(647) 723-6930 Mon - Fri 09:00 - 17:00 116 Industry St, Unit 208, Toronto, ON

Team

Meet the Building Up Team

Leadership

Marc Soberano

Founder, Executive Director

Marc founded Building Up because he felt it needed to exist. He believes that the role of a social enterprise is to connect people that want to make socially-minded purchasing decisions with the opportunity to do so.

Marc graduated the Richard Ivey School of Business, canoed across Canada, and understands the untapped transformative powers of construction. He combines lessons learned from life in the woods with a people-first outlook to lead this organization towards its vision.

Email: marc@buildingup.ca

Tarah Clark

Partner, COO

Tarah graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Economics and Finance. She spent the first 10 years of her career working in finance, where she became a VP for Deutsche Bank’s investment bank and a venture capital partner and investor.

Tarah joined Building Up as a volunteer in 2016 purposed with leveraging the power of business to address social, economic and environmental issues. Tarah passionately believes that Social Enterprise is the most impactful tool we have to building a better future. 

Email: tarah@buildingup.ca

Heads of Department

Obioma Dike

Director of Case Management

I’m Obioma Dike – Obi for short (just think of Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi and that’s it! I was the Program Coordinator at Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women (ehcw) where I was involved in program design and resource development. One of the things I enjoyed about my work was walking with my clients through the entire journey, and seeing them become empowered through the various educational workshops, counselling, referrals to community resources and employments we provided. Learning their stories/journeys helped me to write winning grants to sustain and expand on programs.
In my spare time, you will find me trying to learn something new. For example, I recently learnt how to bike, ski and skate. I also enjoy hiking. Since this Spring, I go on weekly 12km hikes. I also like to relax to good music, podcasts, movies and dance.

Email: obioma@buildingup.ca

Sarah Garcia

Program Director

Sarah Garcia never imagined that her career path would lead her to one day wearing a hard hat and steel toed boots. Sarah comes to Building Up with over 15 years in the non-profit sector both locally and internationally in front- line and management roles. Her passions and personal experience (as the daughter of a refugee and mother) have inform her work in child/youth empowerment, supporting newcomers of all ages, as well as bereavement.

Sarah believes strongly in the potential of every person and is proud to be part of the Building Up team.

Email: sarah@buildingup.ca

Ashley Mathew

Operations Manager

Ashley came to Building Up with a background in Social Work. Ashley has over ten years of working in shelters and women’s centres, helping people navigate homelessness and violence. Ashley joined Building Up after learning about its mandate and vision to break down barriers for people. Her role has evolved from a Case Manager to now managing the office. Ashley believes in education, not incarceration.

Rooted in holistic case management, assisting people with practical concerns, health and wellness, and problem-solving for the many challenges they face. Ashley hopes that the role of Building Up in people’s lives will help participants in the program to become resilient, independent, and passionate about their choice in the trades.

Email: ashley@buildingup.ca

Adam Zweig

Director of Social Enterprise

My name is Adam, and I joined Building Up four and a half years ago. I manage the Social Enterprise Department. My roles include making sure enough work comes through Building Up and to have enough revenue. We help bridge the gap by employing people, as well as oversee miscellaneous projects, with the goal of getting the most people working.

Some interesting things about me are that I like playing guitar, snowboarding, basketball and hanging out on a patio.

Email: adam@buildingup.ca

Diego Savone

Labour Division Manager

My name is Diego, Labour Manager here at Building Up. Some of the major aspects of my role include the management of existing labour contracts as well as the development of new labour opportunities.

My partner Melisa and I have two daughters, Riley and Esther, and a furry daughter, our dog Ophelia. What can I say? My house is ruled by girls, I’m outnumbered and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I love camping and getting away into the deep woods, and as a true Argentinean, I love my soccer and BBQs!

Email: diego@buildingup.ca

Brennan Luchsinger

General Manager - General Contracting

I manage the long-term operations and day-to-day work of the general contracting division. I work with the management team, site crew, and new or existing clients to develop construction projects that can push the boundaries of our team’s expertise. I’m happily a dedicated father who enjoys getting outdoors with family, music, and art.

Email: brennan@buildingup.ca

Ella Cordero

Human Resources Manager

I’m Ella, and I’m the HR Manager. My mission is to make Building Up an employer of choice in a very unique hybrid training program, construction-focused not-for-profit. BU’s permanent staff do sooo much for its program trainees and my job is to encourage a culture where BU staff are productive and fulfilled in their roles.

I truly love geeking out with everything HR-related, so much so that I decided to take a Master’s degree in Strategic HR Management (and graduating at the top of my class) while working full-time in human resources. Here at BU, I deal with employment contracts, staff recruitment, accommodation requests, health & safety initiatives, performance reviews, employee surveys and organizational culture. Csaba, the HR Administrator, is a great support on the operational side of things.

Outside of work, I enjoy going out and about. But with COVID restrictions and a new baby in the house, I am now more attuned to being social online.

Email: ella@buildingup.ca

Program Team

Sarah Garcia

Program Director

Sarah Garcia never imagined that her career path would lead her to one day wearing a hard hat and steel toed boots. Sarah comes to Building Up with over 15 years in the non-profit sector both locally and internationally in front- line and management roles. Her passions and personal experience (as the daughter of a refugee and mother) have inform her work in child/youth empowerment, supporting newcomers of all ages, as well as bereavement.

Sarah believes strongly in the potential of every person and is proud to be part of the Building Up team.

Email: sarah@buildingup.ca

Mason McColl

Trades Training Manager

Hi everyone! I’m joining Building Up as the Trades Training Manager. My job is to teach the Hands-On Training to our program participants, and make sure the Training Centre is stocked with building materials and all the tools that trainees need to learn about to kick off their careers.

For the past few years I have been doing building and property maintenance on a 100 year-old building in midtown – my background is as a (mostly) residential painter and doing building & property maintenance in residential, commercial and institutional settings. I have done a lot of different types of work (trades and non-trades), and my favourite work has been in adult education; I have worked as an educator in math and the trades, and also around mental health and wellness, sexual health, safer drug use, anti-oppression & anti-racism, alternatives to the justice system, and lots more.

Email: mason@buildingup.ca

Eddie Wong

Essential Skills Instructor

Eddie has a background in Education and comes to Building Up with over 10 years experience in non-profit. He has supported youth and adults to reach their education goals and move on to new opportunities.

Eddie works with Building Up learners on the 9 Essential Skills, showing the link between these skills and the trades to help learners make a successful transition. Eddie is from the Caribbean and when not at Building Up dreams of being on a beach somewhere.

Email: eddie@buildingup.ca

Nilani Selliah

Program Coordinator

I have been in the Local 27, Concrete Formwork pre-apprenticeship training for the past 7 weeks now! I will be working as Program Coordinator for the next four months starting August 9th. I worked in South Korea for a couple of years as an English teacher and that had been a really amazing experience. I’ve been learning how to do stick & pokes this past year.

Melisa Savone

Outreach & Marketing Manager

Hi! I’m Melisa, the new Outreach and Marketing Manager at BuildingUp. I’m responsible for building public relations campaigns that strengthen our partnerships with the community and other organizations.

My previous experiences include popular education and community organizing. I previously worked as an outdoor educator at Black Creek Community Farm, and most recently at Access Alliance as a Volunteer Coordinator engaging newcomers and refugees.
I’m passionate about communications and thrive working in community settings.

I love the outdoors, growing food, and feel my best when I’m camping with my family and my dog.

Email: melisa.savone@buildingup.ca

Marisa Da Ros

Math Teacher - Toronto Catholic District School Board

After working for 10 years in the financial industry, Marisa returned to school and gained accreditation as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. As a daughter of two immigrants, Marisa has always had a love for teaching and learning and a desire to help new immigrants.

Marisa has been an Adult Education Teacher for many years, most recently with the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Marisa enjoys teaching “Math for the Trades” to the Building Up students, as she helps them prepare for the entry exams to the various trade unions.

Case Management Team

Obioma Dike

Director of Case Management

I’m Obioma Dike – Obi for short (just think of Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi and that’s it! I was the Program Coordinator at Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women (ehcw) where I was involved in program design and resource development. One of the things I enjoyed about my work was walking with my clients through the entire journey, and seeing them become empowered through the various educational workshops, counselling, referrals to community resources and employments we provided. Learning their stories/journeys helped me to write winning grants to sustain and expand on programs.
In my spare time, you will find me trying to learn something new. For example, I recently learnt how to bike, ski and skate. I also enjoy hiking. Since this Spring, I go on weekly 12km hikes. I also like to relax to good music, podcasts, movies and dance.

Email: obioma@buildingup.ca

TBA – Financial Coach

TBA Financial Coach.

Robert Hislop

Alumni Coach & Partnership Manager

Robert comes to Building Up with a background in Coaching, Sales, Marketing, Business Development, Career Development, Recruiting and Account Management roles working for multinational companies in Canada and the Caribbean across diverse industries.

I have a passion for coaching and my goal working at Building Up is to have a positive impact working with, advising and coaching individuals who may be, marginalized or they are facing career barriers. I hope to empower them to excel in their career, have a fulfilling life and accomplish extraordinary things. I like to motivate others to do the things that inspires them and collaborate with them as they go through a transformation.

As a Coach my role is to be your Knowledge Worker/Thinking Partner who will collaborate with you to be a catalyst for change. My definition of a Knowledge Worker/Thinking Partner is to develop solutions to challenging situations.

Elite Athletes are not the only ones who will have a Coach by their side or on their team. Individuals who are successful also have an individual who plays a supporting role as a confidant, who is respecting, cheering, and evangelizing for them to change for the better.

I am an avid reader and in my free time I like to travel and enjoy learning new things.

Email: robert@buildingup.ca

Gayla Forer

Councilor

Gayla has an extensive work history including Teaching; Cultural Consultant and Therapist specializing in mental health and addictions. Over the years she has serviced a variety of populations including youth, parents and families in different modalities including individual, couple, family and group therapy. While working from an inclusive model, her passion has always been working with the racialized and marginalized populations, especially given her social location. She continues to work from an anti-oppressive, trauma informed lens and work hard to demystify the therapy process.

Her motto remains “To Thine Own Self Be True.”

Email: gayla@buildingup.ca

Yeti Ajasin

Case Manager

Yeti is a Social Service Worker who graduated out of the 3 year Degree program at Sheridan College. She comes with a certified designation in Immigration Settlement and Mental Health and is trilingual (English, French,Spanish). Yeti tends to work from a Peer based support system as an approach to working with others. She tends to work from a non-clinical lens and connects with others through life experience and common ground. Outside of BU, You can find Yeti on stage entertaining people through her Music. As a very accomplished professional musician and Canadian Award winner for Best world Music Album (2009), Yeti’s vibrant and warm presence shines through. Always smiling, always approachable and always looking to lend a hand.

yeti@buildingup.ca

Shanice Francis

Case Manager and Resource Development

Hello, my name is Shanice and I am a Case Manager with BU. I have worked with BU just over 2 years now and bring to the company my background in Criminal Justice and Community Resources. I really enjoy working with people to help them learn, grow, and overcome many of life’s barriers. I love that I am able to do this in my current role and am excited to continue working with and meeting new individuals.

The reason I am good at my job is because I am passionate about the work that I do and the community I serve.

Email: shanice@buildingup.ca

Jaleal Wright

Career Coach

Working at ORG Bahamas Foundation has allowed me to wear many hats such as HR, Grant Management, Project Management, Donor relations, and more. I am so happy to join BU as a Career Coach, helping trainees to learn, grow and evolve in their professional journey.

When I’m not coaching someone in their career or entrepreneur journey, I’m either shooting my next YouTube video, creating beauty and health content, or Learning the latest TikTok trend. You could say when I’m not working it’s “The Jaleal Show” and I’m the main character.

Email: jaleal@buildingup.ca

Rokhaya Gueye

Career Coach & Partnership Manager

My name is Rokhaya Gueye people call me Rok.

I am excited to be a part of such a dynamic team. I wear many hats: I am a carpenter, a coach, a mentor, a community servant, serial entrepreneur and more.

I work currently as a scaffolder Technician with Scaftech Inc. I worked at HardRock Forming as a Form Worker.

As an entrepreneur, I build mobile homes for the indigenous community in Mohawk under my company.

As a community servant, I build playgrounds for children battling critical illnesses with Million Dollar Smiles.

With Building Up, I will be one of the Career Coaches & Partnership Managers.

I enjoy traveling, rollerblading and hiking.
I speak four languages.

Merci bcp!

Email: rokhaya@buildingup.ca

Social Enterprise

Diego Savone

Labour Division Manager

My name is Diego, Labour Manager here at Building Up. Some of the major aspects of my role include the management of existing labour contracts as well as the development of new labour opportunities.

My partner Melisa and I have two daughters, Riley and Esther, and a furry daughter, our dog Ophelia. What can I say? My house is ruled by girls, I’m outnumbered and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I love camping and getting away into the deep woods, and as a true Argentinean, I love my soccer and BBQs!

Email: diego@buildingup.ca

Andre O’Connor

Sales & Account Manager

I am excited to join the Building Up Team, I have experience working with helping find work for those in need, specialising in partnering with builders and construction companies to create lasting relationships. At Building Up, my goals will be similar, where I will be looking for opportunities and partnerships to assist in helping Building Up trainees gain the experiences and training to find a new career, within the construction and building industry. 

When I am not looking for solutions and building relationships, I love watching and playing sports. I am a huge soccer fan and still enjoy playing and coaching my 2 young boys. This past summer I decided to coach soccer U4 and U6 boys soccer, it was the most rewarding experience, witnessing the development and joy of the sport. I look forward to a similar experience with Building Up trainees. 

Email: andre@buildingup.ca

Melissa Alexander

Accountability Coach

Joined Building Up in 2018 as a trainee

With Building Up, I was able to advocate for anyone that was going through the justice system where I became part of the outreach team. Going to different job fairs around the GTA and manage to train and prepare for the union of my choice.

Joined local 27 carpenter’s union as a floor covering installer apprentice in 2019 been with the union for two years will be entering my last level in November 29, 2021

I am also a certified peer worker for youth through Stella’s house where I conduct workshops for youth in underprivileged neighborhoods where I was able to go back to my childhood neighborhood to educate youth about mental health and trauma. From there I joined an organization called Progress Place where I am a peer worker for adults that is going through mental health and addiction.

So happy that I am able to join this team where my life changed dramatically 😊.

Love to help others, music, dance, movies, and writing.

Email: melissa@buildingup.ca

Okeremute Don Iruvwe

General Labour - Supervisor

My name is Okeremute Don Iruvwe. I previously worked at Kruger; a paper napkin packaging factory, where I worked as a paper napkin packager and machine operator. I joined Building Up as a Trainee in November 2020 and was later sent to various sites as a Trainee between March and August 2021 which include A/C Engagement, Boarding, and Contractors Support. I’m super excited about the promotion to the position of; Labour Lead Hand, where I will be working at various sites. My hobbies include cooking Nigeria foods, Swimming, traveling, and meeting people.

Olaniran Olusegun Olatoye

General Labour - Supervisor

I have been with Building Up since November 2019.

Allison Roth

Site Supervisor

My name is Allison. I graduated from the building renovation program at GBC about eight years ago. I worked for some contractors in the city and joined Building Up close to four years ago. I work as a site supervisor and mostly enjoy projects that involve finishing carpentry. On our projects, I enjoy keeping our program participants engaged and developing skills and experience to start or future their careers in trades.

Samson Bayere

General Labour - Supervisor

Hello my name is Samson Bayere, I am an expressive individual and I never give up until I get something right. I work as a supervisor/general labourer for building up.

I love to meet new people and try new things. I like visiting friends and talking about things happening in my environment including politics. I also like to listen to music, it helps me relax and get everything off my chest.

Lorena Howse

General Labour - Supervisor

I started my journey with the Building Up team as a trainee in 2019. My role as General Labour Supervisor is to aide and oversee employee performance, identify organizational, developmental needs, provide guidance and support, and deliver exceptional projects through fostering teamwork and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. Through Building Up I have gained many opportunities and met many compassionate and insightful people, I am very grateful to be part of such a great community.

Email: lorena@buildingup.ca

Apparao Manku

Site Supervisor

My name is Manku Apparao. I have been a member of LOCAL 27 since 2017. I have done a lot of scaffolding, sheet metal, exterior metal framing and panelling in ICI division. I have been in Restoration Companies too, fixing and rebuilding houses after cleaning up mostly framing, drywall, flooring, trim, fences, and decks. Recently I have also done timber framing and footings.
Not to mention, I also have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and diplomas in construction management, trades, and techniques.

During weekdays, I spent most of my free time reading and watching news. On weekends, I mostly spend my time with friends and family eating, watching movies and sports. I do follow basketball and boxing but mostly I watch cricket.

Lukman Oyeniyi

General Labour - Supervisor

My name is Lukman and I am the general labour maintenance supervisor. My hobbies are playing soccer, listening to news and meeting people and putting a smile on their faces.

Oyakhilome Ikhajangbe

Site Supervisor

I majored in Engineering and Construction and worked both in the government and private sectors as a Senior Engineer in procurement, Health and Safety Officer, and Business Development Officer. Moving to Canada was tremendously exciting for me. Working in the construction industry, I supervise several house renovation projects from start to finish.

I’m excited to be part of this remarkable team because it has undoubtedly provided me with the opportunity to serve communities and put smiles on people’s faces while doing what I love most.

Email: oyakhilome@buildingup.ca

Jules Paula

Operations Manager - Labour Department

I’m Jules, proud to be Brazilian and a lover of B.B.Q. I’m into fitness, living a healthy lifestyle and obsessed with personal development.

I am a Project Manager, making sure projects are completed on time and on budget. I also do all of the scheduling and invoicing for Building Up.

To challenge myself and to get out of my comfort zone, I performed stand-up comedy in front of a room with about 50 strangers.

Email: jules@buildingup.ca

David Adesina

General Labour - Supervisor

Outstanding service delivery with experiences in addressing Construction challenges through engagement and Human Capital Development. Previous worked extensively on several and diverse operations and projects, spanning cultural backgrounds, continents, countries, companies and projects. Led many projects, worked as team member on hundreds of projects.

Pleasant experience to Stakeholders while following Building UP and Governance regulations, standards and policies.

As a hobby, I like to fish and be around large water bodies.

Olusina Oyewole Bolarinwa

Lead Supervisor

Olusina comes to Building Up with a Masters in Business Administration and Advanced Diploma in Building Technology. He joined Building Up in 2018 after completing the training program, then proceeded to the Finishing Trade Institute (FTI) for a Diploma in Glazing. He is currently the Building Maintenance Supervisor at Building Up and a Journey person with Local 27 Carpentry Union.

olusina@buildingup.ca

Tim Zubek

Site Supervisor

Previous to being a carpenter I spent 14 years working at The Toronto Star. I spent most of my time there laying out the classified section. At Building Up I will be a site supervisor and am looking forward to helping people learn new skills while working on interesting projects. I hope, also, to be able to learn new skills myself. While previously working for Building Up i always enjoyed hearing the success stories from trainees that I had worked with. When not working I enjoy watching sports and doing all sorts of puzzles.

Email: tim@buildingup.ca

Peter Clarkson

Production Manager

Prior to Building Up, I was an engineer working on a wide variety of small and large infrastructure projects across Toronto, which allowed me to take on many different roles, including project management, design, construction contract administration and inspection. In my free time I was also able to sneak in a part-time role as a utility analyst for Steam Whistle Brewery in Etobicoke, right around the corner from the BU Training Centre.

With BU, I will now be leading all pre-construction-related work, which includes guiding the contracting team to success by developing accurate project plans, schedules, and budgets, qualifying incoming leads, as well as overseeing contract negotiations with clients.

Email: peter@buildingup.ca

Dean Vye

Construction Manager

Dean comes to Building Up from Sault Ste. Marie with 10 years of residential and commercial plumbing experience. He is a licensed journeyman, a master plumber and comes with his G2/G3 certification.

With extensive experience supervising and mentoring apprentices Dean brings first hand knowledge of supporting new entrants through their apprenticeships and through their successful transition into journey people.

Email: dean@buildingup.ca

Jim Peterson

Construction Manager

My name is Jim, and I’m the Construction Manager at Building Up. I spend my day teaching and collaborating with coworkers on construction projects. We build and spruce up offices, apartments and other areas that require a special touch.
My hobbies are watching my two teenagers play rep sports (not much time for anything else). They both play baseball, which is extra exciting to me as I played for 20 years, and in my last year represented Ontario in a national tournament hosted in Newfoundland.

Another interesting fact, I did not know much about my family history and took an ancestry test a couple of years ago. Something really surprising to me was my high percentage connection to Norway. I am starting on a new journey of discovering new connections as people with DNA matches are reaching out.

Email: jim@buildingup.ca

Nilay Gabani

Junior Construction Manager

I was working in Vaughan, as Project Coordinator for Advance Forming Inc. I was responsible for Coordinating, Estimating and Scheduling of trades. At Building Up, I will have similar responsibilities as well. I will assist in Drawings, Documentation and Material management.

In my free time, I like to play basketball or workout. I am also fond of Nature and Adventures. I am also very social, easy to talk to and a problem solver. I am really looking forward to working with the BuildingUp Team and growing along.

HR

Ella Cordero

Human Resources Manager

I’m Ella, and I’m the HR Manager. My mission is to make Building Up an employer of choice in a very unique hybrid training program, construction-focused not-for-profit. BU’s permanent staff do sooo much for its program trainees and my job is to encourage a culture where BU staff are productive and fulfilled in their roles.

I truly love geeking out with everything HR-related, so much so that I decided to take a Master’s degree in Strategic HR Management (and graduating at the top of my class) while working full-time in human resources. Here at BU, I deal with employment contracts, staff recruitment, accommodation requests, health & safety initiatives, performance reviews, employee surveys and organizational culture. Csaba, the HR Administrator, is a great support on the operational side of things.

Outside of work, I enjoy going out and about. But with COVID restrictions and a new baby in the house, I am now more attuned to being social online.

Email: ella@buildingup.ca

Csaba Nyitrai

HR Administrator

My name is Csaba Nyitrai. I was born in Hungary and moved to Canada 10 years ago. I studied Business Administration – Human Resources at George Brown College.

My hobbies are going to the gym, walk, cooking, baking and meeting with my friends. I also enjoy going to concerts, my two favours are Miley Cyrus and Gwen Stefani. Ever since the lockdown, I started work out from home, I learned to bake cakes and other baked goods. I also recently started learning Japanese which I enjoy very much. In the future, I would love to visit Japan and use my skills to communicate with people in Japanese.

Email: hr@buildingup.ca

Shraddha Macwan

Health & Safety Coordinator

My name is Shraddha, your new Health & Safety Coordinator. For the last 7 months, I worked as a Safety & Ergonomics Specialist at Honda of Canada Mfg. My job was to evaluate and assess safety and ergonomic impact of new model change points. I was also responsible for developing and driving the risk reduction through countermeasures activities to problems identified.

At Building Up, I will be working with a WSIB approved provider to implement ways to make the workplace safer for our employees. However, everyone is involved to improve safety culture, which is why I need your utmost support and cooperation. We can use our talents and put as much energy into our commitment to health & safety as we put into any other important part of the business.

Outside of work, I am a travel person, Nature is my second home. I am a music maniac too. I like to explore different genres and go to live shows of my favorite artists. I am very grateful for this opportunity and I am looking forward to meeting my awesome colleagues.

Email: shraddha@buildingup.ca

Leigh Anne Pearson

Bookkeeper

Leigh Anne comes to us with over 20 years of bookkeeping and administrative experience. In addition to her work with Building Up, she is a Certified Personal Trainer and enjoys working with others on their quest for a healthier lifestyle.

Email: leigh@buildingup.ca

Building Up has assembled a board of advisors that is passionate about our mission and has expertise across multiple industries, roles and sectors.

The Building Up board is proud to support the work that is accomplished each day by the team, the program participants and the program graduates.