Family Navigation Project

Our team

Aleesha Rehill – Project Manager, Community Engagement

Aleesha holds a BSc in Biology from Western University and is pursuing her MGM from Royal Roads University. With previous experience in healthcare and education, she brings a unique skill set related to supporting youth and their mental wellbeing. Previously, she held the role of Manager, Student Engagement at Huron University and worked as the Cancer Program Coordinator at Trillium Health Partners. Aleesha is excited to be leading our work supporting equity deserving youth in accessing mental health and addiction care and supporting FNP’s community engagement strategies.

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.

Arjuna Suthahararajah – Technical Administrative Specialist

Arjuna has a background in Computer Engineering and Programming, is a Datacenter Technician at Microsoft and provides part-time assistance to FNP as a Technical Administrative Specialist. Arjuna manages FNP’s data and provides analytical information assisting the navigation, research and management teams to achieve a better understanding of our service and our clients’ needs. Arjuna's motivation to build better solutions for FNP is driven by his strong passion to give back to the community.

Bahja Ibrahim – Operations Manager

Bahja is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with a Public Health degree, boasting a diverse career spanning across different industries including community services and healthcare. Formerly leading innovation projects at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), she managed newcomer programs at Indus Community services. She also brings insights from her time at COSTI Immigrant services within the shelter services supporting folks who are experiencing homelessness. She brings in skills from her time at Humber River Hospital supporting the operational needs of hospital wide training and education programs. Now part of the Family Navigation Project (FNP) , Bahja's operational and project management expertise will support to elevate the operational needs of FNP’s strategic projects. Her blend of project management processes and operational efficiency knowledge provides her the ability to drive positive change and contribute significantly to the Family Navigation Project’s mission.

Deewa Anwarzi – Research Coordinator

Deewa graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2018, and is currently wrapping up her Master of Science degree in Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University. Her passion for advancing mental health and wellbeing in marginalized communities has guided her professional endeavours, from frontline work with youth in subsidized living spaces, to scientific research on agency in racialized communities, and now, supporting research and service efforts to improve mental health support for under-served groups. At FNP, Deewa is advancing the Youth Engagement Strategy, a project focused on: expanding the use of FNP services among youth with mental health and addition challenges, improving access to and transition through mental health and addiction services for youth seeking care, and improving mental health outcomes among youth using FNP. Outside of FNP, Deewa is helping develop mental health resources for peer counsellors serving the Muslim community. The goal of this work is to equip peer counsellors with the skills necessary for success.

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.

Fahad Riaz – Research Associate

Fahad Riaz completed his Ph.D. in Psychology from Monash University Australia. Fahad’s research and activism work is social justice-oriented and focused on exploring mental health, cultural protective factors (resilience), and psychological well-being using multiple qualitative approaches and decolonizing practices, mainly with equity deserving groups (ethnic, religious, and linguistic minority groups in South Asia and Southeast Asia). Before joining Sunnybrook, he served as a full-time faculty member in two different universities in Malaysia for 4 years. Fahad has background training as a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist. Before pursuing his doctoral study, he worked in the social development sector. He has also used mixed-methods, systematic review and participatory approaches.

Dr. Jay Moss – Consulting Psychiatrist

Dr. Jay Moss, MD, FRCPC is a staff psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He completed medical training at the University of Toronto, followed by residencies in Family Medicine and Psychiatry. His clinical interests include Emergency Psychiatry, Community Mental Health and Collaborative Mental Health Care. He enjoys teaching medical students and residents.

Jessie Faber – Family Navigator

Jessie completed her Master’s Degree in Social Work, specializing in health and mental health, at the University of Toronto. Jessie has a range of clinical experience in the mental health and addictions field including working in a transitional housing program for women, clinical case management, as well as completing a master’s level practicum at an outpatient mental health clinic. Most recently, Jessie worked at Greenspace Health, assisting individuals, couples and families in finding a therapist who best fit their unique needs.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Olivia Wilks – Family Navigator

Olivia graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University with a Bachelor of Social Work in 2017. Shortly after she pursued her Master of Social Work at York University where she completed a Graduate thesis which reflected on the educational experiences and resilience of racialized youth in Toronto. Olivia has worked extensively with equity-deserving and BIPOC communities in residential settings, the shelter system, B3 organizations, and community mental health agencies. Outside of FNP, she mentors Black high school students across the GTA to promote the academic, social, and professional advancement. When it comes to serving youth and families, Olivia is passionate about fostering positive mental health and addressing social determinants of health.

Dr. Roula Markoulakis – 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.

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.

Simran Arora – Research Coordinator

Simran completed her Masters of Social Work at the University of Toronto. Her research and clinical experiences have primarily focused on mental health. She has worked on a number of qualitative and literature review research projects as a Research Assistant at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto. Prior to joining the FNP, Simran developed and facilitated psycho-educational mental health workshops for youth involved in the justice system. At FNP, Simran will be supporting youth engagement and program evaluation efforts. Simran is also passionate about mental health education and also provides training to psychiatry residents in Guyana as a Volunteer Educator.

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.

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.

Thalia Phi – Youth Advocate with Lived Experience (YAL)

Thalia completed her diploma in Developmental Services at Centennial College where she found her passion for advocating for youth mental health. She joined FNP initially as a Youth Engagement Partner before moving into a Youth Advisor role on the inaugural Youth Advisory Council. Thalia has previously worked as a Peer Support Worker at Progress Place and hopes to continue using her lived experience to aid in supporting youth navigating the mental health and addiction care system. Thalia is also deeply passionate about the impact of mental health and addictions on racialized and queer communities, strongly advocating for more education and training to ensure competent care for marginalized populations.

Tracey Addison – Parent Advocate 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.

Zoe Pagonis – Research Student

Zoe Pagonis is a master’s student in the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at the University of Toronto with a research background in psychology from the University of Guelph-Humber. Prior to joining FNP, she gained experience working with youth presenting with the issues of mental health and/or addictions in special education organizations. Zoe organized programs like Best Buddies, conducted outreach for younger students, and taught dance to kids with developmental and intellectual disabilities. At FNP, Zoe will be conducting mixed-methods research, with the goal of improving access to mental health and addictions navigation services for youth with co-occurring developmental disabilities and mental health and/or addictions issues and their families. Her work aims to improve the quality of care for Canadian youth facing co-occurring conditions.

The Youth Advisory Council (YAC)

The FNP’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is composed of ten youth with lived experience of mental illness and/or addiction issues. They advise the broader FNP team from a youth-centred perspective on projects, outreach, and new initiatives for navigation services at the FNP. Each term, the YAC leads a project and initiative to guide and enhance the FNP’s work. So far, YAC has developed outreach materials that are currently used by local youth mental health organizations and schools.

The YAC works with the multi-disciplinary team at FNP by providing youth-centred perspectives to inform and support the navigation service the FNP provides to youth and families. Members of FNP’s YAC co-lead and participate in many other unique initiatives such as evaluation, research, creative projects, recruitment, and many more. The FNP’s Youth Advisory Council’s work is essential in improving mental health and addictions service navigation for families and youth.

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.