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 the General Counsel and member of the executive team of a publicly-traded health and wellness company. 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.
Diana Elder, Vice-Chair
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 Master of Business Administration from Royal Roads University and a Master of Industrial Relations from Queens University. Diana’s volunteer work has included board work with the Central Toronto Community Health Centre and on the Board Human Resources Sub-Committee of Fife House. Currently, Diana acts as a volunteer advisor to the White Ribbon Human Resources Subcommittee.
Elese Allin, Treasurer
Elese has worked in the financial services industry for the last 12 to 15 years focusing on corporate finance, restructuring, and accounting services. She is currently a senior 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 honours 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.
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 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 neighbouring communities.
Angie Heydon is a 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 interprofessional 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.
Nada is a Registered Social Worker with experience and expertise in Gender-Based Violence, Youth Mental Health and Addictions, Strategic Planning, Program Evaluation, Project Management, Training development and facilitation, Not-for-profit governance, and the Social service Sector. She has more than three years’ experience working with and supporting marginalized youth, individuals from LGBTQ+ communities, young adults and women experiencing mental health, employment, education, trauma and various individual, communal and systemic challenges/barriers. She currently works at Yonge Street Mission as an Employment Counsellor. Nada earned a Master of Social Work degree from York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree specializing in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Toronto. She currently holds Board Membership at the Toronto Rape Crisis Center/Multicultural Women Against Rape in Toronto where she actively and strategically works in a collaborative manner to support and advance the organization’s mission in supporting survivors of sexual violence as well as ending gender-based violence in Toronto. Through her commitment to the community, Nada hopes to use her professional experiences to make a valuable contribution to Unison.
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 interprofessional 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 the 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.
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 a 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.
Richard is a dynamic professional with government and private sector experience. Richard has a Master of Public Policy from Simon Fraser University and a Bachelor 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 the community, Richard volunteers his time with Journalists for Human Rights and hopes to make a valuable contribution to Unison.
Tamia Daniel is a junior at the University of Toronto, where she is a double-major in Public Policy and Health Policy with a concentration in Public Health. She is interested in understanding the social determinants of health in low-income populations, in particular, the influence of historical, political, and economic forces in the construction of clinical operations and health systems. Tamia aspires to pursue a career as a physician in the public health sector where she can develop and advocate for health policies on behalf of those that she is passionate about protecting. Outside of school, Tamia is a research assistant at St. Michael’s Hospital in the Injury and Trauma department, and volunteers her time at Toronto Grace Health where she plans recreational activities and provides administrative assistance to the Post-Acute Care Rehabilitation unit. When she is not busy reading about current health affairs around the world, she enjoys spending time with her family, participating in individual sports and eating burgers from The Burger Shack!