Maytree Policy School

Christine Alden

Christine Alden

Program Director, Lawson Foundation

Christine Alden is a Program Director with the Lawson Foundation, a national family foundation focused on the healthy development of children and youth. In her role, she is responsible for two impact areas: Early Child Development and Outdoor Play.

Christine’s background is in education and early child development. She has an MEd, and she is currently pursuing her PhD in early childhood education at OISE/University of Toronto. Christine has lived and worked in Latin America as an elementary school teacher and as a manager of early child development programs. In Canada, before joining the Lawson Foundation, she worked for the Council for Early Child Development under the leadership of the late Drs. Fraser Mustard and Clyde Hertzman, and also for the Ontario Ministry of Education following the creation of the Early Years Division.

Laura Arrell

Laura Arrell

Managing Director, The Arrell Family Foundation

Laura Arrell is the Managing Director of the Arrell Family Foundation, which works to improve human and planetary health through food. She has been a director of her family’s foundation for many years, but took on the task of running it four years ago.

Prior to this role she was Managing Director, US Institutional Equity Sales at Raymond James, where she worked for 15 years. Outside of work, Laura is kept busy being a mom to three kids. She also loves to travel, and is passionate about all things food.

Paul Bailey

Paul Bailey

President, Black Health Alliance

Paul Bailey is the President of the Black Health Alliance, a community-led charity working to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada. As a strategist, policy advisor, and urban planner he has spent the last decade working with youth, and designing interventions focused on health and well-being, community violence, mental health and addictions, and improving the impact of the social service sector in underserved and low-income communities in Toronto.

Paul is the founder of REVIVE, an emerging social planning firm based in Toronto; he is also a Principal at the organization. In his current role, he focuses on social development, health equity, and addressing the causes of neighbourhood distress and inequality.

Michèle Biss

Michèle Biss

Project Manager, National Right to Housing Network, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness

Michèle Biss is the Project Manager of the National Right to Housing Network at the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH), a national movement of individuals, organizations, and communities working together to end homelessness in Canada.

Michèle is a human rights lawyer and was called to the Ontario bar in 2014. As an expert in economic and social rights, she has presented at several United Nations treaty body reviews and at Canadian parliamentary committees on issues related to poverty. Prior to her work at the CAEH, Michèle was the Policy Director and Human Rights Lawyer at Canada Without Poverty. She has extensive professional experience working for marginalized groups through casework, research, and community legal education. In her local Ottawa community, she sits on the board of directors of Ottawa Community Legal Services. In 2016, Michèle graduated from the Advanced Course on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights at Åbo Akademi University in Finland.

Talia Bronstein

Talia Bronstein

VP Research and Advocacy, Daily Bread Food Bank

Talia Bronstein is an experienced researcher with a passion for social change. She is currently VP of Research and Advocacy at the Daily Bread Food Bank, one of Canada’s largest food banks and a thought leader on issues related to food insecurity and poverty.

With a master’s degree in public health from the University of Toronto, Talia has had the opportunity to work in a number of organizations with bold and ambitious agendas, including the Institute for Health and Social Policy, the Association of Ontario Midwives, the Alliance for Healthier Communities, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Her experiences in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors provide her with a unique perspective in building collaborative relationships between community members, partner organizations, and government to spark evidence-informed policy change.

Sibel Cicek

Sibel Cicek

Senior Manager, Government Relations, YMCA Ontario, YMCA of Greater Toronto

Sibel Cicek is a public policy professional committed to working in the non-profit sector to advance issues of social importance. She is currently Senior Manager of Government Relations at YMCA of Greater Toronto, where she leads government relations and public policy for YMCAs across Ontario, advancing shared priorities of child care, employment and training, and social infrastructure.

Sibel began her career in international development, working with women and children in underserved areas of India. During this time, she became interested in public policy as a way to bring about sustainable investment and change. With Right To Play, Sibel worked on a four-year policy initiative to engage governments in solutions to poverty and conflict. Following that, she moved to the Ontario government where she worked on the creation of full day kindergarten and child care reform. Sibel has also worked with Children’s Mental Health Ontario to advance mental health supports for children, youth, and families.

Beth Clarke

Beth Clarke

Director, Strategic Partnerships, World Education Services

For over 20 years, Beth Clarke has been leading the integration of skilled immigrants into the Canadian labour market. As the Director of Strategic Partnerships for World Education Services (WES) Canada, Beth leads the Global Talent Bridge, Research and Policy, and WES Gateway programs in Canada, playing a lead role in their growth and development.

Prior to joining WES, Beth served as Senior Director, Employer and Stakeholder Relations with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council and as Director, Programs and Services at JVS Toronto where she worked to create more immigrant-inclusive workplaces, helped employers build their success by hiring and retaining top immigrant professionals, and developed opportunities for immigrant professionals to rediscover their professions in Canada. Beth holds an undergraduate degree from Trent University and a diploma in career and work counselling from George Brown College.

Regini David

Regini David

Outreach and Law Reform Coordinator, West Scarborough Community Legal Services

Regini David is committed to grassroots organizing and believes that those directly affected should be included in decision-making to ensure fair and equal treatment for all. She is currently the Outreach and Law Reform Coordinator for West Scarborough Community Legal Services. She is also the co-chair of The Employment Insurance Working Group and a member of The Legal Aid Racalized Advisory Committee.

Regini has been involved in community development and community organizing at the grassroots level with women, workers of colour, new immigrants, racialized communities, and low-income families for over 30 years. She has also been a relentless advocate for raising the minimum wage and improving the rights of temp workers and tenants in Ontario. Regini is currently coordinating a campaign in Toronto to legalize rooming houses across the city of Toronto so that affordable housing is available to low-income tenants and most disadvantaged groups such as new immigrants, workers of colour, and people with disabilities.

Sané Dube

Sané Dube

Policy and Government Relations Lead, Alliance for Healthier Communities

Sané Dube (she/ her) is the Policy and Government Relations Lead, with a focus on Black Health, at the Alliance for Healthier Communities. Sané is committed to reducing disparities in health access experienced by marginalized communities.

Sané’s professional background is varied; she has worked in community development, health promotion, research, and strategic policy development. She holds a Master of Public Health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Sané’s people are the Ndebele of what is now called Zimbabwe. She currently lives in Tkaronto.

Randalin Ellery

Randalin Ellery

Director, Data Impact & Policy, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness

Randalin Ellery is the Director of Data Impact and Policy at the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. In this role, she is responsible for data infrastructure and visualizations, data and impact analysis, continuous improvement, knowledge exchange, and policy development across the CAEH, including Built for Zero Canada and Training and Technical Assistance.

Randalin came to this role after ten years coordinating the Guelph and Wellington Task Force for Poverty Elimination. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Guelph Public Library and the Guelph Community Health Centre. Randalin is guided by a deep commitment to the principles of equity, inclusion, social justice, and using an evidence-informed approach. She lives in Guelph with her two children.

Terence Hamilton

Terence Hamilton

Policy Specialist, UNICEF Canada

Terence Hamilton is a progressive public policy professional with interest and expertise in child rights, public health, and social justice. He is currently a Policy Specialist with UNICEF Canada, which works to advance the rights and wellbeing of children and youth.

Most of Terence’s work has been focused on the child welfare sector in Ontario. He advocates for Indigenous self-determination and has worked collaboratively with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples in Ontario on issues of child welfare. He is also a cyclist, baker, new father, and generally curious fellow with a range of interests both popular and obscure.

Lynette Katsivo

Lynette Katsivo

Director of Public Policy, AdvantAge Ontario

Lynette Katsivo has over ten years’ experience in the design, delivery, funding, policy development, and governance of health programs and services in Ontario. She is currently the Director of Public Policy at AdvantAge Ontario which represents the full spectrum of community-based seniors’ care, including long term care, retirement and supportive housing, life-lease housing, social housing, and community services.

Lynette’s key accomplishments include supporting the development of a provincial housing strategy for supportive housing, a core services list for mental health and addictions to be made accessible across Ontario, a successful advocacy strategy for increased funding for community mental health and addictions, and a policy for the delivery of services for individuals with opioid use disorder.  She has also done population-based, health economics research for municipalities and agencies, which included an impact report on expanding interventions related to emergency department utilization for the Canadian Foundation for Health Care Improvement. Lynette’s experience also includes strategic planning, project and budget management, team building, negotiation and facilitation, and development of key performance indicators.

Amanda King

Amanda King

Director, Communications & Research, Feed Ontario

Amanda King is the Director of Research and Communications at Feed Ontario (formerly the Ontario Association of Food Banks). Feed Ontario unites food banks, industry partners, and local communities to find solutions to end hunger and poverty.

Since joining the organization in 2011, Amanda has been responsible for a wide variety of projects and strategic objectives, including member engagement, program development, and public education. In her current role, Amanda is responsible for the organization’s primary research pieces, including the annual Hunger Report, the recently released Interactive Map on Food Bank Use in Ontario, and the Cost of Poverty in Ontario report. She is also responsible for overseeing the organization’s Day of Action at Queen’s Park and its advocacy strategy, as well as for engaging MPPs and political stakeholders in long-term solutions to poverty in Ontario.

Shelley Nicholls

Shelley Nicholls

Executive Director, Sistering

Shelley is a champion for women and girls. Her diverse background, inquisitive spirit, and inclusive nature have helped her successfully lead a wide variety of teams. She is currently the Executive Director of Sistering, a multi-service agency for at-risk, socially isolated women in Toronto who are homeless or precariously housed. 

A Montreal, Quebec native, Shelley is the daughter of immigrants who moved to Canada in the 1960s to make a better life for their family.  Shelley worked for ten years in Detroit’s automotive industry starting as a Project Engineer and was steadily promoted to the role of Technical and Commercial Lead for projects in excess of $100 million.  After taking some time off from the for-profit workforce, she has turned her career focus to the non-profit sector. She is excited to continue advocating for more women and girls to overcome barriers and reach their full potential. Shelley and her husband are raising their four children, ages 6 to 14.

Emily Nickerson

Emily Nickerson

Director, Publish What You Pay Canada

Emily Nickerson is the Director of Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Canada, part of a global network of civil society organizations working to make oil, gas and mineral governance open, accountable, sustainable, equitable, and responsive to all people. Prior to joining PWYP, Emily was the Director of Programs at the Mining Shared Value (MSV) initiative of Engineers Without Borders Canada. At MSV, Emily conducted research and worked with international institutions to increase local procurement in countries and communities in which mines operate.

Emily has worked as a consultant in Tanzania and Uganda evaluating systems-change approaches to agricultural market development with Pollen Group, and in Canada supporting social enterprise business plan development with Purpose Capital, an impact investment advisory firm. Her research experience includes using participatory engagement to address water management and infrastructure issues in Indigenous communities. She holds a degree in water resources engineering from the University of Guelph.

Bruce Pitkin

Bruce Pitkin

Executive Director, Art Starts

Bruce is a true believer in the power of art as a form of expression and a means to empowerment. He is the Executive Director of Art Starts, a non-profit organization that works with five underserved Toronto communities to provide a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment for self-expression and creative collaboration.

After earning a Master of Fine Arts in performance from York University, Bruce performed, directed, produced, and taught in Japan, Germany, the United States, and Canada. He was the Artistic Director at both the Acting Academy and the International Michael Chekhov School of Acting in Munich, and taught Shakespeare, Scene Study and Audition Technique at the Randolph College for the Performing Arts in Toronto from 2007-2013. In 2013, he was named one of NOW Magazine’s Top Ten Artists to Watch for his directing work. Before coming to Art Starts, Bruce was the Executive Director of Theatre Ontario as well as the co-chair of the Provincial Arts Service Organization Coalition (PASO-OPSA).

Sharma Queiser

Sharma Queiser

Researcher and Policy Analyst, Social Planning Toronto

Sharma Queiser is a Researcher and Policy Analyst at Social Planning Toronto, where she conducts community-based, action-oriented research, and supports policy advocacy. Currently, her work focuses on academic streaming, access to recreation for equity seeking groups, and community use of public spaces.

Sharma moved to Toronto 12 years ago from small-town Ontario and fell in love with the city. She is dedicated to addressing the root causes of social injustice through public education and mobilization, research and policy analysis, and civic engagement. She fights for solutions that are driven by grassroots, community-led, and interdisciplinary partnerships and respond to the lived experiences of Toronto’s marginalized and underserved residents. Sharma is also President of CUPE 1777, a volunteer position which allows her to advocate for workers’ rights and engage in the labour movement. Sharma holds an MSW in social justice and diversity from the University of Toronto and a BSW from Ryerson.

Talya Rotem

Talya Rotem

Program Director, SmartSAVER

Talya Rotem is the Program Director at SmartSAVER, a non-profit that helps families living on modest-incomes to claim their children’s federal education savings incentives to help cover the cost of future post secondary studies.

Talya has worked for over 20 years in various non-profits, empowering individuals to access education, leadership, and health and wellness opportunities. She also spent two years as a volunteer blogger for Feeding Nunavut to raise awareness about food insecurity in many Northern Inuit communities. She currently sits on the Indigenous Financial Literacy Working Group of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC).

Talya lives by the philosophy “Tikkun Olam” (repairing the world) to address reconciliation, equity, and access for underserved communities. She holds an MA in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education from the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Jeffrey Schiffer

Jeffrey Schiffer

Executive Director, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto

Jeffrey Schiffer is currently the Executive Director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, Toronto’s largest multi-service Aboriginal agency.

Jeffrey has Métis and German ancestry and was born in Coast Salish territory, in what is today Vancouver, BC. He has a BA in anthropology from UBC, and an MA and PhD in anthropology and education from Columbia University. His dissertation focused on decolonizing urban Aboriginal child welfare in Canadian cities.

Over the past 15 years, Jeffrey has held positions at the Earth Institute, the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society, the Justice Institute of British Columbia, and the City of Toronto. He also sits on multiple boards, including those of the Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council, the Association of Native Child and Family Services Agencies, Boost Child Advocacy Centre, and the Child Welfare League of Canada. He also co-chairs the City of Toronto’s Aboriginal Affairs Committee.

Sarah Stern

Sarah Stern

Director, Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security

Sarah Stern leads Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security and Community Involvement for Maple Leaf Foods. The Centre’s mission is to work collaboratively, across sectors, to reduce food insecurity in Canada. It advocates for critical public policies and works with innovative programs and organizations that advance the capacity of people and communities to achieve sustainable food security.

Sarah has spent the majority of her career in the non-profit sector and has a history of building cross-sectoral partnerships to create social change. She has worked for Right To Play, The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario, and United Way of Greater Toronto. Sarah has an MBA from the Rotman School of Management and a BA from Mount Alison University.

Victor Willis

Victor Willis

Executive Director, Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre (PARC)

Victor Willis is the Executive Director of the Parkdale Activity – Recreation Centre (PARC) where he has spent the last twenty years working with the Parkdale neighbourhood on issues of deinstitutionalization and community development.

Victor’s career in community and mental health initiatives started at the 519 Community Centre, which was followed by a position at Trinity Square Enterprises and then ten years at the Gerstein Crisis Centre. He has actively supported many community development activities, including the Community Fire Response Protocol, the development of Edmond Place, The West End Food Coop, and the Parkdale People’s Economy, and is a founding member of the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust. Victor was a recipient of the 2019 Frances Lankin Lifetime Achievement award for community service, and a finalist for the 2013 Nexus Health Leadership Award.

Carol Zoulalian

Carol Zoulalian

Executive Director, St. Jude Community Homes

Carol is the Executive Director of St. Jude Community Homes (SJCH), a private non-profit supportive housing agency in the City of Toronto. 

Carol has worked and volunteered in community and hospital settings for over 30 years with a focus on health and housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, and complex physical and mental health issues including addictions.  Her interests and experience lie in organizational systems, project management, human resources, and working with partners and end users to effect system change. She has also served on various municipal and provincially funded boards of community health centres and non-profit and for-profit housing corporations as both director and chair.  Carol was a founding member of the Consumer/Survivor Information Resource Centre, an information clearinghouse operated by and for individuals with mental illness.

Participant testimonial

“Through the learning opportunities and practical experience provided through the Maytree Policy School, Raising the Roof has transformed from a passive to strategic player in the housing and homelessness public policy space.”

Elisa Traficante, Director of Community Initiatives, Raising the Roof (MPS ’19)

Participant testimonial

“Maytree Policy School completely surpassed my expectations. It's a course anyone should take who strives to be a strategic influencer at any level of government and regardless of who's in power.”

Brian Davis, Executive Director, Houselink Community Homes (MPS ’19)

Participant testimonial

"Maytree Policy School brought together a highly skilled and generous group of instructors. My organization has gained new tools and resources, and connections to fabulous peers and organizations."

Shelagh Pizey-Allen, Executive Director, TTCRiders (MPS ’19)

Participant testimonial

“Maytree Policy School provided us with practical insights into the policy process and the tools we need to engage as policy leaders. We also walked away from the course with a clear plan for implementing what we had learned and new connections across the sector.”

Jamie Stuckless, Executive Director, Share the Road Cycling Coalition (MPS ’18)

Participant testimonial

“Attending Maytree Policy School has helped me raise my game as a policy professional, helped refine my approach to my advocacy work, and created an impact across my organization as I share my learnings with colleagues across the country.”

Kat Clarke, Manager, Advocacy and Government Affairs, CNIB (MPS ’18)

Participant testimonial

“Maytree Policy School was invaluable. It helped me systematize and move forward our policy work. The faculty were knowledgeable and engaging, and the other participants have now become a close network I can call on.”

Sasha McNicoll, Policy Manager, Community Food Centres Canada (MPS ’19)

Participant testimonial

“Having the focused time along with the incredible depth of knowledge from the presenters and other participants made this program worth every minute. The shifts in our approach and development of a policy strategy will have long-term impact for our organization and our mission at Pillar.”

Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director, Pillar Nonprofit Network (MPS ’19)

Participant testimonial

“Maytree Policy School brought together an expert faculty team who generously shared their wealth of knowledge and experiences. I really appreciated how each session was meticulously planned and specifically tailored for us in the non-profit sector.”

Tesfai Mengesha, Executive Director, Success Beyond Limits (MPS ’18)

Participant testimonial

“Maytree Policy School helped us identify where we need to focus our energies to make the most of our limited resources in order to make a real impact in our policy work. It gave me access to what felt like “insider knowledge” and to so many incredible leaders with decades of experience in the policy world. I never would have been able to make those connections on my own.”
Katie German, Director of Programs, Foodshare (MPS ’18)