Parnian Pardis, Executive Director
Parnian Pardis is a second-year MSc candidate at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Dr. Ofer Agid and Dr. Gary Remington at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Her primary research interest involves factors of treatment-resistance in schizophrenia in relation to long-term outcome. She graduated from her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Toronto, following a double major in Human Biology and Psychology. She is a passionate advocate for child and youth health issues and is excited about YCRH’s youth-health initiatives this year!
Muhanad Ali, Director of Communications
Graduated with a Honours Bachelors of Science in Population Health, Critical Development Studies, and Anthropology (University of Toronto Scarborough), and currently completing his Masters in Health Policy and Equity (York University), Muhanad's research interests lies in the areas of social and structural determinants of health; gender, intersectionality and health; health promotion and community-based initiative; immigrant and refugee health; and healthy public policy. He previously served as a Youth Advocate for the Youth Health Action Network, a Toronto Tobacco Control Area Network (TCAN) initiative in collaboration with the City of Toronto's Public Health Unit. In this role, he assisted and developed in a number of health promotion activities on emerging health issues facing young Torontonians (injury prevention, mental and sexual health, and tobacco/hookah smoking). He currently serves as a Program Assistant for the Somali Youth Development Initiative.
Muhanad is both excited and honoured to join Young Canadians' Roundtable for Health.
Candice Oliva, Director of Communications
Candice Oliva is finishing her degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Psychology at the University of Alberta. She recently completed a certificate in Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies with the Peter Lougheed Leadership College. Her fields of interest vary from neuroscience, mental health and substance abuse, to foreign languages. She is currently investigating her passion in youth-for-youth matters, i.e., developing of social service projects to empower youth to be engaged in issues that affect them. One of her aspirations is to create a global impact by fostering interdisciplinary and intercultural communications to build a collaborative network of change-maker leaders, especially on the intersections of health and sustainability.
As such, Candice is excited to work with the YCRH team this year! In her down time, she likes to de-stress by listening to BTS, taking dance classes, or going on hikes.
Akosua Tiwaah Bonsu, Director of Events
A passion for politics and economic development coupled with a strong interest in global health make Akosua Tiwaah Bonsu a unique individual. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Global Political Economy, completing an undergraduate thesis focused on refugees and mental health. After working at the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, Akosua’s interest in health policy grew – as did her involvement in the YCRH. Today, she is thrilled to serve as the Director of Events with the YCRH.
Her dedication and leadership have won her several awards: Akosua is a YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Award recipient, a University of Manitoba Emerging Leader Award recipient, and – most recently – a CBC Manitoba Future 40 Under 40 Award recipient, to name a few. In her spare time, Akosua enjoys reading, baking, and being active. She looks forward to her continued involvement with the YCRH and is committed to ensuring Canada is the healthiest country for children and youth to grow up in.
Melanie Asselin, Director of Grants
Melanie Asselin is currently in her third year of studies in psychology and ethics at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She is passionate about mental health, photography, coffee, youth leadership, and any chance to combine any of those together. Melanie enjoys working with not-for-profit organizations and has previously worked with Jack.org as a mental health advocate and Jack Chapter leader, as well as Bereaved Families of Ontario Halton-Peel as an events and programs intern. She is also a member of the Youth Advisory Group and National Youth Action Council, under the YouthCan IMPACT initiative, with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She is always looking for more opportunities to engage with other young change-makers and is excited to work with the YCRH as the Director of Grants for this year.
Kenzie McKeegan, Director of Relations
Kenzie McKeegan is the Director of Relations for the 2018/2019 Young Canadians Roundtable on Health. Kenzie is also the Research Analyst and Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator, Strategic Initiatives and Engagement, in the Government Relations Office at the University of Toronto.
Prior to the University of Toronto, Kenzie worked at the Ontario Government in various Ministers offices, including the Deputy Premier, the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister Responsible for Digital Government, and the Minister Responsible for Small Business.
She holds a Master of Arts from York University (2015), and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Guelph (2014). Her Master’s thesis analyzed how poverty impacts access to healthcare through examining the experiences of young women in 1920’s Toronto, and tied the social reform program of that era to the government response to the HIV and AIDS outbreak of the 1980’s.
Kenzie is excited to be part of the YCRH, an organization that gives youth a voice, engages their participation in the policy development process, and helps ensure an inclusive and accessible health care system for everyone.
Timothy Chung, Director of Research
Timothy is an advance care paramedic and aspiring clinician-researcher in the field of emergency prehospital care. Timothy has been with the YCRH since its inception and is passionate about making Canada the healthiest place for youth to grow. He currently resides in Calgary, Alberta.
Alissa Klingbaum, Director of Research
Alissa holds a Master of Public Health in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at University of Toronto. She is currently a Junior Fellow at Wellesley Institute and brings experience in policy advocacy, research support, and knowledge translation in both academic and non-profit settings. Alissa's primary interests include research communication and the role of the built environment and social policies in healthy child development.
Alyssa Frampton, Health Rights Lead
Alyssa is the Project Lead on the YCRH's Health Rights and Responsibilities project. She works to ensure youth inclusion and co-creation for projects that relate to youth, and aims to better adolescent health through advocacy and policy change. Alyssa speaks about the stigma surrounding “at-risk” young people, and the importance of youth inclusion. You can find her on Twitter, @alyframpton.
Stephanie Bertolo is from Hamilton, Ontario and currently studying Arts and Science at McMaster University. Stephanie's passion for health and community drives her work with the YCRH, the Hamilton Community Foundation and several groups on McMaster’s campus.
Madeleine C. Bondy
Madeleine C. Bondy graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton, with a Bachelor of Arts and Science (Honours). She is currently pursuing her Master of Public Health program at the University of Toronto with a specialization in Health Promotion. Her primary research interests focus on interdisciplinary qualitative health research examining community food security, particularly community gardening. She is also very interested in research on the health of Indigenous Canadians, strategies to promote health equity at the local level, and the relationship between green space and health. She is currently working at the Evaluation Centre for Complex Health Interventions (TECCHI) at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. Madeleine has been part the YCRH for the last three years and looks forward to continuing her involvement to contribute to building a healthier future for Canadian youth.
Aimee Coles is from St. John's, NL and holds a Bachelor of Recreation with a concentration in Therapeutic Recreation from Memorial University of Newfoundland. She is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist under NCTRC and is employed as a Community Inclusion Coordinator with the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. As a former Youth Recreation Technician, Aimee has had first hand experience developing programs and initiatives for youth in a community setting and has since then furthered her scope into areas such as inclusion, geriatrics, and health care. She is very excited to have been selected to bring her knowledge and experience to YCRH this year and can't wait to be a part of some exciting youth-health initiatives!
Formally educated in public policy and journalism, coupled with a master’s in mental health and technology literacy Harry has had an unorthodox learning path. He’s worked at Parliament Hill, Queen’s Park, Movember Foundation and a brief stint as a team member of David’s Tea. Harry likes to try something new to keep his perspective fresh and open. So much so that he started his on venture, SmallTalk, which can be described as the “Snapchat of capturing triggers, stressors and trauma”. Current’y, he’s a project coordinator for the government relations and consulting firm Earnscliffe. Outside of work he hangs out with his family, Rico (the best dog ever, that’s a fact), and work with AMICI a charity which sends kids to camp.
Melissa Fairey is a 25-year-old from Toronto, Ontario who is passionate about youth rights and women's health. Her background is in Gender and Development. She has worked in Indonesia, Chile and Georgia on women's health and youth-led initiatives focusing on community development and sustainability. Melissa is currently the Canadian Country Coordinator for the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN) and a Women Deliver Young Leader fellow.
Victoria Kaulback, 21, is from Hamilton, Ontario. Currently in her third year of university, she is pursuing a psychology degree from Queen’s University. Victoria is a daughter, student, sister, feminist, public speaker and activist. She is passionate about changing the face of poverty and mental health across Canada. Victoria has firsthand experience with the healthcare system in Ontario and after being hospitalized at McMaster Children’s Hospital when she was 17 to 18 years old, she knew she had to use her voice to help others going through similar situations. Victoria is eager to increase the amount of supports Canada has for children and youth with eating disorders and other mental health disorders.
Zeynab Asadi Lari
Zeynab is a 3rd year student at the University of Toronto (transferred from University of British Columbia) pursuing her Honours Bachelor of Sciences degree.
She has a strong admiration for medicine, public and global health, STEM education, mental health advocacy, and humanitarian activities.
Devoted to achieve success in her tasks, she is always willing to challenge herself and expand her knowledge through unique experiences. She is passionate about youth leadership, student engagement, and community work, all helping her step out of her comfort zone and to connect with the outside world.
Zeynab is passionately looking forward to contribute to Canada's youth health programs through YCRH initiatives, and work with the amazing team to make a positive impact.
When not studying or volunteering, she enjoys hanging out with her friends and family, catching up with Netflix/stand up comedy, and doing photography.
Danielle Pellerine, 26, lives in Nova Scotia. She recently completed the Nova Scotia Community College’s Library Information Technology program, and is now working as a library technician. As a person with disability who uses a wheelchair, she is interested in advocating for people with disabilities, especially in the area of accessibility. Danielle enjoys playing adapted sports, including sledge hockey and wheelchair basketball, among other hobbies.
Maree Rodriguez is a speaker, writer, spoken word poet, mental health and bullying awareness advocate. She has facilitated health-related workshops to thousands of youth across Winnipeg and currently facilitates No Means No workshops. These workshops cover topics such as power, rights and consent. She enjoys the outdoors, baking, singing in the shower and languages. Currently, Maree is studying psychology at the University of Winnipeg.
Deana Ruston is passionate about mental health and addictions issues. Deana loves cooking, baking and the trampoline.
Vanessa is a mental health advocate who is passionate about changing the stigma surrounding the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes towards mental health and illness in Canada. Vanessa recently obtained her HBSc in Psychology at the University of Toronto and wishes to use this knowledge to contribute change to the way that mental health is thought of and discussed. In doing so, she wishes to actively help to create change within the current system and policies of the Canadian mental health system. She is also passionate about fashion, fitness and traveling. Vanessa also enjoys working with not-for-profit organizations such as Jack.org and is also a mental health speaker for the company Starts with Me, helping to creates spaces for conversations about mental health in schools and workplaces. She is also a member of the National Youth Action Council as well as the Youth Advisory Group with CAMH in Toronto. As a young person, Vanessa believes that peer-to-peer education is a strong value she can use to eliminate stigma within the space of vulnerable youth, paving a way to a future of increased openness for future generations. To Vanessa, a mental health revolution would involve a world where mental health is openly discussed and equally valued as physical health.
Briana Tang is a grade eleven student, currently enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at White Oaks Secondary School. As someone who has always loved the sciences as well as the humanities, she aspires to enroll in a post-secondary dual degree program to study both business and medical sciences. As a debater and as a young adult who has an interest in the aforementioned industries, she hopes that in the future, she will be able to work a job that not only provides healthcare services to the surrounding community, but also allows for a direct impact on the lives of those outside of her city. With a passion for travel photography, architecture, and experiencing new cultures, she is always open to new ideas and loves learning about the lifestyles of others. In her free time, she likes rereading her favourite book (Pride and Prejudice), playing the piano, and sketching passerbys throughout the day. She dreams that one day, she’ll be able to travel around the world, helping those in need of healthcare services while simultaneously assisting those in unfortunate situations, providing their communities with the foundations and support needed to stand on their own two feet.
Born in China, Heran is a first generation immigrant who now residents in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Heran is active in her community, and she is passionate about building a safe community for all and fostering the well-being of youth. She serves as the Co-President of Regional Multicultural Youth Council, which is a youth-led activist organization in North-western Ontario that focus on a variety of social issues among youth, and also have served on an advisory council that inform, discuss and provide recommendations to services, programs and initiatives relating to mental health and substance use in her city.
Spiros Zygouras is from Vancouver, BC and is currently studying Sports Sciences and Education. His passion is around health and wellness, as well as, the mental health benefits of sport and physical activity. Spiros’s background is in personal training and nutrition, and he currently works as a coordinator for settlement youth in Canada.