Our Board of Directors

This eclectic group has been drawn together through their love for Zach and Kaya and is committed to sharing the message that Love and Hope underpin Resilience as the lasting legacy of Zach and Kaya’s lives.

Darlene Sutherland – Chair

Darlene is the immensely proud mom of Zach, Ben and Nathaniel.  She has been married to her beloved husband Jeff for over 30 years.
Darlene understands firsthand how one’s ‘perfect’ life can be changed in an instant. This occurred first for her family in 2007 when Jeff was diagnosed with ALS and then again in 2016 with the tragic and sudden loss of both her eldest son Zach and his beloved girlfriend, Kaya.
Darlene personally experienced the profound impact that grief and trauma can have on a person’s mind, body and soul. It is through her ongoing dedication to learning more about the impacts of grief and trauma on mental and physical well being that she has come to better understand the need to acknowledge and work through our trauma so as to prevent ongoing suffering.
Darlene acknowledges that connections with others, as well as self compassion are integral to supporting one’s grief experience and developing resiliency.
It is Darlene’s hope that through expanded awareness, the medical community and society at large will become more supportive in providing compassionate, non judgemental understanding and resources to those experiencing loss, ultimately leading to healthier and more resilient healing throughout one’s lifetime.

Jeff Sutherland – Assistant to the Board

Jeff is a retired family physician. He retired early from his calling as a physician as a result of being diagnosed with the devastating disease, ALS, at only 41 years of age. Currently, the only muscles Jeff can control are his eyes. It is through his eyes that Jeff is able to communicate with his loved ones and the world. Fortunately, due to the advances in technology, Jeff is able to control his surrounding environment and use it to foster and share his knowledge and growth with others.  Jeff published his memoir, Still Life, in 2019. Jeff writes about his experience living with ALS and his grief following the loss of Zach and Kaya. In February 2021, Jeff gave a TEDx Talk entitled, Redefining Life With Meaning Following Profound Adversity.

Jeff brings a wealth of previous board member experience to this board, having previously served on The William Osler Health Center Board for 3 years and as senior staff support for The Halton Healthcare Board of Directors for 4 years.

Jeff has a special bond with his 3 sons. He continues to share with them his love for off the wall comedies and classic rock music. Jeff enjoys sharing his knowledge, compassion and resiliency with others and in so doing continues his calling as an empathetic caregiver.

Jennifer Firth – Treasurer

IMG_6129 2Jennifer is Kaya’s mother and is immeasurably proud of the kind, intelligent, articulate and strong-minded adults Kaya and her brothers are.

Over her 30-year career as a Physiotherapist, Jennifer learned that not all healing involves a return to a previous state. Rehabilitation is often about learning to adapt and work with what remains, while holding a vision for what is possible.  She learned that compassion must accompany skill in order to access the amazing capacity of the human body and the human spirit to both adapt and heal.

Since Kaya and Zach’s passing she has learned that although we must each walk our own individual path through grief, we do not have to do it alone. She has experienced firsthand the importance of acceptance and community in navigating grief following a heartbreaking loss. She continues to learn how to adpat as she carries her grief forward, alongside the joy to live a life she loves.

Jennifer’s hope is that other families and young people find hope and healing through the stories that are shared and the community that creates and supports the Zach and Kaya Resiliency Foundation.

Duncan Firth – Board Member

IMG_2655Duncan is Kaya’s father. He has always been a hands-on dad, enjoying building and then shooting pucks with Kaya and her brothers on the backyard rink, coaching hockey, teaching them to  wakeboard and waterski or just simply hanging out; he always puts his family first.

Duncan’s 30 years of experience in the transportation industry has allowed him to develop skills in the areas of information technology, logistics, resource and project management. He is happy to bring this skill set to his role on the Board of Directors.

Andrea Campbell – Vice Chair

AndyAndrea became acquainted with the Sutherland and Firth families through her son Eion.  He passed in 2018 at 21 years of age from cancer. Eion was a very close friend of the Sutherland family and during his life, including the time of his illness, he maintained a positive focus and gave genuine support and love to those around him, especially his close friends and family. To view Eion’s story, click here here

Andrea has been active within the Georgetown community for her entire life, from being an executive member for local sports leagues to planning major fund-raising events like the Big Chill.   Currently Andrea is an active member of the Georgetown Hockey Heritage Council.  Along with her fund-raising experience, Andrea brings from her long career as a Customer Service Manager in Logistics, an extensive skill set of organization, logistics and communication experience.

She has been an integral part of the team organizing all Foundation fundraising events to date and is excited to bring her skill set and her commitment to her role as Vice Chair.

Allison Brownlee – Secretary

Allison has been an Educational Assistant for 21 years at the Halton District School Board. The students that she works with every day show her the power of resilience as they face daily challenges in their lives.

Kaya would affectionately call Allison “Mama B”.  Her contagious laughter that filled The Brownlee house regularly for 16 years, will always be a treasured memory for Allison. Kaya was a true gift to Allison’s daughter, Kara, and her family.  Allison is humbled to be on this Board and honoured to be involved in carrying on Kaya and Zach’s legacy.

Ryan Biehn – Board Member

Ryan is the son of Greg and Judy Biehn and one of Zach’s best friends.  Their relationship started at a young age through various friendships with the Sutherlands.  It grew through high school and university years and was fostered with their love of sports – golf, hockey and baseball.  Ryan was born and raised in Georgetown and with Zach’s influence and encouragement to take risks, completed medical school in Ireland and is currently in his Family Medicine Residency through Western University. Ryan is a proud friend and grateful to be on the Board of Directors for the Zach and Kaya Resiliency Foundation where he provides the perspective of a young person who has found resiliency following loss. He is looking forward to supporting the continued evolution of the Foundation in memory of Zach and Kaya.

Kara Whitten – Board Member

Kara is an elementary teacher.  She and Kaya were fortunate enough to have an inseparable, unbreakable bond that began when they were 6 years old. They referred to each other as “non-romantic life partners” (a term coined by Kaya), and there is no better way to describe their relationship. Through Kaya, Kara was privileged to know Zach. To know them is to know true friendship, true connection, and true love. She is honoured to be on this Board of Directors to help others through sharing Kaya and Zach’s legacy and spreading their love.

Judy Biehn – Board Member

judyJudy Biehn is married to Greg and is the proud mother of three children one adored standard poodle.  She is a retired teacher with the Peel Board of Education where she worked for 32 years mostly supporting students and families with Autism and Special Needs.

Her family has always thought of the Sutherlands as their chosen family.  Zach was not only like a son to them but a shining star in so many ways.  When he met Kaya, his star shone even brighter.  She is honoured to be on the Board of Directors for the Zach and Kaya Resiliency Foundation. Recognizing youth living with loss is a loving and purposeful way to remember the impact Zach and Kaya had on our lives.  Judy stands proudly with The Sutherlands and her new chosen family, The Firths in supporting and celebrating youth in their journey of healing.

Carol Storey – Board Member

Carol grew up in  Halifax, Nova Scotia, the eldest daughter on whom family members have relied for social assistance and managing day-to-day life.  From an early age, Carol gravitated towards supportive friends and their families, and as a result was able to have many great childhood experiences because of the generosity and kindness of the parents of her friends.  Because of these people, she learned to appreciate the value of education and was the first person in her family to attain a post secondary education.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Windsor. As Family Manager, Carol volunteered extensively within the school system, minor sports and with charities that helped children and young adults confronted with the limitations of their upbringing.  More like family than friends with the Sutherlands, Carol and her family enjoyed an extremely close relationship with this remarkable and inspiring family.  When the Sutherlands lost their son Zach, and his girlfriend Kaya, it felt as though they had lost members of their own family.  Carol is honoured to participate on the board of the Zach and Kaya Resiliency  Fund, the brainchild of two such incredibly strong and resilient families.

Greg Biehn – Board Member

Greg Dec 2022Greg Biehn is married to Judy – they have three children Ryan, Callum and Hadley and have lived in Georgetown over 25 years.  Greg has worked in various progressing roles of responsibility in marketing, sales and business development within the healthcare industry.  This includes companies like Johnson & Johnson, EMD Canada (Merck KGaA) and McKesson Canada.  They have known the Sutherlands for several years and have forged a very meaningful family relationship.  The strength of their relationship has been centered around their children as Zach was a wonderful friend to the Biehn family – always welcome, always making them laugh and always being a positive and uplifting force.  They were fortunate to have witnessed the impact that Kaya had on Zach’s life.  Greg is privileged to be on the Board of Directors for the Zach and Kaya Resiliency Foundation and help contribute, provide support and recognize the resiliency of young people living with loss.

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