Who’s Involved

The Halton Poverty Roundtable leadership is made up of 25 Halton representatives who reflect the region’s diversity (i.e., geography, sectors, and demographics). Selected by a representative Start-Up Committee, the composition of the Roundtable includes at least: 5 people who live in poverty – lived experience, 5 government representatives, 5 business and or labour representatives, and 5 representatives of non-profit community agencies.

Operating as a collaborative multi-sectoral group, the Roundtable acts as a catalyst to engage all sectors of Halton to address the region’s poverty issues. The Roundtable enables and facilitates innovative opportunities and resources in order to connect and integrate community approaches and initiatives.

Halton Poverty Roundtable 2017

Joy AndersonJoy Anderson
Town of Milton – Recreation Services to Director of Culture and Community Investment

Joy has been involved in the field of parks, recreation and culture for over twenty years with a variety of volunteer and part-time roles prior to a career at the Town of Milton in progressive municipal government positions. Following a career start in recreation working part time at the University of Guelph, Joy’s work in Milton has involved positions at older adult and arena facilities and in areas of community development and recreation services. Raised in rural eastern Ontario, Joy played an active role in her community as a volunteer, serving in rural youth organizations in leadership positions. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Community Foundation Halton North. A resident of Halton Hills, Joy enjoys travel, participates in a variety of recreational activities including sports and is a patron of the arts. Joy holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from the University of Guelph and is currently completing a Master’s Certificate in Municipal Administration from the Schulich School of Business, York University.

Lyle BensonLyle Benson
Engagient Management Consulting

Lyle has had two major phases in his career: 18 years in the corporate field, followed by over 30 years working as an entrepreneur. He spent 3 years with Bell Canada and 15 years with IBM. He then began consulting, motivational training, computer network products distribution, and started a retail flower shop with his wife. He now works in Leadership Development and Communication Training. He has spent the past 10 years developing an integrated process that begins with an online assessment of an organization’s present capacity to generate sustainable peak performance, followed by a science-based strengthening process to build the necessary culture to create, and predictably sustain exceptional results.

Barb Chilwell CroppedBarb Chilwell
Burlington resident

Barb is a single mother of a 20 year old daughter with special needs. They are currently living on Ontario Disability. She previously was an entrepreneur, who owned her own business. She is a member of Voices for Change. Barb is in the process of trying to re-enter the work force in a way that takes into account her disability.

juneJune Cockwell
(HPRT Co-chair), HIPPY Oakville

June Cockwell retired from her career as an educator in 2002. Prior to retirement, June was Head of St. Mildred’s Lightbourn’s Junior School for 15 years. June is currently Co- Chair of the Halton Poverty Roundtable.
She is President of Amarna Associates and is active in promoting Philanthropy in Oakville. Previously, she served on the Board of the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education.

June is the founder and coordinator of HIPPY Oakville, a charity that provides free pre-school education to children of vulnerable families.

HIPPY Home visitors visit mothers in their homes to teach them how to be their children’s first, best teacher

Carol D'AmelioCarol D’Amelio
Burlington Resident

Carol is a former teacher and City of Burlington and Region of Halton Councillor with 16 years of experience in government. She grew up in Montreal, Quebec; attended University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia; and resided in Toronto, Milton and Burlington for 34 years and in Saudi Arabia for more than 6 years during the 80’s. She is a founder of CAPP (Community and Parent Partners) for Kids, which is a group that brings speakers into the community to assist parents with parenting issues. She is on the Burlington Museum Foundation Board, the Halton Learning Foundation Board and is co-chair of the Tansley United Church Board. Carol has served on Finance, Community Development, Social Services, Community Services, Accessibility, Arts, Personnel, and Heritage Committees, to name a few. Carol is married to Frank and they have 3 sons and 3 grandchildren.

elenaElena DiBattista

Elena has had an extensive career in the human services field, primarily in the areas of community development and engagement, early child development and parenting. Over the past forty years, she has held numerous positions with children’s aid societies, school boards, the provincial government and community agencies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (Psychology) from York University and a Child and Youth Worker diploma from George Brown College.

In 2008, Elena was the recipient of the Mary Neville award (Peel Children’s Centre) for her outstanding contributions to the well-being of children in Peel Region.

Since joining Our Kids Network in 2010, Elena has been steadily guiding the transition towards a more strategic and structured partnership of organizations to meet the needs of children and youth in Halton. Her leadership in engaging key partners and community agencies to work together has contributed to stronger and more diverse partnerships with a focus on positive impact.


Ariam GomezAriam Gomez
Oakville resident

Currently residing in Oakville, Ariam immigrated to Canada from Colombia. He is married and has 4 boys. Ariam has a Bachelor of Pharmacy, and an MBA. He is currently self employed.


brendaBrenda Haidu

As Executive Director/CEO of Food for Life, Brenda Hadju focuses her energies on supporting 80+ community partners by sourcing and distributing fresh, nutritious food to thousands in need.

Food for Life, a regional charity, provides healthy, perishable food for the equivalent to 2.5 million meals annually to more than 38,000 client visits per month in Halton Region. In her role, Brenda is committed to collaboration and innovation to ensure equitable access to food through community partnerships.

Since joining Food for Life in 2015, mission delivery and client support increased by 30% all while maintaining 2% overhead. This growth, combined with administrative efficiencies has placed Food for Life as one of the top 10 charities in the country for Social Return on Investment, as measured by Charity Intelligence.

Before joining Food for Life, Brenda held the positon of Executive Director with the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation, Canada’s bone and joint charity. During her five-year tenure, Brenda increased mission delivery 250%, expanded the organization’s patient educational portfolio six-fold and expanded hospital support programs nationally reaching nearly half a million orthopaedic patients and caregivers annually.

Previously, Brenda held senior management positions in the professional services sector.


Kim JenkinsonKim Jenkinson
Halton Multicultural Council

Kim Jenkinson is the Executive Director of the Halton Multicultural Council (HMC). Her professional career has spanned more than 25 years in the not-for-profit arena in the Halton and Hamilton areas. She has worked with the Ontario March of Dimes, Goodwill, and the Reach Out Centre for Kids (ROCK) before joining the team at HMC. She has recently finished her MBA at the University of Fredericton to complement her CGA and BA in psychology from McMaster University. Kim has a passion for social justice and equity and enjoys working collaboratively in the community to create social change.

Zilay CroppedZilay Khan

Burlington Resident

Zilay is a single parent who has first hand experience with homelessness and poverty. She is a University of Toronto graduate and is also the recipient of a humanitarian leadership certificate from the University. Zilay is dedicated to addressing issues of poverty and social inequality in her community.


claire1Claire Peace

Claire is the Social Worker and Attendance Counsellor for the Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary Family of Schools in Milton. This includes Jean Vanier CSS as well as the five elementary schools in its catchment area. Her first job in the social services field was as a university student having a summer job at a shelter in Hamilton. This home was a place of refuge for women in children in crisis due to homelessness and/or domestic violence. Claire identifies this experience as personally and professionally transformative, as it was her first exposure to marginalized and oppressed groups in her city.

Claire continued to work at the shelter for eight years, in a variety of roles. She has worked and volunteered in Hamilton supporting individuals whose lives have been impacted by homelessness, domestic violence, addiction, and human trafficking. She studied Child and Youth Work at Humber College, which led to full time employment with the HCDSB. Two years later, she left the board for a year to pursue a Master’s degree in Social Work during which she gained practicum experience in a community counselling agency, as well an inpatient unit for individuals with Schizophrenia at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton. She has since returned to the board as a Social Worker, currently in her second year with the JV family of schools. She is passionate about social justice, intentional and inclusive communities, hearing one another’s stories and connecting to develop relationship, particularly with those often marginalized. Also she loves pizza.

johnp1John Pennyfather
John Pennyfather began his career in Halton in 1991 as a primary/junior/intermediate teacher. In 1998, he became a vice-principal and in 2001 a principal. He has worked at Abbey Lane, W.H. Morden and Pilgrim Wood elementary schools in Oakville. John opened the Oakville’s new Oodenawi elementary school in 2015. He is currently a Superintendent of Education with responsibilities for north Oakville schools, Student Health and Social Justice.


Craig Platt
Halton Regional Police Service
Regional Community Mobilization Bureau

Craig is married, and the proud father of a 6 year-old daughter and 8 year-old son. With 29 years of policing experience, in a variety of roles Craig has been assigned to RCMB since February, 2017 and currently manages the Community Mobilization efforts across the region, which includes Diversity, and event planning and management. He also manages the mental health emergency response and community support (Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT), and Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST). He also oversees the Auxiliary Policing Unit, Crime Stoppers, and High school and Elementary School officers and the associated programs (BRAVO).He sits with several committees including, the OACP Provincial Diversity Steering Committee and the Halton Newcomer Strategy Steering Committee.

Craig also volunteers within his community and is a life-long learner who has sought continuing education opportunities at the University of Toronto.




Melissa Riewald
Senior Director, Community Impact United Way Halton & Hamilton
Melissa, leads a team of professionals dedicated to maximizing our impact in the community. She joined the organization in November 2015 to help grow the community development initiatives beyond traditional program investment and transition the organization into one focused on impact and measurable outcomes.
Prior to joining this United Way, Melissa was the Manager of Community Development for United Way Kitchener Waterloo & Area and served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region as Chair of the Human Resources and Governance Committees, and as part of the Executive Committee. In May 2015, she was selected as a delegate to the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, a unique and immersive, invite-only training opportunity offered to Canada’s top 250 emerging leaders once every 3-4 years.
Melissa has lived and learned in various communities throughout the world including Canada, the United States, France and South Korea. After completing a degree in Philosophy and French, Melissa went on to earn a Social Work degree from the University of Waterloo in the community she now calls home.
A tireless advocate for social justice, Melissa dedicates her time to improving lives through her dual passions of community development and leadership. Her ‘big picture’ perspective and strategic thinking enable her to ask probing questions about the people and systems around her in order to engage practically with the issues and causes she cares about most.
When able to unplug, Melissa loves to spend her time traveling, writing, camping and finding and listening to new music. In the summer, you’ll likely find her backcountry camping and paddling or portaging a canoe… while singing at the top of her lungs.


Steven RodriguesSteven Rodrigues

Steven is a resident of Acton, Ontario. He was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces with the Military Police for 7 years and spent 15 years working as a mental health and addictions therapist, 12 of those years working with aboriginal communities in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

He is active in his community as site manager for the local dog park and member of the board (HHDog) and manager of the parks’ Facebook page which serves as a community information page for dog owners in the Town of Halton Hills in the areas of health, lost and found, fostering, rescues, training, etc…

Also, as well as being one of the original members of the HPRT, Steven manages and maintains the website and Facebook pages and is an integral part of the roundtable’s strategic communications.

alexAlex Sarchuk

Alex was appointed Halton Region’s Commissioner of Social and Community Services in August 2015. In this role he is accountable for senior’s services, including the operation of the Region’s three long-term care facilities, children’s services, housing services, and employment and social assistance. Alex is also the General Manager of the Halton Community Housing Corporation which is responsible for 29 social housing properties.

Prior the joining the Region, Alex was an Assistant Deputy Minister with the Ontario ministries of Children and Youth, and Community and Social Services. A notable role was as the Executive Lead for the Child Protection Information Network (CPIN) Project. CPIN modernized, improved and supports the sustainability of child welfare services in Ontario through the introduction of new technologies an d leading business practices.

Alex’s key areas of focus have been operational planning, financial management, and leading business process change.


cathystokes2Cathy Stokes
Cathy’s passion is to help eradicate poverty while giving people a voice through exploring creative ways to address the systemic barriers people living in poverty face. As well as sitting on the Halton Poverty Roundtable, Cathy also sits on Voices for Change Halton, a grassroots anti-poverty organization she co-founded which provides support to individuals navigating the social services system. Whether this be providing accompaniment to appointments or sourcing further resources.
Cathy graduated from George Brown with a diploma in Human Services specializing in mental health and addictions and a minor in social justice. Cathy loves old oak trees and nature.


Rita Thompson CroppedRita Thompson
Labour Staff Partner, Oakville District Labour Council

Rita is a resident of Oakville, she is married and has 4 adult children. She worked at Ford Motor Company, Oakville Assembly Complex for 34 years as one of the first women hired there in 1977. Rita held an elected union position of Employment Equity Representative and Women’s Advocate for 14 years while working in the plant. She retired from Ford in 2011.

In 2011 Rita was hired as the Labour Staff Representative at the Oakville United Way. The Canadian Labour Congress and United Way Centraide Canada have a partnership that dates back over 50 years and was updated in 2012 recommitting their work together. The role of the LSR is to facilitate collective action and about building both Labour (CLC- Labour Council) and United Way Canada’s capacity to respond to and support the needs of the community and working families. LSR’s work with unions and United Way to increase the involvement of union member and work on community projects with UW such as homelessness and affordable housing.


ianIan Troop

Ian has proven to be a builder of brands, a builder of organizations and a strategist who builds businesses.
Ian’s business career is highlighted by 20 years at Procter & Gamble leading businesses in North America, Mexico and Poland, and 6 years as President of ConAgra Foods’ International Division where he built a $1.5 billion Global Food business. He has served on numerous Public and private business boards.
Most recently, Ian was CEO of the Toronto 2015 Pan/Para Pan American Games. This organization delivered the largest sports infrastructure project in Canadian history – on schedule and under budget. The Games have been acclaimed by stakeholders, the media and citizens as a history making success.
Ian was named one of Canada’s Top CEOs of the Future by The Financial Post in 2006 and 2007. In 2009 Ian was named Wilfrid Laurier University Alumnus of the Year and in 2011, one of Laurier’s top 100 Alumni of the past 100 years. In 2012 Ian was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for his “significant community achievements and extraordinary contribution”.
Ian is currently advising Private Equity Firms and Hedge Funds. He is on the Board of West Park Health Center where he is Chair of the Capital campaign, has been a member of the Halton Poverty Roundtable since 2014, and is on the Board of Canadian Freestyle skiing (CFSA).


Jeff WardJeff Ward
(HPRT Co-Chair)
St. Luke Anglican Church

Jeff was born in Atlanta, Georgia and raised in Montreal and the GTA. He has traveled a long journey through several denominations (Baptist, United, Roman Catholic, and finally, Anglican) which has offered him experience and perspective for the challenges that other people have faced while seeking a deeper spirituality and a nurturing church experience.

He spent 20 years in the technology manufacturing industry and finally answered the call to ordained ministry in 2001. Jeff is married to Sue-Ann who is also an Anglican priest. Together, they have raised four wonderful children. Jeff and Sue-Ann are sharing ministry as Co-Rectors of St Luke and Grace (in Waterdown).

Jeff has a passion for people. He holds a particular passion for outreach through social justice, compassionate care, and family ministry in his practice of ministry. He is constantly seeking excellence in all aspects of ministry and the inclusion of all people in the church of God.


Staff Contact

unknown2 Sarah Sabihuddin
Director, Community Development

Sarah Sabihuddin joined the Halton Poverty Roundtable as the Director of Community Engagement in January 2018. Sarah joins the Halton Poverty Roundtable after a rewarding career with the Ontario Public Service where she has served in a variety of capacities. She has developed provincial strategies around ensuring the people of Ontario have better access to affordable and suitable housing, building complete and strong communities, creating opportunities for seniors to stay active in their communities and in the economy, as well as contributed to the successful delivery of the Pan/Parapan American Games.

Sarah believes in creating strong and complete communities where everyone is afforded the access and opportunity to contribute their extraordinary skills, perspectives, and experiences to the vibrant and multicultural fabric of our region. Sarah is guided by the belief that an inclusive region is one where residents of diverse backgrounds contribute together to implement innovative solutions to the benefit of all.

Sarah is proud to call Oakville home and has been recently enjoying the journey of motherhood, raising a young daughter with her husband, Khalid.



Marjorie Bell
Administrative Coordinator
Marjorie comes to HPRT with an extensive background in administration, writing and communications across a broad range of sectors, including: government, non-profit, education and finance.

Passionate about social justice, animal welfare and the environment: Marjorie, and her pets, live in Oakville where she enjoys the waterfront walking trails and being able to be close to beautiful Lake Ontario.
Tel: 905-635-3131, Ext. 302
E-mail: Marjorie@haltonpovertyroundtable.com