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
Beck McNeilWith a depth of experience in team and leadership competency development, Beck is most passionate about finding structured solutions to enable folks to do their best work. Beck most recently worked within the Education and Leadership, and Organizational Development departments at St. Michael's Hospital. Prior to earning his MBA at Schulich School of Business, Beck worked as a stage manager and production coordinator, and feels that his background in theatre brings a particularly creative and resourceful approach to his work. Beck is currently on the Board of Directors for Buddies in Bad Times Theatre and the Governance Committee of the Sherbourne Health Centre, and previously served as the Vice President of Out on Bay Street and Committee Chair for the Dyke March and Trans March with Pride Toronto. He is thrilled to be bringing his passion for people to an organization that serves queer and trans communities. Beck moved to Toronto from the US ten years ago, and as a new dad loves introducing his son to this vibrant, diverse, and exciting city.
Gillian is a passionate finance professional with a career spanning 15 years in the not-for-profit sector working mainly in the areas of equity, advocacy and education. She has held senior positions in finance, administration and operations and has worked with many underserved communities including law-involved youth, people with physical and mental disabilities, and people living with chronic illnesses.
Gillian brings to The 519 a varied cross-section of knowledge and skills. She undertakes every position she holds with pride and ownership and is excited to utilize her skill-set to contribute to The 519’s success.
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.
Karlene 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 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.
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:
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.
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.
Soofia can be reached at:
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.
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 the hospitality industry and a lifelong desire for social justice. Working at The 519 allows him to utilize his skills and fulfill his passion. He understands the importance of food in our lives and loves the power that it has to bring people together and create memories.
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.