NIED welcomes new Board members as it launches new decade

The National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED) has spent a decade educating and taking action on behalf of those impacted by Eating Disorders, a highly stigmatized and misunderstood mental illness. As it marks its 10-year milestone and proceeds into the next decade, NIED is proud to welcome new members to its Board of Directors.

New Board Chair
Lorne Bernstein took over the helm as the Board’s new chair on February 17th. He is an active volunteer, having participated with a diverse range of not-for-profit organizations in a variety of roles from committee member to board chair and president. Lorne comes to NIED through lived family experience and understands the challenges posed by society – from the lack of public awareness and support at all levels, to the personal impact on the family and caregivers alike.

“I am honoured and delighted to serve as the Chair of NIED, as we commemorate our 10th year, says Bernstein. “As Chair, I am but one of a dedicated community of passionate volunteers focused on supporting those living with Eating Disorders and those who care for them, while further broadening the public awareness of the personal and societal impact that Eating Disorders have on the community at large.”

New members of NIED’s Board of Directors

Francie Greenspoon
B.A. (Psychology)
Francie has over 30 years’ experience in communications and public relations, with her last engagement as the Director of Communications for the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, and prior to that as a Communications Officer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Francie comes to NIED through lived experience with a loved one. She is committed to raising awareness and understanding about Eating Disorders and enthusiastically supports NIED in its efforts to improve services and outcomes for all those challenged by Eating Disorders.

Karen Flello
B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed.
Karen is a passionate educator who has worked as a high-school teacher, a K – 12 principal, and, most recently, with the B.C. Ministry of Education.
Karen’s dedication to causes connected to mental health and resilience stem from her professional experiences supporting children and youth, but even more importantly from her experience as a support and caregiver for her sister, Michelle Stewart, who lived with her Eating Disorder for more than 30 years before succumbing to organ failure in May 2014.
Karen, along with Michelle’s partner, Kirk Mason, published a book of Michelle’s blog posts, Shell: One Woman’s Final Year After a Lifelong Struggle with Anorexia and Bulimia, the proceeds from which have supported organizations like NIED. Karen remains dedicated to efforts to end the stigma associated with Eating Disorders and to support education and recovery for those with lived experience and their caregivers.

Elissa Matulus Myers
Elissa Myers is an innovative and creative association executive, specializing in developing great leadership and clear strategic and tactical direction for associations. She most recently served as Executive Director, and ex-officio member of the Board of Directors, of the Academy for Eating Disorders in the United States, a global professional association committed to leadership in Eating Disorders research, education, treatment, and prevention.  She is passionately committed to bringing to reality the Vision of global access to knowledge, research and best treatment practice for Eating Disorders for everyone, and to the fight to promote the use of empirical evidence in the treatment of Eating Disorders.
With 40+ years’ experience as a professional association executive, Elissa has specific experience in staff and volunteer development and leadership, strategic and tactical planning, membership development and retention, member benefits development and marketing, effective internal and external communications, advocacy and public & media relations. She is frequently called upon as a speaker/lecturer on association management, is the author, editor, and or publisher of numerous articles and publications.
Elissa has spent her career walking the talk on volunteering. Among her exceptional volunteer leadership positions, she has served as a member of the U.S.’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Partners Task Force, and as a member of the Joint Commission Task Force on in-patient Eating Disorder treatment.

Morris Robinson
Morris is a registered life member of The Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario.
A career businessman and previous owner of one of Canada’s largest jewellery manufacturing companies.  He was elected Chairman of The Canadian Jewellery Association after heading up its Government Affairs committee which lobbied for and oversaw the elimination of the federal excise tax on jewellery.  As well he has served as a board member of other associations and was a founding director and the first treasurer of The Diamond Bourse of Canada.
Morris is a devoted husband, father of three sons and grandfather of nine.  He is excited to be given the opportunity to use his professional skill and experience to assist NIED in meeting its worthy objectives.

NIED launches GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000
To commemorate its 10-year milestone and continue its work raising awareness about Eating Disorders, NIED has set up a GoFundME campaign with the goal of raising $10,000. To donate to NIED’s GoFundMe campaign, please click here.

For further information, please contact:
Lynne Koss
Co-Founder/Vice President
National Initiative for Eating Disorders – NIED 
Twitter: @nied_ca

NIED marks 10-year milestone as a leader in fostering Education, Understanding & Action for Eating Disorders in Canada

On February 22, 2012 the National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED) officially launched with a 30 second spot on Global Television. Within an hour they received their first call from a family whose daughter died by suicide as a result of her Eating Disorder. The calls have not stopped since that day.

This February 22, NIED will mark its 10-year milestone as one of the leaders in raising Education, Understanding and Action for Eating Disorders in Canada – a decade filled with many milestones for Eating Disorders in Canada.

NIED is a totally volunteer-run organization that has facilitated 76 free educational symposia with expert speakers and courageous individuals sharing lived experiences. They tirelessly advocated to get Eating Disorders on all mental health agendas provincially and federally and raised awareness within Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Stats Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

“NIED is by far one of the most influential organizations in the field of Eating Disorders advocacy in the country. Their work is unparalleled, their reach expansive, and their commitment to breaking down barriers has led to much-needed changes in a system poorly equipped to treat Eating Disorders. They are tireless advocates, fierce leaders and visionaries.”… Dr. Anita Federici. PH.D C.PSYCH 

NIED became an active member of the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH), one of 13 national mental health organizations representing Eating Disorders nationwide.

A turning point for Eating Disorders in Canada came in 2016 when NIED hosted a meeting with the Canadian Eating Disorders community that inspired an alliance between four national organizations – the Canadian Eating Disorders Association – L’Association des troubles alimentaires du Canada (EDAC-ATAC), the Eating Disorders Foundation of Canada (EDFC), the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) and NIED. Over 450 organizations identified six priorities: Prevention, Public Education and Awareness, Treatment, Caregiver Support, Training and Research and this group went on to develop the first-ever Canadian Eating Disorders Strategy – a 10-year blueprint for change that launched in November 2019.

NIED has played a vital role in World Eating Disorders Action Day in conjunction with 160 countries whose mission is to unite activists across the globe to expand global awareness of Eating Disorders as genetically linked, treatable illnesses that can affect anyone. Many of the initiatives Canada developed have become a worldwide template.

NIED’s Hand Knit Hope Program has brought caregiver knitters together to make more than 800 items, that provide comfort and hope to those impacted with Eating Disorders, which were donated to spread warmth to Eating Disorders programs and other organizations locally and in eight provinces.

NIED is a totally volunteer run organization whose strength is the passion and dedication of their volunteers.

“As a nutrition student wanting to learn more about Eating Disorders in Canada, I looked no further than NIED,” says Olivia – one of NIED’s dedicated volunteers…”Being a volunteer with NIED was a powerful experience because I was constantly reminded that we were making a difference.”

And most recently, NIED, in collaboration with 30 partners, will conduct a study that will include researchers, scientists, physicians, healthcare professionals, people with lived experience and policy makers to provide a clear empirically-driven synopsis of the total economic burden (including a psycho-social cost breakdown) that Eating Disorders impose on the Canadian Economy. The Economic Burden Study, as it is referred to, is the first of its kind in Canada. Key anticipated outcomes include recommendations for post-pandemic care to inform policy development, the allocation of funding for both community and hospital-based services, and recommendations for actions required to better support the recovery of those challenged by this serious mental illness.

NIED is also part of a national working group collaborating on unifying messaging for Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) from February 1st to 7th, an event whereby organizations across the country host local events, light up notable landmarks in purple, and engage in public education campaigns to generate greater awareness about Eating Disorders. The week helps educate about the impact of Eating Disorders, dispels the myths and stigmas associated with them and illuminates the tremendous gaps in funding and services, with the ultimate goal of motivating those decision makers in positions of influence to provide, among other things, better and more affordable prevention and treatment options, enhanced training for professionals and greater support for caregivers.

It has been a momentous 10 years but there is so much more that needs to be done.

“Thanks to all our passionate volunteers who have worked tirelessly to get NIED where we are today,” says Wendy Preskow, NIED’s president  and founder. “Ten years ago I could never have imagined the respect and support we have received from experts across the country who work alongside us. We began with the aim to create Awareness, Understanding, and Action for Eating Disorders. Now, as we enter our next decade, we look forward to amplifying our mission as change-makers and collaborators on behalf of all those touched by Eating Disorders…whether personally or professionally.”

NIED has started a GoFundME campaign with a goal of raising $10,000 to commemorate its 10-year milestone and to continue its work on behalf of those challenged by Eating Disorders. To give to NIED’s GoFundMe campaign, please click here.


For further information, please contact:
Lynne Koss
Co-Founder/Vice President
National Initiative for Eating Disorders – NIED 
Twitter: @nied_ca

Monday, November 29, 2021

Hand Knit Hope program provides warmth to lives in need 

The National Initiative for Eating Disorder’s  (NIED’s) beloved Hand Knit Hope program and its mighty army of caregiver knitters, has been hard at work knitting and crocheting hats, scarves, headbands and neck warmers to provide warmth to those in need while also helping to educate about Eating Disorders as a way to give back on Giving Tuesday, 2021.

This year, more than 400 items were lovingly crafted and donated to five different Eating Disorder organizations across Canada including the Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association (Ontario), Credit Valley Hospital Eating Disorders Program (Ontario), BridgePoint Center for Eating Disorders (Saskatchewan), and the Silver Linings Foundation (Calgary).

Now in its 10th year, Hand Knit Hope was initiated by a NIED volunteer who discovered the therapeutic benefits of knitting and crocheting while in treatment for an Eating Disorder. She subsequently pitched NIED founder, Wendy Preskow, the idea of forming knitting circles of caregivers supporting people impacted with an Eating Disorder. Before you could say “knit 1 and purl 2”, caregivers were knitting and/or crocheting items to distribute to treatment centres, support groups and anyone on their Eating Disorder recovery journey who needed a bit of warmth and love on their path to wellness.

“NIED’s Hand Knit Hope program warms our hearts knowing that donating these items will keep someone a little warmer during the colder days ahead,” says NIED founder Wendy Preskow. “This program began as a way for caregivers to support individuals impacted  by Eating Disorders who were in treatment or attending support groups.”

This year, Hand Knit Hope extended its reach by donating to the Barbara Schlifer Clinic which offers legal, counselling and interpretation services to marginalized and racialized populations of women who have survived violence and the Stop and Out of the Cold Programs. 

An estimated 2.7 million Canadians would meet the diagnostic criteria for an Eating Disorder. Eating Disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness with 1 in 10 people dying from their disorder. Eating Disorders affect all genders, ages, racial/ethnic identities, sexual orientations and socio-economic backgrounds.

NIED assists people cope with the effects of Eating Disorders by providing access to educational, informational and other recovery-oriented resources related to the prevention and treatment of Eating Disorders and related mental illnesses in Canada.

Anyone interested in participating or in need of a warm item, please contact

(Left to right) – Wendy Preskow (Founder/President of NIED) and knitting and crocheting helpers 
Kay Epstein and Rohna Lubner get cozy amidst over 400 items lovingly crafted for
Hand Knit Hope 2021, to raise awareness for Eating Disorders as part of Giving Tuesday. 

For further information, please contact:
Lynne Koss
Co-Founder/Vice President
National Initiative for Eating Disorders – NIED
Twitter: @nied_ca

“Our System is Failing Youth With Eating Disorders.”

Read Natalya Anderson’s profound article that was posted to Postmedia’s “Healthing” site on November 17, 2021.
In the article, that includes quotes from NIED founder Wendy Preskow, she passionately lays out why the system is failing youth with Eating Disorders.

Read the article

Watch Erin Fenlon’s online address to Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto, on Saturday July 31, 2021.

As an individual with an Eating Disorder for over seven years, Erin shared insights on her own lived experience, dealing with the illness and hope and healing.

Watch now

Watch a D-Talks podcast episode featuring a must-see conversation with an Eating Disorder lived-experience young adult.

D-Talks – a conversation about mental health and addiction is a podcast series by MPP Hon. Michael A. Tibollo (Vaughan—Woodbridge), Ontario’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. In this 5th episode, Associate Minister Tibollo has a frank and meaningful conversation with Erin, an Eating Disorder lived-experience young adult.

Watch now

#Equity4EatingDisorders Focus of 9th Annual Honouring the Journey 

The National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED) will hold its 9th annual, and first virtual, Honouring the Journey with the them Voices of Hope, Tribute, Inspiration and Celebration to honour the tremendous journey – the triumphs and losses experienced by those challenged by Eating Disorders on Wednesday June 2nd, 2021, as part of World Eating Disorders Action Day.

The ever-pressing issue of #Equity4Eating Disorders: equity for addressing all forms of Eating Disorders; equity in research and program funding; equity in access to treatment and recovery services; and equity for marginalized and under-represented groups will be the focus of a panel discussion. Moderating the panel discussion is André Picard, an award-winning journalist and one of Canada’s top health & public policy observers and commentators. He has been a part of The Globe and Mail team since 1987, where he is a health reporter and columnist.

Michelle Stewart, a former head of communications for the British Columbia Ministry of Health died in 2014 from organ failure as a result of her life-long battle with an Eating Disorder. In her final year of life, Michelle wrote Shell: One Woman’s Final Year After a Lifelong Struggle with Anorexia and Bulimia. Kirk Mason, Michelle’s partner and caregiver and Michelle’s sister, Karen Flello, will share their personal experiences and reflections with Michelle’s Eating Disorder struggles as the event keynote speakers. Karen and Kirk have dedicated themselves to sharing Michelle’s story, in hopes that her legacy can also help others challenged by this devastating illness. The first 100 people to register for Honouring the Journey 2021 will receive a free copy of Michelle’s memoir.

Following the keynote address, #Equity4Eating Disorders will be the focus of the panel discussion that will include Kirk Mason, as well as, Tierra Hohn, a public health professional from Toronto whose lived experience ignited her passion for advocacy and building awareness around Eating Disorders and body image, and Zachary Grant, a queer, trans, gender non-binary, social service worker, who works at Sheena’s Place with the first support group in the Greater Toronto Area, for trans, nonbinary, and gender questioning individuals with Eating Disorders.

World Eating Disorders Action Day is a day when more than 200 organizations world-wide from over 50 countries unites activists across the globe with the aim to expand global awareness of eating disorders as genetically linked, treatable illnesses that can affect anyone. It is a day that brings together members of the Eating Disorder community virtually, including affected individuals and their families, professionals, researchers, and policy makers, to increase access to accurate information, eradicate myths and collectively advocate for resources and policy change.

NIED is a non-profit organization that assists and supports people coping with the effects of Eating Disorders by providing access to educational, informational and other recovery-oriented resources related to the prevention and treatment of Eating Disorders and related mental illnesses in Canada.

Honouring the Journey 2021: Voices of Hope, Tribute, Inspiration and Celebration is organized by NIED in support of World Eating Disorders Action Day. Participation is FREE. To register, please visit xxxxxxx. To find out more about NIED, please visit, and to learn more about World Eating Disorders Action Day and how you can participate, please visit

For further information:
Lynne Koss (she/her)
Co-Founder/Vice President
National Initiative for Eating Disorders – NIED
Twitter: @nied_ca


Backgrounders for Honouring the Journey 2021

Keynote Speakers:

Karen Flello has been privileged to work as a public educator in Victoria, BC, for the past 30 years, beginning her career as a high-school English teacher and now serving as the principal of a K – 12 online Education school. Her love of learning translated into a lifetime in school – as a student, a teacher or an administrator, Karen has been present for 49 “first days of school” so far!

Karen’s connection to Eating Disorders began in her teens when her younger sister, Michelle, developed bulimia. In her role as Michelle’s supporter – and, many years later, as one of Michelle’s end-of-life care-givers – Karen experienced the complex emotions and life challenges that face many family members of ED sufferers and survivors. During those last days, Karen and Michelle’s husband, Kirk, committed to publishing Michelle’s blog into book form and to dedicating funds raised by the sale of the book to the ongoing pursuit of research, treatment and cures for these most devastating illnesses. They published the book Shell: A Memoir in 2015 with the help of Life Tree Media. Karen lives in Victoria with her husband, David, and their son, Andrew. Their son, Liam, and daughter-in-law, Amber, live close by.

Kirk Mason’s love affair with broadcasting began in childhood – his transistor radio a constant companion. That romance blossomed into a broadcasting career that spanned fifty years with stops in nine cities across Canada. Kirk was a member of the RTNDA (Radio and Television News Directors Association) for several years, and was the recipient of a BC Association of Broadcasters Award for Excellence in News Reporting.

Kirk’s sense of community led to many volunteer opportunities over the years. He assumed a leadership role with the United Way of Greater Victoria – a partnership that lasted more than twenty-five years. He is a committed supporter of Doctors Without Borders, the BC SPCA, Victoria Hospice, and NIED.
In 2015, he worked with his sister-in-law, Karen Flello and Life Tree Media in Vancouver to deliver on a
promise to his wife, Michelle Stewart, to publish her brave and insightful account of her decades-long struggle with Eating Disorders. Kirk lives in Victoria, B.C.

#Equity4Eating Disorders Panel:

Panel Moderator:
André Picard is one of Canada’s top health & public policy observers and commentators. He has been a part of The Globe and Mail team since 1987, where he is a health reporter and columnist. He is also the author of five bestselling books. Picard is an eight-time nominee for the National Newspaper Awards, Canada’s top journalism prize, and past winner of the prestigious Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service Journalism.
He was named Canada’s first “Public Health Hero” by the Canadian Public Health Association, as a “Champion of Mental Health” by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, for his dedication to improving healthcare.
A graduate of the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, André has received honorary doctorates from six universities, including UBC and the University of Toronto. He is a seasoned communicator who employs a conversational style to reach his audience. Additionally, he enlivens his research and commentary with personal stories to provide context for his audience. Fluently bilingual, André will enlighten and pique a sense of curiosity of audience members from all educational backgrounds. Behind the placid exterior lies an inquisitive, perceptive and industrious scribe for whom the work only begins with the official story.
The University of British Columbia recently announced André Picard as one of the Asper Visiting Professors at the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media for the 2020-2021 academic year, winter session. In 2020, Picard was awarded The Owen Adams Award of Honour. This award is the highest CMA award available to a non-physician.

Kirk Mason (see keynote speaker)

Tierra Hohn (she/her) is a public health professional from Toronto. She holds a Master of Public Health and a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management. Her lived experience ignited her passion for advocacy and building awareness around eating disorders and body image. Over the years she has run various workshops and facilitated discussions on such topics. The purpose of this being to create dialogue, educate and offer up tools and resources that can help others feel more comfortable in their own skin. Tierra is also a yoga teacher, author and avid learner.

Zachary Grant (they/them) is a queer, trans, gender non-binary, white, settler, activist, artist, nerd, social service worker, and academic. Zac currently works at Sheena’s Place, where they started the first support group in the Greater Toronto Area for trans, nonbinary, and gender questioning individuals with eating disorders. Zac is also a PhD student in the School of Social Work at York University, their research focuses on transgender healthcare and the experiences of trans individuals with ‘eating disorders’.

COVID may steepen the climb for those affected by Eating Disorders 

Read the article featuring NIED founder & president, Wendy Preskow, that appeared in the February 2021 edition of Catalyst, the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s online newsletter.

English version

French version

MPP Jill Andrew marks first Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Ontario history.

NDP MPP Jill Andrew (Toronto—St. Paul’s), NDP critic for Women’s Issues, Culture & Heritage, marked the first ever Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) in Ontario’s history.

Learn more

Join NIED in supporting the EDAW 2021 Brave Letters campaign to demand support for people affected by Eating Disorders.

Nearly 3 million Canadians meet the diagnostic criteria for an Eating Disorder, the deadliest of all mental illnesses, and thousands more struggle without a diagnosis. Eating Disorders do not discriminate. This devastating mental illness impacts people of all genders, ages, and circumstances, and has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased need in services due to isolation.

We need action now. The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced extraordinary challenges for not only people with Eating Disorders, but their family, friends, and the healthcare professionals who are struggling to serve them, given limited resources in our communities and nationally. Community-based treatment has been proven to lead to improved health outcomes. By reducing social isolation and the strain put on family/caregivers, reducing hospitalization, supporting sustainable recovery, and preventing Eating Disorders, community-based support saves lives.

With your help, we can change things. Send a letter to your local, provincial, and federal politicians. Speak up for the people who can’t advocate for themselves.

Bill 61 passes proclaiming Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) in Ontario first week of February

In 2018, when Jill Andrew, MPP for Toronto-St. Paul’s first championed Bill 61, to get Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) proclaimed officially in Ontario, it didn’t make it through the house. Thanks to her tenacity, and over many years, that of the co-founders of National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NIED)Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association (BANA) and the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), Bill 61 passed unanimously on December 3, 2020, proclaiming Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Ontario February 1st – 7th.

Since 1988, when NEDIC became the national coordinator for EDAW, they, along with other groups across the country, slowly started to officially recognize EDAW. Today, the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador, and now Ontario have all proclaimed EDAW.

MPP Andrew, a long-time supporter of the National Eating Disorders Information Centre (NEDIC) and co-founder of Body Confidence Canada, an organization that advocates for equitable and inclusive images, messages, practices and policies supporting body diversity said, “EDAW will help bring attention to the diversity of people who experience Eating Disorders, including Black, and racialized women and girls, queer people, transgender people, disabled people and fat people.”

EDAW is a collective effort from coast-to-coast engaging organizations to host local events, light prominent landmarks in the colour purple, and participate in public education campaigns about Eating Disorders.

Building on EDAW’s previous year’s theme “Eating Disorders Can’t Afford to Wait”, this year’s primary message is What Happened While We Waited?. The week will literally and figuratively shine a light on the nuances of the current times — the negative and positive implications of the pandemic — while also holding space for those who have been waiting a very long time for the care they need and deserve.

NIED’s co-founder Wendy Preskow, and NEDIC’s program manager Suzanne Phillips both agree that the proclamation of EDAW every year in Ontario from February 1-7, was a fantastic moment for Eating Disorder advocacy in the province. “It felt like everybody’s hard work was recognized…and individuals who are impacted by Eating Disorders had what they rightfully deserve, which is recognition. It’s a first step, and I think it was a very necessary good first step to give us the energy to keep going.”

For a link to the full story on the proclamation, visit For further information about EDAW and a complete list of events,  please visit For information about NIED and the work it does on behalf of those challenged by Eating Disorders, please contact:

For further information, please contact:
Lynne Koss
Co-Founder/Vice President
National Initiative for Eating Disorders – NIED
Twitter: @nied_ca

Read BANA’s online magazine honouring EDAW 2021

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