Board Profiles

Ryan Acayan

Ryan has lived in Toronto for the past 15 years and a proud Rivertowne resident for the past year.  He and his son were searching for a neighborhood to call home and developed a connection to Riverdale after meeting many passionate residents and business owners in the area. They both frequent the Queen/Saulter Toronto Public Library and his son is enrolled in the ITF taekwondo classes at the community centre.

Ryan has been working at an association management company for the past 5 years and has held positions with the Canadian Cancer Society and Heart and Stroke Foundation. This gives him a unique perspective on how a wide range of non-profit associations operate and their use of best practices. Ryan brings his varied finance/operations management experience to the RTC and is looking forward to helping the Riverside communities as a Board Member.


Graham Chernoff (Secretary)

Graham has lived in South Riverdale since he arrived in Toronto. Although quite new to the city, he has quickly come to love this neighbourhood with all the diversity and potential that it demonstrates. It is clear to Graham that this is the type of community where neighbours help one another navigate the challenges of urban living. Graham’s experience with the RTC, mostly through the South Riverdale Child Parent Centre and the library, has been one of welcome to a newcomer in the city. Graham seeks to contribute to this welcoming environment his skills in public speaking, writing, and editing to help galvanize volunteers and encourage community members to find out about opportunities available in their neighbourhood that can meet their needs.


Liz Doyle

Liz is a native Torontonian, who has called Leslieville home since 2014. She remembers the important role that her local community centre played in her early years- from day-care, to after school programs, to one of her first jobs as a day camp counsellor- and hopes to contribute to RTCC’s role in the community.

Liz previously sat on the Board of Serve!, a youth-service organization (now closed) at Queen and River where she chaired the program committee. She has worked as a wilderness instructor in Ontario and the U.S., a television producer in Toronto and Yellowknife, NT, and is now working in anti-money laundering at a major bank. She is a licensed lawyer and notary public. Liz hopes to use her skills and experience to support RTCC’s work in the coming years. She is also looking forward to meeting and working with people from Leslieville and the surrounding neighbourhoods to deepen her roots in the city’s east end


Caleb Edwards

Caleb Edwards, his wife and two children have lived in South East Riverdale (some might say Leslieville) since 2014. Originally from Scarborough, Caleb spent time in New York City and London before returning to Toronto.  Caleb and his family enjoy their new neighbourhood and want to give something back to the community that has been so welcoming to them. It is important to both of them that the community be welcoming for all of its members. Ralph Thornton plays a big part in that welcome for Riverdale and Leslieville.

Caleb has a JD from Columbia Law School and an LLM from University College London. During the day, Caleb practices commercial litigation at a firm downtown. He hopes to contribute his skills in public speaking, writing, and governance to the Ralph Thornton board and larger community.


Councillor Paula Fletcher

Paula Fletcher has served Ward 30 residents for several years, becoming involved as a leader in the East End Parent Network, then working as Public School Trustee. In 2003 Paula was elected to City Council for Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth, and has been advocating for the Ward for 10 years. Paula works with residents, business owners and community agencies to build vibrant, healthy neighbourhoods, and is a strong voice at City Hall defending the services residents expect from their City.

Paula has served many capacities in her role as City Councillor. She is the Chair of the Toronto and East York Community Council which is responsible for local planning and neighbourhood issues.

Paula’s Committee and Board memberships include:

  • Toronto and East York Community Council, Chair
  • Community Development and Recreation
  • Toronto Film, Television & Digital Media Board (Toronto Film Board)
  • Toronto and East York Community Council Billy Bishop Airport Subcommittee
  • Toronto Civic Employees’ Pension and Benefit Committee
  • Toronto Fire Department Superannuation and Benefit Fund Committee
  • Canadian National Exhibition Association, Municipal Section
  • Bridgepoint Health, Board of Governors
  • Foodshare, Board of Directors
  • Danforth Mosaic BIA
  • Gerrard India Bazaar BIA
  • Greektown on the Danforth BIA
  • Leslieville BIA
  • Riverside District BIA
  • The Danforth BIA
  • Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre
  • Ralph Thornton Community Centre, Board of Management
  • St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts, Board of Management


Jeff Garkowski (Vice President)

Jeff is a relatively new resident to South Riverdale, having lived in the area for about three years. He believes strongly in citizen participation in shaping their communities. Jeff is a Registered Professional Planner in Ontario. Much of his work has focused on designing and implementing public engagement and communication strategies for a wide range of community issues that have aimed to engage people in their communities, mobilize change, and work towards a sustainable future. Recently, Jeff has been involved with a number of community engagement initiatives in the South Riverdale community, including the City of Toronto’s Leslieville Visioning project, providing advice to the Crows Theatre on community consultation, and is currently involved with community engagement efforts for the Carlaw + Dundas Community Initiative.


Yang Han

Yang started to serve on the RTCC Membership and Outreach Committee in Sept 2016. Within the past year, Yang has been actively involved in outreach and strategic planning at RTCC. Before joining RTCC, he developed strong connections with South Riverdale community through a variety of social volunteer activities.

Yang is a passionate advocate of social and economic equality. He was a co-founder and board member of BayStreet BBS, an association promoting the career development for young professionals working in Toronto’s financial industry. He is also a member of the Canadian Chinese Financial Association, with years of experience of inter-organizational communication and event organization. His master’s degree research and thesis topic was applying E-Commerce and GIS to Chinese Community Development. Yang has strong communication, event planning and marketing skills. He is eager to contribute to the rejuvenation of the community. He also speaks Mandarin.


Michèle Harding (President)

A Riverdale resident for 35+ years, Michèle lives just outside RTC’s catchment area. She believes in the strength of community and value community action and has undertaken leadership roles in many local, city-wide, provincial and international non-profit organizations, including the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, the Ontario Health Coalition, and the Ontario Public Health Association.  Michèle, an advocate for community health and health equity, has worked on numerous community development projects relating to affordable housing, employment training, literacy and health, and support services for seniors, youth, women, aboriginal people and refugees.

Michèle is a retired programme and funding manager for the OPS. As a RTC Board member, she has led renewal planning, participated in updating our by-laws and was VP. She currently serves as Board Secretary and chairs RTC’s planning committee. Michèle has committed to rebuilding and strengthening RTC’s organizational infrastructure and resource base to ensure its success in building community and supporting local residents and services.


Sharon Ho

Sharon Ho has lived in Leslieville for the last eight years and previously lived in the Pocket for seven years. She and her family have used the Ralph Thornton Centre including the South Riverdale Child-Parent Centre, the afterschool Boys and Girls Club, the Good Food Market and the Joy of Writing group. Sharon has previously volunteered with the Riverdale Food Working Group. She is also a member of the Matty Eckler Community Garden where her family’s garden plot is next to the RTC’s plot.
Sharon is passionate about community development and environmental issues.  She is always impressed by the contributions of RTC to its community.

Sharon is experienced in communications work, project management and fundraising through grant applications. Sharon is a Communications Coordinator with the College of Early Childhood Educators.


Alan Lennon (Treasurer)

Alan has been a resident of the Ralph Thornton Centre catchment area since 1981. Having raised a family in our neighborhood, he is concerned about the future for young families, newcomers and seniors in the downtown of Toronto. For him, a vibrant community requires a mix of demographics, activities and supports for its citizens.

He spent 25 years working in the labour movement in Toronto both as an activist and a staff member representing workers for the federal government. Using the skills in organizing, administering and analyzing policy learned and developed through those experiences, Alan hopes to contribute to the building of the Ralph Thornton Centre as an institution supporting all parts of the community. Such community centers, in his view, must provide both needed services as well as facilitate the building of the capacity to develop and maintain an inclusive and citizen-oriented neighborhood and city.


Julia Peters

Julia has been living, playing and raising a family in the Riverdale and East Toronto neighborhood for over 10 years and has actively navigated the community, education and health sectors. As an active member in the community, Julia is committed to fostering diversity and community well-being in order to strengthen the neighbourhood and is passionate about building supports for families, parents and children.  Professionally, Julia brings expertise in healthcare, governance and IT and has been facilitating strategic change through active engagement with individuals and organizations for over 15 years.  Julia has advanced degrees in developmental psychology.


Janet Routliffe

Janet has resided in Leslieville for 11 years and is a strong supporter of local businesses in the neighborhood.  Janet is passionate about civic engagement.  Ensuring all community members feel represented will be a priority for her at the Ralph Thornton Centre Board of Management. Janet welcomes the opportunity to contribute to RTCC’s vision, helping to meet community needs. Her career has been focused on information technology in healthcare at both the provincial and continuing care level, and dedicated to inclusive strategic partnership and engagement specifically to community care settings. For the past 6 years, she has led a walk/run clinic for mental health and addiction outpatients, family members and staff at her former workplace, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.