Our mission

Laidlaw Foundation invests in innovative ideas, convenes interested parties, shares its learning and advocates for change in support of young people being healthy, creative and fully engaged citizens.

Our vision

An inclusive society that values and supports the full engagement of its young people in the civic, social, economic and cultural life of diverse and environmentally healthy communities.

Our core values

Youth Engagement +

Young people have important things to say and contribute and we value the participation of young people in decision making and governance.

civic Engagement +

Young people should have opportunities for meaningful participation in the democratic process and should have leadership roles in the governance of organizations and institutions that work with or make decisions that affect young people’s lives.

diversity +

We recognize, respect and value the differences among us and believe that acknowledging and celebrating these differences lead to both stronger individuals and stronger communities.

inclusion +

We all have a place in the economic, social, political and cultural life of our society and, for our part, we enrich our organization through diversity.

excellence and integrity +

We enjoy what we do and are proud of it. We mean what we say and we say what we mean. We expect the best of ourselves and of others.

about laidlaw

Ajeev Bhatia

Program Liaison

416.964.3614 ext. 309


Ana Skinner

Program Liaison

416.964.3614 ext. 305


Betul Keles

Program Liaison

416.964.3614 ext. 307


Saeed Selvam

Manager, Public Policy

416-964-3614 ext. 303


Tamer Ibrahim

YouthCI Outreach Coordinator


416.964.3614 ext. 302


meet betul

Betul is responsible for program development and management for a variety of initiatives, including the Knowledge Building Fund. Before joining the Foundation, she was a Researcher with the Education Reform Initiative in Turkey where she worked on research and policy-advocacy projects focusing on education finance, international and national trends in education policy and enrollment in K-12. Betul has also worked in Zambia for the Southern African AIDS Trust where she supported community-based organizations seeking funding to promote equitable and inclusive health. Prior to that role, she was an intern with the Social Security Department at the International Labour Organization in Switzerland.

Betul completed a Master of Political Science at McGill University and a Master of Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson University. She is a Turkish-bath towel supremacist and seriously passionate about cycling.

meet ana

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Finance and Audit

Ken Gibson

Heather Brubacher

Tiffany Chang

Andrew Bedeau



Bob Smith

Walter Ross

Jessica Hammell



Ed Kwan

Heather Hunter

Andrew Bedeau

John Fox


Nathan Gilbert
Youth Fellowship

Nathan Gilbert

Allan Broadbent

Elizabeth McIssac

Annique Ferrell


Community Change

Rebecca Darwent

Hayley Moody

Jon Cada


Indigenous Youth and Community Futures Fund

Tunchai Redvers

Max FineDay

Jessica Bolduc

Jerica Fraser

Quin Meawasige

Jacob Parcher

Sarah Nelson

Erin Hayward

meet tamer

Tamer is the Manager of the Youth Collective Impact program in partnership with Innoweave. Prior to joining the Laidlaw, Tamer was the Community Development Manager at UforChange—an organization that empowers youth through education, employment and the creative sector—where he helped develop the organization's fundraising strategy, writing grants and manage the organization’s special projects. He currently sits on the board of directors at For Youth Initiative: a nonprofit organization that serves, inspires and advocates for thousands of teens and young adults in York South-Weston.

Tamer holds a M.A. in English from Lakehead University and a B.A. in English from York University. He enjoys cycling around Toronto, all-things Superman and collecting comic books.

meet saeed

Saeed is Laidlaw's Manager of Public Policy. Before joining the Foundation, Saeed was the Director of Public Affairs with the Canadian Centre for International Justice. He brings with him private and public sector experience having worked with all three levels of government, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and CivicAction. Saeed began his career as the founding Executive Director of the Spark Initiative where he helped to advocate for the creation of the Youth Challenge Fund and created a documentary with CBC highlighting positive initiatives in Toronto's priority neighbourhoods which aired provincially.

 A former candidate for Toronto City Council, Saeed holds a Masters of Public Policy and Governance from the University of Toronto along with a B.A. in Political Science. He is a Massey Fellow, and regular media contributor.

Veanna Octive

Office Manager

416-964-3614 ext. 301


Jehad Aliweiwi

Executive Director

416.964.3614 ext. 304


meet ajeev

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meet jehad

Jehad is a strategic leader with more than 15 years of experience in senior management positions. Sectors that he has worked within span social, settlement and community service organizations.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Jehad was the Executive Director of the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office – a multi-service non-profit organization serving the Thorncliffe community. During his tenure at the TNO, x,y,z.

Jehad also worked as the Regional Director at Metro Region of Catholic Crosscultural Services. Jehad also gained experience across eight years with the Canadian Arab Federation, as a race relations officer and latterly as executive director.

Jehad has been the recipient of several civic awards, including the Local Hero Award, from the Canadian Urban Institute, and the William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations. He is regularly called upon ….

meet veanna

As the Office Manager, Veanna is responsible for operation of the Foundation’s programs, activities, and facilities. Before joining the Foundation, Veanna lived abroad, accumulating a wealth of knowledge and international perspective as a business support professional and educator. While in New Zealand, she worked as an Administrative Assistant at Tonkin and Taylor, an engineering and environmental firm, and also in the Research Department at the University of Auckland. Veanna has also worked in South Korea and Australia as an Elementary Teacher.

Veanna graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor in Education and from Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care. She enjoys fine in-flight meals and hopes to become a connoisseur of airline dining.

Board of Directors


Derek is CEO of the Community Forward Fund and a Venture Partner at New Market Funds. With close to twenty years’ experience in managing large and mid-size organizations, Derek Ballantyne is a skilled, highly strategic senior executive. He has extensive experience in complex public and private environments, a comprehensive knowledge of the financial management and investment management business, as well as a deep understanding of the housing, real estate management, and development sectors. Derek is the Chair of the Investment Committee at Laidlaw.

Derek Ballantyne

Paul is a Director at the Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company. Paul has a B.Com degree and has over 25 years experience in Estate and Trust Administration, beginning his career with National Trust Company. Paul is a member of STEP (the Society of Estate & Trust Practitioners) and a Director on a number of Charitable Foundations including the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation and the Agora Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropist journal. He also contributes on a regular basis to the All About Estate blog and has participated in presentations for STEP and the Law Society of Upper Canada Estates and Trust Summit.

Paul Fensom

PharmD student - University of Toronto

Karen is a PharmD student at the University of Toronto and the founder of Toronto Multicultural Youth Council (TMYC). She has been widely recognized for her extensive volunteering and community leadership activities. Karen is the recipient of the 2014 Newcomer Champion Award given by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration for her role in creating welcoming communities for immigrants and refugees settling in Markham and surrounding communities.

Karen Ka Yan Ng

Cameron is a Low Energy Building consultant for Peel Passive House Consulting. He graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Commerce, Real Estate, and Housing and holds a Master’s degree in Building Science from Ryerson University. Cameron is a great-grandson of Mr. Robert A. Laidlaw.

Cameron Laidlaw

Laidlaw Family Member

Jamie is a Laidlaw Family member with deep connections to the Foundation. He has been involved with the Laidlaw Foundation in different capacities including  Board member, advisor, and mentor. He has great passion for the environment, history, effective philanthropy and urban renewal. Recently he led two Jane’s Walks taking people through a walking tour entitled “Down University Avenue to learn about the monuments, the buildings, and the story of Toronto and its grand avenue itself”.

Jamie Laidlaw

Hanifa Kassam, Chair

City of Toronto

Hanifa Kassam, a graduate from York University Sociology Department, has long been dedicated to working and volunteering with residents of Toronto. Beginning early on in her career, Hanifa became passionate about the role of government, policy and civic responsibility. Since then, she has participated in countless opportunities to give back and increase her capacity as a contributing member of society. In recent years Hanifa’s growing personal and professional experiences with violence prevention, youth engagement, immigrant and settlement issues and domestic violence have earned her opportunities to share, facilitate and speak on these matters cross the region. Hanifa currently works for the City of Toronto as a Community Development Officer with the city’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Office

Andre is Treasurer of President’s Choice Bank (“PC Bank”). PC Bank is a Schedule 1 Bank and a wholly owned subsidiary of Loblaw Companies Limited. Prior to joining PC Bank in 2013, he spent over 10 years in various roles at Manulife Financial and CIBC.  Andre is a CFA® charterholder, and has a Master of Finance from the Rotman School of Management as well as a Honours BA from the University of Toronto.  Andre has served on the George Weston Limited corporate granting and employee fundraising committees and on the loan review committee of ACCESS Community Capital Fund.  Andre is the chair of the Finance and Audit Committee at Laidlaw.

Andre Lewis

Gave is the Executive Director of the Reelworld Film Festival.  He is a trained lawyer with extensive volunteering and involvement activities in the community and the arts. He served as deputy director, English services with CBC/Radio Canada for a number of years. Prior to his work at the CBC he was an associate lawyer with Fasken Martineau LLP.

Gave Lindo

Dean, Academic Services & Student Affairs - George Brown College

Brenda is Dean, Academic Services & Student Affairs at George Brown College where she develops and leads large scale collaborative initiatives between the college and multi-sector community partners to deliver post-secondary education and training to non-traditional college students.  She is a member of the Minister of Training, Colleges & Universities’ Advisory Panel on first-generation students as well as a member of the City of Toronto’s Council of Educators, the United Way’s Community Practice on Youth Educational Attainment and Emerging Leaders Network.

Brenda Pipitone

Director, Community Services and Programs - St. Stephen’s Community House

Bridget is the Director of Community Services and Programs at St. Stephen’s Community House where she provides oversight of youth services, community development, and social action. She has worked at St. Stephen’s House for the past decade and has been involved with managing six distinct programs and services serving at-risk youth such as the City-wide MCYS Extrajudicial Sanctions Program for young offenders and Diversion programs; Anti-Violence Education and Support Program; Full-time Drop-in Centre for youth aged 12-21; and the Access and Support Alternative School. Bridget has also worked as a consultant in community development and a youth worker.

Bridget Sinclair

Lyon Smith is a Toronto-based award winning multidisciplinary artist who works primarily as an actor/sound designer and photographer.  He has worked with some of the cities most celebrated theatre companies such as the Tarragon theatre, Canadian Stage, Soulpepper, Buddies in Bad Times, and Obsidian.  He is a resident artist with the dance companies sore for punching you and Vazzari as well as a Gemini nominated voice actor.

The great grandson of Robert A.Laidlaw, Lyon has been involved with the Laidlaw foundation for close to 20 years serving as both an advisor and a board member. He resides in Parkdale with his children Holden James and Charlie Jane.

Lyon Smith

May is Executive Director of the Omega Foundation and its SmartSAVER program, a national program focused on helping lower-income Canadian families to save for their children’s higher education using Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) and the Canada Learning Bond. A foundation executive for over 20 years, May has worked with a number of philanthropic foundations to improve the strategy, delivery and results of their grant making. Prior to Omega, May held leadership roles with the Toronto Community Foundation, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. A dedicated volunteer, May has served on numerous boards and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Urban Institute.

May Wong

The Laidlaw Foundation has officially taken up residence at Foundation House – a new hub for philanthropic collaboration, learning and sharing in Toronto. As one of three founding partners, along with the Lawson Foundation and the Counselling Foundation of Canada, the Laidlaw Foundation is excited by the potential of Foundation House to spark greater collaboration in the philanthropic and charitable sector.

And the idea is taking off with a stellar group of organizations joining us at Foundation House including the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) and the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network (CEGN). Philanthropic Foundations Canada (PFC), Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, and GrantBook also have a presence at Foundation House. We recently published a case study about the making of Foundation House. Part of this was to catalogue how we came together and what we were trying to achieve; in addition, there are some suggestions about the kinds of things we might look for as signs of success over time.