Senior management

Silvia Samsa, Executive Director (Interim)

Silvia Samsa has been in senior management for over 20 years in Violence Against Women shelters and has served on numerous non-profit boards. Most recently, Silvia was the Executive Director of Women’s Habitat of Etobicoke and Manager of YWCA Arise Shelter. Working from a feminist, anti-oppression, trauma-informed perspective, Silvia has a solid understanding of issues related to violence, extensive experience advocating for individuals who are racialized, low-income, trans, and living with mental health issues and substance issues. Silvia has a BA from the University of Toronto and a BSW from Ryerson University.

Linda Cook, Director of Accounting and Operations

Linda Cook brings over 30 years of experience as an accountant and administrator to Sistering. She has worked as senior management and volunteered with numerous non-profit organizations over the years, including women’s shelters and youth centers. She has experience as a front-line worker at Anselma House and John Howard Society and as a child and youth worker at Christopher House and Community Resource Centre Kitchener. Her passion and commitment stem from personal experiences supporting the homeless, marginalized and disadvantaged in society. Linda is a Chartered Profession Accountant, has a Diploma in Social Work and Volunteer Management from Conestoga College, and a BA in Psychology from the University of Waterloo.

Alice Awweh, Director of Fund Development and Communications

Alice Awweh brings over 18 years of experience in the private and non-profit sectors in Canada and overseas and has served on non-profit boards. Prior to working at Sistering, she worked at Cystic Fibrosis Canada, the United Nations Development Programme and consulted for other non-profits. She is passionate about utilizing her diverse skill set and experiences to support organizations in eradicating inequality and generating positive change. Alice holds a BCom Specialized Honours in Marketing from York University, an MA in International Relations and World Order from the University of Leicester in the UK, and is completing an MBA for executives at Athabasca University.

Board of Directors

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

Amanda Bertucci

Amanda is a lawyer called to the Ontario bar and sits on Sistering’s Human Resources and By-Law Committee. Before her time as a lawyer, Amanda worked in media and the arts. Amanda has extensive experience volunteering for access to justice initiatives and is an active member of her community. She is committed to supporting and empowering women, and girls, and advocating for accessibility justice with an intersectional feminist perspective. 

Amrit Dhillon

Amrit is a second-generation cis-gender Punjabi Canadian millennial born in Vancouver who now calls Toronto home. Her passion for research brought her to Toronto during her graduate studies. Being the first Canadian graduate student to examine skin lightening practices among Canadian South Asian women has allowed her to gain a deeper perspective into human motivations, behaviours and insights. This empathetic and curiosity-driven approach informs the work she does today in corporate research, consulting and strategy. Amrit supports Sistering through a variety of initiatives which began with her role as a kitchen volunteer. She is looking forward to incorporating her research experience and passion for innovation into her role on the Board of Directors and learning from the wider Sistering community. 

Anastasia Papakirykos

Anastasia has been a participant at Sistering for the last two years and she was formally trained as an Early Childhood Educator, at Mothercraft College in Toronto Ontario. Her background includes over 15 years work as an ECE within Toronto and the GTA. Anastasia’s primary focus is on assisting marginalized individuals to obtain the support and vital services which are a challenge to access within their communities. This has been achieved through her work with YMCA Childcare Center subsidy programs, in the before and after school programs as well as a poignant volunteer position within Dr. Roz’s Healing Place, as a Children’s Programs Assistant. Anastasia looks forward to providing her insights and ideas to this exciting and dynamic position within Sistering’s Board of Directors.

Courtney Briggs

Courtney has over a decade of experience working with nonprofit organizations and has a passion for community service and access to justice. She has served as a member of Sistering’s Board since 2018 and sits on the Human Resources & Bylaws Committee and the Finance Committee. Professionally, Courtney works as a lawyer for the City of Toronto’s municipal practice group and has experience leading strategic initiatives related to the support of underserved communities throughout Toronto.

Cynthia Daley

Originally born and educated in Jamaica, Cindy furthered her nursing education in England. She practiced midwifery in Glasgow, Scotland and then spent most of her nursing career in Birmingham England and various locations in Ontario, Canada where she settled in Toronto. Cindy has been a long-time supporter of Sistering and understands the issues that the women go through.  She has a strong sense of social justice and is interested in advocating for women, trans people, and seniors who attend Sistering’s programs. Cindy currently gives back to the community by volunteering regularly at Scarborough Hospital.

Heather Smyth

Co-Chair

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. In the past she has volunteered with the Olivia Chow for Mayor campaign and has worked as a frontline worker at a sexual assault crisis centre. She has been a Board member since 2015.

Joey Noble

Secretary

Joey Noble has been volunteering at Sistering for over 14 years, teaching weekly ESL classes, helping in the Sistering Kitchen and assisting with special events. She became involved with Sistering because she witnessed the joy experienced by women and trans people 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.

Leona Liu

Leona is a tax accountant with more than ten years of experience. She is a senior manager in Ernst & Young LLP’s international tax and transaction services group in Toronto where she helps multinational companies with their international tax matters. She has previously served as the treasurer of Media Action Média, a non-profit organization that aims to amplify the voices of women and increase their visibility in the media, as well as Open Media, another non-profit organization that works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. In addition, she volunteers with CPA Canada, offering tax clinics to provide free personal tax preparation services to low-income communities and seniors. She is also a regular volunteer at Sistering and helps in the kitchen with food preparation. Leona has a passion for empowering and helping others and is committed to supporting grassroots organizations that work with marginalized people.

Michaela Ferguson

Michaela is 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.

Dr. Natalie Bozinovski ND., MSc.

Dr. Bozinovski is a licensed naturopathic doctor, nutritionist, speaker and published author. She holds an undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences and minor in economics (University of Waterloo) and a Master’s degree in nutritional sciences (University of Toronto). Dr. Bozinovski has a strong background in complementary medicine and nutrition research. In her clinical practice, she specializes in women’s health across a broad spectrum including reproductive and hormonal health, mental health, as well as skin health and digestive disorders.  She is a passionate advocate for ensuring that women and trans people from every walk of life have access to education and resources that support personal empowerment, healthy choices and self-care.  In addition to experience with community health at Anishnawbe Health, she has served as a volunteer on the crisis line for the Canadian Mental Health Association in Waterloo.

Paula Douglass

Paula is a social services worker for over 20 years. She brings a wealth of strengths to Sistering’s Board of Directors in the form of lived experiences of trauma, mental health, addictions recovery and education. Most recently, Paula has adjusted her life to accommodate a permanent physical disability. The past 20 years of working in various roles at Parkdale Activity – Recreation Centre; and presently in the area of financial literacy; gives Paula a well rounded background in systems navigation, advocacy, policy and service provision.  The majority of her work life was having multiple jobs to stay housed and independent and this has included over ten years as a Relief Crisis Worker with the Gerstein Centre. Building a stable life and constantly striving for self improvements has been Paula’s main life’s work. Paula adds, “there’s no light at the end of the tunnel if it’s just for you, so giving back or paying it forward has always been an important facet of my life.” Paula is in love with polymer clay crafting and also plays more than her share of video games.

Sarah Halsey

Sarah is an entrepreneur and founder of Hilborn Digital, a digital marketing agency in Toronto that is dedicated to supporting and providing opportunities for women in the tech industry. They also give back to the community by providing pro-bono services to charitable organizations. She attended York University for a degree in Business where she co-founded the WAY (Women At York) Association, and currently attends the University of Toronto for Mandarin Chinese. She is passionate about empowering women and trans people, in all their diversities; providing opportunities for folks to thrive and participate within our community; and advocating for women and trans people’s rights.

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 people of diverse ethnicity and age, who are coping with homelessness, socioeconomic inequality, and other barriers such as disability and language.

Stephanie Mazzocut

Stephanie Mazzocut has been attending and supporting Sistering`s programs for over 20 years. Her past experience includes roles as an assistant cook, and managing clothing donations at Sistering’s past location on College St. Stephanie immigrated to Canada from Italy over 50 years ago. Her first language is Italian but along with English, she can communicate in Spanish. Mental health is a topic Stephanie understands from a personal level due to caring for family members experiencing it and she 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. Stephanie is thrilled to be on the Board to help and give back to Sistering. Stephanie regularly participates in the yoga program at Sistering and when available, takes part in the knitting program. Her past involvement includes being part of the sewing program for over a year. Her work background is in fashion design.

Tracy Heffernan

Treasurer

Tracy is a lawyer, community activist, and the Provincial Director of the Tenant Duty Counsel Program at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. Her work currently focuses on housing, human rights, and access to justice issues. Tracy was co-counsel on Tanudjaja v. Canada, the innovative legal challenge asserting constitutional protection for the right to housing. Tracy has taught courses on Housing and Homelessness and the Right to Housing in Canada and Internationally. In 2012, Tracy held a Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship from the Law Foundation of Ontario.