Board of Directors

Board of Directors 2020-2021

Andrew Vassos

MentoringLeader and developer of people.  Innovator of talent mapping through intricate mentorship programs.  Guided on several cross-functional Bank-wide projects aligned to culture, clients and compensation.  Champion of Community awareness, engagement, and involvement across various organizations.  Coordinated and promoted several Community initiatives aligned to career planning, progression, and workforce integration. Enthusiastic about the opportunity to make a difference, and live by the guiding principal “if you don’t endeavor you don’t evolve”!   

Arlene Clement

Arlene is a Director of Services at the University of Toronto. She has over fifteen years’ experience in leadership in a unionized environment, with a strong track record of strategic leadership, and expertise in human resources, financial management, policy development, and consensus building in a complex multi-stakeholder environment. Alene has over 12 years of experience serving on the Board of Directors of two non-profit charitable organizations, including periods of chairing Boards. Both from her professional life and from her experience as a community leader, Arlene brings to the Board excellent communication, listening and facilitation skills, with experience working with diverse populations and individuals of all walks of life.

Brandin O’Connor


Brandin O’Connor is a partner at Shields O’Donnell MacKillop LLP in Toronto where he provides labour and employment law advice and representation to management, including in collective bargaining for a number of not-for-profit organizations. Brandin is the former President of the Board of Directors of Cycle Toronto where he served as a director for six (6) years, from 2013 to 2019. Prior to private practice, Brandin served as law clerk to the Chief Justice of Ontario.

Ferzana Chaze

Dr. Ferzana Chaze is an experienced educator and research professional.  She is a subject matter expert on issues related to immigration and settlement, diversity and social inclusion. Ferzana has a demonstrated expertise in leadership and governance in a variety of contexts and with diverse groups of persons. Ferzana is a full-time professor at the Faculty of Applied Health and Community Studies at Sheridan College. Prior to this, she was involved in research, education and knowledge mobilization at Ryerson University.

Golam Ahmed


Golam has more than 14 years of experience in Customer Relationship Management as a Relationship Manager and extensive experience in Business Development. He is currently working at RBC as Business Account Manager and has years of experience in the Banking sector from Personal Banking to Business Banking. Golam holds an MBA in Finance & Marketing and pursuing CGA at Level 3, he also finished an Executive Program at Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto.
Golam was introduced to Culturelink as a Newcomer Program Attendee, he was a mentee and later became a mentor at Luminato, Playing for Keeps, NEAT Walk, Wintegration, attended BikeHost, Career Management program, volunteered at Pan Am Games Toronto 2015 as a Crew, Venue Management. Golam is a Speaker at Speakers Bureau at United Way and Council Member at Scarborough Rough Hospital – Philanthropic Council. He is also a workshop facilitator at YMCA called, “Networking for Jobs” and “Personal Financing Strategy for New Canadians”. Golam is a Career Planning Facilitator at La Passerelle-IDE for French Speaking New Canadians (Personal Development and Career Coaching) and a Career Mentor at TRIEC, ACCES Employment, NeighbourhoodLink and YMCA. He is very engaged in the community and volunteered for Sherbourne Health Centre, WEDay 2015, 2016, 2018, Jays Care Foundation and Geneva Centre for Autism. During his role as a mentor for different organizations, he helped 15 new Canadians to settle in different fields of their interest. Golam brings to the Board a personal understanding of newcomers’ needs and a passion for supporting individuals in their path to growth.

Helen Latimer

Newcomer Career Mentoring
Founder and Principal of 925 Resources Inc., providing customized career planning and professional development for individuals and businesses.  A former executive with over 20 years of corporate experience, a career coach and author of a book on career planning.  Extensive business experience including serving as both a Director and Vice President with DIRECTV Inc. in Los Angeles. Canadian experience includes Director of Marketing with ExpressVu. Member of The Business Success Coach Network and John McKee and Associates, prestigious international coaching organizations with members in over 20 countries. Co-author of The Plan: Personal Balance, Career Success, Financial Strength.

Marsha Brown

Since entering the not-for-profit sector in 1994, Marsha Brown has committed her time, expertise and resources to the work of supporting inner city youth, women and children fleeing domestic violence or at risk of homelessness. Over her career, she has liaised with a host of agencies in Toronto with the single mandate of positively impacting the lives of the most vulnerable in our city. A Personal Branding and Professional Development Consultant, Marsha is currently the Vice-President of the Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment. The organization is committed to building the self-esteem & self-worth of young women and girls by changing their outlook on life, broadening their horizons, and guiding them towards self-empowerment. During her 18 plus years at the YWCA Toronto, she worked in a number of capacities, specializing in facilitating transformative programs for clients. Ms. Brown has established herself in the community as a Social Justice Advocate and Philanthropist, aligning individuals with opportunities and resources for them to achieve their goals. She is also an active member of The Junior League of Toronto an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. In addition, Marsha is a Director with the Ryerson University Alumni Association, her alma mater, where Marsha established the Women Champions of Diversity Award in 2019, to commemorate her 50th Birthday. To date she has raised over $13,000 plus for female students leading advocacy initiatives at the school. Her mantra is “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – Gandhi. A devoted mom to her two wonderful children Kia and Kory, Marsha has a Bachelor of Social Work and a Minor in Public Administrator from Ryerson University, complemented by an extensive list of professional certificates.

Rob Manne

Rob is an independent brand, communications and marketing consultant. For nearly 20 years, Rob has built brands and helped them succeed in a disrupted world. Rob has worked for leading firms Interbrand, Edelman and Cohn & Wolfe, and at Rogers Communications. In addition to serving on the Culturelink board, Rob is also on the Advisory Board of Humber College and advisor to social media commerce company Candid. Rob’s won awards, but he’s driven by partnering with great people and organizations to make an impact.

Ruba Bilal

20 years working with national and international organization,  skilled in developing, managing and implementing projects in conflict areas, developer of policies, procedures and systems, HR professional, knowledge on human rights, experienced in mobilization of activists and youth, advocacy passionate, conflict resolution, training and empowering women and youth, creating training materials on human rights and politic literacy. Worked with refugees, demonstrated expertise in refugees’ settlement.

Samuel Elkebbi

Samuel is an international investment banker, deep thinker, and effective communicator with exceptional investment insight. For over 20 years he has been providing managerial, investment, financial and organizational services. His substantial experience was gained in financial institutions, investment management, private equity, and family offices over the global financial capital markets. Sam served on many boards of directors for private and public organizations. He is very engaged with the community as a fundraiser for Princess Margret Foundation, career mentor and volunteers at TRIEC, Youth employment services, and Entrepreneurship program at Ryerson University, Toronto Rehab Foundation and Election Canada.

Wendy-Ann Horning

Wendy-Ann Horning recently retired from Wells Fargo Financial, where she was a Manager of Specialty Collections, starting in 1997. She previously worked for GE Capital as the Account Services Manager for their Auto Leasing portfolio. Wendy was a member of Wells Fargo’s first Canadian Diversity Council. Wendy first came to know CultureLink in 2000, where volunteering with the English Conversation Circle was a suitable ‘fit’. She became a board member in 2001 serving on the Board until 2005, including a short period as Chair of the Board. Wendy was on the board of Sojourn House, a refugee shelter in downtown Toronto, where she was the President up until her term on the Board ended in June 2011.

Yafang Shi

Yafang Shi is a seasoned journalist whose journalistic career has spanned for over 20 years. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of www.lovingsister.com, a website with a mission to help build an equitable and inclusive society. Prior to this, she worked for Radio Canada International of CBC, Fairchild TV/Talentvision TV and Ming Pao Daily News. Her photography of Women’ Marches has been exhibited in Canada and China. She has spoken on women’s voices in media, feminist activism, anti-racism and political participation of Chinese Canadians at international academic conferences and various panels and provided commentaries on feminist issues for media. In addition, she has advocated for equitable and inclusive access for journalists at virtual press conferences to ask questions of the Government of Ontario and improvement of the art exhibits policy at the Markham Public Library. Her activism has extended to mentoring students on researching and writing on social justice issues. She holds a MSc in sociology from the London School of Economics.

Board Meetings

Board meetings are open to the public; meetings start at 6:30 pm at 301-2340 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON.

For more information please contact Claudia Rivera at crivera@culturelink.ca.

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