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 2020-2023 Strategic Map.
Durel Allen – Elected Social Worker
Durel Allen is a registered social worker with almost 15 years of experience in social work, having practised in the United States, Jamaica and Canada. Her cross-cultural experience has afforded her a keen sense of cultural sensitivity that comes with working with various populations in a variety of social contexts, including intimate partner violence, adult and youth justice, and adult and youth mental health. Durel obtained her MSW at McMaster University in 2010, where she researched how immigrant women experienced and perceived services for intimate partner violence. She is currently in private practice focusing on areas such as trauma (including racialized trauma), relationships and the self.
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.
Chisanga Chekwe – Public Member
Chisanga Chekwe brings a wealth of governance, development, business and legal expertise to College Council. Chisanga has served as Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Women’s Issues, Seniors’ Affairs, and International Trade in Ontario; Chair and CEO of the Social Benefits Tribunal; Executive Director at Oxfam; and adjudication officer and United Nations observer support officer monitoring elections in South Africa; Supervisor of the post-war election in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He also spent six years with the Ontario Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, serving as a board member and Chair of the Board. Chisanga studied law at the University of Birmingham in England, before he received a master of laws degree from the University of London. He then read philosophy, politics and economics at the University of Oxford, resulting in BA and MA degrees.
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 mediation and health service management and is currently pursuing a degree in health administration at Ryerson University.
Angèle Desormeau – Elected Social Service Worker
Angèle Desormeau is a registered social service worker and was first elected to the OCSWSSW Council in 2016 where she has participated on various committees, including the Discipline, Fitness to Practise, Registration Appeals and Standards of Practice Committees. Angèle graduated with a BA in psychology (University of Ottawa) in 1985 and a diploma in addictions studies in 1993 (McMaster University). From 1986 to 1990, she worked in child welfare and with youth. She has had the privilege of working with a great team at South Cochrane Addiction Services since 1990 and maintained a leadership role since 2006. She achieved a Program of Study in Leadership from the Canadian Management Centre in 2012. Angèle is an active member with many community, district and regional groups. In 2019/20, 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.
John Fleming – Public Member
John started his career as a social worker but rapidly rose through the management ranks of local and provincial governments as well as not‐for‐profits, achieving senior leadership positions in several organizations, including service as a municipal CAO, Deputy Minister in Ontario and as CEO of a national health charity. After completing his full‐time career, he continued his leadership work by achieving the Chartered Director designation and opening his ‘occasional’ consulting practice. Since 2008, John has focused his work around governance teaching and advice, executive mentoring and coaching, and group facilitation, especially emphasizing his ability to help boards and teams work effectively to identify and achieve common goals. John is the Integrity Commissioner for the Town of Caledon and Past Chair of the Board of Governors of Sheridan College; has and continues to serve on numerous other boards and committees, and is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of Halton Healthcare Services and of Ovarian Cancer Canada. He is also a past Director of OMERS Sponsors Corporation. He is currently the Co-Chair of the Greater Hamilton Health Network’s Partnership Council. John is now a Vice-President of the Council.
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 27 years, Sanjay has led projects related to poverty, food security, housing, child prostitution, Indigenous Reconciliation, accessibility and strategic planning. He is currently employed with the City of Waterloo as Director – Indigenous Initiatives, Anti-Racism, Accessibility and Equity, and also provides counselling on a part-time basis at Aligned Health in Waterloo for equity deserving group. Wilfrid Laurier University awarded Sanjay 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 and is currently the Co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Group.
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.
Frances Keogh – Elected Social Worker
Frances recently retired from social work practice with a not-for profit agency in London after 20 years working with employee assistance programs and a community team. She was born in Ireland and attended universities in both Ireland and Scotland, graduating with the equivalent of an MSW, before emigrating to Canada and then living and working in two provinces – Saskatchewan and Ontario. Her previous professional social work employment has included child welfare, in/out-patient mental health services, family services, and community outreach and development. During 33 years of practice, she has had many diverse cross-cultural experiences ranging from providing frontline social work services in the midst of a civil war to supporting marginalized youth through the justice system to engaging in a research project with disadvantaged families. She has lived in seven countries and has had both clinical social work experience and training in five countries. Frances was elected to Council in 2016.
Mukesh Kowlessar – Elected Social Service Worker
Mukesh Kowlessar is currently Council President, having returned to the College Council in 2016 after serving previously on Council from its inception until 2013 and as Council President for four years. Mukesh has served on many of the College’s committees including the Executive and Finance Committees. Following his retirement, he has continued to play an active role at the College and to pursue other interests in improving governance in the public service. Mukesh 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 a Registrar at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice; he is also currently a consultant in strategic planning. Mukesh is a strong proponent in ensuring a diversity, equity and inclusion lens in the business of governance and in society in general. He holds certificates in mediation, alternative dispute resolution and executive management from Western University, and certification in crisis and critical incident stress management and a social service worker diploma from Fanshawe College.
Carrie McEachran – Public Member
Carrie McEachran is the Executive Director of Sarnia-Lambton Rebound. Mrs. McEachran carries a master’s degree in leadership from Royal Roads University, a developmental services worker diploma from Loyalist College and a non-profit management certificate from Western University. Her community involvement includes being an active Rotarian for 16 years including a term as President of the Rotary Club of Sarnia. She has served previous terms on boards of directors for North Lambton Community Health Centre, Sarnia-Lambton Physician Recruitment Taskforce and a provincial board member for PAVRO (Professional Association of Volunteer Leaders-Ontario). She is an active member and volunteer of the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce, Arlanxeo Community Advisory Committee and the current chairperson for the Sarnia-Lambton Social Services Network.
Christopher McIntosh – Elected Social Worker
Christopher McIntosh serves as the executive lead of a community-based, comprehensive health centre and works alongside dedicated employees, volunteers, and resident leaders to enhance the health and safety of those living in Ottawa and through regional services. Christopher’s professional and volunteer contributions have included working in the areas of primary care, housing, and mental health for organizations across Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. These experiences are enhanced by his academic credentials including a master’s degree in social work and certificates in health care leadership. Dedicated to bringing people together to solve problems collectively, Christopher is energized by helping others discover their passions and removing barriers for both clients and colleagues. Christopher’s approach is founded in addressing barriers to equity-deserving community members and relentless in addressing the social determinants of health. Overall, Christopher is committed to improving the spectrum of support and access for all clients.
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.
Pamela Murphy – Public Member
Pamela Murphy is the retired Manager, Housing Service, Community and Human Services, Hastings County. Pam has worked for more than 25 years in the social services field, first as the Executive Director for Prince Edward Child Care Services, then in social housing where she worked on site as the housing administrator for a cooperative housing provider in Belleville. She joined the Hastings County Housing Services Department as the Supervisor of Non Profit Housing in 2004 and became Manager of Housing Services in 2013. During her career in housing, Pam sat on a number of provincial housing committees. She has been actively involved in her community as a member of the Board of Directors for Three Oaks, an organization whose mandate is to end violence against women. She has also served as a Board member for The Abigail’s Learning Centre, an organization for children and their parents. Pam is a graduate of the Ontario Business College.
Alexia Polillo – Public Member
Dr. Alexia Polillo received her PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Ottawa and is completing her postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the University of Toronto. She has extensive experience with community and health services research and helped lead small- and large-scale evaluations of community and outpatient mental health services in Waterloo, Brantford, Ottawa, and Toronto. She has published over 15 peer-reviewed articles, contributed to eight technical reports used to support service providers and community mental health agencies, presented her work at national and international conferences, and received 11 institutional awards and federal and provincial scholarships.
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. Lisa was cross-appointed as both the Professional Practice Leader for Social Work and as a Social Worker on a community-based mental health team at St. Joseph’s Care Group in Thunder Bay for 20 years. From September 2020 to October 2021, Lisa worked as a Psychiatric Emergency Social Worker at London Health Sciences Centre. As of October 2021, she is working in inpatient social work at the Middlesex Hospital Alliance (Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital and Four Counties Health Services).
Déirdre Smith – Public Member
Déirdre Smith was first appointed as a public member of the OCSWSSW Council in 2014. During this time, she has served as Vice-President, Chair of the Governance Committee and as a member of various other committees. She has served as the Registrar, Teacher Certification, for the province of Nova Scotia; and, previously served as the Manager of the Standards of Practice and Education at the Ontario College of Teachers. At the Ontario College of Teachers, Déirdre led the collaborative co-construction of The Ethical Standards for the Teaching Profession and also coordinated the policy development of over 350 Additional Qualification (AQ) for educators. She has presented nationally and internationally and has authored four books and many published scholarly articles, covering many topics including inclusive education and professional regulation, among others. Déirdre’s experience as a school principal, consultant, professional facilitator, child and youth worker, researcher, policy developer and teacher educator have informed her professional practice.
Elayne Tanner – Elected Social Worker
Dr. Elayne Tanner is a registered social worker with over 30 years of professional experience. She continues to be a sessional graduate professor for the University of Windsor and has published on topics including anti-oppressive practice, social work ethics and hypnosis. Elayne is the sole practitioner in a thriving private practice with areas of expertise that include sexual abuse, trauma, childhood disorders, relationship counselling, parenting and divorce. As a leader in private practice, many have sought her guidance in establishing their own private practices. An active volunteer, Elayne strives to give back to her community and her profession. She has supported many volunteer boards and has been awarded Business Woman of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and Best Counsellor in the communities of Milton and Halton Hills. On a personal level, Elayne lives with her husband, Great Dane, annoying cat and two horses on their property in North Halton.
Beatrice Traub-Werner – Elected Social Worker
Beatrice Traub-Werner is a social worker with over 30 years of experience as a clinician, an administrator and an educator. She taught at York University’s BSW Program and was the Director of Admissions at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto for 15 years. Beatrice founded TAPE Educational Services, a continuing education program for clinicians. In 2009 she became the academic director of the Bridge Training Program for Internationally Educated Psychologists and Allied Mental Health Professionals (renamed as BREM). Currently, Beatrice is the Dean of Continuing Education at Adler Graduate Professional Schools. She teaches in the Addictions Studies Program at Adler. Beatrice has worked on contract for various projects at several community colleges in Ontario. She is currently a director on the Board of the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). She is a former director of Jewish Vocational Services, and Jewish Immigrant Aid, Eli’s Place and currently serves on the Allocations Committee of the Catholic Charities and the Quality Assurance Committee of the Jewish Child and Family Services in Toronto. She served as a member of the OCSWSSW Council (2010-2017 – three terms as President) and was recently re-elected.
The College has several statutory and non-statutory committees on which Council members and some non-Council members serve. Statutory committees are those the College must have according to the Social Work and Social Service Work Act (the “Act”). Non-statutory committees are those the College Council may establish on an as-needed basis.
The composition of the statutory committees are prescribed by the Act, however, the composition of the non-statutory committees may be determined by Council.
Chair: Mukesh Kowlessar, RSSW, President
Chair: Sue-Ellen Merritt, RSSW
Chair: Frances Keogh, RSW
Fitness to Practise Committee
Chair: Frances Keogh, RSW
Registration Appeals Committee
Chair: Shelley Hale, RSSW
Chair: Durel Allen, RSW
Chair: Charlene Crews, RSSW
Chair: John Fleming, Public Member
Chair: Beatrice Traub-Werner, RSW
Standards of Practice Committee
Chair: Carrie McEachran, Public Member
Titles and Designations
Chair: Amanda Bettencourt, RSSW