Leo Nupolu Johnson – Executive Director
As Executive Director of Empowerment Squared, Leo is responsible for leading the organization and ensuring that it is making meaningful and substantial progress toward its mission and vision. Working under the guidance of the organization’s strategic plan and in concert with the board of directors, advisory council, staff, stakeholders, and partners, Leo manages and drives Empowerment Squared’s activities and outcomes.
Leo is active in Canada, Liberia, Ghana, and South Africa. His expertise spans nonprofit management, international development, immigration and resettlement, fundraising, and financial management. He has also served as the President of the Liberian Association of Canada and as a member of several boards of directors, and is a United Nations Fellow. Leo has been the recipient of a Reverend John C Holland Award, the YMCA Peace Medal, the City of Hamilton’s World Citizenship Award and Afroglobal TV’s Visionary Award.
Priya Goorbarry – Director, Operations and Administration
As Director, Operations and Administration, Priya is responsible for planning, directing, coordinating, and supervising all administrative and operational functions and activities across all departments at Empowerment Squared. Working closely with the leadership team, she directs organization-wide collaboration on projects, processes, and systems both internally and externally to ensure that Empowerment Squared operations are efficient and effective. Priya strives to promote teamwork, collaboration, and the implementation of best practices across all departments at Empowerment Squared.
She is a seasoned administrative executive with over a decade of experience and holds a Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree from McMaster University. When Priya is not working or with family & friends, she likes being outdoors, exploring and the idea of camping, but first would prefer to try glamping.
Stacia Vong-Hogeterp – Senior Director, Development
and Community Partnerships
As Senior Director, Development and Community Partnerships, Stacia’s primary
responsibilities include leading the strategic planning and execution of Empowerment
Squared’s fundraising activities, stewardship, grants, events, and partnerships.
Stacia is a passionate champion for social justice and the wellbeing of all people. She
has been contributing to the global effort to empower children, youth, families and
communities to reach their full potential and thrive by tackling injustice, poverty, and
A values-based leader, Stacia has over 20 years of experience and expertise in
development, stakeholder engagement, financial and operations management.
Stacia enjoys bringing people together through the sharing of meals and building
community with one another.
Norma Nazi – Controller
As Controller of Empowerment Squared, Norma is responsible for leading the organization’s Finance Department. She is a CPA, and holds a Bachelor (Honors) in Accounting from Brock University. Working closely with the Executive Director, Board of Directors, and the Finance Committee, Norma oversees the organization’s financial planning, and financial operations. Her expertise spans non-profit financial management, taxes, financial planning and statements, budgeting and reporting.
She is an experienced Accountant with over ten years of professional experience in taxes, manufacturing, and the non-profit sectors. Previously, she worked for over 10 years in the travel and tourism industry. Norma serves as a member of the Accounting Program Advisory Committee at Mohawk College, where she acts as a sector expert, and advises program planners and faculty to ensure accounting students are well prepared to enter the workforce. In her free time, Norma loves woodworking, gardening and plants, and enjoys the outdoors and horseback riding with her daughter.
Ann-Marie Anie – Manager, Educational Programming
As Manager, Educational Programming, Ann-Marie is responsible for creating, planning and coordinating curriculum, managing volunteers and participants, liaising with community members, and supervising administrative and operational tasks for Homework Circle, Home Alone Safety, Student and Family Advocacy, and Summer Literacy. Working closely with colleagues, she directs, manages, and collaborates on projects, processes, and systems to ensure that Educational Programming is efficient and effective. Ann-Marie has a passion for inspiring and empowering others towards being their highest and greatest selves by using an asset based approach.
She is an accomplished teacher with over 18 years of experience, both locally and internationally, and holds a Masters in Education from The State University of New York. She has many hobbies such as writing, volunteering in the community, traveling, landscaping and gardening. She co-authored a unit on Lincoln Alexander for the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board which received an award from the Elementary Teachers of Ontario.
Joana Fejzaj – Manager, Community Development & Partnerships
As Manager, Community Development and Partnerships, Joana is responsible for the strategic development, cultivation, and management of relationships with partners and stakeholders. This work spans the public, corporate, educational, and private sectors and is focused on fostering support to advance Empowerment Squared’s mission.
Joana earned her Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), B.A., Health Aging & Society from McMaster University, and Child and Youth Worker Diploma from Mohawk College. She has held positions at McMaster University, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Wesley Urban Ministries, Immigrants Working Centre, and Settlement and Integration Services (SISO).
Joana is driven by her own lived experiences as an unaccompanied refugee to Canada. When she is not working, she spends her time with her little human Kade, gardening, meditating, thinking about life’s big philosophical questions, connecting with the soul of the world, and pondering “what is my role?”
Rebecca Morikawa – Manager, Student Navigation
As Manager of Student Navigation, Rebecca is responsible for leading the Student Navigation Department, which provides collaborative, culturally responsive supports, and systems navigation for the students and families in the education and child welfare systems. In her role, she supports students and families with educational supports, advocacy, and mediation, and collaborates with partner agencies to create systems level change. As part of the Leadership Team, she strives to provide effective and innovative supports for participants in the Greater Hamilton Area, and to empower them to reach their fullest potential.
With over six years of experience navigating public systems, she is a passionate advocate who has acted as a thought leader in cases against public institutions like school boards and government entities. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from McMaster University. If Rebecca is not working or spending time with family, friends and her dog Matilda, she is usually watching football, travelling, watching reality TV, or reading.
Ian Macpherson – Manager, Strategic Initiatives
As Manager, Strategic Initiatives, Ian is responsible for providing general oversight, leadership, and support for the development, implementation and outreach of programs. He supports the implementation of various initiatives such as the School Readiness Program, ACCESS Program and the Professional Skills and Entrepreneurship program. He is also involved in marketing and communications strategies, curriculum and program development and acting as a liaison with participants, guardians and stakeholders.
Ian developed, launched and supported programs in 150 priority schools to address barriers faced by students and families in the education system in his time at the Toronto District School Board.
Ian is a designer and entrepreneur who thrives on producing creative projects with teams or on his own. Ian has a Bachelor of Design from York University and Sheridan College and a certificate in Community Development from George Brown College that inform his design approach to systems transformation and anti-oppressive community organizing. Ian has a six year old and loves being a Dad. His interests include the arts, design, history, people and culture. He loves being out on his bike, walking on a trail or spending time by the water.
Kwbana Beckles – Operational Manager, Sports and Recreation
As Operational Manager for the Ubuntu Athletic Centre, Kwbana is responsible for athletic programming for both recreational and advanced player athletes, indoor gymnasium rentals, social events and ensuring that the Ubuntu Athletic Centre is inclusive and accessible to all of its participants.
Kwbana earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Lee University in Cleveland, TN while on an athletic scholarship.
Kwbana is a driven entrepreneur and has a passion for athletics which enabled him to achieve his goal of playing professional basketball for 10 years in Europe and Asia. While adding to his education with certifications in athletic training, nutrition, strength and conditioning and youth coaching he is very skilled at motivating his athletes. With over 20 years in training athletics, his knowledge base is diverse and always expanding. He was the head Strength and Conditioning performance coach at The Rise Centre in Brantford, ON (Preparatory basketball academy). During his time at The Rise Centre he assisted coaching staff at placing 100% of their student athletes on full academic or athletic scholarships for their post secondary education.
When Kwbana is not on the court with younger athletes you can find him in the weightroom pushing those same athletes out of their comfort zones.
Emily-Rose Bell – Coordinator, Educational Programming
As Coordinator, Educational Programming, Emily-Rose provides leadership and assistance with Empowerment Squared’s educational programs for youth and adults, as well as other educational initiatives for newcomer and marginalized families. Collaborating with the Manager of Educational Programming and other staff and volunteers, she facilitates educational programs, builds relationships with program participants, and assists with strategic planning, outreach, and administration.
Emily-Rose is experienced in customer service and has two years of experience as a tutor, feedback specialist, and academic mentor. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Cultural Studies & Classics from McMaster University, and is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Certificate in the Career Development Professional program at Conestoga College. Emily-Rose enjoys exploring various methods of storytelling, through watching and analyzing films, listening to musicals on repeat, and dreaming of writing her first novel – she just has to pick up a pen.
Colin Grimmond – Coordinator, Professional Skills and Entrepreneurship
As the Coordinator, Professional Skills and Entrepreneurship, Colin is responsible for the program coordination in the Windsor/Essex County region of the Southwestern Ontario Black Business Network. In this role, he will oversee the development and delivery of various programs & services to Black Entrepreneurs, including workshops, events, as well as those delivered by partner organizations.
He is an accomplished professional with 15 years of proven success as a leader in program development & coordination and vast experience working with diverse cultures & ethnicities. Colin has completed certifications in Serving Youth in Newcomer Communities, DiverseCity onBoard Governance, and Cross-Cultural Communications. As well as, currently enrolled in a MBA in Community Economic Development at Cape Breton University.
Colin has a 5-year-old son, who fills his free time with much joy & excitement. His other interests include reading & researching in Political Theory, Political Economy, History & Theology.
Joëlle Kabisoso – Coordinator, Professional Skills and Entrepreneurship
As Coordinator, Professional Skills and Entrepreneurship, Joëlle is responsible program coordination in the Greater Hamilton Area for the Southwestern Ontario Black Business Network (SWOBEN). In this role, she oversees the development and delivery of various programs & services to Black entrepreneurs, including workshops, events, as well as those delivered by partner organizations.
Joëlle brings to this role over 5 years of non-profit experience and a commitment to developing and implementing innovative programs and initiatives that help alleviate barriers. She is an award winning founder, workshop facilitator and social entrepreneur. She graduated from Brescia University College with a BA in Human Ecology with a specialization in Family Studies and holds a certificate in Family Mediation from York University. For her advocacy work, Joëlle has been the recipient of many awards such as Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada, 2022 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth, and 2021 YWCA Trailblazer Award.
In her spare time, Joëlle enjoys traveling and watching true crime documentaries.
Faid Adil – Coordinator, Student Navigation
As Coordinator, Student Navigation, Faid works closely with students and families to support their children achieve positive educational outcomes. In addition to working with students and families, Faid collaborates with key strategic partners such as the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board and Children’s Aid Society to ensure the students are well equipped and supported to succeed and reach their full potential.
Faid holds a Bachelor of Social Work Degree from Ryerson University, as well as a Social Service Worker Diploma from Mohawk College. Faid has over 8 years of experience in the non-profit sector with a large focus on newcomer settlement in the Hamilton area. Faid is passionate about learning and facing new challenges that contribute to her growth and success, both personally and professionally. Faid is also very passionate about foods from different cultures, and you can find her reading creepy thrillers or fulfilling her passion for running with local clubs like Air Up There Run Crew and Steel Town Athletic Club.
Cladette Uyigue – Coordinator, Administration
As Coordinator, Administration Cladette is responsible for providing leadership and assistance with Empowerment Squared’s administration activities and other initiatives for newcomer and marginalized families to further Empowerment Squared’s mission and vision. Working alongside the fellow coordinators and the management team she supports the work of the management team and mission & vision of Empowerment Squared by providing administrative and logistical support.
She is an experienced administrative team lead with strong insights on ensuring organizational operations run smoothly and efficiently. She holds a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree from Brock University. She is very passionate about all aspects of fitness and general well-being. She loves spending time with her loved ones and creating memories. She enjoys traveling, reading, working out and binge-watching tv shows.
Emmanuel Tewoderos – Coordinator, Sports and Recreation
As Coordinator, Sports and Recreation, Emmanuel is responsible for planning and coordinating Empowerment Squared’s Sports & Recreation department. Working closely with the Manager of Strategic Initiatives and other staff and volunteers, he facilitates sports programming, builds relationships with participants, collaborates with key community partners, while supervising volunteers.
Emmanuel holds a Bachelor of Sport Management from Brock University. Emmanuel is an experienced Sports and Rec facilitator, who has previously worked at McMaster University in the Athletics & Recreation department.
Emmanuel is passionate about sports, and can be found at the gym, or on the soccer pitch when he is not working at E2. He is also a foodie, and enjoys spending time with his friends and family, and his dog, a Shiba Inu named Misha.
Joyce Lotchuang – Coordinator, Volunteer Engagement
As Coordinator, Volunteer Engagement, Joyce is responsible for providing leadership and assistance with Empowerment Squared’s volunteer engagement activities and other initiatives for newcomer and marginalized families to further Empowerment Squared’s mission and vision. Working alongside the fellow coordinators and the management team, she participates in strategic planning, outreach and administration of the volunteer program at Empowerment Squared.
Joyce is currently completing a Bachelor of Biology Physiology Research Specialization at McMaster University. She is experienced in data management and holds a strong suit in client interactions to ensure fruitful communication. Joyce loves playing sports, going on runs and binge-watching TV shows. When she is not working, she enjoys spending her time with family, friends and trying out new undertakings with them.
Lindsay Richardson – Coordinator, Educational Programming
As the part-time education coordinator, Lindsay aids in facilitating Empowerment Squared’s programming in programs such as the Homework Club. Within this role, Lindsay establishes and maintains relationships with participants in the program, inclusive of volunteers and students, and nurtures them to create a positive learning and social environment. Her goal is to create an environment where students are empowered and encouraged to reach their fullest potential, with the support of those around them. Further, she collaborates with the full-time educational coordinator to develop and review the program curriculum before it is delivered to youth.
Lindsay has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from Toronto Metropolitan University, with additional minors in criminology and psychology. She also brings experience within the field, having worked with other social service organizations focusing on outreach, and empowering individuals to reach their fullest potential. Additionally, Lindsay brings multiple years of customer service experience, and a passion for lifelong learning and development, both professionally and personally. In her free time, Lindsay greatly enjoys spending time 5-pin bowling competitively, continuously striving to compete on a national level. She also enjoys crocheting, as well as binge-watching TV shows and spending time outdoors playing games with her family.