Unison Health and Community Services seeks individuals with a diverse range of skills and backgrounds for membership on the Board of Directors.

BOARD MEMBER BIOS

Laurelle Knox, Chair

Laurelle has worked primarily in the field of communications and public relations and is currently Internal Communications Officer for Ornge Transport Medicine.  She has a broad background and interest, with particular knowledge of healthcare, education and community services.  Living in our local community, Laurelle has solid knowledge of the changes and challenges that have taken place over the years and has been active on the YCS and Unison Boards since 2008.   As the daughter of one of the founders of YCS, she has both a historical and personal knowledge of the Keele-Rogers site as well as a strong sense of commitment to the community. Having previously volunteered with church groups, local committees and the International Association of Business Communicators, Laurelle looks forward to contributing her communications, leadership and organizational skills to our Board and to working with others to enhance the quality of life for vulnerable members of our community.

Geoff Cowper-Smith, Vice-Chair

Geoff is a lawyer at Goodmans LLP where he focuses his practice on corporate, commercial and information technology law. He holds a Bachelor of Arts & Business from the University of Waterloo and a Juris Doctor (Law) from the University of Western Ontario. Prior to commencing his practice of law, Geoff founded and operated an information technology consulting company. Experiences Geoff had living in, and watching the changes and developments surrounding, Regent Park drew him to Unison. He joined the Board to lend his experience and perspective to Unison and supports growing and maintaining healthy communities in Toronto excited to join the Unison family.

Neetu Toor, Vice-Chair

Neetu is an in-house lawyer at BlueCat Networks, Inc., an IT company specializing in enterprise DNS, DHCP and IP Address Management (DDI) solutions. Prior to BlueCat, she worked in the healthcare industry as Legal Counsel. Neetu holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from McMaster University and a Juris Doctor (Law) from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.  She is licensed to practice law in Ontario, New York and Washington D.C.  Neetu is actively involved with Amnesty International and the Big Sister Program of Toronto and is excited to join the Unison family.

Dana Chmelnitsky, Treasurer

Dana is passionate about healthcare delivery and has over 15 years working in the health care industry across the public, community and corporate health sectors. She has over 7 years experience as a Board Member in the community health sector, prior to joining Unison in 2014 she served a six-year tenure as a Board Member and Past-President for Central Toronto Community Health Centres. Dana is currently the Program Manager for University Health Network’s Telehealth program. Prior to joining UHN’s Telehealth team, she worked at Toronto Rehabilitation as a project manager with the patient care program teams. Her other work experience includes healthcare operational consulting and working as a clinical physiotherapist in a rehabilitation hospital. Dana continues to integrate her clinical and business experience to optimize health care delivery and patient access to services across the health sectors enabled through information technology. Dana received her Masters of Business Administration specializing in Health Industry Management and Strategy from Schulich School of Business at York University and her Bachelor of Medical Rehabilitation in Physical Therapy at the University of Manitoba. Dana also has her Project Management Professional (PMP) designation from the Project Management Institute.

Laverne Blake, Secretary

Laverne has 13 years’ experience working within the non-profit sector; with 4 years in a leadership position with a specific focus on human resource and program management.  Currently, Laverne is the Manager of Client Services at Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter. Laverne has a BA in criminology and has successfully created, developed and implemented the Legal Support Program which provided services to over 200 women accessing services at Ernestine’s. The Legal Support Program addresses the barriers that women, specifically those who are victims of violence, face in accessing justice. Laverne delivers dynamic training on anti-racism, anti-oppression and on issues related to violence against women and children to various organizations. Laverne is a passionate and committed advocate for women’s justice and has been involved in community based agencies where social justice is addressed.

Alexis Villa

Alexis has 10 years of professional experience in the not-for-profit health care sector developing strategies and delivering on large-scale information technology and change management initiatives across the continuum of care. Alexis is currently the Senior Program Manager for University Health Network’s Regional and Provincial Digital Health Portfolio. Prior to this position, Alexis held various roles across the sector with the goal of increasing access to health information, streamlining business processes and improving the patient experience. Alexis has always been interested in the field of health and science, which combined with her passion for sport, led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario. Most recently, Alexis completed her Masters of Science in Health Administration from the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) at the University of Toronto. Alexis also has her Project Management Professional (PMP) designation from the Project Management Institute and her Certified Health Executive (CHE) designation from the Canadian College of Health Leaders. Using her knowledge of the health care arena gained both professionally and academically, Alexis is thrilled to join the Unison Board of Directors to help make a difference in her neighboring communities.

Angie Heydon

Angie Heydon is a recently retired executive who spent over 25 years of her career working to improve healthcare delivery in Ontario. She is now a committed volunteer, seeking meaningful opportunities to continue contributing to the wellbeing of people in their communities. Angie retired as the first CEO of the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario, where she worked with its board to build the association’s capacity to support the growth of inter-professional primary care in Ontario. Prior to that Angie served in a number of senior positions with various healthcare organizations, including Health Quality Ontario, the Association of Ontario Health Centres, and Cancer Care Ontario. Angie has an MBA degree from York University, focused on policy and organization development. In addition to her deep knowledge of primary care delivery and quality improvement, Angie brings to the board her skills in policy analysis, advocacy and consensus building. As a 30+ year resident in the Unison CHC catchment area, Angie is very excited to work with the Unison board and its community to continue growing and strengthening its capacity to help people and communities achieve optimal health and wellbeing.

Elese Allin

Elese has worked in the financial services industry for the last twelve years focusing on corporate finance, restructuring and accounting services. She is currently a director at Alvarez & Marsal where she provides advisory services to management teams, corporate boards, shareholders and lender groups related to acquisitions, divestitures, refinancings and restructurings.  Elese has significant experience in strategic planning and working as part of a team to make decisions and drive results. Elese holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in business administration from Wilfrid Laurier University and has also earned her Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) designation and is a Charted Financial Analyst (CFA). Elese strongly supports Unison’s vision of healthy communities and is looking forward to bringing her experience to the Unison board to add value wherever she can.

Diana Elder

Diana has over 20 years of experience as a Human Resources professional.  Her background includes specialized knowledge of employee and labour relations, talent management, strategic planning,  training, and organizational development,  Diana has worked in both the public and private sectors and has spent the last 15 years of her career in the Healthcare sector.   She currently works for the University Health Network (UHN) as Executive Director of Human Resources.  Diana holds a Masters of Business Administration from Royal Roads University and a Masters of Industrial Relations from Queens University. Diana’s volunteer work has included board work with the Central Toronto Community Health Centre and also on the Board Human Resources Sub-Committee of Fife House.  Currently Diana acts as a volunteer advisor to the White Ribbon Human Resources Subcommittee.

Fadumo Diriye

Fadumo is a graduate from the Faculty of Health at York University.  As she learns about the Canadian ethics involving patients and medical staff, she has also drawn on her Kenyan roots and beliefs of holistic health to explore innovative strategies in the development of successful Health Management tactics.   She has served youth regularly for the past three years through a healthy breakfast club, Fleming’s Breakfast for Learning.  Fadumo’s past extra-curricular activities and work experience has provided her with the needed skills to contribute to the Board. She has sought multi-faceted ways to reach out to her extended community to improve their way of living, as she recognizes that health must be addressed from various angles. Being an activist and promoting health amongst Canadians using both Canadian and Kenyan principles of health has enriched and shaped her perspectives of life.  Her experiences, knowledge, and lessons acquired throughout her education have equipped her to serve the community and help individuals to live longer and healthier lives.

Naureen Siddiqui

Naureen obtained a graduate degree in health administration at the University of Toronto in 2010. During her studies, she completed a practicum at New Heights Community Health Centre and York Community Services. Her main project was to evaluate client satisfaction at both centers just prior to their merger. A founding member of the operations team at the IMAGINE Clinic, an inter professional student run clinic based out of Queen West Community Health Centre, she had an instrumental role in the design of the clinic flow and processes. These experiences have provided her with insight into the needs of marginalized groups in Toronto and the role that community organizations play (and challenges they face) in an effort to address them. Naureen also has a background in microbiology laboratory technology and political science. Applying the skills and knowledge from both disciplines, she worked abroad with Doctors Without Borders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007. During this time she provided support and education to local staff at hospitals and outreach clinics for the laboratory identification of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV.  Naureen is currently an infection preventionist at St. Michael’s Hospital where she applies theories of change management, epidemiology, quality improvement and patient safety into practice on a daily basis.

Richard Linley

Richard is a dynamic professional with government and private sector experience. Richard has a Masters of Public Policy from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from the University of Ottawa. Currently, Richard is the President of the Wine Council of Ontario, which presents over 100 VQA winery properties across the province of Ontario. Richard brings to the Board professional experience in policy development; government relations and advocacy; stakeholder engagement and outreach; consensus building and non-profit Board Development; as well as strategic communications and issues management support. Through his commitment to community, Richard volunteers his time with Journalists for Human Rights and hopes to make a valuable contribution to Unison.