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.

Sue Kelleher (Co-chair)

Sue Kelleher 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.

Judy Gabriel-Virgo (Co-chair)

Judy Gabirel-Virgo 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 Craig 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 Woolcott trained as a Social Worker, working in community development, counselling, group work, advocacy and research in downtown west  Toronto. She has worked in the non-profit sector for 25 years, initially working in front line positions with homeless people, immigrants and refugees. For a number of years, Lynne worked in Community Health Centres, most recently as the Director of Clinical Programs at Regent Park Community Centre providing leadership to a large interdisciplin-ary primary care team. Currently, she is the Director of Community Response and Advocacy at West Neighbourhood House where she leads the community engagement, public policy  and advocacy initiatives. Living downtown, Lynne loves the diversity and energy of Toronto, and is active in her neighbourhood making sure there is a place for everyone in the City.

Anne Chappelle (Past Co-chair)

Anne Chappelle has been a Sistering volunteer since 2007 and currently serves as past 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.

Cynthia Daley

Born and educated in Jamaica, Cindy Daley 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 Leyva Arcos 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 Smyth 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 Hersi has been working in the public health field for over 17 years. She holds a Masters degree in Public Health Sciences specializing in Health Promotion and is particularly interested in addressing poverty and homelessness. Ida’s broad and extensive work and volunteer experiences span the community health, public health, social services and international development sectors. She is passionate about volunteering and currently sits on several Boards in addition to a variety of other volunteer activities.

Stephanie Donaldson

Stephanie Donaldson has over 15 years of experience in the non-profit and public sectors as a policy expert and strategist. Stephanie has called Toronto home for two decades and is proudly raising her two daughters in the Bloorcourt community – Sistering’s community. Stephanie holds certificates in community-based research, alternative dispute resolution, public sector leadership, and an MA in Women’s History. As a community organizer and volunteer, she has strong experience in campaigning for social justice and advocating with all levels of government for policies and programs that reflect a more caring society. Stephanie is most passionate about advocating for women’s rights and public education.

Michaela Ferguson

Michaela Ferguson, a participant and volunteer at Sistering for over 10 years, has both first hand knowledge and experience about the issues facing the homeless and venerable. Michaela is passionate about self-advocacy, self-care and connecting women with services that bring stability and purpose to their lives. She has served on the YMCA Board of Directors and has volunteered in a number of capacities with several organizations including Dr. Roz’s Healing Place and the Salvation Army, and is looking forward to serving on the Sistering Board.

Joey Noble

Joey Noble has been volunteering at Sistering for 12 years, teaching weekly ESL classes, helping in Sisters Kitchen and assisting with special events. She became involved with Sistering because she witnessed the joy experienced by women participating in programs at Parkdale Outreach. She recently retired after a 20-year career as a Professor of Social Sciences at Humber College, but continues to teach 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 Mazzocut 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

Nicole Walton chairs Sistering’s Human Resources and By-Law Committee. She has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2016 and is a passionate feminist and mother. Nicole has worked as a lawyer in various capacities since her call to the bar in 2013.

Sharon Nicholls

Sharon Nicholls 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.

Susan Mazza

Susan Mazza is a post-secondary education professional with over 13 years of experience in the public and non-profit sectors. She currently works for the University of Toronto in government relations. Past roles include work in municipal government and international development.  With a life-long commitment to the values of anti-oppression, feminism, and inclusion, she has also volunteered with a wide range of organizations both at home and abroad. Susan holds a Masters of Education from the University of