suzanne was based in Calgary where she worked in Public Affairs for the Canadian Red Cross, for both Southern Alberta and Western Canada. It was at the Red Cross that she had the opportunity to work on programs that dealt with affordable and safe housing, bullying prevention, healthy relationships and disaster preparedness and management.
She’s excited about the opportunity to serve on the board of the Banff YWCA and to work towards providing a safe and happy future for Bow Valley residents.

barbaraBarbara Buchmann, Treasurer

Barbara came to Banff from Germany in the late ‘80s while travelling around the world and, as so many in the Bow Valley, ‘got stuck’ in Banff. Together with her husband they raised two daughters in Banff.

Barbara worked as a Kindergarten teacher in Germany before going back to school to become an Occupational Therapist. In Banff she has worked many years in the long-term care unit at Mineral Springs Hospital. A few years ago she changed carrier paths completely to become an administrative assistant for the Town of Canmore. Being co-owner of a guiding and consulting company she also had the experience of running a business and looking after the bookkeeping needs for over fifteen years. Over the years she had numerous part time or casual jobs such as working as a care giver for Banff seniors, doing part time secretary work for Rundle United Church, explaining natural history as a National Park employee.

Barbara loves living in the Bow Valley and enjoys hiking and x-country skiing. Her other passions are singing, playing games with family or friends, keeping up with politics and reading.

Shannon Laming-MerkleyShannon Laming-Merkley, Director

Originally from Ontario but has been living in Banff for the past 5 years, Shannon graduated from Loyalist College in 2006 with a Social Service Worker Diploma. In Ontario, she has worked with Youthab in a “Transition Home” helping teens develop life skills that would allow them to move on to living independently and working towards a better life.  She has also worked with people dealing with mental and physical disabilities.

Her social work in Banff includes working with teens and children when running the “Fridge” program created by the Town of Banff, which continues now as “Get Out” program.  Shannon is no longer involved full time but helps out when she can.  She also works part time for the Town of Banff with their Out of School program.  She currently works full time as a Special Events Manager at The Fairmont Banff Springs.

Shannon loves hiking, snowshoeing, and most outdoor physical activities. She also enjoys creative arts, painting learning the piano. She loves Banff and is very excited to be a part of the YWCA’s Board of Directors as she wants to become more involved in making Banff a great place to live for all, and admires how much work the YWCA does for Banff’s residents.

Wendy YWCA BanffWendy Kuiper, Director

Bio to come.








YWCA of Banff Board Lori

Lori McLain, Director

Lori is a born and raised Albertan and has called Banff home since 2002 where she is now starting a family. After spending many years in the service industry, Lori obtained a business degree in Nonprofit Management from Mount Royal. While studying at Mount Royal, Lori also completed a Social Work Certificate in International Development. She previously managed a small nonprofit in Banff for several years until she found her calling running the Volunteer Resources department for Alberta Health Services in Banff, Canmore and Cochrane.

Lori is passionate about people, and holds a special interest in care for the elderly and palliative care. She is enjoying this opportunity on the YWCA Board to support positive growth for women and girls in our community.

In her spare time, you will find Lori hiking Tunnel and other trails, at the yoga studio, or having laughs with friends and family.

Natali Schindler

Natali Schindler, Director

Natali has called Banff home for the past 11 years.  Having lived in various mountain communities prior to Banff, including Golden and Jasper, the opportunity to establish her own dental practice, in such amazing surroundings, is what brought her and her husband to Banff in 2003.  Natali was born and raised in Ottawa and did her Bachelor of Science Degree in Microbiology and Immunology and her Doctorate of Dental Surgery at McGill University in Montreal. 

Natali loves living in Banff because of the opportunities to be outside in the beautiful surroundings hiking, skiing, biking or just walking.  She also loves the strong sense of community in Banff and possibilities to be involved in the community as a volunteer.  This is her second time being on the board of the YWCA and she is passionate about making a difference in the lives of girls and women in the Bow Valley.  Natali is also a member of the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital Community Board and the Banff Mineral Springs Foundation. 

Connie MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer

Connie MacDonald YWCA of Banff

A long-time resident of Banff, Connie moved west from Halifax in the early 80′s to work in the ski industry. As the classic story goes, she fell in love with the mountains and the community and Banff has been her home ever since.

In September 2013, Connie joined the YWCA of Banff as CEO taking on the responsibility for planning, organizing, directing, and implementing the operation and programming of the organization in accordance with the policies, goals and strategic directives established by the Board of Directors.

Prior to joining the YWCA, Connie worked with CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures, a leading global tourism operator, as Director of People and a member of the senior leadership team. Connie’s main priority was to strategically develop the very best team of people to provide leadership at all levels of the company to achieve the overall goals. In her diverse role as a senior leader she also managed communications and community relations and played a key role in brand management, strategic planning, critical incident management and external relations. During her tenure, CMH was awarded a number of prestigious national and international tourism awards and regularly achieved industry-high Net Promoter and Employee Engagement scores.

Connie also has significant experience in both the not-for-profit and government sectors. For nine years she worked at The Banff Centre, where she held a number of key positions including Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications. Earlier in her career she worked in Community Development with the Family and Community Support Services for the Town of Banff.

A passionate, energetic communicator, Connie holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Dalhousie University and attended the Banff School of Advance Management. She was a member of the Canadian Tourism Commission’s Brand Experience Committee for the past six years and a founding director with the Valemount Area Recreation Development Association. An active community volunteer, Connie has has held Board positions with Bow Valley Victim Services, Friends of Banff National Park, Aids Bow Valley, YWCA of Banff and a number of other community organizations.

Connie is married to Tom Robinson, a general contractor in Banff. Together with their son Casey and Missy the wonder dog, they take advantage of all that Banff National Park and the local community has to offer.

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