Our Organization

COTA Health (Cota) is an accredited, not-for-profit, community-based organization that has been supporting adults with mental health and cognitive challenges to live well within their communities for over 45 years. We provide person-centred supports that assist individuals to find inspiration and hope in their inherent strengths and support them to pursue meaningful change in their lives, as they define it. Cota also works collaboratively with our funders, our partners and other stakeholders, across the provincial health and social service systems, to inspire positive change in the way that services are delivered to individuals living with mental health and cognitive challenges.

We offer a wide range of services to adults living with serious mental illness, geriatric mental health conditions, acquired brain injuries, developmental disabilities and dual diagnoses. Our services include case management, supportive housing, short-term residential beds, day programs, court and justice related services, an Assertive Housing First Team (AHFT) and services for individuals who are experiencing homelessness.

Our Mission

To support individuals with mental health and cognitive challenges to live well within their communities.

Community BBQ at the Beaches with Cota staff and individuals receiving services

Our Vision

A supportive and inclusive society in which all people have equal opportunity to live, thrive and enjoy the full benefits of belonging within their communities.

Our Values


We support people to find hope and inspiration in their inherent strengths and in pursuing goals that they identify as being important to them.


We are respectful of each individual’s dignity, unique experience, potential and rights.


We approach our work believing that the best solutions stem from collaborative approaches.


We are committed to innovation as a means to achieving positive outcomes.


We are dedicated to providing the highest quality service possible.


We are accountable for providing our services with professionalism and integrity.

Accredited with Exemplary standing seal from Accreditation Canada

Accredited with Exemplary Standing

Cota is Accredited with Exemplary Standing through Accreditation Canada. This means that our organization was assessed by our peers and exceeded national standards of excellence, and we continue to strive for high quality care.

The accreditation process evaluates Cota’s performance against national standards of excellence. We are surveyed every three to four years. Accreditation Canada is a not-for-profit independent organization accredited by the International Society for Quality in Health Care.

Executive Leadership

Chief Executive Officer

Paul Bruce

Chief Executive Officer

Paul began working in the health and social services sector in 1989 and brings over 30 years of experience to his role as Chief Executive Director at Cota. Paul started his career in the developmental services Sector and worked within that sector for ten years in various leadership capacities and briefly as an independent consultant. He has spent over 20 years at Cota providing leadership to our programs, forging new partnerships, implementing new services and creating a client-centred and recovery-oriented culture at Cota. During this time he also has emerged as a recognized leader within the mental health, acquired brain injury, and developmental services sectors in Toronto and actively participates in and/or co-chairs numerous committees, networks and task groups across these sectors.

Sylvia Starosta

Senior Director, Clinical Operations & Quality Improvement

Sylvia ‘s professional background as a health care leader, Occupational Therapist and a Social Worker, reflect a strong commitment to health equity and continuous learning. She has combined these professions and experiences to support individuals in the community to feel empowered and reach their fullest potential. In a leadership role, Sylvia has also participated in influencing health care system development to better serve those in need. Some of her accomplishments include collaborating with other community organizations, health centres and hospitals to develop new programs to meet the needs of individuals living with complex needs. Sylvia graduated with a Masters of Social Work at the University of Toronto and a Bachelor’s of Science, Occupational Therapy, at McGill University.

Picture of a man smiling at the camera

Ben Flores, CPA

Director, Finance & Administration

Ben Flores is a Charted Professional Accountant (CPA) with over 23 years of progressive, results-oriented  experience in accounting and finance. Before joining Cota, Ben held various financial management leadership roles as Director, Controller, Manager in various sectors including Non Profit, Professional Service, Public Sector agencies some of which are WZMH Architects, Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre, March of Dimes Canada and WoodGreen Community Services.

The Board of Directors

Vice President

Lily Yang

Board President

Lily Yang is the Senior Director of Quality and Patient Experience at Sinai Health System in Toronto. She has worked through the continuum of acute care and rehabilitation serving both the pediatric and adult populations. She is a Respiratory Therapist and has held a variety of administrative roles supporting patients with acquired brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke and respite services at various academic health centres in Toronto. She is also a Surveyor for Accreditation Canada. Lily holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Applied Science. She has previously served on the Board of the Sherbourne Health Centre and was the co-chair of its Board Quality Committee.




Leah Dunbar, BA, M.S.Ed, has over 10 years of experience in health care and education project management in Canada and internationally. She is currently the Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) Project Manager at Michael Garron Hospital (formerly Toronto East General Hospital), managing program collaboration between six Toronto hospitals, Toronto Police Service, and the Greater Toronto Area Local Health Integration Networks. Leah gained experience as a teacher in Mississauga and Doha, Qatar before transitioning into healthcare project management including electronic medical record implementations and community programming. Leah completed her Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies at Queen’s University in 2004 and her Master of Science in Education at Niagara University in 2005.

Photo of Melanie Towell, treasurer board of directors

Melanie Towell, CPA, CA


Melanie Towell is the Director Finance, Association of Ontario Midwives Benefit Trust, a Trust which manages the benefits administration of the Association of Ontario Midwives. She has served in several senior financial roles in the not for profit sector, including The Arthritis Society, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Ms. Towell, completed her LLB at the University of Exeter, U.K. and her C.A. at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, and her CPA in Ontario.




Aaron has held a range of senior roles with the federal government, including with the Prime Minister of Canada and the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Currently Chief of Staff at LCBO, he provides strategic counsel to the CEO and broader executive team on strategic business objectives and overall stakeholder engagement in addition to leading the Corporate Affairs team. Aaron spent 6 years at the Toronto International Film Festival where he aligned operational planning and production with the artistic vision and business goals of the organization. Aaron’s has over 16 years experience in navigating and leading the strategic intersections of stakeholder engagement, communication and policy.

In addition to his professional experience, Aaron is Chair of Ontario Creates and a member of the Board of Directors of Danceworks Toronto.




Daniela Sota is the Director of Counselling Services at the Canadian Hearing Society. She has held varied leadership positions in mental health and addictions, in both hospital and community, across populations of all ages, in the public and the private sector, in Northwestern Ontario and in Toronto. She holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and is registered with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario.






Julia Renaud holds an honours degree in Kinesiology and an advanced diploma in Respiratory Therapy. Through working as a respiratory therapist at two acute care hospitals within the GTA and having sustained multiple concussions, she has experience as both a health care provider and patient. While still recovering, Julia is an advocate within the health care community as a writer for the Brain Injury Society of Toronto, a peer mentor for the Ontario Brain Injury Association, and a hospice visitor for Circle of Care and Bridgepoint Active Healthcare. She has been featured in the coffee table book, A Caged Mind by May Mutter, which exposes the nature of concussions through body painting.



Ruby Tatla is senior legal counsel at Echelon Insurance where she leads the litigation department. Prior to joining Echelon Insurance Ruby worked as legal counsel at Desjardins General Insurance Group where she worked in civil litigation. She holds Bachelor degrees in microbiology and psychology, from University of Calgary, a Master’s degree in epidemiology, from University of Toronto, and a Juris Doctor degree in law and Master’s degree in health law, from Osgoode Hall Law School

picture of Wayne Seifried

Wayne seifried, CPA


Wayne is a CPA and a fractional CFO with a number of growing companies. With over 30 years’ experience across both Fortune 500 companies and startups Wayne brings a wealth of experience to Cota ´s Board. Wayne has also been supportive of the Red Door Shelter and inner city faith groups in assisting food and clothing drives for those in need for a number of years.  Wayne is a father of four children and lives in the Beach district of Toronto with his wife Amy and their family. 




Marko Trivun is a senior associate at Torys LLP. His practice focuses on corporate law, with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, technology outsourcing and venture capital transaction. Marko is a former director of Mainstay Housing, a member of its Housing Planning and Development Committee and former chair of its Governance Committee. Mainstay Housing is a non-profit agency which provides housing for mental health consumer-survivors, offering 867 units in a variety of housing options with varying degrees of support. Mainstay is the largest non-profit provider of supportive housing in Ontario with 41 residential locations across Toronto. Marko is also a former director on the board of the Institute of Competitiveness and Prosperity, an independent, not-for-profit organization that deepens public understanding of macro and microeconomic factors behind Ontario’s economic progress. It is funded by the Government of Ontario and its mandate is to share its research findings directly with the public. He is fluent in French and Serbo-Croatian.



Áine O’Connor is an investment professional at iCON Infrastructure where she assesses investment opportunities and executes mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining iCON, Áine worked as a corporate associate in the banking and finance group at Fasken Martineau, where she worked across a wide range of transactions, with a focus on infrastructure. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Law from University College Dublin and a Master’s Degree in Business Law from the University of Toronto.



Community Participant

Dr. Paul Benassi is a Forensic Psychiatrist at the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). He is cross-appointed as Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. He is actively involved in quality improvement at the local and provincial level, including CAMH’s Forensic’s Quality Council, Department of Psychiatry’s Continuing Practice Development Committee (University of Toronto), Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Master’s Program (University of Toronto), and Health Quality Ontario’s IDEAS program. He completed graduate training in quality improvement through the University of Toronto’s Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME).

photograph of Martin Chicilo

Martin chicilo


Martin Chicilo has worked in the public, private and non-profit sectors and been a Board Member with affordable housing, community investment funds and arts and entertainment groups in different provinces. He has worked in the federal government in the areas of Indigenous Health Services, Economic Development and Corporate Services and in the provincial governments of Ontario and Saskatchewan in the areas of forensic pathology and economic development. He has eight years of community investment banking experience leading micro loan, affordable housing, venture capital and non-traditional commercial financing programs in partnership with Affinity Credit Union and federal and provincial governments. Martin has worked with 5 Tribal Councils and 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan to deliver health services and capital construction of health facilities. He is a university graduate of Concordia University, University of Saskatchewan and certificate graduate from the London School of Economics, Six Sigma and Institute of Canadian Bankers.

A picture of a person with long brown hair smiling

Arielle di iulio

Community Participant

Arielle Di Iulio is an associate at Hull & Hull LLP practicing wills, estates, trusts, and capacity litigation. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s combined JD/MSW program. Arielle has previously worked with low-income litigants as a caseworker at Downtown Legal Services. She has also helped protect the rights of mentally incapable adults as a summer law student at the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, and the rights of children as an articling student at the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

In her Masters of Social Work program, Arielle specialized in the “Human Services Management and Leadership” field of study, which focuses on management of social service agencies. She helped coordinate domestic violence programs as a practicum student in the PAR Referral Program at the John Howard Society of Toronto. Arielle also has experience in human rights research and advocacy as a practicum student at the Ontario Human Rights Commission.


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