volunteer executive director
Born in Switzerland, Pam is the founder and Executive Director of GROW. As a farmer, researcher, teacher and community advocate, her mission is to apply food literacy research into practice to improve healthy eating and social justice in Niagara Falls. Pam is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers with teaching experience in elementary, high school and college settings. Previously, she was employed in accounting, finance, human resources and served as a national learning and diversity coordinator. In addition, she worked as a senior project manager for Government of Canada funded research projects at Ryerson University. Her academic qualifications include a B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed. and she has additional teaching qualifications in Business Studies from Western University and Health/Physical Education from the University of Toronto. She is currently completing a Doctorate in Education in Food Literacy at the University of Calgary. Her research interests also include language, culture and community development. She has been active in a variety of activities promoting social justice and raising awareness of inequalities in various communities since 2001.
Her experiences in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors provide her with a unique perspective in building collaborative relationships between community members and partner organizations to address and combat food insecurity for residents in Niagara Falls.
Learn more about Pam and her reasons for starting GROW in this short video.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
DR. KENISE MURPHY KILBRIDE
Kenise Murphy Kilbride is a retired Ryerson University professor whose areas of research and teaching have been immigration and settlement, seniors, families and children, and women and language learning. Active in her community for many years, she has served on and chaired the Boards of the Toronto Social Planning Council and the Daily Bread Food Bank. In the latter, she was instrumental during her tenure in fundraising for a permanent structure that could also provide a training program for young people and the unemployed for jobs needed in the food industry. She was also part of a small group of women concerned about girls leaving home before finishing high school and hence started a local program to help them to complete school.
She has written and edited several books, one of which was printed in 32 languages, as an introduction for immigrant parents needing information on Canadian childcare, education, health care, language classes, job hunting, and other topics important to their settlement and integration into Canada. She is widowed with two children and three grandchildren.
Wendy Borelli brings 35 years of experience as a teacher in the public education system and as a Community Education Coordinator for the Burnaby School district in British Columbia. She is a graduate of both the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, originally specializing in special education. In her role as Community School Coordinator in an inner-city school she helped to provide educational and settlement support to students, families and government-assisted refugees in the community. Poverty-reduction and food security were the two main areas of school/community concern in her particular area of Metro Vancouver. Her role was to enhance student well-being by accessing community services and supports, initiating and maintaining a breakfast program, various healthy snack programs, a Strong Start Centre, a free food cupboard, The Good Food Box, food recovery programs and a community kitchen for parents and nearby community members.
In the role of Community Coordinator she also sat as chair of the Eastburn Interagency Committee, the mandate of which is to bring community agencies together to provide support services to individuals, families and specific groups in the area; the chair of The Empty Bowls project, which planned a biennial gala event to raise money to provide grants for food programs throughout Burnaby; a member of the Preschool Fair Committee, which organized an event that provided healthy snacks, early developmental screening and referrals for services for preschoolers; and a member of Food First, a committee that developed programs to address the concerning issue of food insecurity in inner-city communities.
During Wendy’s retirement year, the Food First Committee was in the process of developing a partnership with the local food bank to create a hub where community and health services would connect with food bank recipients on food bank days. Wendy brings a diverse and comprehensive mix of competencies viewed through a social justice framework. She now applies her diverse leadership experience to help GROW identify emerging trends, engage in critical policy issues, exchange proven practices and review specific programs to advocate and advance food security.
Maya Jonas brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise and passion to GROW’s Board of Directors.
Maya is a gifted athlete who continues to pursue excellence in sports and life. Her determination and athleticism are admirable, even before you discover she is totally blind. Despite receiving a diagnosis that could have changed the course of her life, Maya has never encountered a challenge from which she would back down. Maya was diagnosed at the age of 24 with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition that caused her to lose her sight. Rather than allowing the condition to affect her quality of life, she decided to tackle things head on. “Without challenges, life would be so boring,” she said. “I need new challenges every day.” Maya competed in the Canada Winter Games and won one silver and two bronze for cross country skiing. She has also run in numerous marathons including Boston, New York, Chicago, San Diego and Toronto. Maya was bitten by the tandem cycling bug last year when she completed the 90km Cycle For Sight ride in Vancouver and more recently the 100km ride in Toronto.
Maya, also a cancer survivor, had to deal with stress and difficulties on many levels. She is committed to helping others who are in need of help. Maya’s motto is “never back down, never give up!” Needless to say, her favourite song is “I Won’t Back Down”, by Tom Petty.
Maya has served on various boards of directors in the past and has actively fundraised for the CNIB and the United Way Speaker’s Bureau, The Blind Sailing Club. She has also devoted much of her time to fundraising for Achilles Canada, a non-profit organization that helps disabled athletes experience the joy of running by matching them with support runners or guide runners to prepare them for major marathon events. Maya is the recipient of the Toronto Volunteer of the Year Award and the Ontario Service Award.
Maya is a fierce advocate and reminds us that many of the 681,000 blind people living in Ontario are not working and cannot afford to buy and access good healthy food. She will oversee and guide the cooking classes for the blind and for critical illness survivors.
When she is not training or advocating for social justice, she loves to entertain and cook. Maya lives with her guide dog Faith.
Dan Giancola from BTO is a Performance Specialist. His credentials include 10 years experience as a certified personal trainer (Can Fit Pro) with First Aid certification, a former CFL/NFL football player and motivational speaker. Without a doubt, Dan is one of the most motivated and energetic trainers out there!
As GROW's Community ambassador he will be the driving force in helping us
engage with various communities to raise awareness about the importance of healthy food access and support the development and delivery of community engagement workshops and special projects. We also look forward to working with Dan at special events / open days which promote GROW's mission and vision to the Niagara Region.