SPEAKERS

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HEATHER MEARA THOMAS

Heather is an extremely skilled, well sought-after social worker, consultant and mentor throughout the G.T.A. and Region of Peel. She was chosen as the 2022 recipient of the Ontario Association of Social Workers Distinguished Social Worker Award in Peel Region & Area. Heather has strong advocacy and servant leadership skills. Through HM Youth Foundation, a Foundation Heather created in 2020 with a mission to combat Anti-Black racism and create a community of intensive Black youth leaders. In that role, she supports social justice, equity integration and inclusion.

Heather is a Black, Biracial woman, practicing social work from an Anti-Black racism, Africentric and anti-oppressive lens. She believes in the principles of servant leadership.  She has over 25 years of experience within the social work sector and supervised many social workers working with at-risk youth in the Region of Peel.

With formal education and experience in both fields of social work and journalism, Heather represented the Peel Children’s Aid Foundation doing media interviews on Daytime and other local shows airing within the community. She co-anchored a lifestyle one hour show called Daytime and anchored Peels local news show City Magazine. Heather has sat on several committees who ask for her expertise in combating Anti Black racism at community round table discussions including Halton Catholic and Peel school boards. Her ease with collaboration and public speaking has been a definite asset to fulfilling the Mission of HM Youth Foundation, ensuring excellent collaboration with community partners.

Her vision, resourcefulness and creativity helped her secure Ministry funding for the Student Family Advocate, Black Students for Success and Youth Table Talk programs.

Heather’s extraordinary ability to connect with any audience is unmatched as she is driven by her passion of understanding all youth are our future and none can be left behind. She has the experience, talent and versatility to work with you to tailor her presentation to the exact needs of your audience. As a multiracial woman adopted in 1969 into a white family through the Toronto Catholic Children’s Aid Society; finding her birth family 28 years later, she will take you on an emotional journey. She has lived experience with a real message.

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JAYCELYN HOPKINS

Jaycelyn is an incredible speaker who walks with purpose. Born in Asia, adopted at a young age into a white family and brought to Canada from Changzhou. Jaycelyn is blessed but understands resiliency. She speaks passionately about her life and her experiences coming out as a gay woman. She speaks her truth to inspire other 2SLGBTQQ+ youth facing adversity and their families who may not support or understand.