Our June webinar with Krystal Abotossaway is around the corner! Krystal is the Senior Manager of Diversity & Inclusion at TD and the current President of the Indigenous Professional Association of Canada. She is from Aundeck Omni-Kaning First Nations and Chippewas of Rama First Nations and an urban Ojibwe Anishinaabe Kwe.

Krystal will be joined by Benchmark’s Brianna Wilson to speak on Attracting and Hiring Diverse Talent with a focus on Indigenous Peoples, their history, and why you should hire them. Krystal is an incredibly talented speaker and friend of the Benchmark Family, we are so excited to welcome her back on June 17th for this incredible webinar!


We’re back with a fresh edition of our
Workday Wellness Series!

This month we’ll be discussing how to improve your health at home, and get your zest for life back, with the amazing Katherine Parent, Nutritional Consulting Practitioner and Owner of Make Good Choices.

Click the video above to take a moment of wellness for yourself today!


This month we are excited to feature the newest member of the Benchmark Team Erica Palleschi! Erica is a Benefits Administrator and works tirelessly to help clients with their group benefits plans and liaise with insurance carriers to ensure her clients have a seamless benefits experience. Erica values all that her clients can teach her through working on their plans, and enjoys knowing that helping others maximize their benefits and learning something new every day is a large part of working at Benchmark.

Erica always ensures that our clients are left with a positive experience through her thorough research to answer any questions, oftentimes before clients even ask! This is a behaviour that Erica sees reflected in every member of the Benchmark team, and the dedication to our clients is what she thinks makes us the leader in health care solutions we are.

We are so grateful to have Erica as a member of our team and we could not continue our work without her.

1 . What is your role at Benchmark Benefits?

My role at Benchmark Benefit Solutions is as a Benefits Administrator. I work with group benefit plans and help clients with any questions or concerns they have regarding their group benefits plan. I also communicate with insurance carriers to resolve any issues that come up and to gather information needed on reports.

2 . What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

The most rewarding part of my job would definitely be helping clients and learning from them as well. Having such a large amount of clients in various fields of work, they bring new and different questions to the surface. Being able to research such questions and help clients with their benefit needs while expanding your knowledge is always a rewarding aspect. Knowing you helped them is a great feeling on its own, and pairing that with learning something new from it as well is very rewarding.

3. What makes Benchmark Benefits the leader in health care solutions? 

What makes us the leader in health care solutions would be our team’s service to clients and the quality work we do. Everyone on the team goes above and beyond to make sure our clients’ benefits needs are met in the most positive way. Always ensuring the client is left with the answers needed and feeling one of a kind. The work we do is always done with care and dedication, putting all our focus and energy into whatever task we are doing and making sure it is perfect for our clients

4. How do you go above and beyond to offer value to your clients? 

How I go above and beyond to offer value to our clients would be to make sure they always are left with a positive experience and taking that extra step to answer any questions they may have. By doing research if I do not know the answer and making sure I am providing the most accurate information for them at all times. Ensuring they have all the correct information they need while providing top positive service.

5. What is one thing you try to include in your everyday life that keeps your wellness & mental health top of mind?

One thing I try to include in my everyday life that keeps my wellness and mental health on top would be exercising. Whether it is going for a walk or run, having that time to myself mentally makes a big difference. Being physically active I see a huge change in the way I feel emotionally and mentally as well. I find it gives me more energy which allows me to feel better throughout the day and accomplish more.

TD introduced Intersectionality as a core part of their company strategy this year as a part of their 2020 gender identity and expression initiative that works to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion in their corporate culture and practices.

This commitment extends to hiring diverse talent and creating an inclusive environment that celebrates all TD employees and allows them to be themselves in their workplace. TD has worked hard to create a culture of diversity and inclusion that stems from the senior leadership and trickles down. They are achieving this by keeping to a simple model that focuses on listening to their employees’ perspectives on what they experience every day and what they need to feel supported.


At Benchmark, we have an extensive network of people and organizations that we admire for the work they do in our community. We wanted to highlight some of these incredible organizations to raise awareness for the work they do and showcase the best examples of what we believe are the pillars of our community.

This month we wanted to highlight Frontlines; an organization that addresses the pressing needs of children and youth in York-South Weston and the surrounding communities, which have some of the highest poverty rates in the entire Province. Stachen Frederick is the mind behind this incredible organization that works to support early intervention and prevention for the children and youth in these communities. Frontlines offers programs that develop healthy habits and critical skills and creates a safe space for the children and youth in these vulnerable communities. Read Stachen’s full interview about Frontlines below:

Frontline youth testimonial

1. Tell us about the organization and what you do?
Frontlines addresses the pressing needs of children and youth of York-South Weston and surrounding communities; many of which have some of the highest rates of poverty in Toronto and across our province. To support early intervention and prevention, we offer some diverse programming such as homework, STEM and fitness clubs; summer and march break camps for children 6 to 12 as well as employment training, leadership development, STEM programming, a youth violence prevention program called “In the Line of Fire” and a youth mental health program called “What’s on my plate” for youth 13-29. Frontlines also runs a culinary training program for youth that has allowed us to develop a catering social enterprise in which we hire youth from the community. We engage in events, anti-racism prevention and community development initiatives.

2. What are the goals of the program?
All programs of our organization are linked to our overall goals(vision) as an organization which is that our community will be a place where children and youth experience safety, true value and well-being.

3. What have been the biggest impacts/outcomes on the youth that you serve?

Frontlines has had so much impact on the lives of youth but some of the meaningful ones are that Frontlines has provided youth with jobs. Over the years, over 100 summer students have had jobs at Frontlines. We hire youth in our culinary department. In fact, 4 out of 5 people from our culinary department are past youth.
We have engaged young people in being co-creators in community development work. For example, one of our programs called ‘In the Line of Fire’ – a youth violence prevention program where youth produce a cookbook after going through a series of workshops on cooking and having discussions of youth violence.
We have created safe spaces for our youth and listened to their wants and needs.

4. What challenges has Frontlines had to overcome?
  •  We had to overcome years of deficit and develop a sound fundraising strategy that has resulted in our Annual budget increasing from $250,000 (2016) to about $750,000 (2021)
  • For years, we were in an older building that limited our capacity to serve youth but last year we moved into a new building creating a teen lounge for the Frontlines organization
  • Managing the increase in demand for the services needed for the community during COVID 19

5. What are the goals for the future of Frontlines?

Frontlines’ goal is to reach more youth in this community and others. In order to do so, we need to secure spaces (buildings) as the secret to Frontlines is its People, place and participants. We hope to partner with more like-minded development companies. To achieve this, we also need to fundraise more to have solid capital and program funding.
To learn more about Frontlines please read their full spotlight on our blog, and support them in any way you can at any of the following links or events!

Keep up to date with Frontlines events and initiatives: @frontlines.to

JUNE 30th, 2021 – Frontlines is launching its alleyway pop-up restaurant and artisan showcase
AUGUST 14th, 2021 – Discover Weston – A day of food, fun, vendors etc of Weston




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