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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 a policy professional with the Ontario Public Service, leading projects in the areas of violence against women, health policy, community and social service delivery, and gender-based policy and program development. 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. 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.

Piyush Gandhi

Piyush is an executive in the field of aviation currently with Sunwing Airlines as the Vice President Flight Operations.  As a proficient Captain, he continues to fly whenever he can.  Previously, he held the same role at Porter Airlines where he was a founding team member from its inception in early 2006.  Piyush has chaired committees and participated on Advisory Boards for Colleges, Universities, and notably, the Northern Lights Aero Foundation which celebrates the accomplishments of women in aviation.  Piyush is a graduate of the Seneca Aviation Program (1993) and earned an MBA from the Rotman School of Business (2014).  One of Piyush’s proudest accomplishments was co-founding the Women Soar at Porter program whose mandate was to attract top female talent and develop women leaders from within.  Piyush is married with two daughters, who inspire him every day to break glass ceilings and other obstacles they may face as visible minority young women.

Carmen Hanson-Hoyte, CHRL

(Professional Designation CHRL). Carmen is an active contributing member of the Board of Directors for over 8 years and is an advocate of the aims and objectives of The Redwood.  Carmen is the current President of the Board of Directors and has previously served on the Board as the Vice President and the HR Lead, providing advice on Board Governance, Strategic and Succession Planning, and has continued to provide critical leadership support to the Executive Director.  Carmen has been an ambassador for The Redwood for many years and has represented the Organization at various charitable events to accept donations and MC for Redwood charitable events.

Lauriana Mandody

Lauriana is the Director of Financial Planning & Analysis at Green Space Brands. She has over ten 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 and Brooklyn Ballet. Lauriana 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 Counsel 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.

Amy Nhan

Amy was born in Brantford and moved to Toronto at young age with her mother and sister. Raised by a single mother, she always had strong women as role models, nurturing not only her passion to help others and pay it forward, but also to achieve ambitious goals to grow personally and professionally.

As a student of Ryerson University Amy studied Graphic Communications Management and Human Resources, along with an elective focus in overall Politics. Amy has progressively grown in her career managing an entire Production Department in a printing company. Amy’s goal is to be a champion for diversity in a predominantly male industry and concurrently be a role model to foster women to be their own champions and bring forth ideas to create a positive change in the industry.

Michael Pelz, PhD

Michael is a Senior Advisor within the Ontario Public Service, leading work on poverty reduction and gender-based analysis. He is deeply committed to advancing policy that raises awareness and supports survivors of gender-based violence and discrimination. 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. He has also worked to advance minority rights issues within Canadian foreign policy, and has led human rights training for Canadian officials.  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.

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 both a mediator and parenting coordinator. She has authored various articles in the area 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 busy outside of her practice. She enjoys painting, theatre and skiing.

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