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Niya Bajaj, Chair
Niya Bajaj’s interdisciplinary background supports her commitment to making systems level change to create a safer, more inclusive community for women and girls. She does this primarily by telling compelling stories that encourage audiences to act in meaningful ways. She currently provides strategic communications advice at the Poverty Reduction Strategic Division at the Province of Ontario. Her previous 9-5 roles include: fundraising at the University of Toronto, strategic communications and event marketing at the Ontario Public Service and media relations at the Ontario Heritage Trust.
Her 5-9 side hustle for the soul uses the principles of grace, wisdom and hospitality to develop accessible, healthy, inclusive, safe communities where women can thrive as active participants. She is currently supporting resource development and using her governance expertise as a Chair of the Board of Directors at the Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women, and as Vice Chair of the Board at the Driftwood Theatre Group. She is also an Executive Producer at TOgether and is planning a holistic wellness event to connect communities of colour with physical, mental, emotional and community wellness tools. She recently completed her term as Director of Logistics at Toronto For Everyone. She has been involved in communications, event planning and fundraising consulting for not for profit organizations including Planned Parenthood Toronto, Pride Toronto and the United Way.
Niya is a graduate of the University of Toronto with a major in Sexual Diversity Studies, and minors in Psychology and English. She also has a certificate in Event and Meeting Management from George Brown College. She completed her training in yin, restorative, meditation and aerial yoga in addition to her 250 hour yoga teacher training and is continuing her training with work in trauma specific yoga to help her master new ways of telling stories through teaching yoga and mindfulness practices.
Michael Denyszyn, Vice-Chair
Michael Denyszyn has been a member of the EHCW Board of Directors since August 2016, and the Board’s Vice-Chair since August 2017. Michael received his Hon. B.A. (with High Distinction) from the University of Toronto in 1998 and his J.D. from New York University in 2001. After acting as a lawyer in private practice in New York and Toronto, Michael has worked in the public sector since 2008 and now manages a team of lawyers. Michael lives in Toronto with his spouse and son and provides volunteer career counselling to undergraduate students and recent graduates.
Meezan Kotylo, Treasurer
Meezan’s career spans an array of divisions, moving into progressively responsible roles within the financial sector. She brings an extensive background in sales, national office and operations. Her diverse career experiences and business acumen combined with her collaborative leadership style have contributed to her past and current successes and will continue to be key enablers in future roles.
Meezan enjoys supporting business needs through formulating strategies, identifying operational issues and seeking product enhancement opportunities to mitigate risks. Her key areas of expertise include transformation strategy, leadership, in addition to special initiatives.
Meezan is a leader who brings a balance approach and a deep commitment to all that she does .She is also committed to her local community by providing community services.
Dr. Carolyn Hibbs, Board Secretary
Dr. Carolyn Hibbs works in the non-profit sector and brings 12 years of experience in the sector as a Board member, consultant and employee. A researcher and educator for most of her career, Carolyn’s academic experience ranges from studies in women and religion in South Asia to non-profit management. She holds various professional certificates and degrees including a PhD from York University and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Ryerson University.
Sona Dhawan is a legal counsel with the Tax Avoidance Analysis Unit at the Ministry of Finance. Sona has 5 years of experience in pensions, executive compensation and tax planning for corporations, and more than 7 years of experience in financial analysis and accounting.
Sona practiced tax law at EY Law LLP, in the area of Financial Services Organization Tax. Previous to that, Sona practiced at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and as a Senior Rulings Officer at the CRA. She also clerked with the Tax Court of Canada, and has taught courses for the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.
Sona has a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Law School, and an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from the Schulich School of Business at York University.
Sona enjoys writing fiction, is a volunteer paramedic with Saint John’s Ambulance and is on the Board of Directors at the Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women.
Alicia Mondesire is an institutional development consultant with over 20 years experience as an advisor on gender equality to organizations including the United Nations, the Government of Canada and the European Commission. She was formerly the Ontario Director for CUSO (Canadian University Overseas) and subsequently CUSO’s Eastern Caribbean Director. Among other appointments are Member of the International Planning Committee for the Association for Women’s Rights in Development; Council Member for the Inter-American Development Bank’s Women in Leadership program; and Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Foundation for International Training. As a member of the board of ehcw, she chairs the Governance and Policy Committee. She holds a Master’s degree in International Management and has worked in more than 30 countries.
Raushan Bhuiyan is a policy analyst, urban geographer and social science researcher. She has interfaced with social policy development for 10 years in the corporate sector. For a concurrent 12 years, she navigated policy communities in higher education institutions, not-for-profit foundations, and grassroots organizations through her volunteer commitments. She advised Employment and Social Development Canada, Status of Women Canada and the Official Minorities and Languages Commission. She is currently in the policy development stream at the
Government of Ontario.
Her professional experiences are informed by her advocacy efforts for multi-barriered populations, namely, homeless populations and low-income populations. She wants to fix disparities in a social support system system that benefitted her family when she was young, but whose complexity has, at times, failed those who need it most now. Her latest policy interests
examine the interactions between housing affordability, poverty, public infrastructure development, health equity and behavioural conomics.
Raushan is also a non-fiction writer and uses prose to explore the intersections of cultural identity, civil rights, and placemaking. She has received nationally-recognized honors such as the 2013 Joseph Bombardier SSHRC Award and the 2008 Stephen Leacock Memorial Award for Humour. Raushan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Women's Studies from York University and is currently wrapping up her Masters of Arts in Geography at York University while pursuing her public administration certificate at Humber College.
Raushan’s next goal is to create a network of public sector and academic professionals dedicated to exploring the ways that poverty informs social and macroeconomic policy development in Canada.
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