Our Leadership Team

Strides Toronto has talented, passionate, committed staff supporting the diverse needs of our clients and their families. We employ experienced child and youth workers, child therapists, child and family therapists, speech and language pathologists, communicative disorders assistants, social workers, psychologists, behaviour therapists and family home visitors. Our staff are often able to provide services in languages other than English. If we don’t have someone that speaks your language, we will use interpreters to help us work with you and your family.

Janet McCrimmon

Chief Executive Officer 

Janet McCrimmon is a strategic, transformative leader with over 20 years of senior leadership experience in not-for-profits. Since 2016, she has served as Executive Director of Aisling Discoveries Child and Family Centre, which amalgamated with East Metro Youth Services to form Strides Toronto in 2020. Previously, Janet was the founding Executive Director of Community Organizational Health Inc. (COHI), a provincial organization accrediting community health centres across Ontario. Janet was later part of a consulting team that completed a business feasibility study resulting in COHI transforming to become the Canadian Centre for Accreditation, a national non-profit that accredits nine different types of organizations today. Janet has also served as Director, Building Inclusive Communities at Family Service Toronto (FST), a department that provided developmental services to adults and children as well as a range of community development programs, and as FST’s Director, Research, Evaluation and Planning. Her prior roles include work in a community health centre, a violence against women shelter and two years volunteering in Africa as Non-Formal Learning Advisor with ActionAid Sierra Leone.

Erin Physick

Director of Mental Health Services 

Erin began at Strides Toronto in 2011 (then East Metro Youth Services) as a core staff in our What’s Up Walk-in clinic. Strides Toronto was fortunate that Erin brought prior experience with brief counselling, having worked at one of the first walk-in clinics in Calgary. Subsequently, she took on the role of a clinical youth outreach worker (YOW) in the community. In 2014 she joined our management team as the supervisor for the Strengthening Families Program. In 2016 Erin took on the role of Manager of the East Toronto YOW Program and then in 2017 assumed the position of Manager of Brief Services. She has served as Director of Clinical and Professionals services since 2019. Erin has a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Calgary.

Paul Van de Laar

Senior Director of  Service Excellence

Paul Van de Laar is a strategic and collaborative leader with more than 25 years of management experience in the healthcare and social services sectors, including 15 years of senior management experience.

As the Senior Director of Service Excellence at Strides Toronto, Paul is accountable for ensuring high quality services within the Mental Health Department, the Community Services Department and the Autism and Developmental Services Department.  Previously, Paul worked at Cota Health in several roles including Director of Developmental Services and Acquired Brain Injury Services, Senior Manager of Clinical Services, and Manager of Mental Health Services. Furthermore, he had also acted as Manager of Paediatric and Outpatient Mental Health Services at North York General Hospital, Manager of Community Services at Geneva Centre for Autism, and Director of Programs at Project Work.

Paul has a Master’s degree in Social Work, a BA in Sociology, and a certificate in Management of Not-for-Profit Organizations.

David Willis
David Willis

Senior Director of Lead Agency and Systems Transformation

David Willis joined Strides in 2018 as the Director of Strategy and Systems Management.  David is responsible for developing and operationalizing Strides Toronto’s lead agency strategy and collaborating with our partners and funders across the city of Toronto to further build system pathways and connections within the child and youth mental health sector. David brings to this role 20 years of front line and management experience within the health and mental health field that is supported by a post Baccalaureate Diploma in Management and a Masters Degree in Business.

Dina Franchi

Director of Strategy, Quality and Planning

Dina Franchi is an evaluator with more than 15 years of experience designing and implementing evaluations and conducting research in health and education settings. Before joining Strides Toronto (then Aisling Discoveries) in November 2017, Dina had her own consulting practice where she worked with health and human services organizations to evaluate their programs and strategies.

Dina is committed to developing a system of quality improvement that help the staff and frontline workers of Strides Toronto to continuously fulfill their promise to the organization’s clients to deliver accessible, effective and efficient services. Raised in Scarborough herself, she volunteered in her formative years both at the local hospital and with youth with special needs who were living in residential care. She holds a BSc in psychology and an MA in applied psychology from the University of Toronto.

Sarah MacLeod

Director of Human Resources

Sarah MacLeod is a human resources leader with more than 15 years of experience and has been with Strides Toronto since June 2018. Before joining Aisling Discoveries, Sarah spent time working at Durham Mental Health Services, the Sandgate Women’s Shelter of York Region and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Sarah holds an Honours BA in anthropology from the University of Waterloo and a certified human resources leader designation from the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario.

Darryl Nurse

Director of Autism and Developmental Services

Darryl Nurse joined Strides Toronto (then Aisling Discoveries) in January 2002. His first experiences with families living with autism was through summer jobs he held while completing his undergraduate degree. Since then he has lived and worked with children and families living with autism in Scarborough and East York for more than 15 years. He has held multiple board positions with the Ontario Association of Behaviour Analysis, including a term as president. He has also participated in multiple city-wide and community planning projects related to autism services.

Darryl holds a BA in psychology from Mount Allison University and has completed graduate coursework in applied behaviour analysis at the University of North Texas.

Popi Xanthos

Director of Finance and Administration 

Popi Xanthos is a finance professional with 10 years of experience in the non-profit sector. She joined Strides Toronto (then Aisling Discoveries) in April 2017. Popi is committed to identifying and adopting new technologies and innovations so that Strides Toronto can continue to provide excellent and timely service to the youth, children and families of East York, Scarborough and surrounding GTA area.

Before joining Strides Toronto, Popi worked as the director of finance and administration for Toronto North Support Services and also as controller of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. Popi is a Chartered Accountant. She holds a Master of Accounting degree and an Honours Bachelor of Arts in chartered accountancy studies from the University of Waterloo.

Zel Fellegi

Interim Director of Community Services

Zel Fellegi is a seasoned children’s mental health professional who has been with Strides Toronto since 1998. Prior to 1998, she spent eight years as director of clinical services at Aisling Centre for Children and Families, one of the two organizations that merged to create Aisling Discoveries, which later merged with EMYS to become Strides Toronto. Her previous experience in child welfare helps her contribute to Strides Toronto’s coordinated quality service.

Zel’s own experience with family matters informs her responsibility for planning and organizing  the broad range of mental health services that Strides Toronto offers. She is committed to keeping the organization’s programs up to date with the latest evidence-informed practices across the sector.

Debra Williams

Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Debra Williams has implemented transformation projects and interventions for over 25 years as a performance strategist and empowerment coach. She specializes in leadership mentoring, process design, modernizing procedures, and leading teams of subject matter experts for measurable results. Her involvement with equity-seeking groups began in the environmental conservation field, where she focused on watershed protection of land designated for new construction in environmentally sensitive areas inhabited by underrepresented populations.

A certified auditor, fraud examiner, and cognitive-behavioural techniques practitioner, Debra applies established methods and designs the right approach to support specific projects and outcomes. She was drawn by the opportunity to work in an organization committed to serving mental health needs in a diverse, underserved community. Throughout her career, Debra has worked in public service agencies that focus on improving clients’ lives through programs designed to achieve equitable outcomes.