The Council is the 21-member governing body and board of directors that manages and administers College affairs. The Council is composed of:
- Seven social workers who are members of the College and who are elected by the members of the College in accordance with the bylaws.
- Seven social service workers who are members of the College and who are elected by the members of the College in accordance with the bylaws.
- Seven persons who are appointed by the Ontario Government.
The College’s primary duty is to serve and protect the public interest while promoting high standards of practice for the professions. At the same time the College encourages a robust interactive relationship with members, stakeholders and the public. To steer and guide these processes, Council’s primary governance function is policy development. The policies developed by Council provide direction to the College and to staff.
Council regularly engages in a strategic planning process. View the current Strategic Map
Council meetings are open to the public. Dates are announced on this website and highlights from each meeting are published on the website and in our Perspective newsletter.
Kenta Asakura – Elected Social Worker
Kenta Asakura is an Assistant Professor at the Carleton University School of Social Work. Kenta engages in a robust program of research on clinical social work education and practice. Prior to entering academia, Kenta spent nearly 15 years practising clinical social work across three jurisdictions (New York, Washington and Ontario) in diverse settings, including children’s mental health, family services, residential treatment, settlement services, and private practice. He continues to engage in the field of social work as a clinical consultant for local agency-based practitioners. Kenta obtained his MSW from Smith College School for Social Work, and PhD from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto.
Amanda Bettencourt – Elected Social Service Worker
Amanda Bettencourt is a social service worker graduate from Mohawk College, mom to a beautiful little girl, and a current full-time advance standing BSW student at Ryerson University. She works part-time as a family access worker with YWCA Hamilton. Prior to this, Amanda was working as a peer tutor while she attended Mohawk College, and went on to cover a medical leave at her last placement: The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic. Amanda seized the opportunity to become an OCSWSSW Council member as she believes in promoting registration with the College to fellow social service workers and hopes to advocate for policy-level change which will be seen not only in the field, but by the public as well.
Charlene Crews – Elected Social Service Worker
Charlene Crews is a mental health clinician with over 28 years of experience working with marginalized and homeless populations. She brings a diversity of experience and transferable skills developed through direct service and program development work across sectors of child and adult mental health and addictions, hospital and community health care, patient advocacy, corrections, homelessness and social housing. Charlene worked for 10 years with the CATCH Program at St Michael’s Hospital and currently works in an adjudicator role with Toronto Community Housing. Charlene also continues to work as a Rights Adviser with the MOHLTC – Psychiatric Patient Advocates Office and as a course instructor for case management. Charlene maintains active roles on multiple community advocacy boards in the homeless and mental health sectors. Charlene holds a strong interest in health law, privacy and ethics. She holds certificates in advanced adjudication from Osgoode Hall, family therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, interpersonal medication and health service management and is currently pursuing a degree in health administration at Ryerson University.
Angèle Desormeau – Elected Social Service Worker
Angèle Desormeau was first elected to OCSWSSW Council in 2016. She graduated with a BA in psychology (University of Ottawa) in 1985 and received a diploma in addictions studies from McMaster University in 1993. From 1986 to 1990 she worked in child welfare and with youth. She has had the privilege of being employed with the great team at South Cochrane Addictions Services since 1990 and has been in a leadership role since 2006. Angèle is an active member with many community/district/regional working groups and committees including, but not limited to: Cochrane District Addiction and Mental Health Systems Group, Community Mobilization Timmins, and the North East LHIN Mental Health and Addiction Advisory Council. This year, Angèle was presented with the opportunity to return to her love of teaching adult students at Northern College (Timmins Campus) on a part-time basis.
Karen Fromm – Public Member
Karen Fromm is the owner and operator of Barrhaven and Area Safety Instructional Courses (BASICS), through which she teaches the My Safe Life Course, produced by the SOS 4 Kids Organization, and the Home Alone and Babysitting Course, produced by the Canada Safety Council. She is also employed by the Ottawa Catholic School Board at St Patrick Elementary School as a Supply Teacher, Tutor and PALS Program Organizer. Previously, Karen was employed as a Child, Youth, Family and Community Coordinator at the YM/YWCA in Nepean and Kanata. She has delivered behaviour modification programs for troubled youth and counselling services and conducted seminars and discussion groups pertaining to children’s issues. She is a graduate of Niagara College in Welland in the Human Relations Program, and an honour graduate of Algonquin College’s Child and Youth Worker Program, where she was awarded the Child and Youth Worker Program Faculty Award for Leadership and Academic/Field Placement Excellence.
Judy Gardner – Elected Social Service Worker
Judy holds a bachelor of arts and also received a social service work diploma with honours in 2013. Her diverse educational background also includes administration, criminology, early childhood and women’s studies. She is currently a college instructor specializing in addictions and community service work. Judy has over 10 years of frontline professional experience supporting adults with developmental disabilities and has a passion to advocate for the marginalized. Judy was elected to Council in May 2014.
Sanjay Govindaraj – Elected Social Worker
Sanjay Govindaraj graduated with an MSW from TISS (1994) and a master’s in applied environmental studies from UW in 2004. Over the last 25 years, Sanjay has led projects related to poverty, food security, housing, child prostitution and HIV/AIDS prevention. Currently employed with the Region of Waterloo as Service Planning Associate, he is leading the Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility compliance and Indigenous portfolios. He also provides counselling on a part-time basis at Aligned Health in Waterloo and Frontline Forward in Kitchener. Wilfrid Laurier University awarded the title Associate Practicum Professor (part-time) for his years of supervising MSW students. Sanjay has been on numerous boards with not-for-profit organizations and is an active mentor for new immigrants/refugees. Sanjay was elected to the Council in 2018.
Shelley Hale – Elected Social Service Worker
Shelley is a registered social service worker and registered social worker with over 20 years of experience in the field of mental health. She graduated from Algonquin College’s Intensive Social Service Worker Diploma Program and has been registered with the College since its inception. Shelley previously served on the OCSWSSW Council for the first 10 years and was re-elected to Council in 2016. She is currently the Director of Patient Care Services for the Royal Ottawa Operational Stress Injury Clinic at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. Shelley’s previous clinical work experiences were all community based and her administrative career at The Royal has led her to complete a certificate in program management through the University of British Columbia. She is currently pursuing her masters in leadership at Royal Roads University.
Frances Keogh – Elected Social Worker
Frances has over 16 years’ experience of working with employee assistance programmes and now is an occasional presenter of workshops for EPA companies, through Family Service Thames Valley, in London. She was born in Ireland and attended university in both Dublin and Edinburgh, Scotland. Her previous clinical experience has been in child welfare, in/out-patient mental health services, family services, and community outreach and development. She has been employed by not-for-profit organizations, hospitals, health and welfare departments, and community agencies. She has had both clinical social work experience and training in five countries and over the past 25 years has been employed in two Canadian provinces. Frances was elected to Council in 2016.
Faiza Khalid-Khan – Public Member
Faiza Khalid-Khan currently serves as the Director of Mental Health & Addictions, William Osler Health System, and formerly served as the Director of Quality, Recovery & Patient Experience, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. Her community involvement has included serving as a member of the Quality & Safety Committee at the Scarborough and Rouge Hospital. She has over 17 years of experience in various clinical and leadership roles in a hospital setting. A registered social worker, Faiza graduated with a bachelor of social work (BSW) from York University and achieved her master of social work (MSW) from the University of Toronto.
Lisa Kostakis – Public Member
Lisa Kostakis is the Executive Director of Albion Neighbourhood Services, where she has demonstrated leadership and commitment in carrying out the mission and vision of the agency and the clients that it serves. Lisa holds a degree in psychology from York University and a degree in social work from Ryerson University. She has worked for more than 30 years in the social service sector, beginning in Regent Park, where she worked with high-risk children and youth ages six to 24, and their families. Lisa was also a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
Toula Kourgiantakis – Elected Social Worker
Toula Kourgiantakis is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. She teaches courses on social work practice in mental health and her research interests are in social work education and family-centred practices in mental health and addictions. Her research and teaching are informed by more than 25 years of clinical practice across different settings. Toula is a certified couple and family therapist and a clinical fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She continues to work with families in private practice and she also offers consultation and supervision to professionals and agencies.
Mukesh Kowlessar – Elected Social Service Worker
Mukesh Kowlessar previously served on the OCSWSSW Council from its inception until 2013. During this time he served on the Executive Committee and as College President for four years. Mukesh recently retired as a program manager for the City of London. He has over 30 years of leadership experience in the municipal and provincial sectors in social services. Mukesh was formerly an adjudicator with the Landlord and Tenant Board and is currently a consultant in strategic planning. Prior to his retirement, Mukesh worked within the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) on the Social Services Solution Modernization Project in leading change management to Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program offices. He holds certificates in mediation – alternate dispute resolution and executive management from Western University; certification in crisis and critical incident stress management and a social service worker diploma from Fanshawe College.
Andy Kusi-Appiah – Public Member
Andy Kusi-Appiah of Kanata is a demographer by training; and an adjunct professor at Carleton University’s Department of Geography and Environmental Studies. Between 2004 and 2006, Andy served as the Senior Advisor on Diversity Issues to then Mayor of Ottawa, Bob Chiarelli. As senior advisor to the Mayor of Ottawa, Andy led many multi-disciplinary teams to solve complex diversity issues in a timely and sensitive manner. He also led multi-disciplinary research in identifying policy initiative opportunities, and strategic policy options including monitoring the development and implementation of City policies with a diversity lens. Over the years Andy has contributed voluntarily to numerous organizations focusing on socio-cultural, educational and integration issues affecting citizens of Ottawa. For example, he served on the City of Ottawa’s Equity & Diversity Advisory Committee, Homelessness Task Force, Task Force on Somali Youth, Tsunami Relief Committee, Crime Prevention Board, and Interfaith Ottawa. Andy writes frequently on diversity issues in the online magazine Black Ottawa Scene. In 2007, Andy received Black History Ottawa’s award for outstanding service to the community. Andy also received the Ghanaian-Canadian Achievement Award for outstanding service to the community in 2010.
Richard (Rick) Lamb – Public Member
Rick Lamb is a semi-retired principal with the Thames Valley District School Board, where he has been employed for the past 30 years as an administrator and teacher in a variety of assignments. He is currently working as an Education Consultant for the Children’s Aid Society of London Middlesex and sits on the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club of London. Prior to his career in education, he worked as a child and youth worker at Madame Vanier Children’s Services in London, providing support and counselling to children and their families in both residential and day school programs. Rick attended the University of Western Ontario and holds a BA in administrative and commercial studies (public administration and public policy) and a BEd from Althouse College. He is also a graduate of the Child and Youth Worker Program at Fanshawe College.
Gerald Mak – Public Member
Gerald Mak is currently Senior Manager, Global Risk Management at Scotiabank. Heavily involved in his community, Gerald has spent over 15 years volunteering on various community boards, steering and advisory committees with St. John Ambulance, City of Toronto, Toronto District School Board, Digital Media Zone, Big Brothers and Sisters, University Health Network and the Toronto Police Service. Gerald is extremely passionate about social issues and the well-being of others. For his community work, he has received several awards including the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism, Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers, and Canada’s Volunteer Award. He holds a commerce degree from the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, and an executive master’s degree in communications from McMaster University.
Sue-Ellen Merritt – Elected Social Service Worker
Sue-Ellen Merritt graduated with honours from Niagara College’s Social Service Worker Program in 1996. She has served on the Niagara College Social Service Worker Advisory Board for 15 years, and was Chair of the Board’s Legislation Sub-Committee. Currently retired, Sue-Ellen was employed for 20 years by Niagara Health System, Mental Health and Addictions, where she provided direct client support and held the positions of Smoking Cessation Coordinator and Gambling Coordinator. Sue-Ellen was also a small business manager for 15 years for a privately owned natural gas company, and served as an elected official for Township West Lincoln from 2003-14. Prior to 2003, she served as Chair of the Township’s Committee of Adjustment for 10 years. Sue-Ellen was an OCSWSSW Council member from 2000-2010, during which she was elected to the Executive Committee for those same years and held a Vice-President position from 2001-2010.
Donald Panton – Elected Social Worker
Donald Panton, RSW, obtained a combined bachelor in gerontology and religious studies, and a bachelor of social work from McMaster University. He has certificates in palliative care, disaster chaplaincy and spiritual care, and recently completed field instructor training at McMaster University. Donald has been working at Hamilton Health Sciences since 1994, most recently in medicine social work. Prior to this position, he worked as a health-care aide at Brantwood Life Care and was a part-time lecturer (fashion/clothing and textiles) at the University of West Indies in Jamaica. Donald currently volunteers as a church elder, adult Sabbath School teacher and treasurer at Hamilton East SDA Church, and as a disaster preparedness chaplain for Ontario Conference SDA Church. Donald has also served in various positions on the Unit Council of the Oncology unit, Grandview Adventist Academy school board, to name a few.
Vinita Puri – Elected Social Worker
Vinita Puri has worked as a professional social worker, clinical therapist and family mediator since 2009. Vinita possesses a specialized honours BA in sociology from York University; a master’s in social work from Wilfrid Laurier University; and a master’s in criminology, specializing in neurocriminological research from the University of Cambridge (U.K.). In addition, she has acquired certifications in alternative dispute resolution; family mediation; solution-focused therapy; cognitive behavioural therapy; mental health first aid; and crisis intervention stress management (CISM). At the present time, Vinita is the Clinical Director of the Psychotherapy Division of Intelligent Health Group (IHG). IHG is a nationally incorporated health and wellness organization, with its corporate headquarters based in Brampton, Ontario. In 2017, Vinita was elected to serve as a Council Member for the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW).
Lisa Seburn – Elected Social Worker
Lisa Seburn was first elected to the OCSWSSW Council in 2016. She is a graduate of the Honours Bachelor of Social Work Program at the University of Western Ontario, as well as the Master of Social Work Program from Lakehead University. She is employed as a Social Worker and Team Leader at St. Joseph’s Care Group in Thunder Bay, working with adults in a community-based mental health program.
Déirdre Smith – Public Member
Déirdre Smith is the Manager of the Standards of Practice and Education unit of the Ontario College of Teachers where she has led the collaborative development of the Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession and the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession. Déirdre has also coordinated the policy development of over 350 Additional Qualification (AQ) course guidelines and programs for teacher and leadership education. Déirdre has presented nationally and internationally on many topics including educational leadership, ethical practice, ethical standards and standards of practice. Déirdre has been published in the areas of cases, teacher education, leadership, inclusive education and ethics. Her experience as a professional facilitator, school principal, education consultant, special education administrator, teacher educator, youth counselor and classroom teacher inform her work in policy development, teacher education, leadership formation, professional learning and organizational development.