Board of Directors
Melanie Lauber, Chair
Melanie Lauber is a stay at home mother of two. Prior to becoming a mother, Melanie spent seven years working in many capacities at CTV Television, primarily in Publicity and Marketing. She has been involved at the board level in both educational and community organizations. Currently, she is the past Chair of the Montcrest School Parents Association. Melanie is also an active volunteer on many school and community committees, including working as a volunteer for our GLOW Clothing Service.
Meg Salter, MBA, Vice-Chair
Executive Coach and Change Management Consultant
Meg Salter is an experienced management consultant working with non-profit, public and private sector organizations providing change management consulting, executive coaching to individuals and teams and mindfulness training. She focuses on areas such as organizational design, strategy, and leadership development. Her prior experience includes the global firm Right Management Consultants and Royal Bank of Canada. Meg holds an MBA from the Boston University of Brussels, is an accredited Integral Master Coach ™ and has worked as an organization development consultant and facilitator in Montreal, Toronto and internationally, including in bilingual French/ English environments. In addition to being a long time supporter of New Circles, Meg has served on adjudication panels with Toronto Enterprise Fund and United Way, as a pro-bono consultant with the United Way and with the Quaker Program for Justice and Jails.
Sandra Chiu, CPA, CA, Treasurer
Senior Director of Finance, Sinai Health System
Sandra Chiu is a senior audit manager at KPMG LLP, specialized in the health care and not-for-profit sectors. She has over 10 years of working experience in both Canada and the Netherlands. Sandra graduated from University of Waterloo and earned her Chartered Accountant’s designation in 2008. She is also an active member in community committees and other volunteer programs, including the young leader committee at Markham Stouffville Hospital. She has also volunteered in childcare programs in countries such as Tanzania and Peru.
Michael Rusek, Secretary
Counsel, Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC)
As a lawyer and prosecutor for OMVIC, Michael helps to protect the rights of consumers while ensuring fair, honest and open communication for automobile dealers in Ontario. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and earned his law degree from the Faculty of Law at Queen's University. He also has over a decade of experience with the federal government in the areas of refugee protection and immigration, including serving as an immigration judge in Toronto. These experiences have given Michael a very personal appreciation for the challenges faced by marginalized people in our community. He initially became involved with New Circles both as a volunteer and as a participant in the Holiday Angel program through OMVIC, a long-time HAP donor. Michael and his spouse Eric live in East York, where they are both active in numerous community initiatives and activities.
Cindy Blakely, MSW, RSW, Founder
Cindy Blakely is one of the founders of New Circles and has been an integral part of the organization since inception. Cindy has spent more than 35 years in the field of social work. She has focused on child welfare, school social work, bereavement counseling and program development. Cindy has been a sessional lecturer at the University of Toronto’s School of Social Work and has been a field supervisor for Social Work and Divinity students. Cindy is the co-author of three children’s books from The Lookout Safety series. She has held board positions for many not-for-profit organizations and is a past Board member for The Child Development Institute as well as a Patron of the Distress Centres of Toronto.
Justin Ming Cheung, Director
Business Owner, Puzzle Creations & TYTAN
Prior to becoming a business owner, Justin worked as a Marketing and Communications Manager in the non-profit sector for seven years. With experience in events management, fundraising, grant writing and volunteer coordination, he continues to volunteer his time supporting grassroots organizations like the Centre for Dreams and Thinking Forward. He graduated from McMaster University with a degree in sociology and English. Justin is now the owner and founder of Puzzle Cretions and TYTAN, both established businesses in the wedding industry, where his work has been featured and can be seen in various wedding publications.
Lynn Francis, Director
Lynn started in marketing for major food companies in Toronto, then moved to brand strategy work, including consumer research and communications for an advertising agency in the US. Her interests include social enterprise opportunities, youth mental health initiatives and active transportation. Lynn has served on the board of the Fred Victor Center, a downtown agency that provides housing and services to vulnerable people. She has also been an active volunteer for many organizations – community, schools and hospitals, including CAMH. She holds an MA (English Lit) from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Ivey School of Business. Lynn lives in North Toronto with her husband and eight-year old twins.
Zahra Ladhani, Director
Zahra is a Director at BMO Capital Markets in Institutional foreign Exchange and Short Term Rates Sales. She has nine years of experience in banking, and specialized in advising clients in investing and hedging foreign exchange risk. She holds a degree in economics from Wilfrid Laurier University and an MBA from the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. Zahra is also a member of Women in Capital Markets and is a volunteer for our GLOW clothing store. She is passionate about the issues faced by new immigrants, especially newcomer women.
John McMeans, Director
Regional Vice President, BMO Insurance
John is a Regional Vice President with BMO Insurance where he leads a team of insurance sales professionals working with independent financial advisors in Canada. He has 20 years' experience in the Canadian life insurance industry. He graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts in 1989. He has been a board member for Dixon Hall and has been involved with New Circles Community Services as a volunteer.
Jane Millan, Director
Jane has practiced social work in Toronto for more than four decades. She started her career working in settlement houses with newcomers and children at risk. In the early 1970s, the Ontario government passed the Children's Mental Health Act, recognizing and providing funding for children with emotional and behavioural problems. Jane was one of a dozen staff at Youthdale Treatment Centres, and she was part of a team that developed the agency into a multi-service resource for children and adolescents and their families. Jane was also active on many committees with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services that worked to improve regulations and standards of care for children at risk. For the past 15 years, Jane has worked at Aisling Discoveries Child and Family Centre in Scarborough. In addition to her professional experience, Jane also volunteered as a member of the Board of Directors of the Maytree Foundation for 30 years.
Louise Stratford, Director
In the vast landscape of grassroots charities, New Circles is the Little Engine That Could. It cuts Toronto's socio-economic silos by bringing together the marginalized people it serves alongside those who donate in a unique volunteer base.
– Shila Desai, Past Director