Maura Lawless has more than 25 years of experience working in housing, homeless and community services in senior non-profit positions, as well as in the public service for the City of Toronto. Maura’s expertise and enthusiasm lie in organizational development, governance and strategic planning, financial and systems management, and ensuring community services are accessible, responsive, and create genuine opportunities to transform people’s lives.
Maura joined the City of Toronto in 2003 as the Manager, Hostel Operations before moving to The 519 as the Executive Director in December 2007. Maura is a passionate public servant who has led The 519 through significant expansion. She is passionately engaged in working collaboratively to build the future of The 519, ensuring its growth and stability, while advancing the success of our communities through service, space and leadership.
Becky McFarlane is a community organizer with over 17 years of experience working in the community sector. Becky joined The 519 as the Director, Programs and Community Services, and is responsible for overseeing the Centre’s programs and services and social enterprise initiatives. Prior to her work at The 519, she worked with UNITE HERE Local 75 on the development of the Hospitality Workers Training Centre (HWTC) and its social enterprise restaurant, Hawthorne Food and Drink. For several years she was the Director of Working for Change, an organization that develops employment and leadership opportunities for individuals with mental health and addictions issues and others who have been marginalized by poverty.
Lisa Gore Duplessis
As Director, Programs and Community Services, Lisa is a member of the Programs and Community Services Management Team at The 519 providing leadership and support to our direct services and drop-in programs. Lisa has worked with The 519 since 2009 when she joined our team in the role of Coordinator, Newcomer and Refugee Services. A resident of the Church-Wellesley Village, Lisa has been a calm and constant voice for equity, contributing immensely to the growth and establishment of key programs and partnerships.
Stacia Kean is a business professional with over 10 years of experience helping entrepreneurs, municipalities, and non-profit organizations improve their business efficiencies to maximize their resources and expand their social impact. She has had the opportunity to work with remote First Nation communities in Northern Ontario with PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise, provide business advice to entrepreneurs across Ontario with the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission, and develop entrepreneurship programming with the Ontario Public Service. Stacia joined the leadership team with The 519 as Director of Organizational Services in 2016.
As Manager, Direct Services, Karlene is a member of the Programs and Community Services Management Team at The 519 providing leadership and support to our direct services and drop-in programs. Karlene has worked with The 519 for the past 6 years and served as Coordinator, LGBT Newcomer Community Services, overseeing and expanding the Centre’s refugee support program, creating a cohesive and welcoming atmosphere within the program. Karlene is an advocate for LGBTQ people internationally and comes with over 14 years of experience in social justice activism. She is also the 2013 Pioneers for Change – LGBTQ Initiative honouree and a Rainbow Railroad board member.
Lesli Gaynor is the former owner of three successful Toronto restaurants. As The 519’s Social Enterprise Manager, Lesli oversees the creative menu and effective operation or FABARNAK while engaging the organization in the broader food justice movement and applying the skills she has developed through her long history of activism in the queer community. Lesli worked for 11 years with the AIDS Committee of Toronto, and worked with Health Canada before venturing into the hospitality scene.
Jaymie is a passionate community organizer with a background in Physical and Health Education and Public Health. Having had the privilege of working both within Canadian contexts and internationally she brings over ten years of experience of learning with, advocating alongside, and building meaningful relationships with people experiencing compounding oppressions and marginalization. Jaymie is a performance artist and knows first hand the powerful medium art presents as a site of radical inclusion. Engaging in active resistance against the erasure of our diverse and complex stories has led her to experience both personal growth and community empowerment. Fun-loving, justice-seeking and a firm believer in the transformational power of community Jaymie is thrilled to continue these pursuits with The 519.
Laura supervises The 519’s education and training initiatives, delivering consulting, training and education services including interactive workshops, presentations and learning programs related to diversity, inclusion and human rights. Consultancy services include, research, policy development, document review and consultations for public sector organizations, non-profit organizations, and the corporate sector. Laura works with the education team to design programmatic, social enterprise, and education and training experiences that are impactful and effective. Laura works with clients to assess their needs, design and facilitate training and solutions, support the transfer of learning and to evaluate the impact.
Prior to joining The 519, Laura worked as an educator in mental health outreach and promotion, developing sustainable strategies for folks to access resources and services to support their well-being in rural New Brunswick.
Soofia has over 15 years of experience in Marketing and Creative Communications, with special focus on the nonprofit and international development sectors. Her scope of relevant experience includes strategic communications, multimedia content creation and curation, creative direction, and communications project management. She has worked for UNICEF and USAID in Pakistan in various creative and communications capacities before immigrating to Canada in 2015.
Soofia has been an active gender-rights activist in Pakistan, passionate about creating awareness for positive and actionable behaviour change through issue-based blogging, creative writing and visual arts.
In the last one year, Soofia has led all communications work for The Hospitality Workers Training Centre (HWTC), and its social enterprise restaurant Hawthorne Food & Drink in Toronto.
Soofia did her BBA (Hons) and MBA in Marketing and Communications and has a deep-rooted passion for change. Her two true loves are photography and writing.