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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. 

Board of Directors 2018

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.

Lindsay Brent – Vice Chair

Lindsay Brent is Vice President, Research Product Manager in Global Equities with RBC Capital Markets. 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. In addition to her role as Vice-Chair of the Board and Chair of the Strategy Committee 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 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

Ashley Trinh – Treasurer 

Ashley is a Senior Financial Analyst at G Adventures specializing in financial reporting. After graduating from the University of Toronto, she joined Deloitte in their audit and assurance practice. While specializing in audits of private companies and not-for-profit organizations, Ashley earned her CPA, CA designation. Ashley is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of Jessie’s.

Andrew Townsend – Secretary

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.

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. 

Alisha Brooks

Alisha Brooks has been an advocate in the vulnerable sector for 11 years, has been an ambassador for the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, an advisor with the former Advocacy Office of Ontario, and currently an outreach and engagement worker for the CHEERS peer mentorship program through Parkdale Queen West Community Health Center. Alisha’s most valuable job is being a mother to her wonderful daughter and inspires to be one of Toronto’s most influential people.

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.

Cecelia DeKorne

Cecelia is currently a Senior Consultant in Ernst & Young’s People Advisory Services practice. She is passionate about enabling organizations’ missions through strong operational practices, change management, and tailored people systems. Cecelia 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. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Equity Studies and a Master’s degree in Human Development and Psychology. 

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 and volunteers for the MD Admissions Program at McMaster University (past) and The University of Toronto (present). 

Jessica Haines 

Jessica owns and operates a doula company in the Toronto area and is a certified childbirth educator. Her goal is to support families through the significant milestones of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. She holds a degree in Women and Gender Studies & Biology from Trent University.

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 two years, Laurel has also volunteered on the Board of Directors for Young Women in Law.

Sharone Karagach

Sharone is a finance and accounting professional working in the Greater Toronto Area. An engineer by training, Sharone spent nearly a decade in the aerospace industry before transitioning to management positions in the finance field. Sharone is passionate about children’s causes and was most recently a board member at Adventure Place, an organization serving children with complex needs and their families in the North Toronto area. He has previously volunteered with Habitat For Humanity, Queen’s University, and Greenpeace.

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. 

Bethel Woldemichael

Bethel received her Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, completing a double major in Life Sciences and Women and Gender Studies. She completed her Masters of Public Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, in the Social and Behavioural Health Sciences steam with a collaborative in Women’s Health.

Currently, Bethel is a Research Analyst at Health Quality Ontario, a provincial advisor, on the Quality Standards, which are a set of concise statements based on best available evidence for clinicians and patients across Ontario with a single-minded purpose: better health for all Ontarians. Additionally, she is a Sessional Lecturer at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Ryerson University where she teaches Women and Gender Studies and Health Promotion (respectively) courses at the undergraduate level. Lastly, for three years, she served as Board Chair at Young Diplomats, a non-profit organization committed to inspiring, mobilizing and empowering Ethiopian and Eritrean youth.

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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