Board Member2021-11-28T15:13:06-05:00

Concerned Friends Board of Directors

Laurie Nicol – President – Communications Committee Chair
Laurie is a Certified Association Executive with over 35 years’ leadership experience in the non-profit sector. Founded upon her personal experience with parents struggling for dignity and adequate levels of care in a long-term care facility she decided to channel her passion for advocacy to support an organization that is addressing the need for improving conditions in long-term care homes.

 Miranda Priestman – Past President
Miranda is a Registered Nurse. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and Bachelor of Science nursing degree from the University of Toronto with a specialization in neuroscience from George Brown College. After working with residents and having family members in long term care she became interested in helping to advocate for the elderly and contribute positive systemic change.

 Mary Kate Saragosa – Vice President – Policy and Advocacy Committee Chair
Mary Kate has been inspired to take action in the health and long-term care sector both personally and professionally through experiences with her family and throughout her career.  Research opportunities in collaboration with health care organizations led to an M.Sc. degree in Rural Planning and Development at the University of Guelph.  Mary Kate held executive roles as a strategic and operational leader in quality and risk management, within the home and long-term care sectors.  An inclusive and collaborative leader, she also held management roles within the regulatory and advocacy industries, representing stakeholder interests towards the improvement of public policy for better outcomes.

Alnur Kassim-Lakha – Treasurer – Governance and Finance Committee Chair
Alnur is a real estate private equity investor. He attended New York University’s Stern School of Business for his undergraduate degree, where he majored in finance and accounting, with a concentration in real estate. Alnur has a passion for service and has extensive experience in the non-for-profit sector and is spearheading Concerned Friends’ youth engagement initiatives.

 Kathleen Knowlton-Krueger – Secretary – Membership Committee Chair
Kathy is a graduate CCW from Humber College with an extensive career in Social Services, where she was an advocate for children and their families, private counselor and Community College teacher. She is currently the Administrator for the Community Services Bureau of a Police Service. Her advocacy skills were of benefit when caring for her own parents over a period of twenty years. Throughout this journey, Kathy experienced, firsthand, the many stumbling blocks, inadequacies in care and gaps in services for the elderly.  Her passion for preserving the dignity and overall, well being of the vulnerable population brought her to Concerned Friends.

Shelley R. Birenbaum
Shelley is President and Counsel at Shelley R. Birenbaum Professional Corporation, a firm dedicated exclusively to health and privacy law. She has worked with hospitals, community mental health centres, Government ministries and regulated health professionals. Shelley was formerly counsel to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and worked in the Health Law Department of two Bay Street firms.  Shelley has a Master of Social Work and practised as a social worker before attending law school. She obtained her Master of Bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. She is an active volunteer with Dying with Dignity Canada and the Luke Sklar Mental Health Initiative of Holy Blossom Temple.

Kristle Calisto-Tavares
Kristle’s interest and passion in seniors’ care began as a teenager volunteering in a local hospice in her hometown. More recently, a family member’s personal experience in long term care opened her eyes to the shortcomings and giant gaps in the system. Through her social-purpose business, Kristle works with organizations and enterprises toward collaborative changemaking. She is passionate about the advocacy work Concerned Friends is engaged in and eager to lend her two decades’ worth of skills in the citizen sector toward building a movement that uplifts the standard of care and quality of life for all seniors living in long term care.

Sharon Filger
Sharon has a Master’s Degree in Social Work (Community Development) and more than 40 years’ experience working in the not- for- profit service sector. She held various direct service and senior management positions including, most recently, as the Executive Director of The Macaulay Child Development Centre, a multi-service child and family support charity in Toronto. She has led various inter-agency and community planning groups; served on the Board of Directors of local and provincial associations; and contributed to government policy through participation on various provincial and municipal Task Forces and Advisory Groups. She has co-authored/edited several Professional Manuals.

Richard H. Irving
Rick recently retired after 35 years as a tenured Professor at the Schulich School of Business, York University. Rick has published numerous articles and books. Don’t Leave I.T. to the Geeks addressed IT strategic Planning in Long Term care. He also produced several reports on IT use in Canadian Hospitals and healthcare institutions. Rick was a contributing Editor for Canadian Healthcare Technology and wrote a regular column on Healthcare and IT from 2000 to 2014 when he retired from that position. He is a past president and ex member of the board of HIMSS Ontario a non- profit Association for IT Healthcare Professionals.

Valerie Luttrell
With training in Social Work, Gerontology, and Dementia, Valerie has worked with seniors in long-term care as a volunteer, as a Lifestyle Director and as a caring family member. She initiated a local group in Newmarket, Ontario, to encourage community members to help residents, LTC’s and Seniors at large. She has brought her passion to Concerned Friends with the hope of making a difference.