MEET THE TEAM
Norah Lynn Paddock (she/her), Executive Director at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario, is a perinatal health advocate and experienced non-profit leader. Her primary areas of interest include perinatal health policy and reproductive justice, including expanding access to perinatal mental health services.
As a registered social worker and psychotherapist, Norah Lynn offers individual and group psychotherapy services related to fertility, pregnancy, postpartum transitions, and parenting. Prior to becoming a social worker, Norah Lynn was a full spectrum doula and spent more than fifteen years working in public policy and government relations in the non-governmental sector and federal government.
Norah Lynn recently completed a Master of Social Work degree from Carleton University and holds a Master of Public Administration degree from Queen's University. She is also Canadian Certified in Perinatal Mental Health and in Birth and Reproductive Trauma through Canadian Perinatal Mental Health Trainings.
Norah Lynn lives with her partner and two children in Ottawa, Ontario, on the unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation.
Connect with me on Instagram: @perinatalwellbeing_ontario
Christine Cunningham (she/her), Founder and Pay-What-You-Can Therapy Program Manager at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. I am a Registered Social Service Worker and a Certified Perinatal Mental Health Professional. I know what it feels like to suffer with Postpartum Anxiety and Depression because I lived through it after my 3rd child.
It totally sidelined me, and I struggled to cope with my symptoms and to parent my 3 little ones. I also didn't even really know that Postpartum Anxiety was a thing because of a lack of information and resources. Luckily, I was able to recover and be well again.
That experience changed my life for the better, because I decided to go back to school and become a counsellor. After working in mental health and addictions I followed my heart to working with clients in the Perinatal period (trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant, or postpartum) in my private practice. And this led me to establishing Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario in order to provide low-cost/free therapy and peer supports to people struggling with their mental health in the Perinatal period. Connect with me on Instagram: @perinatalwellbeing_ontario
Karin Thoms (she/her), Peer Support Program Manager at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. After experiencing Perinatal Depression and Anxiety during pregnancy and after having two babies, as well as experiencing a first trimester miscarriage, I decided to leave my career in Human Resources, and dedicate my time to helping parents during the perinatal period. I completed the Peer Support Core Essentials training through Ontario Peer Development Initiative (OPDI) in 2021, and am a proud peer volunteer with Postpartum Support International (PSI) and the Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network.
One important thing that helped me cope during my last bout of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety was the support I received in a peer-led Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) support group. Connecting with other parents experiencing Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, and with the help of other medical supports, allowed me to recover from those mental health challenges. Sharing our stories and struggles with people with similar lived experiences is a powerful coping tool that I will forever encourage for the Perinatal Community.
The transition to parenthood, whether it is your first or fifth baby, is challenging. I have made it my mission to make support during the perinatal period accessible to anyone in need. I believe that Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario will help make that possible. Follow me on Instagram: @karin_pwo
Laine Halpern Zisman, PhD (she/her), LGBTQ+ Support Coordinator at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. Laine is a Toronto-based queer doula who specializes in queer fertility support. She is also a queer culture and communications scholar and has published and taught on a range of topics related to queer theatre & media, activism & trauma, and critical queer feminist theory.
Laine is happy to support anyone in LGBTQ+ communities in finding resources, supports, and local community agencies from fertility planning to the postpartum period. While Laine primarily works with LGBTQ+ communities, she is also happy to answer any questions about doula care during fertility, pregnancy, or postpartum journeys. Follow her on instagram: @queerconceptions.
Anneke van den Berg (she/her), Peer Supervision Coordinator and Peer Support Volunteer at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. Anneke is a mother of 4, who made her home in Canada over 15 years ago. Currently, she lives in Ottawa on the unceded and never surrendered Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation. Originally from the Netherlands, adjusting to life in Canada was difficult and lonely, but it has become home, kind of.
Mental health has been a struggle for her throughout all her pregnancies and postpartum, partly due to isolation and being an immigrant. Using these experiences to relate to others, parents specifically, has given her a sense of purpose and helped her healing process.
Since arriving in Canada, Anneke has volunteered actively with a wide variety of organizations. About 5 years ago, she started working professionally and now she works as a Public Educator and Facilitator and Parent Coach, in addition to her role at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. In her work, Anneke has worked primarily with immigrant populations (especially of Arab descent), young parents and vulnerable families. Anneke is passionate about serving all parents, taking into consideration that the health care system in Ontario remains systemically racist, ableist, and not inclusive. As a cis-gendered white woman, Anneke is aware of her privilege and the unlearning she needs to do in order to help facilitate change.
In her free time, Anneke enjoys spending time with her family, exploring new trails and reading many, MANY books. She dreams of speaking Arabic fluently (on the way!), world peace (like everyone else), 4-day work weeks and owning a cottage in lush woods without bugs. And no climate change.... Definitely, no climate change.
You can reach Anneke by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kat Bayang (she/her), BIPGM Community Outreach Coordinator and Peer Support Volunteer at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. I’m a Filipinx, widowed parent of 3 kids (2 bio/1 bonus) sharing space on Indigenous territories colonially known as Toronto. I am incredibly passionate about perinatal health care and mental wellness, especially for racialized and marginalized communities. I have experience in supporting folks in the perinatal period as a peer supporter for Postpartum Support International and the Breastfeeding Network, as well as a trauma informed peer supporter for survivors of sexual violence. Most recently, I trained as a midwife at X (Ryerson) University and am familiar with the clinical care provided in the perinatal period and aware of the mental health challenges pregnant people and parents face in this vulnerable life stage. Subjects affecting perinatal mental health that are close to my heart include grief and loss, assisted reproductive technology (ART), relationships, sex and intimacy, blending bonus families, self-advocacy in perinatal care, bodyfeeding challenges, newcomer resourcing and decolonizing parenting. I look forward to connecting! Follow me on Instagram: @kat_pwo
Lisette Weber (she/her), Development Coordinator and Peer Support Volunteer at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. Lisette is mama of two, a certified postpartum doula, and a perinatal mental health activist. She lives on the Haldimand Tract, in traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples (Waterloo Region).
Her experience with postpartum depression and anxiety led Lisette into her work with postpartum populations. She is a certified Full Spectrum Doula through Birthing Advocacy Doula Trainings. Lisette has further education in perinatal mental health through CPMHT, PSI, and 2020 Moms. With a passion for helping others, she also became a certified GPS facilitator to provide peer support groups in her area. She currently juggles her volunteer work with two rambunctious kiddos at home.
Kelley Hassanpour (she/her), Pay-What-You-Can Group Therapy Program Coordinator and Peer Support VolunteerI am Registered Nurse Psychotherapist who works with the perinatal population. My background is in Neonatal Nursing but after experiencing Perinatal Anxiety myself I found myself drawn to working with parents and supporting their mental health during this big transition.
During my own experience with perinatal anxiety, I felt isolated in my experience and wished I had a safe space of support, connecting with others who were in similar experiences support to talk about my experience and learn tools and skills to cope. This is why I am so passionate about groups and am so happy to be involved with coordinating groups at PWO!
Andrew Camacho (he/him), is an Interactive Art & Science student at Brock University and currently edits the Perinatal Wellbeing Podcast as a student intern.
Born with a rare eye condition known as microphthalmia, which causes either vision loss or complete blindness in one or both eyes, Andrew has faced adversity head-on. Early on, he was also confronted with glaucoma and cataracts, posing additional hurdles to his vision. Yet, against all odds, Andrew's right eye retains a little vision, just enough to be comfortable.
Andrew's disability could have dampened his spirit, but it has ignited a flame of optimism and determination within him. He fearlessly embraces each challenge, breaking down barriers and proving that limitations are illusions in the face of his unstoppable energy.
Andrew is passionate about the creative arts, particularly film and gaming. He hopes to one day break into the film and gaming industries as a sound designer and/or a voice-over artist.
When he's not immersed in class or the studio, you'll often find Andrew immersing himself in the latest cinematic masterpieces, getting lost in heart-stopping crime thriller novels, or engaging in friendly Mario Kart competitions with friends to determine the reigning champion.