Who We Are

With representation from across Canada, meet the individuals behind the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence.

Leadership Team

Headshot of Liv Mendelsohn

Executive Director

[email protected]

Liv Mendelsohn, MA, MEd, is the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence where she leads innovation, research, policy and program initiatives to support Canada’s caregivers and care providers.

A visionary leader with more than 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector, Liv has a been a lifelong caregiver and has lived experience of disability. Her experiences as a member of the ‘sandwich generation’ fuel her passion to build a caregiver movement in Canada to change the way that caregiving is seen, valued, and supported.

Over the course of her career, Liv has founded and helmed several organizations in the disability and caregiving space, including the Wagner Green Centre for Accessibility and Inclusion and the ReelAbilities Toronto Film Festival.
Liv serves as the chair of the City of Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. She has received the City of Toronto Equity Award, and has been recognized by University College, University of Toronto, Empowered Kids Ontario, and the Jewish Community Centres of North America for her leadership.

Liv is a senior fellow at Massey College and a graduate of the Mandel Institute for Non-Profit Leadership and the Civic Action Leadership Foundation Diversity Fellowship program.

Headshot of James Janeiro

Director of Policy and Government Relations

[email protected]

James Janeiro is a public policy and advocacy professional with over a decade of experience in politics, policy and government relations. As director of policy and government relations at the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence, James leads an ambitious national and pan-Canadian advocacy and policy development agenda focused on substantive and practical reform.

He began his career in the Ontario Public Service working on disability legislation. He then transitioned to the political policy space and served two successive Ontario ministers of community and social services as senior policy advisor on social assistance, poverty, disability, and veterans’ issues.

In 2014, James assumed a new role serving Premier Kathleen Wynne as her social policy advisor. In this position, he was responsible for a diverse array of policy areas, including poverty reduction, housing, the Basic Income Pilot, disability issues, autism services and municipal affairs. In 2018, James left government for a senior role in the not-for-profit sector. He was director of community engagement and policy at Community Living Toronto from 2018 to 2022. In this role, James developed and executed advocacy strategies focused on housing, income security, and service improvement.

He holds an honours BA in political science, history, and languages and a master’s in public policy from the University of Toronto. James lives in Toronto with his wife, dog and two cats.

Headshot of Olivia Olesinski

Communications Manager

[email protected]

Olivia Olesinski is a professional communicator with over 10 years of experience working for various healthcare organizations including Health Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Through her experience, she has gained a keen understanding of the Canadian healthcare landscape, its strengths and shortfalls, and is passionate about using the power of storytelling to bring meaningful change to recipients of care and their caregivers.

Headshot of Grace Smith

Operations and Administrative Specialist

[email protected]

Grace Smith, PhD, is a data-focused project manager and instructor who has worked in community, health, and arts settings. She has also worked as an independent theatre producer and director, as well as a writer. Grace comes from a family of wonderful caregivers and is passionate about creating better systems for caregivers, care providers, and care recipients.

Grace is an avid animal lover and in her spare time enjoys writing and reading.

A headshot of Esther Lee.

Digital Communications Specialist

Esther Lee is a communications professional with experience in financial technology, media and non-profit sectors. She is passionate about digital storytelling and finding ways to connect to people from all walks of life. She is eager to tell caregiver stories to make an impact through storytelling.

She has an undergraduate degree from the Toronto Metropolitan University’s journalism program, with a double minor in economics and French. In her spare time,
Esther can be found reading, exploring new restaurants, and going to dance classes.

A headshot of Fabio Robibaro.

Data Consultant

Fabio Robibaro is a sociologist who specializes in the care economy. His research interests are embedded in understanding the scope, scale and impacts of care through quantitative research. His work at the Canadian Center for Caregiving Excellence focuses on creating a clear data narrative for care in Canada.

Fabio joins the team after being part of Statistics Canada’s Care Economy project, where he contributed to the development of various surveys, consulted with key data users, and worked to define how care can be understood in Canada. He is affiliated with schools across the country, including Université de Montréal, McGill University, and the University of Toronto.

Fabio’s passion for better understanding systems of care is tied to his experience as a young caregiver for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s.

Headshot of Helen Ries, smiling white woman with shoulder length hair

Advisor, Siblings Canada

Helen is the co-founder of Siblings Canada, part of the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence. Siblings Canada raises awareness of the critical role siblings play in creating robust and responsive systems of care for people with disabilities.

Helen is a community builder, innovator and, most importantly, carer to her brother Paul. During a lifetime of advocating, Helen has learnt of the power of full and inclusive citizenship for all members of our community. Helen holds an MBA from the University of Guelph.

Headshot of Christa Haanstra.


Christa is the lead for the Working Caregiver initiative at CCCE, and is the immediate past-chair of Caregivers CAN. With over 25 years of experience as a senior healthcare leader, Christa is the founder and managing director of 4C Strategy group, a company dedicated to advancing meaningful change in healthcare by partnering with organizations to ensure lived experience of patients, residents, clients and caregivers are central to decision making.

Christa believes that family caregivers are the glue that keeps our healthcare system together and partners with organizations including the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence to create awareness and co-create strategies and approaches to improve the lives of caregivers.

Christa is a caregiver to her father who has late-stage Alzheimer’s. Through constant service navigation and advocacy, she strives to create a supportive environment that allows him to live and thrive at home. When not at work, Christa loves to walk, travel and is an avid hobby photographer. She currently lives in Guelph with her family.

Christa holds a degree from the University of Ottawa, a from Seneca College and is an Executive Scholar in Non-Profit Management from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.

Advisory Council

Headshot of Naomi Azrieli

Chair and CEO, Azrieli Foundation


Naomi Azrieli is Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. In this capacity since 2002, she has been the strategic driver behind numerous initiatives, programs and partnerships across the Foundation’s priority areas, including in the fields of education, research and healthcare. She holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford, a masters from Columbia University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2022, she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, one of our country’s highest honours. She serves on the boards of several national and international scientific, academic and cultural institutions. Naomi and her sisters, Sharon and Danna, are all family caregivers.

Headshot of Ann-Marie Binetti

Community Living Toronto and Provincial Network on Developmental Services


Ann-Marie has over 25 years of experience in the developmental services sector at both a local and provincial level. Currently, she is the manager of community engagement and advocacy at Community Living Toronto, where she leads a team working with stakeholders including individuals, families and community members on important advocacy issues. At the provincial level, Ann-Marie works closely with government and community partners to expand and support new innovative initiatives with the goal of strengthening the workforce in developmental services across Ontario.

Ann-Marie is also a part-time professor at Fanshawe College where she enjoys teaching for the developmental services apprenticeship program.

GrantBruno (2)

Researcher, University of Alberta


Grant Bruno is a registered member of Samson Cree Nation, one of the reserves that make up Maskwacis, Alberta, and a first-generation residential school survivor. He is currently pursuing a PhD in medical sciences in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta. His research focuses on redefining autism through a Nehiyaw (Plains Cree) lens, by engaging with prominent individuals from the autism community and gathering qualitative data on autism in First Nations communities, specifically Maskwacis.

As a father to two autistic children, Grant’s caregiving philosophy is that autism is not something to be viewed negatively, but rather an adventure to be embraced. He chairs the Indigenous Relations Circle for the Autism Society of Alberta.

Headshot of Amy Coupal

Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Caregiver Organization


Amy Coupal is the CEO of the Ontario Caregiver Organization, a non-profit funded by the Ministry of Health that supports Ontario’s four million caregivers. A visionary leader with 20 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector, Amy has extensive experience building and leading innovative organizations in education and health care.

Amy has a master’s of education from the University of Calgary and is an Adler-trained coach. Her insights have been shared through speaking and media engagements in Canada and internationally.

Amy has a deep understanding of the benefits and challenges associated with caregiving. As a caregiver for most of her life, Amy helped to support her brother who had cerebral palsy. She was also a caregiver to her mother throughout her cancer journey and now supports her elderly father.

Headshot of Magalie Dumas

Deputy Director General, L’Appui pour les proches aidants d’aînés


Magalie has been active in social development and policy development for over 15 years. Since 2007, she has devoted her practice to seniors and caregivers. With l’Appui pour les proches aidants since 2011, she has been focused on maintaining and improving the quality of life of caregivers.

Magalie has a strong interest in the development of remote psychosocial projects, knowledge sharing and transfer, and transformation of health and community systems.

Headshot of Zelda Frietas

Clinical Senior Advisor, CIUSSS West-Central Montreal and Adjunct Professor, McGill University


Zelda Freitas holds a graduate degree from McGill University School of Social Work and has extensive experience in the delivery of psychosocial care. As a clinical senior advisor, she oversees the professional practice of allied professionals with a focus on psychosocial practice within a large Montreal health and social service network.

Until recently, Zelda was a research-practitioner and coordinator of the area of expertise in caregiving at the Centre for Research and Expertise in Social Gerontology (CREGÉS), where she engaged in the research, development, knowledge transfer and implementation of evidence-based practices related to psychosocial and interdisciplinary intervention in caregiving, palliative care and bereavement.

Headshot of Sherron Grant

Co-founder, Sawubona Africentric Circle of Support


Sherron Grant, MEd, is an educator, an advocate for persons with special needs, a caregiver and the co-founder of Sawubona Africentric Circle of Support (formerly The Black Parents of Children and Adults with a Disability Support Group) and she is an elementary school principal with the Toronto District School Board. Sherron supports families, volunteers and advocates for persons living with various disabilities, to be recognized for their valuable contributions to society, emphasizing the importance of eliminating barriers for others.

Sherron is the 2020 recipient of the Community Living Toronto Jim Turner Award for Outstanding Voluntarism. When not “on the clock,” Sherron is an avid foodie, enjoys a good workout and loves spending time with her grandchildren.

Headshot of Darryl Gregory.

Executive Director, Caregivers Alberta


Darrel Gregory has over 20 years of senior leadership experience in the non-profit sector. Over the last 15 years he was a director with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MS Society). His communications and strategic skills helped propel Alberta to lead the MS Society in fundraising success for several years. Based in Calgary for the last five years of his tenure with the MS Society, Darrel led their Southern Alberta Division through a challenging economic environment.

He is an innovator, a relationship builder and, above all, fiercely committed to his teams and the people he is surrounded with, both professionally and personally.

Headshot of Dr. Yona Lunsky

Director, Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health


Yona Lunsky is the director of the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and leads the health care access research and developmental disabilities program. She is also a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

A caregiver herself, she is very involved in research dedicated to understanding caregiver needs and designing mental health interventions for family caregivers of people with developmental disabilities, as well as service providers.

Headshot of Barb MacLean

Executive Director, Family Caregivers of British Columbia


As the executive director at the Family Caregiver of British Columbia (FCBC), Barb has championed large scale change in support of families and people living with a range of challenges – the basis of the person-and-family-centered philosophy. With FCBC, she has been instrumental in implementing caregiver-friendly approaches in health care, seeing firsthand the positive shift when becoming visible partners in care. She brings personal experience to her caregiving-focused work after joining her family in her mother’s cancer journey and end-of-life care.

Barb has a BA from the University of British Columbia and a master’s of arts in leadership and training from Royal Roads University. She sits on many national, provincial and regional committees including, Doctors of B.C. Shared Care, Coordinating Complex Care for Older Adults, CBSS Leadership Council, B.C. Council to Reduce Elder Abuse, BC Ministry of Health Patients as Partners and a number of Canadian research committees (i.e. Age Well and the Canadian Frailty Network, Citizen Engagement).

Barb enjoys ongoing learning and spending time with her family unplugged, outside and traveling whenever possible.

Headshot of Wendy Porch

Executive Director, Centre for Independent Living in Toronto


Wendy Porch is the executive director of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) and has been working in the field of accessibility, disability, human rights and education for more than 25 years. She is a life-long disability rights advocate.

Before joining CILT in 2018, Wendy was the manager of episodic disability initiatives at Realize, a national organization supporting people living with HIV and/or other episodic disabilities.

Wendy has a master’s of education in counselling psychology from the University of Toronto and worked with the Body Image Project at Women’s College Hospital. She is a member of the City of Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and is the Chair of the City of Toronto’s Accessibility Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines.

Wendy is a proud mom to her son Jasper and works to raise awareness of the needs of parents with disabilities.

Headshot of Dr. Hsien Seow

Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care and Health System Innovation, McMaster University


Dr. Hsien Seow, PhD, is the Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care and Health System Innovation, an associate professor in the Department of Oncology at McMaster University. Hsien is also the director of the McMaster-ICES satellite site. His research expertise is in innovating the palliative care health system and improving quality of care, particularly in the home and community.

The goal of his work is to improve the experience of patients and family caregivers facing serious illness along the entire illness journey. He has worked with RAND Health, Health Canada, provincial ministries of health, and policy makers nationally and internationally to improve palliative care. He is the co-host of the podcast, The Waiting Room Revolution, and author of The Tao of Innovation: Nine Questions Every Innovator Must Answer.

Headshot of Jenny Theriault

Executive Director, Caregivers Nova Scotia


Jenny Theriault is the executive director of Caregivers Nova Scotia (CNS). She has a bachelor of arts in gerontology from Mount Saint Vincent University. She has 14 years of experience working in the non-profit community-based sector. She spent many years working in community programming specifically with seniors and their caregivers. She has been with CNS for two years and brings her own personal caregiving experience and a commitment to supporting, recognizing, and advocating for caregivers as essential partners in care.

EllaTan (2)

Employment and family support worker, North York Community House

North York

Ella Tan is a registered social worker who has been working with care providers for more than a decade. She focuses on challenges and trauma related to migration, particularly in the Canadian Caregiver Program.

As the employment and family support worker at North York Community House, she supports the emotional well-being of care providers, particularly newcomer women and their children, and has built a network of support agencies that serve them. Ella also hosts a podcast for Filipino youth and their mothers titled Mom, Let’s Talk, which explores family reunification and building positive family relationships. She was a recipient of the Quincentennial Award from the Philippine Consular General.

Headshot of Donna Thomson



Donna Thomson is a caregiver, author and activist. Her caregiving experience was shaped by caring for her son, who has severe disabilities, and for her mother, who lived with dementia until she passed away in the summer of 2018 at the age of 96.

Donna is the co-author of The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation of Loved One to Caregiver and author of The Four Walls of My Freedom: Lessons I’ve Learned From a Life of Caregiving. Donna is a co-designer and co-instructor of the family engagement in research course and the facilitator of the caregiving essentials course at McMaster University.

CCCE team with members of the advisory council at the Shaw Centre.
CCCE team with members of the advisory council at the Canadian Caregiving Summit.

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