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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

Marcia Munroe, Food Program Coordinator

Deirdre McKibbon, Parent Child Development Worker

Elisa Wilmot, Parent-Child Centre Lead

Faith Hatchett, Registered Nurse

Hodan Osman, Counsellor/Case Manager

Natalie Sgambelluri, Housing Access Counsellor

Judy Tobe, Development Associate

Vanessa Suarez , Counsellor

Linda Gallant, Infant-Child Worker

Lynn Murphy, Teacher

Nana Boateng, Counsellor/Case Manager

Miesi Makundika, Parent-Child Centre Program Assistant

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. 

Our Board Chair

Lindsay Brent

Lindsay Brent is a Vice President in Global Research at RBC Capital Markets, working as a Research Product Manager. Her prior experience is in Strategy Development with RBC’s Personal & Commercial Banking division, Institutional Sales with RBC Capital Markets and as an Associate Portfolio Advisor with RBC Wealth Management. She holds an MBA from the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, and an Honours Bachelor of Science from Queen’s University. Lindsay’s is passionate about women’s empowerment, as exemplified by her contributions to the community. Prior to taking on the Chair role, Lindsay was previously Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of the Strategy Committee. In addition to her involvement with Jessie’s, Lindsay 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 inspiring young women to pursue careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM), as well as Financial Services and Capital Markets. In 2019, Lindsay was awarded both the RBC Global Citizen Award and the Women in Capital Markets Volunteer of the Year Award for her various contributions to her community.

Vice Chair

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 19 years of human resources experience, specializing in Total Rewards.  Nancy is thrilled to have an opportunity to support Jessie’s as a Board Member.


Ashley Trinh 

Ashley is currently a Senior Manager, Finance at Bell Canada with a focus in planning and reporting. Prior to joining Bell, Ashley worked at G Adventures, a sustainable travel company focused on empowering local communities. She earned her CPA, CA designation while working


Andrew Townsend

Andrew is the Teen Programming Coordinator at Planned Parenthood Toronto, overseeing the team behind Along with Jessie’s, Andrew spends time volunteering with SickKids Hospital and Shelter Movers.

Jessica Aviva Anderson

Jessica is currently Director, Brand and Content Strategy 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.

Lauren Butti

Lauren is a partner in the Litigation Group and a member of the Professional Standards Committee at Goodmans. Lauren’s practice focuses on commercial litigation matters, including in the areas of employment, energy, and the environment.  Lauren is also integrally involved in the firm’s student program, and an active mentor in her practice group and more broadly within her firm. Lauren believes strongly in the power of opportunity, positive support and mentorship and values deeply her time serving as a part of Jessie’s.

Britt Caron

Britt is a psychotherapist working in private practice. Prior to this work, she has spent over a decade in community organizing and social services doing things like case management, housing support and outreach. Britt remains active in advocacy efforts around mental health, community alternatives to policing, and broader social justice issues. She holds an MA in Counseling Psychology, a diploma in Child and Youth Work, and a BA in International Development Studies.


Cecelia DeKorne

Cecelia is Director of Education Impact at the United Way of Anchorage. She has cross-sector experience supporting organizational effectiveness in both non-profit and corporate environments and was part of the founding team that launched Teach For Canada. Cecelia has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Equity Studies from the University of Toronto and a Master’s degree in Human Development from Harvard University.

Thank You 


Isabelle Dobronyi

Isabelle is a family doctor and hospitalist in Toronto with special interests in harm reduction and overdose prevention, mental health, secure housing, care of the elderly, and women’s health. She is an advocate for the arts. She previously served on the Board of Directors for OPIRG McMaster.

Alexa Minichiello

Alexa Minichiello is the Manager, Clinical Knowledge Translation at the Association of Ontario Midwives.  In this role, Alexa helps to advance the clinical practice of midwives and promotes accessible, high-quality, and client-centered pregnancy and postpartum care. Alexa holds a BA in Political Science and a Masters’ of Science with a specialization in public health policy.  

Valarie Matthews

Valarie is a lawyer who practices exclusively in the area of family law. She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and her law degree from Harvard Law School. She has a particular interest in ensuring equity in education and has volunteered with various organizations that support underserved youth in the United States and Canada.

Micaela Pacheco

Micaela is a former Jessie’s participant, Jessie’s graduate, former birth doula, and former Community Education Speaker. Currently she is a Social Service Work student at George Brown. She is a very pound mother of two. She has experience in volunteering as a mealtime host at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She hopes to shine light on the tough experiences she overcame and give back to Jessie’s.


Noelle Roque

Noelle is a business strategist, problem solver and storyteller. She is a Principal Consultant with Slalom, a purpose-driven consulting firm that helps companies solve business problems and build for the future. An Industrial Engineer by training, Noelle built her career in helping organizations move from ideation to execution, create high-functioning business, and drive operational efficiencies. She is passionate about intersectional feminism and is excited to contribute to the community through Jessie’s.

Shelley Wilson

Shelley is a governance professional at Foresters Financial primarily responsible for Legal Operations and is currently also acting Assistant Corporate Secretary.  She has over 24 years of progressively senior legal and corporate governance experience, specializing in legal operations as well as corporate secretarial and regulatory services.  Over the years, Shelley has participated  in a number of volunteer activities for  SickKids Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network, and KaBOOM! Playground Builds and most recently organized workplace volunteer events for a local women’s shelter and community outreach program for the homeless.  Shelley is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of Jessie’s. 

Laurel Hogg

Laurel is a litigation lawyer with the law firm of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. Laurel’s practice focuses on intellectual property law. She represents clients in a wide range of intellectual property matters in the life sciences and technology industries. Prior to joining Blakes, Laurel worked at a litigation boutique and at the Federal Court of Canada. For the past three years, Laurel has also volunteered on the Board of Directors for Young Women in Law.

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205 Parliament St
Toronto, Ont m4e 1g5






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