Behind the scenes, the BITS team works tirelessly and passionately to deliver engaging, fun programs that capture our youths’ imaginations.
Pat McNamara moved into the role as chair of BITS in 2016, but has been involved since the organization’s inception as a director and funder. Pat is passionate about entrepreneurship, starting her own businesses, APEX Public Relations, 18 years ago and Ruckus Digital in 2013. APEX and Ruckus have built a strong consulting team and a roster of blue chip clients. She has been involved in funding and mentoring other emerging companies including Paradigm Public Relations, CityMedia, Kinetic Café and Wirkn Inc.
Pat also founded Ignite Capital in 2013, a non-profit organization which helps aspiring Canadian entrepreneurs, who have limited access to startup capital, the opportunity to compete for start-up funding and support program. Like BITS, Ignite helps under-served communities including immigrants, indigenous, women and youth.
As BITS evolves into an ecosystem that provides not only business training and support, but the funding to help kick-start new businesses, Pat is looking forward to guiding the organization as it expands to help youth and other entrepreneurs fulfill their business dreams.
Founder and Former Chair
Mark Simpson, a business professor and coordinator in the School of Management at George Brown College, is the BITS Founder and former Chair.
Mark has a well-deserved reputation for helping students and businesses grow and succeed. He has helped numerous organizations across various industries, including social services, professional services, manufacturing, retail and health in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.
This professional background drove Mark to develop BITS. His aim was to show that effective education platforms are not always delivered in classrooms and that meeting the needs of individual students plays a key factor towards successful engagement. Mark's voluntary commitment in establishing BITS and stewarding its growth in early stages has been incredible. The BITS team is indebted to him for starting this incredible journey that has touched so many lives and will impact many more in future.
Michael has spent his career working for the benefit of students and youth. Prior to joining Business in the Streets, Michael served as the Managing Director of Operations at UNITY Charity, an organization that teaches youth to use the arts as a tool to cope with, and overcome, challenges in their lives. His other work in the charitable sector includes time as Program Director of Children First: School Choice Trust and as the Associate Director of School Performance Studies at the Fraser Institute, from 2005-2012.
Michael has also made contributions in the public sector as a Policy Advisor in the Office of the Minister of Education of Ontario, where some of his files included curriculum, graduation requirements, safe schools, students at risk, adult education, standardized testing, student health initiatives, facilities, and the community use of schools. He is a former School Trustee, who served on the Toronto District School Board from 1998 to 2000. He has also held positions with the City of Toronto, and the Ontario Ministers of Tourism & Recreation, and Citizenship.
Michael attended Centennial College and York University, and holds a B.A, in Political Science.
From creating strong mentor relationships, to exploring collaborative opportunities, to designing and managing BITS programs—Kyle proudly holds the responsibility of crafting the experience for each BITS participant.
“I’ve always admired people who decide to walk the entrepreneurial path. To be successful you need to be calculable, yet take risks--to be confident, yet adaptable. The opportunity to share my expertise these passionate individuals who are set to act on their dreams is something I view as an incredible opportunity.”
A graduate from George Brown College, Kyle received various awards including the Dean's Medal for his leadership and academic achievement.
Since joining the BITS team in May 2015, he’s headed new partnerships, developed new fundraising strategies, managed the 2016 Ignite Capital pitch competition and mentored countless participants providing each with a new capacity to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
Board of Directors
Pat McNamara (Chair)
Founder & CEO, APEX Public Relations
Sarah Hashem (Vice Chair)
Director, National Client Relationships, Futurpreneur
Director of Human Resources, Lynx Equity Limited
Kymberlee Lightowlers (Treasurer)
Accounting Manager, APEX Public Relations
CEO, Youth Employment Services
Senior Manager, Community Partnership Office, George Brown College
Francois André Associate Director, Client Experience, Me to We
Faculty Member, George Brown College