Board of Directors

Peter Keith Chen, HSC, BEd– Education Specialist

Chair of the Board

Peter was born in Trinidad & Tobago to Hakka Chinese parents and migrated to Toronto, Canada, at the age of 14 years with his parents and siblings.

Peter was a pioneer in the problem gambling field where, in 1995, he co-developed and implemented what has now become the Gambling, Gaming and Technology Use (GGTU) program and the Problem Gambling and Technology Use treatment service at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Both programs were part of what was called the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario (PGIO).In 1995, funding was initiated for problem gambling treatment, research and education by the Ministry of Health following the opening of the first Ontario casino in Windsor in 1994.

For 25 years, he counselled people with gambling problems and their family members.

In addition to counselling, he also worked as a Community Health and Education Specialist on the Gambling, Gaming and Technology Use team, Knowledge Exchange, Provincial System Support Program (PSSP) that supported addictions and mental health service providers through training and education, developing digital tools and resources, and facilitating knowledge sharing related to problem gambling, video gaming, and technology overuse.

While at CAMH, he was one of the provincial trainers for the Problem Gambling Treatment System in Ontario and delivered workshops on various topics related to problem gambling, including Mindfulness and Problem gambling.

Peter also facilitated responsible gambling training sessions for employees of Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) and gambling venues for several years.His area of specialization was the integration of mindfulness meditation and clinical practice where he introduced mindfulness to the Problem Gambling and Technology Use Treatment Service at CAMH in 2010 and led Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention groups for ten years for the clients.

Peter is also a published author in the area of Mindfulness and Problem Gambling treatment. His publications include:

· Chen, P., Jindani, F., Perry, J., & Turner, N.E., (2014). Mindfulness and problem gambling treatment. Asian Journal of Gambling Issues and Public Health 4(2), doi:10.1186/2195-3007-4-2

· Chen, P., Jindani, F., Turner, N.E., (2016) Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Problem Gambling (MBRPPG) treatment manual. Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre (OPGRC), Guelph, now called Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO).

· Chen, P., Jindani, J., Turner, N.E., Mindfulness and Problem Gambling. In Landon, J., Rodda, S., & Zangeneh, M. (Eds). Problem Gambling Counseling and Treatment Approaches. Concurrent Disorders Press.

· Turner, N.E., Chen, P., Jindani, F., DeSouza, J., Robinson, J., Ballon, B., & Murray, R., (2017) Title of the KTE Project: Creating a manual for the use of Mindfulness treatment for Problem Gamblers.

He was an instructor at Georgian College Orillia Campus in their Addiction Treatment and Prevention Post Graduate Program, teaching Treatment and Relapse Prevention in Gambling.

Maryam Nazemi

Board Member

Mindfulness Meditation Facilitator and Coach. Maryam Nazemi comes to work with expertise in mentoring and supporting seniors, new immigrants, and youth. A graduate with Honours from Seneca College’s Social Service Worker for Immigrants and Refugees Program, she has experience in several key non-profit agencies, including WoodGreen Community Centre, YMCA, North York Senior’s Centre, Hart House.

As an activist for workers’ safety issues since 2003, Maryam has been invited to sit on panels, deliver speeches at many official events, and be interviewed and filmed for documentaries. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including:

· 2015 “Outstanding Service Award” from the Work, Health and Safety Centre

· 2016 “Leading Women Building Communities Award” from the Ontario Government

· 2018 “The Willowdale 150 Commemorative Medal

· 2019 ONTARIO MEDAL for GOOD CITIZENSHIP (OMC) awarded by the Lieutenant Governor General of Ontario

· 2021 ‘Disability Prevention at Work Award” from the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG)

On her journey to healing and renewal after a spinal injury, Maryam discovered the powerful benefits of mindful practice and meditation, studying with several of North America’s leading teachers on these practices and earning their respect as masterful teachers in her own right. She is a powerful example of how these steadfast practices and disciplines can help manage physical pain and psychological suffering.

Maryam teaches skills, practices, and daily lessons that allow individuals to connect with their true strength, potential and resiliency, allowing them to overcome challenges with awareness and compassion.

Ask Maryam who she is, and she will say a human being, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, an aunt, an in-law, a friend, a neighbour, an advocate…. and most importantly, she is an awakened traveller on a conscious, intentional and inspiring life journey.

Maher Sharawi, BCOM, CPA CGA,

Board Member & Treasurer

Maher believes in community work; therefore, he uses his skills to help non-profit organizations develop and achieve their goals. He served as a treasurer and board member for the United Nations Association- Toronto Regional Branch from 2008-2011.

Mia Hershkowitz, PhD Candidate

Board Member

Policy Studies | Toronto Metropolitan University (Formerly Ryerson University) 

Aqeel Saeid, Ph.D.

Executive Director:

Aqeel has worked in multiple academic institutions and still practicing academia in Canadian educational institutions. Aqeel also worked as a researcher in several academic institutions, including the University of Toronto and Wilfred Laurier University. He also has published multiple articles in peer-reviewed journals on social problems, social theory, mindfulness, mental health, and more.

In addition, Aqeel is very involved in community-based work through his capacity as a former United Nations Association –Toronto Region Branch president from 2008-2010, a board member of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CAST), and a member of the New Horizons: Healing and Hope Coalition (NHHHC). He facilitates healing sessions for children, youth, and families traumatized by war and immigration for several communities in the GTA as one of his roles in the NHHHC.

Aqeel holds a Ph.D. and Master’s degree in Sociology and another MA in Criminology. Aqeel looks at the CCTSC as a multi-disciplinary approach that focuses on facilitating student/citizen engagement in social innovation by sharing knowledge and expertise around transformative social change. Furthermore, a philosophical approach increases awareness about collective societal conscience and individual mindfulness around social change.