Program Director (Associate)
Laura LaChapelle (she/her)
Program Director/ITSTARTS Project Lead
Laura LaChapelle is a long time resident of Simcoe County and has been heavily involved in community projects over the past 35 years. She’s focused on creating community engagement and growth around diversity and inclusivity. Laura has seen the shifting demographics happening across Simcoe County and is truly interested in making a difference in people’s mindset about diversity and inclusiveness. She has a passion for volunteering, community support and empowering youth. After achieving a Bachelors in Anthropology from the University of Toronto, Laura focused on Theatre Arts. She developed local theatre in Collingwood and Wasaga Beach and saw this as an opportunity to bring youth together in a safe diverse environment.
She has been a part of several committees including the Wasaga Chamber of Commerce Women in Business and the Town of Wasaga’s Youth Advisory committees. Laura has also been Publicity Chair for Wasaga Community Theatre, campaign manager for local municipal elections and journalist for both U of T and the Creemore Echo.
Having already participated with Making Change as an Art Engagement Drama Mentor, Laura is focused, in her associate role as Program Director and #ITSTARTS Project Lead, on continuing to provide support for communities so everyone feels included.
Board of Directors (Volunteer)
Michèle Newton (she/her)
Director, Co-founder & Acting Chair Making Change
Chair: Communications, Education, School Presentations Committees
Michèle Newton is guided by her “better together” philosophy - growing relationships, nurturing collaborations and facilitating partnerships, especially those with a shared focus on strengthening our community. As a community changemaker, she created Our Mosaic Lives™ - a passion project exploring diversity and inclusion, launched Community Conversations – a live D&I interview series, and co-founded Making Change.
Michèle is a Speaker, Expert and Advocate with her public relations and communications agency, and writes and contributes a monthly Diversity and Inclusion column featured across Simcoe.com’s and Torstar publications. She is a Board member with the Barrie Community Foundation and is a Mentor with the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre. She was recognized in 2020 as one of 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women and a YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka Peace Champion for her community work focused on Black Canadian Women, diversity and inclusion
Alison Jacks (she/her)
Director & Treasurer - Making Change
Chair: Finance & Business Outreach/Sponsorships Committee
Alison Jacks is an advocate for community work and volunteerism. She believes that our community is what we make it. By working together to support and help each other and promote positive change, we will build strong communities that encourage diversity and inclusion. As the Manager of Finance and Accounting at Matthews House Hospice, Alison has developed strong business development skills which allow her to focus on facilitating and growing relationships between Making Change and the local business community. Her extensive bookkeeping and accounting experience make her an asset as the Treasurer of Making Change.
Alison has been volunteering in her community for over 25 years. Currently she is also a Board member of Barrie & District Christmas Cheer , the Innisfil Lions Club, the Tottenham & District Community Recreation Improvement Committee (C.R.I.C.) and a long-time volunteer in local politics at federal, provincial and municipal levels.
Alasoba (Lala) Kelsy-Braide (she/her)
Director - Making Change
Chair: Community Engagement and Culture Committee
Alasoba Kelsy- Braide came to Orillia as an International student from Nigeria and has made Orillia her home. As a Child and Youth Care student at Georgian College, she was part of the student executive council (Georgian college student association) as VP Community Engagement. She was actively involved in planning and executing many events at Georgian College, some of which include the initiating, plan and coordination of a week long Black History Month celebration; and the yearly Santa Claus parade; and mental health awareness.
Alasoba also worked hand in hand with the County of Simcoe (Midhurst) through the Community Impact Project in Georgian College Orillia to implement a project called WIN-WIN (What I need, When I need it). The project created educational awareness to reduce the stigma related to transitional housing for youth, through workshop in alternative school in Simcoe County. She also did her field placement at Simcoe Shore School and Volunteered at the Calvary Pentecostal Tabernacle Orillia. Currently, Alasoba works at Empower Simcoe as a Personal Support Worker.
Alasoba strongly believes that inclusivity and diversity are important tools to create a safe community where everyone thrives regardless of their age, race, gender, and sexual orientation.
Project Coordination (Associates)
Kendra Marr (she/her)
Disruption Productions Theatre Co-op Project Lead
Leading a new theatre arts co-op project launching in 2022, "Disruption Productions", Kendra is an experienced alternative educator with a passion for empowering youth through the use of the arts as a tool for social change. She believes in the power of community collaboration and that storytelling through the arts could change the world. Kendra has been teaching in traditional and alternative classrooms for the past decade. Her desire to build creative, safe and equitable spaces challenged her to find anti-oppression based pedagogies to apply in her classrooms and youth programs. She is a trained Restorative Circle facilitator and a passionate advocate for the techniques structured by Augusto Boal through Theatre of the Oppressed.
As an educator she focuses on alternative, experiential learning that engages community and challenges students to tell their stories. Her work with nonprofit organizations such as Mixed Company Theatre and Pathways to Education has strengthened her resolve that our education system does not service students and alternative approaches through community connections and decolonized approaches are now and have always been the change education needs.
Youth Ambassadors (Volunteers)
Youth Ambassador opportunities include but are not limited to:
Social media takeovers with community partners, Making Change interviews and panels featuring Youth. Assisting with social media channel content on a regular basis and around significant events/happenings. Assisting to coordinate events and activities for BHM and year-round.
Our Founder Story
Michèle Newton Stephanie Gourlie Shelly Skinner
In 2019, with nothing on the horizon for Black History Month again, our founders decided to lead the change they felt was needed. They organized a Black History Month kick-off event, with collaborators and partners. In February 2020, they added a team of volunteers and organized three events: The Art Engagement Project targeted for youth, Voices of Black Women in Business for the business ecosystem, and a BHM Celebration at Five Points for the community. These events and their passion have sparked discussions and conversations about inclusion and diversity all across Simcoe County and beyond. Our three co-founders (Michèle Newton, Stephanie Gourlie and Shelly Skinner) incorporated Making Change as a not-for-profit organization in July 2020.
Board Member Opportunities
Making Change is recruiting additional board members with backgrounds in Education, Fundraising/Philanthropy, Legal, Corporate/Governance. Here's an overview of the requirements. Please complete the application link or contact us for more information.
Committee Volunteer Opportunities
Making Change is recruiting volunteers for working committee membership. Our committees include: Education, School Programs, Communications & Marketing, Business Outreach & Sponsorship, Culture Community Events, and Finance. If you're interested in volunteering and have relevant experience please apply here .
Purpose of the Corporation
1. Educate the general public about racial prejudice and discrimination through seminars and workshops
2. Organize and implement conferences, workshops and other symposia about institutional and individual forms of racism, discrimination, and stereotyping
3. Host discussion groups open to the public that raise awareness of racism and model alternatives to stereotyping and prejudice
4. Establish and maintain peer support groups among members of the Black community as well as members of the public to address issues of discrimination and the elimination of racism
5. Participate in and support a network made up of organizations supporting anti-Black racism and promoting positive race relations aims in order to share research, informational materials, or expertise and act as a resource to groups interested in developing these capacities
6. Organize and host activities meant to expose members of the general public to Black culture