Exploring  .  Creating  . Belonging 

Board of Directors

Abode Respite is proud to be a Non-Profit Organization governed by an awesome Board of Directors. 

Find out more about our board below!

Deanna Marchese-Cunningham, President

Deanna will serve as Abode Respite’s President. Deanna graduated with honours from the University of Windsor with a Bachelor of Arts in Developmental Psychology. She also graduated with honours from St.Clair College's Autism and Behavioural Science program. Deanna is working on her Master's degree in Autism and Applied Behaviour Analysis, with the intention of becoming a Behaviour Analyst. She currently works as a Senior Therapist, providing in home ABA services to children with autism. Deanna loves dogs of any kind, copious amounts of coffee, and reading when she has some spare time.  

Claudette Meriano, Vice President

Claudette will serve as Abode Respite’s Vice President. Claudette has served on several boards and committees that serve people living with a disability. Claudette has experienced life as a mother to children living with a disability who have taught, inspired, and led her to have a very different and wonderful life. Claudette is the recipient of Chatham-Kent Municipal Advocacy Award and received Honours of the Associate Award from Ontario Association of Children’s Rehabilitation Services for creating awareness for the need of adult size change areas and successfully convincing the Ministry of Transportation to include adult change areas at all service centres in Ontario. Claudette works with Motion Specialties providing solutions, aids to daily living, and medical and mobility equipment. Claudette believes in the mission and vision of Abode Respite as accessibility and quality of life is very important to her. Crafting, creating and decorating make Claudette happy. Claudette loves costumes and April Fool’s Day pranks. 

Jessica Gabrieau, Secretary

Jessica will serve as Abode Respite’s Secretary. Jessica graduated from the University of Windsor with an honours Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and has been working as a Registered Nurse for 4 years. She currently works in Detroit as a labour and delivery nurse, and is loving every minute of it! While completing her degree, Jessica served as secretary on the Patient Safety Committee, a group dedicated to protecting patients from harm and educating medical professionals on ways to reduce errors in the field. On the side, Jessica uses her medical background to volunteer with Abode and performs health assessments with the members. Getting to be a part of Abode has brought Jessica so much joy! Jessica is passionate about spreading kindness to all she meets and is a firm believer in paying it forward. She is obsessed with horror movies and has a love-hate relationship with chocolate.

Lisa Aronne, Treasurer

Lisa will serve as Abode Respite’s Treasurer. Lisa is passionate about helping people and this has been instilled in Lisa as she has grown up with her brother, who is living with a developmental disability. Professionally, Lisa obtained her Master of Business Administration from the University of Windsor and became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in 1992. Lisa has practiced in public accounting and helped run her family business in property management. Lisa’s house is full as she is also a mom to three awesome young adults and three dogs. Lisa loves her full and beautiful life almost as much as her morning coffee.  

Andrea Mundle, Director

Andrea will serve as a Director for Abode Respite. Andrea is passionate about individuals with exceptionalities reaching their full potential, contributing to and being a part of society while living a happy and rewarding life. Andrea is a mother of two extraordinary children, one of whom is an adult living with autism. Professionally, Andrea obtained her BA (minor Sociology) from University of New Brunswick and a Masters in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University. Andrea believes in a balanced life, loving vegetables and ice cream equally. Andrea spends her free time with her family and their dog, cycling, and being at the beach when possible!

Tina Voakes, Director

Tina will serve as a Director for Abode Respite. Tina is a fun loving, compassionate person who loves to laugh. Tina obtained her RPN at St.Clair College, is registered with the Colleges of Nurses of Ontario, and is a registered Reflexologist. Tina has worked supporting students of all different abilities in schools for over 15 years. Travelling, photography, good food and time with family are a few of Tina’s favourite things. 

Heather McCann-Smith, Executive Director

 For as long as she can remember, Heather had a vision of starting an out-of-home respite program that acted as a home away from home as she became a big sister to Hannah, who was born with Cerebral Palsy, epilepsy, and quadriplegia. Hannah lived every moment to the fullest and taught people how to love beyond words. Hannah was known for her squeals and giggles, colourful clothing,  painted nails, and very full life surrounded by a loving support network of family, friends, and incredible respite providers. Hannah passed away in 2008 at the age of 10. Later in life, Heather’s vision she had as a little girl manifested to created Abode Respite in memory of her little sister. Heather graduated with honours from St.Clair College’s Development Services Worker program where she served as Vice President of Thames Students Inc. and was the recipient of the President’s Medal, DSW Leadership Award, and CSA Regional Advocacy Award for her work raising awareness in accessibility on campus, students of all abilities, and challenging mental health stigma. Heather is a dog enthusiast and loves potatoes of any variety. Heather believes the key to happiness is through human connection, lots of laughing, and coffee.