Meet the Team
The Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) is a small, diverse team that provides consulting, training and education for service agencies, consumers and employers.
Chief Executive Officer
Jeannette is a passionate believer in the non profit sector, and its ability to move the needle on awareness, opportunities, and education about disabilities and promote the inclusion of all members of our communities. She has 20+ years of demonstrated success providing service, program design, evaluation, and partnership development with educational institutions, service agencies, all levels of government, and private sector stakeholders.
Jeannette’s work in program development and the ability to put them into action has resulted in successful programs that support clients to achieve goals, encourage and enhance wrap around services, and ultimately the success of individuals, organizations, and employers.
Jeannette has also designed projects specifically for youth and people with disabilities in academic settings such as SIFE/Enactus, Rotman Commerce – Student Life department, and the Community Partnership departments at University of Toronto and George Brown College, and has a long history of promoting and supporting programs and services to end users, government, and private sectors.
Most importantly, Jeannette is a firm believer that everyone possesses gifts and talents – and given the opportunity and support we will all shine.
Director – Special Projects & Innovation
Ingrid Muschta graduated from McMaster University with a Bachelors of Engineering and Society, Chemical Engineering. She is a Licensed Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario with 20 years of combined working experience in corporate, entrepreneurial, and not-for-profit settings. Ingrid is a confident leader with excellent interpersonal and relationship management skills; she’s an experienced trainer, who has effectively delivered content to multicultural and multigenerational audiences locally and internationally; lastly, Ingrid is a professional with strong project management, program, and procedure development skills.
Ingrid is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities. She has held key positions in the Executive Board of Directors for the parent-led Down Syndrome Association of Hamilton (DSAH) since 2013, first as a Sponsorship Coordinator and most recently as the Communications Director where she was pivotal in assisting DSAH reaching some impressive goals with community outreach, fundraising, and awareness promotion.
Ingrid’s vision for her son with Down syndrome is in-line with that of all parents. She has a vision her son will grow up in a society where people with disabilities will participate in formal higher education; that as citizens, they will be engaged in equal and meaningful employment; her vision is that they will access and contribute to decision-making processes, which directly impacts their lives, and they will be recognized as vibrant contributors to their communities.
In March 2017, Ingrid was one of two recipients of the Inaugural Annual Robert Pio Hajjar Outstanding Achievement Award. This award is given in recognition of Inspiring Champions who are recognized for their “superlative leadership contributions to the quality of life in their community or for providing significant support to inclusion and diversity”.
Ingrid is looking to making an impacting contribution to ODEN, its members and partners, and the Disability community at large.
Director – Development & Capacity Building
Amy is a committed connector who is passionate about inclusive employment and using collaboration, relationship development and capacity building as tools to increase employment opportunities for people who have disabilities. She is a strong support professional, skilled in Non-profit Organization Management, Inclusive Employment, Social Enterprise, Community Development and Disabilities. Amy brings a breadth of over 20 years of knowledge and experience to the team working in Management roles in both not for profit Developmental Service Organizations as well as private sector Professional Employment Services.
Amy’s vision for an inclusive Ontario is what guides her to break down barriers and discover people’s gifts and talent.
Business Services Manager
Sue Dafoe is the Administrator for the Ontario Disability Employment Network’s Centre for Excellence. Sue brings her wealth of knowledge and technical skills to the team.
Sue has worked in the not-for-profit world for over 15 years in various capacities. She has held positions with large and small not-for-profits growing her skills as a communications and fundraising professional. Sue can also be found lending her expertise to organizations through SD Consulting, providing board training, event management, marketing and volunteer management services. Sue has worked with organizations such as Kawartha Participation Projects, Industry Canada, Osteoporosis Society of Canada, among others.
In her spare time, Sue can be found at various sporting venues watching or coaching her children’s various sports teams or walking the many dogs her family fosters throughout the year. She plays soccer year round and enjoys an active lifestyle with her family.
Dr. Jennifer Crowson
Diversity & Inclusion Specialist
Jennifer holds a Bachler and Master of Social Work from McMaster University and a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh. She is a registered Social Worker with over twenty-five years of work professional work experience in child welfare, policy, and research. She has had several key management positions with both non-government and government agencies in Canada and Scotland. Her work has mainly focused on children and young people. She is a part time faculty member with the School of Social Work at McMaster University, where she teaches as a sessional instructor. Jennifer is a strong analytical and critical thinker with a passion for policy development, robust research, program development and excellent teaching.
Jennifer is passionate about the ensuring the rights and recognizing the abilities of people with disabilities. She was the Chair of the Down Syndrome Association of Hamilton from 2012-2021 and guided its exponential growth and key strategic development. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society where she is the Chair of the Fund Development Committee. She also sits on the Advisory Committee for CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability at McMaster University.
Jennifer is guided by a deep personal desire to positively impact the lives of young people who have faced barriers to accessing equitable health care, education, and employment opportunities. She is inspired by the many young people she has worked with, but in particular, by her son who was born with Down syndrome.
Jennifer is committed ODEN’s vision and is excited to join the team in making a positive impact on and with the Disability community.
Diversity and Inclusion Specialist
J.C. Doyle is a University of Guelph Commerce Grad and a Niagara College trained Red Seal Chef with over 20 years’ experience operating in the service sector as Manager, purchaser, Chef, Trainer, Entrepreneur , Hospitality Consultant, and Restaurant Owner.
His private sector background and experience bring a unique perspective to the (not for profit) disability employment landscape. In his most recent role as Manager of Employment Supports at Community Living North Bay, he worked with his team to modernize and transform their Employment Service to be more responsive and address the needs of businesses. A locally targeted marketing, re-branding and engagement strategy led to the Launch of Employment First Services.
JC was a founding member of the North Eastern Employment Network and has led regional projects aligning the goals of stakeholders by delivering awareness campaigns and training to support a consistent school to work approach for people with disabilities across the region.
JC has developed a keen interest and passion around the business case for inclusion and believes in helping business’s access the Disability Employment Market to gain competitive advantages. His pragmatic approach to systems and service speaks (answers) to the necessity of businesses to increase profits.
Outside of work, J.C. spends time with his wife and two children enjoying all manner of outdoor opportunities afforded by a Northern Ontario Lifestyle.
Dr. Haley Gienow-McConnell
Diversity & Inclusion Specialist
Haley is pleased to represent ODEN as a Diversity and Inclusion Specialist. Originally hailing from an academic background, Haley received her doctorate in History and Disability Studies from York University. Eager to apply her skills and her commitment to social justice for disability communities beyond the academy, Haley began consulting work with a variety of not-for-profit organizations while she was still pursuing her doctorate. It was during this time that Haley began developing her relationship with ODEN.
Haley brings to the team expertise in research, publishing, teaching, and grant writing. She is also among a rare set of people who actually loves public speaking, and presenting at conferences! Haley’s background in the academic world, coupled with her history of working with not-for-profits organizations, and government agencies enables her to “speak the language” of a variety of sectors. In fact, one of her foremost professional goals is to better align these sectors, and foster greater collaboration among them.
Haley lives in Niagara Falls, with her husband and young daughter. They are a bilingual and bicultural family, enjoying relationships with local deaf communities. They are all fluent in American Sign Language.
Diversity and Inclusion Specialist
Jenny brings a complimentary blend of private and non-profit, senior level management and service provider experience to ODEN. Her proven work is reflected in the areas of policy and compliance, HR, program design and facilitation, individual and group training and low ratio-hard/soft skills job coaching; specifically for people who have developmental disabilities.
She is an alum of the renowned Stratford Chef School and is a Red Seal Certified, Executive Chef (CEC) and former owner/operator of a cooking school, dining room and small inn. Her experience in this field has afforded her the opportunity to work directly with employment service providers who help youth find employment.
Jenny’s unique combination of private and service provider understandings mean that she has lived this from both the employer and, service provider perspectives. “I arrive to the table with an analytical approach on the inclusion of people with disabilities in employment. Since I believe that everyone has something to contribute, it is my desire it to see that all persons with disabilities who want to work, can do so in diverse, inclusive and equitable workplaces where they are recognized by their employer as a vital contributor to the success of their business.”
Diversity and Inclusion Specialist
Sowmya Rajasekaran comes with 10+ years’ experience working in Community Development, Education, Skills Development, Partnership development & Social Impact. In every organization she has been involved with or programs she has led, it has always been her first nature to look through the Diversity & Inclusion lens.
Sowmya loves building projects from ideation and doesn’t fear from taking on a challenge. Not only does Sowmya hold a keen passion in diversity & inclusion, she also strives to focus on impact measurement.
After being laid off during the pandemic, Sowmya launched #Buildupwomen Series. #Buildupwomen Series is an online community created to inspire, share, support, engage and build up women during and post COVID-19. The first season had 10 live series discussions, with over 30+ inspiring female disruptors, change-makers, influencers, advocates & community leaders across Canada with a core focus on diversity & inclusion.
She has a history of establishing and designing strategic partnerships in not-for- profit and private sectors. She is a champion for constructing and establishing innovative and inspiring atmosphere to help improve social impact.
Administrative & Membership Coordinator
Lesley is an enthusiastic and innovative administrative professional with over 10 years experience. She has worked for both Corporate and Non-Profit organizations and brings with her extensive knowledge in office administration, event planning, social media and website communications.
Lesley is passionate about helping people and making a difference in the community.
When she is not busy working, Lesley can be found watching her children play sports, or enjoying a good book at the cottage.
Dean is an award-winning content writer, photographer and communication specialist with three decades of experience. He has a specialized background in B2B and non-profit communications. Dean’s diverse experience includes communication roles in the financial services, customs brokerage/international trade and logistics, and education non-profit sectors. Dean has also been a field editor and writer for national trade magazines in the flooring and secondary wood manufacturing industries. As well, he has written for national trade magazines in the automotive aftermarket sector. He also taught journalism to York Region high-school co-operative education students. Dean began his career in daily radio current affairs and radio documentary production for CBC Radio.
His passion for words developed in the seventh grade. That’s when his first short-story was published in the Oak Park Junior High yearbook. Dean is an alumnus of Ryerson University’s journalism program. That was where he learned to hone the craft of telling engaging stories with words under the guidance of Canada’s master story-teller, the late, great Stuart McLean.
Dean’s an ENFP personality type. That means he’s passionate about words, building great relationships and helping others. In the spring, summer and fall Dean can be spotted cycling around downtown Toronto with his camera hanging from his shoulder. He’s also trying to get back to working on his model railroad. Dean hails from the East York District of Toronto where he was born, raised and still lives.