Dana Vanzanten

St. Thomas Public Library

Dana Vanzanten is Manager, Advocacy and Community Development at St. Thomas Public Library (STPL).  She represents the library at a variety of community networking and planning tables, and is always looking for ways that the library can partner with other agencies to best meet the needs of our community members.  In addition to promoting the value of the library and all that it has to offer, she also coordinates programs and services that bring the library out of its downtown home into the city at large.

Prior to taking on her current role, Dana worked as both a Library Assistant and a Library Services Coordinator at STPL. Before entering the library world, she earned both and B.A. and an M.A. in philosophy.

Debra Mountenay

Elgin Oxford Middlesex Workforce Planning and Development Board

Debra Mountenay has been the Executive Director of the Elgin Middlesex Oxford (EMO) Workforce Planning and Development Board for the past fourteen years following several years in advertising in the private sector.  A results-driven professional with a focus on workforce development, her areas of expertise include community development and stakeholder engagement to address local workforce planning issues. Debra currently serves on several boards and committees in the region. She holds a degree in English from Western University and a certificate in Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University.

The (EMO) Workforce Planning and Development Board is one of 26 organizations covering the province of Ontario that form Workforce Planning Ontario.

Abe Harms

Mennonite Community Services

Abe and his wife Anita are residents of Aylmer where they also raised their two daughters.  He was born of Canadian parents in Mexico which meant he had to learn English as an adult.  He grew up on the farm of his parents growing cucumbers and tomatoes.

Abe has held the position of Executive Director of Mennonite Community Services since 1999.  Before that he was principal of the Aylmer Bible School and spent a year as guest instructor at a Mennonite college in Switzerland.

Abe has always had a passion for justice issues, especially for newcomers and others who have lacked educational opportunities.

Abe and his wife Anita have two daughters, Elfrieda who is married and has given the grandparents two grandchildren, and Charissa who is working for the Federal Government in Ottawa.

Bilal Khalife

Local business owner, Galleria 916

Bilal Khalife entrepreneur and community member, believes in change, evolution and new opportunities. 

Throughout his career, Bilal has created and operated multiple business concepts. He worked with multinational brands of which are Armani, Versace, Tom Ford, Max Mara,..  where his mission was driving visions, strategies and operational plans across different markets. His international exposure has developed his empathy and interpersonal skills to effectively manage diversity. He is trilingual with a dual degree in Business Management and Advertising. 

His involvement with STELIP is driven by his eagerness to make a positive impact within St Thomas / Elgin community.

Colleen Hynes

Service Canada

Jackie Van Ryswyk

Employment Service Elgin

Having economically independent residents is an important factor to a thriving community. Supporting newcomers with specific needs and additional barriers to employment means that existing programs offered by ESE are altered to make accommodations.  When our community is able to find meaningful work for newcomers we all benefit. Employment Services Elgin with the Support of STELIP strives to make this happen.

Jeffery Kinsella

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs

Jeff Kinsella is an Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) currently responsible for St Thomas-Elgin, Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex.  His 25+ years of economic development experience includes work in areas such as entrepreneurship and business development and improving access to growth capital.   Since joining OMAFRA, he has worked collaboratively to facilitate a wide range of community-based economic development programming across Southwestern Ontario.

OMAFRA develops and delivers leading-edge resources, data and tools that support newcomer attraction and retention in rural communities.

John Griffiths

Fanshawe College

John is the Manager of Career and Employment Services at Fanshawe College St Thomas Elgin and has been working throughout his career to assist people of all kinds (newcomer or otherwise) to prosper.  He is dedicated to community building and his work includes active participation in a number of community forums.

John is committed to helping St Thomas Elgin grow as an open and welcoming community by building services that newcomers need to succeed in their new home.

Juliane Hundt

St. Thomas Elgin Settlement Services

Juliane is the Manager of the YWCA’s Settlement Service program which assists newcomers to Canada make the transition into their new community and to become active members of Canadian society. In this role, she also manages the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada program which assists adult learners to gain confidence using English in everyday life and to prepare for Canadian citizenship.

As a member of the Council, Juliane is committed to STELIP’s efforts to strengthen St. Thomas-Elgin’s capacity to welcome newcomers and to promote their full and meaningful participation in community life. She is particularly interested in breaking down stereotypes and assumptions about newcomers and strengthening the services they need to make independent and well informed decisions.

Mark Masseo

Elgin Business Resource Centre

Mark Masseo is a Business and Loans Advisor with Elgin Business Resource Center (Elgin CFDC). Since starting at EBRC in 2013, Mark has been extensively involved in rural and community economic development through an business outreach partnership with County of Elgin, Economic Development.

With a General Business Diploma, Fanshawe College, a B.A.(Hons) in Demography/Economics minor, a Masters program in Medical Sociology. Mark has held various operations/distribution and sales management positions in private industry, as well as a business owner and entrepreneur.

In addition to STELIP, Mark has had local involvement with area Chambers of Commerce, is a mentor for the Small Business Enterprise Centre Starter Plus Program, and currently sits on Economic Development Committees for the municipalities of Southwold, and West Elgin.

Michael Tamasi

Thames Valley District School

Michael is the System Principal with responsibilities for ESL and ELD programming with the Thames Valley District School Board.  As an educational assistant, teacher, and school administrator, he has supported students at all levels of the education system. 

The Thames Valley School Board is committed to ensuring equitable learning environments in all of our schools. We strive to create spaces wherein all students, staff, families and community members feel welcome and accepted.  Together, our focus is on developing an inclusive system culture which is grounded in respect and reflected in our policies and codes of conduct, in addition to our curriculum.

Nafisa Gillani

Central Community Health Centre

Nafisa Gillani is the Health Promoter at Central Community Health Centre. As a Health Promoter, she looks at the health needs of the clients and communities served by the CCHC and determine programs and services that can slow or prevent the progression of disease as well as promoting healthy lifestyles. Nafisa has a Bachelor of Health Science, with a specialization in Health Promotion from Western University and a Master of Public Health from the University of Guelph.
The Central Community Health Centre is a place for community members to access a team of health care professionals. The organization strives to empower clients and communities to achieve optimal health and wellbeing.

Paul Jenkins

St. Thomas and District Chamber of Commerce

Paul has been a valuable part of our community for many years.
  He is currently the Director/Treasurer/Secretary of the Central Community Health Centre and member of the Governance Sub-Committee of the Elgin Ontario Health Team.
  Paul is the former Executive Director of the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital Foundation and also host of “We Are St. Thomas/Elgin”, program that celebrated new Canadians.

  He has a Graduate Certificates, Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability from the University of Toronto, Corporate Communications & Public Relations from Centennial College, and a Bachelor of Arts, Canadian Studies & American History from McGill University.

“I live, work, and play in St. Thomas and Elgin County and am dedicated to building an inclusive and dynamic community welcome to and with opportunities for all.”

Shelley Harris

YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin

Shelley is the Director of Education and Settlement at the YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin with the responsibility of overseeing Adult Education, Settlement Services, English Language Classes,  the St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership (STELIP), Skills Connect Employment Project. She was the 2013 provincial winner of the Council of the Federation Literacy Award and supports client-centred programming.

She began her career in Northern Ontario working with Aboriginal learners and has worked with individuals living in poverty, women’s groups, newcomers, and multiple barriered learners.

The YWCA has a long and solid history of leadership in community building and Shelley embeds this spirit throughout her programming.

Shelley is the mother of three beautiful daughters and a  grandmother. She enjoys watching them discover their gifts, talents, and individual paths.

Tanya Calvert

St. Thomas Police Service

Tanya Calvert is the Corporate Communications  Coordinator for the St. Thomas Police Service.  She actively promotes Equity, Diversity and Inclusion by serving as  a gregarious  member of the EDI team within her organization.  Tanya has been an eager participant in welcoming newcomers to St. Thomas by introducing them to the services and supports offered by the St. Thomas Police Service.  The St. Thomas Police Service takes pride in supporting our community partners at STELIP and the amazing work that they do to make St. Thomas an amazing place to live, work and play!

Teresa Sulowski

St. Thomas Social Services

Teresa Sulowski is the Supervisor of Children’s Services for the City of St. Thomas-Elgin with the responsibility of planning and managing licensed child care services and early years programming. She represents St. Thomas-Elgin Social Services on the STELIP Council. Teresa has worked in various areas of Early Learning Programs including 20 years at the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, 9 years with the London District Catholic School Board, and most recently with the City of St. Thomas-Elgin. In addition to working full time, she works part-time teaching in the Early Childhood Education diploma program at Fanshawe and Conestoga Colleges. Teresa holds a B.A. in Adult Education from Brock University, and a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Athabasca University.

Tara McCaulley

St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation

Tara McCaulley is the Manager of Entrepreneurship and Business Development. Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of St. Thomas by attracting, retaining, and growing our industrial, business, and tourism sectors while fostering entrepreneurship in our community.


St Thomas appoints a city councillor to the board of STELIP in a supportive role to demonstrate the city’s commitment to the aims and objects of STELIP programs and projects; to encourage a collaborative partnership with city departments and services as well as other local agencies to support social economic inclusion of newcomers to the city.

Download the Terms of Reference for the St. Thomas-Elgin Local Immigration Partnership Council