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 Over 35 years of Helping Young Pregnant & Parenting Women   

About Jessie’s


Dedicated to helping young mothers and their families

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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 enormous 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 parents and independent adults.

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. Learn more…

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


Wer're here to help

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

Our Founder 

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

June Callwood

Our Mission & Approach

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.

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.

Our Amazing Team

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

Maritza SanchezExecutive Director

Joanna Mendez, Director of Programming and Operations

Sutha Sivarajah, Financial Administrator

Alexia Schell, Volunteer Coordinator

Beth Poulin, Food Program Coordinator

Deirdre McKibbon, Parent Child Development Worker

Elisa Wilmot, Parent-Child Centre Lead

Faith Hatchett, Registered Nurse

Hodan Osman, Counsellor/Case Manager

Iris Humphrey, Housing Access Counsellor

Judy Tobe, Development Associate

Julia Hrivnak, Food Program Assista

Linda Gallant, Infant-Child Worker

Lynn Murphy, Teacher

Nana Boateng, Counsellor/Case Manager

Miesi Makundika, Infant-Child Worker

Natalie Sgambelluri, Respite Care Coordinator

Regi Magaly, Counsellor/Case Manager

Sherry Rutter, Community Economic Development Coordinator

Sinead Dunphy, Community Education Coordinator

Sutha Sivarajah, Financial Administrato

Our Board Of Directors

With special thanks to our Board Members who have helped so much. Our Board is committed to ensuring that Jessie’s is operating based upon our founding principles and every Board Member brings with them a unique outlook and wealth of experience. 

Board of Directors 2018

Jessica Aviva Anderson

Jessica is currently Director, Content Strategy and Communications, for Plan International Canada. She has held progressively senior positions in communications and fundraising, and has broad non-profit experience working and volunteering in several sectors, including health care, international development, and post-secondary education. Jessica is passionate about social justice, feminism, and using storytelling to fight all forms of inequality and marginalization. 

Lindsay Brent, Vice-Chair

Lindsay Brent is a Senior Manager of Strategy Development at RBC, where she collaborates with business and functional leaders within the organization to develop integrated platform and line of business strategies. She is also responsible for various other organizational strategic initiatives, competitive intelligence and internal reporting. She has prior experience in Capital Markets Institutional Sales and in Wealth Management Portfolio Advisory roles. She holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Science. Lindsay is an active volunteer with Camp Oochigeas, attending camp as a trip leader in 2017, and currently volunteering with the “Ooch on the 8th“ program at Sick Kids Hospital. She is also a Co-Chair of the Women in Capital Markets High School Liaison Committee, which provides free educational programming and mentorship to high school girls in the GTA, with the aim of creating opportunities to inspire young women to pursue careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM), as well as Financial Services and Capital Markets. Lindsay is grateful to have a seat on the Jessie’s Board, and the opportunity to give back to such an important community and organization within the GTA.

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.

Sophie Chang, Treasurer

Sophie is a Senior Financial Analyst at Manulife in the Wealth & Asset Management division with expertise in finance transformation, business process improvement, and project delivery. After graduating from Western University’s Ivey Business School, she joined CPP Investment Board where she worked with the company’s investment teams in various finance and operations roles, followed by BlueCat Networks where she worked in the company’s accounting team. Sophie also has experience in business strategy & planning, data analytics, and cash & liquidity management in both the public and private sectors.

Susan Da Costa

Susan Da Costa is a former Jessie’s participant and a proud mother of five children. She has extensive experience working with Indigenous communities and currently works as a High Risk Infant Specialist and a traditional auntie, which in Ojibway is known as a “Ninoshe”. Susan takes great take pride in her role and is honoured to be an advocate and support to Indigenous families in Toronto. As a former Jessie’s participant, Susan understands the challenges young mothers face and is passionate about supporting young women and their children. She is excited about the opportunity to support Jessie’s as a Board Member. In her spare time, Susan loves to cook and spend quality time with her family. 

Jessica Haines

Jessica is an Analyst in Regional & Community Engagement at the Independent Electricity System Operator. Jessica is heavily involved in pro bono doula work and provides one-on-one support for clients from St. Stephen’s Community House, Public Health and The Stop’s Healthy Beginnings Program.  She holds a degree in Women’s Studies & Biology from Trent University, a Sales & Marketing Fundamentals Certificate from the University of Waterloo, and is currently working on a Strategic Public Relations Certificate at the University of Toronto. 

Rebecca Ho

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.

Laurel Hogg

Laurel is a lawyer with the law firm of Lenczner Slaght LLP. Laurel practices a broad range of civil litigation, including class actions,

commercial, intellectual property, and professional liability matters. Prior to joining Lenczner Slaght, Laurel worked at the Federal Court of Canada and as a caseworker in the Criminal Division of the University of Ottawa Community Legal Aid. For the past two years, Laurel has volunteered on the Board of Directors for Young Women in Law.

Najma Kahiye, Chair

Najma is a Registered Nurse (RN) and policy professional at the City of Toronto.  Prior to joining the City of Toronto, Najma worked for the Ontario government, where she held progressively senior policy roles in the Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, and the Ministry of Education. In addition to her broad public policy experience, Najma has extensive frontline experience; she has worked in various roles to support individuals and families seeking income support, housing assistance and counselling services in Ontario. Najma is passionate about social justice, and is a strong advocate for healthy public policy that focuses on reducing inequities. Najma is also the Chair of Jessie’s Non-Profit Homes Board.

Natasha Laing

Natasha is employed as a Senior Planner at the City of Toronto, in the City Planning Division.  She also serves as the Co-Chair of the Toronto Public Service Women’s Network.  In her current role, she works to advance the City’s broader building objectives by creating communities that accommodate growth and manage change, in determining the City’s best practices for the utilization of land, infrastructure and resources.  Her passion for the “potential of people” has translated into a strategic objective, to promote positive social change.  In furthering this objective, Natasha helps individuals harness their abilities to enhance capacity building in diverse working environments.  Throughout her 16 year professional career in both the public and private sectors, she has also mentored countless professionals, and volunteered with various organizations.


Debi Levy

Debi was a corporate and tax lawyer and a member of the bars of New York, Ontario and Quebec. She has spent the past twenty years raising her four children while consulting on finance and tax matters for a private enterprise. Debi strongly believes in the adage “it takes a village” and is proud of the work Jessie’s does to provide a community of care and support to its participants. 

Nancy Leveille

Nancy is a former Jessie’s participant.  She believes that the services and support she received at Jessie’s were critical in helping her continue with her education, while raising two children.  After graduating from York University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Nancy received a post-graduate certificate in Human Resources from Humber College. Nancy currently works as a Senior Compensation Consultant at Foresters Financial and has over 17 years of human resources experience, specializing in Total Rewards.  Nancy is thrilled to have an opportunity to support Jessie’s as a Board Member.

Sasha Rana

Sasha is a Management Consultant with Accenture Canada, with expertise in supporting large scale organizational transformations, behavioural and cultural change management, and digital transformation strategy. She has an MBA as well as a Bachelor of Commerce degree. She leads initiatives for the Inclusion & Diversity group, and for the Canada Women’s Network at her company. Sasha advocates for empowering women who face challenges in all areas of life, and hopes to do so through her work with Jessie’s. 

Jane Ravenshaw

Jane completed her undergraduate and Master’s degree in engineering. She worked for 17 years in engineering roles in the automobile and technology industries before making a major career shift to marketing. Jane went on to spend the next decade in a global marketing agency moving ultimately to the position of COO for North America.

After leaving The Marketing Store in 2014, Jane sent up her own Toronto based consultancy One-two-five inc. focusing on marketing and customer experience.

Jane has a passion for empowering women. Throughout her career, she has been a mentor to women in the work place and at any one time, will be coaching at least one young woman trying to begin her career.

Jane completed a Masters certificate in coaching in 2013 to fully give her the tools to be an effective non- profit coach. In addition to individual coaching, she has also coached a non-profit board for a battered women’s shelter (Nelson House).

Andrew Townsend, Secretary

Andrew is the Teen Programming Coordinator at Planned Parenthood Toronto, where he oversees the team behind  HYPERLINK “” He is also the Assistant Director of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

Our Partners & 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 & Financial Statements

Our Annual Reports

Download Our Financial Statements



205 Parliament St
Toronto, Ont m4e 1g5






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