Peel HIV/AIDS Network 2016/17 Board of Directors

Lindsay Deefholts – Chair

Lindsay is seasoned communications strategist with more than 15 years of experience in healthcare public relations. As a trusted advisor, she has led numerous campaigns in various capacities, including scientific communications, advocacy and stakeholder engagement, regulatory milestones, issues management and internal communications.

She has advanced therapeutic experience in virology (HIV/AIDS, HCV), oncology (breast, prostate, stomach, bone, kidney cancers), endocrinology (diabetes, metabolic disorders), CNS (epilepsy), and CVD (coronary artery disease, cholesterol) to name a few. She has also worked with nearly 50 advocacy groups to elevate disease awareness, unmet need and human rights issues through award-winning campaigns. Lindsay is passionate about global health issues and motivated by the opportunity to help improve the lives of people around the world.

Lindsay currently resides in Toronto, Canada with her husband and yellow lab, Daisy. As a food enthusiast, she often spends her spare time in the kitchen flexing her creative culinary muscles. She currently serves on the Peel HIV/AIDS Network board of directors as vice-chair and lead of the communications committee.

She is a graduate of Carleton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications.

Matthew Cassar

Matt is an accounting professional who advises his clients on various tax, reporting, compliance, and operational issues to help them grow their businesses.

Prior to fully embracing his entrepreneurial spirit, Matt spent a lot of his career working up the corporate ladder at various Bay Street firms. However, he found that he most thrived outside of the corporate structure, where he was helping clients directly achieve their goals. He hopes to further his passion for helping others by making a positive impact on those who are living with and are affected by HIV/AIDS.

Matt enjoys food and travelling. If you don’t find him exploring Toronto’s vibrant restaurant scene, he’s surely to be immersed in nature somewhere on another adventure with his partner, Sarah.

Matt holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario and is Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).

Letitia Francis

Letitia Francis has been a volunteer at PHAN for the past 10 years in many capacities including with the AIDS Walk for Life, fundraising and education programs. Letitia is a Registered Practical Nurse currently working at Seaton House, Toronto’s largest shelter. Being the only “wet” shelter in Toronto, Letitia works from a harm reduction perspective to administer regulated alcohol amounts to men experiencing homelessness and chronic alcoholism as well as supporting their health care and needs. Letitia also has experience in the travel and tourism and financial industries. Letitia loves meeting new people and learns a lot from the clients and fellow volunteers at PHAN. She prides herself on her ability to connect with people and her friendly, outgoing and compassionate nature. Letitia would like to move beyond her current volunteer roles and give back to PHAN in a new capacity as a Board member, using her knowledge and skills to benefit the agency and bring greater attention to the HIV/AIDS cause.

Nohémie Mawaka

Nohémie Mawaka is a global health strategist with working experience in mixed-methods epidemiology approaches that address adolescent and women’s health research, policy, and advocacy.

Ms. Mawaka has previously submitted a comprehensive policy review and synthesis of existing human rights and clinical policy and guidelines on how to provide effective care and support to pregnant women who use drugs. In Bukavu (Democratic Republic of Congo), Ms. Mawaka worked as a consultant to lead a region-level assessment of illicit drug use and mental health services available to vulnerable groups, where  the majority of the sample were women who self-identified as sex workers and/or homeless individuals living with HIV.

Ms. Mawaka aims to contribute to the creation and sharing of knowledge by summarizing and documenting results, lessons learned success and best practices, strategies and approaches to strengthen organizational  and community capacity.

Angela Pham

Angela has worked in public accounting for the past 6 years and focuses primarily on charity and not-for-profit clients.

She has lived in Brampton her whole life and sees this as an opportunity to give back to her community using her financial and auditing skills.

She is also a volunteer collections counter at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Brampton.

Liesel Raftopoulos

Liesel is an HR professional with more than 10 years of experience. Liesel holds a Bachelor of Commerce (HR) degree with her CHRL  designation in progress.

She has held various HR consultancy roles in Canada, South Africa, West Africa and East Africa. Her industry experience includes automotive, manufacturing, banking/finance, IT, oil and gas as well as hospitality.

On a voluntary basis, Liesel served as a field worker for the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce in South Africa. As a field worker on the frontline, she conducted HIV and STD awareness and prevention workshops, working with and empowering sex workers in various communities within Cape Town, South Africa.

Liesel looks forward to being a contributing and active member of PHAN’s board of directors.

Vinod Sharma

Vinod Sharma brings over 15 years management experience in accounting, finance, purchasing and operations in the private sector as well as 15 years in social housing. He has served for five years as a Board member and Treasurer at the Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women and has received training in board governance, fundraising and financial management from the Maytree Foundation. Vinod has attended workshops on HIV/AIDS at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, participated in the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, conducted HIV awareness workshops with the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention in Toronto and Peel regions and worked as a committee member with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to publish a report on Making Housing a Priority for People Living with HIV/AIDS. Vinod holds a Master of Arts in Economics and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation.


To contact the board, please email