Our Members

The Ability First Coalition is comprised of volunteers from across the London and area business community. The coalition is made up of an Executive Committee, which includes Co-Chairs, Past Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary, as well as Committee Members from various sectors of business. A representative from the London & Middlesex Partners in Employment also attends monthly meetings as a liaison between the groups.

To request membership as part of the Ability First Coalition, please fill out this online registration.

CO-CHAIRS

Doug Mantle, Assistive Technology Support Specialist
King’s University College

We all have differing abilities. Once accommodated, they become strengths that allow us to excel as dedicated, creative, and resourceful members of any team we join. As an Assistive Technologist, I specialize in finding the right tools and resources to turn those challenges into strengths. Providing support to those attending post secondary education has proven to me that, with the right accommodations, everyone can succeed. Being part of the Ability First Coalition team, I hope to support individuals and businesses by sharing my experience, knowledge and specialized skills. Technologies support abilities, and hiring based on ability first just makes sense!

Lesley Oliver, Diversity & Accessibility Consultant
Western University

I am a passionate advocate for creating an inclusive society where people are respected and celebrated for their individual talents. It’s very rewarding to help raise awareness and remove barriers so individuals with disabilities can partner with employers to help achieve organizational goals and also achieve their own personal goals. I admire the Ability First Coalition for fostering a community of employers who ensure equitable access to opportunities and I want to do my part to help build upon this culture of respect and inclusion.

PAST CHAIR

Bert Floyd, Senior IT Manager Assistive Technologies
TD Bank

I joined the Ability First Coalition to share the successes we’ve had at TD in creating employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. In my role with Assistive Technologies at TD, I help accommodate employees in the workplace to remove barriers and let their abilities shine through. The accommodations are often simple and inexpensive and not only benefit the employees, but also benefits TD with dedicated employees, lower turnover, increased customer satisfaction and a more robust and diverse workforce.

TREASURER

Martin Withenshaw, Project Director
Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board 

The Ability First Coalition promotes the hiring and retention of persons with disabilities. The coalition’s mandate aligns with my beliefs. I believe all people have the right to work and be included in the workplace. This reinforces diversity and inclusion in our community.

SECRETARY 

Kandace Cook, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Human Resources
The Corporation of the City of London 

 

COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Mary Forret, Marketing Manager
3M Canada

I joined Ability First to continue the success I saw while living in Toronto and want the same for the City of London. The employees I’ve had the pleasure of hiring and working with in the past, work hard, have fun, and approach life with a very positive outlook. They have been a wonderful addition to the companies I have worked for. I personally have learned a lot from these individuals and would like other employers to experience the same. Ability First is a great way to connect with all important parties in the process.  

Lianne Gallie, Professor
Fanshawe College

I joined Ability First with a keen interest in advocating for an inclusive society. I believe that people should be looked at for their abilities, not their disability. Having a son with Autism, it is especially important to me to open doors for him so that he can become an active member of the community and provide his many talents to an employer who will respect his individuality and needs, while allowing him to contribute using his many talents.  

Denise Gold, Independent HR and Diversity Consultant

I have always been of the opinion that people with challenges have a place in this world just like everyone else. Being a member of the Ability First Coalition provides me with the opportunity to share my experiences and make known the advantages of hiring a person with a disability. 

Jay Ménard, Content Strategist 
Digital Echidna 

At Digital Echidna we have taken the initiative to include accessibility in everything we do. Personally, I was introduced early to the concept that ability is all that matters through my cousin who, due to an accident, was left quadriplegic. It’s not about accommodation, but rather giving people the tools they need to let their talent, intelligence, and skills shine through. That’s also the Ability First philosophy and it’s why I’m proud to be a part of this Coalition.

 

PARTNERS IN EMPLOYMENT REPRESENTATIVE 

Wendy Lau, CEO 
LEADS Employment Services

This role provides a unique opportunity to share knowledge about employment agencies for people with disabilities, training opportunities, community resources, program models and employment supports at the Ability First table. This promotes communication and understanding between Partners In Employment service agencies and the Ability First Coalition.