Director, Strategic Initiatives and Programs

Despina was born and raised on the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas, now known as Hamilton. She is of Greek ancestry and is comfortable with the pronoun she/her. Despina is proud of her heritage and is grateful to have been raised in her culture. It was through her family that Despina learned to value and appreciate connection to the land, community, culture, and spirituality.

After completing a Master’s Degree (MEd), Despina started her career in the Mental Health and Wellness Sector. She has led and supported several regional, provincial/territorial and national initiatives, that focus on developing and enhancing meaningful partnerships, policies and practices. Despina strives to build and nourish relationships with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis organizations, communities and leaders and she has worked alongside senior health leaders to provide opportunities for shared learning and collaboration. She is most proud of the work she has done in supporting the development of meaningful relationships between regional health organizations and Indigenous communities through life promotion initiatives.

Working for non-Indigenous health organizations, Despina was instrumental in encouraging Indigenous voices through the implementation of circles (guided by Elders, Spiritual Advisors and Knowledge Keepers), and incorporation of ceremony. This supported organizational readiness to enhance cultural safety and humility and created supportive policies, processes, and infrastructures across the organizations.

Despina also finds her balance and harmony by playing sports and spending time outdoors and by being present within the circle of love created by her family and friends. She is humbled by the opportunity to work in an Indigenous organization and she is dedicated to use her abilities and privilege to support Indigenous led initiatives.