Centred Content

Board of Directors

Bruce Grey Child & Family Services Board of Directors 2023-2024 Back Row (Left to Right) Selena Vander Ploeg, James Rice, Craig Ambrose, George Sanz, John Tamming, Christopher Wren Front Row (Left to Right) Ellen Dirstein, Linda Van Slightenhorst, Selwyn (Buck) Hicks, Susanne Snowden, Missing - Brittany Andor

Craig Ambrose

Craig is currently the Chief of the Owen Sound Police Service. He grew up and lived in rural Waterloo region and worked through the ranks of the Waterloo Regional Police Service during his 29 years prior to moving to Owen Sound in 2019. Craig’s wife is originally from Owen Sound and recently retired. Together, they have raised three remarkable grown women which two have started careers of their own and their youngest is finishing University.

Brittany Andor

Brittany was born and raised in Montreal Quebec. She received a Master of Arts degree in 2019 from the University of Guelph. Brittany currently works as a sales manager. Currently, her and her partner live in Port Elgin with their extremely active dog. She loves to read, do research, enjoys baking and going out with friends.

Ellen Dirstein

Ellen recently retired after working for more than 40 years with children and families. Ellen has a master’s degree in clinical psychology which has allowed her to work in the fields of education, mental health and child welfare. She relocated to the Grey Bruce area after living in Northern Ontario for 30 years. Ellen chose this area as her family has had ties to Grey Bruce going back more than a century! This is Ellen’s first experience sitting on a board of directors and she looks forward to supporting an organization that is vital to this community.

Alison Fernandes

Board Chair

Alison lives in Southampton, Ontario with her husband and daughter. She currently works in the Nuclear Industry with a specific focus on Indigenous Relations, Procurement and Partnerships. Alison holds a degree in Social Work and Psychology and worked in Child Protection for many years prior to transitioning her career into the Nuclear Industry. Alison is honored to be a member of the Board of Directors of the Bruce Grey Child & Family Services as she has an innate passion for engagement, collaboration and empowerment with children and families within our community along with supporting the frontline workers of BGCFS.

Selwyn ‘Buck’ Hicks

Chair Elect

Graduating from the University of Windsor with both a degree in Law (2000) and a Masters in Business Administration (2002), Selwyn was called to the Bar in 2003. Following graduation, Selwyn worked in the Legal department at the Children’s Aid Society in Windsor and at a boutique Toronto law firm specializing in international business law and intellectual property.

A partner at Hicks & Hicks – a small law practice in Hanover, Ontario, – Selwyn practices primarily in the areas of real estate and wills/estate planning. Selwyn has developed expertise defending clients who have been charged with Smoke Free Ontario Act violations. Helping to shape the law, Selwyn has a number of reported decisions, including at the Ontario Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

A lover of politics, Selwyn was first elected to Hanover Council in 2006 where he served two terms as a Councilor and a further two terms as Deputy Mayor. In 2019, Selwyn was elected Warden of the County of Grey and served three terms in that position. He is the first visible minority person to hold that position.

In 2017, Selwyn was appointed by Minister Coteau to serve on a working group to implement the new Child, Youth & Family Services Act, 2017. Selwyn has served on numerous boards and committees over the years. He also played an instrumental role in establishing a gymnastics program in the town of Hanover. In 1992, Selwyn was announced Citizen of the Year for Metropolitan Toronto. He also received a Canada 125 medallion and a Lincoln Alexander distinguished service award. Recently, Selwyn received the Law Society of Ontario – 2023 Lincoln Alexander Award for long-standing public service.

James Rice

James was born and raised in the Kincardine area. James is a former Crown Ward of Bruce Grey Child and Family Services. James attended the University of Guelph where he graduated with an Honours degree in Criminal Justice and Public Policy. While at the University of Guelph, James served on the Board of Directors for Bruce Grey Child and Family Services and was the Undergraduate Governor at the University. James then attended Law School at the University of Windsor. James became a lawyer after working as a judicial clerk for the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories based out of Yellowknife, NWT. While working for the Court, James participated in court circuits in Canada’s far North including north of the arctic circle. James ran for Member of Parliament in Huron-Bruce in the 2021 Federal election, finishing second.

He has done competitive cheerleading for a total of ten years, competing at the Cheerleading World Championships in the Spring of 2022. James is now an Assistant Crown Attorney for the County of Grey and the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General. James and his wife live in Saugeen Shores with their two daughters. James is excited to return to serving on the Board of Directors for Bruce Grey Child and Family Services.

Dr. George Sanz

George was born in Spain where he obtained his undergraduate education. He studied medicine at Loma Linda University in Southern California, completed his pediatrics residency at Ohio University, and established his practice in Owen Sound. George provided medical services to children and youth in the care of the Society and provided expert testimony in court on numerous occasions. After his retirement in 2001, he spent three years as a Missionary in East Central Africa as Director of the Health Department for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, where he supervised a couple dozen hospitals and numerous medical clinics covering 32 countries and provided education to the membership.

Linda Van Sligtenhorst

Linda is an energetic business owner and volunteer, mother of six, and grandmother of seven. She graduated from Georgian College with a Legal Office Administration diploma in 1986 and worked in this field for several years before shifting to agriculture with her husband Fred. They raised a busy family and became foster parents when their children were teenagers, through which they cared for several children and did respite foster care. Linda is currently Secretary/Treasurer of Arranhills Farms Inc., a family beef farm which includes cash cropping and a gravel pit in Bruce County. She owns and manages two short term rental properties. She served on the Board of Timothy Christian School for many years including two terms as Treasurer and one term as Chairperson. She was also a member of the Kiwanis Music Festival Board for four years. In her free time, she sings in the Georgian Bay Concert Choir and enjoys conducting a choir at the Christian Reformed Church.

Susanne Snowdon


Susanne recently retired from community nursing at Care Partners Grey Bruce, where she was a manager, as well as her role as program manager of the Women and Child Care and Surgical Units at Grey Bruce Health Services. Susanne retirement from health services was short, as she is now working in labour and delivery on the Women and Child Care Unit and Brightshores Health System. Susanne has been involved in both volunteer and committee work including host parent for the international exchange students; a member of the nursing liaison committee; member of the contingency committee and Grey Bruce Health Services as well as past member of the Maternal Newborn Child & Youth Network in southwestern Ontario. Susanne is currently on the executive of the auxiliary at Brightshores Health System, supporting the hospital gift shop.

John Tamming

John has practiced law for 30 years in Grey-Bruce and has a solid and intimate understanding of the social support and other needs of the region. John has served on numerous boards and committees over the years, including serving as Owen Sound city councilor. John has spent years on employment and general litigation matters involving First Nations Communities and therefore has knowledge of their historic and present-day issues and how they impact child protection and family service needs locally. John has first-hand knowledge of child welfare as his parents had fostered many children in Middlesex County over the years.

Selena Vander Ploeg

Selena is a mother of four and became part of the Grey Bruce Community in 2009. Selena comes with experience working with some of the busiest law firms in Ontario to opening up her own practice in 2018. Selena became licensed with the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2017. Selena believes in the work of Bruce Grey Child and Family Services and her wish is to contribute to the positive narrative of the programs that assist vulnerable children and youth so that they may have a meaningful and stable life.

Christopher Wren


Chris is a retired environmental consultant. He completed his Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph and spent over 35 years providing consulting services to industry and government with a focus on environmental pollution and fisheries science in Canada and internationally. Chris previously spent six years on the Board of Directors for a large engineering firm in Guelph, and was Chairman of the Board for three years. Chris and his wife, Lisa, have lived near Markdale for the past 18 years. They are former foster parents and now adoptive parents. Chris has three children and three granddaughters. Lisa was also a volunteer instructor with BGCFS to foster parents in the PRIDE training program. Chris was also a member of the Accommodation Review Committee (ARC) for Beaver Crest Community School in Markdale when they successfully challenged the Bluewater District School Board recommendation to close the school.

Centred Content

Senior Staff

Julie Lipsett

Executive Director

Julie joined the Children’s Aid Society of the County of Grey in 1997 as a Family Services’ worker and became an Intake Supervisor in 2003 until 2008 when she was promoted to Director of Service for Protection Services. In 2016, Julie changed portfolios and lead the organizations’ Family Based Care team, Legal team and Quality Services team. On March 7th, 2022, Julie was appointed by the Board of Directors as the new Executive Director of Bruce Grey Child and Family Services.

Julie holds a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Toronto.


She was also a foster and adoptive parent of teenagers and brings her caregiving experience to her understanding of the importance of fostering and adoption to a child welfare agency. She is currently involved in the implementation of Equity and Anti-Oppressive Practice at BGCFS. Julie believes in giving back to the community and has served both on the Board of Directors for Big Sisters and the Women’s Centre Grey and Bruce.

Julie has a tremendous passion for the work of the Society. The Board is confident in her ability to continue to build and grow the values-based organization to meet the current challenges and ensure the highest standards of care and service for the children and families in Bruce and Grey. She is committed to confronting racism and addressing systemic inequities in child welfare as well as ensuring BGCFS honors the nine (9) truth and reconciliation commitments that we have made to Indigenous children and families we serve.

Chad Zimmerman

Director, Business Administration

Chad had spent most of his life in Grey and Bruce counties. His child protection career started with the Department of Community Services in New South Wales, Australia, before he came to join the Bruce County Children’s Aid Society in 2004 as a Child Protection Worker, Family Service. Chad has been in leadership since 2015 including position as a supervisor in Human Resources, Quality and with the Office of the Director.

Chad was seconded to the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies in 2017 and spent almost four years leading the provincial business harmonization efforts.

The role of Director, Business Administration includes Finance, Quality and Governance as part of the portfolio.

Kelly Ferris

Director, People and Culture

Kelly Ferris has a Bachelor of Administrative and Commercial Services from the University of Western Ontario and is a Certified Human Resources Professional. Kelly has been an active member of the Human Resources Networking group at a Provincial Level and participated for the Employer at the Provincial Discussion Table and on the OACAS/Union group as well as the HR Strategic Council. Kelly had previously sat on the executive of the local human resource association (HRPA) and was responsible for training and professional development for this group. Located in the Owen Sound office, Kelly leads Human Resources, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), Information Technology and Administration for the organization.

Anne Bester

Director of Service

Anne has a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from Dalhousie University. She grew up in the Walkerton area and brings a strong sense of community connections to her work in child welfare. She has had the opportunity to work in every area of the child welfare field since she began her career in 1998 – working at The Children’s Aid Society of the County of Bruce, Chatham-Kent Family and Children’s Services and Bruce Grey Child and Family Services. Based out of the Walkerton office, Anne brings leadership to Protection Ongoing Services, which supports families in the community across Bruce and Grey. Anne has been a long-standing member of the Bruce-Grey Community Drug Strategy Leadership Group. Anne was the Chair of the Drug Endangered Children Committee and was instrumental in developing a community protocol designed to identify and protect children who are at risk due to the exposure and presence of street drugs in their homes. Anne has presented internationally on this area when she was a guest presenter at the National Drug Endangered Child Conference in Orlando, Florida.


Since 2018, Anne has held the lead for the implementation of Signs of Safety for BGCFS – a practice model designed to build on the strengths of the family network in ensuring safety and caregiving for children and families and prioritizing the importance of the family being at the centre of their own planning. Outside of work, Anne volunteers in the community and has lent her expertise to different not-for profit Boards as well as community events.

Rebecca Raynsford

Director of Service

Rebecca grew up in the Owen Sound area and started at BGCFS (then Grey CAS) in 1990 as a volunteer, progressing to the Summer Camp Coordinator and then to support positions like Emergency After Hours Worker before becoming a Child Protection Worker (at then Bruce CAS) in 1995. In 2002, Rebecca became a Child Protection Supervisor and worked in many areas of the organization until her transition to Director of Service in 2022. Rebecca enjoys working together to solve challenges as well as program implementation and development. She holds a strong commitment to community relationships most notably with the people of Saugeen First Nation and Neyaashiinigmiing as well as organizational and community health. She believes in the importance of families being in the center of their own service experience. Outside of work, Rebecca completed her MSW in 2018 and has participated in many not-for-profit Boards.

Ryan Thompson

Director of Service

Ryan holds degrees in Sociology and Public Administration from the University of Western Ontario, a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Manitoba and a master’s degree in Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Ryan grew up in the Wiarton area and started working with Bruce CAS in 2006. His career started as a Child Protection Worker in the Family Service Department. Ryan joined the leadership team in 2015 as the Child Protection Information Network (CPIN) training supervisor. Following that assignment, he supervised Family Resource Workers and Family Service teams as well as in the Quality Assurance Department.


Ryan was the co-chair of the Signs of Safety Implementation Team during the introduction of a new practice model introduced at BGCFS. This practice model aligns with Ryan’s commitment to engaging families to lead the planning and utilize their extended family network and community to provide for child safety. Ryan believes in a strong network of community partners providing an effective response to the needs of families.