Our Team

First Work is incredibly proud that our team reflects the values and commitment to youth advancement that we espouse as an organization. As a team, we are committed to empowering youth voices and incorporating their viewpoints into all our work through the First Work Youth Council.

Akosua Alagaratnam Profile Picture

Akosua Alagaratnam

Pronounciation: Ah / ko / sue / ah

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Executive Director

Carmine Chen Profile Picture

Carmine Chen

Pronounciation: Car / mine

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Manager, Operations and Finance

Sophia Koukoulas Profile Picture

Sophia Koukoulas

Pronounciation: So / Fee / ah

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Manager, Communications and Stakeholder Relations

Samira Adnan Profile Picture

Samira Adnan

Pronounciation: Sam / ear / ah

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Digital Lead

Ashley Allado Profile Picture

Ashley Allado

Pronounciation: Ash / lee

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Business and Operations Coordinator

Ikram Abdi Profile Picture

Ikram Abdi

Pronounciation: Ik / rahm

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Conference Coordinator

Kathleen MacLeod Profile Picture

Kathleen MacLeod

Pronounciation: kath / leen

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Membership and Youth Engagement Coordinator

Alexis Roy Profile Picture

Alexis Roy

Pronounciation: Uh / lek / see

Pronouns: He / Him / His

Project Lead

Chardae Henry Profile Picture

Chardae Henry

Pronounciation: Char / day

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Research Analyst

Syed Shah Profile Picture

Syed Shah

Pronounciation: Say / yeh / d

Pronouns: He / Him / His

Lead Researcher

Rushel Briscoe Profile Picture

Rushel Briscoe

Pronounciation: Ru / shel

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Project Lead

Amma Dapaah  Profile Picture

Amma Dapaah

Pronounciation: Ah / mah

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Finance and Administration Coordinator

Lucas Solowey  Profile Picture

Lucas Solowey

Pronounciation: Loo / cuss

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Communications and Public Affairs Coordinator

Gabriel Busca Profile Picture

Gabriel Busca

Pronounciation: Gai / bree / uhl

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Public Affairs Assistant

Mahesha Amirthasivam Profile Picture

Mahesha Amirthasivam

Pronounciation: M uh / h ai sh

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Community Outreach Coordinator

Akosua Alagaratnam Profile Picture

Akosua Alagaratnam

Pronounciation: Ah / ko / sue / ah

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Executive Director

Akosua is the Executive Director of First Work. Prior to joining the organization, Akosua worked as a senior public affairs professional, primarily focused on policy affecting marginalized communities and youth. During her tenure with the Provincial Minister of Children and Youth Services, Akosua led the Youth Justice and Youth Opportunity policy and also worked directly with multiple agencies, as well as frontline staff, to advocate for marginalized youth. As a senior policy advisor with the Provincial Minister of Finance, Akosua effectively advised on policy and legislation spanning a diverse portfolio, including labour, children and youth services, community and social services, correctional services, and Indigenous relations. With over six years of experience in government, combined with seven years as the board representative for the Region of Peel Women’s Centre – Interim Place, Akosua is an established driver of effective policy-making, communications, public and government affairs, and community engagement.

Akosua currently sits on the board of the Canadian Coalition of Community-Based Employability Training, MabelleArts, and GoodWill Amity.

Carmine Chen Profile Picture

Carmine Chen

Pronounciation: Car / mine

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Manager, Operations and Finance

Carmine is the Operations and Finance Manager at First Work. Originally on-boarded through the Canada Summer Jobs Program as a Youth Engagement Coordinator in 2017 as her first entry level job. She continued to work part-time while pursuing her Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting at Ryerson University. First Work reignited her passion for social equity, leading her to pursue a full-time opportunity with the team following graduation. Like many young people and recent graduates exploring career opportunities, Carmine continues her artistic passion as a Graphic Designer in her spare time.

Sophia Koukoulas Profile Picture

Sophia Koukoulas

Pronounciation: So / Fee / ah

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Manager, Communications and Stakeholder Relations

Sophia is the Communications and Stakeholder Relations Manager at First Work, joining in June 2020. Forever a recovering staffer, Sophia previously worked for the Ontario Minister of Finance as Issues Manager and Legislative Assistant, following years of political work at the municipal, state (US), provincial, and federal (US) levels. Most recently, she was a Senior Consultant at a government relations firm, focused on strategic communications and Ontario government mandates. In joining First Work, Sophia revisits her experience on the frontline working with homeless and at-risk youth in downtown Toronto.

Samira Adnan Profile Picture

Samira Adnan

Pronounciation: Sam / ear / ah

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Digital Lead

Samira is the Digital Lead at First Work, bringing her passion for to create meaningful change for marginalized youth in all her work. She holds over a decade of experience in web development and digital engagement, previously working in the non-profit and private sector as a freelancer for organizations both large and small. Samira manages the design of all First Work’s social media platforms and sites. She also manages the development of digital media campaigns, conference materials, and weekly member updates.

Ashley Allado Profile Picture

Ashley Allado

Pronounciation: Ash / lee

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Business and Operations Coordinator

Ashley is the Operations Coordinator and Executive Assistant at First Work. She recently graduated from York University with a Bachelor of the Arts in Psychology. Previously, Ashley worked for Canada’s Wonderland as the Merchandise Operations Supervisor. During her time there, she worked with the youth while also gaining administrative and management skills. Ashley’s background in leadership roles and involvement with youth has grown into an interest for helping young people entering the workforce. She looks forward to developing her knowledge in the non-profit sector and field of youth employment. When she is not working, Ashley likes to spend her free time watching movies, listening to music and practicing the ukulele.

Ikram Abdi Profile Picture

Ikram Abdi

Pronounciation: Ik / rahm

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Conference Coordinator

Ikram is the conference coordinator at First Work. She recently graduated from OISE (UofT) with a Master of Education. She has worked in sales, customer service, administration, admissions, and more recently, as an English language instructor. She is passionate about education and utilizing her lived experiences to connect with and support people. She is very excited to engage with and contribute to the employment sector. In her free time, Ikram enjoys reading, watching shows/movies and road trips.

Kathleen MacLeod Profile Picture

Kathleen MacLeod

Pronounciation: Kath / leen

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Membership and Youth Engagement Coordinator

Kathleen is a Community Outreach Coordinator at First Work, joining in June 2021. Kathleen has experience working in non-profit organizations in the areas of volunteer management, outreach, and intakes. Her most current role was at the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work as an Employment Facilitator supporting job seekers with disabilities with accommodation planning, training opportunities as well as job search and retention supports. Kathleen is passionate about advocating for others and ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities in the workplace.

Alexis Roy Profile Picture

Alexis Roy

Pronounciation: uh / lek / sis

Pronouns: He / Him / His

Project Lead

Alexis is the Project Lead at First Work, joining in August 2021. After multiple years in management and sales for companies such as CIBC and Bell Canada, Alexis has worked in Employment Services at Glengarry Inter-Agency Group for the past 3 years. He worked as a Job Developer, Employment Counselor, and most recently, the Youth Job Connection Program Facilitator. Alexis is passionate about equipping job seekers with the necessary tools and resources to successfully navigate the ever-changing employment sector. Alexis firmly believes in education and is constantly looking to learn new things and to speak with professionals from various industries.

Alexis Roy Profile Picture

Alexis Roy

Pronounciation: Uh / lek / see

Pronouns: He / Him / His

Project Lead

Alexis is the Project Lead at First Work, joining in August 2021. After multiple years in management and sales for companies such as CIBC and Bell Canada, Alexis has worked in Employment Services at Glengarry Inter-Agency Group for the past 3 years. He worked as a Job Developer, Employment Counselor, and most recently, the Youth Job Connection Program Facilitator. Alexis is passionate about equipping job seekers with the necessary tools and resources to successfully navigate the ever-changing employment sector. Alexis firmly believes in education and is constantly looking to learn new things and to speak with professionals from various industries.

Chardae Henry Profile Picture

Chardae Henry

Pronounciation: Char / day

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Research Analyst

Chardae is a Research Assistant at First Work. She graduated with her Master’s of Science in Industrial Organizational Psychology in 2020. In her previous role as a Program Representative, she helped students plan educational paths to help them grow professionally and reach their career goals. With her background in research and a passion for Career Strategy, she is eager to contribute to the Youth employment field and encourage diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In her free time, she enjoys running, and listening to podcasts.

Syed Profile Picture

Syed Shah

Pronounciation: Say / yeh / d

Pronouns: He / Him / His

Lead Researcher

Syed is the Lead Researcher at First Work joining the team in February 2022. Before starting his research career in 2011 from Germany, he was an academic specializing international relations. As principal investigator and lead researcher, he has conducted multiple projects with local and international organizations. With his demonstrated experience in tackling research projects, he contributes in the development of grant applications, strategic policy-making and project management. His diverse research interests, reflected in his published works focus on social and public policy issues. He is an avid peace practitioner, and promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in Canadian multicultural context. Having lived and worked in several countries, Syed has gained an appreciation for diverse cultures, which translates in his strong aptitude for social justice.

Rushel Briscoe  Picture

Rushel Briscoe

Pronounciation: Ru / shel

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Project Lead

Rushel is the Project Lead at First Work, joining in May 2022 With experience working in both Toronto and London, Ontario; Rushel brings a decade of expertise in designing and managing employment programs to her role. Prior to joining First Work, Rushel championed re-integration employment programs with Elizabeth Fry focused on incarcerated women and also sex workers. Building on her Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression work in London; Rushel is passionate about creating equitable outcome through transparency, accountability and thought leadership.

Amma Profile Picture

Amma Dapaah

Pronounciation: Ah / mah

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Finance and Administration Coordinator

Amma is the Finance and Administration Coordinator at First Work, joining the team in May 2022. With experience in the security and logistics industry, Amma bring with her years of finance and operations management. Most recently, Amma journeyed into self-employment, starting her own cosmetics business as an artist and educator. In joining First Work, Amma maintains her entrepreneurial spirit while revisiting experience in business fundamentals.

Lucas Profile Picture

Lucas Solowey

Pronounciation: Loo / cuss

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Communications and Public Affairs Coordinator

Lucas is the Communications and Public Affairs Coordinator at First Work, joining the team in June 2022. Lucas is in the final stages of completing his Public Relations certificate at Toronto Metropolitan University, where he received the 2021 leaders in learning award. He is passionate about communications and has a decade of experience in working with non-profit organizations, ethical businesses, politicians, celebrities, film directors, professional athletes, musicians, and philanthropists to bring attention to important issues and campaigns. At First Work, Lucas is dedicated to sharing stories that relate to youth and how employment opportunities make a difference. 

Gabriel Profile Picture

Gabriel Busca

Pronounciation: Gai / bree / uhl

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Public Affairs Assistant

Gabriel Busca is the Public Affairs Assistant at First Work, following over 6 years of work in customer service. Bringing experience in volunteer and program coordination, Gabriel approaches all his work as an active listener, investigator, and critical thinker. Most recently, Gabriel was a CanStudyUS Fellow at the Ryerson Leadership Lab following years of youth leadership at the YMCA of Greater Toronto. He continues to leverage his academic background in bioethics and health policy to further his commitment to equitable access in the employment services sector.

Mahesha Profile Picture

Mahesha Amirthasivam

Pronounciation: M uh / h ai sh

Pronouns: She / Her(s)

Community Outreach Coordinator

Mahesha is the Community Outreach Coordinator at First Work, joining in September 2022. With her experience surrounding youth work, Mahesha previously worked for the Canadian Tamil Youth Development Centre as a Youth Outreach Worker, where she worked closely with marginalized Tamil youth. Most recently, she graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. In joining First Work, Mahesha continues her experience in supporting youth through outreaching. In the after hours, Mahesha enjoys listening to music and binging TV shows.