Our mission is to enable and inspire individuals to reach their greatest potential. Our goal is to empower them to be the author of their own story.
We are a lean operation run entirely by volunteers with minimal overhead expenses.
Whether your contribution is monetary, a labor of love, spiritual support, or in any other form, thank you for taking the time to learn more about us.
Our charity registration number is 80828 4442 RR 0001.
Meet our team at The Local Charity.
Laney Lui (she/her), Founder + Executive Director
I was inspired to start The Local Charity after having gone through many trials in my own life. Having experienced abuse and being estranged from my father, I can relate to those who have experienced despair and hopelessness. The journey has taught me how to be strong, how to be independent, how to forgive, and how to love.
I had also experienced being a single mother, and the journey had been challenging, but it has given me perspective on what it takes to overcome rough patches in life (though now I am happily re-married). I hope to contribute and inspire the folks I cross paths with towards living their best lives.
My parents have both exemplified qualities that contributed to my charity work. My mother modelled benevolence, and I’ve learned to be kind and grateful from her (I also acquired her sense of humour 😉 ). As an illegal immigrant, my father persevered through adversity and built an empire; I got my curiosity, strength, and entrepreneurial spirit from him.
For me, charity can be so impactful. The effort put in goes a long way in helping to improve lives. It’s often easy, usually inconvenient, but always necessary.
Muneeb Syed (he/him), IT Manager
I had always been interested in technology and computers growing up and decided to turn this interest into what I would pursue in terms of education and what I would go on to do as my career. I think what drew me to computers and working with them was the lack of conscience of making mistakes (which for whatever reason I seem to be highly predisposed to in all facets of my life). Most things can be fixed, most mistakes can easily be reversed, and any problems created can be worked around. But as I grew older, I started to realize that with the lack of these consequences came with a lack of benefit to society. Sure there was more risk in the work done by doctors, nurses, Firefighters, or engineers but when they were successful they saved lives, brought people together and made the world around them better for everyone. Seeing examples in my life of people that were able to do they daily jobs and directly help people in their trying times motivated me to try and find a way in which I could use my skills to help others.
I joined the Local Charity in 2015 in the hopes of finding a way to bridge the gap I felt in providing a benefit to society. I have seen in glimpses the benefit that The Local Charity can bring to people that are looking to better their lives and give them the opportunity to better their lives and grow. My hope is that with continued time we at The Local Charity can grow the impact we have and continue to provide greater and meaningful opportunities to less-privileged societies.
Fortune Ibare-Jones (she/her), Development Director
I live for the results of global development and education. Global development has many factors, and having sufficient knowledge allows people to be more autonomous in their quest for a better life. The Local Charity is an initiative I strongly believe in. The services and programs are vital to shaping our society. I am honoured to be a part of a team that continuously remembers those who are often forgotten. It is with great pleasure that I serve the communities who, with dedication and encouragement, will be the leaders of tomorrow. Yes, The Local Charity is creating leaders.
Eileen Wong (she/her), Education Program Director – Critical TECHing Accelerator
While I was growing up, I watched my parents who were immigrants from China work multiple labour jobs to provide for me and my younger brother. They saved up money for our extra classes such as, in Math and Art, as well as for our university studies, at the expense of spending money on themselves. They refused to eat as much, so my younger brother and I could have more. They never spent money to buy clothing for themselves. It broke my heart seeing my parents sacrifice so much for us to have a better future. My parents truly inspired me to be my very best. They taught me kindness, unconditional love, and humility. I understand the deep impact of financial problems can have on our self-esteem and the number of educational opportunities available to us. For this reason, I want to help those who do not have the financial support to achieve their educational and career goals. I have a great passion for teaching and learning, as I have been teaching for over seven years, as well as deepening my understanding of different realities during my MA in Francophone Studies and MEd in Teaching and Learning. At The Local Charity, I aspire to help everyone embrace their live(d) experiences and receive the quality education that we all deserve.
Mostafa Omran (he/him), Education Program Director – Youth Group
Mostafa is an educator at heart. He started his career teaching middle school Social Studies, before setting off on a career in consulting. During his MBA he spent the summer in Kenya where he taught business fundamentals to aspiring, underprivileged, Kenyan youth in Nairobi’s largest slums. Although his career has taken him on a different path, Mostafa still believes in unlocking potential through development and education.
Today, he is a highly driven customer experience professional with a proven track record of challenging the status quo, and strategically serving as a bridge between organizations and their stakeholders. He believes in the power of fostering strong relationships and builds lasting partnerships that deliver win-win results. Mostafa holds an MBA from the Sauder School of Business at the UBC, a Certificate in Innovation Management from Stanford University, and is a certified Project Management Professional.
Jen Pendergast (she/her), Copywriter
Writing has been my passion from an early age; I love the magic of words and the strength they can have to influence worlds, both real and imaginary. Creating stories is a part of my life – just ask my kids about the tales I tell at bedtime – but the best stories are those we create with other people in our real lives. I strongly believe that everyone has the power to change the world, but for many people that power is hidden inside, under layers of challenges and difficult experiences. I believe causes like The Local Charity can help our young people to unpack those experiences and unlock their own power to create the future they want to see.
Winnie Fleur Ishimwe (she/her), Education Program Director
I discovered my passion for mentoring students when I started my first job tutoring English and French to young students. I want to offer opportunities for students to share with others about themselves and at the same time allow space for them to learn about themselves. I learned that education is an important rite of passage that enhances current skills and opens up new areas of growth. That is why I am passionate about helping the youth develop personal and professional skills that will shape and prepare them in their life choices. It is rewarding and empowering to witness the youth succeed.
Yuki Micha Djaja (she/her), Mental Wellness Lead
I believe in the potential that can be unlocked when youth are empowered to be the author of their own story. The 4 pillars that The Local Charity focuses on – education, technology, emotional intelligence and mental wellness – resonate with a lot of the things I value. Having immigrated to Canada at the age of 9, I am forever grateful for the educational opportunities I have had since. I worked hard to earn my Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from Queen’s University in Kingston, and recently, to complete my Master of Business Administration (MBA) from IE Business School in Madrid. Having lived in 6 countries across 3 continents, I have also learned to thrive in conditions of change and diversity.
I currently work in the education technology sector, and as passionate as I am about leveraging technology to better our society, I also recognize how technology can negatively impact our mental health. A few years ago, I decided to obtain my yoga teacher certification. Although my yoga journey initially started as a physical practice to strengthen and tone the body, I have since discovered that yoga is so much more than that. Yoga has taught me to live in the present moment, to be compassionate towards myself and to deepen my relationships with others. Most importantly, yoga has allowed me to experience the transformative power of the mind and truly understand how change really does start from within. I have been an advocate for mental wellness ever since, and I hope to inspire others to find and connect with their own infinite potential.
Seowon Bang (she/her), Creative Director
Seowon is a multifaceted creative whose career began in the non-profit space and whose passion lies in designing for the greater good. After putting her design skills to work in various industries including retail, public education, events, and fintech, Seowon has made a full circle and dedicated her time to give back to the charitable sector once again. She is currently serving as the Creative Director of TEDxToronto and her past freelance clients include Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, Obsidian Theatre, The National Ballet of Canada, Art Canada Institute, and more. A wearer of many hats – print design, illustration, video production, web design – Seowon is eager to help further the mission of The Local Charity, with great design and style.
Board of Directors
Laney Lui (she/her), Chair
Rick Johal (he/him), Vice-Chair
Chief Executive Officer, Certified Professional Bookkeepers of Canada
I am looking forward to being on the Local Charity Board of Directors because it provides an opportunity to expand the possibilities for youth of all backgrounds and circumstances. Far too often, the potential for youth is not realized due to access, understanding or opportunity and I look forward to working together in helping bridge this gap to ensure we maximize the potential for youth moving forward.
I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from McMaster University and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I began my career as a policy advocate for smoke free legislation with the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago and upon returning to Ontario, I spent five years with the Ontario Public Service before moving on to the City of Kitchener. Over the last nine years, Rick has focused his career in Association management within the local government sector working to represent municipal managers and now municipal governments and their elected officials with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Away from professional life, I am a husband and father of two beautiful young girls. Pre COVID, I spent my evenings coaching competitive youth volleyball with the Milton Edge Volleyball Club.
Simon Fahy (he/him), Secretary
Director, Value Creation in Deals, PricewaterhouseCoopers
I was delighted to join the board of directors because I’m passionate about the impact that education can have on the lives of disadvantaged youth. I want to live in a community where the right support and opportunities are available to young people growing up in challenging circumstances. Everyone should have the tools to be able to define their own future and achieve what they see as success.
I’m excited by the opportunity The Local Charity has to impact the lives of under-served youth. The global pandemic has further highlighted how technology can be a barrier for people in poverty and I look forward to being able to contribute to addressing this issue and having a positive impact in the local community.
By day I am a management consultant, working with a wide variety of organizations going through significant change. I grew up in the UK and hold a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Nottingham. In my spare time I’m a keen long-distance runner and soccer (football) fan.
Nitin Basandra (he/him), Treasurer
Excise Tax Auditor, Small and Medium Enterprises Directorate, Canada Revenue Agency
My vision is to build a community that is just and equitable. I envision our youth from all social demographics to have fair access to the resources, tools and knowledge that will strongly cater to their development as valuable individuals in our society and ignite an internal flame that will pave a bright future for them.
My passion to serve as a Board Member and Treasurer for the Local Charity stems from my own personal upbringing in a disadvantaged community and building the resilience to succeed in my personal and professional life. I believe the support of our youth who grew up in similar circumstances as mine is instrumental in their formative years. Having the right tools and guidance, such as education, mentorship, and mental health resources, makes the difference between choosing the right and wrong path and breaking the cycle of poverty.
By day, I work as an Excise Tax Auditor for the Canada Revenue Agency dealing with corporations from a wide range of industries. When I’m not working, I enjoy reading, traveling (pre covid!), working out, attempting new recipes in the kitchen and learning something new to add to my skill set.