Board of Directors 2016-2017

Deanna VillellaPresident
Job Gym – Welland / John Howard Society of Niagara
Welland, ON

Deanna has been an active member of the Niagara Region community and has worked in the area of youth employment and community-based programs for 25 years. Currently, she is Manager of Employment Services at the John Howard Society of Niagara responsible for Federal, Provincial and Municipal programs. During her tenure, she has provided leadership to numerous employment and education programs. As President of First Work and Board member for the previous 12 years, she has sat on the Ministry of Education Student Success Strategy working group. She has also been Treasurer and Southwest Representative. Deanna has been actively engaged in the community as Chair of the North Welland Business Improvement Area representing over 150 local businesses. She has sat on numerous Boards, agencies and commissions such as the Welland Transit Advisory Committee, Women’s Place of South Niagara, and Chair of City of Wellands 150th Anniversary Planning Committee. Deanna also was the recipient of the Niagara’s 40 under 40 Business Achievement Award and past President of the Kiwanis Club of Welland.

Jeff Surridge Vice President
Community Employment Services
Woodstock, ON

Jeff Surridge is the Chief Executive Officer of Community Employment Services in Woodstock Ontario. Jeff has been in the Employment and Training field for the past 33 years. He is an active member of the Service Delivery Advisory Group for MAESD and is focused on Community Service Delivery Design and innovative approaches to address employment issues at local, provincial, national and international levels.

John MittereggerTreasurer
Job Skills
Markham, ON

John Mitteregger has been working in vocational and employment services since 1999. He started his career as an Employment Counsellor, Facilitator and Vocational Evaluator. He has held his current role as Director of Employment Services at Job Skills since 2008. John is the Treasurer of First Work and been on the Board since 2009. Throughout his career and in every role he has held, John has worked to assist youth to improve the quality of their lives through connecting them to meaningful employment and careers. John continues to emphasize the value and central importance of a client-centered yet results-oriented approach to youth employment. John completed his schooling at Brock University as well as Sir Sandford Fleming College, with specializations in Psychology and Career Counselling.

Surranna SandyDirector-At-Large
CEO
Skills for Change
Toronto, ON

Surranna Sandy brings 15 years of executive leadership experience in the private and non-profit sector. In her leadership role as the Executive Director of Skills for Change, a not-for- profit agency known for pioneering newcomer programs that respond to shifting immigration and workplace trends and lead to employment, Surranna brings passion and dedication to ensuring that immigrants and Canadians are provided with the tools and resources to successfully enter the labour market in their chosen professions. With Skills for Change moving into its 31st year of service to newcomers in the Greater Toronto Area, Surranna is ensuring that the agency continues to respect its vision of seeing every immigrant succeed in Canada. Surranna has an MBA in Human Resources Management (HRM) and an Hons BA in Business. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Arts in Leadership.

Gillian WattersEastern Region Rep
KEYS Employment Counselling Services
Kingston, ON

Gillian Watters is currently the Director of Programs at Kingston Employment & Youth Services (KEYS) and has been part of the First Work/OAYEC network for over 25 years. A graduate of both Queen’s (BA/BEd) and St. Lawrence (BST), Gillian has spent most of her career in the field of workforce development and career counseling. Her years of front-line experience as a teacher, career counselor, and job developer bring a pragmatism to an otherwise creative approach to program development. In her current role, Gillian is particularly passionate about creating programs, which support people through the transition to sustainable employment; and supporting community-led initiatives to grow local economies. Gillian has been a director and/or officer on numerous boards over the years and is currently a Director of Kingston Economic Development as well as the Eastern Region Representative and Director with First Work.

Carolyn WarkentinSouth West Region Rep
South Essex Community Council
Leamington, ON

Carolyn Warkentin has been the Executive Director at South Essex Community Council in Leamington, Ontario for the past ten years. Prior to that, she spent ten years in the employment sector as an Employment Consultant and a Program Manager. She has been the Southwest Rep for the past ten years and brings a good deal of past board experience with her. Carolyn is currently sitting on two other boards, one of which she is the Chair. Carolyn also delivers board governance training to other non-profit boards on behalf of United Way Centraide Windsor-Essex. Carolyn has a Bachelor of Arts Degree, a Career Practitioner’s Certificate, and a Certified Association Executive certification from the Canadian Society of Association Executives.

Donna SedoreNorthern Region Rep
District of Parry Sound Employment Service
Sunridge, ON

Donna Sedore began her career with Employment North in 1984, and has been leading the organization since 1999, in the role of Executive Director. During this time Employment North has tripled in size and has offices in Gravenhurst and Sundridge, all the while growing youth program opportunities. Donna has served as Chair of Northern Partners for more than 10 years and has been a Board Member at First Work for 4 years. Donna is proud to say that she has been participating in First Work conferences and activities supporting youth since First Work began in 1988.

Ian NymanFirst Work Central Region
YMCA of Greater Toronto-York Region
Richmond Hill, ON

Ian’s involvement in the field of youth employment in Toronto commenced in 1987, and he has been with the YMCA of Greater Toronto for the past 20 years. His experience in employment counseling and job development has helped him develop an appreciation for the struggles that many job-seeking individuals go through, and he is amazed and impressed by the tenacity and diligence that so many of his clientele have demonstrated to find and maintain employment, and improve their lives. He owes his success as the General Manager of the York Region Employment Services to the many staff that he has had the privilege of working alongside, in the past and today.

Laryssa Smith Southwest Region Rep
Manager, Employment Services
John Howard Society Niagara
Welland, ON

Laryssa has been with the John Howard Society of Niagara for 16 years in a variety of capacities. Her primary role has been in the employment services division, Job Gym, as part of the management team, with a staff of over 30 individuals in both Welland and Fort Erie, and 8 provincially funded programs.
Previously Laryssa worked as a group facilitator and employment counsellor ‎ assisting and coaching clients with diverse backgrounds. Her expertise lies primarily in youth employment issues and pre-employment training using cognitive behavior techniques.
Laryssa has acted in an advisory capacity for First Work, the Ontario Association of Youth Employment Centres. In addition, Laryssa is an active member in cross Regional committees and groups including Executive member of YES Niagara, Executive member Welland Neighbourhood Projects, former Employment Service management advisor with Literacy and Basic Skills; Literacy Service Providers and Common Frontline Group, Erie Service Providers, and Youth Engagement Community of Practice. Laryssa’s strengths includes a hands on leadership approach, mentoring and coaching and responding to labour market demands using her creativity and ability to be a forward thinker. Laryssa’s focus at the moment is performing statistical analysis of all employment service reports and evaluating the effectiveness of current practices and behaviours.
Laryssa has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Management Certificate and Human Services. She has a passion for studying social behaviour, especially in the not for profit sector.

LeeAnne MailleFrench Language Service Rep
Director of Operations
YES Employment Services
North Bay, ON

LeeAnne Maille is the Director of Operations at Yes Employment Services in North Bay. She brings to the First Work Board 20 years’ experience in the field where she has worked in both front line and management roles. She brings a solid understanding of the complexities surrounding the issue of youth employment, as well as experience addressing these issues by taking on leadership, advocacy and collaborative roles when needed. LeeAnne’s experience includes both Ministry and community lead committees and initiatives including the EOIS External Reference Group, the local Homelessness and Housing Partnership, the Crown Ward Education Championship Table, the OYAP steering community for the local French catholic school board and the local Newcomer Network. LeeAnne looks forward to continuing to contribute to improvements in the area of youth employment as a member of the First Work Board of Directors.

Gladys Okine Executive Director

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