Board & Staff
The work we do at Raising the Roof would not be possible with out the incredible support of our Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, as well as the dedication of our Staff team.
Sepo is the Team Leader for Altitude, where he oversees the Brand Ambassadors in their business and career skills development. Sepo has more than 5 years of experience as an entrepreneur. His journey in business began when he decided to start his own clothing brand called Ananse, which merges fashion and storytelling through textiles, an art form that was inspired by his Ghanaian culture. After finishing the Graphic Design program at Humber College, Sepo went on to take part in some of the leading business youth programs in Toronto such as Biz Start and Enterprise Toronto’s Starter Company. He has also secured funding for his business through Business In The Streets. Sepo has gone from a participant to mentoring and leading other youth who are starting their own ventures, and he has also sat on judging panels for business pitch competitions with both Biz Start and Business In The Streets.
Michael Braithwaite is the CEO of Raising the Roof. What that means is together with his amazing team, he works to create innovative solutions to preventing and ending homelessness across Canada. Although he doesn’t look it, Michael had been working in the area of social services for over 23 years, the first 17 of those with the YMCA and most recently with 360°kids in York Region. Along the way he has managed to get a degree, diploma and a certificate. He is someone who believes in action, as it’s only through taking action that any true progress really gets made.
Purva Chury is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Raising the Roof. She has 10+ years of experience as a strategic marketing and communications professional with expertise in brand building, partnership development, donor stewardship, communications and relationship management. Purva has a degree from Western University along with a certificate in Marketing from Ryerson. Before joining Raising the Roof, Purva held various positions in the corporate sector working at CTV, MuchMusic and MTV Canada along with experience in the non-profit sector working for The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund. She has also volunteered with Out of the Cold and at Toronto General Hospital in the critical care waiting room. Purva has led several successful campaigns and initiatives in her career and is excited to be part of Raising the Roof.
Leticia has 10+ years of experience designing, implementing and maintaining projects with a social impact. She collaborated with large companies, non-profits, and social enterprises alike in different Countries and contexts. At Raising the Roof, Leticia will help prevent homelessness especially by supporting the re-vision of the Iconic Toque Campaign into a social enterprise. She brings in her expertise in business planning, project management, stakeholder and volunteer engagement, and adult training, as well as, a Ph.D. in business management with a focus on social enterprises from the University of Nottingham, UK. When Leticia is not working to increase positive social impact, she can be found in martial art classes or exploring the foodie scene in Toronto with her partner. She is an INTP and her signature strengths are connectedness, context, relator, individualization, and intellection.
Joe joined the team in April of this year as the Director of Development and Communication. He brings a wealth of development and leadership expertise on running campaigns and events to Raising the Roof. He has led numerous successful fundraising and marketing initiatives. Joe has extensive experience in securing and stewarding corporate and individual donors. Joe has worked in senior positions for such non-profits as the Writers’ Trust of Canada, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, and the Toronto International Film Festival.
Jenny Lam is the Project Manager of Community Initiatives at Raising the Roof. While completing her Masters in Disaster and Emergency Management, she became interested in the connection between social equity and homelessness due to the apparent gaps in disaster and emergency plans for the homeless population. This led her to focus her research on the ‘social disaster of homelessness,’ which assessed the effectiveness of response-based approaches to homelessness as opposed to preventative initiatives. Jenny brings to the team her strong desire to work from a preventative framework, and her (healthy) obsession with organization and timeliness.
Orit Levy recently joined the Raising the Roof team as Office Coordinator. She has over 14 years of experience as a dedicated sales associate in the customer service industry. Her areas of expertise include; customer service management and project management. Orit's lifelong dream has been to help at-risk youth, so she is thrilled to be part of this team focused on long-term solutions around homelessness prevention.
Director of Finance and OperationsContact
Yas is the Communications Coordinator Community Initiatives on Raising the Roof’s team. He is originally from Belgium and he is the French speaker and translator in our office. He has two master degree programs, one in communications and journalism, with a specialization in online and social media communication, and one in tourism management. Before joining Raising the Roof, Yas started his career as a home and energy counselor and ran door-to-door marketing campaigns for an Italian retailer, then became a communications manager and photographer for a bed and breakfast in Scotland.
Pamela Sariyannis is the Project Coordinator of Community Initiatives. She graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Master of Arts in Community Psychology that prepared her to use action-oriented research to promote positive social change. She brings 6 years of experience in project methodology in the corporate sector at Scotiabank and 4 years of experience working with LGBTQ2S youth accessing services at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Diversity and Equity Office. Pamela’s passion for supporting these youth – who are over represented in the homeless youth population— is what brought her to the Raising the Roof team.
Elizabeth is the Development Coordinator at Raising the Roof and brings over five years of experience coordinating events in the non-profit sector. She has coordinated legal education conferences across Canada, and most recently coordinated a large-scale art exhibit installed around Toronto. Elizabeth attended the University of Ottawa, St. Lawrence College, and Fleming College.
Elisa Traficante has over 15 years’ experience managing and evaluating community projects with at-risk youth, both as a Manager and a Director in various community organizations. Firmly rooted in an anti-oppressive framework, Elisa is passionate about developing social justice initiatives and programming. She graduated from the Institute of Child Studies (OISE/University of Toronto) with a Masters in Child Studies and Education; where she focused her research on developing prevention models for FASD. In her professional career she has supported youth facing multiple barriers such as homelessness, addictions and mental illness in both rural and urban programs. Most recently Elisa was the Manager of Youth Support Programs at Eva's Phoenix, a transitional housing program for homeless youth, located in Toronto. Elisa acted as the Chair of Eva's Mental Health working group and brings with her immense knowledge and skills in the field of mental health. She leads The Upstream Project and our community initiatives focused on prevention.
Board of Directors
Eileen McCormack, ChairRetired at Astra Zeneca Read More
Eileen McCormack has over 20 years of experience in the Global pharmaceutical industry. She has worked in various sales, training, marketing, corporate strategy management positions in the US, Canada, Japan and in Global/International functions. Eileen has a well-developed understanding of the diversity of key international markets. Eileen’s teams build and execute strategic cross-functional plans for specialty and primary care products early in the product lifecycle up to the launch period and beyond. She has also been involved in all aspects of Business Development, Merger and Acquisition activity as a key driver for both short and long term revenue in major geographical focus areas. She has lead numerous multi-disciplinary teams across all phases of product lifecycle, building business cases to gain approval for product R&D development investments, multi-billion dollar product launches and line extensions. She is a specialist in building capabilities, developing integrated systems, designing processes and governance to grow successful teams and franchises. Eileen has also been involved as a skill-based volunteer consultant to not-for-profit associations and trusts, with specific interests in women’s issues and mental health. She has a breadth of speaking experiences in business and as a guest lecturer at Canadian universities. Eileen holds an M.Sc in Health Sciences. She lives and works in both Canada and the US, thanks to the support of her husband and three wonderful children.
David Bradshaw, Vice ChairVice President Customer Care at ATB Financial Read More
David is the Vice President of Customer for ATB Financial. Most recently, David was the Vice President of Client Business Support for Tangerine and Vice President of Sales and Service for ING Direct Canada. Prior to returning to ING Direct Canada, David served as Vice President, Service Delivery at Echo Marketing. David was of the Chair of the Customer Experience Council and Board of Directors for The Canadian Marketing Association.
Sandra is a CPA, CA with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto. In 2014, she joined CIBC as an executive in the Internal Audit department responsible for the Central Audit Services Team (CAST). Through collaboration, innovation, empowerment, and leadership, CAST strategically influences CIBC Internal Audit to become a world class audit department that promotes confidence in the Bank's controls and results. Prior to that, she was a partner in the Audit and Assurance practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP having joined in 1989 and admitted to the partnership in 2002. Sandra has a proven track record of excelling at execution and delivering results in a variety of leadership roles. She has repeatedly been called upon to take on new challenges and delivers success. Sandra worked in the United States in Pittsburgh and Detroit advising leading financial institutions in complex matters such as acquisition integration, asset valuations, model risk and structured transactions. Sandra had a wide range of experience in providing audit and advisory services to public and private sector clients including non-profit organizations. Sandra enjoys working in multi-generational workforces and focuses her energy on engaging staff to excel in their development. While at PwC, she was the Co-chair of PwC’s United Way campaign and assumed the Co-Chair role in CIBC’s Administrative division United Way campaign in 2016 and 2017. She has been involved in Women United (formerly Women Gaining Ground) under the auspices of the United Way, and was on the Board of Directors of 360°kids and The Finance and Property Committee of Covenant House Toronto.
John Mountain – In Memoriam, Board Member 2015-2018In Memoriam Read More
John Mountain was an esteemed Board Member of Raising the Roof from 2015 until his recent passing in June 2018. As part of our Board Executive, John was passionate about helping people who experience homelessness, especially the LGBTQ2S community who are over-represented among those experiencing homelessness. He was a great volunteer, donor, and friend and he will be missed greatly by his Raising the Roof family.
Keith Damsell is the Vice President of Global Internal Communications at Franklin Templeton Investments. In this capacity, he oversees communications and events to the investment company’s more than 9,000 employees around the world. In addition, he is the chair of Franklin Templeton’s Toronto Involved Committee and plays a key role in the company’s charitable giving programs and activities across Canada. Prior to joining Franklin Templeton in 2007, Keith was a business reporter covering a range of sectors and industries for The Globe and Mail and the National Post. Keith is married with two children and calls south Etobicoke home.
In her current role, Karen is an enterprise leader providing strategic direction, market leadership and advocacy for overall RBC capability, aligned to regional opportunities and organizational strategy. She acts as a primary point of contact and relationship leader within the market for High Net Worth client requirements and leads a regional team in delivering Private Banking business results. She aligns Private Banking solutions to Canadian Banking business lines of Personal Lending, Personal Payments/Accounts, Investment Mgmt, Commercial Markets and Insurance. Over the past 30 years, she has had extensive exposure to Personal Markets, Business Markets, Sales Support/Effectiveness and Human Resources. Organization awareness is a proven strength, she understands the big picture and how everything links together in driving a successful business. She is a highly motivated, dedicated professional that brings passion and a proven desire to succeed. She is recognized as a superior leader, coach, integrator, collaborator, motivator and developer of others. She's had the opportunity to work in two of the largest markets within Canada, BC District and GTR on both the Personal/Commercial and Private Banking Platforms.
Stephen Gaetz is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University in Toronto. As Director of the Canadian Observatory on Homeless and the Homeless Hub, Stephen Gaetz is committed to increasing the impact of research on homelessness policy, planning and practice, thereby contributing to solutions to end homelessness in Canada. His research on homelessness has focused on youth, economic strategies, nutritional vulnerability, education and legal and justice issues, as well as solutions to homelessness from both a Canadian and international perspective. Recently he has co-edited volumes on youth homelessness in Canada and on Housing First. In 2014, Dr. Gaetz also became President of Raising the Roof, Canada’s leading charity focusing on solutions to homelessness.
John HallPartner at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP Read More
John Hall is the National Leader of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s Investment Management Group and a member of the Firm's National Council. He practices exclusively in securities and corporate commercial law with particular expertise in advising mutual funds, pooled funds, hedge funds, closed end investment funds and other structured products, and their investment managers, advisors and distributors. He has extensive experience advising financial institutions and independent fund managers and distributors on a wide range of fund governance, compliance, securities registration, sales practices, investment restrictions and advertising issues. He acts for many foreign advisors and fund promoters on private placements into Canada and on the provision of investment advice on a pooled and segregated account basis to various types of clients. He also acts for industry participants in business acquisitions and divestitures and corporate reorganizations. John is recognized in The Best Lawyers in Canada, The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory and The Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada.
James Hughes is a current Fellow with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. James Hughes was formerly the President of the Graham Boeckh Foundation, a leading private philanthropic organization in the mental health sector. Prior to this, he was New Brunswick’s Deputy Minister of the Department of Social Development. With a budget of over $1 billion and nearly 2000 staff under management, the Department of Social Development is responsible for a wide range of programs and services in the province including child protection, early childhood development, income assistance, disability support and senior care. Previously, James also served as the Director General of the Old Brewery Mission (OBM), Quebec’s largest centre serving homeless men and women. James Hughes is a lawyer by training. He practiced law in the areas of commercial and civil litigation, commercial transactions, real estate and bankruptcy. He has degrees from Queen’s University (B. Commerce), University of Cambridge (B.A. Law) and McGill University (B.C.L). Mr. Hughes was the founding President of Youth Employment Services, now the premier Montreal based non-profit provider of employment and entrepreneurial services. He has served on the boards of various local and national organizations including the National Council on Welfare, Prosper Canada and Portage Addiction Services.
Sheldon has been the Executive Director of Choices for Youth for 15 years, having spent 5 years prior to that as a Board member. During this time the organization has emerged a leader in developing innovative solutions to the needs of at-risk and homeless youth. Sheldon is co-chair of the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness and co-chair of the national Mobilizing Local Capacity to End Youth Homelessness Program. He is also a member of the Advisory Committee for the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, and a Board member of Raising the Roof. On a provincial level, Sheldon is a member of the Minister’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health and Addictions (Department of Health and Community Services).
In its 30th year, HOMES Publishing Group consists of eleven consumer and trade publications and nine web sites for home related industries. Mr. Rosset is the longest serving member of the Board of Directors for Raising the Roof. Previously, he was a member of the Board of Directors for BILD (Toronto Home Builders Association),where he was awarded ‘Member of the Year’ in 2008. Mr. Rosset was also the past president of Housing Guides America and is the previous winner of best Newspaper Promotions in North America, 1973 (Globe & Mail). HOMES is the current media sponsor for BILD, ARIDO, and NKBA. Mr. Rosset has been engaged in publishing for 44 years, having created and established dozens of publications, web sites and unique marketing concepts for the newspaper and magazine industries. HOMES established an annual charity golf tournament in 2004 which has since donated over $200,000 to Raising The Roof in support of homeless youth. Mr. Rosset has also established a charity softball tournament for the new home industry in 2014 which raised over $30,000 for Habitat For Humanity.
Jesse Thistle is Cree-Metis on his mother’s side and Scottish and Algonquin on his father’s side. Jesse is a P.E. Trudeau and Vanier Scholar, as well as a Governor General Silver Medalist. He is a Ph.D. student in History at York University. Jesse is the current Resident Scholar of Indigenous Homelessness at the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness where he recently drafted the National Definition of Indigenous Homelessness in Canada. His journey from homeless addict to successful university student is unusual among graduate students, but his lived-experience path has shaped the way he approaches homeless studies, Indigenous history, social work, and addiction studies.
Larry Thomas is currently a National Account Manager at Canadian Traffic Network. He began his career in advertising sales at Reader’s Digest in 1979 and after holding a number of positions of increasing responsibility, in 1988 he was promoted to Advertising Sales Director and became VP & Publisher in 1998 In 2011, he joined Golf Canada, as Chief Commercial Officer, where was responsible for overseeing revenue generation for all activities including the RBC Canadian Open, CN Canadian Women’s Open and other partnership initiatives. While at Reader’s Digest Larry was a member of the Board of Directors of Reader’s Digest Magazines and Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Print Measurement Bureau (of which he is a past Chairman) and is also a past Chairman of Magazines Canada. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Food and Consumer Products of Canada, Consumer Health Products Canada, Tourism Industry Association of Canada and is a past President of the Toronto Chapter of the American Marketing Association. In 2000 he was honored with The Advertising Club of Toronto’s Magazine Award of Merit for outstanding contribution and ongoing excellence in the advertising industry. Born in Montreal in 1955, Larry is a 1976 graduate of Queen’s University. He later graduated from the Marketing Management Course at the University of Western Ontario in 1987. Larry and his wife Leslie live in Etobicoke and have three children.
Board of Advisors
Professor, Faculty of Education, York University
University of British Columbia, Okanagan
University of Toronto
Senior Policy Analyst, Prevention and Promotion Initiatives
Coordinator – Youth Employment Partnerships
City of Toronto
University of Guelph
Senior Research Associate
University of Toronto
Associate Professor, School of Psychology
University of Ottawa