Don Jaffray is a Social Planner and Executive Director of the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton. He has specialized in policy matters concerned with social justice and equity, citizen participation in public policy decision-making, social indicators of community change and the integration of community service and planning systems. He has long term experience in designing and implementing community development projects for the SPRC and a variety of public and voluntary sector partners in Hamilton. Don has extensive experience in social policy development and analysis. His expertise also includes management practice in the non-profit sector, strategic planning, community development techniques, program evaluation and qualitative and quantitative social research design and data analysis.
Don has also served as an Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neuro-sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences at Hamilton’s McMaster University; Guest Lecturer, Community Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences and in the School of Social Work at McMaster University; and Faculty member (part-time) in Non-Profit Sector Studies, Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology, Hamilton.
Don has also volunteered his time in support of a number of community organizations and projects including serving as a Board member with Ancaster Community Services; VHA Home Support Services, Elizabeth Fry Society of Hamilton, SHAIR International and local political organizations. Don is also a member of the Rotary Club of Hamilton.
Don’s academic credentials include a Master of Arts (Social Welfare Policy) degree from McMaster University, a Bachelor of Arts (Political Studies) degree from the University of Guelph, completed studies in Geographic Information Systems, Mohawk College of Applied Arts & Technology, and studies in American Sign Language: graduated Level 103, Canadian Hearing Society (certified program of instruction).
Patti McNaney is a senior social planner working in the SPRC’s priority area of Healthy Development of Children and Youth. Coordinating the Community Action Program for Children in east Hamilton is the primary focus of her work.
Originally from Oshawa, Patti moved to Hamilton to attend McMaster University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She became a permanent transplant to the city and later earned her Bachelor of Social Work, also from McMaster. Patti remains connected to McMaster through her participation on the School of Social Work’s Field Instruction Committee and her role as supervisor to placement students.
Patti has built a strong connection with Hamilton that translates into a passion for strengthening the capacity of neighbourhoods. The work of the SPRC fits with Patti’s belief in the transformative quality of collaboration and community development.
Her interest in participatory facilitation led Patti to the Catalyst Centre for training in popular education ideals and techniques. The concepts underlying popular education methodology remain a foundation for her work with groups and communities.
Past and present community participation activities include volunteer workshop facilitation and co-chairing the Hamilton Status of Women City Advisory Committee.
Deirdre Pike has been with the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton since 2001. After transitioning out of 14 years of parish ministry, Deirdre found a great match for her facilitation skills and her passion for social justice when she joined the team at the SPRC. In her current role as a Senior Social Planner, Deirdre works with both grassroots organizations and policy making bodies under two main priority areas – poverty reduction and elimination and equity and inclusion.
In working to create positive space for LGBTQ people, Deirdre co-chairs the Hamilton Positive Space Collaborative and is a leader in delivering LGBTQ Positive Space Training. In the latter role, Deirdre has “outed” the conversation of LGBTQ reality with over 4,000 people in Hamilton and beyond, including educators, social service providers, police officers and health care providers.
Deirdre is an urbanite who lives with her partner, Renée, in the Strathcona Neighbourhood in Hamilton. She rides her bike as much as she can for work and for fun. In between you may find her gardening, cooking or writing her regular column for the Hamilton Spectator.
Cindy Sue was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. As a Kanyen’keha:ka (Mohawk) woman and a long standing active member of the Hamilton Urban Aboriginal Community, she also maintains ties to her home reserve, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. She has served as a director and member of many Aboriginal agency boards and participated in various social policy committees, representing this community at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.
As a social planner on the SPRC’s Homelessness & Housing Team, Cindy Sue has co-authored reports and is currently the lead planner responsible for the delivery of the federal Aboriginal homelessness funding in Hamilton. Cindy Sue builds on these accomplishments with a continued interest in her educational pursuits including various Indigenous Studies courses and numerous seminars, workshops and training programs (e.g. governance, lateral violence).
As an active volunteer, Cindy Sue has participated as the past Chair of the City of Hamilton’s Committee Against Racism, has just finished her second term with the McMaster Research Ethics Board, and is a current member of the Aboriginal Advisory Committee, a Volunteer Advisory Committee to the City of Hamilton. She has recently completed a Kanyen’keha:ka (Mohawk) language course with her two nieces, indicating her interest not only in youth but to the importance of the promotion, education and awareness of Aboriginal culture overall.
Her areas of interest include community development, anti-racism, and access and equity issues for culturally diverse communities especially as it relates to the urban Aboriginal community; enjoying the opportunity to aid in the improvement of the quality of life for all citizens of the Hamilton community.
Renée Wetselaar is a Social Planner whose work focuses on SPRC’s priority areas of Housing and Homelessness and Equity and inclusion with her main role being the Manager of the Community Developers working on the Neighbourhood Action Strategy. She is engaged in strategic planning and policy development, community development, evaluation and collaborative partnerships. She has considerable experience in developing and coordinating initiatives involving a wide variety of stakeholders across many sectors and parts of the community. Her more recent work in neighbourhood development brings together her skills in engaging people from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors to building better communities.
Renée is a visual artist, performer and two-time graduate of McMaster University. In 1986 she received a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Art History and in 2007 her Masters in Globalization and the Human Condition with a focus on art and social change.
At the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton, Renée was the executive director for almost a decade in Canada’s only museum dedicated to workers history and culture. She also works privately as the principle of Renaissance Consulting.
Known as a visionary leader, animator and mobilizer, Renée has researched and written on a range of issues surrounding the arts and artist’s work, poverty, gender, globalization, housing, labour, children and health.
Renée is the former chair of the Arts Advisory Commission for the City of Hamilton. She has also participated in a number of selection committees and juries for artists’ projects across Ontario. A member of the Board of Directors of Wellwood, a local cancer resource centre, Renée also volunteers her time with the City of Hamilton’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee to which she was appointed for the 2011-2014 term. She lives in Hamilton with her partner and is the mother of a twenty-something son.
Renée was awarded for her community service work with the Queens Golden Jubilee medal in 2003 and Woman of the Year in the Arts for Hamilton in 2004.
As one of the longest serving members of the SPRC staff team, Caroline Eyk has been responsible for all aspects of the financial accounting at the SPRC since 1984 and is now overseeing the financial details of an organization that has grown exponentially since she started here almost 30 years ago.
Besides juggling a multitude of funding reports her work involves community engagement and working with social planners to ensure that projects and programs are delivered on time and on budget. She is appreciated by her co-workers for being so organized and detail-oriented.
Caroline came equipped for this work as a graduate of the Mohawk College Business Accounting program and has completed a Business Computer Applications Certificate since then as well as learning many other work specific applications. She is a female entrepreneur with her own bookkeeping business which she has successfully managed since 1994.
Caroline is married and has two children. Her son is working on his Bachelor’s degree and her daughter is moving toward her Master’s. Her role as a mom is part of the passion that inspires her own interests and goals. She loves to play volleyball, read, cross stitch, take time for boating and water skiing, camping and travelling. Her more recent travels have taken her to Europe where she has been expanding her horizons and interests.
Caroline is also a leader in Beamsville where she lives. She is an untiring volunteer at her church in Grimsby, including supporting young moms in the nursery, greeting visitors to the church library and welcoming church attendees. Caroline is very involved in pursuing her interests in community and is committed to serving others.
In 2007, Sarah graduated from McMaster University with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce, minoring in Geography. She went on to Sheridan College to major in Market Research and obtained a Post-Graduate Certificate in Marketing Management.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats benefited from Sarah’s marketing background when she worked for them in Community Relations for four years. She assisted them in building their community partnerships and executing community outreach programs. That’s where Sarah and the SPRC first met when she brought Tastebuds, Hamilton Student Nutrition Collaborative, to the Ticats table with their BeFit program.
Her strong belief in social justice led her to value the work of the SPRC and eventually caused her to apply to be part of it. That same yearning for social justice brings Sarah to volunteer for the Hamilton Out of the Cold Coalition each winter.
In her spare time, Sarah loves musicals and movies and enjoys skiing, running, scrapbooking and baking.
Yvonne Rauwerda is the Finance Assistant to the SPRC Financial Administrator. Yvonne started her career as a bank teller with CIBC right out of high school and spent 10 years there until she and Henry, her husband of 28 years, had their first child.
Yvonne kept her foot in the business world while raising Chantal and Amber by doing the bookkeeping for the family business, Bradley Flowers Wholesale out of Vineland. Yvonne is also the part-time bookkeeper for First Reformed Church, St. Catharines.
When she’s not working she loves to play volleyball, travel with her family and put all their happy memories into scrapbooks, both paper and digital.
Sara Mayo is a Social Planner with a concentration in Geographic Information Systems. She specializes in making data accessible and useful for social change, especially through visualization and mapping. She has authored publications on topics in each of the SPRC priority areas including poverty, housing and homelessness, health, labour markets, seniors, and social trends in Hamilton.
As a member of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction’s Living Wage Working Group, Sara worked with a tool to provide meticulous detail in coming up with Hamilton’s Living Wage rate. This process is recorded in her report, “Calculating a Living Wage for Hamilton.” Sara also explores Hamilton-specific data to produce a regular update on the Impact of the recession on this community.
Sara is skilled at program evaluation and stays up to date on evaluation processes and best practices as a member of the Canadian Evaluation Society. Sara regularly works on evaluations for SPRC partner organizations.
Sara contributes to many partnership tables and collaboratives. She is a member of the Hamilton Community Foundation’s Vital Signs Advisory Committee and the City of Hamilton’s Neighbourhood Development Evaluation committee.
Beyond Hamilton, Sara was chair of the capacity building working group for the Canadian Council on Social Development’s Community Data Consortium in 2011. This body assists municipalities and community organizations in over 20 communities across Canada to access neighbourhood-level social and economic data from a variety of sources.
At both a professional and personal level, Sara is an advocate of public transit and cycling. She is a member of Hamilton CarShare co-operative and enjoys bike riding with her family.
The primary focus for Social Planner, Erika Morton, is Youth Housing and Homelessness issues in Hamilton. As a project coordinator with the Street Youth Planning Collaborative, Erika supports their efforts toward addressing and responding to the issues unique to street-involved and homeless youth. Connected to this demographic, Erika also oversees the Urban Arts Initiative.
Erika attended McMaster University to pursue an education that would respond to her interest of improving the well-being of individuals and communities. She obtained Bachelor degrees in Sociology and Social Work. Both her education and employment experiences influenced her interest to obtain a career that would contribute to making positive impacts upon young people’s pathways.
Since Erika has been a resident of Hamilton, she has taken an active volunteer role in the community as a member of the Stinson Community Association and as co-organizer at Powell Park Community Garden. The satisfaction of her volunteer work is the hands-on, community-led collaboration that leads to the enhancement of the community and the enjoyment of individuals in the neighbourhood. The appeal of this volunteer work is that it builds community connections and vibrancy.
In work and volunteer areas of her life, Erika reflects upon her personal mantra: “small hands, steady hope, strong heart”, which means:
– I bring small hands that are capable of so much, but with others hands, much more can be accomplished
– I keep hope, optimism and commitment when pursuing achievements
– I have a deep care that endures and my motivation is the strength of my passion
Erika, a cat lover, believes in the greatness of Hamilton and enjoys calling this city her home. She appreciates the closeness to conservation areas, hiking trails and waterfalls and the vibrancy of the arts community.
Shahzi Bokhari joined the SPRC in December of 2015 as a Social Planner Assistant. Originally from York Region, Shahzi was first introduced to Hamilton through McMaster University where she earned her Bachelor degree in Social Work. She found a love for Hamilton by working across the city, meeting local residents, and by exploring the art, culture, heritage, and natural landscapes that the city has to offer. Shahzi felt that there was a strong sense of community and engagement in the city, a unique homegrown feel that made her want to stay.
In her role at the SPRC, Shahzi works with Social Planners in the priority areas of Equity & Inclusion and Healthy Development of Children and Youth. Her work involves program evaluations that include newcomer needs, improving health systems, and services for parents with young children.
Shahzi brings with her experience in long-term care, newcomer support, community engagement, violence against women, a passion for social equity and advocacy, as well as quantitative and qualitative research and assessments. Shahzi is trained in ASIST and is currently earning a Community & Workplace Traumatologist designation through the Traumatology Institute.
When not at work, Shahzi spends her time learning to play the guitar, hiking along trails and enjoying the falls across the city, attending community events, reading, spending time at the lake and catching shows in Toronto.
Alison has always enjoyed volunteering and has been a literacy tutor, teaching adults how to read, as well as a special events planner for the Boy Scouts, president of the tenant’s association where she lives, reading program member at the elementary school her children attended and has sat as a long term board member on a non-profit housing agency in Hamilton.
Alison’s favourite quote is “One family at a time”. She feels that all families should be given every opportunity to raise their children in clean, well maintained, affordable housing and get the best education available. Alison realizes that newcomer families to Canada have special challenges and she attempts to assist them with whatever situation they bring to her. To that end, she now provides support one day a week to the Immigrant Women’s Centre through a CAPC partnership. She works to ensure that CAPC is a “one stop shop” where all community members with questions and issues can obtain information and assistance.
It has been just over three years since Ghanwa Afach arrived in Hamilton from Syria, via Japan. Although she knew very little about Hamilton at that time, she immediately had a great appreciation for the uniqueness of the community and felt she was in a place where she could make a difference and move from “what was” to “what could be.”
One year after her arrival, Ghanwa joined the SPRC team as a part-time Community Engagement Worker in Hamilton’s Riverdale neighbourhood where she coordinated a diverse team of volunteers where everyone came from a different geographical place. Ghanwa was able to use her communication skills to bring different points of views together to build on the common ground of love for the community which brought the people together for a unique volunteering experience.
As her role evolved into the part-time Resource Facilitator in Riverdale, Ghanwa assisted with the Riverdale Neighborhood Action Plan development process. In that role she was a conduit between different groups of people, providing support to residents to ensure their voices were heard and included in the planning process in order to move the work forward in new and effective ways.
Currently, Ghanwa works as a CAPC Systems Support Worker, providing support to families with children newborn to six years of age. She assists them with navigating programs and systems that contribute to overall health and well-being.
Ghanwa has also worked as a Research Interviewer for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in McMaster University where she was involved in various aspects of a research study investigating the mental health and functioning of children in grades 5 – 8.
Judy was born and raised in the east end of Hamilton, where she attended Memorial Public School and Delta Secondary School. Her mother worked at the Henderson Hospital and her father was a steel worker at Stelco. Judy continued her education at Mohawk College in business and moved to the Riverdale community in the early 1980’s where she raised her two sons and still lives today.
It all started for Judy well visiting her local park on a regular basis with both of her sons. The park was overgrown with weeds and there had been a recent murder in the park. This was a turning point for Judy; she realized her strong passion for wanting to make a difference in her own community. She was passionate about connecting with community members and making a change. This led to her lead role as Project Coordinator of Community Access To Child Health (CATCH). These community commitments add up to almost three decades of community development, making her a well-known community activist in the city. Judy received the Women of the Year Award in 1997 and received both the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Award and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award for her community work. She still continues her community work as a Community Developer for the Neighbourhood Action Strategy.
Laura Ryan is a Community Developer Worker with Hamilton’s Neighbourhood Development Strategy coordinated through the City of Hamilton and supported by The Hamilton Community Foundation. Laura is one of five CDWs working in neighbourhoods throughout the city on this project.
Laura brings work experience from Immigration Canada, a local Community Living agency and both an urban and rural child welfare agency. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts from Dalhousie University, and her Bachelor and Masters of Social Work from McMaster University.
Laura currently works in the McQuesten and Rolston neighbourhoods where, along with the hard work and leadership of neighbourhood residents, she assists community members in the creation of their neighbourhood action plans.
Laura engages residents, captures their stories, organizes and prioritizes their needs, and links these realities back into health and social planning research. She recruits partners to the planning team from community groups and services that have knowledge and experience addressing these needs and then facilitates dialogue between residents and community partners to design unique solutions. These plans ensure that the neighbourhood residents have supports that nurture equitable opportunities to realize personal achievement and good health.
Laura is on the planning team in her own neighbourhood. She is passionately interested in protecting and sharing local cultural assets and history, stimulating greater civic engagement, and beautifying Hamilton’s neighbourhoods. Laura volunteers with many community groups and she wants to see more local innovators promoting cooperation, challenging one another to reach consensus, and working with citizens to adopt some common civic objectives that they are willing to protect above their own personal or corporate best interest.
Matt has worked in the community for over six years in various roles in social services including supportive housing and developmental services. Matt works towards a belief in a more just society and a more just city. Prior to working in Hamilton, he attended McMaster University, where we earned an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science.
Matt continues his work beyond the SPRC in his various project roles, including Hamilton Food Rides, Hamilton Synthesizer Social, and the Residential Temperatures Project. When not working, Matt engages in his fascination with the history of Mennonites in Southern Ontario.
Nazia Zeb, Community Developer
Nazia Zeb is a Community Developer with the Social Planning and Research Council (SPRC) of Hamilton. Nazia has served the Hamilton community for over 12 years holding various roles in the social services including immigrant settlement services. In all her roles, she has demonstrated huge commitment towards social justice, inclusion and gender equity. Prior to graduating from Mohawk College with a Social Service Worker Diploma, Nazia studied visual arts at the University of Peshawar and McMaster University. Nazia also taught visual arts at the Immigrant Culture & Art Association’s art school and participated in various art exhibitions in Hamilton.
Nazia has passion for working with underprivileged individuals and community groups to bring out positive changes in community through collaborative work. Nazia strongly believes in Asset Based Community Development model where Anti Oppressive and Anti-Racism perspective is the focal point of all interactions. She is passionate about critically analyzing systems and structures that prevent people from reaching their full potential.
Sunil Angrish, Community Developer
Biography coming soon!
Samantha Delaney is a Community Development Worker with Tastebuds, Hamilton’s Student Nutrition Collaborative. Samantha’s main role is to help Hamilton schools provide students with universal access to nutritious food during the school day through breakfast, snacks, or lunches. Tastebuds goal is to help students “sprout healthy relationships with food.”
By working with volunteers at schools, Samantha supports program coordinators in their day-to-day operations – including budgeting, fundraising, menu planning and figuring out the logistics of feeding anywhere from seven to 700 students. Samantha believes that the best recipe for success is to combine knowledge (food education) with action (healthy eating habits). That’s why she loves spreading awareness of Tastebuds’ good work by speaking at parent council meetings and for other community groups.
In past roles, Samantha has worked as a journalist for CBC radio, the Hamilton Spectator, and community publications in both Halifax and Toronto. When not at work, you’ll likely find her getting tangled in the weeds at Plan B Farm or spilling paint in her studio at Casino Art Space.
As a Community Development Worker with Tastebuds, Hamilton’s Student Nutrition Collaborative (formerly Hamilton Partners in Nutrition), Jean-Anne champions the continuing development of school and community student nutrition programs. Working closely with program volunteers, Jean-Anne helps programs plan menus, budget and access funding opportunities. Jean-Anne also coaches program coordinators on best practices to help their programs run to their full potential. Her degree in nutrition from the Western University is complemented by work in the food industry, public health and with non-governmental organizations.
As much as possible, she has integrated her work with ways to travel and gain cross-cultural experience. This includes administering a regional UN lead survey on food consumption and economic indicators of health in Malawi, East Africa, to working with marginalized women with World Vision in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Closer to home, Jean-Anne has lead nutritional education sessions and coordinated farm-visits for nutritionally at-risk groups in York Region and developed food products and refined their respective nutrition information at E.D. Smith and Renee’s Gourmet.
Outside of work, Jean-Anne connects with several organizations with a food and community focus. This includes the Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals, which focuses on professional development. Jean-Anne is a member of Kiwanis, an organization “dedicated to changing the world one child at a time and one community at a time.” Jean-Anne also connects with Hamilton’s Community Food-security Stakeholders Committee to support initiatives that improve food access and policy. These commitments have led to work with a local community garden to help re-establish its role in its community.
If not at home, you can find Jean-Anne with her husband on the water or in a provincial park, in her garden or at the library. She is culinary adventurous and will eat and prepare just about anything. She is also trying to improve her skills as a Tri-athlete.
Bhairavi Kumar is a Community Development Worker with Tastebuds, Hamilton’s Student Nutrition Collaborative (formerly Hamilton Partners in Nutrition). When this graphic/web designer and certified Human Resource Professional signed up for this 3 month contract position, she never imagined the journey it was going to take her on. Born and raised in India, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams of creating her own identity, but was always on a lookout for ways to impact her community.
When she moved to Hamilton seven years ago she knew she was in it for the long haul and that it would be awhile before she packed up her William Sonoma pots and pans again.
Bhairavi believes that action is the foundation to all success and her action at work is ensuring the success of all student nutrition programs in Hamilton. She does this by bringing her delightful spirit to each program and working gently and constructively with all coordinators to have the best menus, good budgeting skills, and strong volunteer and fundraising initiatives. She currently oversees approximately 70 program sites and coordinates the schools with Breakfast for Learning and Breakfast Club of Canada funding.
With the banner of “sprouting healthy relationships with food” over her head, she wants to empower each child to make healthy choices in life and to be ambassadors for healthy eating. Her dream is to see a nutrition program in every Hamilton school so that no child should need to worry about hunger over education.
Biography coming soon!