Joey Violante - Vice President

Joey has been involved in social justice and community work for over a decade. Involved in gender based violence and anti-poverty work Joey dreams of a city (and world) where things like safe, affordable housing and livable wages are not an afterthought, and where people do not have to make difficult choices between safety or their animal companion.

Joey has a deep appreciation for the supportive bonds and reciprocal care animals bring into our lives. As a big time dreamer (literally ZZzz), Joey can’t imagine being without her beloved cat, Francine who is the perfect fuzzy, nose-bopping alarm clock and a great listener. 

Domenic Pisante - Chair of Directors

Domenic has supported individuals with disabilities and their families for 12 years. He is also a labour and political activist.  Through his work and activism, Domenic encountered numerous people who were forced to choose between love of their pet companion and receiving support for themselves.  Working with Through Ruff Times, Domenic hopes to create space in which people can take the time they need to heal knowing that the they will be reunited with their pet companion and experience the love they share again.

Oscar Campos - Treasurer 

Oscar’s social work experience ranges from community mental health case manager to hostel support worker. In both these roles, Oscar has witnessed the injustice that occurs when an individual has to choose between accessing services and staying with their beloved pet, something no human should ever have to experience. Working with Through Ruff Times, Oscar has been given the opportunity to help break down barriers and create substantial change for the individuals he works with on a daily basis. Oscar feels privileged to be part of a caring organization which is addressing a serious gap in the social services sector.

Michelle Khelawan - Board Member

Michelle is truly excited to be involved with Through Ruff Times because in its short existence thus far, TRT has shown itself to be a special and unique organization that was able to recognize and take action on a pressing issue with the utmost thoughtfulness, care and passion and has already been making a difference in the lives of its clients.

Michelle currently works as a development strategist spending her days doing research, working on proposals and thinking up creative ways to get businesses excited and involved in doing social good. When not doing this, she can be found mentoring young social entrepreneurs on a mission to change the world.

Pictured is Michelle’s two best friends – Pickles and Bubbles, because she is severely worried that they will be upset with her if she picks a photo of only one or the other

Nicole Fowler - Board Member 

Nicole works as a communications director, helping organizations develop engagement strategies and creative content. She is an active community volunteer working on projects related to health, wellness, housing, and food security. She and her dog also volunteer with Therapeutic Paws visiting local residents in long-term care facilities, where the interactions are clear examples of the power connection and relationships.


For Nicole, Through Ruff Times is an essential support service that is much needed in our city, as pets should be considered as part of our circles of care.

Francine - The Real Leader

(and a real cat) 

Loves to nap

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Revenue Canada Charity Number 781604319RR0001