We Are
Not 9 to 5

Not 9 to 5 is a non-profit global leader in mental health advocacy for the foodservice and hospitality sector. Through practical education and meaningful community-building, we are reimagining the industry by breaking stigmas and fuelling hope.

Our vision is physical and psychological safety for the entire hospitality and culinary workforce. Not 9 to 5 aspires to normalize mental health training, sick leave, workplace accommodations, healthcare benefits, support and resources to all.

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Our Story

The hospitality industry has neglected workplace mental health and psychological safety for centuries. A big reason for that is that we have depended on the structure of the brigade system since the late 19th century. The purpose and design of the kitchen brigade system—or cuisine de brigade (based upon the hierarchical structure of the French military)—is to ensure every person has a clear purpose so the kitchen can work to maximum efficiency. It sounds like a good idea on paper but in reality it creates a work environment that leaves little room for humanity, emotions, and the spectrum of mental health experiences.

This military-style influence creates workplaces that lead to exploitation and in the name of ‘efficiency’ leave little to room for adequate nourishment, rest, pay, safety or support. The constant pressure to follow the chain of command at whatever cost disconnects workers from themselves and at the mercy of the leader’s orders. This structure needs to be challenged and redesigned to evolve in order to reflect the needs of all of the diverse people that make up the workforce.

Not 9 to 5 was founded in instinct and is now cemented in data. In 2018 after decades of struggling with her own experiences with anxiety, depression, trauma and grief, Hassel was inspired to co-found Not 9 to 5, a non-profit that empowers foodservice service workers like herself. As Not 9 to 5’s Executive Director, this industry vanguard has made it her mission to provide mental health and substance use support by mobilizing educational resources and advocating for psychological safety.

In 2019, Not 9 to 5 did it’s first survey of hundreds of hospitality professionals. When asked if you experience mental health &/or substance use challenges, 90% of respondents said yes. The elephant in the room was finally acknowledged and the unspoken crisis was validated.

Hassel’s strategic planning abilities helped grow Not 9 to 5 from a series of workshops, panels and webinars into a global vehicle for change. Now, with CNECTing —Not 9 to 5’s online educational platform— Hassel aspires to start a world-wide hospitality revolution to create work environments that are inclusive and proactive, rather than top-down and reactive.

We chose Not 9 to 5 as our name to reflect the untraditional hours of our industry and the all-consuming nature of mental health and substance use challenges. Neither are confined to the hours of ‘9 to 5.’

Hassel Aviles

Founder of Not 9 To 5

Our Values

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WE ARE DISRUPTIVE

The hospitality, food and beverage, industry has existed with no standard of support for mental health and substance use. For too long, the focus has been on the quality of products used and maintaining a healthy reputation for the business. We are demanding and creating a shift towards more ethical and psychologically safe treatment of the people who grow and serve the community.

WE ARE COMPASSIONATE

Compassion motivates us to notice and name the very real challenges people in the industry experience. To collectively create work environments where people feel safe enough being their full selves. Our goal is for the next generation of this industry to have resources to invest in the psychological well-being of its staff.

WE ARE INTERSECTIONAL

We recognize that mental health and substance use experiences are not one-sided because the individuals in our industry do not live one-sided lives. Our awareness of this forces us to design resources, plan events, and use language that acknowledges, respects, and grounds the differences among us.

WE ARE RESOURCEFUL

Not 9 to 5 was born out of necessity to address the complex nature of mental health and substance use. We cultivate change by developing tools and resources specific to the lived experience of industry professionals. With these tools, people feel less alone and empowered to ask for help when they need it.

Meet The Team

Not 9 to 5 is made up of a diverse group of people from all corners of the hospitality and food service industry. The work we do is for us, by us.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Hassel Aviles

Executive Director
Hassel Aviles has built a career in the hospitality and foodservice industry for over two decades working primarily in restaurants, event production and entrepreneurship. In 2018, after years of struggling with mental illness and trauma, Hassel was inspired to co-found Not 9 to 5, a non-profit that empowers foodservice service workers like herself. Hassel’s strategic planning abilities helped grow Not 9 to 5 from a series of workshops, panels and webinars into a global vehicle for change. Her work has contributed to a worldwide hospitality revolution to create work environments that are inclusive and proactive, rather than top-down and reactive. Hassel has used her experience, her social capital and intelligence to speak up for those without the power to make change. She is a visionary and deeply dedicated to revolutionizing the industry for the better.

Suzanne Barr

Chef, Author, Advocate
Suzanne Barr is one of North America’s most respected chefs with a signature flair for fresh comfort food. Her impressive culinary repertoire includes: Head Chef/Owner at True True Diner in Toronto, owner of Saturday Dinette; inaugural chef-in-residence at the Gladstone Hotel; a residency at Sand and Pearl Oyster Bar in Prince Edward County; starring role as one of the chefs in the acclaimed documentary film, The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution; and as a resident judge on Food Network Canada’s series, Wall of Chefs. As a long-time, rigorous advocate for food security, people of colour, mental health, equal pay for equal work, LGBTQ communities, nutrition literacy and food source sustainability, Suzanne brings an expansive lived experience and unique perspective to our board.

Tasha Shea

Social Impact & Research
Tasha is a certified Project Manager with a master’s degree in Development Studies that focused on using food as a tool to build community. She has worked in over 15 countries, managing corporate social responsibility development projects. In Toronto, she has worked for a number of grassroots organizations leading fundraising events and campaigns, including as Volunteer Manager for Terroir Symposium for 5 years. Today, Tasha owns her own fundraising and philanthropy consultancy firm and works for the City of Brampton as the Coordinator of Culinary Tourism and Markets.

Jenny Shin

President and CEO of Milestones Public Relations
Jenny is currently the President and CEO of Milestones Public Relations, a boutique PR and talent management firm based in Toronto. She is also an official TEDx scout and coach, President of The Canadian Public Relations Society (Toronto), and regularly guest lectures at PR and Communications programs throughout Ontario. Much of her work is fueled by social advocacy and she is firmly committed to volunteerism and encouraging others to be engaged in their communities.

Danielle Goldfinger

Fundraising Specialist
Danielle is a fundraising events and corporate partnerships professional with 10+ years of experience in the not-for-profit sector. Strategic and creative thinker with strong leadership skills who is able to motivate staff and volunteers to manage complex projects that increase revenue and donor engagement. Danielle brings her knowledge of fundraising, corporate partnerships and community engagement to Not 9 to 5 to give back to the hospitality community that has fed her in countless ways.

Charlotte Langley

Chef, CCO and Co-Founder of Scout Canning, MSC Chef Ambassador
Never bound by titles or labels, Charlotte Langley is constantly reinventing herself and what it means to be a chef, culinary curator, entrepreneur, ambassador for sustainability and champion of the people and causes she believes in. Over 10 years of honing her expertise working with and elevating seafood has taken her through some of the country’s most recognized restaurants (C Restaurant, Whalesbone, Catch, Rodney’s Catering) and in 2014, led her to create North Americas’ most trusted Seafood brand, Scout Canning.For Charlotte there is no greater pleasure or privilege than to play, share, laugh, educate, nurture and love through food and hospitality.

Billy Alexander

Chef, Social Advocate, Indigenous Advisor
Canadian Indigenous born Billy Alexander is the Executive Chef and Culinary Advisor for Caldwell First Nation located in Leamington southern Ontario. As a world-renowned and globally trained chef, cultural pundit, and social advocate, his illustrious accomplishments and positions include: Founding Chair of Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations; Culinary Development for WestJet; recipient of Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40; Executive Chef at Calgary’s Grey Eagle Resort and Casino; National Culinary Strategist for Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada; and mentor to countless youth.

Coulson Armstrong

Chef
Chef Coulson Armstrong found his way into the kitchen after falling in love with food on a trip to Europe. The plan had been to go to business school, but instead he found himself at Oliver & Bonacini, working his way up to head chef at Canoe, where he oversaw a team of 40. He learned the business but the toll it took on his mental health wasn’t easy. Armstrong’s path led him to California, where he crossed paths and connected with Chef Matty Matheson and, when the pandemic arrived, their collaboration begat Matty’s Patty’s Burger Club, a contactless burger pop-up across the street from Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park. From the beginning, the leadership team planned Matty’s Patty’s as an intentional, safe workplace. As a leader, Coulson is working on implementing mental health practices in the hospitality industry one project at a time.

Omer Riza

Omer Riza is a principal in S and R Tax. S and R is an accounting and tax consulting firm specializing in small and medium sized enterprises, federal tax credits for scientific research and experimental development and financial guidance for Not for Profit organizations and charities. Omer currently sits on boards in both the charitable and private sector.

TEAM MEMBERS

Hassel Aviles

Executive Director
Hassel Aviles has built a career in the hospitality and foodservice industry for over two decades working primarily in restaurants, event production and entrepreneurship. In 2018, after years of struggling with mental illness and trauma, Hassel was inspired to co-found Not 9 to 5, a non-profit that empowers foodservice service workers like herself. Hassel’s strategic planning abilities helped grow Not 9 to 5 from a series of workshops, panels and webinars into a global vehicle for change. Her work has contributed to a worldwide hospitality revolution to create work environments that are inclusive and proactive, rather than top-down and reactive. Hassel has used her experience, her social capital and intelligence to speak up for those without the power to make change. She is a visionary and deeply dedicated to revolutionizing the industry for the better.

Alexis Kronwald-Debruyn

Volunteer Manager
Alexis works for MLSE as the Assistant General Manager of RS. Growing up in the restaurant industry in combination with her personal mental health experiences has led her to advocate for safer restaurants and mental health support for hospitality folks. Alexis is the Project Manager for the Mind Your Health grant project and the Volunteer Manager for Not 9 to 5.

Rachael Mills

The service industry, whether it’s customer service, retail, restaurants etc., is harsh and can be unforgiving. The work Not 9 to 5 does is pointing a spot light on the places we can improve and ways we can make the industry better for everyone. The work I do here feels like speaking to the person I was when I worked in retail, and hopefully sending a message to someone who needs to hear what I needed to hear back then. You’re never as alone as you feel.

Lisa Quigley

Coalition & Partnerships
Lisa works as the Event Manager at a restaurant in downtown Toronto. Volunteering with Not 9 to 5 is important to me as someone who works in the industry and experiences first hand the toll that the irregular hours and subsequent lifestyle can take on a person. I strongly believe that resources for mental health and substance abuse need to become more accessible for individuals and in the workplace, especially while we all try to navigate these unprecedented times of Covid.

VOLUNTEER STAFF

Funmilade Taiwo

Branding and UX Design
I volunteer for Not 9 to 5 because addressing mental health and substance use issues in the industry requires all hands on deck. It makes me proud to be able to contribute to the mission of this organization.

Emily Rzeznicki

Copywriter
I volunteer with Not 9 to 5 because after working in the industry in various capacities for over ten years, I want to help create the change that is needed to make this work better accessible and sustainable for future generations.

Stacey Brookes

Admin & Marketing Support
I volunteer for Not 9 to 5 because I believe the work they are doing makes a profound impact on the industry. Having worked in both hospitality and social services over the past 10 years, this opportunity, allows those two worlds to come together in an important way.

Melissa Kowalinski

Social Media Support
With 10 years of experience in the hospitality industry spanning from event planning to innkeeping to restaurant management, Having open conversations about mental health and advocating for a positive work/life balance are subjects that have become increasingly important to Melissa over the last few years. She is eager to join the Not 9 to 5 team and help shift the workplace culture & conversations surrounding our industry.

Jacqueline Menagh

Social Worker & Content Support
I care deeply about mental health as well as the food industry and I want to donate my time to a cause that brings these two passions together