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mindyourmind Program Director moves on from co-founded initiative

Maria Luisa Contursi has announced she is stepping down from her role as Program Director of mindyourmind after a 10-year career with the program and 18 years with Family Service Thames Valley (FSTV).

“It has been my great pleasure to lead the growth and development of a social innovation that has helped hundreds of thousands of young people over the last decade. As many of you know the program currently faces an important milestone and in support of achieving its objectives the team and I have been working closely with key stakeholders. As I prepare to leave it is evident that mindyourmind remains as strong as ever with a passionate team, focused leadership and a group of committed youth working together to support the next chapter of this invaluable resource. I am confident that mindyourmind will continue to deliver on its promise to youth and young adults in Canada for many years to come." said Maria Luisa.

In her 18 years with FSTV, Maria Luisa has worked with youth and young adults in varying clinical capacities. In 2003, she began to explore the role of technology in engaging youth towards better help-seeking. In 2005, the mindyourmind website was launched along with co-founder Sharron Zweig. By 2009, through Maria Luisa’s visionary leadership, mindyourmind had grown into an intervention, a model for best practice in youth engagement where mental health, co-creation and technology intersect. Under the leadership of Maria Luisa, the program received many awards including the Social Good Design Award this year for the Be Safe app, an emergency diversion tool for youth struggling with mental health issues, which has now been adapted in 13 regions across the province. Maria Luisa leaves to our community and the youth mental health sector a legacy of igniting youth’s imagination and sense of power as change agents for themselves, their peers and their communities, working to make the health system better.

"I am thankful for the many lessons I've learned working with youth at mindyourmind. In the New Year, I will carry with me what they taught me about creativity and co-creation and apply it in my work with emerging artists and community stakeholders in the non-profit performing arts sector. In this new role I will continue to explore the same question that many of us have been examining for decades – how can meaningful engagement help create and sustain vibrant and healthy communities?"

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of FSTV, I extend my deep gratitude to Maria Luisa Contursi for her passionate and courageous leadership that resulted not only in the creation of an award-winning provincial resource for youth and young adults seeking mental health supports but a program that has been on the cutting edge of collective impact, co-creation and youth engagement long before these concepts were mainstream. Maria Luisa’s contributions run deeper than merely the establishment of a program. She has been a fierce advocate for and a mentor to young people and has inspired us to believe that mental health system transformation is possible when youth are at the heart of engagement.

Maria Luisa has created a strong foundation to help mindyourmind successfully reach the next phase of its evolution. True to her nature, she has helped to craft, in partnership with the mindyourmind team, community partners and youth and young adults, a new, exciting path for the mindyourmind program which is rooted in collective community ownership. We are exploring a new business model that will ensure the program has a long future and that the voices of youth can continue to influence systems change. As the Executive Director, I will lead the program’s next evolution supported by Melissa Taylor Gates who will step into a Program Manager role.

Please join me in wishing Maria Luisa Contursi all the best with her future endeavors.

Louise Pitre
Executive Director

For questions or more information contact:
Louise Pitre
Executive Director
T: 519-433-0183, extension 8106