Leah joined the Board of BFO-Toronto in June 2017, in loving memory of her mother, Margaret Anne Jeffrey. Leah experienced firsthand the power of peer support in her own grief journey through a number of traumatic losses. She joined BFO-Toronto having complete conviction in the organization’s ability to inspire hope and healing to members of the Toronto community and wanting to contribute. Leah served as Vice Chair of the Board, and Head of the Governance and Human Resources committees, from 2018-2020. She is currently serving as Chair of the Board. Leah strives to meaningfully support the BFO-Toronto board members, staff and volunteers to help the organization achieve its strategic goals and objectives and to meet the needs of the community that BFO-Toronto serves.
Leah is a lawyer and works in private equity. Outside of work, she enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends and experiencing new places and foods.
Jane SmartVice-Chair, BFO-Toronto & Provincial Chair, BFO
Jane first came to BFO-Toronto in 2003, after the loss of her son Sandy, as a client attending a Parental Loss group. From there she began to volunteer as a group facilitator. Jane joined the board in 2013 serving as the Communications Committee Chair, Vice-Chair and Board Chair. Currently, she is serving as the BFO Provincial Board Chair. In 2007 Jane was the recipient of the Noah Thorek award, and in 2018 was the first BFO volunteer to receive the Lesley Parrott Award.
Her goals include helping to build a stronger BFO, encouraging collaboration between the Board, staff and volunteers to inspire hope and healing in the community.
Jane is a retired corporate trainer.
Barb Gill-LazroePAC Liaison
Barb’s involvement with BFO began in April 1990, when her youngest of 3 sons, Adam Joseph Gill died from leukemia on April 5th, 1990 at the age of 12. After completing a 12-week parental loss couples group from Sept. to Dec. 1990, she took the BFO facilitator training course.
Since 1991, Barb has co-facilitated many types of groups including parental loss, children’s groups, concurrent parent groups, spousal loss over 55 closed groups. She also does one-to-ones and has recently shared her facilitator experience in current BFO facilitator training sessions.
At the present time, she is the chair of PAC (Professional Advisory Committee) and the PAC representative on the Board. Barb is the honored recipient of the Noah Thorek Award and the first recipient of the Founders Award.
John joined the board in 2018, in memory of his wife, Mercedita, who he lost in 2016. After a quick few months, John assumed the role of Treasurer, a role in which he can use his professional accountancy skills to ensure the financial health of BFO-Toronto. When not working as an accountant, you can often find John spending time outdoors and fishing.
Allan was originally on the Board of BFO-Toronto in the 90’s when Marg McGovern was the Executive Director. Allan rejoined the Board in 2015 and has served as a Board Chair. He is the recipient of the BFO-Toronto Founders Award.
Allan has been a Funeral Director for over 40 years and operates MacKinnon & Bowes in Toronto. He and his company have been supportive of BFO and the assistance it provides families in need for over 30 years.
Catherine was introduced to BFO-Toronto in 2014. Her friend Lesley Parrott asked her to help with the Memorial Golf Tournament in memory of her daughter Alison Parrott. At the tournament, Catherine met a number of people who shared their stories and talked about how BFO has helped them through their grief journeys, giving them support and hope.
Catherine joined the board in 2014 and is passionate about fundraising to ensure that BFO can continue to provide its much-needed support. She leads the Golf Tournament Committee and Co-Chairs the Fundraising Committee.
Outside of BFO, Catherine works in data analytics.
Janet came to BFO-Toronto in 2013 following the death of her partner Tim Mogg, and continues to be grateful for the support and friendship she has received over the years. As a copywriter and marketing/ communications specialist she has volunteered on various communications projects and has been facilitating spousal loss groups since 2017.
Alyson joined the BFO-Toronto Board in Fall of 2020, following the sudden loss of her young brother Jeff. Alyson has participated in peer to peer grief support groups through other local organizations and has experienced first hand how instrumental these groups are at helping people cope with their grief.
Alyson runs her own international marketing business, with expertise focused on marketing, communications and event planning. She looks forward to becoming more involved with BFO and its outstanding events and initiatives.
Sheldon became involved with BFO in 2019, when he noticed that the Butterfly Garden in Duplex Park needed care. As soon as he learned that it was a BFO memorial tribute, he decided that he would spearhead the effort to make sure that the garden was planted properly and well tended. Since joining the Board, Sheldon, a retired corporate and commercial lawyer, has been a member of the Governance Committee and various other Committees. He is passionate about the work being done at BFO. Sheldon enjoys walking in Muir Park travelling with his wife, Sharon ,and spending meaningful time with his 6 grandchildren.
Karen became aware of BFO-Toronto in 1988 after her husband died and she attended a closed group spousal loss program following a recommendation from the funeral director. Karen’s two eldest daughters (then 5 and 7) attended a children’s program which included expressing feelings through art. In 2018, Karen’s middle daughter, Brianna O’Connor Hersey, died at age 36. Karen found her way back to BFO-Toronto several months later and found significant peer support from both facilitators and other parents wading through the darkness the loss of a child creates.
In late fall of 2020, Karen joined the Board of Directors with a goal of supporting the various committees the Board encompasses. She has become interested in moving forward Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practices within BFO-Toronto and well as contributing to the Professional Advisory Committee which helps ensure that BFO-Toronto operates within its mission, mandate, strategic direction, goals and beliefs.
Professionally, Karen has utilized a nursing background to oversee a clinical research program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre focusing predominately on prostate cancer. She also plays the piano, is an avid reader and consumer of theatre, and bakes for her colleagues as a stress reliever.