Our Advisors, Partners & Endorsements

Our Advisors

Stella’s Place has a number of advisory groups that lead the organization. This includes the Board of Directors, a Leadership Advisory Council, and a Parents Advisory Council. As well as a Young Adult Advisory Council that is currently working as various co-design groups.

Young Adult Co-Design Groups

Stella’s Place uses a co-design process to create each of our program components. Each co-design team consists of young adults with mental health challenges, and is led by a young adult Peer Facilitator in a paid leadership role. These groups engage other Stella’s Place staff, as well as professionals, as relevant. Our design groups to date include:

Peer Conversations Group:

the foundational group that contributed to building the peer support program and training requirements.

Peer Support Training Program Curriculum Design Group:

a group that discussed and designed the materials for the Peer Support Training Program that is offered in partnership with George Brown College.

Online Platform and App Co-Design Group:

 a group that is designing our online peer support platform and app.

Evaluation Working Group:

a group that is thinking through the outcomes for young adults at Stella’s Place, and how to measure and track them.

onTRACK Co-Design Team –

 a group that is designing the fitness and wellness program that is offered in partnership with the Miles Nadal JCC.

Possibilities Co-Design Team:

 a group that is designing the Clinical, Recovery and Wellness programs and activities at Stella’s Place.

Leadership Advisory Council

Dr. Simon Davidson

Clinical Professor, BC Children’s Hospital

Alan Greenberg

CEO, Minett Real Estate Services; Co-Founder & Chairman, GreenSoil Investments

Dr. Marshall Korenblum

Medical Director, SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health

Dr. Anthony Levitt

Chief, Brain Sciences; Program Medical Director, Family Navigation Project Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Dr. Patrick McGorry

Director of Orygen Youth Health and Orygen Youth Health Research Centre Victoria, Australia

Karen Minden, C.M., Ph.D.

Founder, Pine River Institute and Foundation; Partner, Minden Schipper & Associates

Jaime Watt

Executive Chairman, Navigator Ltd.

Dr. Ari Zaretsky

Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Founding Parents Council

Donna Green

Founder and President, Stella’s Place

Marylee O’Neill

Co-Founder and Vice-President, Stella’s Place

Diane McKenzie

Program Development Specialist PhD Candidate, Mental Health Program Evaluation

Stephanie Merrin

Management Consultant

Ellie Perkins, Ph.D

Economist and Professor, York University

Dana Colson

Doctor of Dental Surgery

Vivian Bercovici

Adjunct Professor, University of Toronto Faculty of Law

Pictured above: Young Adult Advisory Council Members, 2019

Our Family Advisory Council

Stella’s Place FAC is a dynamic group of volunteers supporting Stella’s Place and our vision for young adult mental health. Our members share lived experiences with being caregivers and supports to young adults at many stages of their mental health journey.

George Ayer

George Ayer is a Professional Engineer and the father of three young men. In 2007 the diagnosis of his youngest with a brain tumour was the beginning of a long journey navigating the health system as a caregiver. As his elder twin brothers entered their teens a few years later, signs of mental health challenges began in earnest. It became apparent that the physical health systems and the mental health systems were vastly different in the level of universal access, compassion and support. Being introduced to Stella’s Place was a real breath of fresh air. As a caregiver who struggled with feeling helpless in accessing quality care for my sons, I am keen to support the Family Advisory Council and Stella’s place as an advocate and champion of Young Adult mental health. It is very exciting to participate in the growth of a better way to serve our Young Adult community and their Caregivers.

Victoria Birkett

Victoria is a mother of two young adult children and has experience effectively communicating with family members affected by anxiety and depression. She has firsthand knowledge of navigating the complexities of the mental health care system. Victoria is also the author of a children’s book series, Minnie is Worried, a collection of stories to help children and parents navigate anxiety. As a volunteer member of the Stella’s Place Family Advisory Committee, Victoria co-developed and facilitates the Stella’s Place Family to Family workshop designed to assist family caregivers in supporting young adults with mental health struggles. She is an entrepreneur and current partner with Innovation Grade Ventures, a venture fund that invests in early-stage businesses focusing on health and wellness.

Lori McBurney

Lori was a securities lawyer before deciding to end her practice to become a stay at home mom to her children. Lori has been involved in mental health and addiction issues for many years having multiple family members who have been afflicted with such issues, including Lori herself. Having  confronted these issues, Lori knows the difficulties of gaining access to meaningful services applicable to the unique needs of young adults. It is her purpose to ensure barriers to such services are eliminated.

Martha McGroarty

Martha McGroarty is a mental health advocate and over the past several years has led successful fundraising and community outreach events for Stella’s Place.  As a suicide loss survivor, Martha shares her daughters’ story, and her story as a mother, to spread awareness to others. She has experience assisting her daughter navigate the mental health care system and believes in Stella’s Place methods and mission. She is a committed volunteer member of the Stella’s Place Family Advisory Council and has also volunteered as a Crisis Responder for the Kids Help Text Line.  Professionally, Martha is a Manager at a public sensor technology company.

Nicole Waldron

Nicole Waldron became a volunteer with Stella’s Place Family Advisory Council after hearing about the work that Stella’s Place does for youth. Nicole’s loved one first experienced psychosis a couple months after a bike accident in 2015 and has since made a commitment to helping others in this area. She has become a mental health advocate for loved ones and caregivers after having to deal with the mental health system. 

Nicole has enjoyed a 30+ year career as an event specialist. She is an inspirational speaker, author and the host of The Victory Speaks Podcast and Online Show. Nicole also serves on various boards and committees working for the advancement of her community and advocating on several issues.

John Swain

After over 30 years as an executive management consultant, John is now semi-retired volunteering his expertise and lived caregiver experience as a member of Stella’s Place Family Advisory Council. In this capacity he has been a co-developer and facilitator of Stella’s Place’s successful Family to Family workshop focused on assisting adult family caregivers who support young adults with mental health conditions. Since their son was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, ADHD and anxiety over 25 years ago John and his wife have navigated a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional treatment approaches including psychiatry, counselling, clinical and
alternative therapists, residential rehab programs and life coaching. His goal, along with his wife, is to enable his son to become fully functional in a world that still stigmatizes and challenges those with such conditions.

Our Endorsements 

During our development, we have communicated with many local, national and international leaders and mental health experts. Here’s what they have to say about the needs of young adults and how Stella’s Place is taking a step forward.

Barry Alper

Business Manager/Partner
Fresh Restaurants

Read Barry Alper’s Letter Link to page

Simon Davidson

M.B., B.Ch., FRCPC Regional Chief
Specialized Psychiatric and Mental Health Services for Children and Youth CHEO

Read Simon Davidson’s Letter Link to page

Gillian Gray

Executive Director
Family Outreach and Response

Read Gillian Grey’s Letter Link to page

Amy Wakelin

Manager of Peer Initiatives
CMHA Toronto

Read Amy Wakelin’s Letter Link to page

Ari Zaretsky

MD FRCPC Psychiatrist-in-Chief
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Read Ari Zaretsky’s Letter Link to page

Mike Colle


Read Mike Colle’s Letter Link to page

Susan Davis

Executive Director
Gerstein Crisis Centre

Read Susan Davis’ Letter Link to page

The Hon. Michael Kirby

Founding Chair
Partners for Mental Health

Read Hon. Michael Kirby’s Letter Link to page

Catherine Zahn

MD, FRCPC President and CEO
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Read Catherine Zahn’s Letter Link to page

Our Partners

We work with a range of community-based and hospital partners in program development, training initiatives and service co-delivery and co-location.

The uniqueness of Stella’s Place, being designed for youth by youth, is an approach to care that is needed in our system. In addition to developing innovative supports, Stella’s Place has created opportunities for education, training and employment for youth with lived experience. These opportunities are incredibly valuable to the recovery process.

Gillian Gray
Executive Director, Family Outreach and Response Program