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Appointee Biographies

Premier's Council on Equality of Opportunity

JAMIL JIVANI

Jamil Jivani Born and raised in the Toronto area, Jamil Jivani is an award-winning lawyer and author. As an advisor to the Premier of Ontario and an experienced social entrepreneur, Jamil is focused on empowering those who have been forgotten and left behind in our country. Drawing from his own unique journey from supposed illiterate high school student to Ivy League lawyer, Jamil brings an authentic, no-nonsense voice to Canadian media.

CALEB PICHE-LAROCQUE

Caleb Piche-LaRocque was born in Sudbury, Ontario on February 21st, 2000. Caleb graduated from École Secondaire Macdonald Cartier in 2018. Caleb, who became visually-impaired in 2018, did not let this life-changing health issue affect his ambitions and drive. Prior to his visual impairment, Caleb volunteered his time for environmental projects, breakfast programs at school and helping out with hockey teams. Caleb is enrolled in Laurentian’s University’s Business Administration/Economics program. Caleb continues to volunteer his time for projects that are important for him. He was recently selected to be on the CNIB National Youth Council and the Laurentian University Business Council.

AGAPI GESSESSE

Agapi Gessesse is a powerful, influential and fearless change- maker. Born and raised in Toronto by a refugee mother, from Ethiopia Agapi’s commitment to community development stems from her lived experience, which then propelled her to obtain her degree in Social Justice. Agapi has captivated audiences on local and national stages and conferences including the National Housing Conference, AFP, and Maytree’s Five Good Ideas. She speaks and writes on topics such as diversity and inclusion, workforce development and youth engagement. Agapi Gessesse is currently the Executive Director of CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals. For over a decade, Agapi has worked to enhance the lives of marginalized youth through her work with Toronto Community Housing (TCHC), United Way Greater Toronto (UWGT) and as the ED of POV 3rd Street. Her roles and mandates include that of a professional fundraiser, social enterprise manager, and coordinator of youth leadership program. Agapi’s accomplishments and practical impact continues to burgeon.

AINSWORTH MORGAN

Following a career as a professional football player, including a stint with the Toronto Argonauts, Ainsworth Morgan pursued a career in education, obtaining his Bachelor of Education and Master of Education at the Ontario Institute for Students in Education. This was in addition to his Bachelor of Science in Criminology that he received from the University of Toledo prior to entering the CFL. Upon completing his B.Ed., Ainsworth returned to Regent Park, where he had spent his childhood. There, he began his education career as a teacher with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) in September 1999. Facilitating equitable access to education is at the core of Ainsworth Morgan’s approach to teaching. It was with that in mind that he accepted a secondment as the Academic Coordinator with the Pathways To Education Program (Regent Park) – a charitable organization created to reduce poverty and increase access to post-secondary education among disadvantaged youth in Canada. In 2012, Ainsworth co-founded the 100 Strong Foundation – a mentoring and advocacy group for Black boys between the ages of 11 to 14. Presently, he also serves on the Board of Directors for White Ribbon Canada – an organization that engages men and boys in the prevention of gender-based violence by promoting equity and transforming social norms, a position he’s held since September of 2017. In his continued service to community, Ainsworth was appointed to the Toronto Police Services Board in January 2020. A dedicated educator, mentor and community organizer for 20 years, Ainsworth is committed to the students and families he serves, both inside and outside the classroom and is currently a Principal at the Toronto District School Board.

CHRISTINA DIMARIA

Christina DiMaria grew up and attended high school in York Region. Christina completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at Queen’s University where she studied French and mathematics. She also holds a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University and is an Ontario Certified Teacher. Christina has worked with many youth aged students and has been an advocate for helping everyone achieve their goals, despite any limitations. She has also spent time volunteering with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), where she worked with several clients who are blind or visually impaired. Additionally, working in several high school classroom environments and interacting with students from diverse backgrounds has allowed her to gain insights into barriers faced by youth. Christina is dedicated to working to address the challenges faced by youth of all ages in order to promote equality and access to opportunities across the province.

DANYEL BARNSWELL

Danyel Barnswell is a Real Estate Developer, having owned successful businesses throughout his formative years. With an early appetite for entrepreneurship, and after attending the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, Danyel realized the business world was where his gifts would thrive. Owning and operating a diverse portfolio of businesses and investments—including automotive, finance, real estate, and community-based programs—taught Danyel to manage several businesses simultaneously with huge dividends. When Danyel is not negotiating real estate, he gives his time generously to his youth leadership development program – K.I.N.G.S DREAMS—so that others like him can be inspired and empowered to make a difference.

HENRY WALL

Henry Wall Chief Administrative Officer Kenora District Services Board Henry is a pragmatic leader with thirteen years of expertise in the Municipal world, with five of those years as the Treasurer and Director for Finance for the Municipality of Sioux Lookout. He has been Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) since November 2014. He has a proven record of leading diverse groups of people and community leaders in building new, innovative and effective human, health and community programs and services. Living in Northwestern Ontario for the past thirteen years has provided him with a great appreciation for the beauty, diversity, and unique challenges, both financial and cultural, that rural and remote communities face. The opportunity has also allowed him to gain knowledge and understanding through developing and fostering relationships and partnerships with First Nation communities and Indigenous Organizations to create more supportive and inclusive communities.

JANE KOVARIKOVA

Child rights advocate, Jane Kovarikova, grew up in foster care since the age of six and began living on her own at age 16. Understanding the unique circumstances and challenges faced by youth-in-care inspired an ongoing academic and professional commitment to bettering youth outcomes. She graduated with a BA (Hon) in Psychology at Laurentian University and a MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics. As a political staffer at the Ontario Legislative Assembly, she was instrumental in developing legislation that is reducing youth homelessness today. Influenced by these experiences, Kovarikova founded the Child Welfare PAC Canada in 2017. This not-for-profit focuses on systemic changes - policy and legislation - that support youth success after being raised in state care. Currently, Kovarikova serves as the Board Chair of Simcoe-Muskoka Family Connexions, a regional child protection agency. She is also a PhD Candidate and Lecturer at Western University in the Department of Political Science.

JAREL COCKBURN

Jarel Cockburn is the Vice President of Strategy at the Athlete Institute. He was educated at Columbia University in New York City, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science. Mr. Cockburn has held leadership roles at companies in various industries including finance, logistics, technology, private equity as well as sports & entertainment. Mr. Cockburn also has serves as strategic advisor to UHNW individuals, for profit corporations, non-profits and charities providing advice and direction on a wide range of topics including but not limited to philanthropy, innovation, growth, human resources, data & analytics and sales.

JASON OTTEY

Jason Ottey is the Director of Government Relations and Communications for LiUNA Local 183 where he provides direction, advocacy and strategic advice on construction related issues at all three levels of government. Prior to joining LiUNA Local 183, he was the Director of Research and Policy for RESCON, where he represented the interests of single and multi-family residential builders across the GTA. He is graduate of McMaster of University and the University of Toronto, receiving Master of Arts in Political Science and Master of Industrial Relations respectively.

LEANNE NICOLLE

Leanne Nicolle, idea generator, humanity advocate and globally minded social innovator left her private sector marketing executive career to dedicate her life to helping girls around the world and social impact initiatives. Leanne has a passion for human development and has worked in the social space for UNICEF, Plan Canada and as the founder of girl !mpact (Because I am a Girl). Leanne continued her journey in the social space as the Executive Director of the Canadian Olympic Foundation. She was instrumental in creating programs to increase accessibility to high performance sport for those in marginalized communities. Her legacy program, RBC Training Ground, provides a platform to recruit the best athletes in Canada for our high performance stream. Currently, Leanne is the President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto where she is thriving in her role as leader and mentor. BBBST is an organization entirely dedicated to empowering children and youth to reach their potential and break the cycle of poverty through intergenerational connections. She is an Executive Mentor in Residence at Ryerson University in Toronto lending her expertise and lived experience in inclusive leadership; ethics & values; and women in leadership at the Ted Rogers School of Management MBA program. Leanne is on the Boards of Directors for the Canada Soccer Association; Canadian Women and Sport; and is a volunteer family mentor with the Sashbear Foundation – helping families who have loved ones affected by mental health challenges.

MICHAEL MCDONALD

Michael was born and raised in Northern Ontario. After graduating with distinction from the University of Toronto, he obtained the Chartered Professional Accountant designation in 2020. Michael is a first-generation post-secondary graduate who is passionate about seeing youth use education as a means to further their opportunities. An advocate for community involvement, Michael is the treasurer of his local ski hill and an active volunteer with his local Lion’s Club.

MICHELLE EATON

A communications and public affairs professional for close to 15 years, Michelle Eaton joined the OCC team in 2018 as Vice President of Communications and Government Relations. Michelle brings extensive leadership experience from both the public and private sectors. She has provided strategic direction, vision, and advice on communications and public affairs strategies to executives in multinational Fortune 500 Companies as well as senior federal cabinet ministers. Michelle is also currently the Chair of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Michelle has a BA (Hons) in Political Science and French from Western University as well as an Executive Master of Business Administration from Ivey Business School. Born and raised on a farm in Southwestern Ontario, she is also intimately familiar with the needs and issues of rural and small-town Ontario. Michelle currently resides in Toronto with her husband, Thor.

MOHAMED FIRIN

Mohamed has worked with various organizations in Ontario such as SOYAT and Centre for Resilience and Social Development formerly known as Canadian Friends of Somalia. He has volunteered his time as a community organizer in Etobicoke, working closely with community members and coalitions to help youth in the Greater Toronto area. Mohamed has been working with his community for the past 13 years. He is a community advocate and is passionate about being part of the change that he would like to see in his community.

NATION CHEONG

For over 20 years, Nation has dedicated his professional and personal time to community development strategies with a focus on individuals experiencing homelessness and on the well-being of young people across the GTA. Known for his integrity, a keen ear and ability to bridge diverse perspectives – he is a respected organizational leader, strategic partner, community animator, artist and teacher. He began his service to community in Toronto’s downtown east neighbourhoods implementing strategies for Black and other racialized youth, and homeless men with mental health issues and substance dependencies. Nation went on to become Director of Community Engagement and Grants helping to lead the Youth Challenge Fund (YCF), a 46.6-million-dollar investment in youth-led/ youth-driven initiatives across Toronto’s inner suburban communities. The work focused on the needs of Black and other racialized youth and led to the investment of 111 initiatives across the inner suburbs, including 17 legacy initiatives. As United Way's VP of Community Opportunities and Mobilization, Nation currently oversees United Way's Research, Public Policy and Public Affairs strategies, the Indigenous Collaboration Framework and the advancement of infrastructure related employment and training strategies across the GTA. His role weaves relationships across the provincial and municipal government, private sector partners and community service agencies to collectively plan and build better communities.

SAGNI KUMA

Sagni Kuma was born and also resides in the City of Ottawa. She is a former Student Trustee for the Ottawa Catholic School Board, and participated ─ as well as led ─ numerous school extracurriculars throughout her years of secondary education. In 2019, she began her work as a Youth Ambassador for Children First Canada. That same year, she completed a CO-OP placement with the United Nations Association in Canada, where she helped conceptualize methods of outreach and civic engagement for young people in the surrounding region. Other forms of community volunteerism that Sagni has undertaken include five years worth of leadership-building with the Royal Canadian Army Cadets of Canada, six years working as a Children Ministry volunteer, and a one month long crowd-sourcing research project for ICTMG’s ‘Platelet Transfusion’ initiative. Sagni is a two-time winner of her board’s Director of Education Award, a recipient of the Director of Education Graduate Award, GCA’s Youth Achievement Award, and Bronze Standard of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award. She begins the first year of her Bachelor of Medical Science degree with Western University in September 2020, where she hopes to specialize in Epidemiology and minor in Political Science.

SUZANNE BRANT

Suzanne provides leadership, vision and innovation in Indigenous post-secondary education at the First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI). She is Bear Clan and a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, located along the shores of the beautiful Bay of Quinte. She holds a Master’s degree from York University in Environmental Studies with a focus on Indigenous post-secondary programming. Suzanne graduated from the Institute of Integrated Medicine as an Integrated Medical Clinician. Suzanne is a current and founding board member of Honouring Indigenous Peoples, HIP, (“Understanding the Past, Moving Forward Together”) an initiative of Rotary International and a committee member of the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force. Suzanne is a past board member of: Aboriginal Institutes Consortium (Vice-Chair), St. Lawrence College Board of Governors, Prevent Cancer Now (national board), member of the Great Lakes United (bi-national) and founding board member of CKWE Tyendinaga radio. She is a past committee member of the Remedial Action Plan/Bay of Quinte, the Environmental Advisory Committee - Mohawks of Bay of Quinte, and the Health Advisory Committee - Mohawks of Bay of Quinte Suzanne is the 2019 recipient of York University’s Bryden Alumni “Tentanda Via” award, recognizing a graduate who has demonstrated innovative, unconventional and daring leadership and success, reflecting the University’s motto – Tentanda Via (“The Way Must Be Tried”). Suzanne has a strong commitment to Indigenous language, culture and traditions. She is an accomplished visual artist and photographer who has exhibited her work at the Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford and Gallery 121, Belleville. She is a seasoned gardener and specializes in traditional food systems and medicinal plants. Suzanne has four incredible children and two beautiful granddaughters.

TAYLOR LINDSAY-NOEL

Taylor Lindsay-Noel is a 26-year-old entrepreneur from Toronto, Ontario Canada. 12 years ago she was a Canadian national gymnast, but in 2008 under the coercion of her coach she had a devastating accident that instantly paralyzed her from the neck down for life. Since then Taylor has persevered through adversity and has received a BA in Radio and Television Arts from Ryerson University. She is currently balancing being a motivational speaker, podcast host, disability advocate, and owner of Cup of Té Luxury Loose Leaf Teas.

WINTER DAWN LIPSCOMBE

Winter Dawn Lipscombe is a member of Wauzhushk Onigum Nation in Northwestern Ontario. She graduated from Mount Allison University with a B.A. (Hons) in International Relations and Economics. Winter Dawn was traditionally selected to serve on the Treaty #3 Youth Executive Council and holds the Economic Portfolio; she is also serving a term on the Ontario First Nations Young People’s Council. During her undergraduate degree, Winter Dawn’s research focused on Indigenous populations across the world and studied the health and economic outcomes within them. She is passionate about community development the impact of policy on Indigenous populations.