The Board is currently comprised of ten Directors. Five are from WSC’s Advisory Council and five are Public Directors. The Board’s role is to ensure that Women’s Shelters Canada is meeting its legal and fiduciary obligations, ensuring its sustainability, and setting WSC’s strategic plan.
Saskatchewan / Co-Chair
Jo-Anne is a long time social activist who has spent 20 years working front line with women who have experienced abuse. Prior to her appointment as Executive Director of the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS), she was House Supervisor at Moose Jaw Transition House. Jo-Anne developed an interest in policy development and board governance while serving as a board member on the Moose Jaw Thunder Creek District and Five Hills Health Region Boards for a total of 14 years. She studied visual art at the University of Regina and continues to create and exhibit paintings and mosaics.
Québec / Co-Chair
Gaëlle has been the Coordinator of L’Alliance des maisons d’hébergement de 2e étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale since October 2015. Prior to this, she earned a PhD in Law from La Sorbonne in Paris and spent 18 years working for Médecins Sans Frontières, responsible for international humanitarian programmes. She moved to Quebec in 2011, where she worked on a variety of social issues including those related to cancer patients, retirees, and access to essential drugs and affordable rents. She has also been the president of Maison Flora Tristan, a 1st and 2nd stage women’s shelter in Montreal, since 2012.
Amy S. FitzGerald
Amy S. FitzGerald is the Executive Director and formerly the Director of Training & Programs at the BC Society of Transition Houses (BCSTH). In BC, Amy has also been a policy analyst. She has been a public interest lawyer for over 20 years serving as the domestic violence Assistant Attorney General at the Vermont Attorney General’s Office working on unsolved homicides and domestic violence litigation, policy, training and legislation, a Legal Services lawyer and Public Defender in Vermont and NYC. Amy was the founding chair of Vermont’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission and served on Vermont’s Child Fatality Review Team.
Lyda was the Executive Director of YWCA NWT for more than 20 years. She has been with three YWCAs across Canada – all of which have run shelters for women experiencing violence – for more than 30 years. Through her work with YWCAs, Lyda has also pursued supportive housing for women and children, improved residential support for adults with disabilities, licensed child care programs, empowerment programs for girls, programs for children who witness abuse, and northern research on women’s homelessness.
The YWCA Yellowknife has received funding from the GNWT to assist with shelter capacity building in the Northwest Territories, which has allowed the five shelters to meet together in Yellowknife six or more times each year to support one another and share information. Shelters have also been able to respond to the GNWT standards and develop a common policies and procedures manual that meet the standards.
Lyda is a founding member of the Yellowknife Homelessness Coalition and the Coalition against Family Violence, as well as a variety of working groups related to the Family Violence Action Plans.
Ontario / Secretary
Marlene Ham has worked in Anti-Violence and Social Justice spaces and communities for the past fifteen years. Specifically, she has focused her energies on VAW, Harm Reduction, HIV/AIDS, and LGBTQ organizing utilizing an intersectional feminist framework. Through her various roles as a trauma counsellor, supervisor, consultant and coordinator, she has brought a variety of communities together to address issues and work together to achieve better outcomes. Marlene is the executive director of the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH).
Nola Mahingen is First Nations from Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from SIFC, now known as the First Nations University of Canada. Nola has worked with the Yorkton Tribal Council since January 2002. Most of those years were in the Justice Unit. Positions she held were South Justice Coordinator and Southern Court Worker. In January 2005, she was successful in the position of Director of Justice. In December of 2014, Nola moved over to Safe Haven, a Women’s Shelter, working as an In-House Counsellor and Family Violence Outreach, where she became the Director of Safe Haven to 18 employees.
Saadia Muzaffar is a tech entrepreneur, author, and passionate advocate of responsible innovation, decent work for everyone, and prosperity of immigrant talent in STEM. In 2017, she was featured in Canada 150 Women, a book about 150 of the most influential and ground-breaking women in Canada.
She is founder of TechGirls Canada, the hub for Canadian women in science, technology, engineering, and math – and co-founder of Tech Reset Canada, a coalition of business people, technologists, and other residents advocating for innovation that is focused on maximizing the public good. She is part of Canada Beyond 150: Policy for a diverse and inclusive future‘s Feminist Government initiative, and an advisor to Government of Canada’s Economic Strategy tables for the Access to Skilled Talent working group.
Her work on modern leadership explores big ideas and impactful strategies that address growing challenges for business leaders in today’s connected & vigilant markets; and has been featured in CNNMoney, Fortune Magazine, Globe & Mail, VICE, CBC, TVO, and Chatelaine.
Saadia is also a Pushcart Prize nominated short fiction writer. In February 2018, her work joins that of Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale), Gabby Rivera (America), Hope Larson (Batgirl), and Amy Chu (Wonder Woman) in Dark Horse Comics‘ new anthology featuring comic and prose stories. Recently Saadia and her team released Change Together: A Diversity Guidebook for Startups and Scaleups.
Beverley Wybrow C.M.
Public Director / Treasurer
Bev was President and CEO of Canadian Women’s Foundation, Canada’s public foundation for women and girls, from 1991 until her retirement in 2014. The Foundation works to empower women and girls in Canada to move out of poverty, out of violence and into confidence. Since 1991, the Foundation has raised money and supported more than 1,600 programs across Canada. It is now one of the ten largest women’s foundations in the world.
Bev is a founder and first chair of the 1985 inter-agency steering committee which led to the establishment of the Assaulted Women’s Helpline, an Ontario-wide 24 hour crisis line for women experiencing violence.
Her extensive volunteer experience includes Board Member and President of YWCA Toronto, Board Member of Global Women’s Funding Network and the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation. She is currently a Board member of the Assaulted Women’s Helpline; Board member of MCC Toronto, the church that performed the first legal same-sex weddings in the world, and that worked to legalize same-sex marriage in Canada; and Co-Chair of MCC Toronto’s LGBTQ+ Refugee Program Strategic Advisory Committee.
Bev received the 2007 City of Toronto’s Constance E. Hamilton Award and in 2009, a Women of Distinction Award from YWCA Toronto. On December 31, 2012, Bev was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.
Julie Young is Professor at Humber College in the Bachelors of Community and Social Services Degree Program. She holds a PhD, Masters and Bachelors from Western University. Julie is known as a social justice thought leader with a passion for diversity and inclusion, social enterprise and community building.
She is a member of the National Advisory Council on Gender-Based Violence (Federal Ministry of Women and Gender Equality – WAGE) and a GBV Expert on the National Research Program conducted by the Centre for Research and Education for Violence Against Women. She has worked alongside women and survivors of violence in Canada, and also internationally in Rwanda and the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. She is the 2020 recipient of the Excellence in Brescia University College’s Teaching Award.
Her current research program addresses women’s empowerment, the financial and social inclusion of those experiencing poverty, and gender bias within the family court. She is the past Chair of the London Race Relations Advisory Council, the Royal Bank Equity and Diversity Council, and Londoners for Opportunity. She is known by her students as a professor with an interactive classroom that bridges the distance between the academy and the real world. She is most passionate about launching the next generation of do-gooders and game-changers.