North York Women’s Centre (NYWC) is a community of diverse women. Founded in 1988, we are a Canadian registered charity based in Toronto working to advance equality and empower women to effect positive change. Please see our land acknowledgement and accessibility statement below. We offer a series of free women’s empowerment group programs, skills development programs, a drop-in lounge to connect with other women, one-on-one support for individual women and much more.
NYWC also creates community, works for systemic change and hosts or participates in events for International Women's Day, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and other important dates.
The NYWC Vision
We envision a world where all doors are open for all women.
Guiding Principles Of NYWC
The following guiding principles inform and guide all aspects of the agency’s functioning. We define our guiding principles as:
- Promoting equity, equality and social and economic justice for all women, and
- Working within a framework of anti-oppression, anti-racism and feminism.
We practice feminism by:
- Asking questions from a women’s perspective,
- Acknowledging a power imbalance to the disadvantage of women, and
- Demanding that women’s personal experiences become recognized in public policies.
Iris Fabbro, Executive Director
Iris is proud to have led NYWC’s work to empower women since 1997. It was a chance volunteer gig three decades ago that ignited her passion for the non-profit sector. Iris found a like-minded community and work she loved at NYWC, and never looked back.
Above all, Iris looks for opportunities to drive change that leads to a better, kinder and more inclusive world. While the specific communities have differed, her work has always been rooted in gender equity and the experiences of precariously housed women, women living with HIV, immigrant/refugee women and women survivors of trauma and abuse.
Advised in her youth against being a “troublemaker” or getting “too much education,” Iris has proudly embraced both. Her passion for social justice is shaped by personal life experiences and fuels a commitment to forge a different future for her daughters.
Taraneh Vejdani, Program Manager
Taraneh’s passion for gender equity fuels her work overseeing NYWC programs such as the Women’s Empowerment Series, the Virtual Women’s Lounge and the one-on-one support program. Her previous work assisting youth, women and families, as well as her International Development studies, speak to her enduring interest in helping individuals discover and exercise their inner power to overcome societal barriers and personal challenges.
As an immigrant who arrived in Canada with her family in 2011, Taraneh knows what it’s like to learn a new language, overcome hardship and build a new dream. Supporting incredible women, creating accessible programs and learning along the way expands that dream day by day. As she says, “No opportunity is too small, because together we make a big impact.”
Shazma Nafis, Intern Peer Support Worker
Shazma joined the NYWC team in May 2021 and appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with the women in our community. Working with grassroots organizations fulfills her interests in social justice and community development.
Maddy Denning, Women’s Support Worker
Maddy is thrilled to be a member of NYWC's 2022 summer team. As a social work student and feminist, she is passionate about deconstructing barriers faced by women. Previously, Maddy demonstrated her dedication to opening doors for women at Girl Boss Chess, where she taught girls how to be confident in the male-dominated chess world.
Michelle Lam, Research Intern, Women and Community Needs
Michelle’s focus on social justice stems from her experiences facing adversity as a queer Southeast Asian woman. Growing up, her parents often told her to avoid politics or “standing out” in spaces dominated by white, heterosexual voices. Coming to understand the world through an intersectional lens, Michelle took a leap of faith and pursued her current studies at York University, with plans to teach both locally and internationally. Today, her parents understand her desire to create a better future and challenge students to ask questions. As she says, “People should remain two things throughout their lifetime: curious and teachable. Only then will society progress.”
Tess Moffat, Women’s Support Worker
Tess is a law student at the University of Ottawa who ardently supports social justice and is delighted to help and learn from the wonderful women at NYWC this summer. Her previous social-justice projects have included interning as the Events Co-Ordinator with Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth, completing research on prisoner rights through Pro Bono Students Canada, and running a peer-support chatline for LGBTQ2IA+ students at the University of Guelph. Tess is always happy to talk about LGBTQ2IA+ advocacy, the newest musical, or how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
Vickey Junyao Zhang, Women’s Support Worker
For Vickey, NYWC isn’t just a workplace – it’s a community that celebrates women’s achievements, helps those in need and creates a safe space for vulnerability and empowerment. A York University student and immigrant from China, she appreciates building female groups that are open to all, regardless of biological sex or background. Vickey values the opportunity to raise awareness about gender inequality and gender-based violence while also highlighting the resourcefulness and empathy of women. As she says, “When we open up about our struggles and attempt to achieve gender equality, we make ourselves and the community stronger and more resilient.”
Edna Anger, Program Facilitator
As a facilitator of NYWC’s Empowered Migrant Mothers Program, Edna appreciates being able to help women and families flourish. It’s a common thread behind her current social work studies, her master’s degree in psychology and her volunteer work over the years with children, youth and adults who have experienced gender-based or sexual violence.
A migrant mother with young children herself, Edna celebrates her own culture and others. She is fluent in English, Yoruba and Ishan.
Yvonne Annobil, Program Facilitator
Yvonne believes in the strength and tenacity of women and youth. That’s why she helps facilitate NYWC’s Women Empowerment Series, in addition to her work at organizations such as Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter and North York Women’s Shelter.
With a master’s degree in social work and an undergraduate degree in early childhood education, Yvonne is known for her work ethic and kindness. As she says, "Learning is ongoing. Believe in yourself and change can happen at any stage of your life."
Elsie Tabemonso Bessem, Program Facilitator
Elsie thrives on activism, advocating for women and offering support, as she does as an NYWC facilitator. That same drive powered her previous work as founder and executive director at non-profit IYEC Cameroon and her education in gender studies and project management.
Active listening, compassion and a culturally sensitive approach make Elsie’s feminist and anti-racist work powerful. Given her contributions to social justice, sustainable development and women’s empowerment projects over the years, it’s no surprise that Elsie has won scholarships to programs such as the Global Change Leaders Program and Advancing Women’s Leadership in Conflict Resolution and Peace Building for Community Development.
Danielle Di Prizio, Program Facilitator
Danielle’s compassionate nature and experience as a life coach shine through her work in NYWC’s Women’s Empowerment Series. After all, she has more than 15 years of experience developing workshops, coaching clients and helping individuals overcome barriers at non-profit organizations.
For Danielle, it’s all about building trust, helping women develop self awareness and confidence and identifying positive belief systems and actions that drive progress. As she says, “I love making people feel supported, empowered and proactive in living the best lives they can envision.”
Leanna Tuba, Program Facilitator
Leanna thrives on supporting women and children and helps facilitate the NYWC Women’s Empowerment Series. She has also worked in a Violence Against Women shelter for more than 15 years. She knows that even a single warm and encouraging moment can change the course of someone’s life for the better. As she says, “Life is a journey of experiences.”
As an educator at the University of Guelph-Humber and other post-secondary institutions, Leanna shares insights from her experience and master’s degree in education to help students learn about the importance of advocacy, leadership, women, and children’s mental health and interprofessional collaboration through a social justice lens.
Veronica Williams-Dalrymple, Program Facilitator
Veronica has coached many women to be resilient in the face of adversity, throughout her career and as a facilitator of NYWC’s Women’s Empowerment Series. She is a registered social worker-psychotherapist, the director of a community-based mental health agency that supports youth and families and has helped communities reduce and eradicate poverty through capacity building, policy development and implementation.
With an MSc in Leadership and Management of Human Service organizations, a graduate diploma in Organizational Behaviours and a B.Sc. in Social Work, Veronica makes behavioural and organizational change happen. It all comes back to her strong belief in female empowerment, anti-oppressive practice and the power of individuals to find their strength and change lives.
Accessibility of Our Women’s Programs
North York Women’s Centre recognizes the dignity and worth of all people and is committed to providing services fairly and equitably. NYWC strives to be accessible to all woman-identifying and non-binary people regardless of their race, ancestry, colour, creed, ethnicity, place of origin, citizenship, immigration status, age, disability, sexual orientation, receipt of public assistance, political affiliation, religious affiliation, literacy level, language and/or socio-economic status. We aim to create a harmonious environment free from discrimination, harassment and hate.
Talk with us about accommodations you need to participate fully in our programs and services.
North York Women’s Centre is grateful for the financial support we receive from our funders, donors and other groups. It is because of their support that we are able to provide free programs and services. We thank them for working in partnership with us to address the needs of women in the community.
NYWC acknowledges that we are on the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaties signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands. In the spirit of reconciliation, we commit to honouring the land and its Indigenous heritage.
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