Start Proud, formerly known as Out On Bay Street, facilitates the professional development of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) students as they transition from school to career in order to build a national network within the LGBTQ+ community.


To empower members of the LGBTQ+ community to be Canada’s leaders of tomorrow; where all institutions embrace inclusiveness within the workplace and diversity within the workforce.


Diversity & LGBTQ+ Inclusion
We believe that our differences make us strong, compassionate and competitive.
We believe in professional excellence, self-improvement and changing the world around us.
We believe in contributing and collaborating with others to make an impact.
We believe every student and young professional should be given the tools, resources and knowledge to be successful.
Year-Round Events

Meet the Team


Nina Rakic 

Kary Cozens 
Executive Vice President

Kary Cozens is a student at the University of Toronto, Trinity College studying political science with a focus on global political systems and political economics. This is Kary’s third year volunteering with Start Proud, having worked to build the Start Proud brand at campuses across Canada with the student outreach team. Kary is excited to be joining the Executive team this year on to help LGBTQ students across Canada make the leap from university into the workforce.

Paul Skippen 
Advisor to the President

Paul has 20+ years of global consulting experience within the risk and regulatory management spaces. While at Deloitte, he worked with Start Proud to execute on the Leaders To Be Proud Of Awards – an initiative he co-founded with Start Proud. Currently, he is working on two ventures – one is a disruptive technology sharing economy application and the other is an LGBT+ real estate vacation destination. Passionate about the work Start Proud does and with connecting the leaders of today with the leaders of tomorrow, he is advising the Start Proud Executive.

Gary Grant
Director of Mentorship

Working directly with Start Proud’s Executive team, Gary Grant has been brought onto the Mentorship Team on account of his experience with designing and executing on strategies that forward the talent objectives of organizations. Currently, he is the Director of Talent Management and Training at Metro Inc. Otherwise, he has 17 years of experience within HR with a key focus on leadership development and talent management. His expertise have been guiding the development of the Mentorship Program by ensuring it exceeds industry standards.

Andres Perez-Vilarino
Corporate Treasurer

Andres is a student at the University of Waterloo’s Accounting and Financial Management program, currently working his co-op terms in Assurance at EY’s Toronto location. Andres’ interests include extracurricular and community involvement, leading large organizations such as DECA U Ontario, as well as various Model United Nations organizations over the past few years. This is Andres’ first year with Start Proud, and he is excited to be a part of the team and is looking forward to a fantastic year.

Adam James
Corporate Secretary

Victor Zhao
Finance Assistant

Board of Directors

Janet Spreitzer
Director & Chair

Janet has done a lot in her life, and wonders how she was able to do it all.  She’s worked in the finance industry for over 15 years in various capacities including Operations, Training and Development, Project Management and is currently a Director of Global Resourcing at Manulife Financial.  Janet is an avid advocate for LGBTQ inclusion and is currently co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group for Manulife Financial.  In her spare time (like she has any) Janet can be found running a start-up UX design company with her wife, or renovating their Junction home. Janet is passionate about travel, fine wine, and fancies herself a bit of a bon vivant. She also drinks way too much coffee.

Paul Saguil

Paul Jonathan Saguil is Associate Vice President, Anti-Money Laundering, Canadian Banking at TD Bank Group, where he leads the teams responsible for anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing issues relating to the Canadian Payments business, and oversees key governance processes, including innovation risk management, customer risk strategy, risk assessment methodologies, and training. He was formerly Senior Counsel in TD’s Legal Department, managing complex litigation, disputes, and investigations involving TD’s various businesses in Canada and internationally. He previously practised litigation at Stockwoods LLP and has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada, all levels of courts in Ontario, the Federal Court, and various administrative bodies, including the Ontario Securities Commission, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. He received his Hons. B.A. (Philosophy) from York University in 2004 and LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2007. He was awarded the Dean’s Gold Key in 2007 and an Alumni Gold Key in 2013, and currently serves on the Alumni Association Board. Before being called to the Bar of Ontario, he served as a judicial clerk to the Honourable Justice Phelan of the Federal Court. He is an active member of the Canadian/Ontario Bar Association and Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers, serves as the Chair of the OBA’s Equality Committee and the Law Society of Upper Canada Equity Advisory Group, and is a member of the Board for the 519 Community Centre and Community One Foundation.

Tony Giannopoulos

Tony is currently a Senior Manager in Home Equity Finance at RBC, where he leads product development and digital strategy. He has experience in marketing, sales, distribution strategy and portfolio management across a number of businesses and segments within personal and commercial banking. He is also a vice chair of RBC Pride, RBC’s ERG for LGBTQA employees. Along with his business knowledge, Tony has prior industry experience in cybersecurity where he developed a deep understanding of data and network security, risk and regulatory compliance. He holds an MBA from Schulich School of Business and a Bachelor of Engineering from McMaster University. Tony has previously volunteered with Start Proud for 3 years in executive and student marketing leadership roles. He first attended the Out On Bay Street Conference in 2011 as an electrical engineering undergraduate student.

Caroline Tutakiewicz

Caroline Tutakiewicz is the Director and Head of Investigations in Financial Crimes at RBC. Caroline has over five years of experience in executing RBC’s risk management strategy and balancing increased expectations from regulators while leveraging strategic relationships to support lean national growth. She has extensive experience in talent acquisition, retention, and development in both the private and public sectors. Prior to this current role, Caroline was a Senior Manager of Terrorist Financing and Organized Crime Investigations wherein she led high-risk, highly sensitive investigations that continue to have significant impact on Canada’s regulatory framework. Caroline previously founded and served as CFO for an international non-profit that worked to reintegrate former victims of human trafficking from Brazil into local workplaces. Currently, Caroline is a vice chair of RBC Pride, RBC’s ERG for LGBTQ+ employees, serves on the Board of Directors for MADD Toronto, and has committed over eight years of volunteer service with the Ministry of the Attorney General, utilizing Indigenous restorative justice practices to divert youth from formal judicial proceedings.

Dan Fricker

Dan is a young corporate leader with a passion for media and technology. He is currently on the Shopify Studios Leadership team, earning an Executive MBA from Cornell & Queen’s, and proud owner of WelcometotheDans.com. Outside of tech and business, he also has a background in telecommunications, broadcast TV, sport, and education. Throughout his career, Dan has developed new strategies for some of Canada’s most influential brands, from CBC and CTV, to TELUS, and the University of Toronto.

Mike Smith

Mike is Associate Vice President, Legal at TD Bank Group, where he leads the legal team supporting TD’s Wholesale Bank, including TD Securities investment banking and capital markets activities, global markets, global trade finance, correspondent banking, syndicated lending and cash management. He was formerly Associate Vice President, Legal, supporting TD’s Corporate Development team in considering and executing on acquisitions, divestitures and strategic investments. Mike also focuses on bank regulatory matters impacting banking activities and strategic investments, including with respect to the fintech industry. He previously practiced at Blake, Cassels & Graydon where he advised clients on corporate and securities matters including public and private mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, disclosure requirements for public companies, restructurings and general corporate matters.


Paul Chan

Paul Chan is the Founder of Modern Family Realtor the first gay family real estate company in Canada.  Paul and his husband Ewan started their business in 2015 shortly after the birth of their daughter Jasmine.  They are proud to have majority of their staff represent the LGBTQ community.  The company was featured on the front page of the Toronto Star and Global News for being ambassadors for LGBTQ families and marriage equality.  Modern Family Realtor also sponsors the Start Proud Student Leadership Scholarship along with over 50 local charities across Toronto.  Previously, Paul was the Relationship Manager at Rotman – U of T assisting thousands of students with internship and full time career opportunities specializing in the Big 4 accounting firms, banks, management consulting and various business roles.  Paul was also a headhunter/recruiter for 2 large agencies helping business professionals transition careers and fields of occupation.  Originally, Paul started his career at Deloitte and KPMG working in audit, taxation and advisory at offices in Toronto and Los Angeles.


Out On Bay Street

Vice-President, Out On Bay Street

Aneal is the Vice-President, Out on Bay Street

Ronen Spivak
Assistant Vice President, Out On Bay Street Conference

Ronen is a 4th-year Accounting and Finance student with a focus in forensic accounting and Business French and Translation at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management. This is Ronen’s first year volunteering with Start Proud, after attending the Out On Bay Street conference in 2015 and again in 2017. He is excited to help innovate the conference and redesign OOBS 2018 to make this year the best one yet. Ronen is incredibly fascinated with foreign language acquisition and teaching his native tongue to students across the world. He has served as an Analyst Intern within Deloitte’s Forensic Group conducting financial crime investigations, as well as the Co-Chair of the 10th annual ACHIEVE Case Competition, Canada’s premier and largest undergraduate accounting conference.

John Pehar
Associate, Student Awards

Alex Kpeglo-Hennessy
Associate, Case Competition

This is Alex’s first year volunteering with Start Proud. He’s eager to work with partners from the community to identify meaningful ways conference attendees can benefit their organizations.

Alex is a McGill graduate with a B.A. in Political Science (honours). Currently, he works for Airbnb in Montreal, working on portfolio development for their Lux business. Prior to this, he worked in marketing and distribution for Sonder, a hospitality start-up. In his free time, he enjoys Montreal’s vibrant music scene, reading fiction, and traveling.

Patrick Schertzer
Associate, Moot Court

Patrick is currently enrolled in the J.D. program at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law and is pursing his interests in corporate governance, municipal, and trade law. He holds an honours degree in History and Political Science (HBA) as well as a Masters degree (MA) in Political Science both from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Prior to joining Start Proud, Patrick was involved in numerous extracurricular activities at Laurier and in the broader Kitchener-Waterloo community. He served as Chair of the Board for the Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students’ Association, as an editor for the Laurier Undergraduate Journal of the Arts, and has worked on multiple federal and provincial campaigns across Ontario.

Patrick has held executive positions with the Law Students’ Society of Ontario and the Ontario Bar Association and has also been a strong advocate for the LGBT community in both law and politics.

In his spare time Patrick enjoys a good glass of red wine, running, listening to live music, and experimenting with photography.

Brandyn Rogerson
Associate, Content Developer

After receiving his Juris Doctor from the University of Alberta last spring, Brandyn began articling with the Alberta Court of Appeal in Edmonton. During his time in law school, Brandyn was heavily involved in student life, volunteering with OUTlaw, the Faculty of Law’s Equality and Respect Committee, and Student Legal Services. Joining the Start Proud team for the first time, Brandyn is excited to bring his professional skillset and passion for justice and equality he has strengthened through an internship with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, as well as through research assistance on a broad array of topics, including criminal defence rights, international human rights, and gender equality and women’s rights. In his spare time, you might catch him going to live music events and festivals, playing piano and marimba, exploring new restaurants and cultures, or travelling the world!

Rob Arseneau
Associate, Logistics

Venture Out Conference

Taylor Bond
Vice President

Lisa Durnford
Content & Programming Lead

Lisa is a lawyer from Sault Ste. Marie whose interests include: the ethical and regulatory considerations of emerging technologies, the daunting question of preventing biased AI algorithms, and the importance of diversity & inclusion with respect to both of those topics.
Ask me about: the future as it relates to above-noted interests, Harry Potter, digital identities, and Esther the Wonder Pig.

Samuel Naylor
Content & Programming Liaison

Simon Mills
Sponsorship Lead

Charis Zheng
Associate, Sponsorship

Ben Winn
Marketing Lead

Ben is a performing arts student-turned commerce graduate, with a passion for combining creativity and business. He is a Venture for Canada fellow, and currently works at SeamlessMD; a HealthTech startup that launches, optimizes and expands integrated care pathways for surgeries. Ben was drawn to his marketing role at Venture Out because he strongly believes that having a diverse team (in all sense of the word) is a vital component of innovation. More specifically, he believes that the LGBTQ+* community is too-often painted with one brush, and that there is great value in highlighting the diversity within it.

Iradele Plante
Community Engagement Lead

Daniel Favand
Community Engagement & Website Support

Rachel Shi
Content Support

Will Fraser
Student Outreach

Ruben Tjhie
Associate, Logistics

Christine Hsu
Event & Logistics Associate

David Yang
Hackathon Lead


Jonsson Liu
VP, Leaders To Be Proud Of

Jonsson is currently pursuing a joint bachelor/masters degree in Biomedical Discovery and Commercialisation at McMaster University. Committed to challenging himself to expand his knowledge and skills set, Jonsson aspires to launch his career in management consulting to gain exposure to different industries and learn through problem-solving.  Passionate about education, social entrepreneurship, and health care, Jonsson dedicates his free time to volunteering in the local community, student educational initiatives, sports events and a bit too much on his Instagram blog ‘findingjony’. You may often find Jonsson getting up at 4AM for rowing practices, or at school researching protein and eating lots of carbs

Hannah Frazer
Associate, Communications, Leaders to be Proud Of

Derek Eickmeier
Associate, Logistics, Leaders to be Proud Of

Derek holds a Bachelor of Mathematics degree from the University of Waterloo where he studied Actuarial Science and Statistics. He currently works for Precima, a global retail strategy and data analytics company, managing the suite of Merchandise Solutions they offer. In his free time, Derek enjoys travelling and staying active through a variety of sports like ultimate frisbee, beach volleyball, squash and running.

Derek is thrilled to be joining the Start Proud team in his first year with the organization.


Austin Jones
Vice President, Marketing

Ksenia Ioussoufovitch
Assistant Vice President, Marketing

Griffith Dias
Manager, Student Outreach

Griffith works on the Early Talent Acquisition team at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) where he coordinates full-cycle recruitment for the Technology & Operations line of business. He also serves as a committee member for the RBC PRIDE network (RBC’s LGBTQ employee resource group). Before starting his career at RBC, he worked as a Talent Manager and Human Resources Generalist in the marketing industry for two years. On weekends, Griffith casually volunteers with Save Our Scruff, a non-profit dog rescue and rehome charity, where he supports in fundraisers, events and adoptions.

Griffith comes from McMaster University where he studied Economic Policy & Social Psychology, and served as an executive member on the DeGroote Human Resources Association. He then completed the Business program at Mohawk College. Currently, he is studying part time to complete his Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation.

Aidan Messom
Associate, Arts & STEM Programs

Geoffrey Handelman
Associate, Business Programs

My name is Geoffrey Handelman. I was born and raised in Toronto Canada. I currently attend Ryerson University with a major in hospitality and tourism management. This year on campus I am the student president of Hillel Ryerson, as well as on the executive committee for Students Supporting Israel, and a peer mentor for incoming students in the hospitality and tourism management program. I am also highly involved in my programs student council as a second-year student representative. Along with volunteering for Start Proud in my spare time I love to read, play saxophone and piano, play sports and hang out with my family. I look forward to further contributing to this amazing organization, and seeing it grow and flourish as the year progresses.

Trevor Fairlie
Associate, Law Programs

Trevor Fairlie is an Associate on Start Proud’s marketing team. He attends Osgoode Hall Law School, where he serves as Vice Chair of Student Caucus and on the Academic Policy and Planning Committee of Faculty Council. Trevor is an active mooter, and is currently competing in the Davies Corporate/Securities Law Moot.

Prior to law school, Trevor received a BA in Political Science and a Diploma in International Trade. He is a former trade and investment policy researcher at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, a Vancouver-based think-tank.

Trevor is active in the LGBT community at Osgoode. He is Vice President, Professional Development of OUTLaws, and a director of the Wendy Babcock Memorial Show. Trevor is also a volunteer, through Pro Bono Students Canada, at Egale, where he is developing legal information brochures for LGBT refugees.

Heather Beatty
Associate, Graduate Programs

Guadalupe Koen-Alonso
Associate, Graphic Design

Olivia Dunne
Manager, Data Analytics

Olivia holds a Bachelor of Mathematics and Business Administration from the University of Waterloo and is a Senior Analyst in the Analytics & Insights department at LoyaltyOne. This is Olivia’s first year volunteering with Start Proud, after spending the last couple of years attending events and loving them! For the 2018 term, she will be acting as the Associate of Data Analytics. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting while repeatedly marathoning The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Spencer Maurice
Manager, Content Development

Hi, I’m Spence. I’m responsible for developing content for our media channels and managing a team of associates in our Marketing division. Along with other marketing managers, I develop a promotional strategy for our events and work with our Data Analytics team to track the success of our campaigns. I’m passionate about media, business, politics, technology, and I studied Film at York University. Favourite film? The 400 Blows. Favourite book? The Steve Jobs biography. Favourite management tip? Letting the best ideas win, regardless of where in the hierarchy they originated.

Emily Siu
Associate, Public Relations

Jaclyn Gunton
Associate, Newsletter Campaigns

After my Hogwarts letter evidently got lost in the mail, I decided to attend Western University for Media, Information & Technoculture and Visual Arts. I then attended Seneca College to study the magic of Creative Advertising. Right now I work at a startup company in the MaRS Discovery District doing graphic design, social media, and writing content for our website. At Start Proud I help out with Marketing & Communications initiatives, focusing on the Start Proud monthly e-Newsletter. My favourite part about volunteering at Start Proud is knowing that I belong to an amazing cause and that I can make a positive impact on other young adults who never got their letter to Hogwarts.


Artin Memar
Vice President, Sponsorship

Kevin Lass
Relationship Manager, Out on Bay Street Conference (Business)

Wenbo Xie
Relationship Manager, Out on Bay Street Conference (Business)

Gabriela Jordao
Relationship Manager, Out on Bay Street Conference (Business)

Elvis Lazaro
Relationship Manager, Out on Bay Street Conference (Business)

Keiron Narine
Relationship Manager, Out on Bay Street Conference (Business)

Elizabeth White
Relationship Manager, Out on Bay Street Conference (Law)

Roberto Quiroga
Relationship Manager, In-Kind Sponsorships

Joseph Osborne
Relationship Manager, Out on Bay Street Conference (Law)

Web & Information Technology

Adrian Leung
Vice-President, Web & Information Technology

Adrian is passionate about making an impact on healthcare and its delivery, and has a background in operations and system transformations.  He is currently studying health administration at the University of Toronto, focusing on health policy, quality, and technology.  He spends his spare time with his family and friends, and reading up random topics on news sites and Wikipedia.  Adrian is excited to see where this new adventure in Start Proud will take him!

Nathan Wu
Manager, Web Development

Nathan is the Manager of Web Development.

Jason Gomez
Web Developer

Jason is a Web Developer.

May Cai
Associate, Web Development

May is a McGill graduate with studies in finance and accounting. She has a background in startups, real estate development and operations. May is passionate about continuous learning and seeking efficient ways to solve problems. Outside of work, you will find her hitting the slopes, refining her tennis skills on court or planning her new travel adventure. This is May’s first year volunteering with Start Proud and she excited to be joining the Web team and making an impact!

Calgary Regional Team

Lorne Graburn
Co-Chair, Calgary Regional Team

Michael Velcic
Co-Chair, Calgary Regional Team

Matthew Hayes
Associate, Calgary Regional Team

Matthew is on the management team at Nordstrom Chinook Center in Calgary, Alberta, where he oversees their Women’s Trend department. He studied History and French at Mount Royal University, and believes that giving back is the only way in which one can begin to make a difference in the community. Working for a diverse company such as Nordstrom, whose corporate values mirror those of Start Proud, reinforces the need to provide positive workplaces, that foster’s inclusiveness and allow people to express their true individuality. Working with a team of high spirited individuals continuously reinforces the need to provide safe work spaces that encourages employees and student’s alike to be themselves.

Mark Matlock
Associate, Calgary Regional Team

Sean Delsnider
Associate, Calgary Regional Team

Jack Olson
Associate, Calgary Regional Team

Montreal Regional Team

Renaud Deronzier
Co-Chair, Montreal Regional Team


Renaud Gravel
Co-Chair, Montreal Regional Team


Andy Nagy
Associate, Montreal Regional Team


Guy Tsor
Associate, Montreal Regional Team


Thierry Vigneux-Salesse
Associate, Montreal Regional Team


Emma Goyette
Associate, Montreal Regional Team

Graduated from a bachelor in organizational development and a master’s degree in communication, both with honors, Emma is a freelance consultant working with clients coming from various industries: Health, Communications, Academic, and individuals. She founded Start Proud Montréal as a Co-Chair in 2016 and keeps on contibuting to Start Proud as an Associate since 2017. In her free time, Emma likes activites related to arts and cuture and enjoys discovering Montréal’s perks!

Mélanie Le Berre
Associate, Montreal Regional Team


Ottawa Regional Team

Kent Evans
Chair, Start Proud Ottawa
Vice-President, National Capital Region, Start Proud

Kent is a third-year law student at the University of Ottawa and a master’s candidate in International Affairs at Carleton University. He recently began working as a summer student at Borden Ladner Gervais in Ottawa where he will complete his articles in 2019-20. Before joining BLG, Kent worked as a Trade Policy Officer at Global Affairs Canada. Kent completed his first degree in Political Science and Theatre Studies in his home town of Regina at the University of Regina. He also worked as an actor which included developing and touring a one-person show, Small Boy DREAMS, in both Canada and the United Kingdom.

Kent became Chair of Start Proud Ottawa in May 2017. His work as Chair focuses on growing the team’s presence in Ottawa and facilitating opportunities for the LGBTQ2+ community. Prior to serving as Chair, Kent was Law Relations Manager for two years. Kent is proud of the achievements of the Start Proud Ottawa team and is looking forward to what the future holds.

Matthew Gragtmans
Law Relations Manager

Matthew is excited to be a part of Start Proud Ottawa as the Law Relations Manager. Matthew is an English Common Law student at the University of Ottawa, and holds a Bachelor of Science from Western University in Environmental Science and History. Within the law school, Matthew acts as the treasurer for UOttawa OUTLaw, the law school’s LGBTQ+ law students’ association. Matthew is passionate about Start Proud Ottawa and OUTLaw because they empower LGBTQA+ students with opportunities to effectively develop their careers, and he enjoys the fun and innovative nature of the Start Proud community. Born and raised in Stouffville, Ontario, Matthew moved to Ottawa for law school because it is truly the center of legislation and judicial decision making.

Olivia Le
Sponsor Relations Manager

Olivia works for the Finance and Administration Branch of Canada Revenue Agency as a Financial Analyst. She graduated in May 2017 from the University of Ottawa completing her Honours Bachelor degree in Commerce with an option in Finance. Currently she is pursuing the Canadian Risk Management Designation. She also volunteers as one of the National Capital Region Reps for the CRA LGBTQ2+ Network where she gets to dissemate information to regional members, organize regional events, promote the network, create network materials & messages, and strive for positive change and inclusion within the CRA.

With a passion for empowerment, she is happy to experience yet another year managing sponsor relations in Ottawa for Start Proud, and support her team of volunteers.

Andrew Johnson
Government and Public Service Relations Manager

Andrew works for the House of Commons of Canada as a Legislative Assistant. He has previously held roles as a Constituency Office Manager in his hometown and worked at the corporate offices for Cineplex Entertainment in Toronto. Prior to his time in Ottawa, Andrew spent time observing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations and he has a particular passion for the inclusion of marginalized groups in public policy. He completed his Bachelors in Environmental Studies and Forest Conservation Science from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing a graduate certificate in Climate Change Policy and Practice, with a focus on sustainability reporting. He is particularly passionate about pursuing a career in environmental finance and sustainable development.

Andrew is excited to help make connections for Start Proud in the Government and Public Service sector, and to encourage more young people to pursue roles in government. It is Andrew’s goal that more LGBTQ2+ will see politics and government as a rewarding career, and that diversity strengthens their career.

Dominic Duchesne
French and Francophone Relations Manager

Dominic is currently studying law at the University of Ottawa and holds a Bachelor of Arts from Concordia University in Sociology.

Dominic has admired the work that Start Proud achieves for the LGBTQ+ community and he is thrilled to be part of its executive team as the Francophone Relations Manager. His role as a liaison to the Francophone community is to foster and cultivate existing and new relationships with bilingual professionals working in Ottawa. His passion to empower people facing adversities is very much in tune with how Start Proud seeks to support LGBTQ+ youth and professionals.

Dominic is also a Canadian award-winning actor. Prior to his undergraduate studies, he won a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award in Vancouver for his work in the new French-Canadian play called “Extra-Céleste”.


Nicole Hilliard
Community Outreach Manager

Nicole is a first year Law student at the University of Ottawa where she also volunteers with OUTLaw and the Ottawa Law Students First Generation Network. She has recently returned to school after spending several years backpacking around the world. With a Bachelor of Arts in Social Justice and Peace Studies, Nicole is committed to addressing intersectionality as it affects individuals entering the work force.

Nicole hopes to promote more representation of marginalized groups at Start Proud Ottawa events and invites input from the community to strengthen these goals.

Nofil Nadeem
Marketing Manager

Connor Moen
Social Media Manager

Connor is a social media guru for the national Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) – the voice of 1.4 million Ukrainians in Canada. Starting with only 4,000 followers, Connor has grown the UCC’s audience to 13,000 in one year. Connor is also the first full time staff for the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union (SUSK), where he does grant writing, event planning and project management.

Connor will bring his skills and expertise to Start Proud Ottawa as a Social Media Manager. Originally native to Saskatoon, Connor is excited to meet with fellow young professionals in the National Capital Region and expand his experience for a fulfilling career in communications, non-for-profits and politics.

In his free time, Connor reads, exercises, works on his French, and ponders what to bake for the next Start Proud Ottawa executive meeting.

Tanner Tallon
Associate, Ottawa Regional Team

Tanner is a recent graduate (Class of 2018) of the Bachelor of Commerce – Accounting Specialisation programme from the University of Ottawa. He attended his first Out On Bay Street Conference in 2013 and has been part of the Start Proud team in Ottawa since 2014. Tanner’s role as part of the team has included strategic guidance, event organisation, and community outreach.

When he is not working, Tanner keeps busy at the gym, curling in the winter, biking in the summer, and reading queer lit all year long.

Tanner is currently on a voyage in France until late September when he will be returning to Ottawa. He will then be starting a position with the Department of National Defence.

Regional Initiatives

Oren Kamen
Vice President, Toronto Initiatives

Samira Hafezi
Associate, Toronto Initiatives

Associate, Women’s Events

Angela currently is a Policy Advisor and Executive Assistant to a Toronto City Councillor. She has always been politically active and has participated in several political campaigns. Angela has volunteered for Pride Toronto durning World Pride and the Human Rights Conference as well as PrideHouseTO. 

Angela holds a Bilingual Specialization in Political Science with a certificate in Law and Social Thought from Collège Glendon; York University. Outside of work and volunteering, she considerers herself to be a Foodie; reviewing restaurants and managing her Food account on Instagram. 

Vancouver Regional Team

Preston Parsons
Chair, Vancouver Regional Team

Preston is a lawyer at Overholt Law, a boutique labour and employment law firm located in downtown Vancouver. He attended both Lakeland College and Athabasca University for his Commerce undergraduate degree and received his law degree from the University of British Columbia. In addition to practicing law, Preston is a figure skating coach and has been active in the Canadian Bar Association both within British Columbia and nationally on executives of the Young Lawyers Forum and the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identify Conference Forum.

Kevin Hill
Associate, Vancouver Regional Team

Bari AbdulRahman
Associate, Vancouver Regional Team

Aaron Cho
Associate, Vancouver Regional Team

Laura MacDonald
Associate, Vancouver Regional Team

Michael Howcroft
Associate, Vancouver Regional Team

Michela Fiorido
Associate, Vancouver Regional Team

Michela works as a lawyer at Harris & Company LLP mostly practicing in the areas of privacy, human rights, and labour and employment law. She holds a law degree from the University of British Columbia and was called to the bar in 2015. Along with volunteering with Start Proud, Michela also helps organize the annual Hooplaw basketball tournament and also assists sports leagues in adopting trans*-inclusive policies. When not at the office, Michela spends her time playing in various queer sports leagues around the city, her favourite being Queer Van Hoops.

Trinity Western Judicial Review

Start Proud/Out On Bay Street filed submissions with the Ontario Divisional Court to request intervenor status in Trinity Western University’s (TWU) application to challenge the Law Society of Upper Canada’s decision not to accredit TWU’s proposed law school.

TWU’s Community Covenant Agreement prohibits sexual intimacy outside of heterosexual marriage, which discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) students.

June 16, 2018
Christian university Trinity Western loses fight over law school at Supreme Court

June 15, 2018
SCC affirms 7-2 Ontario and B.C. regulators’ denial of accreditation to TWU’s proposed law school
The Lawyer’s Daily

June 15, 2018
Advocates ‘delighted’, school ‘troubled’ by Trinity Western court decision
The Toronto Star

August 2, 2017
Supreme Court justice offers explanation for LGBTQ decision
The Globe and Mail

August 1, 2017
Supreme Court reversal allows LGBTQ groups to take part in case involving B.C. Christian university
The Toronto Star

June 29, 2016
Treasurer’s statement on Court of Appeal’s decision on TWU

Ontario appeal court upholds law society rejection of TWU law school
Canadian Lawyer Magazine

Private Christian university loses appeal at Ontario’s top court

Ontario Appeal Court upholds law society’s stand on Trinity Western University
The Globe and Mail

Ontario appeal court upholds decision not to accredit evangelical law school
The Toronto Star

Equal access to law school beats religious freedom, court rules
Daily Xtra

July 3, 2015
Ontario court upholds LSUC’s denial of TWU accreditation
Canadian Lawyer Magazine

July 2, 2015
Trinity Western’s planned law school takes another hit
Vancouver Sun

July 2, 2015
Ontario law society’s decision to refuse Trinity Western accreditation upheld
The Globe and Mail

July 2, 2015
Ontario court finds Trinity Western covenant discriminatory
Daily Xtra

July 2, 2015
Ontario court upholds Law Society’s decision not to accredit Trinity Western University
The Toronto Star

May 31, 2015
B.C. fundamentalist university to challenge Ontario law society decision

The Globe and Mail

May 14, 2015
Barring evangelical law school’s graduates ‘not reasonable,’ argues federal government
Toronto Star

May 4, 2015
TWU decision unreasonable, federal government argues

Canadian Lawyer

November 11, 2014
Law students as B.C. government to rescind TWU approval

Daily Xtra

November 7, 2014
OUTlaws want B.C. government to reverse TWU law degree approval

Canadian Lawyer

October 1, 2014
Out on Bay, OUTlaws Named Interveners in TWU Hearing

Paralegal Scope Magazine

September 30, 2014
Toronto LGBT groups see court action


September 29, 2014
See no students, hear no students: Are law societies listening to us?

Canadian Lawyer

August 27, 2014
LGBT groups seek intervenor status in Trinity Western case


May 5, 2014
TWU believers bear false witness

CBA National Magazine

For more information, please contact:

Paul Johnathan Saguil
Director, Board of Directors
Start Proud

OUTlaws contacts can be provided upon request.