Faculty Directory

faculty directory photo

The School of Social and Community Services at George Brown College brings together industry leaders to shape program and course content. Many of the faculty at the college are still active in their industries today, so they combine day-to-day working realities with academic theories and approaches. We take pride in hiring teachers that are well-respected and offer students excellent instruction, industry mentorship and provide valuable additions to their professional networks.

Faculty Members

Farhia Abdi (view bio)
Community Worker (C101)
416-415-5000, ext. 3926

Maureen Boettcher (view bio)
Social Service Worker (C119)

Chandra Budhu (view bio)
Community Worker (Fast-Track) (C131)
Social Service Worker
416-415-5000, ext. 3026

Resh Budhu (view bio)
Community Worker (C101)
416-415-5000, ext. 6276

Andrew Buntin (view bio)
Child and Youth Care (Accelerated) (C143)
416-415-5000, ext. 2316

Monica Chi (view bio)
Social Service Worker (C119)

Charlene Dunstan (view bio)
Social Service Worker (C119)
416-415-5000 ext. 2652

Griffin Epstein (view bio)
Social Service Worker (C119)
416-415-5000 ext. 3778

Pearl Fernandez (view bio)
Child and Youth Care (C133)
416-415-5000 ext. 2980

Jennifer Grant (view bio)
Child & Youth Care (C133 & C143)
416-415-5000, ext. 3299

Patty Hayes (view bio)
Social Service Worker (C119)
416-415-5000, ext. 2696

Zeenat Janmohamed, Ph.D. (view bio)
Chair School of Deaf and Deafblind Studies &
School of Social and Community Services
416-415-5000, ext. 2342

Rusa Jeremic (view bio)
Community Worker Program (C101)
416-415-5000, ext. 6786

Gillian Johnston (view bio)
Career Development Practitioner (C406) 
416-415-5000, ext. 3646 

Judy Masters
Child and Youth Care (133)
416-415-5000, ext. 3708

Billie-Jean McBride
Social Service Worker (C119)
416-415-5000, ext. 3240

Zalina Mohamad (view bio)
Child and Youth Care (C133)
416-415-5000, ext. 3034

Rick Owens (view bio)
Social Service Worker Fast Track (C135)
416-415-5000, ext. 6111

Jeffrey Reffo (view bio)
Social Service Worker (C119)

Melissa Teles (view bio)
Child and Youth Care (133)
416-415-5000, ext. 2184

Anna Willats (view bio)
AWCCA (Assaulted Women's and Children's Counsellor Advocate Program) (C137)

Natalie Wood (view bio)
Social Service Worker (C119)
416-415-5000, ext. 6275

William Woolrich (view bio)
Community Worker (C101)
416-415-5000, ext. 3294

Cristine Yhap (view bio)
Child and Youth Care (C133)
416-415-5000, ext. 3703

Can't find who you are looking for? Search our college-wide staff and faculty directory here.

Faculty Bios

​Farhia Abdi
Farhia is a professor at the Community Worker Program and has been teaching at George Brown College since 2013. Farhia is interested in global and human rights issues embedding these contexts in her teaching and professional practice. Farhia has taught in the largest refugee camp in the world, located in the North Eastern region of Kenya. Her work in the refugee camps involved training teacher candidates through the Borderless Higher Education project spearheaded by York University's Faculty of Education and Centre for Refugee Studies. Prior to joining the college as a faculty member, Farhia worked in various neighbourhoods in the GTA, focusing mainly on community development and advocacy work. Farhia is currently pursuing a PhD at the Faculty of Education at York University. Her dissertation work explores the role formal education can play in bringing about peace and social cohesion in post-conflict societies. Her research informs her teaching practice in the School of Social and Community Services as she is constantly researching and writing about the role of educational institutions in the development of socially just society.

Maureen Boettcher, MSW
Maureen began her career in child protection services in 1983. She earned her MSW in clinical practice from the University of Calgary in 1988 and then joined a team of professionals providing treatment services to sexually abused children across Alberta, northern BC, the Yukon and Nunavut. She entered social work education full time in 2004 when she became Manager of the Field Education Program at York University School of Social Work. In 2009 Maureen joined the faculty of the Social Service Worker program at George Brown, where she now teaches full time.

Chandra Budhu, M.Ed
Chandra Budhu teaches in the Community Worker Program and is a founding member of the Tommy Douglas Institute. She has taught in George Brown's Social Service Worker Program and at New College, U of T. She spent over 20 years in international development focusing on women's rights, local economic development, social cohesion and governance. Highlights of her career include: Program Director of the historic 1995 Beijing Women's World Forum, Voluntary Sector Initiative on visible minorities organizations in Canada, Ministry of Attorney General's Hate Crime Project in Ontario, global/local initiatives on violence against women and a global initiative on gender and leadership in the church. Other activities include: Chair - Lecture series on Caribbean Development (York University); International Electoral Observer Mission (Organization of American States); Co-president- Canadian Women's Foundation and Chair- Women's Funding Network USA. Awards include: Skills for Change New Pioneer Award, GBC "Living the Academic Strategy" and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Monica Chi Monica Chi
Monica Chi is a Professor in the School of Social and Community Services. She has been teaching in the Social Service Work Program since 2016 and joined the team as a full-time Professor in 2019. Monica obtained her B.A. and M.S.W. degrees from University of Toronto. She has worked in the social service sector for over a decade supporting individuals living with various health and mental health challenges. Prior to joining the team, she was the Executive Director of a community-based nonprofit organization working with new Canadians and refugees of Korean origin. She has extensive experience developing innovative projects to support new Canadians in their settlement journey as well as a keen interest in projects that empower immigrant women experiencing family violence or intimate partner violence. Monica is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University and her research interest is in understanding love as a healing force in relationships and community building.

Resh Budhu
Resh Budhu Ph.D. candidate (ABD), is faculty and co-coordinator in the Community Worker Program where she has taught since 2004. Coming from a background in popular education, social activism and theatre, Resh's work in the area of social justice, for over two decades (at home in Canada and abroad), has been mainly focused on issues relating to gender equality, anti-racism and community development. She has worked with the Government of Canada Millennium Initiative, the YWCA Week Without Violence, and the Beijing Forum on Women '95. Where issues of social justice, anti-oppression, diversity and equity are core to her teaching practice, the classroom continues to be an extension of her prior community worker life. In addition to teaching courses in Sociology, Political Science, Canadian Social Policy, and Global Politics, Resh coordinates the annual Tommy Douglas Institute, a forum for structural critiques of these neo-liberal times while offering alternative visions for the future of post-secondary education, communities and the larger society. Resh enjoys critical (outside-the-box) thinking, medium-double-doubles, genre-bending literature, political vision, the '80s, and being a mystery.

Andrew Buntin Andrew Buntin
Prior to joining George Brown College's Child and Youth Worker Program in 1999, Andrew had been working with children, youth and families for almost 25 years. He started his career as a child care worker in 1975, after receiving a diploma from George Brown College and a bachelor's degree in Child and Youth Care from Ryerson University. For seven years he worked in a variety of care settings, such as schools, foster care centres and child welfare agencies, before going on to manage a private treatment facility from 1982 to 1999. He has since maintained ties with the professional community by serving on the board of directors of the Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth, as an advisory member for Ryerson University's School of Child and Youth Care Advisory Board, and as a certified professional member of the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Counsellors. Andrew recently took over as Coordinator of George Brown College's Child and Youth Worker Fast Track Program.

Charlene Dunstan
Charlene Dunstan Charlene has been a Professor in the Social Service Program since 2010 teaching a wide range of subjects and engaging student learners.   In addition to her role as a faculty member, she has also been the Field Placement Liaison for the program and worked collaboratively with faculty and community partners to support students in their experiential learning. Her participation at the College includes committee work such as the Black Student Success Network (BSSN), the Anti-Racism Committee and Work Integrated Learning (WIL) with recent professional development in the areas of Restorative Justice and the Healthy Campus Initiative. Prior to joining George Brown College, Charlene has worked in a variety of roles over the last twenty years.  The roles include working with low income, marginalized, chronically homeless and street involved women. During her experience at the organization Sistering - A Women's Place, she created a social purpose enterprise to foster self-sufficiency and break down barriers to employment. This has also been reflected in her focus on anti-oppressive practice, social justice and social change in her course curriculum development. Charlene has recently stepped into the role of Coordinator for the SSW program.

Griffin Epstein, PhD
Griffin is a professor in the School of Social and Community Services who has been engaged in community organizing and front-line social service provision since 2005. Griffin's activist work began as a founding member of both the Icarus Project's peer support model at New York City's Fountain House, and Toronto's Disability Action Movement Now (DAMN). Prior to joining the Social Service Worker team, Griffin developed and delivered curriculum for the Toronto Hostels Training Centre, and provided strategic planning assistance and training programs at various Toronto agencies. Griffin's doctoral work at the University of Toronto utilized community-based research to explore the relationship between race, colonial power and urban change. Griffin also holds an MA in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning and a BA in Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Pearl Fernandez Pearl Fernandez
Pearl Fernandez has been teaching part time in the Child and Youth Care Program since 2013 and became a full time Professor in the program in 2018. Pearl graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminology and Psychology. After working in youth justice for several years, Pearl attended George Brown College and graduated with an Advanced Diploma from the Child and Youth Care Program. Pearl has obtained extensive experience for over a decade in the field of Child and Youth Care. In her various roles as a Child and Youth Care Practitioner, Pearl has worked with children, youth and their families within the educational sectors, several community agencies, youth justice sectors and most recently as a Crisis Worker in one of the largest children's mental health agencies in the Peel Region. Pearl has a particular interest in the benefits of implementing Trauma Informed Approaches when providing care to children, youth and their families. Pearl is currently pursuing her Masters of Arts Degree in Education from Central Michigan University focusing on adult learning strategies, creating, and evaluating curriculum to fit their diverse needs. Pearl is passionate about teaching and ensuring that her students develop their professional skills as they pursue a career in the Child and Youth Care sector.

Jennifer Grant Jennifer Grant
Jennifer Grant is a professor in the Child and Youth Care (CYC) Program.  Jennifer has taught part-time in the CYC Program for over 10 years and joined as a full-time faculty in 2019.  She has worked with children, youth, and their families for over 18 years in a wide variety of contexts. This includes: children mental health, youth justice, community services and child advocacy.  Jennifer has spent the last 12 years in management roles, creating responsive programs and providing leadership within the child and youth sector.   Jennifer is committed to adult education that is focused on equity and inclusion and has led the implementation of anti-racist and anti-oppressive practice in several human service environments. She is currently completing a Master of Education at OISE focused on Adult Education and Community Development.

Patty Hayes Patty Hayes, MSW, RSW, MDiv, CCC
Patty is a professor in the Social Service Work Program. After teaching part-time in the Social Service Worker Program for several years, Patty joined as a full-time faculty member in 2016. She has been privileged to work both in Canada and the U.S. for over 15 years with children, youth, adults and families in a wide variety of contexts. This has included lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community centres, community based mental health programs, schools, and in-patient psychiatric settings. During her years in various clinical front-line and managerial positions, Patty spent most of her professional time working closely with clients in clinical practice, recognizing their courage and determination as well as the dedication and tenacity of her colleagues, sentiments which she also brings to the classroom.

Zeenat Janmohamed image Zeenat Janmohamed, PhD.
Zeenat Janmohamed is the Chair of the School of Social and Community Services and Deaf and Deafblind Studies at George Brown College, having held faculty positions in School of Early Childhood, the Atkinson Centre at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University and the Eric Jackman Institute of Child Studies at the University of Toronto. Zeenat leads the Early Childhood Cognitive Sensitivity Training Study, acollaboration between George Brown College, the City of Toronto's Children's Services Division and the Atkinson Centre at University of Toronto. The research will develop and deliver an innovative model of professional learning on cognitive sensitivity to improve the skills of ECE. Her most recent study investigates the impact of full day kindergarten and extended day programs on educators, families and school administration. Her expertise examines the implementation of ideas related to diversity, equity and difference. Her research aims to examine how diversity is explored in training, policy and practice. Zeenat completed her PhD in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE, University of Toronto.

Rusa Jeremic
Rusa Jeremic, PhD candidate, teaches in the Community Worker program. She has also taught community-based classes in Regent Park, Scadding Court, and St. Jamestown. For close to 15 years, Rusa was active in global solidarity movements as a campaigner, popular educator, and researcher. Prior to that, she was a Human Rights Accompanier in Guatemala. At home, Rusa has been involved in community and union organizing and the peace movement. She has served as a volunteer Community Mediator, and, as a popular educator, and dabbles in the comedic arts. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Her research interests include exploring virtual activism and online social movement building.

Gillian Johnston Gillian Johnston M.Ed. Developing Human Resources, OISE/U of T
Gillian has worked in the field of career development for several decades as a counsellor, counselling coordinator, Professor/Counsellor Educator at George Brown College.
Currently, she is the Coordinator and part-time Professor, in the Career Development Practitioner Graduate Certificate Program at George Brown College. She has been a counsellor educator for 35 years, at George Brown College and Sharjah Women's College (UAE) in the Career and Work Counsellor programs. Her leadership in the field is extensive. Currently she is Co-Director of the Career Development Practitioners' Certification Board of Ontario. She is also a member of the national Competency Framework Working Group and National Stakeholders group. Gillian is a well-respected leader in the field regionally and internationally and has been awarded numerous honours including the National Career Development Association (USA) International Award for her work in introducing the profession in the United Arab Emirates. Her most valued awards have been from her students who voted her in the top ten of teachers at GBC for 3 years in a row for her commitment and passion for teaching/mentoring/facilitating learning.

Zalina Mohamad
Zalina is a Professor in the School of Social and Community Services and has taught a variety of courses at all levels within the Child and Youth Care and Social Service Worker Programs. In addition Zalina has conducted a review of Field Education for the School of Social and Community Services. She is also actively involved in the community and continues to work with students on creating inclusive classroom spaces by grounding her teaching in anti-oppressive, reflective and reflexive practice. Zalina began her career teaching in high schools and working with at-risk youth in school-based programs. She obtained her B.Ed. and ESL qualification from OISE, U of T and went on to complete her Master of Education from York University with a focus on social justice, adult education and leadership. In addition, she completed a Graduate Diploma from York University in Urban Education, which provided a foundation for teaching and learning in urban environments by using an anti-oppressive lens and considering the diversities and intersection of identities which exist in the classroom. Zalina has worked in higher education for over 13 years, with ample experience as a Field Education Coordinator for the School of Social Work at York University.

Rick Owens, M.S.W., R.S.W., M.Ed.
Rick joined the Social Service Worker Program as a full-time faculty member in 2011 and has been the Coordinator of the Fast Track part of the program since the start of 2015. He has 30 years of experience in the field, having worked in youth justice, children's mental health, developmental services, health and education settings, in positions ranging from the front line to senior management. He is also an experienced teacher and trainer, and was a part-time faculty member at the School of Social Work at York University for more than a decade. Rick remains active in the field, as both a therapist in private practice and a member of the board of directors for an east end children's mental health centre. Rick's practice and research interests include critical social work, social work education and critical pedagogy, restorative practices, youth justice, treatment responses to sexual violence, and direct practice in mental health.

Melissa Teles
Melissa is a professor in the School of Social and Community Services and has been practicing child and youth care work for over a decade. In her role as a Child and Youth Care Practitioner, she has worked with children, young people, families and communities in the education sector, youth justice, child welfare, children's mental health, outreach, advocacy and most recently in Child and Youth Care education. Melissa is committed to creating inclusive classrooms where emerging practitioners can explore all aspects of child and youth care through an anti-oppressive lens. Melissa was one of the first child and youth workers in Canada to receive certification from the Child and Youth Care certification board. She has served on the board of directors for the OACYC and is a board member of the Child and Youth Care Educational Accreditation Board of Canada. Melissa has a particular interest in understanding and exploring all aspects of regulation and the professionalization of Child and Youth Care to ensure a high quality of service provided to children and young people. She continues to volunteer with women who have experienced intimate partner violence.

Jeffrey Reffo Jeffrey Reffo, BA, BSW, MSW, RSW
Jeffrey (pronouns: he/him) is a Professor in the School of Social and Community Services. Since starting with the School of Social and Community Services in 2017, he has taught in the SSW, CW and CYC programs. Jeffrey joined as a full-time faculty member in 2019. His teaching approach focuses on collaboration, social entrepreneurship, and active experimentation through an anti-oppressive, strengths-based lens.
His social and community work started over 25 years ago with HIV/AIDS infected and affected populations. He has held a variety of positions both corporately and within the social service sector across Canada. He is an experienced facilitator and long-time community educator who continues to work with governments, hospitals, corporations and agencies to advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ Inclusive spaces and foster allyship as a way to build stronger communities.

Anna Willats Anna Willats
Anna Willats is a Professor in the School of Social and Community Services. She has been a Toronto-based social justice and women's rights educator, advocate, and organizer for over 35 years. She is a professor in the Assaulted Women's and Children's Counsellor/Advocate Program, and managed the Women Transitioning to Trades & Employment Program at George Brown College from 2007 to 2018. She is committed to working collectively in a variety of ways for meaningful and progressive socio-economic change, from the ground up!

Natalie Wood, MA
Natalie is a full time Professor teaching in the SSW Program at George Brown College. Her areas of interest are Community Development, Community Economic Development/ Social Purpose Enterprise, Research and Proposal Writing, Communication and Interviewing, Values and Ethics, and the use of the Arts as a tool for research and empowerment of marginalized communities. For over 20 years she has worked in a variety of positions both managerial and front line in the social services field with marginalized communities such as, adults with dual diagnoses, women with concurrent disorders, trauma and abuse survivors, and women with mental health issues who are living in long-term poverty. She is also a community researcher, working as an art consultant on projects related to homeless women and trans-women and new immigrants and their experience of work, with the Arts and Social Work Research Institute at the Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. She has co-written a number of articles and presented nationally at conferences related to community-based and arts-based research in the social work field. Selected awards include a Community Based Research Award of Merit, from the Centre for Urban Health Initiatives & the Wellesley Institute 2007, the New Pioneers Award for contribution to Arts and Culture, 2006 and the City of York Civic Recognition Award for using the Arts to work with marginalized communities, 1997.

William Woolrich
William joined the Community Worker Program as a full-time Professor in the Fall of 2018. He has been teaching part-time in higher education since 2002. He worked as the Graduate Program Coordinator for the School of Social Work at York University for nine years and prior to that, he managed a supportive housing program for people involved in the psychiatric system. He also has several years on the front-line, working as a social worker for a community based mental health team. In addition to a BSc. from the University of Toronto, and a BSW and MSW from York University, in 2019, he completed a diploma in Post-Secondary Education: Community, Culture and Policy and a PhD in Education: Language, Culture and Teaching at York University where his research focus was on values based education for students engaged in administrative positions in social service organizations. His past research includes funded and unfunded publications and conference presentations on: psychosocial impact of assistive devices; supportive housing; social media and education; and university-community engagement.

Cristine Yhap
Cristine is an Alumni of George Brown College and graduated from the Child and Youth Worker program in 1993. She returned to university and obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Child and Youth Care and Master's Degree in Early Childhood Studies from Ryerson University. Cristine has spent over 25 years working with various agencies throughout Toronto including The Children's Aid Society, The Hincks-Dellcrest Children's Centre, Covenant House, and Central Toronto Youth Services (CTYS). Cristine took a sabbatical for a year and moved to the US, where she taught young children in the public school system and volunteered for Red Cross to help families relocate after the San Diego Wildfires Hurricane Katrina. She returned to Toronto and reconnected with George Brown College to teach part-time in the Child and Youth Care Program while working at CTYS supporting youth involved in the criminal justice system reintegrating from custody to community. Cristine is a passionate Child and Youth Care practitioner and professor. She believes that inclusion and anti-oppressive practices are necessary and is a strong advocate for social justice in our communities.


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