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Agency Members Biographies


Jayashree (Jay) Sengupta holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. She has worked in Ontario's community legal clinic system, providing advice and representation to members of low-income communities on matters involving social assistance, housing, criminal injuries compensation, immigration, workers' compensation, human rights, and employment law. Her community involvement has included serving on the boards of the Hamilton Social Planning and Research Council and the Threshold School of Building. She has been a Vice-Chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario since 2008, a member of the Ontario Special Education (English) Tribunal since 2012 and Member with the Child and Family Services Review Board/Custody Review Board since 2014.

Wendell White began his career as an elementary school teacher in Simcoe County, followed by five years in the Northwest Territories (NWT). While teaching in the NWT Mr. White was recognized by the Canadian Teachers' Federation for the creation of a Dene cultural program. The Government of the NWT recognized his educational work with a Dedicated Service Award. Mr. White has been the director of Camping and Outdoor Education with a residential camping organization since 1981. He is the past Chair of Loyalist College and, in 2004, received a Master of Law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, specializing in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

For more than four decades, Heather Hunter has served as a Consultant, CEO and Executive Director in the social service and health care environments. Her focus has been in the children's mental health and youth justice and developmental sectors. In addition, Ms. Hunter has extensive experience in the public sector in her roles as Program Supervisor, Manager in Special Needs/ Services and Policy Analyst. Ms. Hunter is a graduate of McMaster University.

Dr. Alina Lazor is a Child Psychiatrist with over thirty-five years of experience assisting children and adolescents with complex mental health problems and their families. For twenty-seven years she worked on the Adolescent Unit of the Whitby Mental Health Centre, of which, eighteen years were as Director of Adolescent Services. Dr. Lazor is a strong advocate for children with mental health problems and their families. In her semi-retirement, she focuses on Psycho-education relating to mental health issues and she provides consultation, coaching, training, and workshops for mental health providers and professionals dealing with problematic children and their families.

Gail Gonda, of Toronto, recently retired from the Ontario Public Service following 20 years of service. From 1995 until 2006 she was the Administrator at Thistletown Regional Centre, a children's mental health centre directly operated by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. She has also been active as a volunteer in a range of activities in support of sexual minorities. Ms. Gonda holds a PhD in psychology and has worked in the field of children's mental health since 1980.

Marisha Roman is a lawyer and former Aboriginal initiatives and Policy Counsel for the Law Society of Upper Canada. As counsel, she developed and implemented the Law Society's first Aboriginal initiatives strategy to enhance entry and retention of Aboriginal people in the legal profession and to promote Aboriginal issues at the board and organizational levels. Before that, she managed her own legal research practice and the Blueprint for the Future program at the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. Ms. Roman is an active volunteer, including serving on the Aboriginal Legal Services board for more than 20 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto.

Katherine Laird is a former Executive Director with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, Counsel to Chair with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Director of Legal Services with Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, Project Lead for the Tenant Duty Counsel Project with Legal Aid Ontario. Her community involvement includes serving as a member of the Association of Human Rights Lawyers of Ontario and as a participant in the Action Group on Access to Justice for the Law Society of Upper Canada. Ms. Laird holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto.

Bernard Stein is a Staff Psychiatrist in the Child and Adolescent Division with North York General Hospital. He is a former Founder and Chief in the Division of Youth Psychiatry with Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, where he established inpatient, outpatient and day hospital treatment facilities and provided consultation and support to community agencies. Dr. Stein's community involvement includes serving as a Psychiatric consultant for Griffin Mental Health Services. He holds a Doctor of Medicine degree and a diploma in Physician Management from the University of Toronto, where he also completed his Psychiatry residency.

David John Hamilton has practiced law since 1974. He has been counsel with Ricketts Harris law firm, specializing in family law since 2005. Previously, Mr. Hamilton's practice specialized in criminal law and child protection law. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School and is a member of the Ontario Bar Association.

Theresa Hughes is a bilingual Social Worker in private practice. She earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Windsor, and was the co-investigator in a needs assessment striving to understand the effects of torture on newcomers. She was formerly the Mental Health Lead and Clinical Supervisor with Conseil scolaire Viamonde in South-Central Ontario, and has been a Clinical Agent of the Children's Lawyer. Ms. Hughes worked with children in care at the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society, and as the French Language Services Coordinator with the Sexual Assault Crisis Centre of Windsor-Essex. She has also served on numerous cross-sectoral committees and boards.

Wesley Marsden is a Deputy Chief Adjudicator with the Federal Government of Canada (Residential Schools). He is a former Member on the National Parole Board with the Federal Government of Canada and an Elected Leader for Alderville First Nation. Mr. Marsden's community involvement includes having served as a Trustee for Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, and as a Board Member of Dnaagdawenmag Binoojiiyag Child and Family Services and Northumberland County Health Care Corporation. He holds Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Social Science degrees from the University of Toronto and a Native Management and Economic Development diploma from Trent University.

Paula Eyler has been a public servant for 34 years, including 7 years of service as an Ombudsman Ontario representative, and 12 years within the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Ms. Eyler's community involvement includes serving as a member of the Canadian Red Cross and the Ontario Metis Association. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree and a certificate in Public Administration from the University of Manitoba and an Honours Bachelor of Social Work degree from Lakehead University.

Patrick Doran received a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from the University of Ottawa, a Master's Degree in Counselling and Education from Niagara University, and spent four years studying Theology at St. Augustine's Seminary in Toronto. As a pastor, he ministered to families in three parishes for over ten years. Mr. Doran was a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board for nine years.

Eva Nichols' professional experience includes mediation, adjudication, medical research and genetic counselling. Ms. Nichols has served as a School Trustee, Executive Director of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario and Senior Researcher with the Learning Opportunities Task Force. She has provided legislative support to several disability organizations. Ms. Nichols is a member of the Ontario Special Education (English) Tribunal, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Child and Family Services Review Board and the Custody Review Board. She received her education in pure sciences in the United Kingdom and has been accredited in alternative dispute resolution through the University of Windsor.

Andrea Himel is a Family Law Mediator, Lawyer and Panel Lawyer with the Office of the Children's Lawyer. Previously, she was a Family Law Associate at Torkin Manes LLP. Ms. Himel has a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University, and is a graduate of the Joint Law/Masters of Social Work Program at the University of Toronto. She is an accredited Mediator by the Ontario Association of Family Mediation, and is an accredited Child Protection Mediator. Ms. Himel is a mediator at the Milton Court and in private practice. Ms. Himel is the President of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (Ontario Chapter) and she is co-chair of the AFCC-O Annual Conference.

Michele O'Connor is a Partner in the Toronto law firm of Chappell Bushell Stewart LLP. Ms. O'Connor has been practicing family law exclusively since graduating from Osgoode Hall Law School and her call to the Bar in 1985. Her work has involved all aspects of family law (child protection, custody/access, adoption and divorce related issues). She is trained in mediation and collaborative law, was a part-time instructor with the Bar Admissions Course for the Law Society of Upper Canada, and sat as a Family Law Referee for the Ontario Court for several years. She is a member of Collaborative Practice Toronto, the Ontario Bar Association - Family Law Division, the Toronto Lawyer's Association and the Advocates Society.

John Spekkens has been a member of the Child and Family Services Review Board and the Custody Review Board since 2010. He spent 35 years as Chief Executive Officer in 2 Children's Mental Health Centres. Mr. Spekkens' professional training in Social Work was at Carleton University and the University of Toronto where he received a Master's degree and Advanced Diploma in Social Work, respectively. He has served on a variety of Boards of Directors including the Children's Aid Society. Mr. Spekkens currently serves on the Board of St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto on their Executive and Governance Committees. In August 2014, Mr. Spekkens was appointed by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a part-time member of the Law Society Tribunal.

Dr. Judy Finlay is an Associate Professor in the School of Child and Youth Care, Faculty of Community Services at Ryerson University. She is the Co-chair and founding member of Mamow Sha-way-gi-kay-win: North-South Partnership for Children. Previously, Judy was the Chief Advocate for the Office of Child and Family Service Advocacy for the Province of Ontario (1991-2007) and the President of the Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates (2002-2006). She was also the Liaison for First Nations, Metis and Inuit for the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (2008-2010). Dr. Finlay has worked for over three decades in the fields of child welfare and children's mental health as a clinical social worker. She has an MSW and a PhD from the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Michael Gottheil is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the Bar in 1987. After working as In-House Counsel for two national trade unions, in 1991, Mr. Gottheil co-founded Engelmann, Gottheil law firm in Ottawa, where he practiced labour, employment and human rights law. He was a Professor at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa Law School. Mr. Gottheil is a member of the Canadian Association of Visually Impaired Lawyers and, over a twelve-year period, served on the Board of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind as member, Vice-Chair and Chair at the Ottawa local and provincial levels.

Beverly Moore has been Associate Chair of the Social Benefits Tribunal since 2013 and Vice-Chair since 2006. She is a former member of the Immigration and Refugee Board and a former Vice-Chair of the Landlord and Tenant Board. Ms. Moore's past community involvement has included Interval House, the Hamilton Immigrant Inter-Agency Network, Hamilton Council on Domestic Violence and Legal Subcommittee, and Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital Community Advisory Board. Ms. Moore holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Jennifer Scott is a full-time Associate Chair at the Child and Family Services Review Board / Custody Review Board and a Vice-Chair at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Ms Scott previously practised administrative law with Scott & Oleskiw. Her community involvement has included serving as a member of St. Stephen's Community House, and as a member of the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada. Ms. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Guelph and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western.