As we enter a new fiscal year at Eva’s, the Board of Directors is pleased to announce an important milestone at Eva’s Initiatives: an organizational leadership update. Today we are pleased to announce our decision to appoint Louise Smith as Eva’s Executive Director, Aisha Francis as Chair of the Eva’s Board and Jessica Hardy-Henry as Vice Chair. 

The Executive Director Appointment 

Louise Smith, Eva's Executive Director Louise joined Eva’s in 2019. She comes to the organization with 20 years of experience working with youth in the non-profit sector, having spent 17 years at the YMCA, and then moving on to the senior leadership team at Covenant House.

Through Louise’s time as Interim Executive Director, she demonstrated her strong leadership and collaboration skills. Louise is committed to honouring the work of our founder, Eva Smith, and continuing to move forward with our equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) work as a top priority at the organization.  

“I am constantly amazed by what our organization continues to achieve together following in the path forged by our founder, Eva Smith. I am inspired and motivated by our people, vision and potential. It’s an honour to be in this role, working with this strong team.” – Louise Smith, Executive Director 

Honouring Our New Board Chair and Vice Chair 

Aisha Francis joined the Eva’s Board of Directors in 2020 and has made a significant contribution in her time with the organization. She has chaired Eva’s Board Equity Committee and most recently co-chaired the Board with Graeme Young until her appointment as Chair on September 29, 2021.

Aisha has helped centre equity in the governance, operations, and strategic priorities at Eva’s while also informing an equity framework and responding to the evolving equity needs of the organization and our stakeholders.

Aisha has been called upon as a thought-leader, creative visionary and prolific speaker. Aisha is also an author who has the gift of connecting narratives, experiences, and ideas seamlessly with structure and strategy.

“I’m so hopeful for the future of Eva’s. We have good, committed people and leadership in place who not only believe in Eva Smith’s vision but are also invested to see Eva’s continue to be both a pillar of strength and support and a light of hope for the youth we serve.” – Aisha Francis, Board Chair 

Jessica Hardy-Henry has been appointed as the new Vice Chair of the Board, effective September 29, 2021. This is the first time since 2000 that the Board has been led by two woman-identified individuals.

Jessica is an Associate with the Office of the General Counsel at Dentons Canada LLPShe uses her business background and MBA to provide advice at the intersection of legal and business strategy to Dentons’ talent, marketing, communications, finance, and IT teams.  

“As a fellow Jamaican immigrant with a heart for young people in this city, honouring Eva Smith’s legacy is important to me and was one of the primary reasons why I joined this organization as a director. My vision for Eva’s is for it to be an organization that leads with empathy, applies an anti-oppressive framework to its work, and supports young people with warmth and respect for their autonomy. I look forward to working closely with Louise, Aisha, and the rest of the board to make this happen.” – Jessica Hardy-Henry, Board Vice Chair. 

We Cannot Do This Work Without You 

The past 18 months have been quite challenging for our team and young people. We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our incredible staff at Eva’s for your passion and dedication to supporting youth in need. Thank you for your strength and resilience.  

Thank you also to our donors and community for your continued support of this important work. Thanks to you, we know that we have a community of supporters who we can count on the way young people count on us.   

Please join us in congratulating AishaJessica and Louise on these important milestones. 


The Board of Directors, Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth