Cindy McAfee, RSSW
Cindy McAfee, RSSWThe Barbara Baker Distinguished SSW Merit Recipient (2024)
Cindy McAfee is a graduate of the Georgian College Social Service Worker program and is a registrant with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers and a member with the Ontario Social Service Worker Association. Cindy works with adults and practices psychotherapy for individuals, couples and families. She has extensive experience working with individuals who may be experiencing alcohol and drug addiction, relapse, grief, anxiety, depression, low mood, self-esteem, life transitions, relationship challenges, childhood developmental trauma, and emotional regulation. Cindy uses evidence-based modalities such as Gottman Couples Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Solution Focused Therapy, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), Applied Suicide Intervention, and Addictions Counselling. She utilizes interventions derived from Gabor Mate’s “Compassionate Inquiry. Cindy has facilitated groups at Barrie Withdrawal Management Services and facilitates Worthy, an online women’s support group specifically for women who are struggling with negative self-talk, self-doubt, and self-criticism. Cindy is a Gottman 7PP Educator and is trained in Screening for Domestic Violence, Family Mediation, New Ways for Families Mediation, and Certified in Compassion Inquiry. Cindy has a client centered individual approach that is tailored to each client’s specific needs. Cindy’s calm and non-judgmental nature along with her sense of humour serve to put client’s at ease, feel safe, comfortable and ready to do the work they have set out for themselves.
Angel Powers, RSSW
Angel Powers, RSSWThe Clinical SSW Leadership Citation Recipient (2024)
Angel Powers is a distinguished graduate of the Social Service Worker program in 2012, currently pursuing her fourth year in the Honours Bachelor of Counselling and Psychology program, where she has discovered a passion for research and is investigating the perspectives and experiences of healthcare providers who treat first responders. Her professional journey is marked by resilience, self-discovery, and an unwavering commitment to guiding others along their paths to healing. In subsequent years, Ms. Powers zealously committed to daily self-improvement efforts, unveiling pathways to healing that freed her body, mind, and soul from the chains of past traumas. In 2018, she made the pivotal decision to depart from her role in private practice and founded Mainstream Therapy, operating under the legal entity “Angel Powers Social Service Work Professional Corporation.” This endeavour has evolved to include 10 dedicated individuals, comprising social workers, social service workers, and psychotherapists. Beyond being a collective of professionals facilitating healing, they form a closely-knit community sharing a common dedication to personal growth. Among her many pursuits, Angel has a passion to help other aspiring entrepreneurs develop a thriving therapy business model. If a business is built with clean intentions and fosters ethical values, it can positively impact humanity. She fosters a belief in helping to develop, shape, and train the mindset of novice therapists and has written a book sharing her persistence from childhood adversity to thriving in life despite challenges. “From Grit to Grace: My Hard-Knocks Journey from Lost and Vulnerable to Self-Healing and Secure” is scheduled for publication in spring 2024.
Tara Filteau, RSSW
Tara Filteau, RSSWThe Community SSW Leadership Citation Recipient (2024)
Tara Filteau is a Registered Social Service Worker and the founder & executive director of Mother Daughter Empower, a Canadian Charity on a mission to empower both women and girls. Before launching Mother Daughter Empower, Tara managed events, community outreach, and fundraising campaigns for some of Canada’s largest charitable and not-for-profit organizations. She takes pride in being a wife, mom of three and a parent, education & community advocate who is dedicated to leading a life filled with both passion and purpose.
Stephanie Danso, RSSW
Stephanie Danso, RSSWThe Black SSW Leadership Citation Recipient (2024)
Stephanie Danso is the founder of the equality seeking Canadian organization, S. Danso Social Service Work Professional Corporation. Her passion as a seasoned social service worker is assisting people in resolving and adjusting to challenges in their daily lives. Totally dedicated to assisting people in finding a healthy balance in their lives, expanding their awareness of who they are in the context of unique circumstances, and contributing to living better lives. With more than fourteen years of experience in counselling, mental health, and wellness, outreach, and education, Stephanie is a Registered Social Service Worker (RSSW). In addition to being a member of the National Anger Management Association and the Ontario Social Service Worker Association, Stephanie is registered as a social service worker with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. Stephanie has accumulated a great deal of experience working in many contexts and with different age groups throughout the years. Experienced in community development, education, day treatment, and behavioural and therapeutic settings. She has also worked with families, adults, seniors, and teenagers (12–18 years old), offering to promote counselling. She has also facilitated many support groups. Apart from being involved in multiple organisations, Stephanie works as an Ontario College Counsellor, providing mental health support and assistance to students.
Nancy Gonzalez, RSSW
Nancy Gonzalez, RSSWThe Indigenous SSW Leadership Recipient (2024)
Aanii/ Kwe/ Tansi/ Sago/ Saqarik/ Hello. Nancy is a mother, daughter, sister, and an aunt. She identifies as a Two-Spirit Woman whose roots run deep to the highlands of Guatemala. She is a descendant of the Maya Ki’che original people. She has held many roles within Ontario over the past 16 years and they all required her to be an advocate, mentor, educator and a helper. Nancy has specifically been practicing traditional Indigenous counselling since 2015 in Ontario. She has supported Indigenous families in the areas of IPV, 60’s Scoop and she has worked directly by those impacted by the Residential School System in Canada. She has worked on and off reserve, worked the frontlines, street outreach, intensive case management and provided transitional housing supports. She is a First Nations Technical Institute and St. Lawrence College SSW graduate, and her field of study has been from a world Indigenous knowledge based wholistic healing social service work Practice. Nancy believes that healing and wellness for Indigenous peoples begins with culture and ceremonies as they are the heart of our communities and reclaiming them is to seek justice and truth. She actively engages in activities that promote personal growth and wholistic healing methods. She believes in supporting others in their healing journey, along with acceptance, understanding, love and compassion for where others are at in their healing. Her philosophy is of her ancestors; that every human is deserving to find their place within Creation and that one of the greatest gifts given to us is our human ability to heal. Nancy is passionate about creating connections through knowledge and wisdom sharing to our allies who walk alongside us. She is eternally grateful for the love, compassion, and traditional teachings that many Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers have passed down to her on her own healing path. Nancy provides Traditional Indigenous Counselling in the post-secondary setting. Here she supports young and mature students on their educational journeys through counselling, connection to community, access to culture and ceremony. She is honoured and grateful that the students welcome her into their lives while they navigate their institutional academic journeys. Nancy appreciates the guidance and understanding they share with her. Nancy expresses her gratitude for this award and anticipates continuing to provide social service work that is calm, gracious and full of dignity!
Malene Stewart, RSW
Malene Stewart, RSWThe Educator of the Year Award Recipient (2024)
Malene Stewart is a Professor and Program Coordinator in the Faculty of Applied Health and Community Studies where she teaches in the Social Service Worker Program. Malene started her academic career with a two year diploma at Mohawk College. While at the college she researched and aided in the development of the General Arts and Science program proposal and acted as student advisory to the General Arts and Science program. There she ignited her love for academic achievement and success. Malene continued her studies and attended McMaster University where she earned a combined BA in Sociology and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She was presented with the golden key award for academic achievement. She promptly started her career in child protection before returning to McMaster to complete her Masters in Social Work. Malene conducted a qualitative research study looking at the resettlement experiences of refugee women living in the Hamilton area for her Master’s thesis. During her years in child protection, Malene specialized in a domestic violence response team where she collaborated with community partners in the comprehensive case management for the safety of women and children. Malene had the opportunity to present this transformative practice to the Thunder Bay Children’s Aid Society. Other presentations include, “The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children” to the Hamilton- Wentworth District School Board and a presentation to the Martha House Women’s Services on Women Abuse and Child Welfare. She also presented at the Strengthening Hamilton Community Initiative Forum on Racism where she spoke about the history of racism in Canada.
Vic EvangelistaThe Student of the Year Award Recipient (2024)
Vic lives in Toronto and is studying social service work at Confederation College via distance education. They have appreciated the program’s attention to diversity in all its forms, including the emphasis on Indigenous perspectives and decolonizing social service work. The collaborative focus of the coursework has also been valuable to them, as they have been grateful for many opportunities to learn from students of different lived experiences than their own. Vic has come to social service work as a second path in life after previously studying English at the University of Toronto and working in education providing one-on-one support for nearly a decade. In recent years, they have been guided by their passion for disability justice and accessible learning. Currently, they work as an academic learning strategist supporting teens and adults as they navigate neurodivergence, disability, and mental health challenges. As an SSW student, Vic has been enjoying completing their field placement at a crisis service while learning about alternative responses to mental health crises that prioritise collaboration and choice. This work has given them faith that mental health service delivery can continue to transform and evolve in order to better support our communities. Other practices areas that interest them include queer and trans mental health, recovery from gender-based violence (including intimate partner violence), and trauma-informed care.