Gail Nyberg, Daily Bread Food Bank - Chair

In 2005, Gail Nyberg became the executive director at theDaily Bread Food Bank. In the short time that she has been in this position, she has ably led Canada's largest food bank in the fight against hunger and poverty.

She was instrumental in challenging the provincial government to support a full poverty reduction strategy and implement the Ontario Child Benefit in 2007. This year Gail oversaw the research and creation of a 'deprivation index' which has been adopted by the Ontario government as an innovative new measure of poverty and a first for North America. She has recently accepted the position of chair of the social assistance review advisory council, where she will lead a group of anti-poverty advocates on examining the current Social Assistance system in Ontario.

Prior to Daily Bread, Gail Nyberg is well known to Torontonians as the first chair of the amalgamated Toronto District School Board, where she successfully led the fight against provincial education funding cutbacks and school closures from 1997-2000. During this time, Gail also helped to create the Toronto Foundation for Student Success; a group that still makes an impact on student's education by providing breakfast programs in Toronto schools.

After leaving the school board, Gail became a program co-ordinator with the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations, where she provided one-on-one advice to tenants about their legal rights and advocated for affordable housing.

Colette Murphy

Colette Murphy is the Community Program Director at the Metcalf Foundation. Her work focuses on developing lasting solutions to issues of poverty in the City of Toronto, and strengthening the effectiveness of individuals, organizations and networks engaged in this work. In her role she supports a range of community-based and policy level initiatives aimed at finding innovative ways to solve seemingly intractable problems on such varied issues as income security, the working poor, and neighbourhood revitalization.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Colette held leadership positions at United Way Toronto. She began her career in the community working in refugee resettlement with COSTI Immigrant Services. Currently, Colette is a board member with the Wellesley Institute, and the Davenport Perth Neighbourhood Centre.

Grace-Edward Galabuzi

Grace-Edward Galabuzi is an Associate Professor in the Politics and Public Administration Department, Ryerson University, Toronto and a Research Associate at the Centre for Social Justice in Toronto. His research and public policy interests include the experiences of racialized groups in the Canadian labour market, the racialization of poverty, anti-poverty organizing, precarious employment, social exclusion/inclusion and the impact of global economic restructuring on local communities. Currently, he is one of the principal investigators on the Income Security, Race and Health research project in Black Creek (Jane-Finch area) and a co-investigator on the SSHRC funded five year Anti-Poverty Community Organizing and Learning CURA. He has developed, facilitated and delivered training programs in social inclusion, anti-racism, employment equity and immigrant integration for a diverse range of institutions and organizations in the public, broader public, private and non-profit sectors including the Ontario Provincial Government, City of Toronto, Region of Peel, York Region District Board of Education, the Toronto District School Board, the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Canadian Labour Congress, Citibank, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, Maytree Foundation, Atkinson Foundation, among others.

He is the author of Canada's Economic Apartheid: The Social Exclusion of Racialized Groups in the New Century (CSPI, 2006) and co-editor of Race and Racialization: Essential Readings (CSPI, 2007) and Colonialism and Racism in Canada (Nelson/Thomson, 2009). His other works include a chapter on social exclusion in a recently published volume on the Social Determinants of Health: Canadian Perspectives (Dennis Raphael, 2008), "Factors Affecting the Social Economic Status of Canadian Immigrants" in the New Millennium in Canadian Issues Spring 2005 and the "Racializing the Division of Labour: Neo-liberal restructuring and the Economic Segregation of Canada's Racialized Groups in the Canadian economy" in Challenging the Market: The Struggle to regulate Work and Income (Jim Stanford/Leah Vosko, 2004). He is also an active member of the social justice community in Toronto and has been involved in a variety of social justice campaigns.  He is an academic partner and steering committee member of the Colour of Poverty Campaign. He is a member of the United Way of Greater Toronto Board of Trustees and its Policy, Planning and Research committee, a board member of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Atkinson Charitable Foundation Board and the Board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation. He is a founder member of the African Music Festival in Toronto and holds a Ph.D in Political Science from York University

John Stapleton

John Stapleton worked for the Ontario Government in the Ministry of Community and Social Services for 28 years in the areas of social assistance policy and operations. During his career, John was the senior policy advisor to the Social Assistance Review Committee and the Minister's Advisory Group on New Legislation. His more recent government work concerned the implementation of the National Child Benefit.  

He is a Commissioner with the Ontario Soldiers' Aid Commission and is a volunteer with St. Christopher House and Woodgreen Community Services of Toronto. John was Research Director for the Task Force on Modernizing Income Security for Working-Age Adults in Toronto and was the co-chair of the working group associated with this project. He is undertaking an Innovations Fellowship with the Metcalf Foundation. He teaches public policy and is a member of 25 in 5. 

John has published op-eds in the Globe & Mail, National Post and the Toronto Star. He has written reviews for the Literary Review of Canada and written articles and studies for  Ideas that Matter, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the C.D. Howe Institute, the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation, the Caledon Institute, the Toronto Dominion Financial Group, the Metcalf Foundation, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the Toronto City Summit Alliance and many others.  

John serves on the Board of Directors of the Daily Bread Food Bank and the Canadian Horseracing Hall of Fame.

Kira Heineck

Kira Heineck is currently the Executive Director at the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA.)

OMSSA represents Ontario's Consolidated Municipal Service Managers and District Social Services Administration Boards (CMSMs and DSSABs), supporting the effective provision of human services across the province. OMSSA's mandate is to make positive, progressive change in the areas of social housing, homelessness prevention, social assistance, employment services, child care, and children's services. OMSSA is committed to the principles of human services integration, defined as a system of services that is coordinated, seamless, and tailored to the needs of people so they can maximize their potential, enhance their quality of life, and contribute to their community.

Before coming to OMSSA in 2006 Kira was with the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, first in the areas of communications and government relations, and then, after 2003 as the Executive Director. Previous positions Kira held include the coordinator roles at both the Ontario Coalition for Social Justice and the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee.

Kira, who was honoured to be amongst the Toronto Star's "People to Watch" in 2005, has a Master of Arts from the New School University in New York, NY and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

Kira, whose parents were immigrants to Canada in the 1960s, currently lives in Toronto. She grew up in Muskoka and lived in Taipei, Taiwan and New York City, USA along the way.

Mary Marrone

Mary Marrone is currently the Director of Advocacy and Legal Services for the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC). ISAC was a founding member of the 25 in 5 Network for Poverty Reduction, and advocated strongly for the need to transform social assistance to align with Ontario's poverty reduction strategy. ISAC works closely with local community legal clinics around the province to address the systemic issues arising out Ontario's social assistance programs that their clients deal with on a daily basis.

Mary was called to the Bar in 1983, and has been committed to advancing the interests of low-income people throughout her career. She began her career at York Community Services as a staff lawyer in a multi-service centre, carrying a general poverty law caseload that included working with victims of woman abuse, and refugees, as well as supervising the income security work undertaken by the community legal worker. She subsequently established her own practice in immigration and refugee law, and worked as counsel to the student legal aid society at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Mary joined Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) in 1991 as Executive Director. Under her tenure, in addition to building the inventory of topical and relevant plain language materials on all areas of poverty law, including social assistance, workers' compensation, employment insurance, and landlord/tenant law, CLEO also established itself as a resource to support the law reform work of clinics, including the efforts to reform social assistance in the early 1990s.

From 2000 to 2007, Mary was Policy Counsel at Legal Aid Ontario. Her work there included impact analysis of legislative and policy and program changes in the areas of family and refugee law. She also led the development of LAO's needs assessment process at a time when assessment of legal needs was an emerging area, presented LAO's experience at international conferences, and applied that experience in a Canadian Bar Association - led legal aid development project in Bangladesh.

Michael Mendelson

Michael Mendelson is Senior Scholar at the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. Prior to his appointment to the Caledon Institute, he was the Deputy Secretary (Deputy Minister) of Cabinet Office in Ontario. He has served as an Assistant Deputy Minister in Ontario's Ministries of Finance, Community Services and Health. In Manitoba, he was Secretary to Treasury Board and Deputy Minister of Social Services.

Mr. Mendelson has been an active participant in several of Canada's major developments in federal-provincial relations, finance and social policy in the last decades. He led Ontario's delegation on 'division of powers' in the Charlottetown Constitutional negotiations. In the federal government's Privy Council's Ministry of State for Social Development, he played a critical role in the development of the Canada Health Act. He was a consultant for the Parliamentary Task Force on Federal-Provincial Fiscal Relations. He has also been a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto School of Social Work.

Mr. Mendelson has published many articles on social and fiscal policy, as well as a book on the issue of universality. Some of his recent articles include: Improving Education on Reserves: A First Nations Education Authority Act (published by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy); Asset-Based Social Programs: A Critical Analysis of Current Initiatives (published by the OECD); Financing the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans (published by the American Association of Retired Persons); Building Assets through Housing (published by Canadian Housing and Renewal Association); Measuring Child Benefits: Measuring Child Poverty (published by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy) and Aboriginal People in Canada's Labour Market: Work and Unemployment, Today and Tomorrow (also published by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy).

Michael Oliphant

For the past seven years, Michael Oliphant has been the Director of Research and Communications at the Daily Bread Food Bank. During those seven years, he has done much to push forward public policy initiatives around issues of hunger and poverty in Ontario. Michael was integral to the research team that developed the Ontario Deprivation Index, Canada's first community-based measure of poverty. Currently, he is working with Voices from the Street to create a community-based social assistance review. He is committed to innovative research that ensures low-income Ontarians are actively involved in public policy development.

Born and raised in London, Ontario, Michael was the first in his family to graduate from university, having taken political science at Wilfrid Laurier University and York University. He has been an active advocate for poverty issues, routinely acting as a spokesperson for Daily Bread Food Bank in the media. He was also involved in the St. Christopher House/Toronto Summit Alliance Modernizing Income Security for Working Age Adults Project.

His work around Ontario's poverty reduction strategy included bringing an international policy expert to meet with the Ontario government, policy experts and community activists. He has co-authored a number of reports on poverty, including the Daily Bread Food Bank's annual Who's Hungry: Profile of Hunger in the GTA. In addition to being a part of the team that successfully lobbied the Ontario government to implement the Ontario Child Benefit, he also co-authored a paper advocating for the benefit in 2005.

Pat Capponi

Pat Capponi has carved out a career as an author, public speaker and group facilitator. As detailed in Upstairs in the Crazy House , Dispatches from the Poverty Line and The War at Home (Penguin Can.), Pat used her own experiences of early abuse and extreme poverty to fuel her efforts to win substantive change in how those labeled mentally ill are treated, in hospitals and in the community. She has also been a vocal force in bringing to light the disempowering effects of dependence on social agencies and the ways in which those effects can be mitigated and reduced.

Pat Capponi was a founding member of the Supportive Housing Coalition in Toronto, and the Gerstein Crisis Center, as well as serving on the inaugural board of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). She was appointed to the short lived Ontario Advocacy Commission, as well as being a member of the Graham Committee, a provincial government initiative to reform mental health delivery in Ontario. Currently, Pat is a member of the steering committee of 25 in 5, and primary facilitator with Voices from the Street.

She has written articles for Now Magazine, book reviews for the Globe, and op-eds for the Toronto Star. She has created a mystery series set in the Parkdale community that she knows best. Pat Capponi is a member of the Order of Ontario, a recipient of the C.M. Hincks award from CMHA, and the Queen's Jubilee medal.

Pedro Barata

Pedro Barata is the Communications and Outreach Coordinator of the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, where he also leads poverty reduction initiatives. He is engaged in a variety of community initiatives related to improving income security, advancing social inclusion and reforming Canada's immigration system. Pedro is a board member of the United Way of Greater Toronto, where he also chairs the Research and Policy Priorities Committee. He has held previous positions with Family Service Toronto, where he led community research initiatives related to young families and people with disabilities, as well as coordinating Ontario Campaign 2000. His volunteer history includes roles with the Portuguese Canadian National Congress, Low Income Families Together and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. While completing a Masters of Social Work at the University of Toronto, Pedro interned with the Workfare Watch Project of the Social Planning Council of Toronto as well as the City of Toronto's Access and Equity Centre.

Valerie Monague

Valerie Monague, a self professed “islandgirl” is Director of Health for Beausoleil First Nation, a semi-remote island community, situated on Christian Island, in southern Georgian Bay. Legally blind since birth, Valerie has been a steadfast champion of the untapped potential of people with diverse abilities.

With over 20 years experience in community and social policy development locally, regionally and province-wide, Valerie has long advocated for legislative and policy effectiveness that could engage individuals, families and communities in determining their own solutions to the issues and challenges they face.

Valerie’s career has spanned years in a variety of diverse and rewarding experiences in the social development field including childcare, child welfare, social assistance, disabilities, family violence and adult care. She has had the unique opportunity to work in these areas first as a front-line worker than later in a broader scope with several provincial First Nation organizations and as elected Chief of her community.

Familiar with First Nation, federal and provincial processes, and socio-economic and health issues challenging many communities, Valerie uses her amazing skill as a critical thinker and passionate belief in an Indigenous worldview, to advance issues that strengthen a balanced approach towards optimum health, well-being and personal growth. At present Valerie is completing her Masters of Social Work at Wilfred Laurier University.