Our Team

Patricia O’Connell

Executive Director

Patricia O’Connell is Executive Director of Sistering, a not-for-profit agency serving Toronto’s most vulnerable women, homeless or precariously housed, often with mental health and substance use issues. Patricia has been on the feminist front lines for decades, advocating for women’s rights including the right to equal pay for work of equal value; an anti-oppressive workplace free from discrimination and harassment; and reproductive autonomy. She brings 30-plus years of experience in both the public and private sectors to Sistering, ensuring that women who need a safe and respectful space, food, clothing, medical care and harm reduction and trauma informed programming find all that and more at Sistering, 24/7. 

Board of Directors

With thanks to our tireless Board of Directors for their wisdom, guidance and commitment to the women we serve.

Anne Chappelle (Co-chair)

Anne has been a Sistering volunteer since 2007 and currently serves as co-chair of the Board of Directors. She is deeply committed to Sistering and serves on both the Transition Committee and the Fundraising Committee. Anne feels strongly about the issues facing marginalized women in our community and is passionate about the services Sistering provides. Professionally, Anne is a Project Manager who manages the Project Management Office at a law firm that also donates to Sistering.

Judy Gabriel-Virgo (Co-chair)

Judy is a social worker and has been working in the community mental health sector for over 15 years. She has extensive experience working with people who have challenges and is passionate about advocating for those who experience barriers to having their needs met efficiently. Currently, Judy works as a Mental Health court support worker.

Pat Craig (Secretary)

Pat is a retired Special Education teacher and has been a volunteer at Sistering for more than 10 years. She currently teaches ESL at Sistering, and volunteers in the kitchen. She has Specialist diplomas in both Special Education and Counselling. Pat is also a member of the Fundraising Committee.

Lynne Woolcott (Treasurer)

Lynne trained as a Social Worker and started her  career working  in community development, counseling, group work, advocacy and research positions in downtown west Toronto. She has worked in the non-profit sector for 22 years, initially working in front line positions with homeless people, immigrants and refugees. Until recently, she was the Director of Clinical Programs at Regent Park Community Centre providing leadership to a large interdisciplin-ary primary care team in one of the poorest, most diverse communities in Toronto. Currently, she is the Director of Community Response and Advocacy at St. Christopher House where she leads the community engagement and advocacy initiatives including Financial Advocacy and Problem Solving, and The Refugee Services Programs.

Cynthia Daley

Born and educated in Jamaica, Cindy furthered her nursing education in England. She practiced mid-wifery in Glasgow, Scotland and spent most of her nursing career in Birmingham, England, before moving to Canada and settling in Toronto. Cindy has been a long-time supporter of Sistering and understands the issues that participants experience. She has a commitment to social justice and advocates for the women who attend Sistering’s programs. Cindy currently gives back to the community by volunteering regularly at Scarborough Hospital.

Alicia Leyva Arcos

Alicia has been an active participant with Sistering’s Spanish  speaking group since 2005. Alicia identifies as a visible minority, an immigrant and a survivor of violence, and has been active in many human rights, social justice and gender issues in Toronto and in Mexico. Alicia’s experience includes her involvement as a board member and volunteer with More Than Child’s Play, The Ontario Early Years, and Parkdale Community Legal Services. Alicia’s passion is community activism and media with a social justice perspective.   Alicia believes strongly in non-profit agencies being an important and basic connection for healthy communities.

Heather Smyth

Heather is an associate professor of English at the University of Waterloo. She worked for three years as director of Undergraduate programs in English and has been on many academic and career committees at the university. She teaches and researches in the fields of Canadian and Caribbean literatures with a special interest in social justice literature. She has worked as a frontline worker at a sexual assault crisis centre.

Ida Hersi

Ida has been working in the public health field for over 15 years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health Sciences (specializing in Health Promotion) and is particularly interested in addressing poverty and homelessness. Ida has broad and extensive work and volunteer experiences that span the community health, public health, social services and international development sectors. She is passionate about volunteering and in addition to sitting on Sistering’s Board, she has volunteered at the Drop In.

Lyneisha Adams

Lyneisha  (Lyn) has been a participant at Sistering for the past 10 years. During this period she has used the Drop In services in addition to accessing Housing supports. Lyn believes she can bring many skills and experience to Sistering through her lived experience including violence against women, street awareness and Harm Reduction. She is a single mother of two and a recent college graduate. She is looking to give back to the community and will be pursuing a career in the Assaulted Woman & Child Counsellor /Advocate Diploma Program through George Brown College. Lyn currently volunteers at Christie Ossington Neighbourhood Drop In facilitating group support focused on online social media networks, email and basic uses of handheld devices. She hopes her experience and education can bring more community engagement and partnerships to Sistering`s diverse community.

Sabrina Jeria

Sabrina is a communications strategist and marketing advisor with eight years experience working in the not-for-profit and public sectors. She currently works as a marketing and communications officer at St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation. An advocate for health equity, Sabrina is interested in reducing barriers to accessing social services that are fundamental to good health, such as appropriate health care and quality housing. She holds a post-graduate certificate in public relations from Humber College and a BA in English and communications from McMaster University. Sabrina has served on the Parkdale Community Health Centre’s Board of Directors.

Joey Noble

Joey has been volunteering at Sistering for 10 years, teaching weekly ESL classes, helping out in the kitchen and assisting with special events. She became involved with Sistering because she witnessed the joy experienced by women participating in programs at the Outreach location. She recently retired from a 20-year career as a Professor of Social Sciences at Humber College, but continues to teach courses part time. Prior to Humber, she worked for 15 years in the social service sector. Past roles include work as a community organizer with a variety of low-income groups, primarily women and immigrants. She has experience with fundraising, grant writing and working closely with volunteer boards.

Stephanie Mazzocut

Stephanie has been a Sistering participant for more than 20 years. Her experience at Sistering includes roles as an assistant cook, and managing clothing donations at Sistering’s former location on College St. Mental health is an issue Stephanie understands on a personal level; she has cared for family members with mental health challenges and has been involved in groups that share information and provide support. As a result, she has become knowledgeable on providing support to others who have had similar experiences and she is interested in services that also do this work.

Nicole Walton

Before becoming a lawyer, Nicole studied psychology, assisting with behavioral analysis for children with autism spectrum disorders and researching children’s responses to exposure to abuse and neglect. She later trained in policy studies and law, serving community members as a caseworker at Queen’s Legal Aid, the Queen’s Elder Law Clinic and the Osgoode Family Law Program. Following her studies, Nicole worked for the federal and provincial governments and in child protection law before joining Swadron Associates, a seven-member law firm in Toronto dedicated to advocacy on issues including mental health and capacity law, and social justice issues. Nicole has volunteered with a variety of organizations including the John Howard Society, and has taught abroad in Finland and Guyana.

Sue Kelleher

Sue is a community planner with over 10 years of experience in both the public and non-profit sectors. She has experience in the design and implementation of strategic plans and policy, community-based research and programs, and community engagement and public consultation processes. She currently works for the City of Toronto, and has previously worked on a range of non-profit projects focused on newcomers and settlement, accessible housing, food security and early childhood development.

Sharon Nicholls

Sharon was born and raised in Toronto. Her parents immigrated from the Caribbean. Sharon is a social activist with an interest in improving the wellbeing of women in her community. Her education and work experience are in the healthcare field in rural and urban Ontario. She has been a participant at Sistering for more than two years. Sharon is looking forward to using her skills at the Board level to support and empower women and transgender  of diverse ethnicity and age, who are coping with homelessness, socioeconomic inequality, and other barriers such as disability and language.