Together Project
About Us

Our Vision

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A shared sense of belonging.

Founded in 2016, Together Project started in Toronto in response to the large number of newcomer arrivals from Syria. Today, Together Project matches volunteers with refugee newcomers from over 25 different countries for social and integration support. Together Project is a charitable initiative on the MakeWay shared platform.

Our Team

Staff

Co-Director
Anna Hill— Co-Director

Anna is Together Project’s Co-Founder and Co-Director, Management Lead. With her expertise in strategy, partnerships, resource development, governance and communications, Anna focuses on scaling out the Welcome Group Program. Working closely with her Co-Director, Anna has helped refine the program to better serve government-assisted refugees, CUAET Ukrainian Arrivals and refugee claimants. Post pandemic, Anna has supported the development of a new model of hybrid social support that includes both online and in-person volunteer engagement.

Co-Director
Andrew Lusztyk— Co-Director

Andrew is the programs lead and co-founder of Together Project. Prior to moving to Toronto, Andrew spent six years designing, implementing, and assessing community development initiatives across three continents. Since co-founding Together Project, he has been developing and directing its flagship Welcome Group Program, as well as working to measure and improve the initiative’s impact.

Volunteer Coordinator
Ahmed Barbour— Volunteer Coordinator

Ahmed is the Volunteer Coordinator at Together Project, but before he became an official part of the team, he successfully completed two matches as a Welcome Group volunteer. With his professional background in business development and operations and his personal background as a refugee and newcomer, Ahmed has the compassion and vision to help the Together Project team manage multiple relationships with volunteers, refugees, and stakeholders. His past work is full of successful collaborations with global names in technology, and he brings his expertise to expand the reach and operations of Together Project.

Communications Coordinator
Jennilee Austria— Communications Coordinator

Jennilee is the Communications Coordinator of Together Project. She has worked with newcomers as a school settlement worker, journalist, community advocate, school board researcher, and federal public servant. She has an MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies, a BA in International Studies, and a post-graduate certificate from the Humber School for Writers. She is the author of Reuniting with Strangers— a novel about caregiver family reunification across the Filipino-Canadian diaspora. Jennilee believes in the power of stories to increase civic engagement, to shine a spotlight on community initiatives, and to capture moments of joy.

Match Coordinator
Nasima Omari Sayar— Match Coordinator

As Match Coordinator, Nasima will be supporting Welcome Groups matched with Afghan newcomers. She founded the Women’s Capacity Building and Development Organization– an organization which is still active in Afghanistan today. After completing her MA in Sustainable Development Practices from TERI School of Advanced Studies, India, she joined Cordaid International in 2015, where she worked until 2021. In Afghanistan, Nasima worked with many programs focused on inclusive governance, justice and women’s security. She was also the lead of “Creating Access for Inclusive Peace Processes in Afghanistan”– a project funded by Global Affairs Canada.

Steering Committee

Leith Bishop, Chair

Leith Bishop is a former executive in the not-for-profit sector in Toronto. She has expertise in strategic operations and organizational design. Her professional specialty is around issues of inclusion and belonging. Together Project’s commitment to a new model of connecting newcomers and volunteers to accelerate integration attracted Leith to the organization right from its early days. She was invited to join the Steering Committee in September 2019, and to become Steering Committee Chair in January 2021.

Farah Kurji

Farah Kurji is Senior Manager, Strategy & Planning, Canadian Personal Banking at TD Bank Group, where she works collaboratively to drive transformation across TD’s retail business. She joined TD in 2017 as part of the launch of the TD Ready Commitment, which links the bank’s business, philanthropy and human capital to create social and environmental impact. Prior to TD, Farah worked with Hill+Knowlton Strategies in New York, advising organizations on how to embed and drive social impact. Farah’s time working with Roshan, an Afghanistan-based social enterprise, was a formative experience, teaching her how to build partnerships and bring teams together in the face of ambiguity. Her family’s first-hand experience with settlement and community volunteering, as well as her own experiences working in post-conflict and emerging contexts have fueled her interest in supporting newcomer communities in Canada. As a lifelong volunteer, Farah has worked with several non-profit organizations, including the LEADER Project, the First Micro-Finance Bank, the GSMA’s mWomen programme, FOCUS Humanitarian Agency and the Aga Khan Council for Canada. Farah holds an MBA from the Ivey Business School.

Hanen Nanaa

Hanen Nanaa is one of Canada’s youngest social entrepreneurs. As a war survivor and Syrian refugee who settled in Toronto in 2016, Nanaa established the Books Art Music (BAM) Collective, a community hub empowering youth and equity-deserving people through policy, art, innovation, and community engagement. Her commitment to social innovation led BAM Collective to be a finalist for the 2021 Toronto Arts for Youth Award. Nanaa’s career is dedicated to bridging gender gaps and amplifying political impact for youth and women. Currently a regional advisor for the Minister’s Regional Office – Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, she has also served as a regional advisor for the caucus at the House of Commons. Nanaa’s influence extends internationally, co-founding a study on forced marriages in displaced Syrian communities, which she presented at the 66th Commission on the Status of Women’s NGO forum in New York. Nanaa is a founding member of Waard Ward Collective– a social enterprise that builds community gardens and encourages newcomer interest in floristry and entrepreneurship. She graduated from the International School of Forced Migration and Refugee Studies at Oxford University and from Toronto Metropolitan University, where she studied politics and governance with a minor in law. Nanaa has received the Pam McConnell Award for Young Women in Leadership, the Alterna Prize for Women’s Social Leaders, was named the 2019 UN Women – Woman of the Year at University of Toronto, and was featured on CBC’s The Dream Team in 2021. In 2023, she was named one of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awardees, and received the prestigious youth award for her exceptional accomplishments.

Kate Bate

Kate’s experience as a volunteer with Syrian newcomers to Toronto resulted in an awareness of an important opportunity for civil society to play a meaningful role in the settlement and integration of Government-Assisted Refugees. This led her to co-found Together Project as an initiative where volunteers could have impact on the most vulnerable of newcomers by complementing the work of community agencies. In return, people would benefit from new learnings and greater cultural understanding. She is a serial entrepreneur, having launched and managed three related post-production companies over the last 20+ years. She is currently Partner and COO at Tendril Studio, a design and animation company based in Toronto and Sao Paulo. She has held board positions with Rethink Breast Cancer and a handful of media industry associations.

Mohammed Ahmed

As a former refugee, Mohammed was among the Ethiopian-Canadian leaders who opened Canada’s first dedicated Harari heritage and community space in what is now the Harari Heritage Centre. He has been a Welcome Group volunteer since 2016, making him one of Together Project’s longest-serving volunteers. As someone who has been helping to deliver and improve the Welcome Group Program over many years, Mohammed is bringing an array of volunteer expertise, community leadership, and a global vision for Together Project.

Patrick Marshall

Patrick’s experience with newcomers began in 2017 with a private sponsorship group. Seeing the opportunity for community volunteers to support government-assisted refugees (GARs), he began spending time with newly arrived Syrian families in Toronto, assisting with housing, driver’s licenses, resumes, and job applications. The impact of this experience led him to join a group of other volunteers to co-found Together Project. Patrick’s early career was spent fundraising for NGOs in Canada, Guyana, Ecuador, and India. He is a board member and advisor to non-profits working in youth civic engagement, addiction, education, and newcomer settlement. He is a past director of Serve Canada and Pine River Institute and currently serves as a trustee of Lakefield College School. Patrick is President of Adrem Brands, a natural products company, and Managing Director of VRG Capital.

Shadi Shami

Shadi joined Together Project’s Steering Committee due to the increasing need of refugees and newcomers to integrate in society and get the necessary support. Shadi brings a wide range of expertise in education, training and professional development, meaningful community engagement, volunteer management and events planning; in addition to his experience in settlement and supporting refugees and newcomers through counselling and mediation.

Vanessa Redditt

Vanessa is a family physician at the Crossroads Clinic, a specialized primary care clinic for newly arrived refugees at Women’s College Hospital. She is also a lecturer at the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Her research and teaching focuses on the health of refugee newcomers, with an aim of improving health systems and social supports responsive to their needs.

Founders

Co-Director
Anna Hill
Co-Director
Andrew Lusztyk
Kate Bate
Patrick Marshall
Craig Damian Smith

Advisors

Manisha Burman
Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh
Samantha Mehra
Lindsay Oughtred
Lisa Wyndels

Supporters & Partners

Together Project is grateful for the support of the following founding donors, funding partners and program partners.

Current Funding Partners

Past Funding Partners

Current Program Partners

Past Program Partners

Founding Donors

Amanda Rosenthal Talent Agency
Anna Hill & Jim Creeggan
Beverly Bate
Diane Hill & Kevin Somerville
Frontier
Omar Khan
Patrick Marshall & Kate Bate
Peter Lusztyk
Quidnet Inc.
Studio Blackwell
Tendril Studios
Wayne Perry

Press

Policies

Privacy Policy

Volunteer Letter of Understanding

Together Project is a charitable initiative of MakeWay. For more information about MakeWay’s policies, please click here.

Contact Us

Centre for Social Innovation, 720 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON, M5S 2R4