NYLAC committee members in a group shot at the YMCA Canada office

The National Young Leaders Advisory Committee (NYLAC) was established in 2020 to advocate for and support the incorporation of youth voice in decision-making within the Canadian YMCA movement.

The National Young Leaders Advisory Committee works to:

  • Engage and provide youth voice and perspectives to YMCA Canada as input on emerging issues, opportunities, programs, priorities, and strategies
  • Build the leadership capacity for youth to be able to fully participate in decision-making spaces as valued decision-makers
  • Strengthen and engage the YMCA Young Leaders Network as a mechanism for gathering diverse youth voice nationally
  • Support YMCA Young Leaders Network members as a resource and partner in their local efforts and initiatives
  • Connect Youth Advisory Committees/Councils to share experiences, promising practices, and learnings to maximize the value they bring to their YMCA Associations
  • Advocate for and increase the representation of youth/young leaders on national and global initiatives internal and external to the YMCA
  • Educate and reduce intergenerational barriers to make space for more diverse youth voices

NYLAC Members are YMCA staff or volunteers who are passionate about youth voice, engagement, and leadership.

Contact: [email protected]

NYLAC Members 2024

Men and Boys Program Lead (GBVP Project)   
YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth 

Abed Fakhry 2024 headshot

About Me: From the moment I arrived in Canada, the YMCA has been my home. Starting as a client, then a volunteer, youth outreach support, other diverse roles, and now proudly leading programs - marking my two years of involvement. As an immigrant youth navigating a new country, the YMCA opened doors for me, and I've grown alongside it. My journey as a youth advocate began at 16 in Afghanistan, advocating for youth voices. Since then, I've worked with various NGOs and organizations, focusing on youth empowerment and advocacy. 

How I can Help: I'm deeply passionate about youth advocacy, equality, and inclusion, particularly working with immigrant youth and engaging men and boys in gender-based violence prevention. I'm here to share my experiences, amplify diverse voices, and ensure everyone's stories are heard and acknowledged.

Fun Fact: I have a background in acting and theatre, a passion I've cherished since childhood. I'm also drawn to philosophy and metaphysics, enjoying deep philosophical discussions. And when I'm not immersed in advocacy or the arts, you can find me in movie theaters, meditating, or indulging in a game of 8-ball pool.

Contact: Feel free to connect with me at [email protected]. Let's work together to create positive change! 

Youth Worker, Employment 
YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka  

Maggie Culhane 2024 headshot

About Me: With more than 7 years working with the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, I have worked in a number of roles, but my home base has always been working in youth employment. I love helping young people to gain the knowledge, tools, and resources to confidently reach their employment goals. I have also been lucky enough to participate in the Young Ambassadors program with YMCA Canada, learning more about the YMCA across Canada and around the world.  

How I can Help: I am passionate about everything employment and have a long history working in youth programming and supporting youth engagement.  

Fun Fact: I love hiking and checking out different Provincial Parks! 

Contact: Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

Aquatic and Communications Director 
YMCA of Pictou County

Emma Dwyer 2024 headshot

About Me: I’ve been a YMCA staff member for 9 years now in a variety of capacities, starting with lifeguard to where I am now as Aquatics and Communications Director. Aside from the YMCA, I am a member of the Canadian Armed Forces (Navy) and work within the Canadian Cadet Organization (ages 12-18). I have a passion for helping youth learn important skills like leadership and learning how to swim. Seeing another person learn a new skill is one of the most rewarding parts of both of my jobs!

How I can Help: I have a passion for design and communication. I love creating graphics for social media and help manage a couple different social media accounts. I am always willing to help make someone’s vision come to life! I love to learn new things, share knowledge, and expand my understanding of the world.

Fun Fact: I love the water, I got my boating licence before my driver’s licence, and I was swimming before I was walking.

Contact: Please reach me at [email protected].

Interim Development Coordinator   
YMCA of Southwestern New Brunswick (unceded traditional lands of the Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), Passamaquoddy, and Mi’kmaq Peoples)

Kendra Gautreau headshot 2024

About Me: I've been with the Y for more than 7 years now in different capacities, however my favourite role is whenever I'm working with young people! Youth are the present, so we need to make space for their ideas, passions, and experiences as these are shaping the future.   

How I can Help: Happy to connect if you are seeking knowledge about Volunteering Processes, Youth Programming, Supporting and Advocating for Youth, and/or Connecting Youth with Community and Volunteering.   

Fun Fact: Catch me on the slopes in the winter and on the baseball diamond come summer. 

Contact: Let’s chat! Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

Manager, Youth & Community Programs  
YMCA of Three Rivers  

Melissa Haynes 2024 headshot

About Me: I am in my seventh year working with the Y and am currently the Manager of Youth Programs at the YMCA of Three Rivers. I lead an amazing team of staff, who operationalize youth programs across our five communities. I am also a graduate of the Y Canada Young Ambassadors Program and Action Learning Coach Program.

How I can Help: I am passionate about supporting the growth and development of youth, young employees, and staff teams, as well as developing partnerships that help to meet the needs of youth.

Please reach out if you're looking for support with building youth programs, developing leadership training opportunities for young people, amplifying youth voice, or supporting youth advocacy to drive change.

Fun Fact: I have a love for being outdoors, traveling, spending time at the cottage, playing recreational sports, and my of course dog Leo! 

Contact: I am happy to chat any time! Please reach out via email at [email protected] to schedule a meeting or send me a message on Teams. 

Business Consultant, Business Planning Program    
YMCA of Newfoundland and Labrador  

Jess Jones 2024 headshot

About Me: I am all things entrepreneurship at the YMCA of Newfoundland Labrador. My journey started at the Y as a Program Coordinator for a youth entrepreneurship program, and I have recently expanded my enterprise skillset as a Business Consultant of YNL’s Business Planning Program. I get to be a beacon of support and advocate for local entrepreneurs in my province who are making a difference in their communities.

I am in year 2 of being a proud NYLAC member and am graduating in 2024 from the World YMCA Change Agent Program. But it doesn’t stop there! I look forward to continuing my national and global work with the YMCA Movement as a member of the World Council DEIB & Sustainability Sub-Committee as we gear up for 2026!

How I can Help: My education and work experience are in Business. I was someone who entered the non-profit/community sector and never looked back! I am all of 5ft tall but have a fire in my belly to meet new people, foster meaningful connections, and lift up others around me. If you want to chat cool program/biz ideas and find new ways of elevating diverse youth voice across the Federation – let’s chat!

Fun Fact: I haven’t purchased a store-made card in over a decade. I love to make homemade cards for any occasion and have accumulated a large supply of craft materials at home over the years!

Contact: What are you up to at your Y? How can we collaborate and share support? Let’s find out! [email protected]

Director, Camp Ki-Wa-Y 
YMCA of Three Rivers 

Lauren Kteily 2024 headsot

About Me: I have spent 10+ summers working at overnight camp and have been fortunate enough to work in a number of camp roles from seasonal to full-time. I have a passion for camp and everything that comes from working outdoors year-round. Supporting the growth of young staff is something that brings me back year after year!

How I can Help: Please reach out anytime, I am always happy to chat about ways to better support and advocate for youth voice, especially in camping!

Fun Fact: While working at camp, I have learned how to drive a school bus, tractor, AND snowplow!

Contact: Feel free to reach out at any time! [email protected] or 519-577-5388.

General Manager, Employment Services 
YMCA of Southwestern Ontario 

Ray Kurniawan 2024 headshot

About Me: The Y has been a part of my life since I was 8 years old when I first started taking swimming lessons at my local branch. I am now in my eleventh year as a Y employee, currently as the General Manager of Employment Services at the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario. I am passionate about strengthening our communities, developing global citizens, and empowering the voices of youth. The Y has given me an outlet and pathway to express my other passion for living an active and healthy lifestyle. 

How I can Help: Giving youth a strong and meaningful youth voice is something that I care about deeply. I believe it is the duty of the Y to give the youth of our community the voice they deserve so if there is any way that I can assist in engaging youth within your community, please feel free to reach out!

Fun Fact: I have visited 13 different countries and counting!

Contact: Feel free to contact me at [email protected] or (519) 258-9622 ext 2654. 

Children and Families Program Coordinator, Mental Wellness Facilitator 
YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg  

Dana Lance 2024 headshot

About Me: I self-identify as a 1.5-generation immigrant of Filipinx and Japanese ancestry that works and lives on Treaty 1 territory otherwise known as Winnipeg, Manitoba. I have been with the Y for almost 2 years, but I’ve worked with youth for about 9+ years in different capacities and roles within the non-profit world. Currently, I have stepped into the role of children and families program coordinator where I manage staff and oversee children’s programs at my local Association. I am still involved as a facilitator in mental health services, delivering courses on educating older adults who are recovering or currently stabilizing their mental health challenges. Something to know about me is I have been dancing for about 10 years, currently perform with two dance teams, and I teach classes. I am excited to be learning and growing within the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg while also serving the communities around me.  

How I can Help: Please reach out to me if you are looking to get referrals or access to community resources in regards to mental health and/or navigation with youth. As well as any general programming and resources for youth organizations. 

Fun Fact: I love learning languages and I'm fluent in French while learning Japanese, Korean, and my own native language ilocano (a dialect of the Philippines) and tagalog! 

Contact: You can contact me by phone at 204-560-7268 or email me at [email protected]

Senior Director, Community Initiatives & Fund Development     
YMCA of Greater Moncton; situated on the traditional unceded territory of the Wabanaki peoples 

Hannah LaPointe 2024 headshot

About Me: I’ve been involved with my YMCA since 2016, in a variety of capacities. My passion remains similar to what it was all those years ago; to make an impact in the lives of youth. Bringing youth together to engage in difficult conversations and make a difference in their community is at the core of what I do. Watching a passion ignite in them is the greatest reward one can ask for.

How I can Help: If you’re looking for information on positive youth engagement, making an impact, youth mental health, or how to balance multiple roles within your organization; please don’t hesitate to reach out! 

Fun Fact: I am an out, loud & proud member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community – find me advocating for our rights 24/7.  

Contact: Let’s chat! Feel free to reach me anytime at 1-506-381-3598 or [email protected]. 

Program Coordinator, Youth Programs 
YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford 

Lydia Loo 2024 headshot

About Me: I have been with the YMCA since December 2019, working in various youth programs in various capacities. I have worked as a frontline youth worker supporting youth in developing skills and connecting to resources, as well as in a program coordinator role by equipping frontline youth workers with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to support youth. I am passionate about building up the capacity of a community to engage, support, and empower youth from all backgrounds. The outlook of a community is dependent on the wellness of its youth today.

How I can Help: The mentors that I met along the way have empowered me to empower others. I am happy to connect about resources and engagement opportunities for youth and youth workers (especially for newcomer youth). As a growing professional, I’d also love to discuss ways to find/create opportunities to grow your career.

Fun Fact: I love learning about different cultures and new languages. I am fluent in three languages (English, Cantonese, and Mandarin). Other than working to keep up my fluency, I also am trying to learn other languages, including Arabic, French, and ASL. Duolingo is currently my best friend, but I’m always open to practice buddies. 

Contact: Let’s chat! Feel free to reach me at [email protected] or 289-244-3288.

Intercultural Competency Training Facilitator 
YMCA of Greater Halifax/Dartmouth 

Ayesha Naqvi 2024 headshot

About Me: I have been part of YMCA Immigrant Services since 2019, and I have worked both as support staff for newcomer youth and as an intercultural competency trainer for employers and settlement staff. I have a passion for education and sharing stories. I appreciate the opportunity to engage in that communication at the national level too!

How I can Help: As an immigrant woman of colour who works in the area of equity, diversity, and inclusion, I am passionate about seeing strength in identity and making sure youth of many different voices are heard.

Fun Fact: I love to sing and will always be ready for karaoke!

Contact: Please reach out to me at [email protected] to chat or schedule a meeting.

Manager, Child Care 
YMCA of Southern Interior BC 

Amanda Perri 2024 headshot

About Me: I am finishing my third year at the YMCA of Southern Interior BC where I currently oversee child care programs. I am passionate about helping foster children’s development in an environment that breaks down barriers and provides opportunity within a safe space.

How I can Help: I am an advocate for inclusion and diversity, identifying as a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ Community. If you are looking for connection or engagement, please feel free to reach out!

Fun Fact: I moved from Toronto to British Columbia to explore the mountains and never left!

Contact: Please feel free to reach out at [email protected] or 250-258-3986.

Coordinator, Integrated Leisure   
YMCAs of Quebec 

Raquel Roth 2024 headshot

About Me: I was first introduced to the YMCAs of Québec when I began taking swim lessons at my local centre. As a young adult, I became a volunteer squash coach with the YMCA. I organized youth and women's classes and tournaments, with a desire to share my love for the sport and make squash more accessible and inclusive. I have now been the coordinator of Integrated Leisure for 3 years and I have the great privileged to help individuals with disabilities to become autonomous and empowered members of their YMCA. Since a young age, I have been dedicated to volunteering and making meaningful connections in my community. I strive to ignite this same passion in the volunteers I lead, and I am inspired every day by the difference our volunteers make in the lives of those needing support in their YMCA journey.

How I can Help: As a Recreational Therapist, I am passionate about providing a voice and choice to those facing limitations. I firmly believe that our leisure activities are an essential part of our identity, and everyone deserves the opportunity to explore and reach their full potential in the activities they enjoy.

Fun Fact: I am always up to trying a new sport, even the extreme ones!

Contact: Feel free to connect with me at [email protected].

Education Manager 
YMCA of Lethbridge 

Arnaud Sparks 2024 headshot

About Me: I have been working in education-based roles in the nonprofit sector for 8 years. In 2022, I started as the Education Manager at the YMCA of Lethbridge. I am passionate about reducing barriers to academic success and providing youth with opportunities to grow and share their voice. In my role, I facilitate Alternative Suspension, have started a free tutoring program, and coordinate high school work experience placements. I look forward to continuing my career at the YMCA and developing my role further.

How I can Help: Reach out if you need help developing academic community programming or working with other community organizations. I’m always happy to help and brainstorm ideas!

Fun Fact: I love weird roadside attractions! World’s largest pinto bean? Sign me up.

Contact: Feel free to reach out at [email protected].