RTCC Board of Management Elections – Meet your New Board Members

RTCC Board Candidates – June 2023

At the Annual General Meeting on June 14, RTCC members voted to elect new Board members to replace our departing members.

Eight positions were vacant and after an extensive process spearheaded by the Board Development & Nominations committee, eight candidates emerged. Members were asked to approve the slate to join the RTCC Board of Management.

Here are the new Board of Management members and a brief bio for each of them:

Hongmei Cai

Hongmei is a long-time resident of Riverdale. She has worked in community organizations for over 10 years helping newcomers and their families. Currently she is a caseworker with the Ontario Disability Support Program. She has great understanding of the needs of people and families who face multiple barriers and the roles of community organizations in serving the communities.

Hongmei has been involved in the community with strong connections with the Chinese communities. She has been quite involved with RTCC for the past 15 years, not only as a board member but also in general as a community member.

Hongmei has a master’s degree in social work. Outside her regular employment, she teaches Mandarin and does counselling and psychotherapies. She enjoys gardening, reading, and walking in the neighbourhood. Hongmei lives with her husband and daughters in Rivertowne.

 “I have good knowledge of RTCC from direct involvement as a community member and a previous board member. I have experience and knowledge of RTCC’s services and programs as well as the role RTCC plays in the community. I would like to use my experience to serve on the board of management to help sustain and expand RTCC’s programs and services and maintain its important roles as a community organization. I will contribute to the board by strengthening RTCC’s connections with its users and community members and bringing the needs and voices of marginalized community members to the attention of the board. I would like to use my social work lens to ensure the RTCC’s vision and mission is consistent with serving the communities.”

Kelly Davies

Kelly is a mother of a 7-year-old daughter who has proved that hard work and determination can lead to the achievement of even the toughest goals. Growing up in a family with modest financial means, Kelly was aware of the importance of hard work from an early age. Kelly started her first company at the age of 23 which eventually led to an offer of an administrative position at a well-established Toronto hedge fund.

Without a background in finance, Kelly had to lean into her strong work ethic and organizational skills, as she took over responsibility in areas of HR, Marketing, Investor Relations, and Accounting. Over the next few years, Kelly worked tirelessly, learning everything she could about the industry. She quickly proved her worth, landing her a series of promotions.

At the age of 40, Kelly was offered a position as the CEO. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in her career, marked by significant personal and professional growth.

As a mother, Kelly must balance her career with the responsibilities of raising a child. Kelly’s grit and determination to succeed in a male-dominated industry can be attributed to the invaluable life lessons that she learned during her early years.

Kelly previously led a campaign to raise funds for the patient amenities fund at Sick Kids and has volunteered her time among many charities including Ve’ahavta, The Scott Mission, and The Yonge Street Mission. Kelly volunteers at her daughter’s school when she can and has been involved in a mentoring program through her work in finance.

In her spare time Kelly can be found enjoying concerts and festivals, biking, yoga, baking, gardening, and renovation projects.  Kelly is an avid Golfer with the “Iron Ladies” and Curler with “the Royals” on Broadview.

“As someone with 15 years experience in the finance industry I can bring valuable knowledge and skills to the RTCC board. My expertise can be used to assist with fundraising efforts and to ensure finances are well-managed and sustainable. I could help to develop budgets and financial plans and could also be instrumental in securing grants and donations. 

I could plan and execute events, by leveraging my network while coordinating volunteers and resources needed to make these events a success.

 As a parent who has used the Centre’s services, I bring a unique perspective that can help the board to ensure they are offering the right services and programs to meet the needs of the community. I can be a voice for other parents and families while helping to identify opportunities to collaborate with groups to enhance programs and services. 

I believe my enthusiasm and broad skill set will make me a valuable member of the board. My background in finance and fundraising, my perspective as a parent, and my involvement in social groups make me an ideal candidate who could make a significant impact on the Centre’s efforts to support the community.”

Ruby Kaliray

Ruby Kaliray is an accomplished female corporate lawyer with over 16 years of experience in the field. Throughout her career, she has specialized in securities, mergers and acquisitions, and technology law, demonstrating a deep understanding of complex legal matters in the corporate world. Recognizing the importance of governance and advocacy, Ruby also serves on a corporate board, where she leverages her expertise to drive impactful decision-making and promote ethical practices within the organization. She understands the significance of sound governance in ensuring the success and sustainability of businesses.

Residing in the vibrant Riverside community, Ruby is not only dedicated to her professional pursuits but also actively contributes to the betterment of society. As a firm believer in giving back, she volunteers her time as a mentor to foster care youth who are transitioning out of the system. By providing guidance and support, Ruby helps these young individuals navigate the challenges they face during this critical phase of their lives.

Beyond her legal and volunteer work, Ruby is passionate about community development and housing issues. She leads a community-focused group that delves into how local developments and housing initiatives shape the Riverside community. Through this initiative, Ruby actively engages with diverse stakeholders to foster inclusive growth and ensure that the community’s unique needs and backgrounds are considered. With her extensive legal expertise, dedication to philanthropy, and passion for community development, Ruby Kaliray continues to make a lasting impact on both a professional and personal level.

“As an accomplished corporate lawyer with a deep sense of community and a passion for making a difference, I recognize the immense value of serving on the board of the Ralph Thornton Community Center. I am drawn to its vibrant and inclusive atmosphere, seeing it as an opportunity to further amplify my impact and connect with like-minded individuals who share a common goal of fostering positive change.

The Ralph Thornton Community Center offers an array of programs and initiatives that align perfectly with my interests and expertise. Its emphasis on governance, advocacy, and community development resonates deeply with my background in corporate law and my dedication to shaping the Riverside community.

As a racialized member of the community, I understand the importance of diverse perspectives and the need for inclusive representation. By joining the board of the Ralph Thornton Community Center, I can actively engage with fellow community leaders, contribute to strategic decision-making, and collaborate on initiatives that promote equitable practices, address social disparities, and ensure that the unique needs and backgrounds of all community members are considered.

Furthermore, I have the time commitment and capacity to take on a role on the board. Drawing upon my years of experience in corporate law and governance, I am ready to contribute my skills and insights to drive impactful decision-making and guide the community center towards achieving its mission and evolving with the community. I am dedicated to devoting my time, energy, and expertise to support the center’s growth and help it create an even greater positive impact in the community.

In addition to the professional and philanthropic benefits, I appreciate the personal fulfillment that comes from serving on a dynamic board. By joining, I can forge meaningful connections with individuals who share my values, passions, and commitment to making a positive impact.

For me, being part of the Ralph Thornton Community Center’s board represents a powerful platform to extend my influence, collaborate with inspiring individuals, and contribute to the betterment of the Riverside community. By serving on this board of change-makers, I can continue my journey of personal and professional growth, empowerment, inclusivity, and progress.”

Hailee Morrison

Hailee brings an extensive career in the non-profit sector, fortified with a lifelong passion and commitment to a variety of social issues. She has a proven track record of creating inclusive environments that respond to the needs of the community and where staff and clients feel respected.

Hailee is recognized for elevating organizational performance, delivering innovative perspectives on leadership, teamwork, communication, and productivity. She brings 20 years of expertise in both leading and managing teams with a demonstrated ability to translate abstract ideas into tools that create new levels of success, and is dedicated to ensuring that strategies, plans, and goals are actionable and implemented. She employs and executes solutions that accomplish key business outcomes and the cultural changes that make a difference for people and their organizations.

Hailee began her career as a front-line support worker, where she was innovative and contributed positively to the lives of marginalized individuals. Her career has been diverse, exciting, and anchored in working with vulnerable populations and cause related issues.

Hailee earned a B.A. from the University of Toronto, attended the Richard Ivey School of Business Leadership Program, completed a Master’s in Business Administration and recently earned her Executive Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Harvard Business School. She is an avid cyclist, intrepid traveller (often on two wheels!) and committed dog owner.

“I have been an Executive Director (ED) within the non-profit sector for 20+ years. I maintain an unbending commitment to serving as an ally, and trusted partner to all stakeholders and partners and specifically to a new incoming Executive Director.  To that end, I envision bridging and fostering a productive relationship between the Board of Directors and incoming ED.

I offer a well-rounded collaborative approach and expertise in the following areas;

  1. a) Financial
  2. b) Governance
  3. c) Organizational Performance”
McKell Neilson

Originally from Kingston, ON, McKell was exposed to volunteerism at a young age as both of his parents were very active in the community as leaders and doers with a variety of organizations. His mother was the face, as public relations for many groups, while his father was typically behind the scenes. This was natural for him, and he joined his first board at age 17, representing his dance group – the Kingston Ukrainian Maky Dance Ensemble, as part of the local Folk Arts Council.

In 1995 he had the opportunity to see much of the US and Western Europe as he joined the international performing group Up with People and worked with the organization until the end of 2000. In his time with Up with People, he had the privilege to visit 20 countries and almost all the US states and Canadian provinces.  McKell spent 3 weeks in Kenya as part of an educational and recruitment tour.  Countless hours of community service and involvement were part of the Up with People program ranging from working in inner-city schools in the US to visiting nursing homes, clearing litter and working with animals.

In the years since then, he moved to Toronto and started working at an event planning company but left after SARS decimated the industry in Toronto in 2003.  Since then, he has been working at Exela Technologies, currently as an operations manager with dozens of staff members across the country.

During the pandemic, McKell led a volunteer group in his apartment complex to assist house-bound residents with groceries and prescription pick up, support phone calls and a food library to support those with food insecurity.

McKell also serves on the International Alumni Association Board as Director of Internal Development.  He has two cats and shares his life with them.

“Having rekindled my love for volunteering in the past several years, it is my hope to be able to make a larger contribution in an impactful way in my own city. As a Board member, I can offer my time and experience in various capacities including administration, governance, compliance, development, and other areas as needed. 

I am reliable and solution-oriented; large complex problems are motivational. I can be hands-on as needed and my versatility would be an advantage to assisting the organization meet present and future goals. 

I am not looking to receive credit for any volunteer work or a title, rather, I want to be part of something that helps to make a difference in my community. If I should not be considered for a position on the Board, I would opt to work with one of the committees of RTCC.”

Heather Simpson

Heather Simpson is a consultant who works exclusively with nonprofit and social purpose organizations. Her work is focused on supporting the development of earned income strategies (through social enterprise feasibility and business planning), strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, evaluation and grant writing.

Heather has over 20 years of experience working in and for non-profit organizations. She has previously served in the roles of Board President and Treasurer at Elizabeth Fry Toronto, as a Board member of the Canada Africa Partnership, a Councillor for the Toronto council of the Canadian Red Cross, as a member of the Grant Review team at Ontario Trillium Foundation, as an Agency Reviewer for United Way Toronto, and as a Peer Reviewer for Imagine Canada’s standards program.

Heather has an MBA from Schulich/York University, a certificate in Fundraising Management from Toronto Metropolitan University, and a certificate in Non-for-Profit & Charity Finance Leadership from CPA Ontario. As an RTCC Board member elected in 2021, she hopes to put her skills and expertise to use in order to give back to an organization that is an important part of the community in which she resides.

In the two years that I have served on the RTCC Board of Directors I believe I have demonstrated a strong commitment to jumping in and helping to get things done. I have been actively engaged on the Board Development and Nominations Committee for two years, supporting the recruitment process and leading the board assessment processes. I chaired the strategic planning working group and for the past year have served as Board President.

I bring a strong background and understanding in nonprofit management to the board. I have worked in the sector for over two decades and currently work as a consultant providing coaching and consulting support across a variety of areas including evaluation, governance, community consultation, strategic planning, social enterprise/earned income strategies, and grant writing. I have past board leadership experience, having served as secretary, treasurer and president at Elizabeth Fry Toronto, and have also served on the board of the Canada Africa Partnership on AIDS, and the Toronto Council for the Canadian Red Cross. I am also a peer reviewer in Imagine Canada’s Standards Program.”

James Topham

James Topham moved to Toronto in 2006, after spending two decades dedicated to assisting children in war zones through the War Child UK charity. He began his career the music industry of the early ’90s, managing the artist and producer, Brian Eno. He once accidentally hung up the phone on Bono, who was very charming about it.

James joined the RTCC Board in 2021, bring three decades of non-profit experience, both as a fundraising and communications director. He was a member of the Crisis Management, Gender and Diversity, and Safeguarding Committees at War Child Canada. He was also part of the organization’s senior team that oversaw growth from $5M per annum to over $20M over just five years. James has spent the last two years using his expertise and experience to help and give back to a community that is closer to his home in Leslieville and seeing the impact with his own eyes.

“Having worked in the non-profit arena for thirty years, I bring expertise in Fundraising and Marketing, communications, policy development, and governance. As a consultant for a variety of Toronto-based non-profits, I bring experience in succession planning, Justice, Access, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (JAIDE), Board recruitment and development, and strategy development. Having spent the last two years on the RTCC Board, I have an understanding of the challenges faced by the Centre, the opportunities and threats that lie before it, and the important role the Board plays in helping guide the Centre to a place of financial and programmatic health.”

Lindsay Williams

Lindsay Williams has lived in South Riverdale since 2010 and her affinity for the neighbourhood grows each day. Seeing how the community has transformed, and continues to evolve, she understands that change presents both opportunities and challenges and would like to contribute to the process.

Lindsay is currently a senior vice president in a leading Toronto-based public relations agency. With nearly 20 years of experience, she has honed her skills through serving a broad range of client sectors including health, consumer packages goods, retail, food and beverage, technology, and not-for-profit. Prior to returning to the agency world in 2018, she held the position of Director of Communications at a Board-run, public-sector digital health agency.

Working with a diverse client mix has formed Lindsay’s unique ability to quickly integrate into a client’s business to understand their business and marketing objectives and generate strategic communications recommendations that produce results.

Her passion for new ideas, approaches along with demonstrated success in leading teams serves her clients and colleagues well. She is a strategic problem-solver who believes there is always a solution – the art is finding the right solution for the situation at the right time.

“I believe my fresh thinking and collaborative, solutions-oriented approach will best serve the RTCC. Leading a PR agency on a daily basis, there are a plethora of decisions and issues that arise on a daily basis that I adeptly navigate with clients, colleagues and vendors. My collaborative approach endeavours to hear all sides, engages stakeholders and identifies the best solution for the situation – even if it’s not a unanimous decision.

Beyond the business skills that I could bring to the RTCC, I believe I bring empathy and understanding for the marginalized communities served. Naturally curious, I seek information and insights to not only improve my awareness, but also help inform perspectives and approaches.

Little is accomplished in isolation; it’s when we work together that we succeed. I welcome the opportunity to be part of the RTCC Board.”

Posted in Recent News.