John Howard Society of Durham Region

About Us

Strategic Plan 2021-2024 (PDF)

JHS Durham Strategic Plan 2021-2024


Vision Statement

“We envision a Durham Region where everyone contributes to a safe, healthy and just community.”

Mission Statement

“To reduce the impact of crime and its causes by providing a spectrum of effective prevention and intervention programs.”

Core Values

  • People have the right to live in a safe and peaceful society, as well as the responsibility implied by this right to respect the law.
  • All people have the potential to become responsible members of our community.
  • Every person has intrinsic worth and the right to be treated with dignity, equity, fairness and compassion without discrimination.
  • Communities are stronger and safer when the root causes of crime are addressed through programs and services that are based on community needs and priorities.


The John Howard Society of Durham Region is dedicated to fostering diversity, promoting social inclusion, and fulfilling our responsibilities under Ontario’s Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). This commitment involves creating accessible environments that uphold the rights of everyone.

Multi-Year Accessibility Plan – 2023-2028

We invite you to give us your feedback through either of the following means:
Phone: 905-579-8482

Who Was John Howard?

John Howard was an Englishman who was born in 1726. In 1756, hearing that an earthquake had destroyed parts of Portugal, John Howard sailed on a merchant ship to offer assistance. It was the beginning of the Seven Years’ War between England and France, however, and on the voyage to Lisbon, French pirates overtook the vessel and made prisoners of the passengers and crew. They were thrown into the bowels of the ship, without food or water, and once in Portugal, were kept in inhuman conditions in a dungeon prison.

When John Howard was eventually released in a prisoner exchange, he returned to England where he spent the next 17 years attempting to reform the prison systems of England and Europe. He became High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, lobbied government officials, and eventually succeeded in affecting major changes in prison conditions. In 1782, the University of Dublin honored John Howard with the degree Doctor of Law.

John Howard spent his last days in Russia, investigating conditions in military hospitals and prisons, and helping doctors battle the plague that killed him in 1790. He is buried in Cherson on the Black Sea in Russia. A commemorative statue of John Howard stands in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Other interesting reading about John Howard:


The Sunday Library for young persons – Vol. II The Life of John Howard

The Memoirs of John Howard : Compiled from his diary his confidential letters and other authentic socuments


History of JHS in Canada:

1816 – “The Society for the Reformation of Prison Discipline” was founded by followers of John Howard. This became “The Howard League for Prison Reform”which continues in Great Britain today.

1884 – The first “Prisoners’ Aid Society” in Canada was founded to assist prisoners discharged from the Don Jail in Toronto. It operated through WW1.

1929 – The Police Chief of Toronto, Brigadier General D.C.Draper, founded the Citizens’ Service Association to help men released from prison. In 1946, this was renamed the John Howard Society of Ontario.

Branches of the John Howard Society began to be founded across Ontario and in every province in Canada:

1947 – London
1949 – Hamilton, St. Catherines, and Windsor
1950 – Kitchener
1953 – Sarnia
1955 – Kingston
1957 – Peterborough
1960 – Sudbury
1962 – October 23rd, Oshawa (later renamed Durham)
1968 – Thunder Bay
1969 – Sault Ste. Marie
1973 – Metro Toronto
1979 – Peel
1979 – Collins Bay Chapter
1985 – Victoria/Haliburton
1985 – Joyceville Chapter
2003 – Belleville
2010 – York Region

History of JHS Durham Region

The first official meeting of the John Howard Society of Oshawa-Whitby was on October 23, 1962. This assemblage was made possible, largely through the efforts of Mr. Keith Couse, Executive Assistant of the John Howard Society of Ontario.

Due to the increase in the services the Society provided, the need to move from a lay branch to a staffed branch was identified and the appointment of a branch coordinator was made possible through the support of the United Way. The first appointment was made in November 1974 followed shortly thereafter in September 1975 by a move to appoint Mr. William Fry as the organization’s long serving Executive Director. Mr. Fry served in this role until January 2012 (37 years), followed by Brian Sibley (Sept. 2012 – Dec. 2013), and then Dianna Eastwood (Jan. 2014 to present).

Due to the expansion of services and funding over the years, several name changes have been necessary to indicate the area served: for instance, The John Howard Society of Oshawa-Whitby-Newcastle in 1983.

In 1984 funding was made available from the Ajax/Pickering United Way to create a sub-office in this community. Our final name change came following the expansion into the Ajax area serving Ajax/Pickering resulting in a final name change to The John Howard Society of Durham Region. In October 1985 a residence for young people opened in Whitby followed closely by a second residence in Oshawa.

In July 2017, funding reductions left us no choice but to close our full-time Ajax office on Commercial Avenue. For the next 3 years, Ajax/Pickering area services ran from a shared space at 520 Westney Road South, thanks to Cross Roads Community Church. In July 2020 we left the shared space, and through the pandemic of 2020-2022 have been providing service to Ajax/Pickering through virtual tools, and through some local partnerships such as with the Welcome Centre.

In 2018 our youth centre program in Clarington (Called the Firehouse Youth Centre) which had been running since 1998, added a second site in Courtice (called “The Loft”). It grew again in 2019 with the addition of a Newcastle location (called “NYC”), all three thanks to the support of the Municipality of Clarington.


JHS Durham Region Board of Directors

Sue Vanderkwaak
Board President
Ted Marks
Vice President
Dave McLeod
Peter Stephenson

Shiraz Bhanji
Leanne Everson

Jim Monroe
Kevin Armstrong
Lydia Antalfy

JHS Durham Region Staff

The John Howard Society of Durham Region has over 60 professional staff delivering various programs and services.

Executive Director:
Dianna Eastwood

Executive Assistant
Sarah Kane

Director, Community & Justice Services:
Shelley Lawrence

Director, Employment, Training & Housing Services:
Christina Barrow

Director, Administration & Finance:
Joelle Morey

Manager of Administration:
Patti Harrington

Supervisor Program Support:
Michelle Heald

Manager, Technology & Community Development:
Paul Dobbs

Manager of Community & Justice Services:
Maria Perrino

Employment & Training Services:
Team Lead, STEP Program:
Danon Morey

Team Lead, Oshawa:
Rachel Shetler

Team Lead, Whitby:
Samantha Frank

Housing Services:
Manager, Residential Program:
David Smith

Manager, Housing Services:
Maureen Bandola

JHS Durham Region Annual Reports

Note: In 2007/08, we transitioned from a year-end of Dec. 31st to Mar 31st.

JHS Durham Region Audited Statements

Note: In 2007/08, we transitioned from a year-end of Dec. 31st to Mar 31st.


Revenue Canada Filings (T3010)

View our CRA/T3010 Charitable Organization Designation