Executive Director and General Counsel
Sukanya Pillay is the Executive Director and General Counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association & Education Trust. Sukanya joined CCLA in 2009 to advance the organization’s work on national security and counter-terrorism. In February 2014, following a competitive national search, Sukanya was appointed Executive Director and General Counsel. In her role, Sukanya directs all aspects of the organization’s advocacy, policy, and public engagement strategy to further advance CCLA’s demonstrated track-record of protecting rights, liberty, and justice for all persons in Canada.
Sukanya has over twenty year’s critical legal experience in both the public and private sectors. She is a lawyer with three degrees including an LL.M in international legal studies from New York University School of Law (1993-1994) where she also served as a graduate editor of the New York Journal of International Law and Politics. She has worked as a law professor at Windsor from 2002-2008, where she published consistently in peer reviewed journals in Canada and the US and won the Holmes Cardozo Award for outstanding conference paper from the American Academy of Legal Studies in Business on genetic privacy, a Research Award from the University of Windsor for her documentary film on the impact of NAFTA on Oaxacan corn farmers and the right to food, and an award of Outstanding Faculty Member from the Students Law Society of the University of Windsor Faculty of Law. She has previously worked as in-house counsel for a multinational telecommunications corporation in South Asia (2000-2002), and as a lawyer at international NGOs in New York and London (1995-2000). In particular, Sukanya led from 1995-1998, the newly formed WITNESS program of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (today, Human Rights First), the Reebok Foundation, and musical artist Peter Gabriel, and advanced the use of video evidence in human rights protection. She clerked for the Ontario Court of Justice in 1994-1995, and was seconded by Justice Robert Blair to work on the First Civil Justice Review. She articled at Borden Elliot (1990-1992), today Borden Ladner Gervais, and worked thereafter with a group of former BLG lawyers at Davies Partners. She was called to the Bar in 1992 and is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Her work has focused on international human rights law including the intersections of business, trade and development, with a particular focus on redress and access to justice for vulnerable or affected populations. She has made dozens of missions to conflict zones to interview victims of human rights abuses, to gather video evidence, and to advocate with governments for rights protections throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Americas
Sukanya has given guest lectures at universities and law schools including Harvard, Cardozo, Fordham, University of British Columbia, the University of Windsor, and the American University in Cairo, and taught International Business Transactions at Herstmonceux Castle for Queen’s Law School. She is currently affiliated as a Faculty Member of the Kirsch Institute, where she participated in November 2014 in a panel on secret evidence.
In November 2013, Sukanya received the President’s Award from the South Asian Bar Association of Ontario.
Noa Mendelsohn Aviv
Director, Equality Program
Noa Mendelsohn Aviv joined CCLA in 2002 as a legal researcher. Since 2005 she has directed CCLA’s Expression and Equality programs. Noa has been published, made submissions, appearances and presentations, and advocated on such issues as refugee protection, LGBTQ rights, racial profiling, freedom of expression and religion, and the intersectionality of rights, in particular religious freedom and equality. Noa has coordinated many CCLA interventions in a variety of Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, and human rights tribunals; appeared before Parliamentary and provincial legislative committees, governmental and public bodies; and provided written submissions. She has also appeared on panels, at conferences, in press interviews, and provided guest workshops and lessons through CCLET’s public education project. In addition, Noa manages CCLA’s law student volunteer programs.
Noa has an LL.B. and LL.M. from the Hebrew University in Israel, and a 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. She worked for a few years as an associate at a private law firm in Jerusalem, practicing litigation, labour, commercial, and corporate law. Noa has also served as Field Coordinator for a large research project on eating disorders in women, and as Acting Administrative Director of Hebrew University Law Faculty’s Center for Human Rights.
Cara Faith Zwibel
Director, Fundamental Freedoms Program
Cara Faith Zwibel joined CCLA in 2009 as Director of the Fundamental Freedoms Program. She graduated from McGill University in 2001 with an Honours degree in Political Science and received her LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2004. She articled as a law clerk to the Honourable Justice Ian Binnie at the Supreme Court of Canada before being called to the Ontario bar in 2005. Cara also received her Master of Laws degree from New York University, as an Arthur T. Vanderbilt Scholar. Prior to joining CCLA, Cara was an Associate at a national law firm, practicing public law, health law and commercial litigation. She has experience representing clients at all levels of court and before administrative tribunals, and has authored and co-authored published articles constitutional law. Her work with CCLA involves providing legal opinions and research, coordinating interventions and representing CCLA before the courts, preparing submissions to legislative bodies and assisting with the CCLET’s public education work.
Danielle S. McLaughlin
Director of Education
Danielle McLaughlin joined the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust in 1988. Since that time, Danielle developed the CCLET programs “Teaching Civil Liberties” and “Civil Liberties in the Schools. These programs are supported by grants from the Law Foundation of Ontario and reach many thousands of school-aged students, teachers, and teacher-candidates at Ontario’s faculties of education. Teacher-candidate workshops and seminars deal with the competing rights and controversial issues that every teacher is likely to face once in the classroom. Between 1997 and 2001, Danielle represented the Canadian Civil Liberties Association on the Toronto Police Services Board sub-committee on Race Relations. In 2010, she was named 2010-2011 Law Foundation of Ontario Community Leadership in Justice Fellow which took her to the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Education and in 2013 she received a civil liberties award from CCLA. Her publications in Education Canada include “The King of Denmark and the Naked Mole Rat: Teaching Critical Thinking for Social Justice;” “Talking to Strangers: Making Distinctions;” and “Cultivating the Habits of Democracy: Asking the Hard Questions.” Danielle blogs about teaching difficult issues and her book for children, That’s Not Fair! Thinking about Citizens’ Rights and Freedoms will be published by Kids Can Press in their Citizen Kid series in the spring of 2016.
Deputy Director of Education
April Julian joined the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust in 2009. She became Deputy Director of Education in 2014, and 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, Public Safety Program
Abby Deshman joined CCLA in 2008 as a Law Foundation of Ontario Pro-Bono Articling Fellow, and also served as an Acting Director for CCLA’s Fundamental Freedoms Program prior to her present role as Director of the Public Safety Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. Her portfolio includes legal work and advocacy on police powers, police oversight, and the criminal justice system. She is regularly involved in litigation, legislative advocacy, policy work and public speaking engagements, and conducts civil liberties workshops for high school and university students. Prior to joining CCLA Abby gained experience with local and international non-governmental organizations, including the United Nations High Council for Refugees in Kenya and Human Rights Watch’s Terrorism/Counterterrorism division in New York. She 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.
Interim Director, Public Safety Program
Laura Berger joined CCLA in August 2013 as a Law Foundation of Ontario Public Interest Articling Fellow. Since her call to the Ontario Bar in 2014, she has continued to work with the organization on issues ranging from LGBTQ rights to solitary confinement in Canadian prisons. Laura holds two degrees from the University of Toronto – a law degree and an undergraduate degree in philosophy and literature. She has also spent time studying law and politics at both Sciences Po and Université Pantheon-Assas in Paris. Throughout her studies, Laura worked and volunteered extensively with youth from diverse backgrounds – including working with LAWS (Law in Action Within Schools) teaching legal workshops to high-school students from Toronto and beyond. She remains committed to public legal education and, in particular, to facilitating meaningful learning opportunities for young people from all walks of life.
Director, Privacy, Technology & Surveillance Project
Brenda McPhail joined CCLA in 2013 as coordinator for the Pathways to Privacy Conference, organised with partners at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and the University of Sherbrooke and funded by a grant from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. In 2014-15 she co-coordinated CCLA’s CIRA-funded TalkRights web portal project, creating accessible information on civil liberties and rights. Brenda became Director of the Privacy, Technology, and Surveillance Project in 2015, and works on a range of privacy initiatives and topics. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto Faculty of Information in 2013, and holds Master’s degrees in Information Studies and English, and a B.A. in English. In her peer-reviewed, published work and at international conferences, she has explored do-it-yourself approaches to privacy protective identification, privacy risks of RFID-enhanced driver’s licenses, identity performance in government service interactions, Canadian ePassport development, attitudes to video surveillance, and privacy issues inherent in connected cars.
Director of Administration
Rayna Zwibel joined Canadian Civil Liberties Association in June 2014 as Director of Administration. Throughout her career Rayna has worked extensively in the public and private sectors, and is excited to be back in the non-profit world after an extended period working in a corporation. Rayna works closely with the General Counsel and Executive Director and her work with CCLA involves the day to day management of the organization, its offices, its administrative staff, volunteers, finances and human resources. Rayna is also involved in ongoing development and donor relations for the organisation.
Communications and Advocacy Specialist
Jonah joined the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in May 2015 as its Communications and Advocacy Specialist. In this role, he consults on all of CCLA’s communications (web, social media, print, and public addresses) and handles media relations. He also develops advocacy campaigns to engage Canadians and key stakeholders in civil liberties issues. Prior to joining CCLA, Jonah worked on Parliament Hill as a political aide to former Senator Romeo Dallaire and MP/former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler. Among many duties, he wrote speeches and co-authored articles with both Dallaire and Cotler on a range of human rights issues, from transgender rights to the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Jonah also previously served as a policy officer in the Office of Religious Freedom at Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and as a writer/campaigner at Free The Children. Twice a graduate of the University of Toronto, Jonah has both a Master’s degree in Global Affairs, with specialization in human rights, as well as an Honours B.A. in international relations and history.
Astrid joined CCLA in July 2014 as a Law Foundation of Ontario Public Interest Articling Fellow. She completed her JD at Osgoode Hall, and spent a semester at Monash in Melbourne, Australia. Throughout her time at law school, Astrid was hired by LAWS (Law in Action Within Schools) to develop law curriculum for legal workshops taught to high-school students, spent a semester as a Refugee and Immigration Case Worker at Parkdale Community Legal Services, and was granted the Ian Scott Social Justice Fellowship to work with Ecojustice. Astrid previously studied at McGill University where she earned an undergraduate degree in Literature and Political Science, at Trent, where she earned her teaching degree and became an Ontario Certified Teacher, and at Carleton, where she earned her Master's degree in Literature. Astrid’s teaching career brought her to rural Kenya where she worked in educational development, as well as to both Algonquin College and Humber College where she taught academic upgrading and post-secondary classes. Her passion for activism is what led her to the law profession, and she is delighted to be part of an organization that does so much to fight injustice in Canada.
Rob De Luca
Rob joined CCLA in September 2014. He completed his JD at Stanford Law School in June 2014, where he held a Ford Foundation Public Interest Law Fellowship at The Constitution Project in Washington, D.C., and a Bradley Student Fellowship at the Stanford Constitutional Law Center. During law school, he was also active in the area of direct legal services, working as a summer fellow at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid in Austin, Texas, participating in the Stanford Community Law Clinic, and volunteering with the Volunteer Attorney Program. His most memorable experience during law school was working as an instructor for the Prison University Project at San Quentin Prison. Prior to law school, Rob received his Ph.D. in Government at The University of Texas at Austin, where he also served as an instructor. His research focused on group rights and religious accommodation. He is originally from Edmonton, Alberta.
Anne joined CCLA in 2009. She hails originally from Ottawa, and has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Ottawa. With ten years experience from the world of non-profits in the area of administration, Anne uses her expertise to handle and coordinate day to day financial activities at CCLA with the goal of ensuring accuracy and efficiency.
Aubrey Abaya joined the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in 2015 as an Administrative Assistant. She coordinated events on a volunteer basis for the organization’s Canadian Artists for Civil Liberties initiative beginning in 2012. She completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science at the University of Toronto and previously worked in theatre and film production and marketing. Currently, she is producing an independent feature film for Ampex Entertainment.