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People behind the work: meet our program team

The AFC’s mission is to help Canadian entertainment professionals maintain their health, dignity and ability to work by providing them with compassionate support. When it comes to day to day, it is the members of our program team who work hard to fulfil this mission. The photo above captures our program staff at one of their regular team check-ins.  

The circumstances that bring people to The AFC are diverse and often complex. Usually, each case starts with a phone call from the industry member making us aware of their situation. Often, this phone call comes from a family member, a friend or a colleague as reaching out directly may not be an option. All calls and other interactions with clients are handled by our program staff – a team of people who are deeply connected with our industry and equipped with expertise and experience in personal support and advocacy. 

L-R: Leah Erbe, Emily Hill, Elaina Pawelka, Christine Rossi-Wright

Program Manager Leah Erbe has been with The AFC for over 10 years and is currently leading our work in program development and delivery: “I definitely think that my background in music and previous experience in the arts is why I’m so invested in serving the community – it’s been my family’s community my whole life.” The focus of Leah’s job is evolving our programs and services to ensure we are able to respond to the wide array of challenges people in our industry face efficiently and sustainably.

Senior Program Worker Christine Rossi-Wright is a registered social worker in Ontario. Christine is uniquely positioned to do this work combining her experience as a performer with her expertise as a social worker: “I love working with people in the entertainment community because my heart is in the arts. Of course, I can never know exactly what any given person is going through, but I feel I can get a better glimpse at the situation because of my past experience as an actor. There is definitely an added depth to making a living in arts and entertainment, and I have an intrinsic appreciation for the work and dedication of everyone working in the industry.”

Program Support Worker Elaina Pawelka started out in dance, later going back to school to pursue arts management: “As entertainers – on the front lines or behind the scenes – our line of work is unique. When I danced professionally, I faced all possible scenarios: I had a contract company position, I freelanced, I had to chase gigs. It was hard, physically and especially emotionally draining, but very rewarding. I understand where entertainment workers are coming from and appreciate the importance of what they do. What I love about my job at The AFC is that I am in a position to offer support to people in my community.”

Case Manager Emily Hill is also a registered social worker in Ontario. Emily comes with a wealth of experience working with addiction and mental health issues, crisis intervention and harm reduction: “I love that I get to meet people with unique occupations and highly specialized knowledge and skills – how about location scouting for a living? We work with entertainment professionals from all over Canada, so I often discover new places. The best part of my job is when I know we’ve made a connection with someone who felt they had nowhere else to turn. That we are here, we understand, and we care.”

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