NYWC Board Of Directors

North York Women’s Centre (NYWC) is a Canadian registered charity run by a volunteer Board of Directors made up of seven community leaders elected annually by our members. Directors are elected for three-year terms and can serve a maximum of two terms. The Board plays an important role in governing the organization and ensuring that its work benefits the community. Board members are champions for women and for NYWC as an organization.

We are committed to having a diverse, community-based Board that reflects the community of women we serve. We actively recruit directors that bring different experiences and ideas that help advance equality and build women’s empowerment.

Board opportunities typically come up in the spring, as we plan to fill vacancies at the Annual General Meeting. Occasionally, vacancies come up between AGMs. If you are interested in serving on the Board or joining a committee, please reach out to us at board@nywc.org. Plus, visit our Volunteering page to find out more about other opportunities to help NYWC empower women.

Key NYWC Board Responsibilities

Strengthening Momentum: NYWC board members ensure the organization continues to effectively deliver on its mission and move forward on its strategic priorities;

Governance: NYWC board members support and promote governance excellence and further the organization’s commitment to integrity, accountability and transparency;

Community Impact: NYWC board members have their pulse on community needs and issues and work to ensure programs are relevant, responsive and impactful;

Cheerleading: NYWC board members are advocates and ambassadors for the organization, ensuring it has the financial and human resources to further its mission.

Current NYWC Board of Directors

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 theatre mom of two very active children.

Jodi Wright, Vice-chair

Jodi was elected to the Board in September 2019. She has served in the role of Treasurer and Vice-chair.

Jodi has held a variety of roles at RBC since joining in 2008, most recently as a Senior Director, Role Strategy in Personal & Commercial Banking. She has a passion for career mentorship and is actively involved with Women’s groups in RBC, as Co-Chair of RBC’s Working Moms, part of the Advancement of Women in Leadership Employee Resource Group. Jodi 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!

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 is honoured to sit on the North York Women’s Centre Board. Jenifer has actively participated in local affairs in her community and in her industry. Jenifer has been active with the Bedford Wanless Ratepayers Association, multiple school committees over time, is the current chair of the Professional Development Committee for the Toronto CFA Society and is a supporter of Women in Capital markets.

Sana Najafi, Secretary

Sana was appointed to the board in August 2021. She is a Juris Doctor candidate at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. She completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where she specialized in International Development Studies and double minored in Political Science and Anthropology. She currently focuses on access to justice issues and works with organizations, including the Ontario Justice Education Network, Artists’ Legal Advice Services and Downtown Legal Services. She worked as a Peer Support Worker at NYWC in the past, and appreciates the Centre’s values of feminism, equity, and community empowerment. In her spare time, you can find Sana hanging out with her two cats or playing sports!

Maria Bazilevskaya

Maria was elected to the Board in September 2018. She has served in the role of Secretary since September 2019.

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, promoted equal opportunities for youth in St. Petersburg, Russia, and helped 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 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 grow up.

Anna Syed

Anna has worked for the province, the non-profit sector and academia in various capacities. She has graduate degrees from McGill and McMaster University in Business, Education, and Labour Relations. Her passions include women empowering women, diversity, authentic leadership, project management, belongingness and governance, to name a few.

Anna has a love for the outdoors, a sense of curiosity about her local community and enjoys travelling and exploring both urban and rural areas of Canada and beyond.

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 women and gender-diverse 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.