Ellen Schwartz:

Ellen is a veteran elementary teacher with 17 years of experience teaching in Toronto. With Project Give Back, Ellen continues to teach children the true power of giving as she launches her newest project which links her years of teaching expertise with the skills of fundraising, thus instilling a true love of giving back and community outreach which will help to change future lives.

Schwartz has also become a passionate advocate for research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Canavan's. She is the co-director of Jacob's Ladder (The Canadian Foundation for the Control of Neurodegenerative Disease), and the author of Lessons from Jacob: A Disabled Son Teaches His Mother About Courage, Hope and the Joy of Living Life to the Fullest - www.jacobsladder.ca. Together with her network of friends and family, Schwartz has raised more than one and a half million dollars to fund research grants and awards to find cures for fatal diseases.

To date, Jacob's Ladder has enabled ongoing research in many areas related to neurodegenerative disorders. Through the annual Jacob's Ladder International Research Prize, for example, this organization makes possible innovative research in the areas of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of these diseases. In addition to supporting investigative research, Jacob's Ladder has helped to facilitate increased genetic screening in Canada for parents and parents-to-be, and they have contributed to the education of medial personnel as well as the public about rare genetic diseases and what relevant tests might be available."

As a public speaker Ellen continues to move and inspire audiences due to her unwavering belief in her son's abilities, her steadfast commitment to education and research into neurodegenerative diseases, and her heartfelt desire to help others cope with life's toughest challenges.

She has been featured in The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, City Post Magazines, Today's Parent, More Magazine, Canadian Jewish News, Lifestyles Magazine, The Tribune, CTV, Global's Heart and the City, CBC's the National, CBC's Sounds Like Canada with Shelagh Rogers, CBC's Jeff Goodes Show, Roger's Cable network, and Slice's Dr. in The House.

Our Chief of Operations:

Melanie Levcovich brings a breadth and depth of experience from over 20 years working in Marketing and Operations across a number of rapidly growing companies. She was director of marketing for Informix, a billion dollar software company and Vice President of Marketing at Globally Boundless. She also has experience growing a company from scratch having conceived and led her own start up idealive. On the operations side Melanie has several years experience working with Macy’s in California, managing in a flagship store, streamlining promotion, buying and distribution. Melanie has a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.

Samara Bleiwas:

Samara is a teacher with the York Region District School Board. She has been teaching in the primary and junior divisions for the past six years. Samara is now spending her time at home with her three young children and is volunteering with Mom’s For Sinai at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Samara is thrilled to join Project Give Back this year and she is eager to use her teaching skills and passion for giving back to her community in order to inspire young children to make a difference. Samara holds a Bachelor of Education from York University and a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Western Ontario.  

Cheryl Daniels:

Cheryl Daniels has taught high school at Harbord CI and Forest Hill CI between 1990 and 2001. For the past eight years, she has focused her energy on her family, volunteering at her children's school and creating a new charity which services shelters in the Toronto area. She is very excited to merge both her teaching and fundraising experiences as a member of the Project Give Back team  

Shelley Ekstein:

Shelley Ekstein has been teaching for 14 years both in the Public and Private school boards. She is currently an art teacher who enjoys bringing out the true hidden talents of children and developing their self-esteem and confidence. She runs her own art studio for children and adults in her home. She is a mother of three and holds both a BA is Sociology and Bachelor of Education. She also holds both a specialist degree in Primary Education and ESL. She is thrilled to be part of Project Give Back where she can help children to become more aware of the need to give charity and become more involved in the community. It is hoped through this program, she is able to have the children participate in making the world a better place for all of us. Shelley is grateful for this opportunity and to be part of this exceptional team.  

Roz Fine:

She is a former public school teacher with seven years in the classrom. She is also immediate Past National President of National Council of Jewish Women of Canada. She has been a Volunteer for this charity for over 25 years and values the importance of giving back to the community. Roz Fine is a proud mother and grandmother. and is thrilled to be part of the "Project Give Back" Team.  

Andrea Glassman

Andrea Glassman is recently retired from a successful, and fulfilling 30 year teaching career; most recently at The Leo Baeck Day School in Thornhill, Ontario where she was proud to participate in the Project Give Back program with her Grade Five classes. She found it to be inspirational, informative, and heartwarming for her students and for herself. She is a confident, energetic and creative teacher who has focused her energy on instilling confidence and passion in her students. She is looking forward to be part of the "Project Give Back" Team.  

Lesli Goldstein:

Lesli is excited to be part of the Project Give Back Team. The combination of her skills as a Social Worker, Teacher and mother of three young children will enable students to gain a deep understanding of PGB's themes of passion, caring, self confidence and organization in a fun and memorable way. Lesli holds a BA (Hons) in Sociology from York University, an MSW from the University of Toronto, and a BEd. from OISE.  

Amy Greenberg:

Amy Greenberg is a former teacher with the Toronto District School Board.  After the birth of her first child, she left the board to raise her children.

Her passion for teaching and children made it hard for her to stay out of the classroom, so she created programs that she has taught in various centres throughout the GTA.

She is very proud of a program she created called A Trip Around the World, which taught young children about different cultures and customs through art, cooking and music.  Amy just completed her eighth year running her own summer camp.  

When Amy is not with her family, she is usually actively involved volunteering in many different causes.  It has always been very important to her that her young children always witnessed her giving back to the community.  Project Give Back is the perfect mix of both of her passions.  She can not wait to inspire the leaders of tomorrow to always think about how they can make a difference.

Melissa Lidsky:

Melissa has been teaching for over 16 years in a variety of classroom settings and a range of grade levels.  As a busy mother of three children, she has also been an active chair member of their school's executive committees.   She is eager to embark on this new adventure with Project Give back.

Michelle Wittlin

Michelle Wittlin is very excited to join the “Project Give Back” team this year. As a mother and teacher, she wants children to experience the sense of achievement and personal fulfillment that giving back to the community can bring. These feelings of self-confidence and self-worth will reflect on all aspects of children’s lives. Michelle is a former teacher with the York Region District School Board. She has eight years experience teaching children at the elementary school level. She holds an Honors degree in English Language and Literature, and a Bachelor of Education from York University.  

Jillian Roth

Jillian Roth has worked with children in many capacities having obtained both her BEd from York University and her ECE from George Brown College. She worked as a private school teacher for several years and ran the Children’s Program for a cruise line prior to becoming a mother to her young son. As a parent, Jillian has become an active member of the parent board of her son’s school and has volunteered for several children’s charities, while running a special events company part time. Jillian is excited to be joining the Project Give Back team, and can’t wait to help inspire children and see them shine as they explore and become passionate about the causes that they and their classmates discover.  

Jordy Frankel

Jordy Frankel is a teacher in the TDSB and is currently taking some time to raise her two small children. She feels so blessed to be able to be part of the Project Give Back team and can not wait to go through this wonderful journey with her students and the other staff members. Jordy is passionate about children and thrives to make each and every child feel that he/she is the best that he/she can be. Project Give Back will allow Jordy to be doing exactly what she loves with the most inspirational people and children around her. Her hope is to instil awareness and appreciation in her students through teaching Project Give Back. Jordy received a BA from York University and completed her BEd at D'Youville College. She has her specialist in reading and loves teaching literacy. In the community Jordy is busy as the co-chair for the Family to Family Program with UJA, and a committee member of a small group of women who work hard to raise funds for a special place called the Family Resource Centre.