Together Project
About Us
Photo: Lisa Kannako

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 the management lead and co-founder of Together Project with a focus on communications, innovation, and community programs including the Welcome Groups for Refugee Claimants pilot program. With her co-director, Anna has helped develop Together Project’s emergent response to the pandemic, including new models of remote and blended (in-person and remote) social support for refugee newcomers.

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 been featured on CBC Metro Morning and shortlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize. With her background in writing, Jennilee believes in the power of stories to increase civic engagement, to shine a spotlight on community initiatives, and to capture moments of joy.

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.

Hanen Nanaa

Hanen Nanaa is a war survivor and Syrian refugee who has been a community advocate in many ways: as a social entrepreneur and founder of BAM (Books Art Music Collective); a Regional Advisor at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; an Ontario caucus advisor at the Liberal Research Bureau in the House of Commons, co-founder of the Starter Kit, a project to help newcomers with barriers to post-secondary education, and more. Hanen led XU Votes (formally known as Ryerson Votes)– a campus-wide, non-partisan voter engagement campaign that increased on-campus voter turnout by 55% in the 2019 Federal Election. She has also worked for Elections Canada as a community relations officer, and hosted the first-ever Toronto Centre Candidates Debate. Hanen is passionate about bridging gender gaps and increasing women’s political power. She has been featured on CBC’s “The Dream Team” and has worked for United Nations High Commission for Refugees and non-profits including the Syrian Canadian Foundation, International Blue Crescent, and WelcomeHomeTO.

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

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.

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