Our Story


Our founder, June Callwood, was a celebrated writer and a passionate activist determined to make the world a better place. In 1982, she helped launch Jessie’s: The June Callwood Centre for Young Women (formerly Jessie’s Centre for Teenagers) in downtown Toronto.

The Centre was established to offer comprehensive services to pregnant teens and young mothers and their children facing obstacles such as poverty and social isolation with few programs available to provide help.

Today, with 20 staff members and 80 volunteers, we pursue a holistic and sustainable approach, recognizing the importance of economic and social conditions on health outcomes.

Jessie’s offers a range of services to help empower the young women we serve - those who choose to terminate their pregnancies, as well as the pregnant teens who come through our doors who choose to have their babies.  Our programming is developed to help each of them reach their full potential as engaged and independent adults.

Our goal is for each young woman who comes through our doors to: find safe affordable housing access comprehensive health services for herself and her baby complete her high school education

Along with our generous donors, community partners and supportive neighbourhood businesses, we serve over 1,000 pregnant teenagers, young parents and their children every year.

In 2010, Jessie’s Centre received the $50,000 Ruth Atkinson Hindmarsh Award celebrating one of Ontario’s leading child and youth organizations.

Never in my life have I done anything [other than my family] I am more proud of than Jessie’s.”
June Callwood, Founder

Our Mission and Guiding Principles


Our Mission

Our mission is to nurture the healthy development of pregnant teenagers, young parents and their children.


Our Vision

Our vision is to enhance lifelong positive outcomes for pregnant young women and young parents.


Our Approach

We abide by the Social Determinants of Health Framework adopted by Health Canada that acknowledges the importance of economic and social conditions on health outcomes. Accordingly, our approach to nurturing the healthy development of pregnant teenagers and young families focuses on three key pillars of success: 1) housing; 2) health; 3) education.


Guiding Principles

Pro-choice. We are committed to feminism and supporting a woman’s right to make choices about her sexual health and pregnancy options.

Comprehensive, accessible services. We strive to offer comprehensive and accessible services for all pregnant young women, young parents and their children.

Individual choice. We provide opportunities for pregnant teenagers and young parents to exercise individual choice, experience personal empowerment, resolve problems successfully and move toward adult independence.

Non-discrimination. Our approach to service delivery is supportive, respectful, and anti-discriminatory.

Social Change. Jessie’s advocates for systemic social change designed to promote equity, fairness and respect toward children and young parents.

Respect for the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. We are committed to ensuring that people with disabilities have access to our services.

Our Team



Every member of our staff is passionate about helping pregnant teens and young mothers get the support they need.


Maritza Sanchez, Executive Director


Alison Hill, Administrative Assistant


Bonnie Cheng, Financial Administrator





Liora Sobel, Social Enterprise Director


Joanna Mendez, Program Manager


Sherry Rutter, Youth Leadership Programs Lead


Beth Poulin, Food Program Coordinator


Deirdre McKibbon, Parent-Child Development Worker


Natalie Sgambelluri, Respite Care Coordinator


Swap Shop Program


Alexia Schell, Volunteer Coordinator




Jennifer Bonilla, Counsellor/Case Worker


Regi Davis Mangaly , Counsellor/Case Worker


Hodan Osman, Counsellor/Case Worker


Iris Humphrey, Housing Access Worker


Faith Hatchett, Health Promotion Nurse


Linda Gallant, Infant-Child Worker


Monika Obermeier, Parent-Child Centre Lead


Renee Chin, Infant-Child Worker


Board of Directors

Alison Edgar - Chair

Alison is a Director, Retail Distribution with CIBC with expertise in marketing, strategy, performance measurement and business management. She holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Applied Science. June Callwood has been a role model for Alison since she was a teenager, which is when she first learned of Jessie’s. She followed June’s career as a feminist, author and advocate for people’s rights and is proud to be affiliated with Jessie’s.

Camilla Mack - Treasurer

Camilla is a Chartered Professional Accountant and Senior Manager in KPMG’s Financial Institutions and Real Estate practice with expertise in real estate investment trust audits, public offerings, market transactions and pension plans. She is one of the leaders of KPMG’s firm-wide volunteer programs. She has volunteered as a mentor with the Youth in Motion program and the Toronto Region Immigration Employment Council.

Trish Roberts - Secretary

Trish is a Senior Account Manager of Relationship Management at CIBC Mellon Global Securities Services Company. She has acquired 28 years of knowledge in pension management and obtained the Osgoode Certificate in Pension Law.  Trish is Chair of CIBC Mellon’s Women’s Initiatives Network Committee, Member of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee, and a consultant for the Toronto Settlement Collaborative with the United Way.

Jill Andrew

Jill Andrew PhD (c.) is an award-winning columnist, educator/student equity advisor, and media consultant on female body image, empowerment, and representation. She is founder/director of BITE ME! Toronto Int’l Body Image Film & Arts Festival, Curvy Catwalk Fashion Fundraiser, co-founder of FatinTheCity.com, a plus-size fashion ‘fatshion’ blog, and the annual Body Confidence Canada Awards. Jill is a Soroptimist Foundation of Canada Grant Recipient as well as a recipient of the Michele Landsberg Media Activism Award among others.

Christen Daniels

Christen is a corporate lawyer and her practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions. During her time at Stikeman Elliott LLP, Christen was a member of the firm's Women's Initiative Committee. Christen is currently Senior Legal Counsel, M&A at Open Text Corporation.

Connie Flewitt

Connie is Director, Human Resources and Employee Relations at Coca-Cola Refreshments. She is a specialist in human resources with experience in both the private and public sectors. Connie is passionate about coaching and developing the next set of leaders while helping business achieve results through strategic partnerships.

Sara Gottlieb

Sara is a lawyer admitted to the Bar of New York and Ontario.  Sara is currently legal counsel with the University of Toronto, and is an executive of the Women Lawyers’ Forum of the Canadian Bar Association and a director of Camp Winston Foundation, supporting programming for children with neurological disorders.

Kathy-Lynn Greig

Versatile and eclectic with diverse interests, Kathy-Lynn is an acute care and rehabilitation nurse, residential property manager and committee member for appeals for Legal Aid-Ontario. Kathy-Lynn is passionate about social justice and poverty law, equality and diversity. She is a feminist, and pro-choice.

Rebecca Ho, Vice-Chair

Rebecca is Project Manager with the Rehabilitative Care Alliance. Trained as an engineer and a graduate of a Masters in Health Administration, she has applied her data-driven and systematic approach in various roles at Princess Margaret Hospital and Cancer Care Ontario. Rebecca has volunteered on the Board of a community arts organization in Toronto for the past 6 years.

Kathy-Lynn Greig

Versatile and eclectic with diverse interests, Kathy-Lynn is an acute care and rehabilitation nurse, residential property manager and committee member for appeals for Legal Aid-Ontario. Kathy-Lynn is passionate about social justice and poverty law, equality and diversity. She is a feminist, and pro-choice.

Jane Ravenshaw

Jane has a passion for empowering women and has mentored women in the workplace throughout her career as an engineer, global marketing executive and Toronto-based consultant. She currently works as an Individual and Non-Profit Board Coach, recently advising a battered women’s shelter. She has a Masters in Engineering and a Masters Certificate in Coaching.

Natasha Ryan-Shepherd

Natasha is a former Jessie’s Centre participant. She is a specialist in social services focusing on gender and families. Natasha provides support to high-risk youth and vulnerable populations through schools, detention centres, and community centres. She is currently the Field Placement Co-ordinator for the Department of Community Services at Centennial College, a Case Worker for Community Empowering Enterprises, and relief for Access for Parents and Children in Ontario.


Lauren Butti

Lauren is a partner in the Litigation Group at Goodmans LLP where she carries on a diversified advocacy practice, specializing in commercial litigation.  Lauren is an active mentor in her practice group and integrally involved in the associate and student programs at the firm.  Lauren believes strongly in the power of opportunity, positive support and mentorship and is pleased to be a part of Jessie’s.

Why Support US

Jessie’s can be the difference between a lonely and frightening start to motherhood and a new beginning filled with hope and promise.

Jessie’s serves pregnant teens and young women who face poverty and social isolation. Almost 92% of young mothers under the age of 25 are living in poverty. Most are single parents. (Women Moving Forward Canada, 2010).

We pursue a holistic and sustainable approach, based on the Social Determinants of Health framework adopted by Health Canada, helping each young woman we support reach her full potential as an adult and as a new mother. We help her find safe affordable housing, access to comprehensive health services for herself and her baby, and an opportunity to complete her high school education.

Jessie’s is the only pro-choice organization in Toronto specifically mandated to serve pregnant teens. Jessie’s supports a woman’s right to make choices about her sexual health and her pregnancy options including abortion, adoption and parenthood.

Jessie’s relies on a large team of skilled volunteers who play key roles, helping us keep costs down while maintaining a high level of service delivery.

At Jessie’s, we recognize the importance of measuring the impact of our services so that we can be confident that generous donors and partners see value in their investment. Some of these benefits are tangible and easy to measure such as the number of participants who complete their high school education and deliver healthy babies. Our programs create value in many other ways that are sometimes more difficult to measure, such as  the positive influence a mother has on her child’s development when she gains self-esteem and a positive outlook on her future.


Pregnant teens, young parents and their children access services at Jessie’s annually


Counselling sessions provided


Youth attend Community Education presentations to dispel myths about being a teenage parent and provide information about healthy sexuality and informed decision-making


Nutritious meals and snacks served

Partners and Donors

We want to thank the generous individuals and organizations who are part of our extended family. Our donors and partners help make Jessie’s a second home for pregnant teens and young moms.


Annual Reports and Financial Statements









Download Our Annual Report

Year 2015 | Year 2014 | Year 2013

This past year, our direction remained focused on addressing the social conditions that adversely impact pregnant teens, young parents, and their children. While elevating our current services, we also piloted an innovative new Community Economic Development project, A-Dressing Success, to give young moms an opportunity to develop workplace skills.