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Barbara has a background in Business and Volunteer Management. She has over 20 years’ experience in the mental health system as a user of service, a volunteer, and a research assistant. Currently, Barbara is the Co-Chair for CONNECT for Mental Health Inc. Previous to that she was the Regional Director of the South Western Alliance Network (SWAN). Barbara maintains membership on a number of community boards and committees. Previously she served as a member of Addictions Services Thames Valley Board of Directors; of the Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addictions Programs – Mental Health Council; a Director on the Patients’ Council of Regional Mental Health Care London/St. Thomas; as well as, an executive member of the Ontario Association of Patient Councils. Barbara is a provincial trainer for the OPDI Peer Support Core Essentials Program training, as well as a provincial trainer for the Diabetes and Mental Health Peer Support project. Training in Intentional Peer Support as Alternatives to Crisis and Advanced Level Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) facilitator, added skills when she was involved in a four month demonstration project as a Peer Supporter/Peer Navigator in the Emergency Department of London Health Sciences Centre. Barbara has received two distinguished awards, the Ontario Peer Support Initiatives’ Lighthouse Award and the Ontario Addiction and Mental Health’s President Shield Award for outstanding contribution in the field of addiction and mental health. Barbara’s mantra is “Nothing about Us, Without Us”. Most importantly, Barbara has five children and four beautiful granddaughters.

Raymond Cheng / Policy Analyst & Knowledge Exchange

Raymond was an Executive Director at a CSI and then took a year off learning at York University before coming to OPDI in 2005. His board experience at the Clarke Institute and CAMH has thankfully not extinguished his inquisitive and curious nature which comes naturally with an English Literature degree. He spends his spare time teaching English to a 3 year old dog and manners to a world-weary teenager, while listening in turn to a very patient spouse. Raymond is a fan of anti-poverty advocate John Stapleton and has taken his Open Policy Course not once but twice (it’s that good).

Allyson Theodorou / Manager of Finance & Member Services

Allyson began working for OPDI back in 1993 in its earlier incarnation as the former CSDI. Originally tasked as an administrative assistant, she has taken on other responsibilities including office finances, conference organizer and, working with graduates of the OPDI Peer Support Core Essentials Program while they complete their internships. She is certified with Peer Support Canada, and is qualified to deliver OPDI Peer Support Core EssentialsTM Program training. Allyson lives with her husband, two teenaged boys and their dog Scout who they adopted from a rescue organization. In her spare time, Allyson enjoys spending time with family and friends, trying new vegan recipes and exploring a healthy lifestyle.

OPDI Location

OPDI closed its office on Yonge Street when the lease expired, and since then has held permanent and hot desks at a shared-space building called Centre for Social Innovation in the Annex area at Bathurst near Bloor. Staff work primarily from their homes in North York, Richmond Hill and Hamilton. They commute into the city as needed, using the Centre for staff and other meetings, or as a landing/ working space on days with multiple meetings. This move enabled us to redirect massive rent expenses to member services, vastly reduced our carbon footprint, and keeps staff healthier and happier by eliminating several hours per day for each of them on public transport. Since, “dropping in” is impractical, please make an appointment if you need to meet with staff. Mail or packages should be very clearly marked “Ontario Peer Development Initiative” and drop-offs should be handed directly to one of the Centre staff (reception desk on the ground floor) with a request to put it in OPDI’s mail spot. It is also a good idea to drop us an email to let us know if you have left or sent a package, so that we can be sure to stop in for it.

"From Madhouse To Our House"


January 9, 2019
Why the Definition of “Disability” in Social Assistance Matters to PWLE in Ontario

Ontarians head into the New Year, more than a month since the November 22nd press conference that outlined social assistance changes. Apart from remarks by the Minister at that time that any…

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