Introducing the Board of Directors of the Ottawa Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, comprising an impressive group of individuals representing a cross-section of professions, disciplines and experiences.
Get to know the CMHA Ottawa Board of Directors:
Nabanita Giri, MPA | President
Nabanita has been a public servant for more than two decades, working in several executive positions within the federal government. She has worked primarily in Ottawa but has done postings in Edmonton and Eastern Europe. She has graduate studies in Economics, Public Policy and Administration, Public Relations, Accounting, and Conflict Resolution. Her career has spanned the economic, resource and social domains including Indigenous Affairs, most recently at the Public Health Agency and at Indigenous Services Canada . She has worked primarily in policy functions but has also designed and delivered large programs, and directed research units. Prior to her public service, Nabanita worked as an accountant and in public relations in the private sector. Nabanita was born in India, raised in Montreal, studied and lived in South Asia, South America and Eastern Europe but is very grateful to consider Ottawa her home and the place she has chosen to raise her family.
Peter Donnelly | Vice President
Peter is a multi-faceted senior executive with experience in multiple industry sectors. He is very active in his community and a strong supporter of mental health initiatives, including his continued work as a dedicated member of the CMHA Ottawa Board of Directors. Peter’s professional passion is building robust teams who deliver outstanding growth and operational results. He has managed regional and international businesses, from initiating start-ups to multinational corporations. Peter specializes in Information Technology (IT) services, IT services management, Systems Integration, Enterprise Program Management, and Organizational Architecture. He has recently served as Director, Interdependency Management at the Bank of Canada, and Partner in IT advisory at KPMG.
John James, BA | Past President
Growing up in Toronto’s Scarborough neighbourhood, John developed an interest in people and helping the community at a young age. He obtained a B.A. in Political Science from York University and then embarked on a three-month backpacking tour across Europe, a trip that inspired a lifelong love of travel and connecting with people. In 1995, John joined the RCMP. Over his career as a Mountie, he was posted in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Nunavut and recently retired at HQ Ottawa. John has varied police experience including general duty, serious crime, crisis negotiation, human trafficking and northern service.
John brings to the CMHA Ottawa Board an extensive background in volunteer work. He has held a variety of roles across the country in both frontline volunteering duties and has served on several non-profit boards of directors. Some of the organizations John has served with include the Scarborough Distress Centre, Big Brothers, Pathways to Education, youth softball organizations and several adult literacy organizations in BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia. More recently, John served as the President of the Pinecrest Queensway Community Health Centre Board and currently serves on the National Board of Pathways to Education and the board of Operation Come Home. John also serves with the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Every Wednesday John can be found volunteering at the Ottawa Hospice. John’s passion is travel, and he has currently backpacked to some 60 countries. When he’s not on the road John enjoys a quiet existence with his wife and son and their dog, Barley, in his adopted home of Ottawa.
Vincent Trottier, BComm, CPA, CA | Treasurer
Vincent is a lifelong resident of Ottawa and a senior manager at KPMG, where his primary responsibilities include providing audit, accounting, and financial reporting services to public sector organizations. He is a graduate of the University of Ottawa and recently also completed his Master of Science in Accounting with Cognitive Analytics from Simon Fraser University. He has been a member of the CMHA Ottawa Board since 2019 and along with his strong financial and analytic background, also brings a passion to improve awareness of mental health in our community.
Admir Minarolli | Secretary
Admir is a sergeant with the Ottawa Police Criminal Investigations Directorate. He brings to the CMHA Ottawa Board of Directors’ table a broad experience in different capacities of policing, from criminal gangs and domestic violence investigations to community policing, where he has promoted problem solving policing strategies. He has been recognized by Crime Prevention Ottawa for his role as a community police officer in high-priority neighborhoods. Admir is fluent in four languages: English, Italian, Albanian and Turkish. He has extensive volunteering experience by mentoring at-risk youth through sport engagement. He served as the business owner for Ottawa Neighborhood Watch Executive Committee and on the Community Health Resource Centres/Ottawa Police City-wide Committee. Admir holds a Bachelor Degree with Honours in Law, Policy and Government from Carleton University and during the past 18 years, he has successfully completed many specialized courses related to law enforcement.
Jessica Adley is a criminal lawyer with Legal Aid Ontario, an organization providing legal representation and services to low-income individuals. She completed both her common and civil law degrees at McGill University. Since doing summer work at a refugee legal clinic in Cairo, Egypt and a non-profit organization in Gaza, Palestine, Jessica has maintained a keen interest and developed an abiding commitment to advocating for peoples’ human rights.
For seven years Jessica worked at a private criminal law firm, representing adult and youth clients on a myriad of charges, including murder, sexual assault, impaired driving, drug and firearm offences. Much of her practice focused on adult and youth clients struggling with acute mental health issues. Jessica volunteered as the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa’s representative for Mental Health Court and Youth Mental Health Court (YMHC). She has been invited to speak on mental health panels, organized professional development meetings for criminal lawyers and sat on the steering committee of the Non-Residential Attendance Centre at John Howard Society.
Since 2015, Jessica has been working at Legal Aid Ontario as a Criminal Duty Counsel lawyer where she assists low-income individuals, many of whom are marginalized, racialized, homeless, suffering from mental health and addiction issues. She has also worked in specialty courts, including Drug Treatment Court, Indigenous Peoples Court (IPC), as well as YMHC.
Jessica has regularly volunteered mentoring articling and law students and acted as a member of the core planning team for an Ontario wide Legal Aid Conference, co-hosting and organizing panel discussions. She has sat on both the IPC subcommittee and YMHC committee working groups.
She credits her spouse, son and dog with making her feel grounded and providing her with perspective on what matters most in life.
Shannon Black, MSW
Shannon is the Mental Health Manager and Clinical Supervisor at Britannia Woods Community House (BWCH), an organization that ensures that low-income families living in Ottawa’s western neighborhoods have access to responsive supports to increase their social, recreational, emotional, and personal capacity. Shannon is a clinical social worker with more than 12 years’ experience in the mental health/addictions and social services sector. She holds a master’s degree in social work with a minor in psychology and has other professional training and competencies. Additionally, Shannon works as Clinical Supervisor for the ACB (African, Caribbean, and Black) portal of Counselling Connect, a service that provides free telephone and video counselling sessions and system navigation for Ottawa residents. Since joining the CMHA Ottawa Board of Directors in 2018, Shannon has brought to the table her extensive counselling experience supporting vulnerable individuals, as well as a comprehensive understanding of mental health, addiction, chronic illnesses and emotional issues. Shannon prides her practice as being client-centered, strength-based, self-determined, equitable and anti-oppressive. These frameworks are her personal and professional pillars which allow her the ability to respect individuals as ‘experts’ of their own lives and help support them to reignite or discover new possibilities and reasons to heal or remedy ‘problem(s)’ that they are encountering.
Matthew Gilmour was born and raised predominantly in Ottawa, Canada but also lived in Singapore as a child. He is a Policy Analyst at Health Canada’s Strategic Policy Branch. He chose to serve on the CMHA Ottawa Board of Directors because he believes in the power of community engagement to produce positive outcomes, is fascinated by how services mitigate the impact of social determinants of health, but he also has lived experience with mental illness. Matthew has worked in mostly equity- and health-focused roles, including data analysis on homelessness, disability programs and standards development, and the funding of non-profits for minoritized populations. He holds a Masters of Arts where he studied governance choices related to housing and homelessness from since the 1970s, but is also a co-author on a Canadian Institute of Health Research funded project studying emergency room usage for mental health reasons. Prior to that he was a peer mentor and public educator for the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. Outside of work and volunteering, Matthew records music and has performed at various venues, including the National Arts Centre, Bluesfest, Jazzfest, and local businesses. He lives downtown, and enjoys his time with loved ones.
Jette Haswell, MSW, RSW
Over the past 18 years, Jette Haswell has been employed at The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) as a medical social worker. She worked in the Emergency Department at the Civic Campus for 11 years and the Trauma Unit for 1.5 years, which allowed her to develop the aptitude to remain composed and focused, while exercising sound judgment in often complex circumstances. Other positions held at the hospital include secondments to the Department of Patient Relations and the TOH Mobile Mental Health Crisis Unit, which assists patients with severe and persistent mental illness. Since 2018, Jette has been working on the Transitional Care Unit. By working in a hospital setting, she has developed a high level of psychological resilience, strong crisis intervention skills, psychosocial assessment, and mental health/suicide risk assessment skills. Early in Jette’s career she worked as a child protection and adoption worker at the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa.
Jette has a Master of Social Work Degree and a Certificate in Families, Youth and Children from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She also has a bachelor’s degree in social work at University of Windsor and social sciences degree with a concentration in criminology from the University of Ottawa. Jette is passionate and has devoted most of her career to assisting and supporting patients/families who have various forms of illnesses and/or injuries in a health care setting.
Marya Jaleel, MPH
Marya Jaleel is a Policy Analyst for Indigenous Services Canada, where she is working on eliminating anti-Indigenous racism in Canada’s health systems. She holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of British Columbia and during her time studying she worked on a community-based longitudinal study on women’s experiences living with HIV with peer research associates (women living with HIV who were trained in research). There, she gained skills in community-based participatory research, peer support, health equity and harm reduction principles. After graduating, Marya began working at the Native Women’s Association of Canada on an HIV prevention program among incarcerated Indigenous women and gender diverse people. During her time at NWAC she also worked on implementing their culturally relevant gender-based analysis related to other health issues and worked on policy files related to coerced sterilization, chronic disease and substance use. Marya most recently worked as a program manager at the Mental Health Commission of Canada on a project focused on the mental health and substance use needs of people who are involved with the criminal justice system where she collaborated with policy experts, community members, advocacy organizations, and people with lived and living experience to prioritize areas for action at a national level. Marya also holds a bachelor’s degree in health sciences and a graduate diploma in population health risk assessment and management. She considers herself to be an advocate for equitable mental health supports and services for all. Having grown up with family members who have lived and living experience with mental health problems and illnesses she has seen people who are near to her heart face barrier after barrier in accessing care. In her free time, Marya loves to travel and hopes to visit 40 countries before she turns 40.
In his role as Legal Counsel at Pomerleau Inc.—a Canadian leader in the construction industry—no two days are the same for Chris Macaulay. His work is a balancing act: he focuses on litigation claims and risk management, negotiates deals, and generally tries to proactively manage legal issues for the company. It is this wide breadth of legal knowledge that Chris brings to the CMHA Ottawa Board of Directors.
Chris was born in Ottawa and spent his formative years in Kanata. He received his undergrad in philosophy at Queen’s University in Kingston and attended law school at the University of Windsor, where he obtained his Canadian JD in addition to his United States JD across the river with the University of Detroit Mercy. Chris started his career in Toronto, where he worked at a litigation boutique, and eventually returned to his hometown and his current position with Pomerleau at its Ottawa office. Always on the hunt for a new challenge, Chris recently passed the New York bar exam, so he may additionally attend to the legal needs of Pomerleau and its subsidiaries stateside.
It was CMHA Ottawa’s Housing First philosophy that drew Chris to its Board of Directors, in addition to an overall interest in the mental health of his community. In his free time, you can find Chris playing basketball or cheering for the Toronto Raptors, and spending time with his partner, Meredith, and their two dogs, Ziggy and Wilno.
Aoife Sheahan, M. Sc., BA Psych.
Aoife is a Human Resources Executive and registered Organizational Psychologist who has held several positions at TD, currently in the role of Associate Vice President HR—Retail Banking Transformation. Over her career to date, Aoife has been responsible for leading through organizational redesigns, building talent culture and succession strategies, employee engagement programs, and leading through the people aspects of organizational restructures and transformations. Aoife has worked across industries, in both the private and public sectors and across three continents. In addition to her professional experience, Aoife brings to the CMHA Ottawa Board of Directors a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Limerick, Ireland. Aoife is also certified in psychometric assessment and testing.
Lynne Vail, MA, BA (Hon)
Lynne is a mental health advocate with an extensive background in communications. She currently sits on the CMHA Ottawa Peer Engagement Advisory Council (PEAC) and its communications subcommittee. Lynne was a communicator in the federal public service working on government priorities including climate change and food safety. Lynne holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Public Administration from Concordia University and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from Brock University. She brings to the CMHA Ottawa Board an empathy and enthusiasm for the improvement of the delivery of services in the not-for-profit sector.
Tim Simboli, PhD | Executive Director
Tim is a lifelong resident of Ottawa and has spent four decades working in social services in the Ottawa community. Tim joined CMHA Ottawa as Executive Director in the Fall of 2011 after spending 16 years as the Executive Director of a community-based counselling agency. Tim holds a Doctorate in Psychology from Carleton University in clinical research and program evaluation. He has a strong belief in client-focused services and is a proponent of evidenced-based decision making, social innovation, and cross-sectoral collaboration. Tim considers himself a lifelong Ottawa resident and is extensively involved across the community mental health sector.