NPAO Board and Staff
As a strong patient advocate, Leanna brings 15 years of front line nursing experience, including nine years as a PHC NP. She developed and leads the North Muskoka NPLC, a non-profit, interprofessional team that provides full-scope, NP-Led primary care to thousands of rural Ontarians. Leanna brings to the board experience in innovative leadership, business management, collaboration, policy development, and non-profit governance.
Shawn was born and raised in the Toronto area, he relocated to Thunder Bay in 2009 and still resides there. He started his nursing career working in various Emergency Departments in Toronto. Shawn found his calling working with Indigenous people on remote and isolated First Nations and has spent almost the last decade working with this population in both urban and remote settings. Shawn completed his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Ryerson University, and his Master of Public Health at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. He is currently working at the NorWest Community Health Centres where he provides street outreach services to individuals at the local homeless shelters and detox centres, he is also a part-time lecturer in the Lakehead University School of Nursing.
Amanda completed her undergraduate degree in Nursing at Laurentian University in 2003. She worked as an RN in small rural hospitals in Northern Ontario until returning to Laurentian to complete the NP program and Master’s Degree. She has been practicing as a PHC-NP since 2009 and has been working at the Capreol NPLC since it opened in 2011. Amanda’s focus on the Board is to ensure that NPs across the province have an avenue to voice their concerns.
Donna completed her undergraduate nursing degree at the University of Toronto in 1992. Her passion for ongoing learning and desire to acquire more knowledge about caring for complex elderly patients took her back to the University of Toronto where she completed a Master’s degree and subsequently the post-masters Nurse Practitioner diploma both in the clinical area of Geriatrics. In addition to working as a Nurse Practitioner at North York General Hospital since 2004, Donna holds an adjunct appointment with the Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing whereby she is involved in mentorship activities in the undergraduate program and precepts nurse practitioner students. Aside from clinical work she is actively involved in committee work both internally and externally where she helps to contribute to both senior friendly strategies and nursing leadership. When she isn’t busy with work Donna enjoys travelling, photography and CrossFit.
Gayle began her nursing career in 1985 working in med-surg and palliative care. Over the years, she has spent time in community care, long term care, management and most recently in mental health. She obtained her nursing diploma from St. Lawrence College, a BScN from University of Ottawa, an MBA from Queen’s and MN (Primary Care NP specialty) from Athabasca University. She is certified in psychiatric and mental health nursing from CNA. In addition to nursing, she is a yoga teacher / therapist opening and running her own yoga studio for 12 years. She loves to incorporate complementary practices in her nursing interventions.
Her varied board experience includes the Kemptville Business Improvement Area Board, Helping Hands for India Charity and the Kemptville District Hospital Board of Directors. She is employed full time as a Primary Care NP at Merrickville Community Health Centre. Just for fun (in her spare time) she officiates weddings, teaches CPR and plays with her grandchildren.
Kevin Zizzo completed his Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) through Ryerson University and George Brown College. After gaining several years of clinical experience he pursued a graduate level education and obtained a Masters in Nursing (MN) and a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) Certificate through the University of Toronto. In addition, Kevin is one of seven individuals in Canada to obtain a Graduate Diploma as an NP in Anesthesia Care (GDipNPAC). His clinical experiences have primarily been in Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Community Health in remote First Nations communities, Pediatric Cardiology, and Pediatric Anesthesia. Kevin is a strong advocate for NP practice and has a passion for educating future nurses. He is cross appointed as an Assistant Clinical Professor at McMaster University and an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Toronto.
Chantal is a Nurse Practitioner at the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto Family Practice Unit, St. Michael’s Hospital. She graduated from the Sheridan College Practical Nursing program in 2010, completed the Centennial College Bridging to
University Certificate in 2011, and graduated from the Ryerson University Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program in 2013. She recently completed her MN and NP Certificate (Primary Health Care) with a specialty in global health at the University of Toronto (U of T). Chantal has experience working in Primary Care, Occupational Health, Safety and Wellness, Home Care, and served as a Quality Improvement and Charge Nurse in Long-Term Care. She prides herself in her anti-Black racism work and served as the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) Outreach
coordinator, where she represented U of T at the Harvard University Black Policy Conference in April, 2019.
Currently, she is the group Chair of the NPAO Black Nurse Practitioners’ Community of Practice, is on the leadership team of St. Michael’s Hospital Department of Family and Community Medicine Anti-racism Advisory Committee, is working with the NPAO social media committee, and was a contributor to the New and Novice NP New Graduate Tool kit.
In her spare time, she enjoys singing and song writing, spending time with friends and family, and has recently picked up golfing. She is looking forward to working with the NPAO board of directors with the goal of elevating NP voices and making actionable changes to benefit the lives of NPs in Ontario
Marie completed her undergraduate degree in Nursing at Western University in 2005. She worked as an RN in the areas of pediatrics and postpartum care in London and Stratford hospitals. In 2008 she returned to Western part time to complete the Masters of Nursing degree and Primary Health Care NP program. She has been practicing as a PHCNP since 2011 and has been working as the only full-time NP at the Alexandra Marine & General Hospital (AM&GH) since 2012. At AM&GH, Marie provides primary care to patients and their families in the emergency department, prenatal clinic and mental health inpatient units. When Marie is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family.
Marie is looking forward to being part of the board and to continuing to advocate for NPs in Ontario in this constantly changing healthcare environment.
Julian is a lawyer that specialises in Civil Litigation and Privacy law. Julian completed his bachelor’s degree at York University. After graduating, he pursued a Juris Doctorate at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Prior to serving as Board Director of Governance, Julian served in the role of Legal Advisor to the NPAO Board where he regularly provided support to the Board on its responsibilities to the organization and to the Members. Julian also contributed to the development of policies while serving as Board Legal Advisor.
In his current role as Board Director of Governance, Julian is responsible to ensure the NPAO is aware of its risks with respect to legal and regulatory requirements as it concerns the affairs of the NPAO and to the Board’s decisions. Julian regularly contributes to Board discussions and decisions as a non-NP board member and provides a non-clinical lens to the Board on pertinent issues and decisions.
Tara has undergraduate degrees from Queen’s University and the University of New Brunswick. She completed her Master of Nursing and Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Diploma with the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, at the University of Toronto. Tara has more than 10 years of comprehensive clinical and leadership experience, specializing her clinical work in Lung Transplantation and Respiratory medicine. As the Nurse Practitioner Lead at the University Health Network in Toronto, Tara is well recognized for her advocacy of the NP role, and promotion of NP practice. She has held various leadership positions both locally and nationally, and has authored and presented at a variety of international forums and invited speaking engagements. Tara currently holds cross-appointment as an Adjuct Lecturer with the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto.
NPAO Board Advisors
Melanie Towell is the Director Finance, Association of Ontario Midwives Benefit Trust, a Trust which manages the benefits administration of the Association of Ontario Midwives. She has served in several senior financial roles in the not for profit sector, including The Arthritis Society, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Ms. Towell, completed her LLB at the University of Exeter, U.K. and her C.A. at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, and her CPA in Ontario.
Dana possesses over 25 years of experience in association management in a variety
of roles and as a consultant. He is credentialed as a Certified Association Executive
(CAE) and has an MBA from the University of British Columbia. He is currently
serving as the Interim Executive Director for the Canadian Association for Nurses in
Oncology after spending six years with Orthotics Prosthetics Canada as their Executive Director. Prior to that, he served as the Director of Government Relations and Public Policy for the Canadian Association of Optometrists.
Dana currently instructs the CAE 200 membership course and has presented at conferences across Canada on the member experience, service delivery, volunteer leadership, relations and retention, technology and amalgamation. In 2015, he was awarded the Executive Member of the Year by the CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter.
He lives in Ottawa with his wife, their three boys and two Yorkshire Terriers. Dana likes to golf, scuba dive, hike and be outdoors as much as he can.
Manager of Administration and Operations
Marcela Killin was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil and immigrated to Canada in 2013. She holds a Business Administration degree from the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a Diploma in Healthcare Management from the Ontario Hospital Association, a certificate in Public Policy and Administration with the University of Guelph, a Credential of Readiness from Harvard Business School Online and is currently pursuing her MBA in Social Enterprise Leadership with the University of Fredericton. She is passionate about social impact, healthcare and education and has been with the NPAO team since 2015. She is also a board member with the Ajax Public Library, a volunteer of the Town of Ajax IMPACT team and a committee member of the Regional Municipality of Durham’s Newcomer Advisory Table.
Manager of Practice and Policy
Claudia Mariano graduated from the University of Toronto in 1986 with her Honours Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After working in medical-surgical nursing and public health nursing, she returned to U of T and obtained her Master of Science in Nursing in 1992.
In 1999 she graduated from the Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program, also from U of T. Since that time she has embraced primary care and chronic disease management, working at the East End Community Health Centre in Toronto for 10 years, and for the past 10 years at the West Durham Family Health Team in Pickering. Claudia is a Certified Diabetes Educator and has obtained her certificate in Intensive Smoking Cessation Intervention. She is also a trainer for the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation. Her clinical practice is heavily focused on health promotion and self-management of chronic disease.
Claudia is a Past President of the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario, past Board member of the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario, current Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Toronto Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, and author/editor of ‘No One Left Behind: How Nurse Practitioners are Changing Canada’s Health Care System’. She currently works at NPAO as the Manager of Practice and Policy and continues her clinical practice doing locum work in the community.
Manager of Continuing Education
Vanessa is an accomplished planning, program development
and delivery strategist with over 14 years of experience leading the innovation, design and delivery of creative program solutions in the not for profit health sector.
In addition to this rewarding work, Vanessa has a passion for running and has completed 2 triathlons and 3 half marathons