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Family Navigation Project

Our team

Leadership Team

Liisa Kuuter – Program Manager

Liisa Kuuter, MSc. (MFT), RP holds a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Loma Linda University. Liisa has been in Mental Health Leadership roles for almost 20 years and has extensive experience leading mental teams in community based organizations. Highlights include: Clinical/Provincial Manager of CONNECT Mental Health Services with The Canadian Hearing Society supporting d/Deaf, deafened, hard of hearing individuals; Clinical Manager/Director of Service with Yorktown Child and Family Centre supporting children/youth and their families; System Coordinator with COMPASS and Intake Coordinator for The York Centre for Children/Youth and Families – a day treatment program in York Region; and Clinical Manager of Mental Health Services with the Petawawa Military Family Resource Centre supporting military families.

Liisa has a passion for supporting families and addressing systemic barriers to treatment and works from a strengths-based model where creativity, collaboration and “thinking outside the box” are a part of everyday language to bring about meaningful and lasting change.

Sugy Kodeeswaran – Executive Director

Sugy joins FNP with more than 15 years of management experience in the health research and innovation sectors. She completed her BSc in Chemistry at McGill University and her MHSc in Health Administration at the University of Toronto. With training in both scientific and management domains, she brings diverse leadership experience spanning the hospital, not-for-profit and the pharmaceutical industries.

Sugy was a Director at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, where she led the development of the Ontario Tumour Bank, a provincial oncology biobank. From 2003-2013, she advanced the program from idea-phase to multi-site operations at five hospitals​ across Ontario, all the while developing and implementing robust systems for quality management, informatics and privacy.

​From 2013-2018, ​Sugy was in Business Development at Ontario Genomics ​where she was responsible for creating collaborative relationships with industry, government, and academic researchers to support the development and commercialization of genomic solutions ​​to address real-world challenges. She worked in a variety of sectors including health and the environment, where she supported a diverse range of projects from novel medical diagnostics and treatments to ​better ways to monitor water quality.

Sugy has a strong passion for innovation and healthcare and is committed to helping youth and their families by advancing the innovative FNP model.

Dr. Anthony J. Levitt – Medical Director

Dr Levitt, MD, FRCP(C) graduated from Medical School in Western Australia and came to Canada to train in Psychiatry in 1985. He completed his research training as a Fellow with Dr Russell Joffe in 1990 and since that time held the positions of Director of Mood Disorders Programs at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and then Director of Mood Disorders at McMaster University, until moving to Sunnybrook and Women’s Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, where he served as Psychiatrist-in-chief at Women’s College Hospital from 2002 – 2011 and Psychiatrist-in-chief at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre from 2002 to 2012. He is presently the Chief of the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre and the Medical Director of the Family Navigation Project.

His area of research and clinical interest is in the area of mood disorders and navigation of the mental health and addiction system. He has published scientific articles in the area of treatment resistant depression and bipolar disorder, the treatment of adolescent depression, the treatment of seasonal depression and in the definition and value of navigation for families with a youth with mental illness and/or addictions. More recently he has explored new and novel direct brain treatments for depression. Beyond these academic pursuits he has a firm commitment to public and medical education, to improving recognition of mood disorders by health care professionals and to expanding access to care for people with mental illness in the community.

Navigation Team

Tracey Addison – Parent with Lived Experience (PAL)

Tracey holds a B.A. in Developmental Psychology and a B.Ed. from The University of Western Ontario. Her career includes 25 years in education, working in independent schools in roles ranging from Director of Admissions to Vice-Principal. Through her lived experience, Tracey brings to her position at the Family Navigation Project an understanding of the impact of mental health and addiction on the family, treatment options, advocacy, and the importance of self-care. In her role, Tracey's goal is to rely on her personal experience to support other families who are dealing with youth mental health and/or addiction issues.

Naomi Algate – Family Navigator

Naomi's focus in both her undergraduate studies at University of Western Ontario and graduate work at McMaster University was with children, youth and families. Her clinical experience is specialized in the areas of mental health and addiction. Naomi worked for 10 years as a Parent-Child Therapist at Breaking the Cycle/Mothercraft where she provided intervention, assessment, counselling, and case management services to families who were substance involved and/or had parental mental health issues.

Miriam Blond – Family Navigator

Miriam completed a graduate degree in social work at the University of Windsor with a special interest in family-centered care which she reflected in her Graduate thesis. Miriam has an extensive background in community mental health and hospital psychiatric interventions. She has worked with various patient populations including dual diagnosis, concurrent disorders, homelessness, and trauma. Most recently, Miriam was the liaison between North York General Hospital and the community through the Emergency Department Diversion Program. In addition, Miriam has provided therapy to Children and families through the North York General Child and Adolescent Outpatient Mental Health Clinic as well as facilitated Cognitive Behavioral groups for children and parents.

Michael Calis – Family Navigator

Michael completed an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Toronto majoring in psychology, followed by a graduate certificate in Addictions and Mental Health from Durham College. Michael has worked in various clinical settings; such as hospital and residential treatment, and has worked with clients coping with issues related to concurrent disorders, developmental disabilities, and homelessness. Most recently, Michael was the Concurrent Disorder Case Coordinator at St. Michael’s Homes. Working in a residential facility with men suffering from issues stemming from addiction and mental illness, Michael provided one-on-one counselling, facilitated group work, and assisted clients in developing their transitional care plans.

Michelle Di Febo – Family Navigator

Michelle completed her combined Undergraduate Degree in Child Development & Community Health Sciences at Brock University and then went on to receive her Post-Graduate Diploma in Child Life Studies from McMaster University. Developing action plans to support youth and families in meeting challenging healthcare and life goals has been part of her clinical role in a variety of settings including SickKids Hospital, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, The Children’s Aid Society and Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto. Michelle also has experience facilitating grief and bereavement groups for children and youth. She is an advocate for family-focused care, an approach where each family member has an important role to play in an individual youth’s health care journey.

Shira Goldenberg – Family Navigator

Shira completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at McGill University before going on to complete a joint MSW and MA in developmental psychology at NYU and Sarah Lawrence College in New York City. Prior to the Family Navigation Project, Shira worked for 5 years at Griffin Centre, working with adolescents and their families. She also provided school social work services at the TDSB. Shira has extensive experience in intake and assessment, as well as individual and family counseling and service coordination.

Elyse Grieco – Family Navigator

Elyse studied Pharmacology and Human Biology at the University of Toronto and holds an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto. During her undergraduate studies, Elyse developed a strong passion for mental health and co-founded one of U of T’s first of many mental health awareness initiatives aimed at reducing stigma surrounding mental illness. Elyse has also participated as a keynote speaker and volunteered with agencies including CAMH and Workman Arts. Elyse then pursued her Master in Social Work with a Mental Health specialization at the University of Toronto. Before joining FNP Elyse gained experience as a support worker in a residential setting for female youth recovering from addictions, as an Intake Worker for the Family Matters program at the MDAO, facilitating the development of psycho-educational peer support programming for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and providing short-term counselling to individuals and family members of loved ones with various mental health challenges.

Kailey Karim – Family Navigator

Kailey has her B.A. (Hons) from the University of Waterloo, and an M.A. in Developmental Psychology from Carleton University, with a research focus on bullying and mental health among adolescents. Kailey spent over four years working as an Addictions Therapist within an inpatient concurrent disorders facility at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre in Ottawa. Kailey also has experience in the school system as a School Counselor with the Thames Valley District School Board, and as a Volunteer with the Metro Addiction Assessment and Referral Service (MAARS) at CAMH.

Dr. Monidipa Ravi – Consulting Psychiatrist

Dr Ravi, MD, FRCPC is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She completed her undergraduate and medical training at the University of Toronto, followed by residency in psychiatry leading to her general adult psychiatry qualification, and a subsequent fellowship in Child and Youth psychiatry. She believes in the power of working within a multidisciplinary team and has had the privilege of collaborating with many excellent colleagues from psychology, social work, behavioural analysis, occupational therapy and physical therapy.

Dr. Ravi specializes in assessing and treating children and youth with a variety of mental health concerns and has further expertise in the treatment of youth who have medical diagnoses in addition to mental health concerns, which can influence each other. She believes in the importance of the surrounding context to a youth’s concerns, including school functioning, peers, and of course the family unit.

Susana (Suzy) Rivas – Intake Coordinator

Suzie has a background in Psychology and most recently worked as a Client Care Representative for over 5 years at Morneau Shepell Employee and Family Assistance Program. Suzie comes to FNP with a great number of organizational, administrative, and mental health intake skills.

Michelle Sampson (Kwan) – Family Navigator

Michelle has an undergraduate degree in journalism with a double major in human rights from Carleton University. As she heard different people’s experiences, her interest shifted from story-telling to actively supporting people, which led to a graduate degree in Social Work at Carleton University. Before joining the Family Navigation team she worked as a Youth Outreach and Intake Worker at Hong Fook Mental Health Association conducting assessments, facilitating a youth drop-in, and supporting youth and family members with mental health system navigation. Michelle also has experience volunteering with the Ottawa Rape Crisis Line.

Jillian Thistel – Family Navigator

Jillian completed an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology through the University of Toronto and continued on to complete the Addictions and Mental Health graduate program at Durham College. Jillian has a wide range of clinical experience in the Addiction and Mental Health field, including work in residential treatment, outpatient, and healthcare settings. Most recently, Jillian worked at the Ontario Addiction Treatment Centres providing clinical case management and counseling to clients dealing with Concurrent Disorders, which included work with youth and families.

Katie Wicik – Family Navigator

Katie has her B.A. (Hons) from the University of Toronto in Psychoanalytic Thought, and a M.Ed. with distinction in Teaching and Learning, with a specialization in Counselling and Special Education from Brock University. Katie has 15 years of clinical experience in the Mental Health and Addictions field, including a range of case management, counselling, clinical assessment, and navigation. She was also a trainer and coordinator for a community mental health assessment tool, the Ontario Common Assessment of Need (OCAN). In addition, Katie has worked extensively on executive committees and board of directors, for several children’s and women’s organizations, facilitating board training and governance, organizational planning, strategic planning, and fiscal responsibilities.

Research & Evaluation Team

Mehret Biruk – Research Assistant (Youth Engagement)

Mehret has a B.A. (Hons) in Criminology and Psychology, and an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Windsor with a focus on youth engagement and youth empowerment strategies for positive youth development. Mehret's professional background includes youth work, research, mental health, peer counselling, program coordination, and community leadership. Mehret also has experience creating dynamic and engaging workshops to promote positive tech habits and healthy modes of technology so youth can thrive in today’s digital world. With almost a decade of experience working with youth in non-profit and academic settings, Mehret is passionate about supporting young people to create meaningful and lasting change for themselves and their communities.

Hinaya Cader – Research Assistant

Hinaya completed an Honours Bachelor of Science in Human Biology, Psychology, and Religion at the University of Toronto and a Master’s of Health Science in Community Health at Ontario Tech University. Her master’s thesis explored the experiences of mental health in second-generation South Asian Canadians, especially focusing on understandings of mental health, mental health literacy, and stigma. At FNP, Hinaya is currently working on a study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to evaluate the impact of navigation service for transitional-aged youth with mental health and/or addictions concerns and their families. Outside of FNP, Hinaya serves in various roles aimed at educating and working with underprivileged youth in both academic and social settings.

Samantha Chan – Research Assistant

Samantha completed an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology at Queen’s University before moving to the United Kingdom to complete her Master of Science degree in Developmental Psychopathology at Durham University. Samantha has several years of research training, and is primarily interested in the area of child and youth mental health. Before joining the Family Navigation Team, Samantha worked as a Research Assistant at the University of West London. She has also previously worked as a Mental Health Support Worker at an adolescent psychiatric intensive care unit where she provided support to adolescents with mental health and behavioural needs.

Roula Markoulakis, PhD – Scientist

Roula completed her PhD in Rehabilitation Science at the University of Toronto and a post-doctoral fellowship in the social aetiology of mental illness at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. As a Scientist in mental health and addictions system navigation, her research interests include youth and family experiences with mental health and addictions service involvement; understanding mental health and addictions treatment and service models, particularly navigation; and comparing the outcomes and effectiveness of different models of care for youth and families. Roula is currently leading the Family Navigation Project program evaluation and research studies focused on youth engagement, transitions in care for youth with mental health and/or addictions concerns, and outcomes of system navigation supports in mental health and addictions care.

Kamna Mehra – Research Coordinator

While working as a psychiatrist in India, Dr. Mehra questioned the etiology and management of mental health and substance use disorders. When she moved to Canada in 2016, she pursued MSc Community Health from the University of Toronto and developed skills in scientific research. She has since worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth and Family Mental Health, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, focusing on barriers and facilitators to seeking mental health services among youth, providing integrated collaborative care to youth, and youth engagement in research. She is passionate about providing youth experiencing mental health and/or substance use issues the right services at the right time.

Administration & Operations Team

Michelle Siomra – Administrative Assistant

Michelle came to FNP as our Administrative Assistant with over 30 years of experience in running her own business in both hospitality and client services. Michelle’s most recent engagement was a startup of a culinary division of The Butler Did It which she was able to reach their financial goal within 3 years. Michelle also brings her own lived experience with a youth with mental health and/or addictions issues and is dedicated to connecting families with encouragement and hope for a better future for their youths who are struggling.

The Family Advisory Council (FAC)

FNP’s Family Advisory Council is comprised of family members with first-hand experience in supporting their youth who have struggled with mental illness and/or addiction issues. The passion of the founding FAC members, resulted in the creation of the Family Navigation Project in 2013. This Council of 9 to 12 volunteers continue to guide FNP’s design and implementation and provide insight on the development of FNP’s mission and strategic plan from the perspective of lived experience.

FNP’s FAC drove the creation of FNP’s Vision, that no family feels lost in the mental health and addiction system. Focused on collaboration between clinical teams, families, and youth with mental health and/or addiction issues to match them with supports for their unique needs, the FAC meets monthly alongside FNP management, who sit as ex-officio, non-voting members of the FAC.

Members of FNP’s FAC also participate in committees and projects that include program evaluation, research, fundraising events, site visits and recruitment.