Our Staff



deirdre thomas



Deirdre Thomas, BBS, Executive Director

Deirdre joined The Lighthouse as a volunteer in 2013 to help with runner recruitment and fundraising. This volunteer role grew to leading Lighthouse’s partnership with the Mercedes-Benz 10K. Deirdre then joined on a part-time contract in 2016 to help with event management, fundraising and marketing. Deirdre completed her undergraduate degree in Business Studies in Ireland before moving to the UK to pursue her career. She added a two year diploma in Management from Henley Management College to her credentials and then moved to Canada in 1998, where she lives in Oakville with her husband and two sons. Deirdre brings over 25 years of marketing experience to The Lighthouse, having worked for Smurfit Kappa Group, British Telecom, Yum Brands and Starbucks in various category and brand management roles. She has always been an active volunteer in the community- being the co-founder of the Ladies Out Laughing comedy event, being a board director of Oakville Multisport and organizing fundraising events for local schools.dthomas@grievingchildrenlighthouse.org


Candace Ray M.Ed., CAGS, Director of Services and Operations

Candace joined the Lighthouse in January of 2013 and brings with her over 20 years of experience in social work and public education.While employed as a social worker, Candace completed her Master’s degree in Education at the University of Vermont in 1992. Candace spent the next four years as a Special Educator in a public high school and earned a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Education at the University of Vermont in 1998 before moving to Canada.In addition to her experience as a teacher and social worker, Candace has spent over 10 years coordinating programs and working with volunteers at Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring organizations in both Canada and the United States. She is passionate and committed to supporting children, youth and their families as they face difficult life challenges and considers it a privilege to be part of the Lighthouse team of dedicated staff and volunteers.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Sharon O’Donnell, B.A, B.S.W., RSW - Coordinator of Support Services

Sharon joined The Lighthouse in August 2013. Support and empowerment for children and families has been the focus of her career. After the completion of her degrees in Social Work and Psychology at McMaster University, Sharon worked with families dealing with issues of domestic violence. She then went on to provide Pre and Post Natal Counselling, pregnancy options and support at a child protection agency, and subsequently became the assessment and support worker in foster care. After taking time to be home with her three children, Sharon returned to the workplace to provide support to children and youth who lacked significant role models, by matching them with caring adult volunteer mentors. Apart from her career, Sharon devotes her time and energy to running her three children around town. Whenever possible, Sharon seeks out time in the woods to commune with nature and find solace. Sharon is a board member at large and conference chair for the Bereavement Ontario Network. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

erica 2013

Erica Bostwick B.A. B.Ed., Coordinator of Support Groups

Erica has known since she was three, when she met her baby sister for the first time that she wanted to work with children. After graduating from Queen’s University with a B.A. Psychology/B.Ed., life took her to South Africa where she taught drama and creative movement classes, and had her son Jason. Four years later while living in Nevada her daughter Elizabeth was born. Erica has extensive volunteer experience ranging from coaching soccer and basketball, being a Boy Scout and Girl Guide leader, holding various positions on school councils, to facilitating a children’s group at a Women’s Shelter. Erica began her work at Lighthouse as a volunteer facilitator in October 2011, and took on an even larger role as Groups Assistant in 2013. Erica holds a certificate in Bereavement Education from U. of T. and a certificate in Children's Grief and Bereavement from The Hincks Dellcrest Center. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Rachel Williams, Bsc, Marketing & Events Manager (contract)

Rachel has volunteered with The Lighthouse since 2014 to help with community outreach and fundraising. Involvement with the Mercedes Benz 10K and other community events inspired Rachel to create a working committee for the Power of 10 cycling challenge. She left Ireland to complete her Bsc (Hons) in Environmental Geology at Sheffield University, England. A change in career led her to longstanding roles at JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank in London. With over 15 years experience in banking implementation projects she moved to Canada in 2011, where she resides with her husband and two children. Sport keeps her active and creating art or spending time outdoors with her family enable her to refuel. As a consistently active volunteer in the UK and Canada, Rachel thrives working with a team motivated by fun. She is passionate about working in the community and helping others. She has coordinated many fundraising events in her Parish, local schools and with sports teams. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Emily McIntosh, B.A., Group Leader

Emily joined the Lighthouse in September of 2014 as a volunteer facilitator in a children’s group. During this time, she was completing her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University. After graduating in June of 2016, Emily joined the team as a part-time group leader in September. Emily has comprehensive work experience not only working with children and families, but also within the social service sector in general. She was a certified gymnastics coach for 6 years and worked on the Events and Communications team at Camp Oochigeas prior to joining the Lighthouse. Emily’s diverse volunteer experience includes being a volunteer and day captain at the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, a Dominican Republic mission trip volunteer, an organizing committee member for the Bal de Neige Charity Gala, and co-president of a university club raising funds and awareness for childhood cancer. Emily is very passionate about working with children and families and plans to return to school in September of 2018 to pursue her Masters in Social Work. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Caralee McGowan, Office Manager

With over 25 years of administrative experience, Cara McGowan is an invaluable asset to The Lighthouse. In addition to her organizational skills and her ability to effectively troubleshoot, Cara brings an element of cheer to the work environment which is appreciated by the rest of The Lighthouse team. Cara is one of the first points of contact when families call The Lighthouse, and will make sure that any questions are answered and that calls are directed to the rest of the team. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.