The New Canadians Centre is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Board vacancies are filled through an open recruitment call; details will be shared in our social media and newsletter when available.
Board of Directors
Simon Liston and his family emigrated from Ireland and Jersey, in the Channel Islands, to Ottawa where he grew up and later moved to Toronto for University. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto and holds a Master of Education (M.Ed) in Adult Education.
He has worked in Canada and overseas in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Ecuador with Canada World Youth. He worked as a Management Consultant with the housing co-operative sector developing non-profit housing co-operatives in Toronto.
Simon had a long career in the Toronto Public Service as a manager developing affordable housing and establishing programs to alleviate homelessness. He founded and co-chaired the Refugee Housing Task Group which developed strategies that helped refugee claimants find stable housing and the services they needed to help them adjust to the many challenges of a new life in Canada.
Simon lives in Peterborough and enjoys the easy access to the outdoors for dog walking, hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing and gardening. He currently also volunteers at the Canadian Canoe Museum and with the Community Foundation.
Petra Kukacka is an immigration and educational professional with 15 years of experience in the non-profit and community-services sector designing and implementing programs to support people living and working in Canada to reach their full potential. She is a licensed Canadian Immigration Consultant and holds a Master's degree in development and communication from York University. In recent years, in addition to her professional pursuits, Petra has enjoyed volunteering as an English tutor, fundraising for local schools and holding a small share in Young Entrepreneur's Egg Emporium- a fledgling business owned and operated by her teenager.
Ghada Hussein, M.Sc., PMP, is a new Canadian who moved here in 2012 from Cairo, Egypt with over 20 years of industry experience managing software and content development projects and programs. During her career, Ghada worked with many international organizations – such as Proctor and Gamble – and nonprofit enterprises, including Association for Women’s Total Advancement and Development, Center for International Private Enterprise, and Save the Children. Ghada is currently a full-time professor at Fleming College in the School of Business and Information Technology. She has over 8 years of experience as an educator at post-secondary institutions, including some time spent at Durham College. Ghada speaks fluent English and Egyptian Arabic and some French.
Feeling grateful for the support she received from the New Canadian Centre when she arrived, Ghada is passionate about supporting immigrants as they build new lives for themselves and their families. As such, Ghada has often volunteered with the NCC to give back in the hopes that her experiences can benefit other newcomers. Realizing the many challenges that Peterborough faces, she is looking forward to adding value through community involvement and engagement.
Ghada lives in Peterborough with her husband of 31 years, Wael Nawara. With a deep fondness for and strong connection with their new community, Ghada and Wael both love nature, cooking, and gardening. Ghada and Wael have two children; their eldest son, Omar, is a practising environmental engineer living in Saskatoon and their daughter, Yousra, is a graduate of Trent University and is currently studying media in Vancouver. You may also see Ghada and Wael on the local trails as they walk their two dogs.
When the pandemic is over, Ghada and Wael hope to drive across Canada from coast-to-coast, exploring all the beauty and adventure that Canada has to offer.
Edward Kloosterman was born in the Peterborough region. When he was a young child, he moved with his family out to the countryside in Keene. Ed loved to explore and developed a love of the outdoors. He also learned the value of hard work and grew up to become a chicken farmer. During his 30 years of running a successful, multi-site operation, Ed oversaw all aspects of the business, from managing staff, finances and investments. Now retired from farming, Ed is enjoying life with his wife Valerie. Together they have become invested in the work of the New Canadians Centre, and the important role it plays in welcoming and supporting newcomers to our community.
Ed is a very proud Canadian and feels so fortunate that he lives in a country that is rich in natural and human resources and has so much potential. He feels that we can and must continue to welcome newcomers from all over the globe and assist them as they build a new life in our country. Ed’s love of the outdoors has not waned since he was a youngster! Together, he and Val canoe, camp and hike.
Eleni Gagovski is an Economic Development Officer at Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development (PKED). She holds a Business Administration Degree from Guelph University. Prior to joining PKED, Eleni began her career working in the manufacturing sector as a project manager.
Originally from Northumberland County, Eleni now resides in the Kawarthas along with her partner and her two dogs. She enjoys the natural beauty of the region, the trails, waterways and the ability to work in the heart of Peterborough.
Eleni started her journey with the NCC on the PIP Committee and has now also joined the NCC Board.
Originally from Caracas – Venezuela, Emilio Ojeda graduated as a Business Administrator in College and University with majors in Commercial Sciences and Business Management. He moved to USA in 2000, navigating through the almost impossible US immigration world and eventually decided to move with his family north to Toronto, Canada in 2007. He graduated as a Trained Chef at George Brown College and opened a small gelateria, creating his own job, like many newcomers. After living in Toronto for 4 years, he moved to Northumberland where he finally settled.
Emilio is the Settlement Services Coordinator for the County of Northumberland, a wonderful fit as an immigrant and new Canadian. He has been in charge of producing the Multicultural Day, Multicultural Festival, the Diversity Festival 2021 and Citizenship Ceremonies in conjunction with the IRCC. Emilio is fluent in Spanish and English
Professionally, he was a professor in several colleges and University in Caracas in the area of Administration. In Canada, Emilio had the opportunity to train people in ESL through culinary experiences and Ontario Works recipients turning attention to culinary, food safety and opening a food business.
His passion for education directed him to apply for the Trustee position for Township of Asphodel-Norwood, Township of Havelock-Belmont-Methuen and the Municipality of Trent Hills, after the sudden passing of the former trustee.
In terms of community development, Emilio helped formed the Skills Advance Ontario advisory committee with the Community Training and Development Centre. He is on the municipality of Trent Hills Community Development Advisory Committee, the Housing Solution Lab with the Community Training & Development Centre with Ryerson University. In addition a member of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee of the Cobourg Council, as well as Vice-chair of the 7 Hills Community Pantry and Events Director of the board of the Northumberland Hispanic Cultural Club, where he has produced 4 Heritage months, including the writing of grants to secure funding from the federal government.
Looking to the future, Emilio is training and preparing to be a diversity, Equity and Inclusion specialist and advocate.
Jeeniraj Thevasagayam, also known as JJ, was born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. He became a refugee and sought solace from the devastating civil war in his home country, eventually finding a new beginning in Canada. JJ and his family settled in the vibrant yet low-income community of Regent Park in downtown Toronto before moving to Peterborough, Ontario, where they currently reside.
As a newcomer refugee, JJ faced numerous challenges, including homelessness and precarious housing situations. However, he recognizes and celebrates the invaluable contributions of non-profit organizations such as the New Canadian Centre (NCC), which provided crucial support and resources that allowed his family to establish a true sense of home in Canada.
Professionally, JJ is a skilled urban and regional planner with a deep passion for community development, strategic planning, and the creation of safe and affordable housing options. Presently, he serves as the Interim Housing Manager at the City of Peterborough.
Prior to his current role, JJ held significant positions in various organizations. He served as the Manager of Satellite Programs and Support Services at Toronto's Progress Place. Additionally, he worked as a manager of the local housing corporation in London, Ontario, where he played a vital role in ensuring access to housing for individuals and families in need. Moreover, his experience in a private-sector property management firm in Toronto honed his understanding of the intricate dynamics of housing and property management.
JJ brings a wealth of board experience to NCC, having previously served as the President and Chair of the Board of Directors at HOTT, a non-profit housing provider. Furthermore, he lent his expertise to the Board of Directors of the Society of Sharing, where he assisted seniors and adults with physical disabilities in accessing social programming and services, significantly reducing their isolation.
JJ is eager to collaborate with NCC to continue supporting and welcoming newcomers to Central Eastern Ontario. His dedication, combined with his personal journey, equips him with a unique understanding and empathy for the challenges faced by newcomers. With a shared vision of creating inclusive and vibrant communities, JJ strives to ensure that all individuals have the opportunity to thrive and contribute to the fabric of Canadian society
Kim Blackwell is 4th Line Theatre’s Managing Artistic Director and is a veteran 4th Line director/producer – 2023 marks her 29th season with 4th Line Theatre where she has directed 27 productions including 15 world premieres. Selected credits include: Managing Artistic Director (2014 - Present), Artistic Producer (2009 – 2014), Artistic Associate (2001-2009). She directed plays across Canada and the US. Her play A Daughter had its world premiere in 2020 as a part of the Open Spaces Theatre Festival and was selected to be a part of the International Rural Women’s Studies Conference hosted by University of Guelph in 2021. Kim was inducted into Peterborough’s Pathway of Fame in September 2016. In 2020, she received Toronto theatre critic Lynn Slotkin’s Jon Kaplan Mensch Award. Kim has twice been nominated for the John Hirsch Award for Outstanding Directing. Kim recently joined the Playwright’s Guild of Canada. Kim is working on her first solo, full-length play for 4th Line, The Lost Souls.
Kim Blackwell has been coaching and facilitating business leaders and future leaders since 2009. She has trained and coached business leaders, from business school students all the way up to the C-suite level, creating transformative learning experiences. She has produced professional theatre, both, commercial and non-profit, for 30 years. She is a theatre director, dramaturge, marketing expert and publicist.
Ponvily Ravindranathan started with NCC as a Finance Committee member helping enhance the financial statements. She incorporated metrix into the financial statement file to add more meaningful data. Ponvily is passionate about the services NCC provides and, serving on the board, wants to continue being part of this wonderful group.
Ponvily has been working at Peterborough Regional Health Centre since 2015. She started as a Financial Analyst, worked her way up to a Program Business Support Specialist and has been in this role since 2020.
Ponvily holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a major in Accounting and a minor in Finance. She also holds a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation.
Robert McDonald was born in Peterborough and raised on a dairy farm in Northumberland County. He graduated from Sir Sanford Fleming College, in the Police Foundations program. He then moved to Toronto where he worked for the Toronto Police Service as a police constable. He worked in a number of uniform and investigative positions, and has also completed many in-service training courses and specialized in child abuse and sexual assault investigations. The well-being of his peers is of paramount concern to him and he worked in an on call position as a Peer Support Volunteer for conducting debriefings after police officers were involved in critical incident stress situations.
Robert has a Bachelor of Applied Arts degree in Justice Studies from the University of Guelph-Humber and is presently enrolled at Dalhousie University in a leadership development program. His three young children enjoy farm life on their farm East of Peterborough. The farm includes sheep, crop lands, forests and provincially significant wetlands. Robert has witnessed some of the great work done by the NCC and has been a community volunteer on the Recruitment Committee of the NCC Board in previous years.
Dr. Saji Mon Ravi Mannoosseril is a recent immigrant from India. He became a citizen of Canada in December 2015 and currently lives in Peterborough. He is a self-directed, integrity-driven professional, with over 18 years of experience in higher education management, healthcare service management, teaching, research, business development, and overall operations management.
Saji Mon is the Program Manager for Practical Nursing, Paramedic and PSW programs of School of Health and Wellness at Fleming College. Saji Mon’s academic background includes a PhD in management studies, two master’s degrees in business administration in Human Resource Management and Hospital Administration and a Bachelor of Science. He has worked for not-for-profits, public sector, and private sector organizations. His professional background ranges from researcher, guide, mentor and coach, to administrative and academic leader. He has served as a volunteer for many organizations in various capacities both nationally and internationally and was a board member of Uttarakhand State Council for Child Welfare, India.
Shelbi Kilcollins was appointed to the NCC Board of Directors in November 2021.
Shelbi recently joined Wasserman, a sports/entertainment marketing agency and talent management firm. Previous to Wasserman, Shelbi joined the Peterborough Petes’ Business Operations team on a full-time basis in April 2018. As the Director of Marketing & Growth, she was responsible for all marketing, communication, and events initiatives, including maintaining and strengthening the team’s alumni program while connecting the Petes with key stakeholder groups across Peterborough and around the world. Shelbi previously worked as the team’s Manager of Social Impact, Growth & Alumni Relations and Interim Game Operations Coordinator, and served as a Communications and Marketing Intern for the 2017-18 season. The Carleton Place native attended Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts on a hockey scholarship before earning an honours degree in Human Kinetics with a minor in Economics from St. Francis Xavier University. She has previously done outreach with the New Canadians Centre coordinating Try Hockey Night and working with the Gainey Foundation to introduce newcomers to hockey. Shelbi also sits on the OHL's Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.