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Our Leaders

    Meet the members of the 2018-2019 Board of Directors

    Amnesty International Canada's Board of Directors is made up of 10 elected members who volunteer their time to oversee our strategic direction and financial management, maintain strong links with the international movement of Amnesty International, and provide leadership and guidance in advancing our human rights work.

    Members of the Board are happy to respond to questions about the governance of Amnesty Canada. Please contact us here.

    Lana Verran, President

    Lana Verran has been a member of Amnesty International Canada for over 15 years and previously served on the Board from 2009-2013. Her Amnesty engagement has included work on numerous committees, film festival organizing, Urgent Action member, participating in regional meetings, monthly donor and an international delegate in 2015.

    With more than 25 years of experience in leading and managing teams, Lana brings expertise in organizational change management, communication, operational excellence, working with cross functional teams and building consensus. Human resource education and numerous certifications are additional skills that help to contribute to effective Board work.www.lanaverran.com.

    Having grown up in Northern Ontario and Winnipeg, and a professional career that has taken her to Halifax, Toronto and now Vancouver, Lana has a great appreciation for the rich diversity of both people and geography within Canada. Leisure time in Vancouver includes reading, cycling, walking and the occasional mountain hike.

    Gary Ockenden, Vice President 

    Gary has been an AI member and donor for 30 years. He is engaged with the Urgent Action and WARN Networks, is active in Nelson BC’s Action Circle #55 and has served on Branch Committees and the board previous to this stint.  He has a consulting business that supports NGOs and other institutions with planning, stakeholder engagement and governance development and worked for 15 years for the Canadian and International Red Cross when younger.

    Gary visits, and is involved in activities, in a small village in Jalisco, Mexico; paddles and hikes in the Kootenays; reads voraciously; and spends time with his adult children Ryan and Zoey whenever he can.

     

     

    Juliet Woodfield, Treasurer

    Ms. Woodfield joined Defence Construction Canada's Executive Management Team in September 2016. She brings more than 20 years of public and private sector experience, and was most recently the Vice-President, Corporate Services and CFO at the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. She has worked with a variety of government organizations and has also served as the Deputy Chief Financial Officer of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Security Investment Program in Brussels, Belgium. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Calgary. She has two daughters at university. She volunteers at the Ottawa Catholic Immigration Services of Ottawa as a career mentor for new Canadians and at the Immigrant Women’s Services Ottawa as a Board member (Treasurer).

     

     

    Bill Rafoss, Chair

    Bill was first elected to the Amnesty International Canada Board in 2015, and was acclaimed as Board Chair in 2017. Bill is an active member of Group 33 in Saskatoon. For over 25 years, Bill was the chief investigating officer at the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, and since 2006 has been a Sessional Instructor in the Political Studies Department at the University of Saskatchewan and St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon. 

    Bill is Past-President of a newcomer settlement agency in Saskatoon. He has been to Africa seval times, including 2013 when he worked as an election observer in the Kenyan national election. Bill has assisted in training human rights agencies in Mongolia, the Cayman Islands, and South Sudan.

    Patrick Newton Bondo, Director

    Patrick Newton Bondo has been active member of Amnesty International New Zealand since 2004 and joins Amnesty International Canada in 2017; he was born in Democratic Republic of the Congo- ex. Zaire. He speaks English, French, Swahili, Zulu, Bemba and Luba. He graduated in Social Services from Te Wananga O Aotearoa (University of New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand), in Development Leadership from St. Francis Xavier University (Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada) and in Executive Leadership from  Sauder School of Business of University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada). 

    Patrick Newton Bondo has worked in executive positions in the past 15 years in non-profit sector, partnering with United Nations agencies, government departments, private sectors, civil societies and non-governmental organizations in developed and developing countries around the world. He has worked for the Youth Justice of the New Zealand government. He is an international development officer and NGOs representative to the United Nations. He has travelled intensively around the world.

    He is inspired by those that can look beyond today's current challenges to see the big picture and by those that believe they can influence positive change that will result in better outcomes. 

    Patrick Newton Bondo will continue working to advocate, campaign, protect and empower children, youth, women, men, asylum seekers, refugees, LGBT youth and voiceless people in Canada and around the world. Together we are stronger, Always!

    Sarah Damberger, Director

    Sarah has been involved with Amnesty in Calgary, Alberta since 2009 in a number of different roles. After reviving and leading the University of Calgary chapter for four years, she was hired by Amnesty Canada to the position of Southern Alberta Organizer, where she assessed activism in the area and identified opportunities for improving communication and engagement. Sarah then moved into the role of Local Organizer and joined the Fieldworker program before being elected to the board in 2016. During her time on the board, Sarah has been involved in a number of different initiatives, including the 2017 Calgary AGM Planning Committee and AGM Evaluation working group.

    Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Communications Studies from the University of Calgary. Her honours research focused on online activism campaigns and their effectiveness in supporting activist movements. While she is interested in a wide variety of human rights issues, she is most passionate about women's rights and indigenous rights in Canada.

    When she isn't volunteering with Amnesty, Sarah works as a consultant at management consulting firm in Calgary and is an active member of a number of University of Calgary Alumni committees. 

    Raheel Zaman, Director

    Raheel is a Professional Engineer and Certified Management Consultant with over 20 years of experience in the public and non-profit sectors. He specializes in assisting organizations with their business strategy and information technology management needs. Raheel has worked in senior level positions within the federal government and multi-national consulting organizations. He is the Founder and President of NordKapp Consulting Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in supporting public sector and non-profit organizations.

    Over the last five years, Raheel has had the privilege of working on many projects with Amnesty International Canada, at both the local and national levels. Raheel was first elected to the Amnesty International Canada Board of Directors in 2016. 

     

    Athavarn Srikantharajah, Director

    After growing up in Toronto, Athavarn moved to Ottawa to pursue post-secondary studies. Athavarn is currently completing his Bachelor’s of Social Science with an Honours Specialization in Sociology at the University of Ottawa as a McCall MacBain Loran Scholar (2016). Athavarn is passionate about human rights and social justice and comes to the board with several years experience in community organizing, youth work, and policy development. He has been involved with AI Canada English Speaking for over 5 years, starting off a student-group member. He has held roles as a youth organizer, member of the National Youth Action and Advisory Committee, and as part of the ICM/GA Delegation.

    Currently, Athavarn works at Youth Futures, a program working to promote post-secondary education for communities in Ottawa that do not have equitable access to it. He focuses on their alumni engagement and digital strategy, along with acting as a mentor for their participants.  He also spends his spare time at the uOttawa Refugee Hub, where he supports communications, design, and event planning. He contributes to similar work at PEARL (People for Equality and Relief in Lanka) an organization focusing on justice for Tamil people. Athavarn hopes to pursue a career in community work and public policy.

    Lee Seymour, Director

    Lee lives in Halifax with her husband and dog, a black lab. She has worked with charitable organizations all her life, primarily as a fundraiser, first with Oxfam Canada and, most recently, as Co-Director of Development with Amnesty International in Ottawa, until 2010. After six years of fundraising consulting, Lee is now finally retired and enjoying being a grandmother, gardening and volunteering. She has served on many Board as both Director and Chairperson. She was most recently Chairperson of the Halifax Refugee Welcome group, which brought five Syrians to Canada over a year ago.  

    Lee has also served on the Board of the Halifax based environmental group, The Ecology Action Centre and was Chairperson of the Nova Scotia Citizens Health Coalition for five years. She is looking forward to working again with Amnesty International Canada, in the capacity of Board Director. 

    Sarah Morales, Director

    Sarah Morales, JD (UVic), LLM (University of Arizona), PhD (UVic), PostDoc (Illinois) is Coast Salish and a member of Cowichan Tribes. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law where she teaches torts, Aboriginal law, Indigenous legal traditions and international human rights, with a focus on Indigenous peoples. Sarah’s research centres on Indigenous legal traditions, specifically the traditions of the Coast Salish people, Aboriginal law and human rights. Specifically, she is committed to the recognition and reconciliation of Indigenous legal traditions with the common law and civil law traditions in Canada.

    In addition to these academic interests, Sarah has been actively involved with Indigenous nations and NGOs across Canada through her work in nation building, inherent rights recognition and international human rights law. Her community-based research has resulted in the creation of policies and procedures that are reflective of the laws and legal orders of the communities who utilize them.


    Staff Leadership 

    Alex Neve, Secretary General

    Alex Neve became Secretary General in January 2000. He shares the senior leadership with the Executive Director. Alex is the primary spokesperson for the Branch. Among his many other duties he has participated in Amnesty International missions to South Sudan, Côte d’Ivoïre, Tanzania, Ghana, Mexico, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Guinea, Honduras, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Guantánamo Bay and Grassy Narrows, Ontario.

    He has represented Amnesty International at international meetings such as the Summit of the Americas and the G8 Summit. He has appeared before numerous Canadian parliamentary committees as well as various UN and Inter-American human rights bodies. He appears and writes regularly in the media and speaks to audiences across the country on a range of human rights topics.

    Alex is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Centre for International Justice and a member of the Board of Directors of Partnership Africa Canada and the Centre for Law and Democracy. He served as a Trudeau Foundation Mentor from 2008-2009.

    Alex holds a Bachelor Laws from Dalhousie and an LL.M In International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex. In 2009 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the University of New Brunswick. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2007.

    Jayne Stoyles, Executive Director

     Jayne Stoyles joined as Executive Director in September 2016, sharing leadership of the organization with its Secretary General.

    She is a lawyer and international human rights advocate who served as Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) until 2016, and continues her involvement with CCIJ as an Advisory Committee Member. She is also a current member of the Board of Directors of the International Institute for Criminal Investigations.

    Jayne was the Founder & CEO of the Philippe Kirsch Institute and has previously served as the Program Director of the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court in New York, a global network of 2,000 NGOs that helped bring about the establishment of the Court. During her tenure, the Coalition was twice nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She has also been a Senior Adviser to the Institute for Global Policy in New York on issues of human security, UN reform and international justice, provided International Humanitarian Law training for the Red Cross, and taught international law at Carleton University in Canada.

    Jayne was awarded a lifetime Ashoka Canada Fellowship in 2008, was the 2010 winner of the Walter S. Tarnopolsky Human Rights Award and of the 2010 Lord Reading Law Society Human Rights Award. She was named one of Ottawa’s Top 50 People by Ottawa Life Magazine, and has been featured in Canadian legal magazine The Precedent and in the on-line Charity Village Spotlight. 

    Jayne regularly speaks and writes about international justice issues, coalition-building, social enterprise and non-profit management. She holds a Bachelor of Law (L.L.B) and a Bachelor of Arts (Hon.) from Queen’s University. 

    Directors

    Gordon Mair, Director of Finance and Administration

    Gordon Mair has been the Branch’s Director of Finance and Administration since March 2008 after holding similar positions with Sierra Club Canada, CARE International in Zambia, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in New Caledonia, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in Costa Rica. Previously he had worked for Forestry Canada and for the Office of the Auditor General.

    Gordon has overall responsibility for the financial management of the Branch, including the preparation of financial statements, monitoring of revenue and expenses, risk management, health and safety, and liaison with auditors. He and his team carry out all of the financial functions for the Branch and the administrative functions related to the National Office.

    He has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Carleton University and a CMA designation.

    Rosemary Oliver, Director of Fundraising

    Rosemary Oliver joined Amnesty International Canada as Director of Fundraising in August 1999, after seven years as the Fundraising Director for Greenpeace Canada and five years on fundraising staff at Oxfam.  She manages Amnesty Canada’s Fundraising Team whose members carry out programs in monthly giving, legacy gifts, major donors, direct mail, digital, telemarketing and face-to-face fundraising.

    In addition to her fundraising efforts for Amnesty Canada, Rosemary was an active member of Amnesty’s global Fundraising Management Team for six years until 2015, and worked briefly as the monthly giving coordinator for Amnesty USA.

    Rosemary enjoys sharing her passion for fundraising with others in the sector, and has spoken frequently at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Congress and Fundraising Day in Toronto, the International AFP Conference in the US (most recently in Boston, 2016), and at the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands.

    Rosemary graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Arts, holds a Certificate in Fund Raising Management from Humber College, and earned her professional CFRE designation (Certified Fundraising Executive) in 1991. 


    Meet the members of the 2018-2019 National Youth Action and Advisory Committee 

    The National Youth Action and Advisory Committee (NYAAC) is a national youth body that takes action on youth mobilization in addition to advising Amnesty International Canada English-Speaking (AICES)’s members, leaders and staff on youth participation in various aspects of human rights work including governance, campaigns and activism.

    Members of NYAAC are happy to respond to questions about their work with Amnesty Canada. Please contact us here.

    Maha Asad, President

    Maha at a protest holding a sign that has the Amnesty International logo on it. Maha is a second-year student at McGill University, completing a double-major in International Development Studies and Economics, with a minor in Mathematics. She began working with Amnesty at age 15, volunteering with Amnesty International Toronto’s youth council. Following her recent experience representing AI Canada (ES) at Amnesty’s first International Youth Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, she brought together the new 2018-2020 NYAAC team. Over the years, she has become extremely passionate about meaningful youth engagement and leadership.  

    Outside Amnesty, she is interested in journalism, research, and policy surrounding human rights. She has written for the McGill International Review with a broad focus on human rights issues, and is currently a research intern for Women in Cities International, where she is working on the Right to Campus project to improve the adequacy and availability of resources on university campuses in Montréal. Maha is also an executive member of the McGill chapter of Amnesty International, and an editor for The Matchstick, AI Canada’s youth newspaper.

    In the future, she hopes to achieve NYAAC’s goals and further her human rights education, but also eat dessert at every single café in the city of Montréal.

    Roshni Khemraj 

    Roshni has completed her Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from York University and is currently a first year student at Osgoode Hall Law School. In addition to being the former President of her Amnesty International campus group and a member of the NYAAC, she is a member of Plan International Canada’s Youth Advisory Council where she was an inaugural participant in the Girls Belong Here initiative having taken over the role of Plan’s CEO on International Day of the Girl 2016, and she had the unique opportunity to be employed by Plan in 2018 as a Summer Associate of Youth Advocacy. In these roles, she enjoys researching and implementing new and creative ways to engage and work with young people in the areas of campaigning, activism and engagement.

    Roshni hopes to channel her passion and experience with youth engagement, human rights, social justice and gender equality to her new chapter in legal advocacy.

    When not engrossed in advocacy and leather-bound law books, Roshni can be found taking long walks in nature, pausing to pick up sticks and flourishing them in the hope of discovering that she is in fact a witch and her Hogwarts letter simply got lost in the mail.

    Muriam Fancie 

    Muriam is in her fourth year at University of Toronto. She is completing her major in Peace, Conflict, and Justice with a double minor in Indigenous studies and Diaspora & Transnational studies. Muriam’s first interaction with Amnesty International was when she was in grade 10 witnessing Amnesty International lawyers working with Indigenous communities to defend their human rights in Canada. Muriam’s work centres around working with minority groups in grassroots environments.

    She currently works with Syrian newcomers in coordinating English-Arabic workshop, as well helps to provide education, housing, and social services. Moreover, she works with a UN organization to promote international SDG education projects. Finally, she also worked at a housing centre that promoted eviction prevention based on the Ontario human rights code. Muriam will continue her education to learn more about how to promote human rights through policy and law.

    Fatima Beydoun 

    Fatima is a second-year student at Dalhousie University on the un-ceded, un-surrendered Mi’kmaq territory of Halifax (K'jipuktuk), Nova Scotia, where she also hails from. She is currently pursuing a double major in Environment, Sustainability and Society and International Development Studies with a minor in French. She was first introduced to Amnesty International Canada in Grade 11 when she attended a workshop hosted in Halifax, where it was her first time learning about murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada by hearing the story of Loretta Saunders from her sibling Delilah. This experience was a tipping point that fully ignited a passion to learn more about the injustices around her and to use her privileges to make a difference where needed in addition to motivating those around her to get involved in doing so as well. Since that moment, she became a youth organizer and is currently the Co-president of the Amnesty Club at Dalhousie, in addition to being the only member from the Maritimes on NYAAC.

    Aside from her involvement with Amnesty, Fatima is active in student politics on her campus, where she currently sits on the student union council as the Arts and Social Sciences Faculty Representative.

    Furthermore, Fatima is involved with environmental and racial activism both on and off campus, where she works towards promoting sustainable practices as a steering committee member in the Sustainability Office, and advocates for more support and resources to students of different intersecting marginalized backgrounds as the Chair of Advocacy for the Black, Indigenous, People of Colour Caucus (BIPOCUS) at Dalhousie. When she is not attending meetings or cramming for last minutes assignments, Fatima enjoys watching international films (where her Cancer shines through in her sobbing moments) and eating as many desserts as she can in one sitting.

     

    Cassandra DeFreitas 

    Cassandra is in her third year of Honours Critical Social Work with a minor in Human Rights and Equity Studies at York University in Toronto. Originally, however, she is from a small town further north of Toronto called Aurora. Currently, she is the President of Amnesty International’s chapter at York University where she has got to collaborate with the World University Service of Canada, UNICEF, the Redress Project and the Canadian Council for Refugees, to name a few. Cassandra is also the Co- Chair/ President for Amnesty International Toronto’s Action Network on Women’s Human Rights, along with being a member of the NYAAC.

    Outside of Amnesty, Cassandra is a Youth Advocate for Women, Newborn, Maternal and Child Health Rights and Access with Plan International Canada, and is also a speaker for their Because I am a Girl campaign. Formerly, Cassandra mentored at risk youth and was a director on her faculty’s student council.  During her summers, Cassandra has been employed with the provincial and municipal government at Ontario Works and Ontario Community Housing, aiding at-risk and marginalized communities by connecting them to services and programs in their area.

    Within her activism and practice, Cassandra is extremely passionate about critically analyzing systematic issues through a trauma informed, anti- oppressive, feminist lens. Cassandra works to engage her community in current initiatives and activism as this niche of work was a taboo topic in her hometown. Cassandra hopes to take her skills and front line experience as a social worker and her passion for human rights, equity, and justice to the international scope by pursuing an internationally based Masters program within Social Work and Community Development & Empowerment. When not discussing human rights abuses or attending lectures and conferences, Cassandra can be found running in the trails as she hopes to run half a marathon by the time she is 22, baking, attending concerts, or visiting with friends and family.

    Almeera Khalid 

    Almeera is a current third-year student pursuing a double major in Criminology and Ethics, Society and Law along with a minor in Political Science.She is interested in how law and policy translates back into society and is passionate about immigration and foreign policy, human rights, and creating/ sharing a space for people of colour to step up into leadership. Almeera is a dedicated activist and has been an organizer and activist with Amnesty for more than 5 years. She has previously held the position of the Student Activist Coordinator for the state of Michigan for AIUSA.  She is currently the vice-president for Amnesty International at the University of Toronto. She looks forward to not only grow as an activist but to support those around her—especially shedding light on the many voices in her community. In her free time, Almeera is an adrenaline junkie who is looking for the next thing to cross off her bucket list.

    Aidan Sander 

    Aidan Sander is an eleventh-grade student who is currently attending Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific in British Columbia where he has enjoyed meeting many people from diverse cultural and social backgrounds. He joined the council with the hope of gaining more knowledge about Amnesty International and meaningfully contributing to the implementation of the National Youth Strategy. Aside from sitting on the NYAAC, Aidan enjoys reading, playing badminton and volleyball, kayaking, expedition sailing, and canoeing.

    Anjali Choudhary 

    Anjali is a grade 11 student currently attending school in Calgary. She is excited to explore her passion of human rights and youth advocacy with Amnesty. Anjali strives to build a better community locally, nationally, and internationally. She volunteers with individuals of all ages through running a variety of programs at a senior home and coaching soccer for young kids. Anjali hopes to continue her education and further her knowledge on promoting human rights and social justice through law.

    Kamila Graczyk 

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