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Our Team

Our Team

Sarah Butson

Provincial Manager – YATI and Youth Engagement – The Lung Association Youth Advocacy Training Institute

Sarah has spent the last 10+ years working with youth in education settings and in Health Promotion and has been part of the YATI team for 7 years. She is passionate about the work that YATI does and the importance of empowering young people to be advocates for their own health. She holds a Master of Science from the University of Manchester, England and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario. In her spare time she loves hiking, watching cooking shows but not actually cooking, and spending time with her two adorable girls Madelyn and Ava.

Janna Patrick

Community Education Specialist

Janna joins the YATI team from the Ontario Respiratory Care Society, a professional organization within the Ontario Lung Association.  Prior to joining the OLA, Janna worked in outdoor education where she developed and implemented curriculum for individuals and school groups, participated in creating train-the-trainer programs, and facilitated courses for camps and private organizations.  She enjoys an active lifestyle and being outdoors.  Janna graduated from the University of British Columbia with a BSc in Physics.

Liza Beharry

Program Assistant

Liza holds a BA in English from the University of Toronto and a certificate from the Corporate Communications and Public Relations program at Centennial College.   Liza has participated in fundraising for youth based initiatives, volunteered at schools and completed an internship at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.  She has a passion for working with youth and providing them with the tools with which to achieve their highest potential.

Geoffroy Legault-Thivierge

YATI Trainer

A recent graduate from the University of Ottawa, Geoffroy is an enthusiastic health promotion advocate. With many years of youth engagement and public health work under his belt, he enjoys playing an active role in youth-driven positive change. A proud Franco-Ontarian, Geoffroy is a strong advocate for a more inclusive society where everyone is welcome and equal. Holder of a Master’s degree in Communication, he is currently working as a project officer at the Government of Canada as well as a consultant and facilitator for the Youth Advocacy Training Institute.

Randall Perando

Youth Engagement Support Staff

Randall is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto and has a double major in Global Health and History & Philosophy of Science & Technology. Started as a fundraising and clerical volunteer at the Ontario Lung Association, he was introduced to YATI and became a member in 2014. Since then, he became involved in health promotion and different youth programs. As a YATI videographer and photographer, he is passionate in advocating healthy lifestyle through creating informational graphics and videos. This year he will be taking a new role as part of Youth Engagement Support Staff. Aside from YATI, he currently works as a social media specialist and admin assistant and interns as a podcast and video editor.

Liza Garneau

YATI Trainer

Liza graduated from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and a Minor in Communication. She is a certified Ontario teacher and works as a professional artist in Ottawa. Liza gained experience teaching youth while living in the South of France and working for the French Embassy. Following her experience abroad, she worked for the Kativik Schoolboard in Nunavik teaching English and French in the Inuit community of Puvirnituk where she was surrounded by the cold but beautiful landscapes of the northern tundra. Liza has become an advocate for Mental Health after working for the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Center for 6 years now, and she hopes to educate both youth and adults in order to de-stigmatize mental illness and to encourage collaboration, inclusivity, integrity and respect. She has worked with students on a mural for an anti-bullying campaign in the interest of nurturing these values through the creative process of drawing.

Sal Sabila

Youth Engagement Support Staff

Sal’s journey with YATI started almost two years ago. She began working as a YATI volunteer and is now serving as a member of the Youth Engagement Support Staff. Sal is currently a grade 12 student at Monarch Park Collegiate and is very passionate about advocating for youth health and education. Sal hopes to pursue a career in health and to keep advocating for healthy life-styles. This year, she plans to raise awareness about the manipulative tactics used by the tobacco industry in her school and community. Aside from being a YESS, Sal is also working for the Toronto Police Service as part of the Youth in Policing Initiative. Sal’s strong passion for making a difference in her community has driven her to create her own non-profit organization called “Youth Gravity.” Sal strongly believes that we all have superheroes living within us and that everyone has the power to make a difference.

Viviane Oger

YATI Trainer

After many years as a front-line social worker, Viviane Oger has reinvented herself as a course designer and trainer. She is thrilled to combine her passion for adult/ youth education with her commitment to public health by working with YATI. Her areas of expertise include diversity, wellness, resilience and mental health. She is fully bilingual, and holds a Certificate in Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from York University. In her spare time, Viviane can be found outdoors, hiking, swimming, cycling and cross-country skiing.

Jeffrey Ross

Jeffrey Ross

YATI Trainer

Jeffrey Ross is a writer, activist, and educator who has joined YATI after teaching for 3 years in Northern and Fly-in communities in Ontario. He is a certified Ontario teacher, has worked with First Nation communities across Ontario in youth programming, and has written about First Nation issues in publications across Canada. Jeff is inspired to help youth and adults lead healthy and fulfilling lives free of addictions. He holds a B.A. in English and Native Studies from Laurentian and a B.Ed. from Lakehead. When he’s not working, he’s on the land, reading, or working on lifting heavy things (currently nearing a 500 lb deadlift). Miigwetch.

Linda Bui

YATI Trainer

Linda is currently a student in the International Development Studies co-op program at the University of Toronto focusing on policy, gender and health in development. She is passionate about grassroots youth-led advocacy and sustainable policy changes having worked with numerous organizations and projects at the regional, national and international levels. She volunteers with the Peel Public Health unit as member of the Peel Action Team for Health as well as its sub-committee, TobaccOUT Initiative Peel. Linda is very excited to join YATI as a Youth Engagement Support Staff this summer and hopes to be able to contribute to and learn from the team!

Monica Sarkar

YATI Trainer

Monica Sarkar has been a passionate advocate for tobacco control and youth engagement for over 11 years. She started as a youth advocate & Peer Leader with exposé in Ottawa for 6 years and then joined the Youth Advocacy Training Institute as a Training Convenor and Project Coordinator. Monica was part of the YATI Staff team for the last 5 years and is now part of the YATI team as a Trainer. Monica has a strong background in policy change and advocacy, program consultation & keynote speaking, youth engagement and emerging issues in tobacco control and is a perfect example of someone who is addicted to tobacco control.

Alyssa Higginson

YATI Trainer

Alyssa has a Masters degree in Health Sciences with a specialization in Community Health. She is passionate about promoting youth empowerment and engaging youth to become agents of change for the issues that most affect them. She is excited to be working with YATI to promote Tobacco awareness and Industry denormalization. In her spare time she loves running, reading, going to the movies and travelling. She is also a Health Promotion Specialist for the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Regional Cancer Program. She loves working with people to raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening through community engagement and health promotion strategies.

Mimosa Kabir

YATI Trainer

Mimosa is a fundraising profession working in special events and sponsorship. She completed the Fundraising Management postgraduate program at Humber College and an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Development Studies and History from Queen's University. She is currently working towards a MA in Communications from the University of Leicester. She is a bookworm, pop culture enthusiast, wannabe globetrotter and sometimes blogger. Her involvement in tobacco control and health promotion initiatives began in high school and her passion for change led to opportunities to work for the Region of Peel Health, Ministry of Health and of course, YATI. Mimosa strongly believes in empowering youth and the ability to create positive social change by working together.

Maryam Shahzad

YATI Trainer

Maryam Shahzad is in her third year at McMaster University, pursuing a Bachelor of Science with a major in Life Sciences and a double minor in Biology and Psychology. She actively volunteers in her community and is engaged in diverse roles with non-profit organizations and several campaigns. She is passionate about health promotion and has been involved with TobaccOUT Iniative Peel, a workgroup focusing on tobacco prevention and awareness through youth engagement. Maryam believes that empowering youth by providing them with an opportunity to express their voice and take on a leadership role can create great change!

Emily Butko

YATI Trainer

Emily has been involved in tobacco advocacy for the past 9 years. Emily is also the owner of a small business, Garden City Creative, where she works with organizations and businesses to develop graphics, videos, photography and content for the promotion of positive social and environmental change. She is passionate about community development and health, youth engagement and tobacco control. She enjoys playing guitar, traveling and camping, and hiking with her dogs.

Renata Faber

YATI Trainer

Renata started her career as a high school teacher and after 5 years decided she wanted to do something a little more out of the box. Since then Renata has worked at Niagara Region Public Health as a leader in youth engagement and works directly with the REACT Peer Leaders. Renata has a BSc, BEd, and MEd in Curriculum Studies all from Brock University, as well as a postgraduate certificate in Public Relations from Niagara College. Ren and her husband have 2 young boys who are fast, loud, gross, and her most favourite people in the entire world.

Heather McCully

YATI Trainer

Heather McCully always strives to work with young people as meaningful participants, valued leaders and equal partners. She holds an honours bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from McMaster University and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Waterloo. Heather has been in the Youth Engagement Coordinator role with the City of Hamilton Public Health Services since 2005. In addition, Heather's previous role as the Student Health Education Coordinator for McMaster University provides her with a solid foundation in a wide range of issues affecting youth and young adults. Her work has earned her the Week of the Child and Youth Award (2009), the McMaster Arch Award (2013), and PHE Canada's Dr. Andy Anderson Young Professional Award (2013).

Nathan Wilcox

Nathan Wilcox

YATI Trainer

Nathan has a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and comes to us with an extensive back ground in youth program development. Previous to working with YATI, Nathan has had experiences in youth centers, coaching and workshop facilitation. Nathan always brings his unique style and passion to everything he does and is excited to work with so many outstanding youth and youth champions.

Stephanie Talsma

YATI Trainer

Stephanie joined the YATI team in 2013. She is a passionate health educator and loves all things active. She has a background in Kinesiology and Education and completed her master’s in Physical and Health Education at McGill. Prior to joining YATI, Stephanie began her career teaching physical education and coaching youth sports in the arctic. Before leaving the North, she co-founded Proud Reunions, a leadership training and summer camp program for Inuit children and youth. Currently, Stephanie is a Program Manager at Physical and Health Education Canada - a national non-profit organization committed to supporting physical and health educators through quality programs and resources. When she’s not having fun at work, she’s enjoying the outdoors with her dog, Miku.

Vicki Poulios

Vicki Poulios

YATI Trainer

Vicki has over 15 years of experience in education, health promotion, and youth engagement.  She has been working with YATI since 2011 in multiple roles, and has also worked as a high school teacher, a student services manager, and as a manager of a tobacco control program.  She is passionate about partnering with young people to build healthier and more civically active communities. Vicki is currently the Senior Manager of Community and Youth Engagement at Kids Help Phone.   

Cara Kane

YATI Trainer

Cara has been connected with YATI on and off for years, as both a participant in the early years, to trainer. She’s been involved in tobacco prevention/control and youth engagement for over 10 years, and currently works as a counsellor for youth in the field of addictions and mental health. She is passionate about youth engagement and supporting young people in reaching their full and awesome potential. She enjoys the spending time outdoors, travelling, hiking with her dog and getting covered in cat hair.

Janika Francis

YATI Trainer

My name is Janika Francis and I live in Markham. I'm currently pursuing a Neuroscience Specialist Cooperative Program at the University of Toronto as I aspire to one day become a psychiatrist or a lawyer. After losing my aunt to breast cancer I became a Youth Ambassador and a media spokesperson for the Canadian Cancer Society in which I use my voice to empower my community to join the movement against cancer! My life motto is "Life isn't about how many breaths you take, its about the moments that take your breath away."

Kami Van Halst

YATI Trainer

Kami joins YATI from Alberta where she worked as a Social Media and Campaign Manager in conjunction with the Lung Association of Alberta and Evolvement. While working in Alberta, Kami executed two youth focused, tobacco free campaigns. In addition, Kami was on the advocacy board for the Youth Empowerment and Support Services and worked as a youth worker, and community advocate, for five years. Kami is passionate about working with youth and enjoys helping them to achieve their advocate goals so they can create positive social change in their communities. Kami graduated from the University of Alberta in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Music. When she’s not mobilizing youth for positive health initiatives she is advocating for positive social change through her original music.

Rachel Brown

YATI Trainer

Rachel has her BAH in political science and history from Queen’s University and is currently pursuing a post-graduate certificate in Human Resources Management from Humber College. She sits on the board for the Human Resources Professional Association (Toronto-West Chapter) and volunteers at various professional events at Humber. Rachel first worked with YATI as a volunteer, which eventually blossomed into her being hired as a Youth Trainer. Empowering youth with the skills and knowledge to effectively advocate for important causes has proved to be one of the most rewarding parts of the job. Rachel is passionate about healthy, active living, and loves to share this will like-minded individuals. This will be her fourth year as a youth trainer and she cannot wait to see what’s in store!

Conor Leggott

YATI Trainer

Conor works with Students on Ice, an organization that sends youth on educational expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. This continues work from his degree in Sociology-Anthropology from the University of Prince Edward Island and working with youth experiential education workshops, camps and exchanges. Conor enjoys filmmaking and editing, and his camera has led him to canoe Prince Edward Island rivers, curious piglets on a heritage pig farm and charcuterie in Sweden, reindeer races above the Arctic circle in Swedish Sapmi, and pagan rituals in Lithuania, and Thai food cooking shows in Ottawa. He can usually be found reading or cooking, fermenting, drying, curing, and smoking all kinds of food.

Cassidy Traver

YATI Trainer

Cassidy has been involved with youth advocacy and anti-tobacco industry campaigns for over 7 years. He started early on in high school working for the Niagara public health youth action group REACT, since then he has been part of the ever legendary exposé crew out of Ottawa public health, and also graduated with a BA in Law from Carleton University. He currently works for the Niagara Parks Police service, serving the millions of visitors each year. He always brings enthusiasm, experience, and a little bit of humour to every training! He also recently hosted the 2014 'Denormees' with Monica Sarkar sporting a stylish dragon suit!

Katherine McGregor

YATI Trainer

Katherine was first introduced to YATI three years ago and has been hooked by their passion and enthusiasm for promoting healthy communities ever since. Katherine has worked in youth programming for over six years, including serving as Board Member for Youth Ottawa and Chair of the Spirit of the Capital Youth Awards. Outside of YATI, Katherine works for a Canadian NGO to promote sustainable economic development through trade promotion. An avid traveler, Katherine has lived and worked in Nepal and Senegal, where she supported local organizations for human rights and disarmament. She holds an Honours Bachelor’s degree in International Development from the University of Ottawa.

Michelle Lau

YATI Trainer

Michelle E. Lau is a Medical Science student at the University of Western Ontario. Prior to joining YATI as a Young-Adult Trainer, she was a volunteer of the Central East Youth Take Action (the regional youth coalition of Smoke Free Ontario). She is extremely passionate about educating youth to make healthy lifestyle choices and helping to promote a smoke-free world. Michelle takes on various volunteering positions at school and in hospitals. She loves yoga and running, and she coaches gymnastics in the summer!

Miranda Nicole Eveland

YATI Trainer

Miranda spent her time at high school focused on working for her local Youth Action Alliance, Rebels With A Cause. After completing her post secondary education at Western University, holding a B.A. in Media, Information and Technoculture, Miranda aimed to continue her work within tobacco denormalization while spending as much time as possible with her friends, family and pet turtle, Squirt.

Jillian Denniston

YATI Trainer

Jillian has a degree in Psychology and a Diploma in Workplace Wellness and Health Promotion. She is passionate about promoting healthy lifestyles and behaviours, and enjoys helping others achieve their health and wellness goals. She has worked with Parachute, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives among young people. Currently she works as a Health, Safety and Wellness Coordinator in Muskoka. Jillian enjoys spending time outdoors, especially on the water. She loves working with youth, and empowering them to take action and create change!

Sarah Hutchison

YATI Trainer

Sarah first fell in love with Health Promotion 13 years ago while doing her degree in Kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario. She has worked in promoting and advocating for health in various forms since then. She spent 6 years working for Public Health within Tobacco Control the Youth Action Alliances and another year working for Smoker's Helpline. She loves facilitating, presenting and teaching, and loves when people have 'aha' moments. After having twins in 2011, Sarah became a perinatal practitioner and is an advocate for physiological birth and breastfeeding. Sarah and her family live in London where she loves to spend most of her time with her 3 boys, climbing, playing and discovering. Sarah loves to makes time for self care by doing Crossfit, doing anything in the sun and travelling!

Michelle Hyland

YATI Trainer

Although she is mistaken for Celine Dion on a daily basis, Michelle Hyland does not live in Las Vegas where she sings and dances in a nightly show at Caesar's Palace. However, she does have over 15 years of teaching and facilitation experience. Michelle completed the Concurrent Education program at Queen's University obtaining a Bachelors degree in Math and Geography and a Bachelor of Education. After teaching at a high school in Toronto for nearly 5 years, Michelle worked as a staff at YATI and then moved to NYC where she joined a global health non-profit as the Director of Curriculum Development. She currently lives in Toronto and continues to work from home, supporting advocacy and youth-led projects across all areas of public health all over the world. Michelle is a wannabe athlete, lover of books, and mother to her Frozen obsessed daughters, Grace and Kate.

Phil Jansson

YATI Trainer

Phil has been working in tobacco prevention and anti-industry advocacy for the last 8 years. During that time he has worked with youth and adults in developing and sustaining campaigns and programs that empower youth to take action against Big Tobacco. Phil is a graduate of the University of Ottawa studying Political Science and Public Administration. He has learned to use his education for good, not evil, and help teach youth and adults more about the political process and how it can apply to grassroots advocacy. He is stoked be a part of the YATI team!

Dakota Warkentin

YATI Trainer

I am currently working on my Bachelors of Physician Assistant with the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and have my Honours Bachelor of Science in Biology from Lakehead University. I have been involved with tobacco prevention and cessation for many years through the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and a university program called Leave the Pack Behind. I have a passion for health promotion and know the importance of empowering others. Being able to empower youth to make a difference in areas they are passionate about is truly rewarding. In my spare time I enjoy being active, figure skating, reading, and spending time with my family, friends, and my cat.

Akehil Johnson

Akehil Johnson

YATI Trainer

Akehil Darius Johnson is a 19 year old student at the University of Ottawa studying Canadian History and Political Science. He began his fight against Big Tobacco in 2011, through volunteering at Unfiltered Facts Hamilton. It was with UFF that Akehil became passionate about Youth Engagement and Tobacco Indutry Denormalization. Akehil has had some magnificient experiences, amazing opportunities and life long connections thanks to his passion in advocacy. Most recently, Akehil went to New York City with 3 other UFFer's to advocate alongside the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids against Phillip Morris International's "Be Marlboro" campaign. Akehil's love of this new found passion is the reason why he became a YATI facilitator. He couldn't be happier to be apart of a fantastic team where people are just as passionate about bringing down the industry as he. Akehil hopes to graduate school and work for the Public Health Agency of Canada as a Health Promotion Specialist, with his longterm goal of being the Prime Minister of Canada.

Katelyn Burt

Katelyn Burt

YATI Trainer

Hello everyone! My name is Katelyn, I am 24 years old and I currently attend Ryerson University as a Bachelor of Occupational and Public Health Student. The end goal of this program is to work in health prevention as a health inspector. Although, prevention when it comes to tobacco use is also a great passion of mine! I have a degree from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Health Sciences and almost all of my previous experience in public health is in the area of tobacco. It started in 2012 when I volunteered for the Central East Tobacco Control Area Network as part of their youth coalition. While there I attended many YATI trainings that assisted my team and I in delivering various campaigns including Freeze the Industry, Know What’s In Your Mouth and Bad Ways to Be Nice. During the summer of 2015 I worked for the Central East TCAN as a summer student and worked on developing our smoke free movies campaign and continuing work on Bad Ways to Be Nice, as well as, providing a training developed by my partner and I to the youth of the central east region. Throughout my university career at UOIT I worked for Leave the Pack Behind, helping to provide tobacco cessation to my peers. I am very excited to expand my experience in tobacco with YATI!

Jamie Lee Arseneau

Jamie Lee Arseneau

YATI Trainer

Jamie Lee Arseneau has an Honours Bachelor of History and English and a decade’s worth of professional experience in health promotion. Jamie Lee works full time as a Community Engagement Coordinator for a non-profit organization serving youth. Passionate about youth engagement, facilitation, program development, volunteer coordination, and community outreach, Jamie Lee loves working for YATI as well, and applying these skills in a creative and engaging manner!

Fayyaz Samji

Fayyaz Samji

YATI Trainer

Fayyaz is a passionate youth advocate and health educator. He began his career teaching children in public schools about healthy eating and physical education. He has also worked with homeless, LGBTQ, disabled and other at-risk youth to help them find jobs in their communities. Fayyaz holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Waterloo (biology major) and a Master’s of Public Health degree from the University of Liverpool. During his studies, Fayyaz partnered with the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (OTRU) to explore e-cigarettes and their effectiveness in helping adults in Ontario to quit smoking. His work led him to receive the Dissertation of the Year Award from the University of Liverpool (2016). Presently, Fayyaz is the Manager of Quality Assurance at 360°Kids, a non-profit organization in York Region that helps isolated and vulnerable children, youth and families to overcome adversity and crisis and to move to a state of safety, stability and well-being. When he’s not combatting youth homelessness, he’s often seen playing soccer, boxing or travelling the world. Fayyaz is excited to be a part of the YATI team!

Nakita Coquim

Nakita Coquim

YATI Trainer

Nakita began working to create positive change within her community as a member of the Unfiltered Facts team, advocating for tobacco use prevention and after several years as a member and current alumni, she joined the YATI team. As the 2012-2013 Women’s Issues Network Coordinator for the University Students’ Council at Western University she gained tremendous experience advocating for social justice issues and has been able to integrate the skills and knowledge she gained in other educational engagements . She is highly knowledgeable about and confident in the use of digital media platforms for enhancing advocacy efforts/key messages and loves to use them to engage others in the conversation! Nakita seeks to combine her passion for digital media and communications, with her desire to create positive social change and is looking to pursue a career in Brand Communications/ Public Relations or Corporate Social Responsibility. On most days Nakita can be found in a social conscious coffee shop, drinking tea and talking about how cute passing animals are. The easiest way to get Nakita’s attention is to talk to her about shark conservation.

Garret Keown

Garret Keown

YATI Trainer

Garret is currently working as a community engagement facilitator and trainer at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre and is a part of the Health Kids Community Challenge, Danforth East York team. His background is in education, youth work, community development, and youth facilitation. He has worked with a number of different non-profits in the GTA, across Ontario, and around the world. His passion is working with young people, facilitating group discussions, and building community.

Simran Sharma

Simran Sharma

YATI Trainer

Simran is currently studying at Health Sciences at McMaster University. Since high school, she has been avidly involved with public health programs in Hamilton and the Niagara Region, including REACT, Unfiltered Facts, and as a cofounder of the Unfiltered Facts McMaster chapter. Simran is passionate about engaging likeminded youth in advocacy and leadership activities, and enjoys working with youth to make a difference in issues that are important to them. Her interests include travelling, swimming, playing the guitar, and meeting new people!

Gabrielle Gravelle

YATI Trainer

Gabrielle has a passion for health promotion, advocacy, youth engagement and tobacco control. With her Go with the Flow attitude, this member of the YATI team has earned a degree in Health and Physical Education (en français) from Laurentian University. She’s currently continuing her education at Nipissing University and striving to become and Occupational Therapist. Gabby became involved with YATI after she participated in one of our Health Promotion workshops! She’s an avid outdoorswomen, loves to go fishing, kayaking and playing volleyball. Gabrielle always looks forward to meeting new people and committed to making a positive change in her community.  

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YATI

The Youth Advocacy Training Institute (YATI) is a program of The Lung Association. YATI supports youth and youth-serving organizations in Ontario.

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