Subject Matter Experts​

Subject Matter Experts

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While participating in the project, you will find the subject matter experts (SMEs) to be an important resource to help further your learning. They have extensive experience working with immigrant and refugee clients and are experts from the settlement, social or health service sectors. Do you have a question about immigrant and refugee mental health? Connect with the SMEs through the course or community of practice discussion forum. Learn more about the SMEs below.

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Dr. Ghayda Hassan

Dr. Ghayda Hassan is a clinical psychologist and professor of clinical psychology at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). She has several research, clinical and community-based national and international affiliations. She is a researcher in the SHERPA team of the CIUSSS Center-West of the island of Montreal. Her systematic reviews, research and clinical activities are centred around the four main areas of clinical cultural psychology: 1) social suffering, intercommunity relations and violent extremism; 2) intervention in family violence & cultural diversity; 3) identity, belonging and the mental health of children and adolescents from ethnic/religious minorities; and 4) working with vulnerable immigrants and refugees. She is currently co-leading the research, training and prevention/intervention activities of the FRQSC -funded RAPS team (SHERPA sub-team for Research and Action on Radicalization and Social Suffering). Her clinical and research activities focus on the interplay of culture, identity, mental health and violence among specific studied groups. Often what determines work with a given group stems from the social realties at hand and particularly, the needs of the clinical and community milieux with whom she works closely.

Dr. Clare Pain

Clare Pain is an associate professor at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto; director of the Psychological Trauma Program at Mount Sinai Hospital; consultant at the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT); co-project director of the Toronto Addis Ababa Psychiatry Project (TAAPP); and coordinator of the University of Toronto-Addis Ababa Collaboration Program (TAAAC). She received an honorary PhD from Addis Ababa University in 2014, for her work in mental health.

Dr. Pain's clinical focus is on the assessment and treatment of patients, including refugees, who continue to suffer from the effects of psychological trauma. She has lectured and taught on various aspects of psychological trauma including trans-cultural aspects and global mental health. She has published a number of articles including two books: Trauma and the Body: a Sensorimotor Approach to Psychotherapy with Pat Ogden and Kekuni Minton (Norton 2006); and The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease: The Hidden Epidemic, an edited book with Eric Vermetten and Ruth Lanius (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

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Vince Pietropaolo

Vince Pietropaolo is the general manager of COSTI Family and Mental Health Services. In his current position he works with ethnocultural communities in program design, development and implementation in the areas of mental health, domestic violence and problem gambling. Vince currently sits on the York Region Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee, the CAMH Problem Gambling Advisory Committee and the Ontario Resource Group on Gambling, Ethnicity and Culture and the North York Specialized Courts Advisory Committee.

Vince has presented on the issue of domestic violence, men's violence and problem gambling at conferences in the United States and Canada. He has guest lectured at York University and Ryerson University.

Dr. Debra Stein

Dr. Debra Stein is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health, where she co-leads the Migration Consultation Team, a teaching unit with expertise in issues of resettlement and acculturation. Dr. Stein has over 15 years of experience working alongside settlement counsellors at the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, providing consultation and treatment to clients of all ages, with an emphasis on children, youth and families. She has lectured on various aspects of refugee mental health, including skills-based workshops for front-line workers, psychological trauma and parent-child attachment and the special needs of refugee youth.

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Bonnie Wong

Bonnie Wong is the Executive Director of Hong Fook Mental Health Association since 2009. Hong Fook is an ethno-cultural mental health service agency in the Greater Toronto Area dedicated to improving the lives of Asians and other Communities. Its vision is to champion Culturally Competent Care. Bonnie always strives for collaborative work through inter-professional teams and embraces a whole person and empowerment framework for client-centered care. In 2013, she established Hong Fook Connecting Health Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic to provide integrated health care.

Bonnie holds a Masters of Social Work Degree from the University of Toronto and served on many community boards and committees. In 2014, she was a board member of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. From 2015 to 2017 Bonnie represented the Central East Local Health Integrated Network (CE LHIN) on the CE LHIN Mental Health and Addictions Coordinating Council. Recently, she is an appointed member at the Scarborough North Health Planning Table. In 2016, she was appointed to be the member of the Workplace Mental Health Champion Council, Civic Action. In 2018, Bonnie was awarded the Canada 150 Medal.

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Sangeeta Subramanian

Sangeeta has over 20 years of professional experience in the not-for-profit sector in Canada and Asia in the areas of strategic planning, equity and inclusion, facilitation, partnership development, leadership development and civic engagement.

She is currently the Lead Consultant with The Inclusion Project, a collaborative network working on issues of gender, race and reconciliation, and youth engagement. She is also the founder of Chetna Consulting, a boutique firm the focuses on systems approach to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the public and private sector. Prior to this, she has held senior leadership roles with the Immigrant Employment Council of BC, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, The Maytree Foundation, South Asian Women’s Centre and Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

Sangeeta completed her post-graduate studies in Management from the Indian Institute of Management and a program in Non-Profit Management and Leadership from Schulich School of Business York University. She also is a certified trainer on Inter-Cultural Communication, and has extensive training and experience in facilitation.


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Vanessa Wright

Vanessa Wright is a nurse practitioner at the Women's College Hospital's Crossroads Refugee Health Clinic. She and her team provide comprehensive medical services to newly-arrived refugee clients for their first two years in Toronto. She has also worked in a number of community health centres in Toronto and provided primary health care and emergency nursing care in medically under-serviced First Nation communities in Northern Ontario. Vanessa worked as an emergency nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital from 2007-2012, and as a result became the nursing lead for the Toronto Addis Ababa Academic Collaboration Emergency Medicine Team, where she supports the educational partnership between Addis Ababa University and the University of Toronto, as well supporting emergency medicine development in Ethiopia and the concept of emergency nursing.

Her other professional experiences include working as a field nurse for Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan, Zambia, and India. She also volunteers for the Health Bus at Sherbourne Health Centre and serves as a public speaker for OXFAM and an association member for Doctors Without Borders.