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Meet Our Board

Abi Ajibolade, ED

Abi Ajibolade is the current Executive Director of The Redwood, an organization recognizing that interpersonal and systemic forms of violence are interconnected.  Abi is a strong operations leader and understands the importance of building an efficient team that works cohesively to achieve goals.  As an attorney called to the Nigerian Bar, and with a Certificate of Qualification from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, Abi is a social justice worker with extensive experience in women’s and children’s rights advocacy.  She is a Registered Psychotherapist, certified Crisis Prevention Intervention Instructor and certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor.  She co-created The Redwood’s highly acclaimed Safety Assessment Risk Management (SARM) framework, and to date, has delivered the SARM presentation to over twenty-five groups and conferences including the Canadian Domestic Violence Conference, and the 3rd World Conference of Women’s Shelters in The Netherlands, and more recently, led the launch of the SARM training online.  Abi sits on the board of METRAC and has sat on the board of Ernestine’s Women Shelter. In 2018, Abi was awarded a scholarship to Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Non-profit Management program.  The program provided an enriching opportunity to re-examine The Redwood’s mission from a different perspective and develop new insight to deepen its impact.  The learning experience equipped her with new tools, and strategies to realize The Redwood’s vision.

Nina Arbabzadeh

Nina is a public sector professional with experience working for different orders of the government in diverse areas such as education, finance, transportation and housing.  She has a Master of Public Policy and a Master of Science in International Political Economy.  Nina immigrated to Canada when she was 15, and ever since moving to Toronto has been involved in the delivery of community programs that support the settlement and integration of immigrants and refugees in the city.

Sonya Bourgeois

Sonya is an Associate Director with the City of Toronto specializing in the areas of health promotion and policy development, and throughout 2020 and 2021 has been immersed in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Previous to her work with the City of Toronto, she spent time working with the Ontario Public Service as a policy professional in the areas of violence against women, community services and health system strategy, public health, and gender-based policy.  She holds a Masters in Social Work from York University, and has published in the areas of women and HIV, and access to abortion in Canada. Sonya is also currently a member of the Board of Directors at the Wellesley Institute in Toronto. Early in her career, she worked as a fundraising professional in the areas of human rights, mental health, and community development.  She is a former staff member of The Redwood and loves to ride her bicycle around the city.

Olayinka Ekenkwo

Olayinka Ekenkwo is currently the founder and sole proprietor at the Law Office of Olayinka Ekenkwo.  Prior to starting her law practice, Olayinka worked for several years with the Ontario Public Service first as a legal intern with the Legal Services Branch of the Ministry of Labour before articling with the Crown Law Office Civil, Ministry of Attorney General.  Olayinka worked as a Human Rights Advisor in the Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Office of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for five years before she left to start her practice in Ajax, Ontario.  Olayinka immigrated to Canada in 2008 after living in the United Kingdom where she went to law school.  She is a Canadian citizen as well as a Nigerian where she was born.  When not practicing law, Olayinka is passionate about working with women and young people.  She is an author and inspirational speaker and coach and enjoys hiking and the outdoors.  Olayinka is married with children.

Piyush Gandhi

Piyush is an executive in the field of aviation.  Currently, he is the VP, Operations and Business Development for the Presage Group Inc.  Previously, he spent 2½ years with Sunwing Airlines in the role of VP Flight Operations where, along with running the operation of 30,000 flights per year, he maintained his pilot proficiency flying as a B737 Captain.  Prior to that, Piyush was the VP Flight Operations at Porter Airlines where he was a founding team member from its inception in early 2006.  In the 10-years prior to Porter, Piyush was with Bombardier Aerospace as their Chief Pilot (Test Pilot) & Customer Liaison Pilot.  Piyush is a Board Director at the Northern Lights Aero Foundation which celebrates the accomplishments of women in aviation.  Piyush founded and chaired the Y.A.Y! (You Are You!) diversity and inclusion committee at Sunwing and he also co-founded/chaired the successful Women Soar at Porter program.  Piyush graduated from the Seneca Aviation Program (1993) and Rotman School of Business MBA (2014).  Piyush has two daughters who inspire him every day to break glass ceilings and other obstacles they may face as visible minority young women.

Kathryn Lamothe

Kathryn is the Managing Director & Global Head of Trade Finance, Global Transaction Banking, at TD Securities.  She earned her Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) designation in the Assurance practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers before joining TD Bank, where she has gained extensive experience in the areas of finance, treasury, risk management and business strategy.  Kathryn currently co-chairs the TD Securities LGBTQ2+ Committee and is a member of the TD Bank LGBTQ2+ Executive Steering Committee.  She is the proud mother of 2 young children who help remind her everyday of what is important – love, having fun, and ice cream.

Lauriana Mandody

Lauriana is the Head of Finance at HelloFresh Canada.  She has over twelve years of professional experience as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) and brings with her a broad range of consulting services to a diverse set of clients across various industries with a focus on consumer-packaged goods.  When she is not working, Lauriana is committed to community outreach.  She began by sitting on the board of Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Care Centre as the Treasurer in 2009 and Board Chair in 2013.  Since then, she has been a board member of the Black Physicians Association, Brooklyn Ballet and currently sits on the board of Elizabeth Fry Toronto.  Lauriana has participated in the Regent Park Film Festival Programming Committee, fostered dogs through Save our Scruff and in the past, she has mentored students at Ryerson University, coached students through the CPA exam writing process, participated in volunteer Tax Clinics.  She lives in downtown Toronto with her rescue dog, Frankie.

Liz Nastasi

Liz is currently Legal Manager with the Ministry of the Attorney General with Tribunals Ontario.  She is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1996.  Liz has extensive mediation and adjudication experience.  For 7 years Liz was an Arbitrator and the Senior Arbitrator at FSCO, where she adjudicated and resolved over 1000 disputes.  Liz was also a Mediator with the Ontario Human Rights Commission as well as Legal Counsel with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.  Liz was also a volunteer mediator in the criminal court as part of an Adult Justice Committee diversion program.  Liz is a dedicated trainer, teacher, and coach.  She has worked as a Dispute Resolution Educator with York University and delivered administrative law courses at Osgoode’s Professional Development LLM programs.  As a dispute resolution practitioner, Liz has focused on the effect of power imbalances and domestic violence on dispute resolution.  Liz is a member of the Domestic Violence section of FDRIO and is committed to access to justice work and the prevention of gender-based violence.

Daniela Nikolic

Daniela is currently working as a Senior Technical Assistant at Northbridge Insurance.  She has been in the Insurance sector for twelve years, gaining a broad knowledge of the industry and continuous development through education.  Her accomplishments include completing nine Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP) courses with the Insurance Institute of Canada and is working on the last course with a goal to receive her Chartered Insurance Professional Designation.  She is very proud to be part of this community and supporting its cause because she shares a similar experience as a single mother of two children who escaped domestic violence.

Michael Pelz, PhD

Michael is a Senior Advisor at the Ontario Cabinet Office, holding responsibilities for elections policy and democratic institutions.  He has previously worked in consulting and the NGO sector, including leading research on the first ever comprehensive analysis of social and physical infrastructure gaps in Arctic Canada.  He is deeply committed to advancing public policy that raises awareness of intersectional forms of discrimination, including supports for survivors of gender-based violence.  He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, with research and publications focused on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in Eastern Europe.  Michael previously studied at the London School of Economics and is an avid swimmer.

Allyson Samuel, CPA, CMA

Allyson has over 20 years of professional accounting experience; she obtained her CMA designation from the Society of Management Accountants of Ontario and holds a Bachelor of Administration degree from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.  Allyson is currently employed as Manager Finance at Options for Homes a non-profit condominium developer, with a mission to help as many people as possible achieve their dream of home ownership.  An avid basketball fan, Allyson is currently a treasurer and co-organizer of Rainbow Hoops, a recreational women’s basketball league providing a safe queer-positive space for players of all skill levels to enjoy the game of basketball.

Nadine Sookermany

Nadine is the Executive Director of Fife House, the largest supportive housing provider to people living with HIV/AIDS in the country.  She comes to this work as an educator, community activist and advocate with specific experience in the gender-based violence sector.  Nadine brings decades of senior non-profit leadership experience to the area of community and social services, health, equity and accessibility, specifically as a change agent with an anti-racism, anti-oppression lens.  She holds a Women’s Studies and Political Science degree from the University of Manitoba, along with the completion of graduate courses at the University of Toronto – Ontario Institute of Studies in Education (OISE).  Nadine also held the position of professor with the Assaulted Women’s and Children’s Counsellor/Advocate and Social Service Worker programs at George Brown College in Toronto for over 12 years.  She is incredibly passionate about community-based health and harm reduction, and this passion has guided her work as a community leader, human resources practitioner and social justice advocate for over 25 years.

Ivana Vaccaro

Ivana is a partner at RV Law LLP and has been practicing exclusively in the area of family law since 2004.  She is an accredited family mediator, arbitrator, and parenting coordinator with Mediated Family Results Inc., as well as a Coach and Advisor with the Law Society of Ontario.  She has authored several articles in the areas of Family Law and Domestic Violence.  She is a member the Family Lawyers Association, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario and Ontario Association for Family Mediation.  She is also the mother of three children who keep her very busy outside of her practice, continuing education and volunteer work.

Interested in joining our board?

The Redwood’s board is currently full, and new applications are not being accepted at this time.

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