Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) Members
The Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) reviews, advises and makes recommendations to the YMCA of Greater Toronto’s Board of Directors about issues of importance to young people living in the GTA. It provides young leaders ages 21–30 an opportunity to engage in the governance of a charity. Members are committed to the values of the YMCA of Greater Toronto while delivering on its vision and mission.
The Youth Advisory Committee has four key functions:
- Develop the leadership and governance skills of young leaders
- Gather research and insights on the needs/wants/experiences of young people in the GTA, acting as advocates as the charity continues to serve as many young people as possible in the best possible way
- Provide strategic advice to the board of directors based on research or insights gathered and from the perspective and lived experience of young people living in the GTA, whether they have or have not participated in YMCA programs and services
- Represent and advocate for the YMCA of Greater Toronto at international, national, provincial, and local forums as well as community events
If you are interested in learning more about the Youth Advisory Committee, please contact email@example.com.
Current members include:
AJ Bimm is a master of urban planning student at McGill University with an interest in how local policies can help improve access to housing and recreation. His varied background includes experience in community engagement, housing policy, and public space design. Along with YAC, he currently volunteers with the Canadian Institute of Planners, serving on the board of directors. AJ also holds a BA in urban studies and sociology from the University of Toronto, where he was a member of the track and field team. In his spare time, he enjoys spending his days outside and discovering new places through biking and running.
Aqsa Samad is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto with an honours bachelor of science. Throughout her undergraduate career, she has had the opportunity to be a part of numerous initiatives that aim to aid in the greater good of the environment. She has been a part of an initiative known as Global Youth Impact where young leaders come together to discuss different ways to respond to current global issues. She was also a part of University of Toronto’s Health and Society Students’ Association, which further led to her wanting to pursue a career in the field of health. Aqsa joined YAC because YAC’s mission and goals resonate deeply with her, and she wants to be able to aid in greater social change, as well as help to create a space where services are accessible for all individuals. Aqsa spends most of her free time volunteering, trying new food, and hanging out with her cat.
Craig Gauder graduated from the University of Toronto with a bachelor of applied science and engineering, and currently works as a software engineer in the financial industry. During his studies, he had the opportunity to volunteer his time with the university's Engineers Without Borders chapter, where he held the title of vice president of learning. There, he developed valuable leadership, outreach, and research skills while creating and facilitating a comprehensive curriculum for club members on relevant social issues. He is excited for the opportunity to apply his skills and experience to his role on the Youth Advisory Committee and work with such a strong team of his peers. In his spare time, Craig enjoys practising the piano, playing in a queer dodgeball league in the Village, and going for walks in the park with his canine pal Jupiter and partner Troy.
Heon Lee is a public affairs consultant driven by solving complex problems with a unique, innovative, and integrated approach. He tailors his skills, professional experience and comparative insights from business and politics to support clients and senior leadership to make the most optimal decisions. He advises a wide array of clients in the professional and financial services, tech, health, and consumer brand sectors on high-stakes investor relations, financial analysis, public affairs, crisis and risk management, and strategic communications mandates. In his own time, he enjoys cooking, visiting various coffee spots in Toronto, weightlifting, skating, and playing the classical guitar.
Jared currently works as a National Organizer with Future Majority, a non-partisan non-profit working to engage young people in the democratic process. Whether in the arts or in advocacy, he’s no stranger to creating joyful, productive & collaborative spaces. A graduate from Sheridan College’s Bachelor in Musical Theatre Performance program & The Canadian Musical Theatre Writer Collective’s Workshop, he has worked extensively with Smile Theatre to write and tour full-scale musicals to populations that can no longer access traditional theatrical spaces. When he’s not catching a movie at the Scotiabank Theatre (the only TRUE IMAX in the city), he can be found playing volleyball, jamming with friends, adding a new podcast into the rotation, and singing the praises of Bike Share Toronto.
As a young immigrant in Toronto, Max advocates for strong communities and the work of nonprofits in Canada. He serves as vice-chair and a member of the finance committee at Social Planning Toronto, alongside his involvement with the YMCA of Greater Toronto. In 2018, Max cofounded a grassroots organization called Time to Talk that helps racialized, immigrant youth in Scarborough navigate complex social barriers related to their socioeconomic, racial and gendered identities. On the weekends, he is an instructor at Toronto Metropolitan University, teaching financial management for nonprofits and charities.
Max is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Chartered Accountant (CA) by trade and currently works as a senior manager of strategy, planning and analytics at a global real estate firm based in Toronto.
Nigel Lake is a policy analyst with the Ontario Ministry of Health in the Supportive Housing Unit of the Addictions and Mental Health branch. He holds a bachelor of public affairs and policy management, with a specialization in social policy, from Carleton University. Born and raised in Toronto, he carries a passionate belief in the power of community building and the importance of community-led work. In addition to YAC, he's a member of YMCA Canada's Federation Development Network Task Force. Nigel believes in the mission and values of the Y and tries to live by them every day in his personal and professional life.
Shaunette George is currently a PhD student in the department of sociology at McMaster University. She also holds a MA in sociology, an honours BA in sociology both from McMaster University and a McMaster/Mohawk College-affiliated certificate in leadership & management in the not-for-profit sector. As a lifelong volunteer both in the GTA and abroad, she has experience working with populations at risk of homelessness, underserved youth at risk of homelessness, and adults with behavioural and developmental disabilities. With research experience working for non-profit organizations (the YGTA included) and her university, she has gained valuable knowledge about the diverse population of the GTA, which will one day help her to develop and influence Canadian social policy. In her spare time, Shaunette enjoys reading, being with her nieces and nephews, and travelling around the world.
Sufiat Fusigboye holds a master of public health from Queen’s University, focusing on health services research and statistical analysis. She also holds a BSc (Hons) in biology and global development studies. She is passionate about health equity and has leveraged her public health expertise to advocate for different health equity causes locally, nationally, and globally. These experiences include assisting implementation science (i.e., turning research findings into practice) interventions in low- and middle-income countries, leading and supporting research publications that advocate for people who use drugs in the City of Toronto and various volunteer experiences in her community. Currently, Sufiat utilizes her skillset in health service research and analysis to strategically establish the Pan-Canadian Organ and Donation Reporting System with her current employer. She enjoys long-distance running, stand-up comedy, and relaxing with Jelly, her cat, in her spare time. As part of the YMCA’s Youth Advisory Committee, Sufiat hopes to use her experience in public health to understand and serve the youth of Toronto.
Valeria joined the Youth Advisory Committee in 2021. She holds a bachelor of social work from York University. Having been part of student-run committees in university, she was intrigued by YAC as an opportunity to contribute her social work knowledge to governance goals and to continue to develop committee work skills. Through YAC, she aims to broaden her understanding of the social issues that impact communities in the GTA and the work that communities are doing to address these issues. Outside of work and the committee, she spends time taking in the visual, musical, and theatrical arts Toronto has to offer.
Zahra Niazi is a recent graduate from the University of Waterloo with an honours bachelor of science, majoring in biomedical sciences. Along with YAC, she is a volunteer with Let’s Talk Science, helping youths in mentorship programs learn tools in science communication and learn about STEM. She has also held various mentorship and teaching assistant positions at the University of Waterloo, assisting incoming first year students as they transition into university life. Zahra joined YAC because the committee’s values of inclusivity, integrity, optimism, kindness and well-being resonate with her as a person. She aims to bring her experiences to YAC, in hopes of being a voice for youth in her community. During her leisure time, she enjoys reading, hiking and café-hopping.