Our Team

FOCA operates under a governance board structure, and directs strategic priorities through a number of Committees that report to the Board of Directors. Scroll down for information about our Staff, and volunteer Board.

FOCA Office Staff:

Terry Rees
Michelle Lewin

Terry Rees

Executive Director

Keilani Carroll

Director of Operations

Michelle Lewin

Manager of Communications & Development

Deanna Forgie
Kirk Kuipers

Deanna Forgie

Programs Coordinator

Kirk Kuipers

Membership Coordinator

We're Hiring!

Assistant Lake Stewardship Coordinator 

Terry has been a leader and innovator within the private and not-for-profit sectors for over 30 years, and is an active representative on numerous province-wide and bi-national committees related to water, the environment, and other community and sustainability issues. He brings a unique perspective and background from progressive roles within the mining, minerals and petrochemical industries garnered across North America with several sector-leading organizations.
After many years as a FOCA volunteer, Terry took on the role of Executive Director of FOCA in 2004. As leader of one of the largest membership associations in the Province, Terry is committed to building a strong community, and to working collaboratively with a broad range of partners to address the many complex challenges facing Ontario’s rural communities and our freshwater environments.

In 2016, Terry was featured as one of 100 “Voices for Science Communication” in the Science Borealis campaign. He was also recognized in 2016 by the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association as a Corporate Steward. In 2012, Terry received an honour from Water Canada as a “Water’s Next” person representing Canadian water excellence.

Terry cottages on Lake Kasshabog.

Follow Terry on Twitter

Keilani was hired in October 2022 to facilitate administrative operations in the FOCA office, in support of FOCA’s advocacy, communications, and member support services. She is also focused on governance, supporting the FOCA Board of Directors and its Committees.

Keilani completed both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Education at McGill University. After spending the first part of her career as an international educator, she made the transition into the charitable not-for-profit sector where she has over 10 years’ experience working in the field of administration and finance. As a member of the Waterloo-Wellington Fund-Raising Executives, Keilani also brings fundraising and development expertise to the table, as well as personal volunteer experience in governance and on committees.

Keilani grew up spending weekends and summers at her family cottage in Upstate New York, and presently cottages with her husband and two boys in the Northern Kawarthas.

Michelle joined the staff in 2010 to beat the drum about the good work being done by FOCA. Her background is in communications and culture.

Michelle oversees FOCA’s printed and electronic messaging, and works with our association members to distribute information to our 50,000 members across the Province. Michelle manages FOCA’s website and Elerts, as well as our annual Year in Review and Lake Stewards Newsletter productions.

Michelle also liaises with FOCA’s Corporate Sponsors. Contact Michelle if your organization is interested in partnering with FOCA to support our mandate of protecting Ontario’s waterfront experience.

Image: picnic point, Lake Solitaire 1970sMichelle’s formative years were spent at a family cottage on Lake Solitaire in the Huntsville area, at the old Limberlost Lodge property.

Deanna is the FOCA Programs Coordinator. She is a graduate of Trent University with a degree in Environmental Science and Geography, and in 2015 she completed the Environmental Technician program with Fleming College.

Deanna worked with FOCA as a summer student in 2014 before taking on the role of Membership and Programs Coordinator; she is now our full-time Programs lead.

Deanna cottages on Catchacoma Lake.

Kirk Kuipers is FOCA’s Membership Coordinator. Contact him for information about joining or renewing your FOCA membership, association support, and member benefits.

Kirk is a graduate of McMaster University with a degree in History, and in 2019 he complete the accelerated Paralegal degree program at Seneca College. Kirk has worked in inventory management and in immigration law before he moved to Peterborough and began his new role with FOCA.

Kirk has enjoyed many summers at his family’s cottage at Crow Lake in South Frontenac.

Gavin joined FOCA in early 2023 as the Assistant Lake Stewardship Coordinator. You can contact him with questions or inquiries regarding the Lake Partner Program.

Gavin is a graduate of Trent University and Fleming College where he completed the Ecological Restoration bridge program and received a college diploma and University Degree (Hons) in Ecological Restoration.

During his first year after graduation Gavin worked as a lab technician where he gained experience and knowledge in the inner workings of a fast paced lab setting.

Gavin has resided in Algonquin Park for the last two summers where he hiked, biked, and kayaked whenever possible. Gavin has a passion for the environment and community and looks forward to his role with the Lake Partner Program.

2022-23 FOCA Board Executive: 

President: Ian Crawford

Vice President: Deborah Martin-Downs

Treasurer: Daryle Moffatt

Secretary: Donna Commerford

FOCA Board meeting January 2019

FOCA Board of Directors:

The current Board directors are presented here in alphabetical order by surname.  See more “about” each Director below, including their local Lake Association affiliation, background, time on the FOCA Board and committee work.

Donna Commerford Board 2022

Terry Beettam

Rick Blickstead

Donna Commerford

Lake Weslemkoon Conservation Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2017. 

COMMITTEES: Governance & Nominations; Finance; Member Services & Benefits

Here’s my story: At a very young age while vacationing at a family rental cottage I discovered my first real passion – fishing. So in 1994, while renting a cottage on Lake Weslemkoon and bass fishing each day, it was an easy decision to purchase our water-access cottage on Otter Lake in 1995. Otter is attached to Weslemkoon and is pristine and peaceful, where the most you will hear in the evening are the frogs and the loons.

Although our kids were grown by then, our two grandchildren soon began visiting from Montreal, and have begun their cottage experience as I once did. And, my grandson is learning to fish!

Between all of this I had a busy 31-year career in a variety of sales and marketing positions with IBM Canada until retirement in 2000. After which, as president of my own firm, I offered marketing consulting services to smaller companies in the Toronto area until 2007. Then, my also-retired wife, Diane, and I decided to spend 6 months a year at the lake.

Between 2001-2013 I served on the Board of Directors of the Lake Weslemkoon Conservation Association (LWCA), eventually retiring as Past President. During this tenure we focussed on a variety of initiatives around water quality monitoring and improvement.

Since 2014 I have also volunteered with St John Ambulance in the Therapy Dog program along with my Labrador, Leo. In this role we visit weekly with seniors, school children and university students to help enrich their lives.”

Basshaunt Lake Homeowners’ & Cottages’ Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2022.

COMMITTEES: Finance, Revenue (Chair)

Rick is a fluently bilingual, senior general management executive with experience in both the Canadian and American public, non-profit, and private sectors. He has a diverse background in public policy, governance and risk management, branding, retail, and consulting, having led several US and CDN firms as CEO/President. Rick attended Carleton University, UofT’s Rotman School of Management, and Harvard University’s Business and Kennedy schools.

Rick has been an active executive and past President of the Basshaunt Lake Homeowners and Cottagers Association for 15 years (a no-motor Lake in the Haliburton Highlands). He is active in working with municipalities and associations on critical issues of shoreline protection, clean water advocacy, and environmental protection of our lakes and rivers. He has been a member of FOCA since arriving in cottage country in 2003.

Big Gull Lake East End Cottage Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2022. 

FOCA Board Secretary

COMMITTEES: Governance & Nominations, Membership Services & Benefits

Donna Commerford has worked for more than 30 years in the education field. She enjoyed a successful career working as an elementary and secondary school teacher, Board consultant and Principal.

Donna joined IBM K-12 Education in January of 2004, where she has taken on the role of Senior Educational Consultant. She currently works with Districts and teachers assisting them in effectively integrating technology into their learning and teaching practices to align with their District achievement goals. The desired outcome is to ultimately impact positive student achievement and enhance teacher practice. She has delivered professional learning and implementation strategies for classroom teachers, Special Education Resource teachers and School Board Administrators.

Big Gull Lake has a very special place in Donna’s life. Her husband’s family has had a cottage on the lake since the late 1950’s. Donna and her husband purchased their cottage in 2004. She has been active with the Big Gull Lake Cottage Association since 2007. She has chaired the Family Triathlon as well as holding the positions of Secretary and Vice-President. She is currently President of the Board.

Her volunteer work includes being a member of the Board of Directors of Carpenter Hospice in Burlington Ontario, Past Chair of the Northumberland YMCA, as well as numerous leadership roles on Rotary committees. She resides in Burlington, Ontario with her husband, Jim and remains active in her local community.

Mike Delsey
Ian Crawford
John Hickey

Mike Delsey

Ian Crawford

John Hickey

Lake Kasshabog Residents Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2022.

COMMITTEES: Short-Term Rentals Working Group, Roads Working Group

With 40 plus years of progressively responsible experience in both the public and private sectors in traffic and transportation engineering, Mike now works part time as a Senior Project Advisor for GHD, a global consulting firm.

Mike has been registered to practice engineering in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, and has served on the Board of Directors of AECOM Canada as well as the Consulting Engineers of Ontario.

He is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and served as Chair of the Transportation Association of Canada “Geometric Design Standing Committee”.

Mike is very excited about the opportunity to join FOCA’s Board of Directors to support the organization in its quest to ensure that waterfront living in Ontario is environmentally sustainable, affordable, and safe for current and future generations.

Captain Estates Road Cottagers Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2019.

FOCA Board President

COMMITTEES: Finance; Governance & Nominations (Interim Chair); HR (Chair); Member Services & Benefits; Revenue; Roads Working Group; Short-term Rentals Working Group

Ian is a passionate lifelong cottager, who joined the FOCA Board to help protect the cottaging experience for future generations.

In the course of his career, Ian has been involved in the design, development and delivery of natural resource management programs in the public sector, and is a subject-matter expert in species-at-risk, water management planning, and Land Claim negotiations. Ian holds certification and extensive experience in leadership, mediation, negotiation, and alternative dispute resolution and has provided leadership training and design to over 20 organizations, corporations and governments around the world.

Indian Point Property Owners Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2018.

COMMITTEES: Finance; Member Services & Benefits; Roads Working Group; Short-term Rentals Working Group

John spent his early summers on the sandy shores of Nottawasaga Bay in Tiny township overlooking Blue Mountain. While a student at Lakehead University where he met the love of his life, Linda, John joined the Canadian Ski Patrol and became involved in the Student Union and found time to graduate.

He has been involved in the Kawartha Lakes community since in the late 1960’s. John joined the family business in Coboconk in the early 70’s, moved to Fenelon Falls and on to Lindsay where he became involved in the Association of Kinsmen Clubs and achieved 10 years’ perfect attendance. John was involved in family ownership of 2 cottages until he built his Panabode on Balsam Lake in 1993.

Throughout his lengthy career in the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Industry, John has also been a committed volunteer in trade associations and is a Past President of the Indian Point Property Owners’ Association. John also volunteered as a civilian volunteer in the OPP’s ERASE Program.

Recently retired, John has had a life-long commitment to cottage life with a dedicated involvement and commitment to organization and committee work including the issues that face us at the waterfront. He hopes to find time for tennis, boating, sailing, bridge and the grand kids.
Linda and John now have 7 grandchildren. Their eldest daughter Allison has recently purchased her own cottage next door to the property John grew up at on Nottawasaga Bay.

Tony Lepine
Wendy Lyttle
Deborah Martin-Downs

Tony Lepine

Wendy Lyttle

Deborah Martin-Downs

Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2017.

COMMITTEES: Governance & Nominations; Member Services & Benefits (Chair); Revenue

Here’s my story: I was first exposed to “cottaging” in the late 50’s. My father owned a camp in northern Ontario on the outskirts of my home town. Unfortunately, a forest fire near the town of Chapleau destroyed the camp in 1958. My father never rebuilt and my cottage experience suffered a gap of nearly 20 years.

After spending time at friends’ cottages from the mid 70’s to the late 90’s and after renting on a few occasions, we purchased a cottage (built in 1958) on Kennisis Lake while renting there in 2002. We loved the rugged character of the Haliburton Highlands. Given that we were newbies, we volunteered at various association events so that we could meet the neighbours, enjoy the lake environment more fully and contribute to the cottage community.

In 2005 I became the treasurer of the Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners’ Association (KLCOA) and served in that capacity for 7 years, followed by the role of president for 2 years.

My wife and I both retired in 2013, me after spending 40 years in the Telecom industry and my wife as an elementary teacher and school administrator for 35 years. Retirement has offered us the opportunity to enjoy the cottage more fully and not just on weekends.

My concerns with ownership and the cottage experience are broad but focus mainly on the issues that affect the health of the lake and our ability to enjoy it throughout the year (e.g. shoreline health, properly functioning septic systems, etc…).”

Catchacoma Cottagers Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2017.

COMMITTEES: Governance & Nominations; Member Services & Benefits; Short-term Rental Working Group; Roads Working Group.

“Here’s my story: For most of my life, I have spent summers at a cottage. The first was Whiting Beach, Lake Muskoka, since I was 3 weeks old. Then to Kahshe Lake, Muskoka in my teen years; I even formed, with friends, the Kahshe Lake Junior Cottagers Association. For 40+ years we owned a cottage on Catchacoma Lake in the Kawartha Highlands.

Cottage life is in my blood. I only spent one summer in the city when first married! We bought our cottage before a house—that was the priority. Need I say more?

Being water-access only, we were seasonal cottagers. All know that cottages are ‘maintenance’ for the owners and ‘vacation’ for friends and family. Some say a money pit, for sure. But how about ending up owning a marina with 65 others so we could get to our cottages!

My skills sets relate to the not for profit sector in governance, membership, strategic planning along with other portfolios geared to this sector. I was appointed by the Provincial Government in Council to sit on the Management Advisory Board of the Kawartha Highlands Signature Site Park when it was given royal consent for 11 years. I also have board experience, both on national boards as well as provincial charities.”

Muskoka Lakes Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2020.

FOCA Vice President

COMMITTEES: HR; Member Services & Benefits; Revenue; Short-term Rental Working Group.

Deborah is an environmental professional trained in Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo (1979) and has a Masters of Zoology/Environmental Studies from the University of Toronto (1984) with a specialty in aquatic ecology. Over her 30-year career she has held progressively senior positions in the public and private sector. She joined Credit Valley Conservation in 2013 as the Chief Administrative Officer, a position she continues to hold. In this role she is responsible for a staff of over 180 environmental specialists and a budget of approximately $23 million.

Deborah has been cottaging on Breezy Point, Lake Muskoka for 60 years. From its humble beginnings as a home built ‘box’, the pride of Shirley and Ron Martin, it has changed over the years to accommodate a growing family. She took over ownership of the cottage from her parents five years ago to ensure the next generation continues to enjoy the lake. Deb is married to Jim Downs and has two grown sons.

Daryle Moffatt
Mary Ann Peden
Eric Stuart

Daryle Moffatt

Mary Ann Peden

Eric Stuart

Otter Lake Ratepayers Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2017.

FOCA Board Treasurer (to March 4, 2023)

COMMITTEES: Finance (Chair); Members Services & Benefits; Roads Working Group; Short-term Rental Working Group

Here’s my story:

My wife and I own a cottage on Otter Lake just south of Parry Sound. We purchased the cottage in 1998 after arriving back to Canada from living in Luxembourg. The couple we purchased the cottage from still have the place next door. I had spent a few weekends at friend’s cottages over the years so owning a cottage was very new to me but my wife had spent summers at friend’s cottages in the past. Travelling from Toronto along old 69 (when it was only two lanes) was a challenge of my patience in the beginning and going home was very difficult, sometimes taking 5 hours. Nonetheless we continued to make the drive almost every weekend from Easter to Thanksgiving.  With Highway 400 now twinned north of Parry Sound the drive up is better but still the drive home is more difficult because I would rather be at the cottage as compared driving back to Toronto. We can only drive into our cottage during the three seasons but coming up in the winter, first by foot, then by snowshoe, by snowmobile, and lastly in Winter 2020 when had our road plowed, and in my view, is 100% better than in the summer even with the challenges. Less people, less noise and you get a better sense on life with the fire burning inside and when you go out and breath-in, when it is cold, your nostrils stick together, tobogganing, skating on the lake and playing in the snow – how Canadian.

I have sat on the Otter Lake Ratepayers’ Association’s Board from 2014 to 2018 as its treasurer and membership director in 2017 and 2018. In Fall 2018, I was elected as a municipal Councillor with the Township of Seguin. I also sit on our local cottage road association as the secretary and treasurer and (as a founding member) had many challenges in that role that I did not appreciate until stepping into an issue – I have learned a lot about practical road issues to write a book. My professional background includes the fact that I am a Chartered Accountant with over 25-years experience and have been working as a sole practitioner for about 5 ½ years now with a focus on taxation. I would not go back working for someone else because it would not allow me the freedom to run my schedule and spend more time at the cottage – taking a conference call from “my office” is very different these days. Given my numbers’ background, I track my days at the cottage and in 2016, I finally achieved one of my cottage goals, more than 100-days at the cottage. I continue to spend more time at the cottage except for 2020 when COVID-19 restricted our travel north (and as a municipal Councillor, you need to lead by example). I enjoy spending time with friends and family at the cottage but what I like to-do is work on my hobbies and build, renovate and the like at the cottage to try and improve things for my family and hopefully my daughter’s family down the road. I would like to think that I could retire sooner rather than later so I could move permanently north to the West Parry Sound area, but I will put that on my cottage goal list, so I have something to reach for over the next few years.”

Lake of Bays Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2021.

COMMITTEES: HR; Governance & Nominations; Short-Term Rental Working Group

WORKING GROUPS: Short-term Rentals

Mary Ann’s story:

Mary Ann Peden is a Past President of  the Lake of Bays Association. She is a retired teacher who for 25 years worked with special needs children at the secondary level in Mississauga. She has been involved with the Lake of Bays (youth) Sailing Club 1995 to 2008, was on their Fundraising Committee, a Junior Program Director, Commodore, and Past Commodore. With the Lake of Bays Association from 2006-present she has been an Area Steward, on the Membership Committee, Communications Committee Chair, Environmental Committee – Invasive Species Team, and President from 2018 – 2021.

Lake Wahnapitae Home and Campers Association. Joined the FOCA Board in 2021.

COMMITTEES: Member Services & Benefits; Roads Working Group; Short-term Rental Working Group

Eric Stuart has been a thoughtful and involved volunteer in his association, Lake Wahnapitae Home and Campers Association (LWH&CA) in the Sudbury area, for 30 years – the last nine as President.  The Sudbury area in which he lives boasts over 320 lakes.

He’s been an established resident of Lake Wahnapitae for 50 years. He has much knowledge of the lake and its great contribution to the Sudbury area. Eric was and still is much involved in the LWH&CA invasive species projects, in shoal marking, Ontario Power Generation monitoring lake levels & flows, Canada Day Celebrations on Lake Wahnapitae, and road development. Eric is a retired electrician from Inco, with a keen interest for connecting lake associations to FOCA and to sharing his ideas about local engagement with others through FOCA.

For more about FOCA’s organizational structure, by-laws & strategic priorities, see:

Our Work