STAFF

Jonathan John

Executive Director & Founder


Jonathan has over a decade of leadership experience working in youth development programs and has developed a strong passion and desire towards serving underprivileged and marginalized young populations. He believes remarkable results can be achieved when underserved populations are provided meaningful, supportive and life changing programming opportunities. Jonathan also believes in the importance of collaborative community support and has a keen interest in engaging with stakeholders across a variety of sectors. 

Valerie Maltais, PMP

Chairperson, Board of Directors


Valerie has extensive experience as an environmental earth scientist, having coordinated numerous Corporate Social Responsibility and environmental programs in Canada and the US. Valerie is also an avid community volunteer and has served in a variety of capacities with multiple organizations including, Toronto & Region Conservation; the Toronto Street Needs Assessment; as a crisis support volunteer providing support & assistance to individuals suffering a crisis; and as an advisory member for community health improvement. Valerie has a keen interest in ensuring young people have enriching and positive life experiences that will ensure their future success. 

Nisha Thomas, MSW, RSW

Vice-chair, Board of Directors

Nisha has significant and diverse experience within the social work sector. Nisha possesses a high level of academic, clinical and community based experiences serving a variety of populations. Nisha's practice is informed by an anti-oppressive, ecological/systems perspective, strength-based, client-centred, trauma-informed approach. Nisha has a well-informed belief in the importance of clinical, therapeutic settings in transforming the lives of marginalized populations; along with a genuine desire to serve young people. 

Patrick Lee

Treasurer, Board of Directors


Patrick has immense experience with policy and governance work especially within the youth development sector. Specifically, Patrick has been involved with analyzing the educational system and how it impacts the success rate of marginalized youth; and in turn how this affects students entering into post-secondary institutions. Patrick also brings with him a wide array of experience from within the financial sector, having served in a variety of capacities.  Patrick is excited and eager to continue serving the community and providing positive support to marginalized and at-risk young people. 

Michelle Micks

Secretary, Board of Directors


Michelle has years of experience working in the technology sector where she was actively involved in developing and implementing child safety initiatives. She was also heavily involved in developing a resiliency program for employees exposed to traumatic content through the course of their job duties. Michelle is now pursuing her Masters in Criminology at the University of Toronto, where her research project focuses on Internet Child Exploitation Police Officers' perceptions of Canada's child pornography legislation. Michelle considers herself a children's rights advocate and is passionate about eradicating child sexual exploitation. Michelle is interested in working with young people in the context of online safety to ensure they have positive experiences. 

Brennon Thompson

Partnership Development


Brennon comes from the world of Media, and has a background in youth development from his ongoing involvement as a leader in the Canadian Cadet Organization and the Canadian Armed Forces.  In his professional career; Brennon is an Operations & Development Analyst responsible for the overall training/ process implementation for internal employees across Canada. He’s also a key member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee at Bell Media. Brennon has a strong passion towards Youth Rising Above, as he believes that youth require a solid foundation in order to contribute to society in a positive and impactful way. He's keen on helping ensure that our youth have remarkable experiences and role models to support their future success. 

Philippe Bicos

Digital Media Coordinator


Philippe has extensive experience with a variety of small and large scale multimedia projects; everything from photography and videography to graphic design. His work has been used for a diverse group of organizations, businesses, individuals and community groups. Many of his digital projects have gone viral across the country due to his impeccable creative design and talent. Philippe also has extensive experience in administrative services and logistics for large scale institutions. Philippe believes in the importance of communicating about the plight of marginalized populations in dynamic, engaging and impactful ways that will not only encourage action but help communicate for those who may often be suppressed. 

Ariella Flatt

Social Media Coordinator


Ariella is a Toronto- based Public Relations and Communications professional with a passion for the non-profit sector and helping charities succeed. Since graduating, she has sharpened her social media expertise through her work with organizations that strive to transform lives. Ariella believes in the powerful changes that result from providing support and meaningful opportunities to those in need. She is excited to serve underprivileged and marginalized young populations by using social media to keep the public informed of everything Youth Rising Above has to offer and by encouraging action through all communications platforms.  

Ruzbeh Irani

Youth Council Member


Ruzbeh is a third-year Industrial Design student at Carleton University; and currently serves as a designer for a start-up called "Launch Pad Designs". His favourite part of the job is tackling the challenges that are associated with start-up companies, whether that involves establishing brand identity, or accommodating a client's input on designs. He especially enjoys developing technology based products that help ease people's everyday lives. Ruzbeh has also been involved in numerous community development and youth initiatives, and has filled a variety of leadership roles at these organizations. Ruzbeh is eager and passionate to give back to the youth development community, a community that has made a tremendous impact on his own life.

Zara Magalhaes

Social Services Coordinator

Christian Dinelli

Program Support Coordinator


Christian has spent several years working within the local community serving marginalized and at-risk populations. His experience includes working with a number of large scale social service organizations in capacities that include case management, counselling, intake and program support. Christian also brings with him years of business experience, having served in operational and sales capacities in the past. Christian believes in the importance of transforming marginalized young people through meaningful and engaging initiatives that support their continued growth. He is especially interested in group programming and the positive attributes it can instil within participants. 

Rex Abergas

Program Support Coordinator


Rex has been working in the health and wellness industry in the past 8 years. He's worked in commercial gyms, private settings, online coaching, fascial stretch therapy and also has experience in  the e-commerce business. Growing up in Scarborough, Rex fell in love with physical activity in which he believes has helped him with his growth into adulthood. He hopes that by using his experience and passion in health, he can help impact the youth of Toronto by helping them be more active and creating an awareness in the importance of physical activity,