Meet the Team

With a passion for community development, our staff and Board of Directors propel us forward.


James VanderBerg

Executive Director

Collaboration and community involvement are two passions of mine! When I worked at the University of Guelph, I coordinated the justice-related activities of the different faith communities on campus, and I connected students with organizations across the city. We are all need to work together to make our communities more welcoming and inclusive, and safe and inviting. I am a father of four and an outdoor enthusiast, passionate about canoe-tripping, white-water thrills and running. (Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment). Over the years, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for local poetry and writings from within the aboriginal community. Storytelling is one of the most human endeavours, and I believe all voices are important. This is true at Welcome Inn, too!

Ruth Kaulback

Seniors Program Coordinator & Volunteer Coordinator

Being a part of a diverse, resilient community is both exciting and meaningful to me. It is one of the reasons that I am so drawn towards Welcome Inn Community Centre. I love the mix of people, and the beauty that happens when people are welcomed unconditionally. As people live life together and look out for each other, there is a connection that is sparked that I think enriches all of our lives, I know it enriches mine. I live in the north end of Hamilton with my husband and two daughters. We love the creative, diverse vibe in our neighbourhood. I enjoy gardening, traveling, camping, photography, reading and spending time with friends at neighbourhood coffee shops.

Krista Rao

Community Programs Coordinator

I am a Hamiltonian born and raised! I feel so privileged to be able to raise my family in this amazing city, specifically in the North End. My creativity, love of community and my ability to see the potential in all, makes the North End an ideal landing spot for me.

My background is in Nursing, with a focus in Acute Mental Health. In addition to raising my two children, being creative is a major part of my life… Knitting, sewing, bookbinding and paper craft are just a few of my hobbies. I love to walk along with the skills and creativity that we have in our community to build an amazing space here at Welcome Inn.

The importance of family and the idea of community as family has always been a huge part of the way I live my life. From the moment I walked through the doors of Welcome Inn I felt like part of this community that feels like a big family. A family that is so accepting and unique.

Amanda Stafford

Social Enterprise Coordinator

Moving from city to city in our twenties, my husband and I kept coming back to Hamilton. We decided to settle down in the North End and it was the best decision we ever made! My background as a business woman provides the North End community with a safe and clean space where people of all backgrounds gather to shop, gain work skills, and most importantly develop supportive relationships. Living in the North end and being surrounded by such a diverse community is important for our family.

Natalie Barcellos

Children’s Program Coordinator

I am excited to have joined the Welcome Inn staff team, covering Gladys Flores’ maternity leave for 2019-20. I recently graduated from the University of Guelph with a degree in International Development and have just relocated to Hamilton. I am excited to explore the North End neighborhood and get to know all the people who make up this vibrant and warm community. I love all things outdoors, and it was through my experience working for outdoor education centres that I was first introduced to the amazing capacity and resiliency of children and youth. Since then, my path has allowed me to work collaboratively with diverse groups of young people and develop initiatives that work towards creating healthy, sustainable and accessible spaces. I also enjoy cooking, kayaking at the cottage, and traveling.

Board of Directors

Tom Geiger, Chair of the Board
Tom is a Director of Automation with Celestica. He came to Hamilton in 1980, thinking it was a short stay and never left. He’s been helping the local and wider community ever since. He joined the board in 2018 and has been passionate helping the Welcome Inn build a strong and vibrant community.

Leah Schwenger, Vice Chair
Leah is a retired teacher and principal with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board. Her family has called Hamilton home for four generation. Leah joined the board, so that she could continue working with children and families in Hamilton. She is also on the boards of Wesley and the Hamilton Foundation for Student Success.

David Dutchak, Treasurer
David retired as a managing director with Royal Bank of Canada. He is a lifelong Hamiltonian, and in addition to serving on the board he also serves as an elder & trustee at Central Presbyterian Church and has coached minor league hockey at Coronation Arena.

Joanne Roth is currently the Program Manager with CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses, and throughout her career has been involved in championing programs designed to improve service delivery models and increase overall program efficiencies. She sits on a number of advisory committees associated with both the settlement and healthcare sectors in Hamilton.

Donna Tweedell is a retired mental health nurse and family therapist. She divides her formal volunteer time between Out of the Cold and Welcome Inn. She moved from Toronto to Hamilton because she was seeking a neighbourhood that cared about its residents and she has found one here.

Leah Martin is a Mediation Services Coordinator at Community Justice Initiatives in Kitchener. Drawing on her experience working in the non-profit sector Leah is passionate about supporting organizations like Welcome Inn that are fundamental to sustaining strong, resilient and connected communities. Leah enjoys spending time with friends and family.

Peggy Savage uses her writing skills gained as a freelance writer for the Hamilton Spectator and various other publications to support the work of Welcome Inn. Over the years, Peggy’s volunteer commitments have included working with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, United Way, West Hamilton Wraparound, the Hamilton Council on Aging and McMaster’s Department of Family Medicine Tapestry Program.

Brent Murphy is a Hamilton-based lawyer whose practice focuses on commercial disputes. Brent was born in Fergus, Ontario and attended McMaster University for his undergraduate studies. While attending law school in Halifax, Brent sat on the Board of Directors for Dalhousie Legal Aid Service, a community based legal clinic focused on providing legal support for low income individuals.