Seniors Advisory Panel

Seniors Advisory Panel

End user input is critical for success in the marketplace. The Seniors Advisory Panel, based out of the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), provides advice and support to CABHI-funded innovations in aging and brain health from the perspective of their lived experience.

Founded in 2016, the Panel is a group of 18 older adults and caregivers with broad professional and life experience. Many members have been caregivers to loved ones who are experiencing, or have experienced, brain health issues.

SAP represents the voice of the consumer. The Panel provides valuable end user input to CABHI projects at all stages of development, including:

  • feedback through focus group discussions
  • input on how to make products user-friendly and accessible
  • insight on how early-stage ideas could have real-world impact

To date, the Panel has provided input to many innovators who have benefitted from their constructive insight.

Contact SAP at


“Everyone was very engaged. Not only was feedback open, it was constructive – we’ve taken away some valuable insights from potential end users of our solution to incorporate into the design of our final product.” – Linda Kaleis, Lead Data Scientist, MEMOTEXT


Learn more about our members below.



Ron Beleno

Ron is an experienced family caregiver to his late father that lived well with Alzheimer’s for over 10+ years while partnering with his senior mother during their journey.  He is an advocate in the dementia and aging communities with expertise in technology, aging in place, caregiving, and patient engagement with special interests in Dementia and Age Friendly Communities, living safely, remote caring, and research. Ron is co-chair for AGE-WELL NCE’s Older Adults and Caregiver Advisory Committee, advisor and presenter for Alzheimer Societies and Dementia organizations locally and internationally, member of City of Toronto’s Senior Strategy Accountability Table, mentor and judge at over a dozen dementia and health hackathons/pitch competitions, and collaborator/advisor to research, industry, and start-ups.  In current and past endeavours, Ron has successfully started non-profit and commercial enterprises, worked in collaboration with federal, provincial, and municipal governments, and is constantly networking in various communities to bring key stakeholders together.

Toby Belkin

Toby held several positions at the McGill Daily, and after graduation and marriage worked for the Vancouver Province (newspaper) as a weekly columnist. She was also Press Officer at the Canadian Jewish Congress national headquarters in Montreal and was editor of its monthly publication. After raising 5 children, she had almost completed the Master of Social Work Program at Carleton University, when she was persuaded to help found a tri-lingual French immersion school in Ottawa, and served as its administrator until moving to Toronto and volunteering at Baycrest in various programs.  Toby majored in economics and political science at McGill University.

Deborah Bernstein

Deborah worked in the film and television industry for over 30 years, many of which were spent at the CBC, English Television Network. In her last position there as the Executive Director of Arts and Entertainment Programming, she oversaw the development, production and financing of drama, comedy, arts, variety, children’s and youth programming. After that, Deborah taught for many years at Ryerson University and Humber College. She continues to teach Creative Producing at Humber. While completing her education, she worked in counselling and consulting in the area of women’s advancement in the workplace. Deborah also volunteers with the Ve’ahvta Street Academy. She sits on the Boards of The AFC (formerly the Actors’ Fund of Canada) and Raindance Canada. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.  Deborah holds an Ed.D. from O.I.S.E. at the University of Toronto.

Ruth Cymerman

Ruth was an elementary teacher for many years, teaching general studies as well as Hebrew/Judaic studies in England and Canada, and taught English in Israel.  More recently she worked in administration in non-profit organizations. Since retiring in 2011, she has volunteered at Baycrest, as well as other organizations.  At Baycrest she volunteered in admin and also in the Storytelling group, and helped compile the “Baycrest Book of Wisdom.” Ruth enjoys travel, theatre, films, and music as well as word games, such as Scrabble, and attends several classes on different topics.  She would like to contribute her skills in organizing and writing to CABHI. Ruth holds a diploma in Education from London University (UK).

Sue Drohan

Sue spent most of her career in the pharmaceutical industry overseeing the Regulatory function (getting new drugs approved and otherwise working through the regulatory maze) in senior management positions for multi-national companies.   She’s now happily retired, taking courses, traveling, cycling and serving on two volunteer boards.  Sue has played a primary role in looking after 2 elderly parents with dementia, and is looking forward to participating on the Seniors’ Advisory Panel to contribute to improving the lives of seniors and caregivers.   She would like to bring her scientific writing, team mentoring, and strategic thinking skills to the projects she becomes involved with.  Sue holds a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from Rutgers University.

Marilyn Fine

Marilyn’s career in volunteering began in primary school and never stopped. She became President of her ORT chapter at 19 and during the ensuing years assumed many leadership roles in Jewish organizations.   She devoted many years to B’nai B’rith where she took on president of her chapter, Leadership Chairman for Eastern Canada, and Convention Chairman. Marilyn’s skills were recognized with awards for her achievements from the Anti-Defamation League and the BBYO.  Her career included management training at Dylex, managing ladies wear stores for a few years, and work as a travel agent before buying her own travel agency. After selling the travel agency she went on to pursue her passion for helping people by training as a Psychotherapist. She split her time between her private practice and co-leading a group at the York Regional Abuse Program. In 2006 Marilyn began facilitating various programs at the Wagman Centre where she also served on the Advisory Committee. She is also an active participant in her community where she has held various positions including Program Chair, Vice President and President of the Resident’s Council.

Ian Goldman

Until 2010 Ian was an I.T. business analyst for Sanofi Pasteur (previously Connaught Labs). There he coordinated teams of scientists and technologists in evaluating and deploying software to improve processes. Previously he formed a consulting company that focused on assisting clients to determine and use the best software for their stated purpose. Ian’s volunteer experience entails working in various senior centres showing clients how to use software and apps e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts to stay connected with family, and pursue interests. He has also acted as a co-facilitator for the Minds in Motion program for Alzheimer Toronto. Since 2016 he has provided lived experience to three innovation projects for technology in aging.  Born in Leeds, U.K. where he “distance managed” care to his Mum for 8 years, Ian loves to travel, learn, and share the experiences with those he works with.   Ian holds a degree  in Natural Sciences for Chemical Engineering from Cambridge University.

Anne Kerr

Anne is a professional accountant with over thirty years of senior management experience. She has worked in Real Estate Development, Academia, for a Crown Corporation and Not-For-Profit Organizations in positions including Vice-President and Executive Director. After retiring she has volunteered with organizations that promote vegetarian diets as well as meditation and healthy lifestyle practices. She has taken courses on the workings of the human brain as well as reading about how the future of technology may enhance the human experience. Anne believes strongly in physical fitness being an overall benefit to all aspects of health. Anne hopes that the combination of business acumen along with her lifestyle practices will be of benefit to the panel and help improve the lives of seniors.  Anne completed her university education in Scotland and holds a CPA designation.

Ann Laski

Ann’s first career was in the field of psychology doing assessments and counseling.  As her family grew, she spent time with her four children, and helped her husband in his business.  She also participated in a variety of volunteer work both at schools and in the community.  Along the way she worked on organizational skills and communication with people of all ages.   Ann enjoys travel, theatre, golf, and attends classes at Life Learning venues, and in Judaic studies.   Ann holds an undergraduate Bachelor of Science and a diploma from the Institute of Child Study.

Rene Pardo

Rene is a financier, innovator and founder of multiple high-tech start-ups whose personal initiatives have triggered well over $100 million of research & development.  Rene’s accomplishments include co-inventing the world’s first electronic spreadsheet, co-inventing and developing the first online educational multimedia game, developing the first online conference registration system and creating the first artistic computer animation with Norman McLaren at the National Film Board.  He also advanced energy storage technologies, solar & wind powered water purification, and the world’s first area lighting LED technologies.  Presently he is CEO and co-founder of Brainwave Research Corporation, a company developing transformational technologies in the electrical safety and power line communications industries.  Rene’s passion is mentoring and acting as strategic advisor to start-up entrepreneurial endeavours – whether business or product strategy, technology, finance or  helping patent innovations. Rene is a graduate of McGill University (B.Sc.) and Harvard Graduate School of Education (M.Ed.).

Hilary Randall-Grace

Hilary Randall-Grace is a recently retired CA whose career was devoted to risk management consulting (cultural, strategic, and operational risk), quality client service, governance and ethics. Her passion for seniors and the brain stemmed from eight years of intense caregiving for her parents. She has seen firsthand the challenges facing aging adults and their caregiving families. She is concerned that our seemingly “throw-away society” renders seniors who have, and who can continue to, contribute to society as unappreciated.  Currently completing a graduate certificate in gerontology from Durham College, Hilary volunteers in a long-term care facility doing recreation for severe dementia residents and co-facilitates an Alzheimer’s Society Caregiver Peer Support. She is married with one son and loves dogs, travelling, and cooking.  She holds a BSc in math and economics from Trent University.

Rachel Schlesinger

Rachel spent most of her career as a teacher, both as  a kindergarten and middle school teacher. She then had the pleasure of working with university students as a Professor at York University where she continues to work as a Senior Scholar in the research area of social gerontology.  Her interests include taking classes, walking, games,  cards, travel, reading and the arts.   Thanks to sabbaticals, she has lived in India, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand. She has been on the local and national boards of HadassahWizo.  In Toronto, she was a board member of the Red Door agency.  Rachel graduated from Cornell University with a B. Sc. and a Master of Arts M.A.  She also holds a  Doctorate in Education from OISE, at the University of Toronto.  She has worked in research most of her professional life, and would like to apply these skills to the exciting initiatives at CABHI.

Walter Seaton

Walter is a professional engineer licensed in Canada and the European Union. He was elected by his peers to the honour of Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, thereby placing him amongst the top 7% of engineers worldwide. When he retired from this first career, he was the International Vice President of one of the largest worldwide engineering contracting companies, involving continuous worldwide travel. He frequently interfaced on behalf of the company’s clients at senior government levels in Canada and abroad. He represented Canada on two UN bodies (UNESCO and UNITAR). His second career was as an arbitrator and mediator, including conducting mandatory mediations for the Superior Court of Ontario. Walter currently volunteers as a senior lay leader in a Toronto synagogue and in IT and research functions at Baycrest. His main hobby is photography and the production of documentary videos.

Beverley Shukyn

Bev worked for 24 years for the Ontario Government in a variety of capacities in the Ministry of Community and Social Services: Vocational Rehab Counsellor, Program Supervisor for Programs for Developmentally Handicapped, Halfway House and Employment programs, and Program Manager of Employment Programs. Post retirement from government, she worked in a variety of capacities in the private sector, most recently as a facilitator in Disability Management, currently for Morneau/Shepell. Being interested in our brains as we age and in particular neuroplasticity, she has read and taken courses about the brain for the past few years and was very interested to hear about the Senior’s Advisory Panel and the opportunity to be involved in a meaningful way in innovations.  Bev has an MA in sociology.

Linda Somers

Linda delivered organization effectiveness services for 30 years including customized solutions to manage change and meet specific organizational goals,  specializing in a collaborative approach. She worked extensively in the design and implementation of performance management systems, leadership development and team building. Her full time jobs included the Bank of Nova Scotia and York University, but most of her career was spent as an independent consultant working for clients in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors where she thrived on being an entrepreneur.   Most recently Linda became a Legacy Coach after a personal experience with her parents’ wills. She decided to help prevent other families from experiencing the consequences of poorly thought out wills and provides coaching and workshops to educate and inform. Last year she joined the Board at Glendon College, Later Life Learning. She majored in Sociology at Glendon College and obtained her Masters in Adult Education from The University of Toronto.

Eva Ticktin

Eva Ticktin worked as a law professor at Seneca College from 1980 until 2010.  During those years she taught a variety of legal subjects to business students, law clerks and paralegals.  She also was the co-op co-ordinator for accounting and law clerk students for several years. When she retired in 2010, she became actively involved in many activities, including volunteering at  Baycrest.  She has been a member of the Seniors’ Advisory Panel (SAP)  since inception and finds the opportunities to contribute very meaningful.  Eva teaches mindfulness meditation to adults, plays bridge, takes lifelong learning courses, travels,  participates in Israeli dancing, and takes yoga, Pilates and aerobic classes. Her interest in understanding the brain, in learning natural ways to minimize cognitive decline, and in helping seniors lead a healthier and happier life led her to join the Seniors’ Advisory Panel.  Eva’s formal education includes a B.A. in psychology, a Teachers’ College Certificate, an M.Ed. in Counselling, and a law degree from Osgoode Hall.