Our Board of Directors gives leadership and guides the strategic direction of Manitoba Down Syndrome Society. It governs MDSS on behalf of their members.
Darren Anderson – Executive Director
With over 15 years of extensive experience in non-profit and community development, Darren brings a wealth of expertise to the organization. With a deep enthusiasm for collaborating with the dedicated volunteers who drive our mission, he is committed to expanding the impact of the MDSS across the province.
MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
2023 – 2025 OFFICERS
Erin Anderson– President
Erin Anderson is one of the newest members of MDSS. A life-long Manitoban, she now lives in St. Boniface with her two children and two cats. Her daughter Ellie, 4, has Down syndrome and is excited to enter kindergarten this year. Ellie will go to French immersion just like her big brother. Erin is looking to use her experience with non-profit boards to strengthen MDSS and its support of families in Manitoba. She is particularly interested in parent education and connecting with other advocacy organizations. This summer she will complete her Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies.
Christine Collings– Vice President
Christine has been a part of the MDSS board since 2018. She has 4 children, her youngest Analeigh (6 yrs) has DS. Since joining the board, she has taken over as coordinator of the annual fundraiser Walk With Us. Although Covid has meant the walk has been virtual the past couple years, she looks forward to when restrictions lift and the MDSS family can walk together united again.
Rick Sawyer – Treasurer
Rick started as treasurer on the Board in 2007, as a way of indirectly supporting his Daughter Courtney, born in 2001 with Down Syndrome. He has enjoyed volunteering with other parents in the DS community, which has led to many friendships and opportunities for his daughter and family.
He is a major sports fan and enjoys watching, attending and supporting the local teams, especially when being accompanied by Courtney or her younger sister Nicole.
Kathy Yunker – Secretary
I had participated in the annual MDSS fundraising walk, Walk With Us, the same year my nephew, Taylor, was born and have every year since. I happily decided to become a Board member in 2017. Taylor and I formed a close bond right from the moment I held him as a newborn. I knew he and I would have a special auntie/nephew relationship. His happiness and progress in this world matter so much to me. I want to make a difference by being part of a Board who cares and has a vested interest in supporting Manitobans with Down syndrome. In addition to being the secretary I have also taken on other volunteer roles including coordinating/organizing the ever popular annual dinner and dance, taking pics at the bi-annual baby love events, volunteering at the Walk With Us and being an engaged member of the Board. I am appreciative of having the privilege to be a member of the Board and I enjoy the camaraderie of the other Board members and the common goals that unite us.
I grew up near Benito, Manitoba with many siblings including a foster sister who has Down syndrome. I moved south to complete university and then worked in the disability field for about 10 years with various organizations in Winnipeg I transitioned away from paid employment in the disability field to full time with the Canadian Armed Forces, working with the Cadet Program and volunteering in the not for profit social services sector. In 2019 my wife Amber and I welcomed our seventh child, Chloe, and she came with a birth diagnosis of Down syndrome. We live in the RM of Morris near Rosenort, Manitoba, but both work in Winnipeg. We have had a lot of support from the Down syndrome community, and all our networks, and I look forward now to working with the MDSS to give back some of what we have received over the past few years. I am excited to support the organization in its endeavours to provide support, information, and opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome as well as for their families and support systems.
In 2013 I participated in Walk with Us for another member, never imagining I would be here one day walking for our own son.
In 2014 my husband Lee and I were blessed with the brightest light in our lives. Our son Taylor Lee was born and diagnosed with Down syndrome.
In 2017 I became a board member with the MDSS where I took on many different roles within our amazing organization.
I visit members with gift packages when they are in Hospital and volunteer for many other events the MDSS hosts. I have taken on the role of creating socks for World Down Syndrome day, umbrellas and so many other beautiful MDSS keepsakes.
I am heavily involved in every aspect of this wonderful organization and I do it all for our son Taylor and for all of our beautiful members who have become my family.
I am so happy when I think of how far we have come as an organization and all of the things we have been able to do to better the lives of our members. And I can’t help but smile when I think of all of the things we have yet to do!
Lorraine is known to most people as ‘Ryan’s mom’! Ryan, who is now 30 years old, was the catalyst for her work as an MDSS board member for many years between 1997 and 2015. She is excited to work with so many Board members who are sure to have new and exciting ideas. Lorraine taught in Early Years classrooms for 38 years and was a Resource Teacher for the last 21 of them. She is happily retired now.
As a past Board member, Lorraine initiated and saw through projects to help ensure education, support and social networking. Some of these include From the Heart (the CDSS National Conference held in Winnipeg in 2002), the annual See Me Beautiful Conference for parents and educators, and the original social club Livewires. Lorraine also hosted Coffee and Chat evenings (a topic, a presenter, questions and chat time) for a number of years. These activities brought Lorraine and Ryan the best benefit of all – lifetime friends, some of whom are like family. We attend all kinds of local events together throughout the year – Celebrations Dinner Theatre, bowling, Rainbow Stage, visits to Gimli. We counsel and support each other through transitions, and celebrate our children’s lives.
I am an Engineer by Education, mom of two Daaniyal & Faris, Daaniyal was born with Down Syndrome and later diagnosed with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD. For Farooq and I he is an absolute JOY in our lives. Educating us about Love & Empathy. We wouldn’t want it any other way.
I love being a part of Manitoba Down Syndrome Society (especially in the tech side- behind the scene), serving our community is an honor. I have met amazing people through this organization and have built a new family.
Val Surbey – Past President
Val has been a long member of the Manitoba Down Syndrome Society from its inception to the present. Val is mom to Timothy, 31 years of age. Tim was adopted at birth by Val and Vince and we have never looked back. At present Val is involved in other organizations for individuals with intellectual disabilities and is an inclusion advocate.
* If you are interest in becoming a member of the Board of Directors, please contact Darren at 204-992-2731 or click here to send an email.