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About the Trustee - Maria Rizzo


CAVS (Certified Administrator of Volunteer Services),
CSPL (Certificate in the Study and Practice of Leadership)

(Toronto Catholic School Trustee - Ward 5 North York)


Maria is a fervent advocate for education, community empowerment and social justice. She is passionate about her role as a school trustee with the Toronto Catholic District School Board and is a powerful and effective voice in the boardroom and in the community.
Born in Canada, Raised in Toronto                                    
Maria’s parents immigrated to Canada from Reggio Calabria, Italy following the Second World War.   They settled in Alberta, where Maria was born, and relocated to downtown Toronto when she was four years old.  A few years later the family moved to North York where Maria went to school, and they have lived ever since.
Proud Wife, Mother and Daughter
Maria married Sam Iannelli in1986 and they were blessed with a daughter, Samantha who attended Catholic schools - St. Antoine Daniel Catholic School and Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts located in the heart of North York. Maria served on the parent councils of both schools. They are proud North York residents.
A Lieftime of Service 
Maria has had a lifetime of community service. She worked with the Elizabeth Fry Society, Catholic Children’s Aid Society to name but two and has served as Executive Director of several nonprofit organizations including Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. She served as Vice President of the National Congress of Italian Canadians, board member and volunteer of many charitable agencies as well as one of the founding members of the North York Community House.
Maria has worked with women’s organizations, health care, child care, youth and community organizations over the years and has held many volunteer roles. For several years, Maria participated in a political panel on CBC hosted by Suhana Meharchand.
Most notably she was a proud parent member of the school councils where her daughter attended.
Maria is a recipient of numerous community service awards.
Elected Office
Maria Rizzo was first elected in 1982 as a School Trustee representing separate school electors on the North York Board of Education.
She was elected as a North York Councillor in 1991 and served two terms.  She served as Deputy Mayor on the Executive with Mayor Mel Lastman as well as budget Chief for many city departments.
She lost her seat in the 1995 election when the city was amalgamated. At that time she joined City of Toronto Councillors Howard Moscoe and John Filion as Executive Assistant to handle planning, zoning, site plans and committee of adjustment matters.
In the 2003 election Maria was elected to the Toronto Catholic District Catholic School Board and has been a trustee ever since. Maria Rizzo has served in various capacities including Vice Chair of the board. Committee membership has included Corporate Services, Student Achievement, Governance, By-law, Compensation, Budget, Communication, Spanish Advisory, Parent Involvement and Sweatshop Free Committees.
Results Driven
Among her many accomplishments, she is most proud of her leadership role in the Board-wide ban of plastic water bottles and the introduction of the sweatshop free policy.
She has lead the charge to keep a crossing guard at St. Cyril’s Catholic School - the site of the recent van attack. Maria set the example by cutting honorariums to save needed programs for students and parents and battled for more funds for lunchroom supervisors and much needed before and after school programs. Her biggest challenge has been the fight for the continuation of International Languages program and for enriched language learning to be included in the curriculum for all students.