Centre Staff and Members

The Live Work Well Research Centre is made up of five intersecting Research Clusters: Sexual and Gender Diversity; Disabilities, Access and Inclusion; “All my Relations” Indigenous Ways of Knowing; Integrating Care and Livelihoods; and, Displacements, Emergence and Change. Below is a directory of the Centre Director, Cluster Leaders and Centre staff. 


Dr. Deborah Stienstra, Director

Benedicta Hughes, Administrative Assistant to the Director

Valérie Grand'Maison, Manager, Research and Knowledge Mobilization

Dr. Laura Pin, Interim Project Coordinator, Engendering Disability-Inclusive Development

Victoria Watt, Undergraduate Research Assistant (Co-op)

Leen Rhazi, Undergraduate Research Assistant (intern, Mount Holyoke College)

Sabina Morris, Undergraduate Research Assistant (intern, Mount Holyoke College)

Cluster Leads

Photo of Kim Anderson

Kim Anderson, Lead of "All My Relations"

Keywords: Indigenous health and social well-being; Indigenous masculinities; Indigenous feminisms; Indigenous identity; Indigenous youth; Indigenous traditional knowledge; Indigenous environmental knowledge; and urban Indigenous peoples



Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 58027 

Photo of Leah Levac

Leah Levac, Co-Lead of Displacements, Emergence and Change

Keywords: intersectionality and citizen participation; northern wellbeing; youth engagement; local politics; global citizenship education; community engaged scholarship



Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 56065

Photo of John Beaton

John Beaton, Co-Lead of Disability, Access and Inclusion

Keywords: Men's Health and Fatherhood; Fatherhood and Special Needs Children; Fatherhood and Autism; Adoptive and Foster Fathers of Children in Care; Solution Focused Therapy; Health & Well-Being



Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 56256 

Photo of Kim Wilson

Kim Wilson, Lead of Integrating Care and Livelihoods

Keywords: Social gerontology with a focus on health and mental health; LGBTQ in an aging population; ageism; stigma; educational gerontology; social and health policy; social determinants of health; social inclusion/equity



Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 53003 

Photo of Thomas Sasso

Thomas Sasso, Co-Lead of Sexual and Gender Diversity

Keywords: diversity and inclusion; identity, power, and oppression; the work-life interface; workplace victimization and wellbeing; corporate social responsibility; higher education and training; positive psychology


Contact: tsasso@uoguelph.ca

Photo of Ruth Neustifter

Ruth Neustifter, Co-Lead of Sexual and Gender Diversity

Keywords: survivors of intimate partner violence in new, non-violent relationships; providing sex-positive, pleasure-based education in shelters; working with sex workers to create new opportunities to share their experiences and knowledge in their own words; educating therapists on kinky and open relationships; experiences of queerness across adulthood; assisting parents with raising children to become sexually healthy adults



Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 53975 



Centre Staff

Photo of Deborah Stienstra

Deborah Stienstra, Director

Deborah is a cluster co-lead for the Displacements, Emergence and Change cluster and the Disabilities, Access and Inclusion cluster.


Deborah holds the Jarislowsky Chair in Families and Work, is a Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Live Work Well Research Centre at the University of Guelph. She is the author of About Canada: Disability Rights (Fernwood, 2012). Her research and publications explore the intersections of disabilities, gender, childhood, and Indigenousness, identifying barriers to, as well as possibilities for, engagement and transformative change. Her work also contributes to comparative and trans/international research and theory related to intersectional disability rights.


Over the past fifteen years, she has led or co-led multiple community-engaged research partnerships. Between 2010 and 2016, Jane Stinson, from the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW), and Deborah Stienstra co-led FemNorthNet or the Feminist Northern Network. FemNorthNet included northern and southern community organizations, Indigenous and settler women, and researchers and community women. Its goals were to examine the consequences of economic restructuring for diverse women in Northern Canadian communities, support these women to engage in decision-making about the changes in their communities brought about by these developments and help to amplify and insert women’s voices into discussions, decision-making and planning processes.


Deborah is engaged in several initiatives across Canada, in Vietnam and with partners in countries including Haiti, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Vietnam and Canada.


Email: deborah.stienstra@uoguelph.ca

Phone number: 519-824-4120, extension: 54553

Website: https://www.deborahstienstra.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dstienstra

Valerie Grand'Maison

Valérie Grand'Maison, Research and Knowledge Mobilization Manager

For me, social change, research, and practice must be rooted in connections. I am enthusiastic about creating opportunities for people to come together to create and share experiences, ideas, and knowledge. I am currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, focusing on the lived experiences of violence and resistance in the lives of women with disabilities using storytelling. I am particularly interested in social transformation that comes from marginalized communities and that disrupts mainstream understandings of disability, gender, and care. I have previously worked as research coordinator in knowledge translation and childhood disabilities, and continue to be inspired by the possibilities and connections brought by knowledge mobilization. 

My commitment to living and working well begins with spending time with my family, either hiking, eating, or planning projects that may or may not come to fruition. A native francophone, I am originally from Sherbrooke and lived most of my life in Montreal, but also in the Netherlands, India, and South Africa. Working well, for me, means staying curious and engaging in life-long learning. 

Contact: vgrandm@uoguelph.ca 

Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 58133


Benedicta Hughes

Benedicta Hughes, Administrative Assistant to the Director

My name is Benedicta and I am the administrative assistant in the Live Work Well Research Centre.  I have a B. Mus from Université Laval, and a M.B.A. from the Ivey Business School at Western University.  I am thrilled to have joined U of G, and am really looking forward to learning more about the Centre and all the important research taking place.

You can find me in MacKinnon 501 between 8:30am and 3pm, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.  As part of living work well, I am very thankful to have this opportunity to contribute, while taking on the challenge of moving my parents from their house to a seniors’ residence/assisted living, and also taking care of my own family.<

Please let me how I can help you, or your research team with administrative support – I look forward to working with you!

Contact: bhughe07@uoguelph.ca

Telephone: 519-824-4120, extension: 54930

Laura Pin, Interim Project Coordinator, Engendering Disability-Inclusive Development

Laura is the interim project manager for the Engendering Disability Inclusive Development Partnership Grant at the Live-Work-Well Research Centre. As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Guelph, she is co-principle investigator on the internal COVID-19 research grant "Mobilizing Marginalized Knowledges and Practices for Structural Transformation" and co-principle investigator on the SSHRC Connection Grant "Transforming Policy-Making Through Storytelling: Homelessness on the Rural Urban Fringe". She holds a PhD in Political Science from York University, and an MA in Globalization studies from McMaster University. Her research focuses on the potentiality of participatory policy-making in a neoliberal era, with a focus on budgets, housing and municipal governance.

Contact: lpin@uoguelph.ca

Victoria Watt, Co-op student 

My name is Victoria Watt and I am the undergraduate research assistant at the Live Work Well Research Centre. I am currently completing my major in psychology and minoring in neuroscience at the University of Guelph. I enjoy learning about the effect greater environmental factors have on individual choices and how our culture plays a significant role in this. My previous co-op experiences working on the accessibility team at Guelph City Hall and working at a residential home for adolescent boys with disabilities made me passionate about helping people achieve their full potential in life.

Leen Rhazi, Undergraduate Research Assistant (Mount Holyoke College)

My name is Leen Rhazi and I am a Politics and Sociology student at Mount Holyoke College. I was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and was raised by my Moroccan father and Palestinian mother. For as long as I can remember, I have had a strong passion for law, public policy, and human rights. In my senior year of high school, I was amongst a group of women who organized Jordan's first "Women's March" in the country's capital city of Amman. Additionally, last summer I interned at one of the biggest law firms in the Middle East, and assisted lawyers with their pro bono work and conducted policy research. I aim to be an international human rights lawyer in the future. Many marginalized communities around the world are rendered invisible by the law and receive no representation, so I hope to advocate for these communities. When I am not studying Politics, Sociology, or law, I am usually either writing poems and short stories or working on laid-back design projects. My professional life can be really difficult and consuming, so I always try my best to channel my energy into writing or design at least once a week. I also love animals—my family just recently adopted a puppy called Sushi. I am really excited to broaden my knowledge of policy, law, and human rights to Canada, and am so pleased to be working with like-minded people!


Sabina Morris, Undergraduate Research Assistant (Mount Holyoke College)

I am a junior at Mount Holyoke College in the United States double majoring in economics and history. I am interested in public policy and legal studies and have previously researched European housing policy and the impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on migration. This past spring, I interned at Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Senate office and hope to continue professionally in public service. I am an avid reader and enjoy spending time outdoors, especially at the beach.