WHO WE ARE
STaff & Board
Prior to becoming the Executive Director of A Way Home, Melanie was the Director of National Initiatives at Eva’s. In that role she directed the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness, the Eva’s Awards for Ending Youth Homelessness, and the Mobilizing Local Capacity to End Youth Homelessness Program, which works with communities across Canada to craft, implement, and sustain plans to end youth homelessness. She currently serves as the Chair of the Youth Homelessness Research Priority Area at the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. Melanie is also the Chair of the Board of the Rainbow Food Education Foundation. Her passion for addressing the root causes of complex social issues drew her to co-develop A Way Home with partners across Canada.
Director of Policy and Planning
With 20 years experience working with Alberta’s most vulnerable young people, David has a passion for developing programs & policy that meet their unique needs. David led the development of Supporting Healthy and Successful Transitions to Adulthood: A Plan to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness, Canada’s first targeted plan to address youth homelessness, and supported its implementation across ten communities. David has taken a leave from Government of Alberta, to support A Way Home’s national youth homelessness efforts as the Director of Policy and Planning. He is a firm believer in harnessing the strength and leadership of community and the voices and experiences of young people in helping shape effective and long-lasting policy change.
After caffeine, Lesley’s three favourite words are convene, curate and catalyze. Lesley is a community worker who focuses on knowledge mobilization to end youth homelessness and works with youth serving organizations to disseminate emerging and promising practices. Utilising a collaborative approach, they develop tools and resources for organizations working to end youth homelessness. Lesley is the Program Director with A Way Home: Working Together to End Youth Homelessness in Canada. Their current projects include: Making the Shift project and managing the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness.
Community Planning Manager
Mary-Jane McKitterick brings over 20 years progressive experience in Canada and abroad to the role of A Way Home’s Community Planning Manager. This includes community engagement and planning, development, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, community-based peacebuilding, education and social justice. She hails from both the small town and the megacity and her experience is supported by graduate degrees in humanities and social science. She loves it when new information turns everything we think we know on its head, especially when it helps us think differently about youth homelessness.
Program and Policy Coordinator
Amanda is a social science lover and policy wonk with a passion for creating systems change to solve ‘wicked’ social policy problems. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance where she specialized in Community Development and worked as the Director of student-led pro-bono policy consulting group, the Public Good Initiative. As the Program and Policy Coordinator at A Way Home Canada, Amanda coordinates the Making the Shift project, the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness and the Government Relations constellation.
Orpah immigrated with her family from the Philippines to St. James Town in Toronto, and ever since then has developed a deep love for this city she calls home. She has always been led by a passion for social justice and is a true believer in the power and resilience of youth. She was first introduced to A Way Home Canada while working at Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth, where she was a Development Coordinator. After minoring in Global Development Studies at Queen’s University, she began her career doing non-profit work for an international charity until she arrived at Eva’s, where she became exposed to many of the prevention and housing strategies being implemented to address youth homelessness in Toronto and in Canada. She is constantly inspired by the communities that come together to share knowledge, practices, and tools to end youth homelessness.
Alina Turner, PhD
Dr. Alina Turner is recognized as a leading homelessness researcher and is a Fellow at The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary. In her consulting work (Turner Research & Strategy), she supports with a variety of organizations to support human service system planning and integration, including plans to end homelessness and transitions to Housing First. She also engages in academic and applied research on issues including housing stress, poverty, domestic violence, migration and rural social issues. She has extensive experience in strategy and program development on a variety of social issues.
Prior to consulting, Alina was the Vice President of Strategy for the Calgary Homeless Foundation where she led program investments of more than $35M annually, system planning and integration, the Homeless Management Information System, research and policy. She also worked for the United Way of Calgary and Area leading the affordable housing policy and research portfolio. In 2012, she was appointed by the Mayor Nenshi to serve on the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative’s leadership committee.
Ilyana Keohane is a Communications Officer for the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and for A Way Home, the national coalition to end youth homelessness. She organizes the social media and external communications of both organizations. Ilyana has previous experience as a student public relations officer and a Psychology research assistant in the University of Limerick, Ireland. Ilyana comes from a Psychology and Sociology background, and her interests include affordable housing solutions and LGBTQ2S issues.
Allyson Marsolais is the Chief Operating Officer with the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (previously the Canadian Homelessness Research Network) and the Homeless Hub. Allyson has a Master’s degree in Critical Disability Studies from York University and over 10 years experience working in the social justice field. When she’s not trying to make research matter and solve homelessness, Allyson can be found answering why for the gazillionth time for her precocious daughter, Quinn! Allyson is excited and eager to help A Way Home accomplish their vision of preventing, reducing and ending youth homelessness in Canada.
Tim Richter is the President & CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH). The mission of the CAEH is to create a national movement to prevent and end homelessness in Canada. Prior to joining the CAEH, Tim was President & CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation charged with leading the implementation of Calgary’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness – the first plan of its kind in Canada. In Calgary Tim also lead the development of Canada’s first plan to end youth homelessness, supported pioneering youth Housing First programs and advised the Province of Alberta on reforms to the child intervention system.
Tim is excited to join A Way Home because the coalition will not only prevent and end youth homelessness it will accelerate progress toward the day homelessness in Canada is a distant, awful memory.
Jody Ciufo is the Executive Director of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, an organization dedicated to excellence in the built environment in Canada, while addressing important issues of society through responsible architecture. Previously, she worked with theCanadian Housing and Renewal Association, one of the founding members of A Way Home, and led CHRA’s #Housing4All national campaign which helped put affordable housing on the new federal government’s agenda. Jody has dedicated her lengthy career to national advocacy associations with a clear purpose to improve social justice and build an inclusive caring society. Jody believes that no young person should experience youth homelessness and that the innovative and collaborative work of A Way Home will keep future generations housed.
As Executive Director of Choices for Youth, Sheldon is responsible for overseeing program development to meet the needs of youth in the St. John’s (NL) metro area and to improve the overall systems of support in place for at-risk and homeless youth in NL. Sheldon has led the organization to become a national leader and partner in identifying best practices in the design and delivery of services to youth. This has included forming significant partnerships across the country. This has led to a series of adaptations of proven program models to better serve youth in NL. Sheldon is Co-chair of the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness and a Board member of A Way Home – A National Coalition to End Youth Homelessness. He is also a member of the Advisory Committee for the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, and a Board member of Raising the Roof.
Michael Braithwaite is the Executive Director for Raising the Roof. What that means is together with his amazing team, he works to create innovative solutions to preventing and ending homelessness across Canada. Although he doesn’t look it, Michael had been working in the area of social services for over 23 years, the first 17 of those with the YMCA and most recently with 360°kids in York Region. Along the way he has managed to get a degree, diploma and a certificate. He is someone who believes in action, as it’s only through taking action that any true progress really gets made.