The Staff

Executive Director & General Counsel

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv

She/Her

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv joined the CCLA in 2002 and has directed both CCLA’s Equality and Freedom of Expression programs, writing, appearing and advocating on such issues as refugee protection, 2SLGBTQI+ rights, racial profiling, reproductive justice, freedom of expression, religion, and the intersection of rights. Noa has stewarded litigation for the organization, including CCLA’s Bill 21, abortion access, and solitary confinement challenges, and dozens of interventions in courts across the country. She has appeared before Parliamentary and provincial legislative committees and other public bodies. Noa has also initiated creative advocacy projects to support, engage and empower marginalized communities, and provided guest lectures and workshops through CCLET’s public education project. She frequently engages the public through opinion pieces, blogs, and commentary in the media.

Noa obtained her LL.B. and LL.M. (cum laude) from the Hebrew University in Israel, and her B.A. (with distinction) from York University. She completed her legal articles at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and was called to the Israeli Bar in 1998. Noa has also practiced litigation, labour, and commercial law in Jerusalem, and served as Acting Administrative Director of Hebrew University Law Faculty’s Center for Human Rights.

Special Advisor on Anti-Black Racism

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah

He/Him

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah BA (Carleton) MA, PhD (Toronto) is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto and a Senior Fellow at Massey College. His work examines the intersections of race, crime and criminal justice, with a particular focus in the area of policing. Prof. Owusu-Bempah began his academic career in the United States at Indiana University, Bloomington. Prior to becoming a professor, he held positions with Canada’s National Judicial Institute, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Prof Owusu-Bempah is frequently sought out to provide commentary and advice to police agencies, government bodies, community organizations, and media outlets on matters relating to policing, justice and social inequality. He also publishes regularly in both academic and popular forums. He is the author (with Prof. Shaun Gabbidon) of Race, Ethnicity, Crime and Justice: An International Dilemma.

Special Advisor, Indigenous Issues

Alain Bartleman

He/Him

Alain Bartleman is a lawyer. He works for a firm specialised in Aboriginal law where he represents Indigenous clients.

Alain is a member of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation (Mnjikaning). Alain studied law at the Institut des Etudes Politiques de Paris, the University of Geneva, as well as McGill University.

He speaks French and English.

Alain regularly comments on Indigenous legal issues in English and French media.

Director, Criminal Justice Program

Abby Deshman

She/Her

Abby Deshman is a lawyer and the Director of the Criminal Justice Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. She also teaches at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto, and is a Mentor with the Law Practice Program at Ryerson University. Previously, she served as a Corrections Advisor on the Ontario government’s Independent Review of Corrections and as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Abby has also worked with the United Nations High Council for Refugees in Kenya and Human Rights Watch’s Terrorism/Counterterrorism division in New York.

At CCLA, Abby has led advocacy and analysis in a wide range of issue areas including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, police powers and oversight, and the criminal justice system. The author of numerous reports, articles and opinion pieces, her most recent work focuses on the bail system and police record checks. Abby graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law with an Hons J.D. in 2008, and obtained an LL.M. from New York University in 2010.

 

Director of Education

April Julian

She/Her

April Julian joined the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust in 2009. She became Deputy Director of Education in 2014, and Director in 2016. She is responsible for coordinating and delivering CCLET’s various education initiatives in Ontario and beyond. In conjunction with her colleagues at CCLA/CCLET, April delivers civil liberties workshops and programming to various audiences of approximately 10,000 learners per year – including elementary and high school students, pre-service and in-service teachers, newcomers to Canada, and youth in custody. As an Ontario Certified Teacher, April also develops educational resources that encourage learners of all ages to gain a deeper understanding of their rights and freedoms and think critically about balancing competing interests in a democracy. These resources are publicly accessible on the CCLA website.

Director, Equality Program

Gillian Moore

She/Her

Gillian Moore is a lawyer and Director of the Equality Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (“CCLA”). Gillian joined CCLA from Stockwoods LLP, where she practiced law for several years. She previously clerked at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, in The Hauge. Before commencing her legal career, Gillian worked in humanitarian aid abroad, in East Africa. She received her B.A. (Hons) from Queen’s University, and her J.D. from the University of Windsor, with distinction.

Gillian has a particular interest and expertise in public law litigation, as it relates to state accountability, and believes strongly in using litigation as a tool to bring about changes in legislation, policy and practice. To that end, she has worked on a variety of cases and campaigns aimed at strengthening national laws and compliance with human rights norms.

At the CCLA, Gillian’s work involves managing and stewarding all aspects of litigation for the Equality Program including establishing policy positions and litigation strategy, coordinating interventions and legislative advocacy, and representing CCLA in court and before legislative bodies.

Outside of her practice at CCLA, Gillian dedicates time to volunteering in the legal and broader communities, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Black Legal Action Centre.

Director, Fundamental Freedoms Program

Cara Faith Zwibel

She/Her

“I work at the CCLA because I believe strongly that all people are entitled to fundamental rights and freedoms and that governments must be held accountable when they restrict, limit or undermine those rights and freedoms. CCLA takes principled positions and is willing to stand up for Charter rights even when it is not popular, and that is when it is most needed. I am passionate about my work and the issues that CCLA takes on and am grateful to work with wonderful colleagues, volunteers and pro bono lawyers who are willing to tackle some of the most challenging issues in law and policy. I am also a “constitutional law nerd” and love that my job requires me to analyze difficult cases and strategize about how best to protect fundamental freedoms.”

Cara was called to the Ontario bar in 2005. She has a political science degree from McGill University and law degrees from Osgoode Hall Law School (LL.B.) and New York University (LL.M.). Her work with CCLA involves providing legal opinions and research, coordinating litigation and interventions, representing CCLA before the courts, preparing submissions to legislative bodies and assisting with the CCLET’s public education work.

Director, Privacy, Technology & Surveillance Program

Brenda McPhail

She/Her

“I care a lot about privacy. I care about it because I believe it is a human right, one which is essential in and of itself to our development as thinking, autonomous humans, and I care about it because it is a gateway right, one that facilitates our ability to enjoy other Charter-protected rights like free expression, freedom of association, and freedom to dissent. CCLA has recognized and cared about the privacy rights of all people in Canada for decades, and having the privilege of working in this organization to build on that legacy through actions and interventions in courts, through policy advocacy at all levels of government, and through public education means that my work and my passion are one and the same. That’s why I work at CCLA.”

Brenda received her PhD from the University of Toronto Faculty of Information, and holds Master’s degrees in Information Studies and English. Her work focuses on litigation, advocacy and public education relating to the ways in which privacy rights are at risk in contemporary society. Current areas of focus include national security, intelligence, and law enforcement surveillance technologies, information sharing in the public and private sector, and the social impacts of existing and emerging technologies such as smart city tech, the internet of things, big data and artificial intelligence.

Manager, Education and Community Engagement

Talayeh Shomali

She/Her

Talayeh Shomali is the CCLA’s Manager, Education and Community Engagement. She is passionate about easing the access to justice for diverse groups and she feels lucky that her day to day job includes talking to people about their fundamental rights and freedoms. In her previous jobs, she has coordinated several justice projects, including Family Law Information for Women (FLEW), which is an Ontario-wide, accessible and multilingual legal information campaign.

Talayeh holds a M.A in Women and Gender Studies from University of Toronto, a B.A in Law and Society/ English Literature from York University and a B.A in Civil Law from her home country, Iran, where she worked as a lawyer before immigrating to Canada. She is fluent in French and Farsi.

Randi Thomson
Comptroller and Director of Finance

Randi Thomson

She/Her

Growing up in northern Quebec, with Indigenous and French roots, has given me a greater understanding of the issues surrounding Indigenous and language rights in Canada. Being part of the CCLA team, and the mission to stand up for human rights, aligns with my values. The work that is being done makes me hopeful that we can address and bring awareness to these ongoing issues.

Randi has over 10 years experience in Corporate Finance where she worked in the Food and Beverage Industry for companies such as Kraft Foods and Starbucks Coffee Canada. Randi made the transition to the not-for-profit sector 15 years ago, where she has been using her skills in Finance to support children’s causes, with organizations like Children’s Miracle Network and Jays Care Foundation. More recently, Randi was the Finance Manager with Camp Quality Canada. In her personal time, she enjoys volunteering and giving back to her community.

Office Manager / Executive Assistant

Colleen Larkin

She/Her

For the past two decades, I have been working in the area of equity, diversity and human rights for government and non-profits.  When I started working in this field, I had come to realize there were so many more issues than I realized in human rights even though my main role was administrative support and project coordination.

More recently, I was the Office Manager/Executive Assistant for Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) who advocate for rights in housing. Prior to this I had worked for Egale Canada Human Rights Trust as well as the City of Toronto’s – Equity, Diversity and Human Rights Division. During my time with the city, I had great experiences as the Program Coordinator for Access, Equity and Human Rights Awards, Grant Administrator for the Access, Equity and Human Rights Grants Program and Project Coordinator for the Profession-to-Profession Mentoring Program (in partnership with TRIEC).

All these programs gave me invaluable insights in connecting with people and organizations working in human rights. Colleen has a business administration diploma from CDI, project management from Centennial College and accounting certification from Simply Accounting.

Annual Fund Manager, Advancement

Michael Lowery

He/Him

“I have lived my entire life as a sufferer of mental illness, and I have seen first-hand the prejudice and systemic issues that sufferers can face. As I find myself in a fortunate position, I want to do my part to improve the lives of others facing these challenges. The work done at the CCLA to stand up for their rights is just one reason I am so excited and proud to work here.”

A graduate of the University of Toronto and later McMaster University, Michael brings over five years of fundraising experience into his role at the CCLA. He has been lucky enough to work in organizations that promote various great causes ranging from cancer support to international development and animal welfare during his career.

Gift Processing Coordinator, Advancement

Aliya Karim

She/Her

I am a passionate and goal oriented professional and proudly identify as a South Asian woman. As an outspoken feminist and equalist, I strongly support the CCLA’s and am particularly passionate about equality and fundamental freedoms.

With over seven years of experience working in non-profit, Aliya has extensive experience working with women’s organizations including Girls 20 Summit, Plan International Canada, and the Spark of Hope Foundation.

In 2013, Aliya received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Ottawa in International Development & Globalization and Women’s Studies, with specialization in Feminist Theories; Women, Gender and Development, Feminism, and Justice and the Law.

The 2022 Board

Andrew Lokan, Chair

Audrey Boctor

Larry Baldachin

Julie Di Lorenzo

Simron Singh

Nancy E. Cooper

Joe Freedman

Julianna Greenspan

Nader Hasan

Patricia Jackson

Anil Kapoor

Jonathan Lisus

John McCamus

Ron Ness

Steven Sofer

The 2022 National Council

CCLA's National Council is comprised of CCLA's Board Members and the following individuals:

Linda Schuyler, Chair

Frank Addario

Hon. Louise Arbour

Kim Beaudin

Prof. Jamie Cameron

Jessy Héroux

Dan Hill Jr.

Justin Khan

Jean-Pierre Kingsley

Christopher Lobay

Raji Mangat

Danielle McLaughlin

Prof. Karen Pearlston

Benjamin Prud’homme

Sarah Rankin

Dr. Mamdouh Shoukri

Kevin Stanton

Eva Tache-Green

March 17, 1932 - May 11, 2015

A. Alan Borovoy

General Counsel, Emeritus

Alan Borovoy was General Counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association from May, 1968 until June, 2009. Prior to coming to CCLA, Alan worked with other human rights and civil liberties organizations such as the National Committee for Human Rights of the Canadian Labour Congress, the Ontario Labour Committee for Human Rights, and the Toronto & District Labour Committee for Human Rights.

As General Counsel of CCLA, Alan made presentations to public inquiries and gave testimony before parliamentary committees on issues such as mandatory drug-testing in the workplace, wiretapping, and police race-relations. His community organizing activities included delegations to the federal and provincial governments on issues of capital punishment, religious education in the public schools, the War Measures Act, campus speech codes, and national security and intelligence.In addition to his work as General Counsel, Alan was a fortnightly columnist for the Toronto Star from 1992-1996. Other media work included appearances on many public affairs programs, and on open-line television and radio programs. He is published widely across Canada, and is the author of several books, including The New Anti-Liberals, Uncivil Obedience: The Tactics and Tales of a Democratic Agitator and When Freedoms Collide: The Case for Our Civil Liberties, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Award in 1988. His memoir, At the Barricades, was published in 2013.

Alan gave lectures and public addresses to students, human rights organizations, and policing agencies in Canada and abroad. He was a visiting professor at the faculties of law at Dalhousie University and the University of Windsor, and a part-time lecturer at the University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work and York University’s political science department. Alan received his B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1953, and his LL.B. from the University of Toronto in 1956. He was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1958. He received four Honorary Doctor of Laws Degrees, the Law Society Medal from the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1989, an Award of Merit from the City of Toronto in 1982, and was inscribed in the Honour Roll of the aboriginal people of Treaty Number 3 in 1991. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1982. A. Alan Borovoy was actively involved in CCLA until his passing in May, 2015.