CHNIG is committed to act as a voice for community health nurses and the public we serve. As representatives of Ontario CHNs, we would like you to learn more about us.
May Tao RN, BScN, MSN, CCHN(C)
May is a Health Promotion Specialist at Toronto Public Health, currently coordinating for the RNAO Best Practice initiative to implement and evaluate best practice guidelines in her organization. May has a Bachelor degree in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing. She is also a certified in Community Health Nursing with the Canadian Nurses Association. She has a strong interest in evidence-informed practice, knowledge translation, and effective strategies for guideline implementation.
May has been participating in the RNAO Advanced Clinical Practice Fellowship building on leadership and youth engagement practice. May has also volunteered as an executive member of the Registered Nurses’ Foundation of Ontario and an active member of the CHNC Leadership Institute. She has coordinated medical teams to work with local communities in several countries, such as Belize, Greece, Ghana and Uganda. Her vision is to empower others to reach their potential, strive for excellence in public health practice and inspire organizations toward continuous quality improvement.
Contact the President at President@CHNIG.org
Joanne Crawford RN, BScN, CON(C), MScN, PhD
Joanne has experience in numerous areas of nursing practice beginning in acute care health services, and then moving to community health services. Past work experience includes home health with the VON, the Cancer Information Services, primary care nursing in an ambulatory cancer centre, and then public health. For over ten years, Joanne has focused her work on chronic disease prevention with the aim of reducing inequities to health services, and population-based cancer screening. She has participated on community-based initiatives that aimed to develop locally driven strategies to improve access to health services and cancer screening.
Joanne obtained her post diploma BScN, Oncology Curriculum Certificate, and Masters of Science in Nursing at McMaster University, a PhD in nursing at the University of Toronto, and is CNA certified in oncology. Her research interests include population health, and access to population-based cancer screening and health services for diverse populations. As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nursing at Brock University, Joanne looks forward to continuing to contribute her enthusiasm and expertise to the CHNIG board.
Contact the Past-President at PastPresident@CHNIG.org
Krisel Abulencia RN, BScN
As an individual, Krisel strongly believes in building on capacity and strengths. She integrates the social determinants of health in all areas of practice and is eager to make her way into community health nursing in the near future. Her areas of interest include community and population health, health promotion and community health research.
Contact the Secretary at Secretary@CHNIG.org
Barbara Kennedy RN, BScN, MNEd, CCHN(C)
Presently, she is part of the faculty at Humber Institute for Technology and Advanced Learning and part of the Humber College/University of New Brunswick Collaborative Bachelor of Nursing Program. She teaches across all 4 years of the degree program, with an area of interest in community and population health. She is currently responsible for Member Benefits on the executive.
Barbara has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Masters in Nursing Education from the University of Western Ontario. She is also certified in Community Health Nursing.
Contact the Member Benefits Director at MemberBenefits@CHNIG.org
Susan Tam RN, BScN, MScN, CCHN(C)
Susan has a diverse background in public health with experience in infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and reproductive and child health programs. She currently teaches undergraduate courses for the Ryerson, Centennial, and George Brown Collaborative Nursing Program and the University of New Brunswick/Humber College Collaborative Nursing Program.
She has been involved on the Board of the Community Health Nurses’ Initiatives Group (CHNIG) since 2010. She was previously a Co-Lead of the Research, Education, and Professional Development Committee, as well as the Communications Officer on both CHNIG and the Community Health Nurses of Canada (CHNC).
Susan graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from McMaster University and holds a Master of Science in Nursing degree from D’Youville College. She is also certificated in Community Health Nursing with the Canadian Nurses Association and acts as a mentor to help nurses prepare for the exam and accumulate continuous learning hours.
Her professional interests include breastfeeding, implementation of evidence-informed practice in perinatal care, vulnerable/at risk populations, community health nursing, and innovative teaching-learning strategies.
Susan is looking forward to continuing her involvement on CHNIG as the Treasurer!
Contact the Treasurer Director at Treasurer@CHNIG.org
Felicia Kontopidis RN, BScN
Policy and Political Action
Felicia Kontopidis is a Registered Nurse with SE Health, formerly known as Saint Elizabeth. Felicia has worked in Toronto as a visiting nurse where she practiced direct patient care for over six years. Throughout the years, Felicia has supported and continues to support different roles where her nursing experience in Home and Community care continue to flourish. Working in different capacities, Felicia has demonstrated nursing leadership in roles such as Clinical Intake Nurse, Clinical Practice Coach, and Respiratory Nurse Champion. Felicia has been involved in new innovative supporting virtual care.
Recently, Felicia supported nurses nationally throughout the organization as a Clinical Practice Resource Nurse. In 2017, Felicia completed an RNAO AMS fellowship involving a self-directed learning project themed ‘Building Cultural Competence in Nursing to Enhance Patient Centred Care Amongst the Underserved and Disenfranchised’. Today Felicia works with the organization as a Clinical Solutions
Consultant, where she contributes her clinical experience in home and community care to support different teams in the planning, design, and implementation of new and innovative health care programs. Recently, Felicia and SE Health CEO, Shirlee Sharkey, were guests on the RBC series, “RBC Disruptors.” Together they were interviewed by award winning scholar John Stackhouse, where they shared, from the home health perspective, their experiences with technology, skills development, and how innovation is changing health care.
Contact the Policy and Political Action Director at PoliticalAction@CHNIG.org
Emi Giddens RN, BScN
Research, Education & Professional Development Co-lead
Emi is a Registered Nurse with Revera Living and published author for Work and the Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health. Emi graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Ryerson University and Master of Nursing from the University of Toronto. Her clinical expertise include long term and primary care. Her research interests are health promotion, community development and global health.
Karen Parkenson RN, BScN, CCHN(C)
Professional Practice Public Health
Karen Parkinson is the Professional Practice Leader – Nursing and a Public Health Nurse at Toronto Public Health. She has worked in public health for over 18 years in a variety of programs in Child Health and Development. In addition, she has several years of experience as a Health Informatics PHN supporting nurses and other users of a community health information system.
She joined RNAO as a student and over the years has been a member of different interest groups. Her passion is in community health nursing and therefore she has been a long-standing member of CHNIG.
Karen completed her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Ryerson University. She is currently pursuing a Master of Nursing from Athabasca University. Karen is certified in Community Health Nursing with the Canadian Nurses Association. She coordinates a certification study group twice yearly for nurses from both within her health unit and other health units as well as home health nurses.
Contact Professional Nursing Practice Director (Public Health) at PublicHealthPractice@CHNIG.org
Kay McGarvey RN, CCHN(C)
Professional Practice Home Health
Kay is currently employed by Saint Elizabeth Health Care as Nurse Facilitator Lead for the Telemedicine IMPACT Plus (TIP) program – a collaborative interdisciplinary model for medically complex patients in the community using video technology, funded by the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network. Previously, she was a Clinical Resource Nurse for Saint Elizabeth.
Prior to entering the Home Care sector, Kay held the positions of Nursing unit manager of Neurosurgery, and Charge Nurse in the Emergency Department / Trauma unit at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. In the past, Kay has participated on the steering committee of the Community Ethics Network as well as the Toronto Palliative Care Network, Peritoneal Dialysis interest group and the Canadian Vascular Access Association.
Kay is proud to be one of the first nurses in Canada certified in the speciality of Community Nursing.
Contact Professional Nursing Practice Director (Home Health) at HomeHealthPractice@CHNIG.org
Cindy Baker-Barill RN, BScN
Cindy is a Program Manager of the Tobacco-free Living Program and the
Central East Tobacco Control Area Network at Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. Key areas of focus include promoting smoke-free college and university campuses, preventing youth and young adults from starting to smoke via grassroots and online promotion, and improving the number of quit attempts for people who smoke. She has worked in Public Health for 32 years in a variety of roles ranging from a generalist PHN to focused programs by age; such as Healthy Child Adolescence and by issue; Substance Abuse and Injury Prevention. Cindy has previously participated on the CHNIG Board as Communications, President, and OPHA representatives.
Cindy has been active on many provincial committees related to tobacco control and participated in the development of the RNAO best practice guideline; Enhancing Healthy Adolescent Development. Cindy is very excited to be able to support the CHNIG board in finalizing all of the governance policies over the next 2 years.
Contact the Governance Director at Governance@CHNIG.org
Poonam Sharma RN, BScN, MN
Poonam comes from a diverse background in public health with experience in Family Health, Child Health, Communicable Diseases and most currently in Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, as a supervisor in the Oral Health Program. Poonam is also a part of the expert panel for the RNAO new best practice guideline for Oral Health. Her other passion for community health nursing is centered in women’s health and to this day she is a child birthing, newborn and breastfeeding educator.
Poonam has been actively involved in the RNAO and on the Peel Chapter executive team with many leadership positions since 2007. Poonam graduated from the University of New Brunswick/Humber College Collaborative Nursing Program with a Bachelor of Nursing degree. She is the past-president of the Nursing Students of Ontario – RNAO Interest Group. In 2013, she was recognized for her work with nursing students through the RNAO Provincial Leadership Award in Student Mentorship. Poonam has a Masters in Nursing from Ryerson University.
Poonam is excited to be a part of the CHING Board of Directors team as the OPHA Liaison.
Contact the OPHA (Member-at-Large) Director at OPHA@CHNIG.org
Gabriela Ach RN, BScN
Gabriela (Gabi) graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2013 from the York University Collaborative Program with Georgian College. Gabi realized her passion for community and public health practice during her consolidation with the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit in her final year of school. It was here that she fully realized the capacity and skills public health nurses hold and their immense influence on community health.
Since graduating, Gabi has worked as a home health nurse for Direct Support Care Agency for over two years, a Care Coordinator for the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN, as well as a workplace wellness nurse for The Health Team. Gabi is working towards her career goal of becoming a Public Health Nurse and plans on obtaining CNA certification as a Community Health Nurse as well as a Masters degree in the near future. Gabi has reapplied to extend her role on the CHNIG Board for another two years and she is looking forward to working with such a dedicated team and supporting CHNs in their practice.
Contact the Website Director at Website@CHNIG.org
Harshdeep Hehar RN, BScN
Harshdeep Hehar is a new graduate nurse from the University of New Brunswick/Humber Collaborative Bachelor of Nursing Program. Hehar has been a member of the CHNIG team since 2014 acting as the Student Representative, and is looking forward to working as the Social Media Director this year!
Harshdeep has a strong interest in nursing leadership, and believes that we can bring about positive change in society with our collective voice in nursing. Harshdeep has taken on many leadership roles within RNAO prior to graduating including the Nursing Students of Ontario (NSO) Committee Coordinator for two terms, as well as the RNAO Peel Chapter Student Representative since 2015. Furthermore, Harshdeep took initiative as a nursing student over the years, by taking upon various Executive Roles in the Nursing Society since year one, and participated in the Canadian Nursing Students Association Conferences. Hehar also served as the President of the Nursing Society from 2016-2017.
As an advocate for health equity and health promotion, Harshdeep continuously seeks out opportunities to be involved in the community. This year, Hehar looks forward to working collaboratively with the CHNIG Team to exercise her leadership skills, and to help promote and raise awareness around Community Health Nursing!
Contact the Social Media Director at SocialMedia@CHNIG.org
Daniela Graziano, 2nd-entry Nursing Student, MSc
Daniela holds a Master’s of Science in Global Health Management with a focus on Indigenous Health Equity. She has a keen interest in cross-cultural learning and has worked with Indigenous and refugee populations. Daniela has helped develop health programs both locally and abroad with Indigenous communities from Six Nations and Panajachel, Guatemala. She received the 2014 Health Equity Fellowship working with the Crossroads Clinic on improving healthcare services for refugees. Daniela’s commitment to social justice and advocacy have led her to pursue nursing school, bring trauma-informed care to the forefront and promote harm reduction principles. She is a current committee member for the Indigenous Health Conference hosted by U of T and the Imagine Clinic in Performance & Quality Improvement. As a life long dancer, Daniela is passionate about the benefits of movement, and has been immersed in learning dances that originate from Latin America.
Contact the Student Representative at Student@CHNIG.org
Gwendolyn French, 3rd year Nursing Student, BSc, BScN(c)
Gwendolyn is a third-year nursing student completing her Bachelor of Nursing degree in the Brock University-Loyalist College Baccalaureate Nursing program. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Waterloo before Nursing. As a proud RNAO and NSO member, an attendee at RNAO Queen’s Park day, and the Associate Communications ENO of the Niagara chapter, Gwendolyn continued to show her commitment to RNAO by joining CHNIG. Gwendolyn decided to be an active member of CHNIG and serve on the board because CHINIG’s mission to influence the healthcare system through health and social policy with the aim of enhancing the health of Ontarians in their various communities mirror her passion and interest.
As a student representative, Gwendolyn aims to remain solution focused and offer the CHNIG Board the perspectives of her colleagues on community health issues. Gwendolyn is also committed to serving as the voice of CHNIG by raising awareness about community and sociopolitical health issues, health, and educational initiatives among her nursing student colleagues as needed.
Ivy Tran, 3rd year Nursing Student
Mario Uy Cruz, 4th year Nursing Student
Mario is a fourth-year collaborative nursing student from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology – Durham College (UOIT-DC) program. He has experienced several different fields such as Business, Engineering, and Life Science before settling and being more passionate in Nursing. He has always been curious about community health nursing ever since he started in the program. In his third year, he finally had the opportunity to see a glimpse of community health. He was placed in a public health unit which made him decide to commit to community health nursing in the future. In order to learn more about community health nursing, Mario has decided to become a more active member of CHNIG by applying to be a Student Affiliate.
Mario wants to be a public health nurse in the future and focus on healthy living and health promotion. He also wants to be able to focus on social justice in healthcare, specifically the social determinants of health and making social and health services more accessible to the
general public. As a student affiliate, he aims to increase his fellow nursing students’ interests in community health nursing and to bring forth students’ perspectives on community health issues to the Board.
Lindsey Lenters, BSc, MPH, 1st year second-entry Nursing Student
Lindsey completed her Master of Public Health at the University of Toronto and her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from the University of British Columbia. Lindsey’s professional career has focused on addressing health inequities and strengthening health systems in Canada and around the world. She brings years of project management, program coordination and research experience to nursing. Lindsey is excited to embark on a nursing career in community health, supporting the primary care needs of marginalized populations while working to mitigate systemic barriers to access and continuity of care. She is particularly interested in strengthening the intersections between primary, community and acute care in Ontario. In her spare time Lindsey loves to draw, craft and dance.
Tara Lundy, 1st year Nursing Student, BSc
Tara has recently completed her first year of nursing at Brock University. She graduated from Dalhouise University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Immunology. In Halifax, Tara was a Duty Supervisor for Dalhousie’s Medical First Responder Team, where she acted as the director in emergency situations during campus events.
Tara has always been interested in science and the healthcare field, particularly in global and community health. Community health attracts Tara because it views healthcare in a holistic approach. To her, community health nursing is the core practice to implementing a health lifestyle for people. Tara wants to promote individual empowerment for taking control over one’s health, and she would like to be a part of an effort to spot barriers and inequities in communities.
Contact the Student Representative at Student@CHNIG.org