Policy & Advocacy Committee2021-08-12T13:19:33-04:00

Concerned Friends Policy and Advocacy Committee Members

Mary Kate Saragosa – 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.

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.

David Clements
David honed his negotiation and advocacy skills as owner/broker of a successful General Insurance Brokerage. Following that he had lots of opportunity, as a pastor in a rural Ontario pastoral charge and later Senior Pastor in a larger town church to experience the care and conditions in several different LTC facilities advocating for clients in those settings. He gained a great respect for caregivers in those settings but also some insight into problems and shortcomings which continue to exist in the care of some of our most vulnerable people.

Lesley Donald
Following a 35-year career with the federal and provincial governments, primarily in the justice and social service sectors, Lesley retired from full-time employment in 2015.  Personal experience led her to become an advocate for improved conditions in long-term care.  She has a particular interest in integrating into the care model the diverse skills that family members can bring.  Lesley’s background includes policy analysis and program development, courts administration, and alternative dispute resolution.  She holds an honours degree in French Translation from Queen’s University, and she was accredited by the Ontario Association for Family Mediation in 2016.

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.