Board of Directors

Walid Al-Hajj, President and Chair

Walid is a technology leader and entrepreneur with over 20 years experience building teams, creating value propositions and delivering global technology solutions. Walid worked at top Canadian banks and led many functions such as Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing, Fraud, Corporate Treasury, Anti-Money Laundering, and Trading Floor Risk Management.
Walid launched and led multiple businesses over the years that have grown to multi-million dollar revenue generators such as: Greater Toronto Area’s best rated commercial and residential property management company and a boutique technology consulting and staffing agency in GTA.
Walid is a board member at Toronto Ward Museum, Vice-Chair at the Lighthouse Foundation and a mentor at Toronto Business Development Centre.
On a personal level Walid is a Husband and father of two children.


Brian Joe, Secretary

Brian is a cultural programmer, academic administrator and labour leader. He brings governance and committee experience from his role as Graduate Program Coordinator at OCAD U, and executive leadership experience as Local President OPSEU 576. He his committed to community-based cultural programming that builds inclusive spaces that encourages curiosity, learning, and agency. As a first-generation Chinese-Canadian, Brian seeks to explore  the real experience of immigration stories and the role they play in Canadian history, culture and policy. Brian holds degrees in Museum Studies and Information Studies from the University of Toronto.

Douglas Worts, Past Chair

Douglas Worts (pronounced Werts) is a culture & sustainability specialist, with WorldViews Consulting, a Canadian consulting firm. For over 35 years, he has worked in and around museums, including 25 years at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Douglas specialized in experimental exhibit design, community engagement and audience research, where he explored the potential of artworks and heritage materials to stimulate viewer creativity and ‘meaning-making’. He has spoken and published widely on a range of museum, culture and sustainability-based topics. A founding members of the Visitors Studies Association, Douglas also served on the board of ICOM Canada, chaired the Alberta Museums Association national pilot of the Museum Excellence Program, reviewed numerous museums undergoing the American Association of Museums ‘Museum Assessment Program – Public Dimension’, was/is a founding editorial board member of Museums and Social Issues Journal, as well as taught graduate courses in museum education at the University of Toronto.

Born in Vancouver, Douglas’ immigration story goes back five generations to when his great, great, great grandfather, James Worts, set out from England in 1831 to start a new milling business in ‘Muddy York’ (now Toronto).  That business was transformed through the 19th century to become the largest distillery in Canada – Gooderham & Worts, Ltd.

Donna Gabaccia, Past President

Donna Gabaccia is a Professor of History at the University of Toronto and past Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota, where she developed the award-winning project “Digitizing Immigrant Letters.”  She is the author of 14 books and dozens of articles on immigration to the United States, Italian migration around the world and migration in world history. Her book,  Foreign Relations won the 2012 Theodore Saloutos Prize of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society; her most recent book Gender and International Migration received an Honourable Mention from the American Sociological Association. She is a the past president of the Social Science History Association and the recipient of the 2013 University of Minnesota Outstanding Community Service Award for faculty, which acknowledged her public history work with older and newer immigrant and refugee communities in the United States.

The granddaughter of Italian and German immigrants to New York City, she migrated to Germany where she worked (with a temporary academic work contract)
from 1982 to 1986 and she migrated to Canada in 2014. In February 2017, she acquired sufficient points to apply for permanent residency.

Julia Matamoros

Julia Matamoros is the Partnerships Officer of Canoo at the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, where she works with a national network of cultural organizations to engage Canada’s newest citizens, build long-term relationships and create more inclusive spaces. Julia has engaged the public with arts discussion and practice for the past decade in education and programing capacities. She believes in the essential role of the Toronto Ward Museum in addressing the lack of diversity and meaningful participation of immigrant communities in the sector, and is proud to support an institutional model that truly represents and responds to the needs of Toronto’s multicultural society.

Perry Lupyrypa

Perry is a marketing and communications consultant with 30+ years experience in strategic development, communications, fund-raising, event management and has held numerous positions on not for profit boards. Recently, she was the Executive Director for the Riverside Business Improvement Area and managed relationships with local businesses, politicians and community groups. She is a board member of the Toronto Council on Aging and the Muskoka Pickleball Assoc, volunteers with Muskoka Hospice, and is working towards a Yoga Teacher Training certification. Perry is excited to contribute to the growth and development of the museum and the public it serves.

Eliot Che

Eliot is Senior Counsel at TD where he advises the bank on a wide range of topics, such as artificial intelligence and emerging technologies, contracts, consumer protection, human rights, and lending products. Before joining TD, Eliot worked as a litigation, privacy and technology lawyer at Torys LLP. During that time, he also provided pro bono legal services to CARFAC/VALCO. Prior to law, he worked in the technology industry – where he was part of start-ups, such as OpenConcept and others, doing user experience design and building mobile apps. He is a first-gen Canadian committed to the Toronto Ward Museum’s mission of shaping a more just future for migrants by sharing stories that reflect the diversity of our communities.

Caitlin Bailey

An accomplished non-profit leader and public history professional, Caitlin Bailey is the Executive Director of two successful heritage non-profits, the Vimy Foundation and the Canadian Centre for the Great War. Caitlin is committed to highlighting the role of Canada’s history in public life and its contribution to maintaining a civil society. A graduate of the University of Calgary and McGill, Caitlin holds degrees in Russian Literature and Library and Information Sciences.

Ben Peel

Ben Peel is a litigation lawyer at Miller Thomson LLP. Ben joined Miller Thomson LLP as a summer student in 2016. After completing his articles in 2018, he joined the firm’s commercial litigation group. He now maintains a broad civil litigation practice and regularly appears before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Before joining Miller Thomson LLP, Ben worked as a Research Assistant and as a Senior Caseworker at the Business Law Clinic at the University of Ottawa. Prior to attending law school, he worked at an international auditing firm, and before that, at a boutique market research firm. Passionate about workplace diversity and inclusion, Ben was a founding member of the Ottawa chapter of Start Proud. The organization is dedicated to creating opportunities for LGBT students and young professionals across Canada.

Ben has previously worked on several other boards and committees, including the University of Toronto’s Hart House Board of Stewards and Capital Rainbow Refugee.

Laura-Maria Nikolareizi

At a very young age, Laura’s calling has always been to give back to the community. Something as a parent now teaching her 9 year old son to be a contributing member of society. Laura-Maria considers herself a cultural, fundraising, communications, and political nerd. She wants to be a part of the Toronto Ward organization to inspire conversation, educate awareness and raise money for a very unique organization that celebrates different cultures in Toronto who have built the city many of us call home. She feels supporting this organization will bring for her a rewarding experience and leave something for the alpha generation to continue celebrating our diversity. Laura has experience from financials to operations to board governance to philanthropy to mission work to marketing to education programs. Laura has served on many boards both in Canada and the United States. Her background is within the political arena and operating my own business in Florida.

She knows to serve on the board, will be an honor, challenge, and responsibility of understanding how everything needs to work together for an organization to accomplish its goals. Laura looks forward to being a part of this journey.

Nadim Abdo

Nadim has over 25 years of experience in credit risk management. He held successive leadership positions in risk management in the Financial Services industry since 1989.

Nadim is the principal consultant of his firm specializing in providing risk management solutions to the financial services sector.  His company has been in operation for 6 years and most recently was a founding partner in the development and launch of a new Fintech credit card operation in Canada.

Prior to starting his own consulting firm, as Head of Equifax Canada’s Consulting & Analytics division, Nadim advised Canadian banks and large financial institutions on Credit Strategy. He implemented and managed innovative, leading-edge risk management solutions in the Consumer and Commercial lending arenas for several of Canada’s leading banks, credit unions and Auto Finance companies.

Prior to that, Nadim held several senior roles with some of the leading Canadian financial services companies and was instrumental in bringing to market pioneering new credit offerings; such as President’s Choice Financial (the first truly virtual bank to be launched in Canada), and HSBC’s fully automated Auto Finance prime and sub-prime adjudication system. He also transformed the Credit department at Moneris Solutions by instilling a customer-focused risk culture, while re-writing credit policy & procedures to reduce and control losses previously incurred.

As a leading financial services expert, Nadim leverages his analytical and operational credit skills to develop and implement new business solutions for banks, credit unions and Fintechs in the areas of risk management, marketing, operations, modeling and analytics.

Nadim loves physical activity, especially the outdoors where he enjoys taking his fat bike on long trails around the city.  He is a proud father/husband with 2 amazing girls, his dog Louie and cat Milo, and is absolutely passionate about his cars, 

Nadim received his BS degree in Business & Management from Norwich University, the Military College of Vermont.

Travis Bateman

Travis Bateman is a fundraising professional with over 10 years of experience in development and fundraising, and has served in several key roles that contributed to the success of multiple multi-million dollar capital campaigns.  He believes in the museum’s goal to become a cultural institution that strengthens our understanding of immigration history through innovation in interpretation and public engagement. Travis holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Brock University.

Jovie is a Filipina Immigrant from Nueva Ecija who arrived in Canada in July 2011. Jovie’s immigration journey moulded the person that she is today and the person that she is for her community. 

Jovie’s passion lies in the intersectionalities of art, entrepreneurship, and social justice. In 2019, she founded Pinay Collection, a social enterprise that celebrates and reclaims the Filipina identity through clothing. She’s also founded Pinya Letters, a calligraphy business that’s been featured in brands such as L’oreal, Deserres, and the Toronto Reel Asian Festival. As a hand lettering artist, she uses her skills to facilitate community spaces that centre healing and reclamation of narratives through creative mediums. 

Outside of being an artist and entrepreneur, Jovie is a trained community services professional with a proven track record in leadership positions in the non-profit sector. Over the past 8 years, Jovie has done a lot of work cultivating communities with and for newcomer youth as well as developing civic engagement programs that centre diverse & marginalized voices. Her advocacy work extends to the federal level, where she helped secure funding to launch a community program that builds support for the reunification of migrant families in the GTA.

Dan Panneton

Daniel Panneton is a public historian and heritage professional employed by the Sarah & Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. He holds a Masters of Museum Studies from the University of Toronto and a Masters of History from Queen’s University. He has led Not Just Numbers: Representation in the Canadian Census since its inception, for which he received the 2018 Ontario Historical Society’s Russell K. Cooper Award for Excellence in Public Programming. He was worked with the Multicultural History Society of Ontario, Toronto History Museums, Heritage Toronto, and Black Creek Pioneer Village. His writing has appeared in outlets like the Globe & Mail, the Walrus, TVO, and the Literary Review of Canada.