North York Women’s Centre (NYWC) is a Canadian registered charity with a volunteer Board of Directors elected annually by its members. The Board plays a very important role in governing the organization and ensuring that its work benefits the community.  

Elissa Podolsky, Chair

Elissa has over 20 plus years of experience in the financial services industry. She is currently the Director of Operations at Manulife Financial, supporting the US Pension Market. Elissa has previous volunteer experience as a member of a local chapter for an international charitable organization supporting women and children.

In her spare time, Elissa is a proud hockey and theater mom of two very active children.

Lenore Cabral, Vice-chair

Lenore Cabral, BSW, MSW, RSW has worked at VHA Home HealthCare since 1989, initially as Intake Social Worker in the Adult & Family & Child Division. Her current position is Manager, Community Support Department overseeing a number of charitable programs such as parent relief for at-risk families with children from birth to age 4, support for families dealing with medical and situational crises, extreme cleaning and hoarding supports to prevent eviction.

Lenore holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Windsor and has over 30 years’ experience working in the community sector. Her diversified experiences include working with and for youth agencies, seniors’ agencies, home support agencies, community and social services, and a health care setting. Lenore has sat on the Boards of three community-based agencies: Abrigo Centre, an organization helping women who have experienced abuse to one that helps everyone in the neighbourhood; Cecil Street Community, a multi-service community centre that offers a broad range of recreational, educational, social, cultural and capacity-building programs to local area residents; and Our Place Peel, an  agency providing shelter, support and hope for homeless and disadvantaged youth aged 16 – 21 in the Region of Peel.

In addition to Lenore’s full-time job and ongoing volunteer work, she is a devoted Fitbit user and has daily walks to achieve 10,000+ steps a day for 365 days. Come rain, snow or hail – she’s walking!

Jenifer Rush, Treasurer

Jenifer has over 30 years’ experience in the Investment industry. Currently Jenifer is the Head, Manager Research, Canada for Manulife Financial. Jenifer has an MBA from Queen’s University. She also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designation.

Jenifer has always been active in her community and would be honoured to sit on the North York Women’s Centre Board.  Jenifer has actively participated in local affairs in her community and also in her industry. Jenifer has been active with the Bedford Wanless Ratepayers Association, multiple school committees over time, the Toronto CFA Society and Women in Capital markets.

Jenifer is a parent to two spirited teenagers.

Maria Bazilevskaya, Secretary

Maria can be called a newcomer to Canada since she hasn’t been living here long, but she is not new to the non-profit sector, and she brings international experience of being a member of the board and volunteer at various institutions. For example, she helped fight xenophobia in the European Union by running programs in Estonia, and promoted equal opportunities for youth in St. Petersburg, Russia, as well as spread educational messages throughout the world by translating TED talks. She has a degree in Social and Political Geography, which explains her well-travelled history and the desire to make the world a better place. In her opinion, the best way to change the world is by empowering women, and that has become her passion in the last few years. Having had to deal with many challenges herself, she benefitted from the very programs NYWC is offering its clients. As an alumnus of the Women’s Empowerment Series and Reclaiming Yourself after Abuse, Maria has a unique perspective that allows her to relate to the women in the community, and she is making sure that both her daughter and her son adopt feminist principles as they are growing up.

Barbara Blaser

Barbara is presently retired after spending 50 plus years working in finances and raising a family with her husband of 62 years. She has a large family including many four legged members. Over the years, she has been involved with hockey organizations when her boys were playing and in dance when her daughters and granddaughter were performing. Recently she welcomed her first great-grandchild into her family.

Barbara has been active on several non-profit, charitable boards during the past and has found all this work to be very challenging, in a positive environment. She enjoys knitting, quilting and reading. She has been very active on the executives of the quilt guilds that she is a member of.  She is a very active person.

Maria Cordeiro

Maria has approximately 25 years of experience working and volunteering in organizations offering community support services, that is representative of multiple communities and identities. They put people first and are committed to an inclusive perspective, offering counselling, advocacy, support groups, and, or public education at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, Dorothy Ley Hospice, and Voice of Women.    

She works for a community organization using a multi-faceted style to delivering community responsive initiatives and enabling participatory social and economic development from its members. A key component to success is implementing a collaborative and cooperative approach to team work from accounting staff. She received an Accounting Diploma for small business bookkeeping at Humber College, in addition to a Spiritual Director Designation at Transformation Arts College, and End of Life Certification at Institute of Traditional Medicine to round up her aspiration.

 Now, she offers a helping hand in giving tidbits of spiritual wisdom on her opening Facebook page to seekers, besides, being a caregiver to animal companions needing a secure home for happiness and goodwill.

Jodi Wright

Jodi has held a variety of roles at RBC since joining in 2008, most recently as a Director in the strategic consulting arm of the Bank. She is actively involved with Women’s groups in RBC, with a passion for career mentorship. odi is also an accomplished public speaker, most notably leading RBC Global Asset Management’s Women and Investing program, through which she has spoken to thousands of women across Canada about financial literacy, investing principles, and the challenges and opportunities women face from a financial perspective.

A sports enthusiast, you can find Jodi keeping active with her husband and their two young kids!