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Our Board

Arman Hamidian

Chair

Arman Hamidian has a wealth of experience in research and strong interests in population health, social determinants of health, and health inequities. He has worked on research projects pertaining to precarious work and health interventions, climate change and global health, and income disparity in Toronto. He currently works at the Wellesley Institute as a researcher and outside of his work there, he is working on a pan-Canadian research study on health outcomes for Syrian refugees in Canada. He has established a partnership with the Community of Support Initiative at the University of Toronto, with the goal of increasing the number of students who are Indigenous, Black, or economically disadvantaged in medical schools. His previous role at the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services as a Public Appointments Advisor was to diversify Police Service Boards to reflect the needs of policing today.

Natasha Jesenak

Vice Chair

atasha Jesenak is passionate about social justice and supporting programs that promote health equity and the social determinants of health. She holds a BSc. in Bioethics and Global Health and a Certificate in Project Management. With 10+ years experience in higher education leadership she has adopted a collaborative and inclusive leadership style and is committed to building organizational capacity through quality management, continuous improvement and innovative service delivery. Like health, she believes accessible and relevant education is a critical factor for social mobility, particularly for newcomers. She has volunteered for social service organizations and community groups that work to improve the lives and well-being of marginalized and vulnerable individuals, particularly women and LGBTQ communities.  She currently works as an Operations Manager at the University of Toronto, School of Continuing Studies, a social enterprise committed to transforming people’s lives through education. Natasha loves being active and getting out into nature whenever she can. Born and raised in Toronto, she currently lives with her partner, her sister and their westie “Coco” in the west end of the city.

Kiran Govind

Treasurer

Kiran Govind has broad experiences across the health system including policy development, funding model design and implementation of acute, home and community care programs for both public and private organizations. Kiran works as the Manager of SE Health’s Digital Transformation Office, where he plays a pivotal role in guiding the direction, design and implementation of digitally-enabled health services for enterprise and consumer markets. Kiran was previously a lead at Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) where he led the design and implementation of provincial projects to translate clinical evidence into population based screening programs, as well as provincial operations for a quality based procedure. Prior to his time at CCO, Kiran worked with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network in various technology related capacities. He holds a Master of Health Science from the University of Toronto, and undergraduate degrees in both Health Administration and Science from Ryerson University and the University of Waterloo respectively.

Michael Torres

Secretary

Michael is a dedicated communications professional with 15 years of experience in the health sector, specializing in issues management, media relations and brand development. Communications Director at Wellesley Institute, Michael has also held senior positions at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario. With a broad range of experience, including work in stakeholder relations, research and knowledge mobilization, Michael carries a thorough understanding of factors affecting the health care system in Ontario. He studied political science and earned an Hon. Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto and a post-graduate diploma in business communications from Seneca at York University. Michael currently serves on the Board of Directors of Regeneration Community Services and The Local TO.

Priyanka Debnath

Director

Priyanka is an accomplished international public-sector strategist with extensive experience in assisting governments, international organizations and civil society organizations in understanding and solving complex economic and social problems. Priyanka has more than 8 years of experience in successfully leading policy research, program development and delivering projects in several regions including Europe, North America, Middle East and South Asia. Priyanka currently works as the Manager for Local Government and Housing for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Government of Ontario. She has a PhD in International Affairs specializing in international economic and development policy from Carleton University.

Jasmine Ramze Rezaee

Director

Jasmine is a public policy and communications specialist with 11 years of nonprofit sector experience spanning Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. Currently, she is the Manager of Advocacy at YWCA Toronto and a Social Planning Toronto and Access Alliance Board member. She has previously served on the Boards of The Centre for Community Organizations in Montreal and the Indigenous Health Centre of Tiohtià:ke. Jasmine is passionate about social justice and health equity, and particularly interested in advancing the rights of racialized and Indigenous community members. She holds an MA in political science from the University of Toronto.

Ambreen H. Akbar

Director

Ambreen H. Akbar (RSW, BSW, MSW) is a home and community care coordinator with the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). She has recently been redeployed to join the operational lead team to monitor and coordinate COVID responses across homeless populations. She brings a wealth of community experience, including within the violence against women, community health, criminal justice, immigration and settlement, and mental health sectors. Throughout her career, Ambreen has supervised many students and volunteers. She regularly gives community lectures on topics such as elder abuse, diversity, and anti-oppressive practices and has volunteered with different committees across the social work sector. Ambreen is the recipient of numerous awards, including: the Buddhist Compassion Foundation’s Community Service Award (2014); the Maya Award (2014); the Canadian Council of Muslim Women’s Woman who Inspires Award (2014); and the Excellence in Primary Health Care Award (2007). In 2016, Ambreen’s graduate research on domestic violence in “South Asian communities” in Canada was nominated for York University’s Gerry Erickson Prize.

Tess Sheldon

Director

Tess Sheldon is a lawyer who writes, presents and teaches on a variety of mental health, access to justice, disability and human rights topics. She completed her doctorate at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, exploring the legal issues raised by the covert administration of medication in psychiatric settings. She is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Windsor.

Jaime Boccongelle

Director

Jaime Boccongelle is a healthcare management professional and registered clinical social worker who works as a Project Manager with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). She is currently working on CAMH’s Operational Readiness Team, where she is leveraging her clinical knowledgebase and her healthcare management skills to help prepare the organization for a significant move into two new buildings at the Queen Street West and Ossington Street campus. Jaime has worked in a number of healthcare and mental health organizations to plan and implement high-priority strategic change initiatives. She has previously worked on initiatives to support better continuity of care when patients are discharged from inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations by improving the quality of patient-facing information, increasing post-discharge follow-up, and optimizing the communication from client/patients’ hospital care teams to community care teams. She is passionate about working on initiatives that support traditionally vulnerable and marginalized client/patient populations, as well as addressing stigma and discrimination.

Yinka Macaulay

Director

Yinka is a public health professional who is passionate about supporting meaningful change within the health system and promoting positive outcomes and well-being for all. Yinka brings years of experience working within public service and healthcare. She is currently a Senior Program Associate in Strategy and Innovation at The Change Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, Yinka was a Consultant at the Toronto Central LHIN, and held roles in the areas of Strategy and Planning, Primary Care and Health System Integration, Design and Development. In this capacity, she has contributed to strategic priorities that advanced integration of care for patients with complex needs, the adoption of population health approach and health equity. Yinka has a strong interest in the application of population health approaches to inform health service delivery, in addition to the inclusion of the determinants of health, equity and health literacy in planning.  Yinka holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Waterloo, a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario, and a post-Graduate Certificate in Regulatory Affairs from Humber College. Yinka is currently working on a certificate in Community Engagement, Leadership and Development from Ryerson University.

Herleen Arora

Director

A community educator, researcher, and consultant, Herleen has over 10 years of experience in designing, delivering, and evaluating programs and services in the non-profit and human services sector. Herleen’s interest in joining the board is to be an ambassador and advocate for Access Alliance and the work that it does in supporting the health and well-being of vulnerable immigrant and newcomer communities. Herleen will bring expertise and skills in program and service design, community based research and evaluation, strategic planning and knowledge mobilization as volunteer board member. Herleen currently works as the Partnership Development Office, Future Skills Centre at Ryerson University. Herleen has a Masters of Education in Social Justice from University of Toronto.

Neil Shah

Director

Neil Shah thrives working in new and undefined areas to build strategy, teams, resource plans and infrastructure to achieve an envisioned state. His progressive experience includes academic and community hospitals, government agencies, and health and social service organizations. Currently, he is the Executive Director of Queen Square Family Health Team, a leading member of the Brampton Etobicoke Ontario Health Team. Previous governance experience includes being a board director, and Chair of Sherbourne Health. His approach to leadership is collaborative, partnering with experts and stakeholders to help define a vision, plan, and process to meet collective goals. He enjoys travelling, exploring new places and cultures, and has called Toronto home for most of his life.

Axelle Janczur, Executive Director

Ex officio member

Axelle has been working in the not for profit sector in Toronto for over 30 years. She is an experienced trainer and public speaker, and a committed volunteer. With an M.A. in political science and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, as Executive Director, she has led Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services through a transformative process, prioritizing capacity building to enhance services for immigrants and refugees, developing a community-based research agenda, and advocating for improved access to the determinants of health for individuals and communities facing discrimination and marginalization.