Board Candidates for 2019
Each candidate has provided a personal statement and a video statement when possible.
The personal statement provides candidates the opportunity to summarize their skills, experience, characteristics and strengths that they would bring to the Board, as well as to provide a personal rationale for pursuing a position on the Board of Directors. Candidates have been limited to 250 words.
The personal and video statements for each candidate can be viewed by clicking the links below.
Position: Board Chair (2 Year Term)
Candidate: Lee Seymour
I am seeking election to the position of Board Chair for AICS(ES). I have sat on the Amnesty Canada board as a Director for the past 2 years. During that time, I have sat on the Finance and Audit Committee and also chaired the board Development and Evaluation Committee. My specific board interests, in addition to our mission, are in the area of finance, fundraising, strategic planning and governance.
I feel that I know Amnesty's work very well as I worked as Fundraising Co-Director from 2005-2010 and sat on the senior management team in that capacity. I have also had a lot of experience in chairing non-profit boards. Most recently I chaired our 40 group strong Refugees Welcome Here Group in Halifax and was also the chair of the Nova Scotia Citizen's Health Care Coalition for five years.
I fully support and am excited about moving towards the Amnesty envisaged by Kumi and others. One in which we might be bolder and more effective in dealing with the challenges we face globally.
Position: Treasurer (1- Year Term)
Candidate: Tara Vicckies
As a CPA CGA, I’ve worked as an Accountant for over 20 years in various sectors and industries in the Ottawa area. Through this varied work experience, I’ve come to understand ‘best practices’ and how successful organizations are run. I’m currently employed full-time as an Accounting Manager at a non-profit in the health sector promoting safe medical care, a volunteer Board member of 6 years for a local not-for-profit organization supporting holistic health, and am on the Executive for my community association where we work to bring together a more integrated and cohesive neighborhood. My work experience has provided me with the knowledge of what makes organizations great – it’s really about taking care of the fundamentals like policy, procedures, processes, solid financials, and effective communication -- so that the ‘real’ work can be achieved with as few impediments possible. As a long-time supporter of Amnesty, I was involved in organizing the first local Yoga-thon and continued to be involved until it eventually became a national event. It was a great experience to work with the staff in Ottawa and it would be my sincere pleasure to support Amnesty’s work further through the Treasurer role.
4 DIRECTOR POSITIONS (2 Year Term)
There are 14 candidates for these 4 positions. The order in which they are listed is not preferential, they are listed in alphabetical order from Z to A.
Candidate 1: Sarah Koch-Schulte
Purposeful, defiant optimism! This is a defining characteristic I bring to the Board. The global human rights movement has influenced my journey through life in profound ways, and I hope to sustain and channel this vision for the next generation of young people. At the heart of the world’s leading human rights organization are Amnesty International's supporters, members and advocates. Please vote for me to serve you on the Board
Thinks big with elegant implementation! My two decades of practical experience in human rights research, non-profit philanthropy & fundraising, and volunteer leadership includes prior staff roles with Amnesty International, Plan International, and Friends of the United Nations Population Fund. I Co-authored the book "Can Anyone Hear Us? Voices from 47 Countries" (Oxford University Press 2000), was a Visiting Scholar at Cornell University, completed an MA in Community & Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, and hold a BA Honours from University of Winnipeg. Raised on a family farm on Treaty One territory, I am a friend to my Indigenous sisters and brothers on Turtle Island.
Candidate 2: Mohamed Huque
My personal and professional experiences have shaped me to look at the world beyond my own. To view the privileges I hold in relation to those who are denied them and contribute to building a more just society. Throughout my career, I have carried that sense of deep responsibility in my various roles and that same guiding mission drives me to serve on the board of Amnesty International Canada.
Today, I am a philanthropy consultant and strategist where I advise foundations around the world on how to create greater impact with their charitable activities. As a former nonprofit executive, I have led multiple organizations, always with the aim to impact the communities I serve and the causes I am championing. In addition, I bring nearly a decade of governance experience serving on the boards of national charities, as well as local nonprofits. At the heart of all my work has been a commitment to equity, to ensure the voices of those directly impacted are always centred.
I bring to this position the sum of my experiences. I am a first generation Canadian, a child of parents who survived through a brutal civil war that gave birth to Bangladesh. Those stories defined my political outlook. I am a Muslim living in a post-9/11 society where my very identity has become politicized. That perspective has led me to seek solidarity with other marginalized groups. And I am a third sector worker, committed to advancing social development in all my various capacities. Mohamed
Candidate 3: Maritza Sanchez
I have been interested in Amnesty International ever since I learned about its work, mission and vision. The reason for aspiring to be a part of this organization stems from the experiences that I have had as the daughter of political refugees and from working in the none-profit sector for over 25 years with marginalized, and racialized communities. I am a social worker by profession and I have worked in the roles of community worker, mental health counsellor and for the past 12 years in the position of Executive Director.
In the last 25 years I have gained tremendous insight, knowledge, and skills from working on the front lines with people and communities that are marginalized, and my role as Executive Director coupled with my experience of participating on various boards has taught me a great deal about the opportunities and challenges that the non-profit sector experiences.
Candidate 4: Marilyn Verghis
As a young, first-generation Canadian woman of colour I would like to bring both my lived experience and strong academic background in international studies with a postcolonial feminist focus (one that considers histories of colonialism, globalization, race and gender perspectives as central to human rights discourses) to the important work of Amnesty International Canada. While young people are often tokenized or involved in ornamental ways in the international sector, Amnesty International’s meaningful engagement of youth is a rare opportunity for young people to be engaged as organizers and activists and tap into our generation’s deep commitment to a more equitable and just world. As a youth organizer, I have considerable experience mobilizing fellow young people toward collective advocacy and action. In 2017 I founded, and now direct, a rapidly growing, entirely youth-led grassroots equity advocacy organization in my hometown of Brampton, Ontario, an underserved community of the Greater Toronto Area. Opportunities for youth engagement have also given me an early entry to the work of leading Canadian organizations, like Equal Voice Canada and Harmony Movement, and helped me build the skills and knowledge of organizational governance that equipped me to later take on roles as director and committee chair of national and local boards from a relatively young age. Now, working as a DEI specialist in one of the largest and busiest hospital systems in Canada, I am also eager to bring professional expertise in DEI to the governance work of Amnesty International.
Candidate 5: Mante Molepo
I believe my personal and professional experience will enable me to contribute to the realization of Amnesty’s mission and vision to uphold fundamental human rights for people around the world. My father was a political refugee, having fled South Africa’s apartheid regime. I understand the challenges faced by many people who Amnesty works to protect. I have a background in law, specializing in international trade law and human rights. For several years, I worked as legal counsel to the Government of Canada during the negotiations of key free trade agreements, focusing on public health, labour and environmental issues. I have drafted legal and policy advice on gender rights, forced labour in the global economy, and business and human rights. I also founded Parents for Diversity, a collective of parents committed to addressing discrimination in schools and advocating for equity in education. I work on issues related to anti-racism, intersectionality, gender and sexual rights, and I examine the impact of laws and policies on students’ rights in the education system. In 2018, I was recognized as one of Canada’s 100 Accomplished Black Women for my advocacy efforts. I also believe in the importance of diverse and inclusive workplaces and organizations. I deliver workshops and speaking engagements on how businesses and organizations can address unconscious bias, and attract and retain diverse talent. As a board member on two non-profit organizations, I continue to gain experience in governance and advocate on issues related to social justice.
Candidate 7: Kristin Douglas
Human rights—two words that have defined my personal and professional journey and career. Being involved with several charities that advocate for human rights as a young adult, I continued on to complete my MSc in Human Rights and International Politics. The focus of my dissertation was Political Prisoners in the U.S. and U.S. Compliance with International Human Rights Norms.
Not only do I bring knowledge of Canadian & International human rights issues, I also bring several years of non-profit experience that includes fundraising expertise, experience in organizational development, financial management skills and top-notch communications and public engagement skills. My work experience includes working as a Campaign Manager with Plan Canada, a Fund Development Manager with Cystic Fibrosis Canada, a Strategic Partnerships Manager with the Welcome Centre Shelter for Women and Families and now as the Executive Director of Ethiopiaid Canada.
I’ve often been told that I have a ‘contagious enthusiasm’ and I would love nothing more than to bring this enthusiasm to Amnesty International Canada as a Board Member. I am committed to giving generously of my time, my ideas and my passion.
I am honored to be considered for this exciting opportunity to contribute to such a meaningful cause and I hope that I will get the chance to contribute to the work of Amnesty International Canada as well as to use and further develop my skills and be part of a dynamic, diverse Board of Directors.
Candidate 7: Jennifer Breakspear
I hope to join the Board of Directors of Amnesty International Canada and apply the breadth and depth of my experience as an human rights activist and non-profit management professional to the governance and oversight of AI Canada. My activism on human rights issues started in my teens and has involved taking action and speaking out on a diversity of human rights issues including queer rights, labour, housing, access to health care, and civil and political rights. I hold an undergraduate degree in Public Affairs and Policy Management with a specialization in Human Rights Policy from Carleton University and I have done graduate work in legal studies, specifically international human rights law. I have considerable governance experience having sat on a number of non-profit boards and taught governance and board roles and responsibilities to non-profit boards and staff. I have served as Executive Director of important non-profit organizations in Vancouver (QMUNITY – BC’s Queer Resource Centre, Options for Sexual Health, and PHS Community Services Society also known as the Portland Hotel Society which set up the first supervised injection site in North America) where I’ve been ultimately responsible for all aspects of the organizations’ performance including program delivery, finances, fundraising, communications, and HR. I’ve built a reputation as a leader with integrity and compassion. It would be an honour to apply my experience and passion for rights to service on the AI Canada board.
Candidate 8: Janice Bothello
I am thrilled to put forward my name as a candidate for a Director position on Amnesty International Canada’s Board of Directors. While my experience with Amnesty is limited largely to the past year, it has deeply influenced my decision to pursue this candidacy. I’ve been profoundly motivated by the work of Amnesty around the world through my own job at The Refugee Hub at the University of Ottawa, working with your country offices on promoting community sponsorship of refugees in Ireland, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, Iceland, Denmark and of course the International Secretariat. I also had an opportunity to moderate a panel on welcoming communities at AI Canada in October 2018, which was a wonderful experience.
The experience and skill set that I bring to this role will support Amnesty’s work around organizational development and institutional strengthening. I have worked in international development for over 10 years, focused on food security and the economic empowerment of women and youth in marginalized communities. In management roles in country offices around the world, I have worked hard on issues such as diversity, inclusion, gender equality, and accountability, which would be important contributions to the set of skills the Board of Directors of any organization must possess.
While new to Amnesty, I believe that my perspective as an “outsider” would be beneficial to your important work and am hopeful to support in whatever way is most meaningful in advancing your mission of social justice in Canada and around the world.
Thank you for considering me!
Candidate 9: Jacobi Herringer
I have been a dedicated volunteer and donor to Amnesty International for over 5 years. I am currently the president of the Amnesty University of Saskatchewan group 91 as well as an active member of the Amnesty Saskatoon group 33. As the president of the Amnesty Usask group, it was my job to organize, advertise, budget and apply for funding for our campus events such as Stop Killing the Rohingya, where I showcased a local Burmese activist who came and talked to students about what was occurring in the region. During this event we also raised money for the displaced Rohingya refugees. Another event that I held on campus was a film screening of This is Home: A Refugee Story which was an award winner of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The film gave the students a comprehensive understanding of what Syrian refugees immigrating to America go through. The event was followed with a local guest speaker from the Saskatoon Refugee Coalition that gave the students a Canadian perspective on the issue. Both events were free to the students and faculty as well as offered food and refreshments.
I bring many qualities to the Amnesty International Board of Directors such as strong leadership skills, good communication, and extreme personability. I recently received my Bachelor of Commerce with a major in marketing and a certificate in International Studies from the U of S. Before I began academia I backpacked through 16 countries, living and working in India, Australia, and the United States. I believe that my past business marketing knowledge, as well as my travel experience, makes me a great asset to a global non- profit organization like Amnesty. I am very eager to join the Amnesty International team and know that together we can help fight human rights abuses happening worldwide.
Candidate 10: Gary Isaacs
I am relatively new to Amnesty International having been a volunteer now for approximately 18 months. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope the opportunity to be a Director will allow me to expand my participation. I participate in ANWR, The Women's Action Group , the regional Durham group and write letters for urgent action monthly. I have walked in the International Women's Day march in Toronto twice with the Amnesty team and helped staff the Amnesty table at Kensington market last summer. I have participated twice in the Write for Rights event in Toronto. I spent my career in sales and marketing at IBM, Cisco and Bell Canada. I have extensive experience working on and collaborating with teams. I was the executive sponsor at IBM Canada for their Diversity team and initiatives. It was a great experience and we had a great deal of success. I have managed large teams of people, have experience with HR issues, financial controls. I have also been involved in some fundraising. I am very excited about the opportunity to apply for the Director role!
Candidate 11: Cassandra Schwarz
I have a passion for human rights that has guided my academic and professional career. I obtained an undergraduate honours degree in Development Studies from the University of Calgary and a Masters in Human Rights and International Politics from the University of Glasgow. I had the chance to live in South Africa and see first hand the ongoing effects of apartheid with economic inequalities permeating the country. I also conducted research on maternal healthcare in Ghana. My academic background and international experience fueled my desire to continue to advocate for the promotion of human rights in Canada and internationally.
I currently hold the position of Executive Director of the Kamloops & District Elizabeth Fry Society where we focus on improving the lives of women and families in our community. As a feminist organization, our work centres on empowering women and advocating for systematic change to address societal inequalities. I have a keen interest in supporting the work of Amnesty International Canada’s on women’s rights.
I would like to join the Amnesty Canada Board of Directors because I feel I can add a unique perspective with my academic, international and local experiences working in the non-profit sector in British Columbia. I am excited about the opportunity to be considered for a position on the Board of Directors.
Competency Framework Survey
Candidate 12: Berta Alicia Ramirez-Galan
Since I have a sister who was disappeared in El Salvador, since we were University Students I have been involved in human rights for a big part of my life and have being an activist and part of various boards related to this field.
Beside it I have some work experience and studies in accounting, administration, database management, fundraising, Information technology. I am also an author and have been a director for various newsletters, including the Fieldworkers Notes. I also supported my mother in her endeavors to confound the Salvadorian Committee for the disappeared "Monsenor Bishop Romero”, The Central American Association ACAFADE and the Latin American Association FEDEFAM, now with a second degree of consultation for the economic and social Council of UN.
Candidate 13: Abigail Greenidge
I am standing for the position of Director and am committed to helping Amnesty Canada achieve its mission. My volunteer, professional, and educational experience has given me a solid understanding of various human rights issues. As an example, in my volunteer role as a Human Rights Complaints Coordinator in Greece (2018), I documented human rights violations that occurred within and around refugee camps in Athens and on the Greek islands. I also submitted complaints to the Greek Ombudsman and UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants.
I have fundraising experience, acquired through volunteer work with Empire State Pride Agenda in New York (2015) and through my involvement on an events committee with Kids Help Phone in Montreal (2012-13). Previous professional experience includes time served as the lead of a committee tasked with organizing a large annual staff meeting involving various stakeholders. My work has also helped me gain a solid understanding of Canadian human rights norms applied in the workplace.
In addition, I have a Masters degree in Human Rights and International Politics obtained from the University of Glasgow as well as a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Management from McGill University.
I have a strong appreciation for learning, exceptional interpersonal and leadership skills, and take pride in the work I do. With this, I am confident I can successfully fulfill the duties on the Board of Directors of Amnesty Canada.
Candidate 14: Abdul Basit Jam
It gives me great pleasure to submit my candidacy for the Board of Directors of Amnesty International, Canada. I am really thrilled by the prospect of joining such a great organization and a superb team of people.
I would like to start by describing why I want to serve in the Board of Directors of Amnesty International. I believe the answer lies its mission and objectives that I value immensely. I equally admire the determination and tireless efforts of its people to contribute to the development of mankind and create the kind of world that we all want to live in.
I am someone who believes in playing his part in changing the world for the better and bringing about the much-needed change. I have always championed and spoken in favour of human rights, equal economic opportunities, and good governance.
I am well and truly a global citizen. My vision of a perfect world is where human rights and good governance are a rule rather than an exception. A world which is free from discrimination of any kind. A world where rule of law is applicable to everyone regardless of his/her status in the society. Given the current status quo and enormity of the situation, realizing this vision requires us to contribute to the cause both individually and collectively.
During the span of its existence, Amnesty International has achieved a lot and we should all be proud of its endeavours. However, there is so much more that we can and should do achieve the momentous task ahead of us.
With more than fifteen years of experience in different roles, most of it being with an international development financing institution, I believe I have the right combination of experience, skills and credentials to take on this challenging role. I will bring with me an in-depth knowledge of developing countries’ human rights and socio-economic issues, excellent international diplomacy, conflict resolution, research, problem solving, organizational management and stakeholder’s management skills. This is complemented by my excellent soft skills and dedication and integrity that are basic characteristics of my personality.
I sincerely hope that you will find me an ideal candidate for the Board of Directors and will elect me for the same. I so look forward to meeting you and working with you soon. Abdul Basit Jam