Ahmed Abdelfattah (English, Arabic)Ahmed joined us in 2017 after working as a freelance interpreter with us for several years. As a member of both our Settlement and Community Interpreter teams, he is committed to helping newcomers to Canada become successful.Originally from the small town of Benha, Egypt, Ahmed moved to Cairo to attend Zagazig University where he earned a B.Sc. in Architecture. His architectural career led him to live and work throughout the Middle East where he designed institutional and residential buildings.In 2012, he moved to Canada and lived in Toronto at first; he moved to Kitchener four years ago.A proud Canadian citizen, Ahmed likes to relax in his spare time, listen to some jazz music, and can usually be found reading a book on history.
Ana Luz Martinez (English, Spanish)
Ana Luz joined us in 2003 and has been managing our Settlement Team since 2008.
Originally from Guatemala, Ana Luz studied dentistry at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemela before moving to Mexico where she studied education at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. In 1994, she moved to Canada and became a proud Canadian citizen in 1998. Ana Luz leads by example to ensure that our clients are served by a team of enthusiastic, passion and caring professionals.
Ana Luz is an advocate for a number of health and education causes and issues of seniors and climate change are of special interest. She is also an active supporter of a bilingual school in Guatemala, the Fundación Nueva Esperanza, Río Negro
In her spare time, Ana Luz enjoys jazz music - especially latin jazz - as well as art and culture in Waterloo Region.
Bojana Bogdanovic (English, Dutch, Serbo-Croatian)
Brittney Emslie (English)
Brittney joined us in 2015 and is passionate about helping newcomers in Waterloo Region.
Brittney has lived in K-W her whole life and is our Operations Manager. She has a BA in Global Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a Masters in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University.
When Brittney is not working she can be found hiking, biking, enjoying nature, taking photos, and spending time with friends and family.
Carmen Morun (English, Romanian)
Carmen joined us in 2011 after volunteering with us for several years. She helps businesses, governments and social service agencies dealing with new Canadians by matching them with the interpreter and translation services they need. She loves the fact that she makes a difference by connecting people.
Carmen was born and raised in Romania and came to Canada in 2000 with her husband and children. She became a proud Canadian citizen in 2004.
She holds a Bachelors Degree from the Technical University of Timisoara in Romania and a College Training /Social Services Worker diploma from the Medix School here in Kitchener.
When she isn't bridging the language barrier between people, Carmen can be found in her garden, spending time with her twin grandchildren or travelling.
Dave Thomas (English)Dave helps newcomers build their professional networks.
Dave grew up in southern Ontario and studied at the University of Western Ontario, where he attained a BA in political science and MA in journalism. Before starting at WR Connectors in September 2017, he worked at The Working Centre for 14 years helping newcomers get established in the workforce, and has been active in many community-building efforts.
In his spare time, Dave likes spending time with family and friends, reading, running and listening to classic rock music, especially the Beatles.
Doha Shahin (English, Arabic)
Doha joined us in 2006 and works with our Language and Interpreter Services division.
Originally from Egypt, Doha moved to London, ON with her husband and family in 1990, graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a degree in Administrative and Commercial Studies and became a Canadian citizen in 1994.
Doha enjoys gardening, spending time with her grandchildren and travelling in her spare time.
Eltag Elkhalifa (English, Arabic)
Eltag joined us in 2007 and helps newcomers settle in this area and integrate into the Canadian society by providing information, counseling to help them plan for their life in their new country. A top priority for Eltag is addressing his clients' diverse needs and then identifying and removing barriers that slow their settlement and integration.Eltag was born and lived in Sudan till he moved to Canada in the early 1990s following the military coup.He graduated with Bachelor of Science in Economics from University of Gezira in Sudan. After graduation, he worked for the Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning in Sudan. He has completed a number of training courses in the area of socio-economic development in Sudan and USA and also completed a training program in Non-profit Management at York University in Toronto.Eltag is active in our community and has volunteered with a number of organizations as committee or board member, including the YMCA (Host Program), African Canadian Association of Waterloo Region, Immigration Partnership (Working Group), Employment and Income Support Community Advisory Committee, Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region, Syrian Refugee Housing Working Group etc.In his spare time, Eltag enjoys reading books on politics, history and culture, travelling and hiking.
Eunice Valenzuela (English, Spanish)
Fariba Kazemi Parsa (English, Dari, Farsi)
Fariba joined us in 2008 after working as an interpreter for several years.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Azad University in Tehran where she lived until immigrating to Canada in 1997.
Fariba is a member of the KW Persian Women's Club and enjoys sports and music in her spare time.
Fatah Fatah (English, Kurdish, Arabic)Fatah joined us in 2017 and works with the Employment Team helping newcomers to Canada by leading the First Job In Canada and Health & Safety Awareness in 4 Steps Workshops as well as providing WHMIS training.He moved to Canada from Kurdistan in Iraq in 2015 and holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Technology in Baghdad and a High Diploma in Political Science from St. Clement's.In his spare time, Fatah enjoys reading historical and political novels, swimming and writing articles for periodicals such as Shar Magazine.
Fezya Arslantas (English, Turkish)Feyza works on our intake desk and is often one of the first people that our clients meet. Her relaxed and friendly nature puts clients at ease as she works to connect them with the 'right worker for them.Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, Feyza moved to Canada in 2001 and became a proud Canadian citizen in 2006. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo and a Masters of Arts in Christian Theology from Wilfrid Laurier University.In her spare time, Feyza enjoys capturing landscapes in Waterloo County and around the world with her camera.
Gina Almeida (English, Spanish)
Hadembes Yebetit (English, Amharic, Tigrinya, Italian)
Jay Palani (English, Afrikaans)
Jay joined us 2010, shortly after moving to Waterloo Region from South Africa. She focuses on helping newcomers access the labour market and community supports by facilitating workshops on job search strategies and short and long-term goal setting. She excels at matching our clients' skills and education with the needs of Canadian employers.
A passionate believer in taking a holistic approach to work and life, Jay holds a Bachelor of Paedagogics degree, with a major in Psychology, from the University of South Africa as well as a post-graduate certification as a Career Development Practitioner from Conestoga College.
A Certified Life Coach and trained Reiki practitioner, Jay enjoys long walks in nature, meditation, music, reading and gardening. In 2014, Jay became a proud Canadian citizen.
Juan Castillo (English, Spanish)
Juan joined us in 2016 and is passionate about helping new Canadians put down roots in our community.
Originally from Mexico, Juan moved with has family from Guadalajara to Canada in 2001. Juan attended Galt Collegiate in Cambridge and then completed his Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies and North American Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, graduating in 2015.
Juan is an advocate for healthy living, eating right and exercising regularly. He is an active member of the community in Cambridge, Juan has volunteered with the Grand River Film Festival, Rogers TV and is a member of the Cambridge Tennis Club and Cambridge Rowing Club.
Katelyn Duursma (English)
Keith Summers (English)Keith is our Marketing and Communications Manager.He moved to Waterloo Region in 2013 after living in the Hamilton area for nearly 30 years. A graduate of McMaster University (BA, MBA), he also completed a certificate in Social Media Marketing from Northwestern University. A self-described “creative guy”, he is involved in the local music scene and the film and television industry in Toronto, as well as providing communications consulting services to a number of local organizations and businesses.
Louise Lambert (English)Louise joined us in 2015 and, as one of our key front desk staff, is often the first person that clients meet (and chat with) when they first visit us. She also works in our Language & Intepretation Services department dispatching interpreters to one of our many client agencies and helps our Finance Department in collecting accounts receivable.Born and raised in Carlisle, Ontario, Louise worked in the financial services industry before joining us.She delights in family and enjoys watching her grandson discover the world. When she's not in K-W, she is most likely to be exploring the lighthouses of the Maritimes.
Lucia Harrison (English, Dutch)
Lucia has been our Chief Executive Officer since 2006 and has been part of our organization since 2000.
Originally from the Netherlands, she immigrated to Canada as a child with her family and became a Canadian Citizen in 1967. She studied business at Wilfrid Laurier University and Third World Studies at Conrad Grebel College.
A fierce advocate for building a community of inclusion for everyone, she is the Past Chair and a current member of the Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership and Waterloo Region Refugee Resettlement Steering Committee. She has served on the boards of over 20 local and provincial organizations and agencies and currently sits on the board of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants and Youth In Conflict With The Law.
In her rare (but occasional) spare time she likes to travel, cook and spend time with her grandchildren.
Lutfiye Tutak (English, Turkish)
Maria Juyo (English, Spanish)
Maria joined us in 2013 and works with our interpreters and the businesses, governments and social service agencies that we serve as part of our Interpreter Department Social Purpose Enterprise.
Maria moved to Canada from Colombia in 2004 and holds a degree in International Trade and Business Administration from the Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia as well as a Business Administration Diploma from Everest College.
When she's not keeping our Social Purpose Enterprise running smoothly, Maria enjoys nature walks in Waterloo Region, spending time with her family and doing wordsearch and jigsaw puzzles.
Marta Worku (English, Amharic, Tigrinya, Italian)Marta joined us in 2017 and works to help newcomers to Canada by providing information about the citizenship and sponsorship process, advice on accessing available community services and assistance in developing progressive plans to make a success of their new life and home in K-W. A positive and open-minded person, Marta came to Canada in 2010 from Ethiopia and enjoys cooking, reading and writing in her spare time.
Michele Aveline (English)Michele joined us in 2017 and supports senior management as an Administrative Assistant with responsibilites across all of our departments.Originally from New Zealand, Michele moved to Montreal (and later K-W) with her parents in 1988.She holds a Business Administration Diploma from TriOS College and has experience in the insurance and automotive industries.Michele spends her spare time with her dog, her son, nature walks, and travelling. A warm weather person, she loves dancing and the beach. In the winter, she loves to tackle jigsaw puzzles.
Minkyung Kim (English, Korean)Minkyung joined us in 2017. She specializes in helping newcomers navigate the job market in Waterloo Region by helping them write their resumes, by running workshops on job search skills and by advocating for the Pre-Employment Program in the Community. Prior to joining us, Minkyung worked in the Global Talent Acquisition team at BlackBerry.Originally from Busan, South Korea, Minkyung earned a B.A. in International Tourism from Dongseo University in Busan, South Korea before moving to Waterloo Region in 2014. She also holds a Certificate in Human Resources Management from Conestoga College and is a Certified Human Resources Professional.Outside of work, she is an amateur chef and likes to experiment with recipes from different cultures. A strong believer in living mindfully, Minkyung practices yoga and meditates.
Mira Malidzanovic (English, Serbo-Croatian-Bosnian)
Mira Malidzanovic joined us in 2016 and has been working and volunteering in the community in different capacities for the last 20 years.
She came to Canada as a government-sponsored refugee in 1993 and shortly after started helping newcomers with interpretation for Serbo-Croatian-Bosnian population. She was an Executive Director at Reception House for 13 years, during which she has a record of success in asset-based, participatory, and anti-oppression-based refugee advocacy work. She graduated with honors from University of Sarajevo with a dual degree in Philosophy and Sociology.
In her free time, Mira loves to read and listen to music. She has a collection of over 1000 books and 500 records.
Ohayla Al-Khatib (English, Arabic)
Ohayla joined us in 1996 and manages our Language and Interpreter Services division.
Originally from Lebanon, Ohalya lived in the United Arab Emirates and then Cleveland, Ohio where she lived for eleven years before moving to Canada. She graduated from Cuyahoga Community College with a Degree in Business and Computer Science and became a proud Canadian citizen in 1998.
When she's not connecting businesses, government and social service agencies in K-W with the interpreters they need to help them serve their clients better, she can be found at home in Kitchener, relaxing with a good book.
Omaima El Kebbe (English, Arabic)
Omaima joined us in 2016 to help newcomers to Kitchener-Waterloo settle in Canada. She was born in Palestine and raised in Dubai, UAE. In 2009, she moved to Canada with her family and became a proud Canadian citizen in 2014.
She earned a B.Sc in Medical Laboratory Sciences from Haigazian University in Lebanon and a B.Sc. in Public Health from the University of Lethbridge.
Omaima loves working with newcomers to Canada and enjoys helping others reach their goals by providing support as they adjust to their new home.
In her free time she enjoys reading and baking yummy treats for her boys.
Shatha Al-Shehadi (English, Arabic)Shatha joined us as a Community Interpreter in 2017.Originally from the UAE, Shatha moved to Windsor, Ontario as a child and grew up there. She completed the Interpreter Training Course at Conestoga College. She spent several years teaching English in Syria and the UAE before returning to Canada with her husband.A consummate communicator, Shatha is passionate about bridging cultures. As a busy mother of four, she is always on the go and is active in the community.
Vanessa Harrison (English)
Wasan Issa (English, Arabic, Kurdish -Faily Dialect)
Wasan joined us in 2004 and works to ensure that newcomers to Waterloo Region settle successfully.
Originally from Iraq, Wasan graduated from al-Turath University College in Baghdad with a degree in English Literature and subsequently spent six years as a refugee in Syria before moving to Canada in 2000. She became a proud Canadian citizen in 2004.
She is also a graduate of the Teacher of English as a Second Language program of Conestoga College and is completing the requirements for the post-graduate program in the Applied Counselling program at Conestoga, as well.
She is active in the community as the Chair of the local branch of the Iraqi-Canadian Society of Ontario, as well as the Chair of KW Arab-Canadian Theatre.
Yoke Kennedy (English, Cantonese, Mandarin)
Yoke joined us in 2003 and works extensively in supporting individuals and families experiencing issues such as divorce or separation, child custody and support, family violence, and mental health.
Yoke works to empower and develop the personal autonomy and individual strengths of her clients, whether they are international students, work permit holders, cross-cultural couples, or permanent residents
Yoke holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in History and English from McMaster University, a Master of Education from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Originally from Singapore, Yoke has made K-W her home since 1990, after residing in Cincinnati, Hamilton and Oakville. She has worked in the settlement and integration sector since 1992, at first as an ESL instructor.
When she's not busy here, she remains involved in our community as a Board member of KW Counselling Services, a member of the Chinese Canadian Women’s Federation, and is the founder of South East Asian Family Support Group.
And in her "spare time"? Gardening, reading, swimming and meditation.
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