Board of Directors

Barbara Reynolds, Chair  

Music is an easy and inexpensive way to bring about positive change. I want to see music used more in caregiving.

Barbara began her career as a therapeutic dietitian at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the Easter Seals Society. Upon completing an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, Barbara worked in the pharmaceutical industry in sales, training and marketing at Wyeth, Ortho Biotech (J&J) and most recently as the Director of Marketing and New Product Development at Astellas Pharma.

Rose Marie Grycaj, Secretary-Treasurer

Being aware that there are people who care so much, and want to help improve health care, everywhere is very comforting. It gives me hope. Being involved with this organization hope forward which is so valuable to me.

Rose-Marie worked as educator in the Toronto Catholic District School Board. She has been a classroom teacher, a teacher of students with special needs and a Summer School Principal. She has served the as the chair of the Metro Catholic Teachers’ Long-Term Disability Plan Board of Trustees. Rose-Marie has also been chair of the Family Council at Specialty Care Mississauga Road where she advocated on behalf of the residents.

Lee Bartel, Director

I strongly believe music has an exceptional place in the mind and spirit of each person (not just the talented) and that every person (not just the musically trained) can find a way to use music to encourage, include, comfort, and communicate. I work with Room217 to empower this belief. 

Lee is Professor Emeritus of Music and Health and Music Education and at the University of Toronto and Member of the Board and Chair of the Research and Education Committee for the Artists’ Health Alliance. He served as Faculty of Music Associate Dean of Research, and was the Founding Director of the Music and Health Research Collaboratory at University of Toronto. Lee is well known internationally for his research and design of music for brain effects with 24 albums on Solitudes and SonicAid.

Sonia Brown, Director

I’m involved in Room 217 because it offers the opportunity to be part of making some meaningful cultural change in healthcare. The mission of Room 217 speaks to my combined passion for music and caring for those in need with programs and approaches which are grounded in powerful and insightful research.

Sonia is the Head of Human Resources for Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices in Canada. In her various professional roles, she has worked with business leaders to translate global/regional HR strategies into local/ national strategies, providing leadership, coaching and consultative services as it relates to organizational change plans, HR strategy, talent and compensation strategy.

Donna Ihnatowycz, Director

The elderly are the world’s most vulnerable population.  Research supports incorporating music into their lives, as the quality of their being is greatly enriched. That is why I got involved with Room 217.

Donna is a seasoned Human Resources, Training and Business Consultant. She established the Continuing Education Course Accreditation Process (CECAP) for the delivery, administration and assessment of programs and is currently lead assessor of all programs submitted to the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization for CE accreditation.

Christine Lasky, Past Chair

Having experienced the end-of-life of my mother in a stark cold hospital room, I was intrigued by the work of Room 217 Foundation and thought that if we could surround people and caregivers, at their time of need with music resources designed for specific needs, how different their journey would be.  Helping in whatever way I could for the last 13 years has been a truly rewarding experience for me.

Christine is a marketing/business and social enterprise professional with over 30 years of experience with such notable firms a Procter and Gamble, Nabisco, and George Weston. Christine was VP with National Trust and Spectrum Investment. Currently, she is Chief Brand Officer at Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and was instrumental in launch of The Ride to Conquer Cancer.  Christine worked with Rob and Bev Foster to help launch Room 217. 

Donna Cansfield, Director

A dear friend in hospice palliative care, with tears in his eyes and his hand on his heart pleaded with me to ensure that music was not an option but mandatory for end of life care; the music lifted his spirits and he felt peace and joy. This is why I am involved in Room 217. 

Donna is a former school trustee for 15 years serving both provincially and nationally as the Presidents of the Ontario and Canadian School Boards Associations and Chair of the Toronto District School Board. Donna served as MPP for Etobicoke Centre from 2003 to 2014. Her cabinet posts included Minister of Energy, Transportation and Natural Resources. 

Anglea Elster, Director

I’m involved because I believe music is one of the most powerful vehicles with which to engage, elevate, inspire, illuminate and heal. Room 217 has successfully developed music care strategies which work. I’m honoured to be associated with Room 217. Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything... Without music, life would be an error. (Plato)

Angela is one of Canada’s preeminent Arts & Learning executives where she served as Senior Vice President of The Royal Conservatory of Music. Angela created, launched and directed Learning Through the Arts in addition to many other successful initiatives. Recently, Angela was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada recognizing outstanding accomplishments that set an example and bring benefit to our country.

Murray McLauchlan, Director

Having had a very hands-on experience with the palliative care of my mother and now with dementia in the family my interest in the work of Room 217 Foundation in music care is far more than academic.  It was a very natural fit for me to be become involved.

Murray is one of Canada’s great story tellers and most decorated songwriters with 11 JUNO Awards and 24 nominations. His cultural impact runs across generations from his influential albums Songs From the Street, Day to Day Dust and Boulevard to his memorable appearances on Sesame Street and the Elephant Show. Murray was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1993 and is the recipient of the Governor General’s Lifetime Artistic Achievement award. 

Randy Steffan, Director

I’ve been involved with Room 217 as a corporate sponsor and now as a board member. The foundation has a unique role in developing and promoting music as a measurable solution to challenges in health care and in broader society.

Randy is Government Relations Advisor to the Alzheimer Society of Canada. During his more than 20 years’ experience in healthcare and pharmaceuticals, Randy has held leadership roles in corporate and not-for-profit organizations, specializing in public affairs and communications. He has led numerous national advocacy campaigns and provided strategic counsel.

Rob Foster, Founding Director

I believe in the power of music to heal. I use music regularly with my mom who has advanced Alzheimer’s Disease. It seems to calm her when she’s agitated, especially first thing in the morning. It’s like it realigns her. I’ve seen firsthand the effects of Room 217 making positive change. I’m committed to helping make a change in the way care is delivered.

Rob is a co-founder of the Room 217 Foundation. He is currently Assistant Professor of Education at Tyndale University College in Toronto, Ontario. He formerly taught in the Durham District School Board for more than 25 years. He specializes in philosophy of education, curriculum writing, teaching French and assessment and evaluation.   His passion and particular interest of study is for ethical relations in the classroom.

Bev Foster, Founding Director

As a musician, the effects of what I do have always intrigued me. Using music in my personal caregiving experiences has compelled me to look farther and wider at its use in health care. My vision is that music care, in all its methods of delivery, be accessible to everyone.

Bev is a co-founder of the Room 217 Foundation and its Executive Director. She is an experienced, performer, songwriter and music educator. Bev has taught music in in the Durham District School Board as well as in her private studio and has been the Executive Director of the Ontario Vocal Festival, and Director of Music in several churches.