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Core Team

Michelle Dittmer, OCT, M.A.

President & Co-Founder

Michelle is an Ontario Certified Teacher and holds a B.Sc. from McMaster in Biology, a B.Ed. from the University Of Ontario Institute Of Technology and a M.A. in Leadership from Royal Roads University. As a high school teacher, she realized that many of the essential skills to thrive as a young adult were being squeezed out by hard curriculum, leaving students feeling stressed, rushed, without direction and purpose and a sense of being unprepared for life outside of the classroom.  Searching for a way to make an impact, she has worked in youth policy development, leadership development, experiential learning, educational travel and educational partnerships.  All of these experiences have culminated in 10+ years of gap year advocacy and gap year planning support and lead to the founding of CanGap.  She believes that gap years are a true educational experience and should be part of more young people's educational and career journeys.

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Jazzmine Raine

Community and Communications Manager

Jazzmine is a social entrepreneur, storyteller, and facilitator. She is the founder of Hara World, an experiential education platform for young changemakers in India, and Hara House, India’s first zero-waste hospitality space.

Jazz leverages the power of story to empower young leaders and marginalized groups to challenge the status quo and work towards a sustainable, inclusive, and inspiring future. She has been recognized globally for her work in development. In 2019, she was nominated for multiple awards for her Hara World initiatives and was named 1 of 35 social entrepreneurs to watch by Causeartist. Jazz has spoken on her passions, the power of failure and her experiential learning journey across the globe, including at BoldTalks Dubai, Tourism Shala in India, and at many high schools, higher education institutions and community platforms across the globe.

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Board of Directors 

Kate Cassidy 

In addition to working as an educational consultant and corporate trainer, Kate Cassidy is a lecturer with Brock University’s Department of Communications and a research associate with the Niagara Community Observatory. She formerly held the position of Director of Continuing Education, Community Learning, and Youth University at Brock University where she assumed responsibilities over the educational programs of over 90, 000 learners. Over the course of her career she has served as Canadian Chair and Journal Submission Reviewer for the Association for Experiential Education, as well as sat on committees and boards focused on innovative and inclusive education. She has written articles for education and business audiences and chapters for books such as The Theory of Experiential Education and Identities, Youth and Belonging. Kate holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and a MEd and PhD in Education.

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Susan LaRosa 

Susan is the former Director of Education of the York Catholic District School Board. In addition to being the Co-Chair of the Human Services Planning Board of York Region, she is Chair of Rose of Sharon, a service for young mothers.  She is also the  Senior Strategist with Education Research Development Inc. and a volunteer with WE Charity and  Ontario Special Olympics. Susan has a B.A. from Ottawa University and a Masters of Education and Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University.


Madelyn Steed, BAH, M.Ed.

 Madelyn has worked in higher education for close to a decade assisting students as they arrive, survive and thrive throughout their post-secondary experience.  Madelyn has a Masters of Education from the Ontario Institute for the Studies of Education in Adult Education and Community Development.  After her first semester at the University of Guelph, where she later completed her undergrad, Madelyn embarked on her own gap year and is passionate about guiding and supporting youth to take the same leap!  She is a proud Katimavik-alumni!


Richard Wiggers, PhD 

Richard is currently the Associate Dean of Liberal Studies, Mohawk College. Prior to that, he was employed as Executive Director, Research, and Programs with the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO), and he held numerous prior positions in other provincial and federal government departments and the private sector. He has also taught nearly 100 postsecondary courses, including at the graduate level, and holds a doctorate from Georgetown University, a Masters from the University of Ottawa, and a Bachelor's from Carleton University.