Our mission

Laidlaw Foundation supports young people impacted by the justice, education, and child-welfare systems to become healthy and engaged by investing in innovative ideas, convening interested parties, advocating for systems change, and sharing learning across the sector.

Our vision

A society in which all young people have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

Our Values

Engagement & Empowerment. We commit to engaging and empowering young people in decision-making and governance.

Responsive. We consult, engage, and work with youth on issues that matter to them, from idea to implementation.

Equity. We embed equity in all of our policies, practices, processes, and interactions.

Reconciliation. Our commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada is reflected in our operations, granting, and investment portfolios.

Accountability. We are accountable to our grantees, our Foundation, and the larger communities of which we are a member.

2019-2024 Strategic Plan

Following a year-long process, the Laidlaw Foundation’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan was approved in March 2019. The five-year plan will focus our efforts on youth who are adversely impacted by, underserved and overrepresented in the justice, education and care systems.

The plan includes three clear strategic goals:

Elevate the priorities and voices of youth with lived experiences in the justice, education and child welfare systems

Promote equitable and accountable institutions and systems

Advocate for evidence-based policy

Click here to learn more about the Laidlaw Foundations 2019-2024 Strategic Plan.




virtual timeline


Board of Directors

Rebecca was a Senior Policy Advisor at Ministry of Children and Youth Services, Responsible for Anti-Racism. She is a policy professional and trained social worker with extensive experience in all aspects of community development from frontline service delivery to management roles. Prior to joining the government, Rebecca was the Community and Knowledge Catalyst at the Counselling Foundation of Canada. She currently serves as an Advisor to the Foundation for the Youth Direct Action Fund. Rebecca has been recognized for her success and accomplishments by many awards including the Canadian Millennium Excellence Award Year 2005-2009 and the Calgary Herald Class Act 2005.

Rebecca Darwent

Tara Farahani is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary professional, with expertise in social research, and communications. With close to a decade of experience in the social sector, Tara operates from a critical socio-political perspective to understand systems, and the people that navigate within them. She has researched, written and advocated on issues relating to race, gender-based violence, cyber sexual violence, youth, mental health, disabilities and LGBTQ communities. She is also Co-Founder of not for you. zine featuring written and visual works of BIPOC women and non-binary peoples.

Tara Farahani

Paul is the National Director of Estate and Trust Services at the Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company. He has a B.Com degree and over 25 years experience in the Estate and Trust industry, beginning his career with National Trust Company. Paul is a member of the Society of Estate & Trust Practitioners (“STEP”) and has been a member of the Toronto Estate Planning Council. He has participated in presentations for STEP and the Law Society of Upper Canada, Estates and Trust Summit, and contributes on a regular basis to the All About Estates blog. Paul’s community engagement includes Directorships on a number of Charitable Foundations, including the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation and the Agora Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropist journal.

Paul Fensom

Cameron is a Low Energy Building consultant for Peel Passive House Consulting. He graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Commerce, Real Estate, and Housing and holds a Master’s degree in Building Science from Ryerson University. Cameron is a great-grand son of Mr. Robert A. Laidlaw.



Cameron Laidlaw

Jamie Laidlaw is the oldest son of Dr. Nick Laidlaw, who is the oldest son of the Foundation Founder Robert A. Laidlaw. In 1974, he and cousins Bob and Lynn were invited to become engaged in the Foundation. They started off participating in a new Committee that became known as the Family Committee under the skilful direction of Miss Marie-Claire Thomas MSW.


Jamie Laidlaw

Bob Smith, President

Bob is the Senior Living Member of the Laidlaw Family and has 20+ years of past service as a Board Member of the Laidlaw Foundation.  He is a retired entrepreneur and business owner.  Bob has extensive community involvement and volunteer experience.  He served as a Board Member, President and Member of the Executive Committee of Central Neighbourhood House, now known as the Neighbourhood Group.  In addition, Bob was a Board Member, one of two Vice Presidents and a Member of the Executive Committee of Family Service Toronto.  Bob has also served on the Boards of the Canadian Camping Association and the Ontario Camps Association and is a Fellow and past Board Member and Treasurer of the Society of Camp Directors.  Bob is the current President of the Laidlaw Foundation and also President of the Kids in Camp charity.

Andre is a Portfolio Manager and Managing Director at Central 1 Credit Union (“Central 1”) where he is responsible for formulating and executing fixed-income investment strategies for its liquidity portfolios of over $10 billion. Prior to joining Central 1, Andre held a number of senior Treasury roles in the public and private sector at the Region of Peel, George Weston Limited and Manulife Financial.

Andre Lewis

Gave is the Chief of Staff and Senior Director of Programming at CBC. He is a trained lawyer with extensive volunteering and involvement activities in the community and the arts. He served as Deputy Director, English services with CBC/Radio Canada for a number of years. Prior to his work at the CBC, he was an associate lawyer with Fasken Martineau LLP.

Gave Lindo

Janine is a member of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation and has paternal ties to the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. She resides in Toronto, the treaty territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, and the territory covered by the One Dish with One Spoon peace treaty.

Janine Manning

Bridget is the Director of Community Service and Programs at St. Stephen’s Community House, a social innovation and multi-service agency in Toronto.  Bridget brings 20 years’ experience of progressive leadership in the design and delivery of services and programs addressing complex social, economic, and political conditions impacting Toronto’s diverse neighbourhoods and communities.  Previously, as a Managing Consultant for TCHC, various non-profits and grassroots organizations, and municipal governments, she has led the development of programs and services, organizational strategy, community-based research initiatives, and prominent cross-sectoral partnerships. Bridget holds particular expertise in the areas of social determinants of health, youth justice, gender equity, integrated care models, education, and community development.

Bridget Sinclair

Lyon Smith

Lyon Smith is a Toronto-based award-winning multidisciplinary artist who works primarily as an actor/sound designer and photographer.  He has worked with some of the cities most celebrated theatre companies such as the Tarragon theatre, Canadian Stage, Soulpepper, Buddies in Bad Times, and Obsidian.  He is a resident artist with the Dance Companies’ Sore for Punching You and Vazzari, as well as a Gemini nominated voice actor.

May Wong

Now retired, May was a foundation executive for over 25 years, working with a number of philanthropic foundations to improve the strategy, delivery and results of their grant making. Former Executive Director of the Omega Foundation, May previously held leadership roles with the Toronto Community Foundation, the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation and has been an advisor to several other private and community foundations. A dedicated volunteer, May has served on numerous boards, including the Canadian Urban Institute, Diaspora Dialogues, Environmental Defence Canada and the Harry Jerome Scholarship Fund.

External Advisors

Finance and Audit


Ken Gibson

Heather Brubacher

Tiffany Chang

Paul Nagpal

Sandra Kagango



Heather Hunter

Hanifa Kassam

Derek Ballantyne

Ewa Townsend

Randy Steuart

Kristina Inrig

Family Fund Committee


Jessica Hammell

Caitlin Laidlaw




Irwin Elman

Governance and Recruitment


Hanifa Kassam

Indigenous Advisors


Jessica Bolduc

Max FineDay

Jacob Parcher

Erin Hayward

Jerica Fraser

Sarah Nelson

Tunchai Redvers

Orville Wallace

Director, Programs and Strategic Initiatives
416.964.3614 ext. 309



Orville Wallace has over nineteen years’ experience providing support to youth across the city and mentorship for many youths living in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas.  Over the years, Orville has gained experience from doing front-line youth work as well as managing many large youth programs across the city.  Orville has a passion for helping youth facing multiple barriers achieve success in their lives with a specific passion for helping youth in conflict with the law obtain employment and gain access to pro-social life skills.  Orville completed his B.A. at the University of Toronto.  He currently serves as the Director or Programs and Strategic Initiatives at the Laidlaw Foundation where he leads the development, implementation and management of pro-active initiatives related to Youth Justice, child welfare and education.

The Laidlaw Foundation has officially taken up residence at Foundation House – a new hub for philanthropic collaboration, learning and sharing in Toronto. As one of three founding partners, along with the Lawson Foundation and the Counselling Foundation of Canada, the Laidlaw Foundation is excited by the potential of Foundation House to spark greater collaboration in the philanthropic and charitable sector.

And the idea is taking off with a stellar group of organizations joining us at Foundation House including the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) and the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network (CEGN). Philanthropic Foundations Canada (PFC), Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, and GrantBook also have a presence at Foundation House. We recently published a case study about the making of Foundation House. Part of this was to catalogue how we came together and what we were trying to achieve; in addition, there are some suggestions about the kinds of things we might look for as signs of success over time.

Saeed Selvam

Manager, Public Policy

416-964-3614 ext. 303



Saeed is Laidlaw's Manager of Public Policy. Before joining the Foundation, Saeed was the Director of Public Affairs with the Canadian Centre for International Justice. He brings with him private and public sector experience, having worked with all three levels of government, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and CivicAction. Saeed began his career as the founding Executive Director of the Spark Initiative where he helped to advocate for the creation of the Youth Challenge Fund and created a documentary with CBC highlighting positive initiatives in Toronto's priority neighbourhoods which aired provincially. A former candidate for Toronto City Council, Saeed holds a Masters of Public Policy and Governance from the University of Toronto along with a B.A. in Political Science. He is a Massey Fellow, and regular media contributor.

Veanna Octive

Grants Manager

416-964-3614 ext. 301



Veanna is the Grants Manager at the Laidlaw Foundation, she first joined the Foundation as Office Manager. Before joining the Foundation, Veanna lived abroad, accumulating a wealth of knowledge and international perspective as a business support professional and educator. While in New Zealand, she worked as an Administrative Assistant at Tonkin and Taylor, an engineering and environmental firm, and also in the Research Department at the University of Auckland. Veanna has also worked in South Korea and Australia as an Elementary Teacher. Veanna graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor in Education and from Ryerson University with a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care. She enjoys fine in-flight meals and hopes to become a connoisseur of airline dining.

Jehad Aliweiwi

Executive Director

416.964.3614 ext. 304



Jehad has been working in the public benefits sector for nearly 25 years. Before joining the Laidlaw Foundation in January 2014, he was the Executive Director of Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office, Regional Director of Catholic Cross-Cultural Services, Metro Region, and Executive Director of the Canadian Arab Federation. In all of these roles he has been an advocate for inclusion, diversity and equity. He is passionate about building bridges between Canada’s oldest residents and its newest citizens. He strongly believes that the well-being of Canada rests with Indigenous Peoples and immigrants and refugees. In his work at Laidlaw, he is constantly inspired by young people's ability to provide solutions to some of the society's seemingly intractable problems.

Tamer Ibrahim

YouthCI Manager


416.964.3614 ext. 302



Tamer oversees the Youth Collective Impact program at the Laidlaw Foundation: an initiative in partnership with Innoweave that helps organizations in local communities across Ontario develop, launch and implement collective impact approaches that directly improve outcomes for youth in their community. Tamer currently sits on the board of directors at For Youth Initiative: a nonprofit organization that has served, inspired and advocated for thousands of teens and young adults in York South-Weston since 1995.