Board of Directors and Staff
Tara Savoie – President, Central Representative
Tara Savoie has been involved with the sport of cheer for more than 20 years. She is an ICU Level 2 certified judge with experience provincially, nationally, and internationally. Most recently, Tara was selected as one of the judges for the 2019 Pan American Cheerleading Championship and 2020 ICU World School Cheerleading Championship. She also coaches Brock University’s Golf and Cheer team. With the latter, Tara has attended the ICU University World Cheerleading Championships and FISU World University Championships winning many accolades over her over 20-year tenure. Tara has been active in both the provincial and national sport organizations for both cheer and golf. She has served as a board member, and ultimately, President of OCF and is currently serving as the President of Cheer Canada where she also participates on the Judging, Scholastic and Long-Term Development Committees. In her spare time, Tara loves to golf and spend time with her husband and 2 young children.
Erica Royal – Vice-President, Atlantic Representative
Erica Royal, originally from Cape Breton Island, lives just outside of beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia with her two daughters and husband. She has been involved in the sport of cheer for over 25 years and has held many positions including athlete, school and all-star coach, gym owner (West Halifax Cheerleading – currently in their 14th season), event producer, Cheer Nova Scotia Board Member, Cheer Canada Board member, and most recently, she became a cheer mom when her daughter who had been an avid dancer for many years, decided to join a team. Erica is currently the Atlantic Regional Director for Cheer Canada, a position of which she has held since the inaugural year in 2017. She has also held the position of Treasurer and is now the Vice President. Outside of cheer, Erica has worked in the Information and Business Technology industry for over 20 years and is currently the Associate Director of Student Systems and Strategy for Dalhousie University’s Registrar’s Office.
Sarah Prosser – Treasurer, Pacific Regional Director
Sarah Prosser’s road to Cheer Canada Board Member started 30 years ago and involved stops as an athlete, coach, cheer mom, not-for-profit gym board member and Cheer Canada committee member and most recently, Chair of the External Relations Committee. Sarah’s extensive career in communications, social media and project management has been behind the voice of Cheer Canada’s social media since 2019. She brings a variety of life, work, and educational experience to Cheer Canada with a Master’s in Project Management, an English degree, and event planning and technical writing certificates. Always one to have a side hustle, over and above her day job, to fuel her creative side and passions, when Sarah isn’t fighting for diversity, equity, and inclusion in life and our sport, you can find her spending time in and near the water with her husband and two amazing daughters!
Patti McNeill – Secretary
Patti was a founding member of Cheer Canada and has been involved with the sport’s governance for more than 30 years in Manitoba. She was the Vice President of Cheer Manitoba and worked to merge the province’s two governing bodies. She has worked closely with the ICU and set up the bid process in Manitoba for teams to attend Worlds in Florida, as well as supported the development of scholastic cheer in her province. Patti has spent most of her life involved with Cheer. She looks forward to working with a new group to achieve more for the sport nationally.
Janie Lapierre – Eastern Representative
Janie Lapierre is the founder of Kicks Cheer & Events and SpiriX Athletics. In addition to being a former cheer athlete, she has been involved in coaching for 20 years at all levels and was involved in the creation of the Quebec Cheerleading Federation. Janie served several terms on the board of directors. She has also been a trainer for coaches and judges for the FCQ. Janie has also judged in Canada and the United States for more than 15 years. Janie will be part of the Canadian Olympic Committee Volunteer team Canada House for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Janie hopes she can help Cheer Canada build a solid foundation for the future of Sport.
Suzanne Fisher – Director at Large
Suzanne is a True Sport Champion who believes in providing quality sport experiences that are values-based and principles driven. She has an Advanced Coaching Diploma from Seneca College with a focus in gymnastics. With more than 10 years of experience working in the coach education department at a National Sport Organization, Suzanne has a high level of expertise in the NCCP, from grassroots to high performance, with proven innovation in curriculum design and online learning. Suzanne is a Master Coach Developer and has completed extensive leadership training, with a focus on management by values, including a Women in Leadership certificate from Cornell University and completion of the Women Emerging Leaders Development Program with the Canadian Olympic Committee. Suzanne’s personal work style includes making connections, listening to understand, trying new things, valuing relationships, and acting with integrity and gratitude in everything she does.
Keri Lewis – Director at Large
Keri is a gym owner and coach who is based out of Kamloops, BC. She sat on the board of directors with BC Cheerleading Association 2017-2020 as the secretary of the board and is currently a credentialing administrator for the BCCA certification program. She began as an athlete in Ontario in 2005 and transitioned into coaching in 2011. She has experience with development of marketing plans, HR management as well as implementing those plans and is / has been certified as a coach in various disciplines through NCCP, CASI, CSIA, ORCKA, among others. Along with BCCA Keri worked alongside ViaSport and Sport BC to help further the sport in her home province. She sat on the membership committee which helped to develop and implement the cheer-reg program and has extensive experience with that program. She also has experience with gaining sponsorship for events as well as event production specifically with BC Provincials which she was integral to getting off the ground and is now an annual event. Keri is hopeful that she can help build some capacity within Cheer Canada and give back to the sport that has given her so much.
Todd Knihnitski – West Representative
Todd is a co-owner of Prairie Fire Cheerleading and someone who loves everything about coaching. He has an Education degree and a Sports Science degree along with many years of coaching in several sports for the last 22 years. Todd is proud to help our sport grow locally, provincially and Nationally. When he isn’t coaching, Todd travels, hikes, and bikes with his family: Cristina, their two sons and two daughters (the four foot variety). He is an advocate for social justice, wellness and the health of our planet.
Nick Verburg – Athlete Director
Marie-Hélène Roussel – Director at Large
Marie-Hélène is among the board’s latest recruits. For this Quebec native, cheerleading was love at first sight. One aspect of the sport that especially resonated with her was how each individual athlete was needed for the team to be able to perform their routine, and how routines were built to play to everyone’s strengths. From that moment, she sought out ways to “spread the word” throughout her community, eventually joining a few Cheer Canada committees. When the call for directors came, Marie-Hélène jumped at the chance to have an even more meaningful impact on the sport that’s been part of her family for 6 years now.
A proud MBA alumnus of HEC Montréal, Marie-Hélène brings to the board over 15 years of coast-to-coast experience in communication and marketing, along with an undeniable flair for words in both English and French. She is very excited to draw on her background and previous board experience to help cheerleading thrive and get the recognition it deserves throughout Canada.
Danielle Hilliard – Director at Large
Danielle is a true believer in quality sport programming and is passionate about keeping Cheerleading safe and inclusive for all participants. Danielle has just over 18 years of experience in the sport. She is a UWO Mustang Cheer alumni, where she earned a degree in sociology and criminology, followed by a diploma in HR Management. Danielle is a former Team Canada Coed Elite and Premier athlete. In her professional life, Danielle heads up the Education Department at a Provincial Sport Organization, managing the National Coaching Certification Program. She is well-versed in safe sport initiatives, risk management and coach education. Through her various roles as a high-performance athlete, coach, clinician and choreographer, Danielle has an in-depth understanding of the sport through numerous lenses. Danielle’s strong background in coach education, both as a coach and an administrator, brings a unique perspective to Cheer Canada’s Board of Directors. She is thrilled to be able to give back to the sport that means so much to her.
Joanna Low – Executive Director (Staff)
With a passion for empowering non-profits, Joanna Low founded her business Beautiful Futures to bring lasting change and support to organizations working hard to have a greater impact in our community. With a BA in Psychology and a Master of Science, her systems-based approach, combined with her genuine deep connections to her clients, shapes the core values of her practice. Joanna also applies the same approach to the thousands of athletes that she has worked with as a coach, official, and program director. An athlete herself, she knows the importance of using the most current science available in conjunction with an understanding of each athlete’s unique strengths in order to best connect with and uplift the athlete. She enjoys passing these skills on to other coaches as a NCCP Master Coach Developer.
Joanna also has over 20 years in non-profit management with a background in accounting and finance. She is excited to bring her business management skills and her experience for non-profit development together to help grow and support Cheer Canada. Never having been one for much down time, Joanna’s passion for excellence carries over to her family as she is an enthusiastic and supportive mother to two daughters who are both highly competitive athletes. However, as exciting as that can be, Joanna’s true passion lies in building successful grassroots community programs that reach out to, and challenge, athletes of all skill levels and backgrounds.
Audit & Finance
Communications & Public Relations
Governance & Ethics
Technical Coordinating (encompassing the following subcommittees)
Chair: Janie Lapierre, QC
Krista Gerlich-Fitzgerald, BC
Laura Aspenlind, BC
Stephanie De Rosa, QC (All-Star SME)
Wendy Senra, ON (Cheer Abilities SME)
Alissa Stewart, SK (Performance Cheer SME)
Meagan Blakely, BC (Scholastic SME)
Lachlan Meyer, ON, AB (as determined by the Athlete Council)
Chair: Tara Savoie, ON
Nadine Brown-Dunthorne, NS
Jess Adler, NS
Sanaa El Rassi, QC
Laura Mar, ON
Mia Heitland, AB
Jenny-Lee Dugré, QC
Marcy Kuzemchak, ON
Alissa Stewart, SK
Technical Coordinating Committee Representative (as designated by the TC Committee)
Sport Development (encompassing the following subcommittees)
Chair: Suzanne Fisher, ON (also Coaching Subcommittee Chair)
Lisa Aucoin, ON
Angelus Gerlich-Fitzgerald, BC
Hailey Musto, BC
Aly Bradford, BC (LTAD Subcommittee Chair)
Dan Hogan, ON (Medical Subcommittee Chair)
Tanya O’Brien, ON and Sandy Han, ON (National Team Subcommittee co-chairs)
Tara Savoie, ON (International Opportunities Subcommittee chair)
Lilly Demers, QC (Junior Team Canada Director of Development)
Lachlan Meyer, AB (as designated by the Athlete Council)
Joanna Low, AB (ED – Ex-officio)
National Team Subcommittee
Chair: Samantha Burns, AB
Sandy Han, ON (Co-ed Coach Ex-officio)
Kim Fiissel, AB (All Girl Coach Ex-officio)
Erica Royal, NS
Sarah Prosser, BC
Daniel Yip, BC
Nick Verburg, MB
Lilly Demers, QC
Nicole Kraumanis, BC
Cleo Duffy, BC
Joanna Low, AB (ED – Ex-officio)
Samantha Burns, AB (Chef de Mission)
Business Systems Management
Chair: Erica Royal, NS
Garrett Skinn, ON
Vincent Hooper, QC
Translation Task Team
Chair: Anne Florence St Laurent, QC
Marie-Helene Roussel, QC
Alexandra Guimond, QC
Avery Teo, AB
Valerie Poulin-Gingras, QC
Athlete Development Matrix
Chair: Voula Fourlaris, AB
Magalie Zafimehy, ON
Emelia Weskett, AB
Danielle Hilliard, ON
Marie-Helene Roussel, QC
National Championship Task Team
Chair: Todd Knihnitski, SK
Anne Florence St. Laurent, QC
Mia Heitland, AB
Chuck Holland, ON
Veronique Bourgeois, QC
Avery Teo, AB
Deanna Mason, NL
Donna Rig, ON
Legality & Rule Clarification
Co-Chair: Marcy Kuzemchak, ON
Co-Chair: Jess Adler, NS
Carly Weisback, SK
Jenny-Lee Dugré, QC
Laura Mar, ON
Janie Lapierre, QC