Senior Management Team
Mario J. Calla, BA, MSW, has been the Executive Director of COSTI Immigrant Services since 1987.
COSTI is a community service agency that has been providing a broad range of services to immigrants and refugees in the greater Toronto area since 1952.
Mario is involved in his community on a volunteer capacity. He is past-President of Social Planning Toronto, serves on the Board of TRIEC and Chairs its Board Development and Governance Committee, has served as Vice-President of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants and Vice-President of International Social Services of Canada and is currently on the Board of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, among other activities. Mario has served on the Minister’s Roundtable on Fair Access to Regulated Professions and on the Minister’s Advisory Group on Mental Health and Addictions for the Province of Ontario.
Mario has been recognized for his work with a number of awards including the Newcomer Champion Award by the Province of Ontario, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals and the Calabria-America Prize in Taurianova, Italy.
Josie Di Zio has thirty years’ experience in Senior Management of agencies serving newcomers.
She was the Executive Director of the Working Women Community Centre, an immigrant women’s agency in downtown Toronto for ten years. Josie joined COSTI in 1999 as the Director of Employment Services and is currently the Senior Director of Planning and Program Development.
Josie was a longstanding member of the Board of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), where she held positions President and Treasurer. Josie has represented the community-based sector at the National Settlement Council, the Service Delivery Advisory Group to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the Youth Justice Advisory Committee and was a member of the national Voluntary Sector Advisory Committee to Service Canada. Josie has served on a number of community Boards including Cecil Community Centre, Canadian Multilingual Literacy Centre and the National Congress of Italian Canadians – Toronto. Josie is a graduate of York University majoring in socio-cultural Anthropology.
Robert Cazzola has a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto, and has been a Director at COSTI since 1984. Prior to his current position, Robert was the Director of Social Services for COSTI.
Robert serves as a member of the Community Partnership Council of the Local Immigration Partnership of York Region. He previously served as Treasurer of the Vaughan Community Health Centre, Chair of the English Language Development Working Group of the Human Services Planning Coalition of York Region, Chair of the Multicultural Coalition for Access to Family Services, Co-chair of the City of Toronto's Community Reference Group for Ethno-racial Access to Metropolitan Services. Robert has also served as a member of the Multicultural Committee of the Office of Seniors Advisor and the Addiction Research Foundation's Culture & Race Advisory Group.
Yasmine joined COSTI in her present position in 2002.
With a Masters in Psychology and teacher training certification from England, Yasmine came to Canada from Pakistan in 1999, following a twenty-five year career in teaching and educational administration in both Iran and Pakistan, where she was also responsible for educational program development. Prior to leaving Pakistan, Yasmine was the Regional Director for the largest private network of schools in South Asia. She has supervised a number of educational projects funded by the World Bank, IMF, CIDA and the Aga Khan Foundation.
Yasmine has served as Chair of the Investment and Fundraising Committee of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) and co-chair the Immigration and Settlement Working Group of the CCR. She is a member of the Board of the Social Planning Council of York Region as well as being a member of the Social Inclusion Working Group which is part of the Central Planning Table of the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group. In the past, Yasmine served as Co-Chair of the South Asian Community Services Network - York Region, member of the Woman Abuse Council, and Treasurer of the Board of the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA).
Julie has a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto with an area of interest in Policy, Communities & Organizations.
Julie has worked in various management positions since joining COSTI in 1999 and is currently serving as the Co-chair of the Economic Inclusion Working Group of the Peel Newcomer Strategy Group and the Lead for CASIP Governance and Leadership Project’s E-Learning Working Group. She served on the Inclusivity Action Plan Working Group of the Human Services Planning Coalition of York Region. She has in the past served on the boards of agencies serving the African community including: as the President of Africans in Partnership Against Aids and Vice President of the Ghanaian Canadian Organization. Her volunteerism and dedication in public education and awareness of settlement issues faced by African women and their children in the Greater Toronto Area earned her a Ministry of Citizenship Volunteer Award in 1995 and a Remarkable Woman Award in 1997 from the Rubena Willis Counselling Centre for Assaulted Women and Children.
Rena Zhou graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering, with a major in Electronic Engineering from Beijing, China.
Rena then worked for a few years as a computer programmer, building a number of accounting software applications. By the end of 1990, Rena came to Canada and a few years later switched her career to the accounting field. In 2004, Rena achieved her Certified General Accountant designation Rena has worked in a number of private industries including: a private high school, a marketing company, an insurance company and a logistic company, as well as a not-for-profit organization, Harbourfront Corporation. Working at senior management positions, Rena has gained sound experience in financial accounting, financial reporting, auditing, taxation, system conversion, budgeting, strategic management and sound business practices. Rena joined COSTI in July 2013.
Lara Hussein is a development professional with 20 years of experience in policy development, policy advocacy, and in managing International development programs in areas related to social development with a particular emphasis on family policy, education, child protection and early childhood development. She worked with the United Nations, policy think tanks, and International NGOs contributing to innovative policies, leading multi-disciplinary teams, and managing grants for complex multi-country programs.
Lara has a Masters of Education from Huddersfield University of the United Kingdom and a diploma in Leadership from INSEAD University of France. She worked with UNICEF Gulf Area Office as Chief of Child Protection, the Jordanian National Council for Family Affairs as Deputy Secretary General, and with Doha International Family Institute (DIFI) of Qatar Foundation as Director of Family Policy. Since 2006, Lara has been a board member and Vice President of Family Policy at the World Family Organization that is based in France.
During her professional life, Lara contributed to the development of several national strategies and plans of action, and oversaw the implementation of several projects in areas related to social development. She wrote in several publications and prepared papers presented in national, regional and International conferences. Lara has also mobilized a network of strategic alliances and coordinated among multi-sectoral Governmental and non-governmental organizations discussing and influencing children and family sensitive policies and legislations.