Executive Director and General Counsel
Sukanya Pillay is the Executive Director and General Counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association & Education Trust. Sukanya directs the organization’s litigation, advocacy, policy, and public engagement strategies to protect rights, liberty, and justice for all persons in Canada. Sukanya initially joined CCLA to advance the organization’s work on national security and counter-terrorism.
Sukanya has worked in both the public and private sectors in Canada and abroad. 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 worked as a law professor at a Canadian law school (Windsor, 2002-2008), as in-house counsel for a multinational telecommunications corporation in South Asia (Hong Kong/Mumbai 2000-2002), and as a lawyer at international NGOs in New York and London (1995-2000). In these roles, she conducted dozens of missions to conflict zones around the world, interviewing victims, collecting video evidence, and implemented advocacy targeting governments for rights protections. Sukanya also worked with local partners and independently to appear before regional and domestic quasi-judicial bodies. 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 served as a graduate editor of the New York Journal of International Law and Politics.
A faculty Member of the Kirsch Institute, Sukanya has given guest lectures at numerous universities and law schools including Harvard, Fordham and the University of British Columbia. In 2013, Sukanya received the President’s Award from the South Asian Bar Association of Ontario. She has also received awards from the American Academy of Legal Studies in Business (Cardozo Award for Best Conference Paper), University of Windsor Research Award, and a Teaching/Outstanding Faculty Award from the Students Law Society at the University of Windsor.
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 on 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.
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 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, 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. PGP Public Key
Gail J. Cohen
Director, Media and Communications
Gail J. Cohen joined CCLA in late 2016 as Media and Communications Director. She is the former Editor in Chief of the largest group of legal media in Canada – Canadian Lawyer, Law Times, Canadian Lawyer InHouse, Canadian Lawyer 4Students, FindLaw.ca, their affiliated websites, and a legal job board.For almost 20 years, she has helmed the most comprehensive coverage of legal news and information in the country, working with lawyers and lawmakers and engaging thought leaders in the regulatory, legal, and business realms. Prior to joining Law Times as a reporter in 1997, Gail was a wire editor, weekend editor, and reporter at the Times News/Chronicle Journal in Thunder Bay, Ont. After graduating from with an hounours bachelor of journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa, she worked in various positions including media monitoring and evaluation for the Canadian Chicken Marketing Agency, a video production company and as a freelancer writer and photographer in Southern Africa.
Emma joined Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Education Trust in 2016 as Education Coordinator. Since her call to the bar in 2014, Emma has created and delivered diverse public legal education programs for youth in Ontario. Emma received her Juris Doctor from University of Calgary in 2012, and a undergraduate degree in history and political science from University of Toronto. As Education Coordinator, Emma’s responsibilities include coordinating civil liberties workshops and delivering CCLET’s various education initiatives across Ontario. Prior to joining CCLET, Emma developed an innovative public legal education program for Indigenous youth in Alberta, and also wrote and presented extensively on the subjects of LGBTQ legal issues, youth justice issues, Indigenous law, poverty law and human rights. In conjunction with her colleagues at CCLA/CCLET, Emma encourages people of all ages to gain a deeper understanding of their rights and freedoms.
Rob worked at the CCLA as a fellow from 2014 – 2015 and rejoined the organization as a staff lawyer in 2016. Rob primarily works in the organization’s Fundamental Freedoms and National Security programs. Rob is called to the bar of Ontario and holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, a Ph.D. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A./M.A. from the University of Alberta. His academic work has focused on liberal theories of multiculturalism and group rights, as well as constitutional and normative issues associated with conflicts between rights and freedoms. He is originally from Edmonton, Alberta.
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.
Judy joined the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in July 2015 as an Administrative Assistant. After undergraduate studies in German and world religions, Judy enjoyed an extensive service focused career: with Air Canada Inflight service; as an owner and operator of coffee franchises at First Canadian Place; and in leading the First Impressions Committee, a service consulting project with George Brown College. Judy has also undertaken volunteer work for her local Toronto City Councillor, Kristyn Wong-Tam, as well as for the Maytree Foundation, and she continues to support the Global Diversity Exchange at Ryerson University.
Program Officer and Executive Assistant
Caroline joined the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in 2016 as Program Officer and Executive Assistant to the Executive Director Sukanya Pillay. Caroline’s responsibilities include organizing all aspects of the annual gala, coordinating CCLA’s convention of international experts on social protest and civic space, and helping research various social issues in Canada. Caroline received her Bachelor of Social Sciences in Criminology and Communications from the University of Ottawa. As part of her studies, Caroline worked at the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, where she was engaged in legal research and in organizing research data to shape the Center’s advocacy campaigns. Caroline’s personal and academic interests include wrongful convictions and police accountability. She is also passionate about urban geography and cityscapes and has photographed graffiti and street art in communities throughout North America and Europe, documenting expressions of belonging and exclusion in public spaces.
Lex Gill joined CCLA in 2014 as the co-coordinator for CCLA’s TalkRights project, an initiative designed to develop accessible digital civil liberties resources funded by CIRA. She became a research consultant to the Privacy, Technology, and Surveillance Project in 2015, supporting CCLA’s efforts to map institutions, practices, and civil liberties impacts of government surveillance in Canada. Lex is a B.C.L. / LL.B. candidate at McGill University’s Faculty of Law, and an affiliate of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where she has produced research on Internet governance, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, and international efforts to craft a “Bill of Rights” for the Internet.
A. Alan Borovoy, March 17, 1932 – May 11, 2015
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.