volunteer executive director
DR. Pam Farrell
Dr. Pam Farrell is the visionary founder and Executive Director of GROW, Canada's pioneering community food literacy centre located in Niagara Falls, Canada. Driven by a deep commitment to effecting positive change through food literacy, her journey from a seed of inspiration into a national crusade has been transformative. Emigrating from Switzerland to Canada in 2001, Pam has harnessed her diverse background as a farmer, teacher, researcher, and community advocate to confront the systemic barriers that hinder low-income Canadians' access to nourishing food.
Simultaneously launching GROW while pursuing her doctoral studies at the University of Calgary, Pam's dedication remained steadfast. Investing her personal funds to acquire the Scouts Canada building in an underserved neighbourhood, she ignited a groundbreaking initiative to combat food insecurity. Collaborating seamlessly with government and community partners, Pam secured funding and support, rapidly evolving into a leading voice for food literacy. She established multiple innovative food literacy programs and partnerships, fostering sustainable initiatives and creating an inclusive space for people of all backgrounds and ages to envision a healthier, more equitable food future. Guided by rigorous research and the diverse stories she has encountered, Pam's work is anchored in authentic experiences and forward-looking insights.
An accomplished educator, researcher, and university lecturer at the University of Calgary's Werklund School of Education, Pam's research delves into the confluence of sociocultural factors and food literacies. Her pioneering exploration of critical food literacy, food citizenship, and food security offers a vital socio-cultural perspective, deepening our understanding of how sociocultural influences shape the food literacies of low-income individuals residing in food deserts and food swamps. Her community efforts revolve around addressing health disparities, understanding social determinants of health (including racism), and promoting equity within the food system. Pam employs an activist-scholar approach to amplify the voices of historically marginalized groups, dismantling systems that perpetuate inequality and advocating for more inclusive and dignified communities. Her groundbreaking research has made a tangible impact, while her innovative programs and low-cost market have reached over 25,000 points of service in the last three years.
Pam's research and community work has reshaped the local food landscape into a resilient, community-driven, and sustainable domain. Her steadfast commitment to enhancing food security in marginalized areas, particularly for single women-led households, promises a profound and enduring impact.
Delve deeper into GROW through this enlightening video. Pam Farrell: GROW Community Food Literacy Centre | Women of Worth - YouTube
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
DR. KENISE MURPHY KILBRIDE
Dr. Kenise Murphy Kilbride is a retired professor from the Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly known as Ryerson University) with a distinguished career in research and teaching. Her areas of expertise include immigration and settlement, seniors, families and children, and women's language learning.
Engaged in her community for numerous years, she has held significant roles, including chairing the Boards of the Toronto Social Planning Council and the Daily Bread Food Bank. During her time at the latter organization, she played a pivotal role in fundraising for a permanent structure that also served as a training program for young individuals and the unemployed, providing skills necessary for employment in the food industry.
Additionally, Dr. Murphy Kilbride was part of a dedicated group of women concerned about the issue of girls leaving home before completing high school. As a response, she initiated a local program aimed at assisting these young women in finishing their education.
Her contributions extend to the literary realm as well. She has authored and edited several books, including one translated into 32 languages. This book serves as a comprehensive guide for immigrant parents, offering crucial information on Canadian childcare, education, healthcare, language classes, job search strategies, and other essential topics vital to their successful settlement and integration into Canadian society.
Dr. Murphy Kilbride, who is widowed, is the proud mother of two children and grandmother to three grandchildren. Her extensive accomplishments and dedication to bettering her community underscore her commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of others.
With a career spanning 35 years in education, Wendy Borelli is a seasoned professional who has left an indelible mark on her community. Her experience encompasses roles as a teacher within the public education system and as a Community Education Coordinator for the Burnaby School District in British Columbia.
Having graduated from both the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, Wendy originally specialized in special education. In her capacity as a Community School Coordinator at an inner-city school, she played a pivotal role in offering educational and settlement support to students, families, and government-assisted refugees. Notably, poverty reduction and food security were focal points in her work within Metro Vancouver.
Her responsibilities included enhancing student well-being by facilitating access to community services and support systems. She championed initiatives such as breakfast programs, various healthy snack initiatives, a Strong Start Centre, a free food cupboard, The Good Food Box, food recovery programs, and a community kitchen for parents and local community members.
Wendy's leadership extended to various committees and projects. As the chair of the Eastburn Interagency Committee, she spearheaded the collaboration of community agencies to provide comprehensive support services. She led The Empty Bowls project, which organized fundraising events to provide grants for food programs throughout Burnaby. Additionally, she was a member of the Preschool Fair Committee, which focused on offering support to preschoolers through events providing healthy snacks and early developmental screening.
A pivotal role Wendy held was as a member of Food First, a committee dedicated to addressing food insecurity in inner-city communities. Her retirement year saw her actively engaged in developing a partnership between the Food First Committee and the local food bank to create a hub that would connect community and health services with food bank recipients on distribution days.
Applying a social justice framework to her diverse competencies, Wendy now employs her wealth of leadership experience to assist GROW in identifying emerging trends, engaging in critical policy discussions, sharing successful practices, and evaluating specific programs. Through these efforts, she works to advocate and advance food security within her community. Wendy Borelli's extensive and impactful career showcases her dedication to fostering positive change and addressing pressing social issues.
Maya Jonas is an extraordinary individual whose presence on GROW's Board of Directors brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and passion to the table. As an accomplished athlete and advocate, Maya's journey is a testament to her unwavering determination and resilience.
Despite receiving a life-altering diagnosis at 24 – retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition leading to total blindness – Maya embraced life's challenges head-on. Refusing to be defined by her condition, she embarked on a path of constant growth and triumph over adversity. Maya's perspective encapsulates her belief that challenges are essential for a fulfilling life. This mindset led her to compete in the Canada Winter Games, securing silver and bronze medals in cross-country skiing. Her impressive athletic journey extends to completing marathons in Boston, New York, Chicago, San Diego, and Toronto. She further embraced the thrill of tandem cycling, participating in the Cycle For Sight rides in both Vancouver and Toronto.
In addition to her athletic feats, Maya is a cancer survivor, and her personal experiences have fueled her dedication to helping others. Guided by her motto "never back down, never give up," she has served on various boards of directors and actively fundraised for organizations such as the CNIB, the United Way Speaker's Bureau, The Blind Sailing Club, and Achilles Canada. Achilles Canada is a non-profit organization that empowers disabled athletes to experience the joy of running by supporting or guiding runners, enabling them to participate in major marathon events. Recognized for her exceptional contributions, Maya received the Toronto Volunteer of the Year Award and the Ontario Service Award.
Maya's advocacy goes beyond sports and community involvement. She sheds light on the reality that many of the 681,000 blind individuals in Ontario face significant challenges, including limited access to nutritious food.
Beyond her commitment to advocacy, Maya finds joy in cooking and entertaining. Her compassionate nature extends to her faithful guide dog, Faith, with whom she shares her journey.
Maya's remarkable story is a beacon of inspiration, demonstrating the power of resilience, determination, and advocacy. Her contributions to GROW's Board of Directors will undoubtedly shape the organization's efforts and reinforce its commitment to promoting food security and empowerment.
Rose Iannacchino, an accomplished Niagara Falls real estate agent and dedicated philanthropist, brings her exceptional skills and passion to the role of Executive Director at GROW. With a successful track record in business, finance, management, and leadership, Rose's expertise has been a driving force in advancing GROW's mission and vision.
Her commitment to community service and philanthropy is evident through her generous contributions of both time and financial resources. Rose's outstanding contributions have earned her recognition, including the REALTORS CARE® AWARDS, highlighting her exceptional dedication to community betterment. Her remarkable impact on the community will soon be featured in an upcoming video, further highlighting her exemplary work at GROW.
Rose embodies the qualities of an exceptional leader. Her self-awareness enables her to navigate challenges with insight, while her credibility and relationship-building skills foster trust and collaboration. She possesses a distinct desire for action, consistently driving initiatives forward. Her humility, authenticity, and consistent presence inspire those around her, fostering an environment of empowerment and trust.
Since GROW's establishment in 2019, Rose's contributions have been nothing short of remarkable. She has forged meaningful relationships, enriching the quality of life for GROW's members. Her ability to balance multiple tasks is a testament to her exceptional multitasking skills. Rose's dedication to advocating for GROW's members is evident and highly regarded within the community. Her impact is best captured by the sentiment of community members who hold her in high esteem, describing her as someone who is "adored by everyone."
Rose's leadership at GROW has created a positive ripple effect. Her strategic insights, profound relationships, and the respect she garners from volunteers, members, the community advisory committee, and the Board of Directors attest to her influence and effectiveness as an Executive Director.
With Rose at the helm, GROW is poised to continue its transformative work, empowering the community and fostering a culture of growth, support, and empowerment. Her leadership embodies the values of dedication, compassion, and progress, making her an invaluable asset to GROW's mission and the community it serves.