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COMMUNITY SERVICES | Working with Scarborough residents to build strong and healthy communities

Board of Directors

Doug Brown, Chairperson

“Every volunteer gets involved with an organization because they hope to make a difference. ACSA retains their volunteers because you can see you make a difference. Being involved on the Board in the past, I saw first hand the incredible work ACSA does, and the people that are impacted. When Lee reached out to me to see if I'd be interested in rejoining the Board, I jumped at the opportunity.”

Naeema Tharani, Vice Chairperson

“Passion. Dedication. Commitment. These three words can be used to describe the tireless efforts of ACSA's staff and volunteers. It is due to these three words that ACSA has consistently and continuously demonstrated success in bridging the residents of Scarborough with much needed services and supports. It is also due to these three words that I continue to serve on ACSA's Board of Directors. I truly believe ACSA is making a difference in the lives of Scarborough residents and I am proud to support their efforts in working towards a brighter future.”

Jay Paleja, Secretary

“ACSA serves as my bridge to Agincourt, connecting me to the community where I was born and raised. ACSA doesn't just connect us to critical services, it connects us to each other and makes Scarborough a better place to live. This sense of community and its contribution to home is the reason I joined the Board three years ago. I'm honoured to contribute to the Board which makes sure the foundations that keep the bridge standing stay strong.”

Stanley Szeto, Treasurer 

“I’ve been a member of the Scarborough community for the past 18 years. It has been a pleasure having an opportunity to give back to the community and be part of the board of directors of ACSA for the past four years, an organization that works tirelessly to provide a hand up and helps to move people out of poverty. Together, We Grow. It takes a village, an entire community, working together that will help ACSA continue to grow and touch the lives of even more people. I have previously volunteered at the tax clinic, a free program that serves thousands of clients each year and has helped them get their tax refunds and qualify for the benefits that they are entitled to. This is one of many programs and services provided by the Financial Empowerment and Problem Solving (FEPS) team that helps community members build the knowledge to manage their finances.””

Carol Cunningham, Director

“I  have been an active and engaged resident of the Scarborough community for 35 years. My passion is serving the  most vulnerable populations in the area. As co-founder and Director of the not-for-profit organization Caring Community Connections, which developed and implemented initiatives for underserved community members with a focus on youth programs, I became more aware of the needs of youth in the community. Our small organization did not have the capacity to meet the crisis many of the young people were facing. ACSA , an agency that serviced adults, was interested in getting more involved with youth. I was honored to be asked to be on the board of this vibrant organization to help develop a focus on at risk youth.

Recently, my desire to serve has grown from a focus on youth to include any person struggling with the demands of daily life. I returned to the board hoping to engage local faith communities and private business to take an active role in helping members of our community.”

Paul Rook, Director

As a resident of Scarborough for over 40 years, I have taught in four collegiates in the ACSA area (Agincourt, Macdonald, Pearson, Thomson) served as Vice-President and President of the Scarborough District of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers and been a political activist and campaign organizer. In these roles I developed many connections throughout Scarborough and became aware of the growing needs and problems in our community

When I retired I wanted to continue to use the skills I had developed by volunteering in our community to help deal with its needs. Fortunately I had become aware of ACSA because of a connection that was created as a result of Agincourt C. I. donating its Christmas Cheer money to ACSA. This connection and ACSA’s excellent programs and outreach for youth and children inspired me to volunteer at ACSA. Since being on the Board I have been impressed by the many bridges that ACSA has built within Scarborough both through its programs and its strong ties with other agencies. As a teacher, I am I am pleased we have reached out to youth at risk through innovative initiatives such TAGGs. When the Syrian immigrants arrived we reached out to this community and provided them with an array of services that helped them to connect to jobs, education, and language training. ACSA has built other bridges into local communities through its programs to empower people to promote their own concerns and solve problems. Through Scarborough Civic Action Network (SCAN), which ACSA is part of, I have been able to use my political and organizational knowledge to assist in this initiative. The strength of the connections that ACSA makes is shown through the fact that myself and three other current Board came back to join the Board after serving our initial 6 years.

Lois Williams, Director

“Bridges.  They connect people with others, with resources and to essential needs while overcoming barriers and physical challenges.  I have seen the importance of bridges.  Not just the big steel structures but rope bridges and small walking bridges over deep rushing rivers and ravines.  This is what I saw was so critical in the nearly ten years we lived in the remote areas of Nepal.  The provision of these small yet critical connectors made a huge impact on people, health, villages and travellers.

Now I have the privilege of being on the ACSA board building bridges right here in Scarborough.  While I don't live in Scarborough I have been coming here for many years to various parts of the area to visit friends, attend a local church and to spend time with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter who live in Scarborough.  ACSA gives me again the opportunity to set policies for building bridges among those who are desperate for a way across the chasm of poverty, illness and hunger and more.  ACSA –is a bridge building service that does this. “

Vinitha Gengatharan, Director

“ACSA serves as a bridge to many new comers to the region and provides a hand up to lead newcomers to chart their path in Canada.  Over the last 40+ years, ACSA has been a consistent advocate on behalf of the marginalized and vulnerable people in our communities. I have been involved with ACSA for the last 7 years and was the former Chair of the Board of Directors.   Having arrived in Canada at the age of 11, and experienced what it’s like to be a new comer and an immigrant, I have spent my time engaged in activities that provide settlement services to newcomers, and promoting their integration and success in our communities.  I was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka and grew up in Flemingdon Park and Scarborough, and am aware of the needs, challenges and the dreams and aspirations of the community that surrounds ACSA.   I chose to be involved in ACSA because of its multi-service agency model, their range of services, the professionalized staff who offer much needed services with community engagement and community based solutions as a core value.” 

Yasser Lone, Director At Large

"I am honoured to serve as a Director of ACSA. Growing up and now practicing law in Scarborough has provided me with insight into the diversity of the people who live in the area and a unique perspective on the needs of the community.  I have always tried to give back to the Agincourt neighborhood from hosting mock trials at local schools to presenting legal seminars at the library. Joining the ACSA Board allows me to continue giving back to the community through an organization that has dedicated and experienced staff committed to working with the most vulnerable people in Scarborough. I look forward to assisting with reinvigorating the legal services program provided by ACSA and broadening our fundraising efforts to ensure the organization’s financial future."

Chi Tran, Director At Large

"My family and I immigrated to Canada in 1979 through the sponsorship from a family in Canada.  We first arrived and settled in Kingston, Ontario.  Eventually we moved to Toronto.  I grew up near and lived in Scarborough for close to 20 years.  You have pockets in Scarborough that are vibrant and areas that are underserved, that’s where ACSA plays an important part in our social fabric by providing the needed services to these underserved communities.  I was excited when I was chosen to be a part of the board on ACSA because I truly believe in their work and I’m committed to help in any capacity required of me.  I believe in paying it forward, to help others as others have helped my family and I when we first came to Canada.  I truly believe that our transition in Canada would not have been as smooth without the help from the sponsoring family, of which I owe a great debt of gratitude.  The services that ACSA provide have helped many families in similar situations and I’m proud of being part of this great organization."

Sara Asalya, Director At Large

I am a Palestinian immigrant and community organizer. I was born and raised in Jabaliya, the largest of Gaza’s eight refugee camps and home to more than 120,000 Palestinian refugees. I witnessed first-hand the impact of violence, displacement and trauma on the lives of war refugees and was extensively exposed to the lived experiences of these vulnerable communities. This has shaped my understanding of social justice and human rights by instilling me with a passion to effect change by helping others. I immigrated to Canada 8 years ago and have encountered various challenges and barriers that newcomers and immigrants typically face when trying to access education and employment. I received settlement and integration support from ACSA as a newcomer and wanted to pay it forward through volunteerism. I was a committed volunteer with ACSA’s Newcomer Centre and assisted many newcomer and Syrian refugees, as well as participated in different programs. Today, I am a proud board member. I have always been impressed with the impact ACSA is creating on vulnerable communities and how it works to provide access to different services and support systems without barriers. Addressing needs, eliminating barriers, empowering communities and providing opportunities is at the core of what ACSA does. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature, and a post-graduate certificate in Community Engagement, Leadership and Development; and in Immigration and Settlement Studies. I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree in Higher Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education  at the University of Toronto, my research is focused on exploring the systemic and structural barriers faced by immigrant students with different status in accessing, transitioning to and succeeding in higher education, as well as looking at institutional responses towards the diverse needs of these students.

Maria Lykos, Director At Large

Maria is a dedicated public servant who has worked in government ministries, agencies, and most recently, in a hospital working towards the fight against the pandemic. She is passionate about working together to solve issues facing our communities, especially to support the most vulnerable. As an immigrant, she is incredibly grateful for the support that she and her family received by organizations like ACSA. They were instrumental in her settlement to a new country and in the opportunities she now has. She is proud to serve for ACSA and is looking forward to helping shed light on the inequalities that people in our communities face and build bridges between those who need help and those who can provide it. 

Jackie Tsui, Director At Large

Jackie Tsui is currently a Senior Associate in the Advisory practice of KPMG Canada. Having lived in the Agincourt community his entire life, Jackie is excited at the opportunity to serve as a Board Member of ACSA. In his previous interactions at ACSA events such as the Chester Le Community Garden build and holiday soup kitchen, he has seen firsthand the important role that organizations such as ACSA play in the community. Through its schools, community centres, libraries, and public parks, the Agincourt and Scarborough community has played a significant role in Jackie's own professional and personal growth. He is looking forward to giving back and contributing to the tremendous ACSA initiatives and programs in our community.

Manny Sousa, Director At Large

Manny brings over 20 years of experience in municipal public affairs and stakeholder relations.

In his previous role as Manager, Community & Municipal Relations at Enbridge Gas Distribution, Manny managed relationships with key stakeholders including municipalities and elected officials, first responders, community organizations and sector associations. He oversaw the development of municipal and community relations strategies and developed province wide programs such as the Low Income Energy Assistance program (LEAP), Project Zero and Project Assist.

At Sutherland, Manny has successfully consulted on a variety of files in a wide range of policy areas, including energy, transportation, infrastructure, casino and entertainment, development and public safety.

Manny lives in Scarborough Ontario, where he is involved with the Scarborough Community Renewal Organization as Vice Chair of Economic Development. He is the past Chair of the Scarborough Chamber of Commerce where he also chaired its Government Relations Committee. He was also the Chair of the Business Community Partners Advisory Council for Providence Healthcare and a previous board member of the Agincourt Community Services Association.

Manny is looking forward to joining the ACSA Board of Directors for a second time. As he has mentioned in the past, “this is my community and my backyard and I am very interested in the well-being of people that live in my community”.


Community voices

"We are a group of residents who care about our neighbourhood. We work together to make our community a better and safer neighbourhood."
Community Safety Ambassador, July 2015

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United Way