Kristle Calisto-Tavares – President
Kristle’s interest and passion in seniors’ care began as a teenager volunteering in a local hospice in her hometown. More recently, a family member’s personal experience in long term care opened her eyes to the shortcomings and giant gaps in the system. Through her social-purpose business, Kristle works with organizations and enterprises toward collaborative changemaking. She is passionate about the work Concerned Friends is engaged in and eager to lend her two decades’ worth of skills in the citizen sector toward building a movement that uplifts the standard of care and quality of life for all seniors living in long term care.
Sharon Filger – Vice-President
Sharon has a Master’s Degree in Social Work (Community Development) and more than 40 years’ experience working in the non-profit service sector. She held various direct service and senior management positions including, most recently, as the Executive Director of The Macaulay Child Development Centre, a multi-service child and family support charity in Toronto. She has led various inter-agency and community planning groups; served on the Board of Directors of local and provincial associations; and contributed to government policy through participation on various provincial and municipal Task Forces and Advisory Groups. She has co-authored/edited several Professional Manuals.
Laurie Nicol – Interim Treasurer
Laurie is a Certified Association Executive with over 35 years’ leadership experience in the non-profit sector. Founded upon her personal experience with parents struggling for dignity and adequate levels of care in a long-term care facility she decided to channel her passion for advocacy to support an organization that is addressing the need for improving conditions in long-term care homes.
Heeba Abdullah – Director-at-Large
Heeba has a strong passion for working with the geriatric population. In addition to working as an occupational therapist in multiple long term care homes and retirement homes over the past 7 years, she has been volunteering with seniors over the past two decades as an activity aide, companion, and general volunteer in both Toronto and Ottawa. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Gerontology, a Master’s of Health Sciences in Occupational Therapy, and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Health Administration. Heeba hopes to be a strong advocate for residents in long-term care homes.
Isabell Berry – Director-at-Large
Isabell has been an avid animal and human rights activist her whole life, participating in various organizations to raise awareness and build a kinder and more compassionate environment for all. She has been working in marketing strategy for almost 20 years with some of the top brands in the world. She has had personal experience with the challenges in securing retirement care that is responsive, clean, joyful and cost effective and hopes to be able to make a difference in the availability of excellent care for all who need it. Isabell and her family, including husband, two daughters, as well as numerous four-legged family members, live in beautiful Fergus Ontario. When she is not riding horses or crafting marketing campaigns, she enjoys skiing, hiking and reading.
Shelley R. Birenbaum – Director-at-Large
Shelley is President and Counsel at Shelley R. Birenbaum Professional Corporation, a firm dedicated exclusively to health and privacy law. She has worked with hospitals, community mental health centres, Government ministries and regulated health professionals. Shelley was formerly counsel to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and worked in the Health Law Department of two Bay Street firms. Shelley has a Master of Social Work and practised as a social worker before attending law school. She obtained her Master of Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. She is an active volunteer with Dying with Dignity Canada and the Luke Sklar Mental Health Initiative of Holy Blossom Temple.
Melissa Casson – Director-at-Large
Melissa is currently the Director of Global Equities at Black Creek Investment Management, and a Portfolio Manager of various Global and International Strategies for retail and institutional clients. Prior to Black Creek, Melissa held several senior roles in the investment management industry in New York City, after graduating from Columbia Business School. She also graduated from Queen’s University in Canada with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Life Sciences and is a CFA charterholder. Her interest in elder care grew after regularly volunteering at a nearby long-term care facility, and her personal experience supporting family navigating through the system.
Raymond Chong – Director-at-Large
Raymond obtained his Master of Social Work from University of Toronto with a specialization in Gerontology. As a registered social worker, he has worked in various community-based organizations and primary health care settings, providing direct frontline mental health counseling and case management services to members of the community—including assisting many senior clients in their long-term care planning. In addition to his frontline work, Raymond has also worked in senior leadership positions, providing ongoing training and supervision to other inter-disciplinary health professionals, and carrying out administrative tasks such as program planning and program evaluations, strategic planning, and the writing of funding reports, etc. At home, Raymond is a zookeeper, tending to his 4 children, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 guinea pigs.
Alice Gaudine – Director-at-Large
Alice is a nurse educator with a Master’s in Nursing and a PhD in administration, with over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse. She is a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Nurses. She is aware of the need to develop and implement national standards for long term care. The COVID pandemic (temporarily) brought the lack of LTC national standards to the public’s attention but for a variety of reasons, advocacy is needed to improve LTC. She believes that the work of Concerned Friends fills an important gap in health care through helping individuals and families, and through advocacy to promote changes in the provision of LTC.
Kathleen Knowlton-Krueger – Director-at-Large
Kathy is a graduate CCW from Humber College with an extensive career in Social Services, where she was an advocate for children and their families, private counselor, and Community College teacher. She is currently the Administrator for the Community Services Bureau of a Police Service. Her advocacy skills were of benefit when caring for her own parents over a period of twenty years. Throughout this journey, Kathy experienced, firsthand, the many stumbling blocks, inadequacies in care and gaps in services for the elderly. Her passion for preserving the dignity and overall, wellbeing of the vulnerable population brought her to Concerned Friends.
Tony Nguyen – Director-at-Large
Tony is an experienced healthcare leader who has worked in the sector for over 20 years with community and acute care hospitals and senior living communities. With strong business and financial acumen, combined with extensive human resources management experience, Tony is a strategic, mission-driven, collaborative, and compassionate leader. His transformational leadership has empowered and enabled teams to exceed organizational missions and goals. Tony is an active volunteer supporting several social service charitable and non-profit organizations that promote and advocate for positive change in the lives of individuals living with food and housing insecurity and other vulnerable groups.