meet the founders

DSC02117 (2).jpg

ariel ng bourbonnais

At the age of 33, after losing my first pregnancy at 8 weeks, I was diagnosed with a condition I (and most other women) had never heard of: Low AMH, indicating a low egg reserve. I decided to write about my story in the hopes that sharing it might help even one person. When my article, "Infertile at Thirty-Three" was published on SheDoestheCity.com, I was blown away at the response it received. Most of their articles generate 150-300 ‘Likes’. My article generated over 1000. I received numerous emails and Facebook messages from women who were appreciative that I had shed some light on infertility. This reaffirmed my personal mission to remain brave and be forever strong which is why I co-founded The 16 Percent with Allison and Caroline.

I currently work for the University of Toronto and am in the process of completing a memoir based on my personal experience with infertility through the University of Toronto’s Creative Writing program, under the mentorship of Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall. Previously, I worked as a Production Coordinator at Oxford University Press Canada. I still miss the smell of a new book and being the first person in the office to view the finished product.

 
DSC02099.jpg

caroline starr

At 21, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and have been researching, writing about, and building community around infertility for around ten years. I have been featured on Global News, and in Metro News, discussing my miscarriage and the impacts of infertility and miscarriage on women and families. Telling my story has given a great deal of purpose to my experiences, and I see great value in giving others a space to share their stories through The 16 Percent.

I am a writer, editor, and a community advocate in East Toronto, working on projects ranging from anti-racism work, to newcomer settlement, and arts promotion via Danforth East Community Association. I am the mother of a three-year old and am active in the Toronto East parenting community. I have had a decade of publishing experience and am currently Senior Acquisitions Editor at Oxford University Press, covering a wide variety of signing areas including history, anthropology, geography, urban studies, and Indigenous studies. I am also the author of two self-published novels.

 
DSC02113.jpg

allison mcdonald ace

I am the mother of two boys and a daughter in between who I lost at 5 months’ pregnant. I expected my second pregnancy to go just as well as the first, but at 19 weeks and 4 days along, I discovered my baby girl no longer had a heartbeat. During my recovery from a hysterotomy to deliver her, when all else failed, I turned to writing to help me grieve and heal. When I shared my experience publicly through Love, Mom.ca and Green Moms Collective, the messages of support letting me know how my sharing had helped others was overwhelming. This encouraged me to continue sharing my story of loss and led me to co-found The 16 Percent in order to shed light on the unfortunate but common experience of miscarriage, and to help remove the shame surrounding it.

I currently work as the Communications Manager for GoJava.ca. Prior to this chapter of my life, I worked as a developmental editor in the publishing industry before becoming a full-time freelance lifestyle, health and parenting writer. I've written for a variety of Canadian publications including Toronto Life, The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine and Canadian Living. I am also a trained writing workshop facilitator and host expressive writing workshops across Toronto. With a portion of the proceeds I receive from my workshops, I provide writing packages to the moms in the High Risk Obstetrical Unit at Sunnybrook Hospital & the NICU at Mount Sinai Hospital to support them during their time there. You can read more about me at www.allisonmcdonaldace.com

meet the team

unnamed.jpg

sarah gillespie

I’ve been on the infertility journey for many years as my husband I have attempted to grow our family. Along the way, I discovered writing as a powerful tool to help me grieve my losses and cope with the roller coaster of the journey. Sharing my own story through The 16 Percent reaffirmed my belief in writing and sharing stories as an empowering way to help to breakdown the stigma, shame, and misconceptions surrounding infertility, miscarriage, and pregnancy loss. I feel so honoured to work with Allison, Ariel, Caroline & Kirsten and to be a part of this community. 

I’m originally from the US, but met my Canadian husband while travelling and working in France. I’ve been in Canada ever since and we now live in Toronto, with our three cats. Reading and writing are a big part of my life, both in my job working with adults as a speech-language pathologist and in my personal time. I also enjoy spending time in nature, drinking tea and coffee, travelling, and spending time with friends and family.

 
image0 (1).jpeg

kirsten carney

My fertility health was something that I never gave much thought to. I was of the belief that when I was ready to start a family, things would simply "just happen". After establishing a 10+ year career within the advertising industry, my spouse and I felt like it was the right time to grow our family.

The next 5 years would bring many highs and lows: a series of miscarriages, procedures, specialists, tests, and treatments. It would be an emotional rollercoaster that would alter my life, my marriage, my relationships with family and friends. It would bring much stress and many tears, but it would also bring me my 2 beautiful children. It was a journey that, at times, I felt very isolated and alone on, and it was one that would lead me to The 16 Percent community.

Over the last few years, I took some time to re-evaluate my career and made the decision to focus on becoming a Fertility Support Practitioner. I am humbled and honoured to be able to focus my efforts towards helping others along their fertility journey, and join in working with Caroline, Allison, Ariel, and Sarah to continue building a safe and supportive community for people to share their stories.