COMMITTEES

 

 

ADVOCACY COMMITTEE

 

Melissa Pierre-Sossoyan (chair) 
pierre.melissa08@yahoo.ca

 

 

 

Aviva Zukerman Schure  
aviva@schure.com
 

Aviva has worked in community outreach and the not -for -profit sector for over 25 years. She has been involved with a number of initiatives/organizations including: Violence Overcome In Creative Ensemble, Voices of Children, The Toronto Jewish Film Festival, The Canadian Women’s Foundation and The Adoption Council of Ontario. She has served as a Trustee of the Zukerman Family Foundation since 1986. Aviva holds a Bachelor of Commerce (McGill '91) and a Master in Environmental Studies (York '96). 
Aviva is a mother of 5 children. In 2012 she and her husband met and adopted a 17 year-old daughter through the Toronto CAS. Aviva is interested in addressing the systemic changes that need to happen in order to better encourage, facilitate and celebrate older youth adoptions.

 

Gena Morrow
 gena_morrow@yahoo.ca

Gena has been a foster parent for 22 years, as well as bio, step and kin parent. Currently she and her husband Tony do Level 3 or therapeutic foster care. She holds positions provincially and nationally with foster care associations, and trains prospective foster/adoptive parents. She holds a degree in psychology from the University of Manitoba.

 

Carolyn McLeod
cmcleod2@uwo.ca

Carolyn is both an adoptive mom and a professor of philosophy at the University of Western Ontario. Her research at Western focuses on the ethics of assisted reproduction and adoption. Most recently, she was an invited participant to the International Forum on Inter-country Adoption and Global Surrogacy in The Hague, Netherlands. She also published the book Family-Making: Contemporary Ethical Challenges, co-edited with Francoise Baylis and put out by Oxford University Press (2014). For more on her research and writing, see her website http://carolynmcleod.com.

In terms of her personal experience with adoption, she and her partner Andrew have adopted two boys internationally, one at the age of 3 and the other at the age of 5.

 

 

EDUCATION COMMITTEE

 

Greg Blakeley (chair)
g.blakeley@hotmail.com

Greg has been working in the educational field for over 15 years. As a teacher, Greg spent much of his career working to support Special Needs students in the mainstream and in contained, specialized classes. He advocates for parents who are navigating the difficult world of Special Education and accessing the supports necessary for their children to access the curriculum in a school setting. Now as a principal for a public school board, Greg continues to advocate for the students in his school and assist parents through the processes of identifying and supporting exceptional learners.

Greg and his partner adopted their son in 2008 through a public, CAS adoption. His son has significant delays and special needs. Greg and his family currently live in Caledon and his son is part of the regular classroom setting at school. Greg continues to support adopt ready and adoptive families in their journey, often attending ARE and PRIDE training events.

 

Angela Krueger
akrueger@golden.net

With a degree in Psychology, Angela Krueger focused her studies on Child Development and Social Psychology.  As a freelance writer she has written articles for Canada Adopts!, Adoptive Families Magazine, IMPrint – Infant Mental Health Promotion (The Hospital for Sick Children), RainbowKids.com, Creating Families Magazine and has contributed to adoption agency newsletters in Canada, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.  In addition to writing about parenting and adoption, she loves to talk about her experiences as an adoptive parent in her roles as PRIDE co-trainer and parent program facilitator, as well as a panelist for various parent education seminars.  She specializes in openness and transracial adoption, as well as attachment.  She is currently pursuing Art Therapy training and hopes to use her studies to help promote attachment relationships within the adoptive family.

Erin Ingard Rau 
eingard@gmail.com

Erin is a proud mom of three beautiful boys, two of whom joined their family by adoption through CAS and privately. Erin and her husband, Alexander, have had to strongly advocate for post adoption services and support. Having a network of support resources and contacts has made all the difference. Experiencing firsthand the value of early intervention, peer support and knowledge exchange, Erin knows this is important for all adoptive families.

Currently Erin is at home raising their youngest two boys and is an active adoption advocate involved with their local adoption connections and youth groups. After making the decision to breast feed their privately adopted son, she became involved in the adoptive breast feeding community, advocating for the benefits of breastfeeding and attachment for adoptive children. 

Prior to staying at home with the kids Erin worked as a finance and accounting professional and is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CGA). She also holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) to round out her business background. Seeking to balance family and career, Erin recently earned her Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) from OSIE at UofT and is an Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT) with an interest in obtaining special education qualifications.

Erin looks forward to being involved and supporting the work of Adopt4Life, our Adoptive Parent Association, and seeing a united voice in Ontario grow.'

Jackie Poplack 
jpoplack@sympatico.ca

Jackie Poplack, M.S.W., R.S.W., is an Adoption Practitioner who has been working in the field of adoption for sixteen years. She has visited children’s villages worldwide including institutions in India, Thailand, Vietnam, South Africa, China, South Korea, Morocco and Cambodia. Jackie was an adoption worker at the Toronto Children’s Aid Society prior to working as a psychiatric social worker in the Day Treatment Program and The Women’s Clinic at The Toronto Western Hospital. 

At the Toronto District School Board, she provided counselling and support to families and children. Jackie has extensive experience in the fields of attachment, older child adoption, special needs adoption an international adoption and has worked closely with Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario.  

She is a committee member of Ignite the Spark, (Children’s Aid Foundation) an enrichment program for children in the child welfare system across Canada. Jackie has been listed as a non-sexist therapist by the Women’s Referral and Resource Counselling Centre.

 


MENTAL HEALTH COMMITTEE

mary-jo-land.jpg

Mary Jo Land (chair)
homeland@sympatico.ca

Mary-Jo is a parent of five, one of whom is adopted. For the last two decades, Mary-Jo has provided psychotherapy to children, youth and their families. In the last 12 years, attachment, trauma and adoption have become Mary-Jo’s specializations. Mary-Jo is past president of The Association for Training in Trauma and Attachment in Children (ATTACh, Minneapolis MN). Currently, Mary-Jo works with the Adoption Council of Ontario as a facilitator in the Adoption Competency Training for professionals and the Pathways 2 Permanency 2  for parents. Along with an active private practice with adoptive families, Mary-Jo is Program Lead at THRIVE Child and Youth Trauma Service, OASIS Program, which serves Refugee and Immigrant children, youth and their families for Trauma and Acculturation stress. In both Canada and the USA, Mary-Jo provides training to professionals and parents in attachment, adoption and trauma. Mary-Jo lives in Grey County with her husband Kevin Land, where she manages her forest and plays with her grandchildren (not often enough). 

 

 

Angela Sider
asider@rogers.com

Angela Sider brings to the Board the perspective of an internationally adoptive parent of two children who have exceptionalities.  In order to meet the needs of her children, Angela has become an advocate in children's mental health by engaging in leadership aspects of the provincial organization, Parents for Children's Mental Health.  She is a local Chapter Leader within the Kitchener-Waterloo region and participates and contributes in a significant way to family engagement and the family voice in local children's mental health services.  As well, she is a Family Engagement Trainer providing education to service agencies on how to better engage families in supports and services to children.
 
Professionally, Angela brings 15 years of experience in developmental services managing treatment group home settings for people with a dual diagnosis.  She has a specialization in leadership and management with a Master of Arts in Leadership from University of Guelph.  Most recently, she has been working as a consultant providing leadership direction and change management expertise to non-profit organizations.

 

Joy Wicks-Nicholls
joyandgeoff1998@gmail.com

Joy and her husband, Geoff, became first-time parents through public adoption in 2011, to a sibling group of two boys and a girl (ages 1, 2, and 3 at the time of placement)! Since then, she has absorbed everything she can about sibling adoption, connected parenting, attachment, developmental trauma, transracial and cultural issues in adoption, and more. Joy’s career as an occupational therapist (including 11 years of practice in inpatient adolescent mental health and 7 years of practice with individuals adjusting to life changes associated with injury) has given her the privilege of continuously connecting, learning, and facilitating awareness and well-being related to issues of loss, adaptation, identity, meaning, and relationships. She engages in formal training whenever possible, in addition to self-study and networking with others, and loves consulting with parents and individuals who are contemplating adoption.  

Joy’s desires are to be as effective as possible in facilitating connection and well-being in her own family, and to promote understanding of adoption-related topics for the general public, adoptive families, and those considering adoption, in order for children and families to thrive. 

Dr. Lila Z. Hakim
lzhakim@rogers.com

Dr. Hakim is a Registered Psychologist and Clinical Director at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR), a private mental health clinic in Toronto. She is an approved supervisor for doctoral psychology residents from Ryerson University, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and York University. Dr. Hakim’s clinical practice includes assisting individual adults and couples dealing with difficulties related to mood, anxiety, trauma, addictions, pain and sexual difficulties. Her particular areas of interest and expertise are couples/marital therapy, family-building (adoption, fertility) and parenting. She is a provider of psychological assessments for International adoptions, and has been asked to perform psychological assessments of caregivers for the Children’s Aid Society. She also provides assessments and counselling for fertility clinics (e.g., fertility concerns, ovum/sperm donation, surrogacy). 

Professionally, Dr. Hakim serves on the Editorial Board for Creating Families Magazine and has published peer-reviewed articles and chapters (Human Reproduction; Handbook of Person-Centered Psychotherapy). She has served as an Executive Committee Member of the Counselling Special Interest Group of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society and has chaired sessions as well as awards and research committees. As part of her ongoing professional development, she is involved in Adoption Competency Training through the Adoption Council of Ontario.

 

 

OPENNESS COMMITTEE

 

 
 

Sofie Stergianis (chair)
adoption@rogers.com

Sofie Stergianis

Sofie Stergianis is a private adoption professional who has worked in the field of adoption since 1981. Sofie started her adoption career in the Children’s Aid system, and for 14 years worked extensively in adoption and foster care with birth parents, foster families, and adopting families. Since 1994, Sofie has been working as an adoption trainer and adoption practitioner in private practice. She has been offering pre- and post- adoption services and counselling to families, and through the years has been instrumental in assisting with the formation and support of a multitude of adoptive families, both domestically and internationally. Sofie has offered a variety of different adoption education workshops and lectures, and she has been a guest speaker at numerous conferences (for more information - www.adoptioneducation.ca).  

Sofie is also the co-author of the children’s book entitled What is Adoption? Helping Non-Adopted Children Understand Adoption. Personally, Sofie is a parent through adoption, and her son is now a young adult. Sofie adopted privately in Ontario, and through the years she has gained a variety of experiential insights in open adoption, including navigating the nuances and intricacies. Sofie looks forward to bringing her professional and personal experiences to the Board. 

Dianne Mann
bonitadesigns@rogers.com

Dianne is a proud mom to her only son Brenden who was adopted through private adoption when he was only 24 hours old. While their journey of adopting was not only very emotional, it lacked a support network which led them to face many challenges on their own. Dianne is looking forward to becoming involved with Adopt4Life, and is eager to share her knowledge of the adoption process through her own personal experiences and offer her support to all new adoptive parents. 

Currently Dianne is staying at home to raise her son Brenden. Prior to this she worked in the corporate environment with a major Financial Institutions for 17 years. Dianne is a true people person and has a passion for helping others.

Heather Edited.jpg

Heather Richardson
heathersnydz@bell.net

Heather has years of knowledge and experience as an adoptive and foster parent. She and her husband have 3 beautiful children and are currently fostering children ages 0-3. They are also kin parents and have one heart child who is 22yrs old. Given their experience, they have been chosen to mentor through a program called Wraparound for children leaving care. 

Having spent years learning about issues surrounding adoption and fostering (attachment, trauma, safeguarding, lifebooks, FASD and more), Heather now uses her knowledge gained to facilitate an adoptive parent support group, KW Adopts, and as a PRIDE trainer. Heather is also on the Board of Directors for her foster family association and is an active member of various focus groups and committees. Always seeking to make a difference for adoptive families’ journeys, Heather has become sought after for speaking engagements on the topics of openness and transitions. She has also obtained certification in Critical Incident Management and is a Level 2 Advocate. 

Dr. Lila Z. Hakim
lzhakim@rogers.com

Dr. Hakim is a Registered Psychologist and Clinical Director at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR), a private mental health clinic in Toronto. She is an approved supervisor for doctoral psychology residents from Ryerson University, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and York University. Dr. Hakim’s clinical practice includes assisting individual adults and couples dealing with difficulties related to mood, anxiety, trauma, addictions, pain and sexual difficulties. Her particular areas of interest and expertise are couples/marital therapy, family-building (adoption, fertility) and parenting. She is a provider of psychological assessments for International adoptions, and has been asked to perform psychological assessments of caregivers for the Children’s Aid Society. She also provides assessments and counselling for fertility clinics (e.g., fertility concerns, ovum/sperm donation, surrogacy). 

Professionally, Dr. Hakim serves on the Editorial Board for Creating Families Magazine and has published peer-reviewed articles and chapters (Human Reproduction; Handbook of Person-Centered Psychotherapy). She has served as an Executive Committee Member of the Counselling Special Interest Group of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society and has chaired sessions as well as awards and research committees. As part of her ongoing professional development, she is involved in Adoption Competency Training through the Adoption Council of Ontario.

 

SOCIAL COMMITTEE

 
 

Tedd Konya
mrkonya@yahoo.com

Tedd is a father to 2 boys (biological brothers), adopted from CAS, with his husband Garry. They worked with a private adoption practitioner to become adopt-ready and were matched with their boys after attending one of the Adoption Resource Exchanges. Tedd is a very strong proponent of the work being done by Adopt4Life due to challenges he faced in finding support post-adoption. He wants to help make sure all new adoptive parents have a network to reach out to in times of need or support for dealing with the challenges that come with adopting children.

Prior to moving to Canada, Tedd was a middle school science teacher in the United States. He currently works in a research at the University of Toronto. 

Cheryl Lynn
Cheryl.Paton@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Carter-Pengelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nicole Kurtman
nicolekurtman@yahoo.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Carter-Pengelly
jen.pengelly@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nicole Kurtman
nicolekurtman@yahoo.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Neale MacGregor
sneale77@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan Neudorf
susan.neudorf@gmail.com




VOLUNTEER COMMITTEE

 
 

Angela Sider (chair)
asider@rogers.com

Angela Sider brings to the Board the perspective of an internationally adoptive parent of two children who have exceptionalities.  In order to meet the needs of her children, Angela has become an advocate in children's mental health by engaging in leadership aspects of the provincial organization, Parents for Children's Mental Health.  She is a local Chapter Leader within the Kitchener-Waterloo region and participates and contributes in a significant way to family engagement and the family voice in local children's mental health services.  As well, she is a Family Engagement Trainer providing education to service agencies on how to better engage families in supports and services to children.
 
Professionally, Angela brings 15 years of experience in developmental services managing treatment group home settings for people with a dual diagnosis.  She has a specialization in leadership and management with a Master of Arts in Leadership from University of Guelph.  Most recently, she has been working as a consultant providing leadership direction and change management expertise to non-profit organizations.

Lesli Bartlett
leslibartlett@gmail.com

Lesli is a proud mother of 8 children; 4 by birth and 4 who grew in her heart. Lesli and her husband, Jeff, have been foster parents for over 15yrs and she has spent more than 10yrs working in child and youth mental health. Her passion makes her a strong advocate for youth in and out of care. She is the co-founder and executive director of Wraparound families, which seeks to find families and support within communities for youth who are moving on to independent living or have aged out of foster care. Lesli is also a PRIDE co-facilitator and continuously attends training related to addictions, attachment, trauma, FASD, advanced facilitation and more. 

Lesli strongly encourages having a good support system, as she is very thankful for her church and aboriginal communities who have been a constant source of support for her family.