Board of Directors

Shalem Board Members:

Jeanette Romkema, Co-Chair • Hector Acer-Ferrer, Co-Chair • Pam De Wilde, Secretary • David Witt, Treasurer • Wilma Scherloski • Sandra Williams (see complete bios below)

The Board is a policy board and committed to best practices in governance. In 2008, after a facilitated Board/Staff retreat, the Board unanimously adopted a an ambitious three-year Strategic Plan.  An exciting new three-year Strategic Plan has been approved by the Board.  It is rightly positioned, we believe, to meet significant needs and equip communities.  A copy of the current Strategic Plan is available here.

The Board is also served by an independent group of larger donors convened by successful Christian entrepreneur Sidney Harkema. For information about joining this group, please call Sidney at 905.796.8478.


Jeanette Romkema (Board Co-Chair):  Having dealt first-hand with navigating mental health services on behalf of a loved one, Jeanette brings a consumer perspective to Shalem. Jeanette has worked internationally in development and currently serves as a partner with Global Learning Partners.  She is presently Board Chair of the Lighthouse, a newcomer and refugee settlement service in Toronto.

Hector Acero Ferrer (Board Co-Chair): Hector is the Educational and Development Liaison Officer of Scarboro Missions’ Interfaith Department, where he is currently developing Interfaith and Intercultural dialogue initiatives for communities in the Greater Toronto Area. He is set to begin doctoral studies in philosophy this fall at the Institute for Christian Studies. Through friends he is familiar with some of Shalem’s program activities and looks forward to expanding his knowledge and promotion of its other activities. He has expressed a desire to bring to Shalem his passion for community work, commitment to social transformation, and his understanding of the Christian and ethical values that sustain Shalem’s work with those facing mental illnesses and their communities. Hector is involved in the parish life of Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church

Pam De Wilde (Secretary):   Pam is the Coordinator of the InterChurch Immigrant Support Group (IISG), a grassroots volunteer network of churches in the Durham Region that provides settlement services to newcomers.  She has worked internationally in relief and development.  The Shalem Board benefits from her skill and expertise in Board policy and policy development.  Pam lives in Oshawa.

David Witt (Treasurer): Dave works for International Teams Canada as Missional Network Developer. Working in partnership with the TrueCity network of churches in Hamilton, he helps multiple congregations collaboratively live out their desire to be “churches together for the good of the city.” This includes finding ways for these congregations to respond to the mental health challenges in their midst and in their communities. Dave has a broad range of board experience from an established community health centre to a start-up building school social enterprise. He brings to Shalem his passion for congregations to be deeply engaged in seeking justice and restoring hope.

Wilma Scherloski: Wilma is Dean of Students at Regis College at the University of Toronto. She is a retired school principal and Superintendent at the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, where she specialized in working with at-risk, marginalized youth. A Hamilton high school—“Wilma’s Place”—is named after her. Previously she served on the Board of Lynwood Charlton Centre, a children’s mental health centre in Hamilton. Wilma brings her passion for youth, a broad vision, and her administrative experience to bear on the Shalem Board.

Sandra Williams: Sandra is a Child and Youth Worker with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board. She has been engaged in supporting and advocating for students experiencing social and emotional difficulties for many years. She brings to her work a holistic approach to supporting students and their families and strives to foster a caring and inclusive environment in her place of work. She is an active agent of change within her community. Sandra is a member of Meadowvale Christian Reformed Church.


Loss of a Friend, Gift of a Life

Organizations are about people and the service of one another. Policies, budgets and strategic plans, crucial as they are, are meant only to support people. If they become ends in themselves, then unwittingly the organization has been hollowed out and become empty. In that light, I want to pay tribute to a dear friend of Shalem: Marten Mol. Marten passed away from brain cancer on March 22, 2010, at the age of 66. He was the Chair of Shalem’s Board when he died, a position he had held for three years. In that period he made an enormous contribution to Shalem.

His contribution was at many levels – especially the level of vision-casting for the organization. He was a visionary, always with the big picture in view. He was passionate about both Christian mental health and about Shalem as a whole. His passion in both areas came through in every interaction that he had with us and with current or potential Shalem partners. It was this combination of vision and unflagging enthusiasm – right to the very end – that has left such a mark on all of us at Shalem. There were moments of discouragement that Marten would transform into moments of possibility and opportunity.

Let me speak more personally about the gift that Marten was to me. Marten became a true friend. He had a good sense of my strengths and weaknesses, and he was always supportive of me in both areas. He had no hesitation to confront me in areas that I needed confronting, in a direct but always constructive way.

That was a true and rare gift. We live in a culture, especially in faith communities, where direct confrontation is often avoided, and when it happens, it is often destructive. Marten did neither: he confronted when needed and was always constructive in doing so. In this way, he was a living example of the values undergirding our FaithCARE program – one of Marten’s favourite Shalem programs – which uses Restorative Practices to help faith communities transform conflict into opportunities for healing and growth. Marten’s vision and passion will be an ongoing inspiration to us, and our exciting growth is a direct fruit of Marten’s dream. We miss him keenly, but Marten is also in Shalem’s DNA. He was a real witness to Jesus and his redemption, which he experienced deeply. In that respect, we are so grateful to God that death is not the last word. True friends – ones who both encourage and constructively confront – are such gifts, don’t you think? Thank God for Marten and for all true friends.

Mark Vander Vennen
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR