Meet The Staff

 

 Michelle Knoll (RECE) – Executive Director

Michelle joined the Centre in 2000 as a parent and volunteer.  In 2004 Michelle was hired as the Executive Director.  Michelle has diplomas in Community Work and Early Childhood Education.  She has been a community advocate for the last 42 years in the areas of neighbourhood capacity building, family support, poverty issues, tenants’ rights and inclusion. Michelle believes that a community has all the gifts and talents it needs to meet the challenges within that community if people are given the opportunity to connect and contribute.

Phone: 905-257-6029 ext. 101
Email: michelle@opnc.ca

Paige Lauer –  Pre-School and Community Outreach Manager

Paige holds a BA in Family and Child Relations and is an RECE.  She comes to Oak Park with many years of experience planning and developing inclusive programs for children and their caregivers.  Her passion for programming is contagious. She is skilled at making connections, building relationships and earning the trust of her clients. Paige consistently produces engaging, entertaining and educational programs featuring essential aspects of early literacy, knowledge of child development coupled with creativity, spunk and enthusiasm.  A recipe that stimulates, educates and inspires.  Paige embraces opportunities to grow and evolve and is looking forward to connecting with the Oak Park community.

Phone: 905-257-6029 ext. 105
Email: community@opnc.ca

Vesna Rabba – Preschool Lead Teacher

Vesna is an RECE with over 15 years experience in the field. She has worked with various age groups over the years, from toddlers to JK/SK’s. In 2015 she was promoted to Supervisor within her childcare organization and ran her own full-day Toddler/Preschool program as well as a before and after school JK/SK and School Age program. Vesna is passionate about language and literacy and was a member of the Early Literacy Hamilton committee. After many years of admin duties, Vesna is excited to be back in the classroom again.

Phone: 905-257-6029 ext. 104
Email: preschool@opnc.ca

Isabella Rossit – Youth Program Manager

I am enthusiastic about helping individuals reach their full potential and have worked with children and youth in a variety of settings as a tutor, camp counsellor, and mentor. I have a Bachelor of Social Work with a Minor in Psychology from Ryerson University. Throughout my undergrad I grew passionate about strengthening communities. My interest to be involved in community-based programs led me to enrol in the Community Engagement, Leadership and Development Certificate Program at Toronto Metropolitan University’s Chang School of Continuing Education. I am excited to make meaningful contributions to the wellbeing of the OPNC community.  My favourite quote is “I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort , where we overlap.” ­­— Ani DiFranco

Phone: 905-257-6029 ext. 102
Email: youth@opnc.ca

Kaitlyn Robinson – Before & After School Program Coordinator

I have been working with children for many years in before and after school settings and summer camps. I completed my diploma in Child and Youth Care at Humber college in 2019. I am currently completing my bachelor’s degree in Child and Youth Care. Throughout my schooling I have had the opportunity to work with children in many different settings, doing behaviour management in schools, creating therapeutic programming and at Sickkids in their residential mental health program. I am excited about working with the OPNC children to support them in reaching their full potential.

Phone: 905-257-6029 ext. 1011
Email: bacare@opnc.ca

  Heather Tompkins – Hope Support

Heather has worked vocationally as a school teacher and leader in a variety of charitable organizations. Heather established a Canadian micro-enterprise to provide practical support for the urban-poor in the Philippines. In frontline programming and as a board member for a Community Centre Heather has used her leadership skills to train, equip and encourage others. As a chaplain for 20 years with a bereavement support centre Heather provided leadership and multi-generational counsel to individuals and group support for the grieving. Over the years Heather has volunteered in many local and international faith-based organizations including work with Romanian orphans.

Email: hope@opnc.ca

Nurali Mukhi – Community Financial Worker

Is a Bsc graduate and has completed Financial Service Essentials from Seneca. He has over 12 years of experience in Tax, financial services, and sales industries. He is able to communicate in English, Gujarati, Hindi, and Urdu. Nurali has also volunteered in  community tax clinics. He looks forward to working alongside the  OPNC team. He hopes to create a positive impact in the community  by providing financial literacy.

Phone: 905-257-6029 ext. 106
Email: taxes@opnc.ca

Sue Vernon-Smith -Financial Literacy Co-ordinator

Sue joins the OPNC team with excitement to help those in her community find ways to make life better.  After undergrad, she had a brief career as a teacher and camp director for children in inner-city New York before returning to school to get her Master of Social Work.  She spent time working in Toronto in the fields of child welfare and mental health before moving back to Oakville to raise a family.  Over the past several years, Sue has volunteered for various organizations across Oakville in the areas of food security, education and sports.   She looks forward to working with the OPNC team and community to find pathways out of poverty.

Phone: 905-257-6029 ext. 103
Email: support@opnc.ca

Maye Abdel Shafy – Tawasul Community Connector

Maye came to the centre in 2012  looking to build a social network and to make new friends for her little ones in her new hometown. With a BA in English literature and a career in education, she sees every individual as a unique story and a chance to learn something new. She quickly became one of the active members of the Centre, chiming into its tune of community support with an initiative to help newcomers and refugees and thus our program “Tawasul” was born.

Email: tawasul@opnc.ca

Tammy Hand – Senior’s Fitness Instructor

I started at OPNC in 2018. My favourite memory at OPNC was when we were finally able to have outdoor, socially distanced exercise at the end of summer/start of fall 2020.  I stood on the porch to teach the class and almost took a tumble on those stairs a few times!  But it was so worth it as I looked out to our seniors who were joyfully moving and grooving together, while people passing by on the sidewalk stopped to watch or join in! It was glorious to be together after long months of COVID lockdown

I love the people who are part of the senior community at OPNC. They are always very appreciative of the classes I provide, but they don’t realize how much they give to me. We all know exercising is so important for both our physical and mental health.  But it’s even more beneficial when we do it together.  We lift each other up.   Many people don’t know that when my son was born in 2005 I suffered severe and debilitating postpartum depression.  It took almost 10 years to recover to full health with the help of medical treatment and regular exercise.  Still today, exercise is a top priority for me to stay healthy.  Doing our classes together always gives me a boost.  It’s a combination of the music, physical activity and the positivity each person brings.  

But don’t be fooled by all this talk of exercise.  I’m not a “sporty” person.  In fact, I was usually the last person picked in gym class!  I like hiking, kayaking and swimming.

My 3 greatest joys in life are being married to  Mike, raising my son Logan and developing Heart Beats Club – my cardio chair exercise program for seniors.  Since 2012 I’ve taught over 4,500+ classes in Long Term Care Homes and Adult Day Programs. It’s been very rewarding to make exercise accessible and engaging for seniors with complex health conditions. I am blessed to have found a career that allows me to use my God-given talents to enrich the lives of others. This program has continued to expand beyond me.  I’ve been invited to train staff at 50+ facilities across Ontario how to lead Heart Beats Club

Email: thand@opnc.ca

 

Shifaa Malik – Before School Program Leader & Preschool Assistant

I have a Bachelor of Arts with honours in Children, Childhood and Youth studies from York University and a Diploma in Child and Youth Care from Humber College. 

I have worked at different internships such as, working at a school with special needs children, and working in a residential treatment home with youth who were struggling with their mental health. I also worked at a community center where my responsibilities included providing support to families and children living in a low income neighborhood. 

With my experiences of working with children and youth of different ages and needs, as well as implementing programs for behaviour management as a supportive mentor, I am confident that I can make a positive and lasting impact on the children I work with at OPNC. 

Every child has their own unique strengths and with the right resources and a supportive learning environment, they are given the opportunity to reach their full potential. I hope to bring my knowledge and experience into my work to create an environment for growth and learning for everyone. 

Latifah Thompson- Community Navigator Churchill Location

Latifah is a Registered Social Worker with a master’s degree in social work. She has a special interest in newcomer experiences, vulnerable populations, and working with folks from marginalized communities.  She incorporates Indigenous worldviews into her daily delivery of services by locating herself and acknowledging her own privilege and power as a racialized settler that is situated in the Town of Oakville which resides on the treaty lands and traditional territory of the Mississaugas, Wendat, and Haudenosaunee. As a non-Indigenous person, Latifah acknowledges her own privilege and power as an African Canadian who is a guest on these lands. She practices critical self-reflection which helps her reflect on her experiences with service users by processing what she did right, what she did wrong, the power dynamics that were at play, her biases in the experience, assumptions, and her social location.

 Phone: 905-257-6029 ext. 109
Email: navigator@opnc.ca

Charlene Abrahams- Inclusion Specialist 

Charlene joined OPNC in 2006 and has provided supports for families and children with complex needs for over 25 years. Charlene is a Registered Early Childhood Educator, adult and community learning specialist and family educator. She brings experience and training in the areas of supportive parenting, developmental ages and stages, stress management and anxiety, and wellness for children and adults with complex needs. Charlene enjoys being active outdoors, long bike rides and exploring thriller novels in her spare time. Charlene is excited to work collaboratively with OPNC families and students in our before/afterschool programs, preschool and supporting program staff with strategies and accommodations.  She is eager to be part of supporting the inclusion of children in programs to ensure they flourish alongside their peers and teachers and thrive at school and in the community. 

Email: cabrahams@opnc.ca


Shannon Ellis – After School Program

I am an enthusiastic Social Service Worker. I completed my studies at Sheridan College in 2021, however, my passion for serving vulnerable clients has been ingrained in me since my earliest memories. My experience is diverse, spanning across various age groups, including children, adolescents, and adults. I am a mother of three, and enjoy traveling. The most fulfilling aspect of my profession is the opportunity to facilitate the ongoing education and play of the children under my care. My objective is to leave a positive imprint on all the children I encounter at OPNC.

Where People Belong, Families are Strong, Neighbours Care & Everyone Shares Follow us