Leslie Andrade, RD, PhD Candidate
Lesley Andrade is a registered dietitian and PhD Candidate in the School of Public Health Sciences. Her doctoral research focuses on low- and no-calorie sweeteners, examining Canadian’s exposure to such sweeteners for the first time. After completing her Masters in Community Nutrition at the University of Toronto, Lesley began working at a northern Ontario health unit as a public health nutritionist leading healthy eating and healthy weights programming in workplaces, schools, and the broader community. With over 13 years of public health experience, Lesley is now supporting the health unit’s pandemic recovery plan and other organizational-wide initiatives as a foundational standards specialist. Lesley will speak to her experiences planning and evaluating public health initiatives, leading various knowledge translation initiatives, and supporting stakeholder engagement. Lesley’s primary motivation for completing a PhD was to enhance her research skills to better support public health research and practice. Her advanced training in dietary assessment methods will contribute to improved population and public health nutrition policies and programs.
Jess Brand, BA, BEd
Jess Brand is a part-time student in the Master of Public Health program, having joined the program in Fall 2022. Jess works for Indwell, a growing charity that provides housing and supports to over 1000 people across southwestern Ontario. Jess has been with Indwell for over 12 years in various roles, in housing support, working alongside nurses in community development, leading and training in bed bug education and prevention, training in eviction prevention practices. As regional manager with Indwell, Jess leads interdisciplinary teams in providing supports for people seeking health, wellness, and belonging in Indwell’s affordable housing environments. Jess builds interprofessional partnerships across housing, homelessness, and health sectors, with an eye for equitable access to health care and housing. The social determinants of health are foundational guideposts for all of Jess’ work at Indwell—they are the uniting factors that make interprofessional solutions possible. Prior to working with Indwell, Jess was involved in community development and organizing in neighborhood planning teams, and in the homelessness sector with youth seeking housing, and as a teacher in elementary schools. Jess lives in Hamilton with her husband Tim and their three teens.
Dr. Maxim Ben-Yakov, MD
Dr. Ben-Yakov is an emergency medicine specialist in Toronto, having previously done a short stint as a physiotherapist in Montreal. He attended Medical School at McGill University, and completed a residency in Emergency Medicine, followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine at Sick Kids Hospital. Additionally, Dr. Ben-Yakov completed certificates in Quality Improvement and Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare. He continues to work clinically with direct involvement in various quality/informatics projects across the two institutions where he currently works as a full time emergency physician, University Health Network and Humber River Hospital. Dr. Ben-Yakov also continues to teach residents and students. He is enrolled in the School of Public Health Sciences Master of Health Informatics program.
Tasha Shields, MPH
Tasha Shields has a diverse work background as a policy analyst, health promoter, research manager, and community connector, within both Indigenous and mainstream community settings. She completed the Master in Public Health (MPH) program at the University of Waterloo in 2013. Tasha returned to the University of Waterloo in 2021 and is currently working on her PhD in the School of Public Health, with a specialty in work and health. Tasha will speak about her experience working with different levels of government and Indigenous organizations and how the MPH program has impacted her career and research.
Sarah Sousa, MSc, PhD candidate
Sarah Sousa is a PhD candidate in the School of Public Health Sciences. Her research examines the process and outcomes of the implementation of aging technologies for persons living with dementia in rural and northern communities. Sarah completed her MSc at the University of Waterloo in 2013 and shortly after began her career as a senior research and evaluation associate for a national charity in the field of mental health and substance use treatment in Canada. While working full-time, she began her PhD in 2018 as a part-time student, and more recently she has transitioned to being a full-time graduate student. Sarah will speak to her experience and provide her perspective on the skills that are critical to success in leading research and evaluation studies, working in transdisciplinary teams and managing career and education goals.