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 education and training 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 Operations, Lisa manages community access, space use, maintenance, and our social enterprise community cafe FABARNAK. Lisa has worked with The 519 since 2009 when she joined our team in the role of Coordinator, Newcomer and Refugee Services. She was serving as the Director Programs and Community Services at The 519, before taking on her current position. 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.
Stacy G. Kelly
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 writing and visual arts. Prior to joining The 519, she was leading all communications work for The Hospitality Workers Training Centre (HWTC), and its social enterprise restaurant Hawthorne Food & Drink in Toronto.
Soofia has done 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.
She is fluent in Urdu (written and spoken), and has working proficiency in spoken Hindi.
Soofia can be reached at:
Justin has worked for a number of years with individuals and communities directly impacted by systemic inequality. As a legal professional, he has seen firsthand the many challenges LGBTQ2S people face when navigating the justice system or accessing social services. Prior to joining The 519, Justin led a not-for-profit public legal education program, Law in Action Within Schools (LAWS), at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Under his portfolio at LAWS he managed the organization’s core youth program and worked closely with newcomer youth. Most recently, he managed partner relations where he oversaw relationships with over 70 justice organizations throughout the GTA. Justin graduated from law school with high honours and during his three years he was Student Head of Pro Bono Initiatives, was part of an Innocence Network Chapter and assisted in the management of a community legal clinic. He has previously volunteered at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and extensively with The 519 as a member of the Board of Management.
Justin can be reached at:
Jaymie is a passionate community organizer with a background in Physical and Health Education and Public Health. Having had the privilege of working on Turtle Island and internationally, she walks with over ten years of experience in learning with, advocating alongside, and building meaningful relationships with people experiencing compounding oppressions and marginalization. Jaymie is a performance-based artist and playwright 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.
Jaymie can be reached at:
Laura manages 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.
Laura can be reached at:
As Manager, Direct Services, Forouz is responsible for overseeing the centre’s trauma-informed counselling, youth housing, and newcomer/settlement services, as well as our Sunday Drop-In and Meal Trans programs. Forouz has worked with The 519 since 2018, when she joined our team in the role of Coordinator, Trauma-Informed Counselling Services. As a registered social worker, with a background in psychology and cultural anthropology, Forouz has a deep curiosity about people’s diverse identities, experiences and needs. She has been actively involved in social service provision since 2010 and has experience in counselling, case management, program development, and community education. She is passionate about equitable, ethical and compassionate care for marginalized populations. She is also fluent in Farsi.
Forouz can be reached at:
As Manager of Community Engagement, Curran is responsible for overseeing a variety of The 519’s programs, events, and community advocacy, as well as The 519’s community engagement and local economic development plans for the proposed More Moss Park redevelopment. Deeply committed to social change and economic justice, Curran previously worked in the cooperative housing and community health fields, and on a number of labour and political advocacy campaigns and research projects. Curran has a BSW from Ryerson University and a Master’s in Labour Studies from McMaster University.
Curran can be reached at: CStikuts@The519.org
Elysia has always believed in the solidarity that food provides for people. That is why she is excited to be working at The 519 as Supervisor, FABARNAK, and running food programs to create fresh, healthy and tasty meals, and promote food security in underserved communities.
Prior to joining The 519, Elysia has worked largely in a management capacity in a broad range of foodservice outlets – from small French patisseries to high-volume, contemporary fine dining or large-scale, multi-outlet operations; from small funky diners to stand-alone restaurants and large banquet and event spaces. During the last 14 years she has also participated in food-based training and community programs through FoodShare Toronto, with a variety of organizations including ALC, George Brown College and PTP.
Karlene has worked with The 519 for the past 6 years and served as Coordinator, LGBT Newcomer Community Services, and Manager Direct Services overseeing and expanding the Centre’s refugee support program. Karlene is an advocate for LGBTQ2S 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.
Karlene can be reached at:
Sharn Peters, RSSW, RECE
As Supervisor of Early Childhood Programs, Sharn oversees the following programs at The 519: the EarlyON Child and Family Centre for children from 0-6 years of age and their families, The Queer and Trans Family Events, and the LGBTQ2S mobile unit, Glitterbug. Sharn is a Registered Early Childhood Educator with 25+ years of experience, and a Registered Social Service Worker. She is passionate about providing an inclusive and accessible environment to children and developing programs that affirm the LGBTQ2S communities and welcome allies. Sharn has received recognition by Ryerson University as a field educator for student placements, and by the York University Teacher candidates’ program. Her previous experience includes working with Native Child and Family Services as a Ninosha, and Peel District Board of Education with newcomers and their children.
Sharn can be reached at:
Carl has been with The 519 for over 5 years. He joined the team as a part-time server, and has held many roles within FABARNAK during his time here. Carl has 19 years of experience in customer service and a lifelong desire for social justice. Working at The 519 allows him to utilize his skills and fulfill his passion.
He loves the busy pace and dynamic schedule that his role requires and has a definite skill for organization and event planning. However, he finds the most pride and enjoyment in being able to support the numerous essential programs and services offered by The 519.