Board of Directors 2020-2021

Carolyn Warkentin, President

South Essex Community CouncilLeamington, ON

Carolyn Warkentin has been the Executive Director at South Essex Community Council in Leamington, Ontario for the past ten years. Prior to that, she spent ten years in the employment sector as an Employment Consultant and a Program Manager. She has been the Southwest Rep for the past ten years and brings a good deal of past board experience with her. Carolyn is currently sitting on two other boards, one of which she is the Chair. Carolyn also delivers board governance training to other non-profit boards on behalf of United Way Centraide Windsor-Essex. Carolyn has a Bachelor of Arts Degree, a Career Practitioner’s Certificate, and a Certified Association Executive certification from the Canadian Society of Association Executives.

Gillian Watters, Vice President ​​​

KEYS Employment Counselling ServicesKingston, ON

Gillian Watters is currently the Director of Programs at Kingston Employment & Youth Services (KEYS) and has been part of the First Work/OAYEC network for over 25 years. A graduate of both Queen’s (BA/BEd) and St. Lawrence (BST), Gillian has spent most of her career in the field of workforce development and career counseling. Her years of front-line experience as a teacher, career counselor, and job developer bring a pragmatism to an otherwise creative approach to program development. In her current role, Gillian is particularly passionate about creating programs, which support people through the transition to sustainable employment; and supporting community-led initiatives to grow local economies. Gillian has been a director and/or officer on numerous boards over the years and is currently a Director of Kingston Economic Development as well as the Eastern Region Representative and Director with First Work.

LeeAnne Maille, Treasurer

Director of Operations, YES Employment Services – North Bay, ON

LeeAnne Maille is the Director of Operations at Yes Employment Services in North Bay. She brings to the First Work Board 20 years’ experience in the field where she has worked in both front line and management roles. She brings a solid understanding of the complexities surrounding the issue of youth employment, as well as experience addressing these issues by taking on leadership, advocacy and collaborative roles when needed. LeeAnne’s experience includes both Ministry and community lead committees and initiatives including the EOIS External Reference Group, the local Homelessness and Housing Partnership, the Crown Ward Education Championship Table, the OYAP steering community for the local French catholic school board and the local Newcomer Network. LeeAnne looks forward to continuing to contribute to improvements in the area of youth employment as a member of the First Work Board of Directors.

Laryssa Smith, South West Region Representative

Manager, Employment Services John Howard Society Niagara  – Welland, ON

Laryssa has been with the John Howard Society of Niagara for 16 years in a variety of capacities. Her primary role has been in the employment services division, Job Gym, as part of the management team, with a staff of over 30 individuals in both Welland and Fort Erie, and 8 provincially funded programs.

Previously Laryssa worked as a group facilitator and employment counsellor ‎ assisting and coaching clients with diverse backgrounds. Her expertise lies primarily in youth employment issues and pre-employment training using cognitive behavior techniques. Laryssa has acted in an advisory capacity for First Work, the Ontario Association of Youth Employment Centres. In addition, Laryssa is an active member in cross Regional committees and groups including Executive member of YES Niagara, Executive member Welland Neighbourhood Projects, former Employment Service management advisor with Literacy and Basic Skills; Literacy Service Providers and Common Frontline Group, Erie Service Providers, and Youth Engagement Community of Practice. Laryssa’s strengths includes a hands on leadership approach, mentoring and coaching and responding to labour market demands using her creativity and ability to be a forward thinker. Laryssa’s focus at the moment is performing statistical analysis of all employment service reports and evaluating the effectiveness of current practices and behaviours.

Laryssa has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Management Certificate and Human Services. She has a passion for studying social behaviour, especially in the not for profit sector.

Donna Sedore, Northern Region Representative

District of Parry Sound Employment Service –  Sunridge, ON

Donna Sedore began her career with Employment North in 1984, and has been leading the organization since 1999, in the role of Executive Director. During this time Employment North has tripled in size and has offices in Gravenhurst and Sundridge, all the while growing youth program opportunities. Donna has served as Chair of Northern Partners for more than 10 years and has been a Board Member at First Work for 4 years. Donna is proud to say that she has been participating in First Work conferences and activities supporting youth since First Work began in 1988.

Kim Patel, Central Region Representative

Director of Employment Services, The Neighbourhood Group – St. Stephens Community House  –  Toronto, ON

She has been in the employment field for close to two decades supporting job seekers in a variety of programs in many roles including Resource Counsellor, Job Developer and Coordinator. Kim strives to empower her team to provide exceptional support to the Employment & Training Centre’s participants. This support includes finding employment opportunities that fall within the decent work realm.

Susan Watts, Eastern Region Representative

Executive Director, Employment and Education Centre  –  Brockville, ON

Sue Watts is the Executive Director of the Employment + Education Centre, a charitable, not-for-profit, multi-service organization. Sue has over 25 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector and prides herself on building and growing community collaborations for the purpose of meeting the needs of and positively impacting her communities.

Sue is the recipient of National, Provincial and Local awards for her work in this sector. Sue is an Executive Member of the ONESTEP Board of Directors (provincial) and an Executive Member of Credit Counselling Canada Board of Directors (national). Locally, she is an active member of a number of boards and committees including; City of Brockville Economic Development Advisory Committee, Victim Services of Leeds, Grenville and Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Poverty Reduction Alliance, EKIOC Transportation Committee, RNJ Youth Services, Leeds and Grenville Immigration Partnership Council and Employment /Settlement Committee.

Suzanne Coutu , French Language Service Representative

Job Developer and Program Manager, CERF Niagara – Regional Municipality of Niagara, ON

Suzanne holds the position of Job Developer and Program Manager duties with CERF Niagara (Centre d’emploi et de ressources francophone), the only Francophone employment center in the Niagara Region. For the past 7 years she has supported youth with career counselling, including the French community, to achieve their employment goals. Suzanne enjoys facilitating a variety of youth workshops within the two French schoolboards as well as Brock University.

Suzanne is also a Board member with the Club Richelieu Niagara Falls since 2009 where she was Secretary, Director, and President. She enjoyed leading the Club’s annual Wine and Cheese Auction Fundraisers, amongst other fundraisers, with all proceeds going back into the community to support families, children and youth.

As a parent of young adults herself, Suzanne can relate to some of the challenges youth might face while on their journey to employment. She will draw from her knowledge and experiences in continuing to support the youth as a member of the board with First Work.

Ian Nyman, Member at Large Representative

YMCA of Greater Toronto-York Region  –  Richmond Hill, ON

Ian’s involvement in the field of youth employment in Toronto commenced in 1987, and he has been with the YMCA of Greater Toronto for the past 20 years. His experience in employment counseling and job development has helped him develop an appreciation for the struggles that many job-seeking individuals go through, and he is amazed and impressed by the tenacity and diligence that so many of his clientele have demonstrated to find and maintain employment, and improve their lives. He owes his success as the General Manager of the York Region Employment Services to the many staff that he has had the privilege of working alongside, in the past and today.

Jordon Myers, Indigenous Representative​

Team Leader, Employment Ontario Grand River Employment and Training  –  Ohsweken, ON

Jordon Myers is the Team Leader at Grand River Employment and Training. She brings to the First Work Board over 10 years’ experience in the Employment & Training profession; where she has worked in both front line and supervisory roles. Jordon has an inclusive understanding of the multiple barriers that youth face in the employment and training filed; where she specializes in Indigenous Employment. Jordon provides ongoing support and insight into the challenges faced by Indigenous youth.

Jordon has her Social Services Diploma, Sociology and Social Work degree and has recently completed her Masters of Social Work at the University of Western. Her education in the Social Work occupation has been an asset and is complimentary when working with clients who are experiencing barriers to employment.

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