Board of Directors

Michelle Lem DVM, MSc

michellecolorMichelle is a 2001 graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College, and the founder and director of Community Veterinary Outreach. Dr. Lem has also practiced companion animal medicine and surgery in Ottawa and New Zealand, and taught in the Veterinary Technician and Assistant programs at Algonquin College. In 2009, she returned to OVC to pursue graduate research in epidemiology in the Department of Population Medicine, and obtained her MSc studying the effects of pet ownership on street-involved youth. Michelle is also an active member of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, as a member of the Animal Welfare Committee and a trained member of the Canadian Veterinary Reserve. Michelle was elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2013.



CVMA head shotSusan Kilborn DVM, DVSc, Dipl. ACVIM (SAIM)

Dr. Susan Kilborn received her DVM degree from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. After 4 years of emergency and critical care practice in Winnipeg, she entered the DVSc program at the Ontario Veterinary College. She completed the DVSc program in Internal Medicine and became board certified in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in 1995. After moving to Ottawa, Dr. Kilborn began receiving referral cases in medicine, initially with Alta Vista Animal Hospital, then through her self-owned Veterinary Internal Medicine Service (VIMS). She has a keen interest in nutrition, and currently consults for Antech Diagnostic Labs and Orleans Veterinary Hospital. She has become passionate about community involvement over time, and has worked with the CVMA (she received the Small Animal Practitioner award in 2015), OVMA, does continuing education planning for Eastern Ontario, and has been involved with fund raising for the Ottawa Humane Society. She currently is Outreach regional director in Ottawa and One Health program director.

Chase Irwin


Chase Irwin is a Senior Associate at Dentons Canada LLP in Ottawa.

He is a corporate finance and technology lawyer that helps a wide range of businesses from emerging growth startups to established companies, including their investors and shareholders, on corporate finance, M&A, securities and venture capital transactions.  His passion is working with startups and entrepreneurs through all stages of growth from founder and business formation through to exit. He also represents angel, institutional, venture capital and other strategic investors in their investments in technology companies.

Outside of work, Chase is a sports and music enthusiast and love the outdoors and spending time with his family (particularly his wife and daughter). He loves all animals, including his Australian Shepherd (Scout) and orange tabby cat (Burleigh).  Chase stays involved in the community through Community Veterinary Outreach and through affiliations and engagements with various community associations, organizations and regional technology and innovation initiatives.

Christine Hartig

IMG_1114Christine is a University of Guelph graduate with a BSc in Animal Science. She has worked with the City of Ottawa for the past 27 years as a policy and project officer and strategic support officer in By-law and Regulatory Services. In 2014 Community Veterinary Outreach and City of Ottawa By-law and Regulatory Services were the co-recipients of the Community Collaboration Award at the Summit of Urban Animal Strategies for our work to bring accessible spay neuter services to those in need in the Ottawa community. Christine brings many years of experience in policy and governance to help us grow and serve people and pets in need in our communities. Christine is the proud owner of 3 senior cats and 2 dogs.

Rebecca Thomas

RebeccaA consultant to non-profits, small businesses and large corporations, Rebecca has over 20 years of experience in the corporate, arts and non-profits worlds. Using her skills and experience, Rebecca works with growing non-profits and social enterprises, as well as both private and public charitable funders. Her current focus is on grant and program evaluation, as the co-creator and lead investigator of Rebecca served for over a decade as the senior director and manager of the CIBC Children’s Foundation – a large international, Canadian-based corporate fund-raising and granting organisation. She has also worked in creative management with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Live Entertainment. Rebecca has served on various boards and committees of charitable organizations in Ontario. She is involved in animal rescue and welfare, and also spends her hours writing, taking pretty pictures and doting on her pug. She holds a BA from Mt. Allison University.

Susan O’Dowd

ODowdSusan O’Dowd was appointed Vice President of Human Resources at the Hospital for Sick Children in April, 2012. Susan’s career spans over 25 years in increasingly responsible HR roles in seven industries. These include Transportation, Retail, Consumer Packaged Goods, Financial Services/Insurance, Pharmaceuticals, Medical Diagnostics Services and the Hospital sector. Susan possesses expertise in designing performance appraisal systems, including technology and workflow solutions, along with innovative leadership development programs that yield results. Accomplishments include creating high performance, engagement and accountability cultures such that previous employers have won coveted employer awards including The Top 50 Employers to Work For in Canada. Susan’s academic credentials include an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto, a certificate in Advanced Strategic Organizational Design from the University of Southern California, and her Certified Human Resources Professionals designation. Susan’s current and recent volunteer commitments include working at an adult cancer hospice (Ian Anderson House), participating on the Board of Governors for Canada’s Top 10 Corporate Cultures, coordinating the donation and delivery of items for Holiday gift packages for those less fortunate in her local community, working on the Rescue Committee for the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Ontario, and performing the roles of veterinary assistant and dog-handler at the 2012 Iditarod 1,000 mile dogsled race in Alaska.

Eric Coulson

Eric-Profile-Eric is a graduate of McMaster University with a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a minor in Psychology.  Eric is a lifelong pet lover with a passion for business development, mentoring, building strategic relationships and providing outrageous customer service. Eric is Champion of Sales & Operations at Pets Plus Us a re-imagined pet health insurance company. Eric was previously the general manager of GE Money CareCredit Canada an alternative financial tool for use by pet owners and human’s, so he has served both the pet-health and human-health communities for more than 20-years. He brings a broad management perspective and an innovative approach to ensure a healthy pet and a happy pet owner. Eric’s previous volunteer appointments include Finance Chair, Hamilton Burlington YMCA, Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital Foundation – Fundraising Committee and Burlington Youth Soccer Club – Director at Large. Eric’s (a.k.a. Deputy Dawg) most memorable pet owner story is of the morning he awoke to find their family cat delivering a litter of kittens on his pillow. Now that’s what we call a devoted pet owner!

2014-02-07 00.54.31Sarah Sasso

As a two-year old child, Sarah once stopped in the middle of the street to hug and kiss a stranger’s poodle to much of her parents’ – and the poodle’s – dismay. A few decades later, she channels her love for animals and the community by leading the strategy and business planning for CVO.
Sarah is a Corporate Strategy consultant with Monitor Deloitte in Toronto, Canada. She has over eight years of experience in strategy development and business transformation with multi-national corporations and financial institutions. Prior to consulting, Sarah worked for ING, a large banking, insurance and investment management group in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Sarah holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial Engineering from Politecnico di Milano in Italy and a Master of Business Administration from Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands. She lives in Toronto with her husband, a tuxedo cat, a basset hound and a miniature dachshund – the latter counting more Instagram followers than the rest of the family combined.