Board of Directors
Michele Buist, Board Chair
Following the completion of a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology, Michele redirected her career towards marketing and has enjoyed a successful and progressive career in the banking industry. Michele has been with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) since 1999 and currently leads the development of client infrastructure at RBC Insurance.
In 2003, Michele’s daughter Sarah was born and the most incredible part of her life journey began. Having a child dependent on others for all aspects of care, Michele and her husband realized that the richness of the world their daughter would experience was for them to enable – and they set out to help her be the best that she could be. In turn, Sarah is helping them be the best people they can be.
As an advocate with direct experience working with a variety of family supports and resource groups, Michele is determined to help families find their way in recognizing the vital role they play in creating a meaningful life and secure future for their loved one.
Lynn Fairweather, Treasurer
Lynn Fairweather is a Midwifery Clinic Administrator and mother of two adults – one of whom 'lives at home'. After years of searching for a definitive diagnosis that would provide a treatment label, it suddenly became clear that a diagnosis alone would not guarantee a safe future for her son. PLAN Toronto came to her by way of word of mouth and the timing could not have been more critical. Lynn brings her sole-support perspective and years of planning experience to the diverse community that PLAN Toronto serves. Presently, she is serving as Treasurer of PLAN Toronto's board.
Nicole James, Secretary
Nicole James is an elementary school teacher in Toronto. She has a Bachelor degree in Sociology, Law and Society as well as a Bachelor degree in Education. Prior to beginning her career in education, Nicole worked in the criminal field as a courtroom clerk and also as a residential counselor working with young offenders.
Nicole and her husband Greg are parents to a 19-month-old son and a 16-year-old daughter. Caring for her daughter Jayde has opened her eyes and heart to the world of exceptional children. Her roller coaster journey of being Jayde's advocate and seeking support and adequate care for her has ignited her passion for helping other parents in similar situations.
Sadora Asefaw, Director
Sadora Asefaw has been active in community organizations and causes for over 10 years. Sadora is currently working at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (HBKRH), Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital, in a variety of roles, including Special Needs Coordinator, Therapeutic Recreation Assistant, and Facilitator. Sadora also works as a freelancer, advocate for families, and volunteer for Echo Chair in Women's Mental Health Research in the Faculty of Health at York University.
Sadora's areas of concentration include the delivery of culturally sensitive programs and services to families and people in the disability community, the over-representation of racialized children in special education classrooms, and how professional organizations can track outcomes for people with disabilities of diverse backgrounds as a tool to build meaningful changes in policies, resources, and service delivery. Sadora’s current role at HBKRH and involvement with a number of organizations provides her with the platform to involve PLAN Toronto with other collaborative initiatives. She seeks to promote an even exchange between organizations seeking to build strong and diverse communities and PLAN Toronto’s mission to further enhance the safety and security of people with disabilities. Currently, she is studying International Development Studies at York University.
Heather Jodha, Director
An elementary school teacher in Toronto, Heather has a passion for creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone. After graduating from university, she taught English in Japan at several senior high schools, including a specialized school for students with developmental and physical disabilities. She has also worked as a personal support worker in Toronto and has made lasting friendships through these opportunities.
Heather is interested in helping all families find the support systems that will allow their children to thrive. She has been an active member of a personal support network for 10 years and is dedicated to the idea that a caring group of friends, who meet regularly to share the stories of their lives, is critical to the happiness of all.
Patricia Parker, Director
Patricia Parker is strongly committed to participating in the ongoing development of PLAN Toronto, which has been an invaluable resource in her own family's future planning process with and for her 41-year-old daughter. Patricia has had previous volunteer experience as a member of the Ontario Prader Willi Syndrome Association’s board of directors. Her relevant professional experience includes serving for 12 years as the Director of Programs for a national health charity. Since 2000, she has been a personal counselor in private practice, with a focus on working with individuals and families affected by chronic illness.
Brett Philp, Director
Brett Philp is the father of two children (one who has autism). Professionally, Brett is a computer analyst and holds a diploma in Electronics Engineering Technology and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. Faced with the daunting thoughts of what would happen to his child with autism once he was gone, Brett was so delighted by what PLAN Toronto had to offer that he decided to join the board of directors to help drive the future of the organization by leveraging his extensive background in information technology. Brett is also a volunteer parent advisor for the York ASD Partnership’s Physician Support Committee which is looking for innovative ways to educate health care professionals in York Region on autism-related services.
Sam Sadeghi, Director
Sam Sadeghi graduated as an Electrical Engineer from Ryerson University in 2004. In 2008, he received his Masters degree in Power Electronics from Ryerson University, followed by a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2011. Sam currently holds the position of Manager of Program Management at Toronto Hydro, where he is responsible for the successful delivery of a Capital work program in excess of $350 million a year. Sam is also a registered Professional Engineer (P. Eng) and Project Management Professional (PMP).
In 2009, to support Vision Infantile Charity, Sam organized a charitable trip to Cuba for a number of MBA students. As part of this trip, he and the team of students raised funds and collected over 500 pairs of used prescription glasses for under-privileged Cuban children with visual impairment. As a result of his efforts, he was awarded the Annual Golden Rim Award by Vision Infantile Charity.
Donna Thomson, Advisor
Donna Thomson began her career as an actor, director, and teacher. But in 1988, when her son Nicholas was born with severe disabilities, Donna embarked on her second career as a disability activist. A veteran of numerous local committees promoting inclusion for her son, Donna became interested in how families, communities, and governments can work together to find new ways of supporting our most vulnerable citizens.
Donna is an author, consultant, and speaker on issues relating to caregiving. She uses her personal family experience with giving care to her son and to her mother as the basis for provoking a public discussion on the worth of caregiving across generations. In her bestselling book, “The Four Walls of My Freedom” (McArthur and Co., 2010), Donna uses the Nobel Prize winning Laureate Amartya Sen’s ‘Capability Approach’ as a lens for re-imagining how vulnerable citizens and their families can have a life that they value and be supported in doing so by their communities and their governments.
Donna is an active blogger on her website “The Caregivers’ Living Room” in addition to writing for magazines and journals on caregiving themes. Donna is the Special Advisor for Caregiving at TYZE Personal Networks and offers training in maximizing the sharing and coordination of care using this online tool. She teaches families best practice in advocating for care through her Advocacy School workshop “How to Know What You Need and Get What You Want.”