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LAO Board of Directors
On a 3-Year Term as of March 7, 2016


Pouya Arefi1 • Richmond Hill


Given the rising prevalence of lymphedema in Canada (close to 16% of all cancer patients in Canada), I seek to play an active role in advocating of resources and increasing access to essential services for those effected  by the condition. I would like to engage and lobby for action that could fund for and support access to health services without burdening those in need. 

Liisa Morley • Hamilton

Vice President • Communications Officer

Liisa Morley is a Communications Specialist at PCL Constructors Canada Inc., Canada’s largest construction contractor. Thanks to her career as a professional communicator, Liisa has developed a sound understanding of the healthcare environment in Ontario, having led communications for the development and opening of a $759K hospital and cancer centre in St. Catharines. Diagnosed with primary lymphedema at the age of 20, Liisa has a personal interest in raising awareness of the condition and treatment of lymphedema, in the hopes of helping others grappling with this disease.

Ben Ciallella1 • Markham


Ben is a Managing Director at the National Bank of Canada and lists his strengths as financial, leadership and strategic thinking. Ben first contacted the LAO for help in supporting a family member who has lymphedema. He subsequently became a board member in 2013 as Board Treasurer as a way of giving back to the lymphedema community. Ben is seeking to continue to serve on the LAO.

Cindy DeGraaff  • Whitby 

Secretary • Information/Education Line Co-ordinator

As a social worker with over 20 years experience in the non-profit sector I look forward to working with the LAO in achieving it's vision of supporting and advocating for individuals living with lymphedema, as well as educating the professionals whose job it is to provide timely care to their patients.  This is a cause close to my heart as both my husband and I are cancer survivors now living with lymphedema as a result of our treatments.  I am excited about the possibilities for the coming year and look forward to working with the Board and all the members of the LAO to shed light on this often misunderstood and misdiagnosed condition.

Debbie Ciotti-Bowman • Dundas

Director - Advocacy Committee Lead

Debbie is a cancer survivor and has lived with leg lymphedema for 8 years after cancer surgery to remove the inguinal basin of lymph nodes of her left leg. She is married with 4 children between 17 and 26 years of age. She has her BScN from McMaster University. Debbie’s main concerns revolve around the lack of provincial health care coverage for the physical management of lymphedema and overall lack of awareness of this difficult condition. She also would like to see an increase in funding for molecular research into lymphedema in Canada, as clarifying the molecular knowledge of the condition is the pathway for new treatment development to take place.  Debbie strongly believes in keeping an inquiring, open mind as treatment options evolve and progress. 

Charlotte Schultz • Markham

Director - Advocacy Committee

I am a retired RN and a three time cancer survivor.   I have had lymphedema since 2010 and I am concerned and upset about the lack of medical care and research funding for post-cancer treatment and in particular issues related to lymphedema. In my experience most MD's are not knowledgeable about lymphedema diagnosis and treatment. I feel that LAO can act as both a resource for lymphedema sufferers and as an advocacy group to raise awareness of lymphedema among the public, medical and political communities and I look forward to participating in that work.

1 Ben Ciallella is on his 2nd 3-year term and Pouya started his 1st 3-year term in September, 2017.

Lymphedema Association of Ontario
Mailing Address: 299-3044 Bloor St. W., Toronto, ON M8X 2Y8 Canada
1-877-723-0033 | 416-410-2250 |

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