The Urban Alliance on Race Relations benefits from an active and committed volunteer Board of Directors.
2017-2019 Board of Directors
NIGEL BARRIFFE, PRESIDENT
A community organizer and an elementary teacher with the Toronto District School Board in Rexdale, Nigel is a Board member of the Rexdale Community Legal Clinic, Board Chair of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, and a member of the Good Jobs For All Coalition. He was the interim-treasurer of the Ontario Alliance of Black School Education (ONABSE) and a former Co-Chair of the African Heritage Educator’s Network (AHEN). Nigel’s activist work focuses on quality public education, good green jobs, and a more just society for all inside and outside the classroom. His efforts have been recognized through a number of community service awards including the 2011 Urban Heroes Award, the 2012 JS Woodsworth Award and the 2014 Jack White Service Award from the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. He holds a Masters’ degree from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
GARY PIETERS, IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
Gary is an educator, writer, media/subject expert, diversity change agent, equity leader, community volunteer and history scholar. He has over 23 years of work experience in the education sector as a teacher and school administrator. Gary has served the community through his involvement on several boards and advisory committees. He is currently the President of the CityPlace Residents Association; a member of the Minister’s Advisory Council on Special Education (MACSE) in Ontario; and a jury member on Park People Public Space Incubator. He completed a 3-year term as president the board of directors of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations in 2015. He also served as a Board Member of Sojourn House and as a member of the Toronto Star Community Editorial Board. He also served as a member of DiverseCity Voices, an initiative of the Maytree Foundation which aims to improve the diversity of voices in the media. His recent interests are around the Internet of Things (IOT), Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and how innovations in these creative technology sectors are transforming every aspect of society and daily life.
MALIKA MENDEZ, VICE-PRESIDENT
As a highly dedicated volunteer, Malika has served in a variety of organizations in several capacities. Most recent commitments are as a Board member of BNPHC; Chair, DMV Fundraising Committee at the Royal Ontario Museum; and the DMV Board of Directors.
Career credits include serving as Co-Vice Chair of the Province of Ontario’s EERC Committee; Chair of South Asian Canadians in the Ontario Public Service; Organizational Change Consultant, Public & Private sector; Provincial Coordinator, Wife Assault Services; Anti-Racism Consultant (OARS); Public Relations Coordinator & Multicultural Liaison – broader public sector; Actra’s Diversity Committee; Freelance announcer, narrator, and writer, CBC-TV and Radio, T.V. Ontario, CTV, Global, the Montreal Gazette, and many more.
ILANEET GOREN, SECRETARY
RESHMA DHRODIA, MEMBER-AT-LARGE
Reshma Dhrodia is a social worker, speaker, workshop facilitator, and social justice advocate who has worked across the GTA. Her professional interests are in equity, anti-oppressive practice, mental health, gender-based violence, and trauma-informed practice. She has worked for several community organizations, hospitals, and educational institutions including the Scarborough Women’s Centre, the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, West Park Healthcare Centre, the University of Toronto, and the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape. Between 2012 and 2014, she managed a community-university project to engage post-secondary students to prevent gender-based violence at U of T Scarborough. In 2014, she delivered a TEDx talk on age discrimination called, “The Trouble with Aging.” More recently, she co-designed and facilitated a pilot workshop series for MSW students at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work to build skills in practicing allyship. She currently works as an Accessibility Advisor at University of Toronto’s Accessibility Services.
ZENIA CASTANOS, MEMBER-AT-LARGE
Working in the social work field for over 10 years in Toronto, Zenia has experience in non-profit settings such as community health centres, shelters and a women’s drop-in centre in Toronto, and has worked with youth and their families in London, England. Her focus has been on women’s mental health and supporting people facing multiple barriers to accessing services. Her interests are in anti-oppression work, community-based work, social justice initiatives, the social determinants of health, and intersectional feminism.
She is a registered social worker who obtained her Psychology, Social Work and graduate Social Work degrees at York University.
Currently, she is the Coordinator of Volunteers and Community Engagement in her day role and seeks to lend her skills by working with volunteers at UARR.
EMILY MOONEY, MEMBER-AT-LARGE
Emily is a trained researcher, writer, facilitator, teacher, and registered social worker with over a decade of experience leading diverse groups. Her work teaching adult ESL, particularly at Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto, and her more recent study of Black and Indigenous history and culture in Canada, inform her interest in how — and for whom — this country has been constructed. She has worked with Community Living Toronto, CultureLink, COSTI Immigrant Services, CAMH, and the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) to collect and analyze data, facilitate workshops, write reports and training materials, and improve supports and services for immigrants and refugees to Canada. She holds an honours B.A. in English literature from Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. In 2016, she received her master of social work with a specialization in social justice and diversity from the University of Toronto, and also completed the Collaborative Graduate Program in Ethnic and Pluralism Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs.
ANTHONY N. MORGAN
Anthony is a lawyer with Falconers LLP, and formerly with the African Canadian Legal Clinic in Toronto, Canada. He is passionately committed to social justice and serving the principles of equity, civic engagement, and multiculturalism, interests he often explores as a blogger for the Huffington Post Canada. Anthony has worked as a research assistant for both a sitting judge of the Court of Quebec, Judge Juanita Westmoreland-Traore, and McGill Law professor, Adelle Blackett. He has also worked as a civil-rights advocate at the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations in Montreal, and an associate editor of the McGill International Journal of Sustainable Development Law & Policy. In 2009-2010, he served as President of the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada.
Anthony maintains an active interest in matters concerning Black Canadian social and political affairs, and Caribbean diaspora politics. In February 2012, he was one of 12 people to be officially recognized as a Black History Month Laureate by Quebec’s Roundtable on Black History Month. In addition to holding both a LL.B (Common Law) and B.C.L. (Civil Law) from McGill University, Faculty of Law, he holds an Hons. Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto in Ethics, Society & Law.
Winnie Falkenstein works as a Project Manager in Elections Services with the City of Toronto. Prior to this, she worked with the City of Toronto in the area of equity, diversity and human rights. She has also worked as a Policy Advisor for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and as a Parole Officer with Correctional Services Canada. Winnie has a BA and MA in Criminology from the University of Toronto and has been a volunteer with the UARR since 2002. Winnie is deeply committed to equity, and as a parent, she enjoys finding ways to create and disrupt conversations about race. She is particularly interested in questioning the social construction and (mis)representation of race, crime and gender in the media, racism in the criminal justice system, and violence against women.
KIRK MARK, M.Ed.
Kirk Mark is a recent retiree as Senior Coordinator of the Community Relations Department in Toronto Catholic District School Board (Ontario, Canada), the largest Catholic School Board in the world with 92,000 plus students, 16,000 plus staff and 200 plus schools. He has been involved in diversity programmes in corporations, communities and schools for over thirty-five years with extensive travel to and consultation within the Caribbean, Europe, The Continent of Africa and the United States of America. His areas of expertise, while residing in the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario, are: Systemic Change Management, Professional Learning, Equity and Inclusive Education, Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy, Student-Athletic Development, Parent and Community Capacity Development. Mr. Mark has presented his work, as an author and educationalist, to local, national and international audiences such as: the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE), Cheikh Anta Diop Conference, and The University of Toronto’s DeColonizing the Spirit Conference, and various boards of education. As a community volunteer, he shares his expertise as a Board of Director and Past-President of The Canadian Alliance of Black Educators, The Urban Alliance on Race Relations, The City of Pickering Committee on Diversity and The Toronto Basketball Association to name a few. In addition to being listing in Who’s Who in Black Canada (2002, 2006, 2010 Editions), as well as receiving numerous accolades, a few of his awards include: The African Canadian Achievement Award for Excellence in Education, The National Alliance of Black School Educators Ft. Worth Chapter Education Award, The UMOJA Award for Outstanding Community Service (Quebec), The Human Rights and Race Relations Centre Gold Medal Award (Ontario), The Hispanic Canadian Alliance of Ontario Appreciation Award, and The Toronto Basketball Association Award of Excellence.
Nora Hindy, OCT, is a public school teacher with the Peel District School Board. She holds a Masters degree in Public Policy. As a Board of Director of Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Nora has worked with unions and advocacy groups to help bring the voices of racialized communities to the forefront. Nora has spent many years working and advocating for Special Education students. She is involved with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, where she sits on the Anti-Racism and Equity Committee at the local level. Nora has also volunteered with DawaNet, where she led and organized a nationwide federal election debate for racialized youth aimed at improving the strength of democracy in Canada.
Ainsworth is a dynamic trade unionist, currently serving a 3 -year term as Co-Vice President at the Canadian Labour Congress representing Workers of Colour. He has a passion for defending workers’ rights and the promotion of fairness, and a strong advocate on equity issues in making the labour movement more inclusive and diverse. His vision is to see more workers of colour and those from the marginalized and disenfranchised community attain more leadership roles.
As a leader and an activist on many fronts, such as the Toronto and York Region Labour Council Equity Committee, and executive board member of SEIU Healthcare – one of Canada’s largest Healthcare Union’s. Ainsworth continues to educate and raise awareness on issues of human rights and equity for the betterment of our workplaces, labour movement, and society as a whole. He see’s himself as an emerging political activist after working along-side other team-members on the 2014 NDP provincial campaign in the Ajax-Pickering riding. His growing interest in politics has led him into his current role as President of King-Vaughan riding association for the Provincial NDP party.
On most days, you can find Ainsworth at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre in Toronto, working in the administration department. During his spare time, he is an entrepreneur in the financial industry.
Suze Morrison is a community activist, communications professional, and proud resident of Regent Park in Toronto. Professionally, she has held a number of roles with highly-political organizations in non-profit, healthcare, and Indigenous sectors including a hospital, two Local Health Integration Networks, and two provincial Indigenous organizations. She currently works for the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres leading the organization’s communications portfolio. She has an Honours Bachelor of Applied Arts in Media Studies from the University of Guelph and a Diploma in Public Relations from Humber College.
As a first-generation Canadian born in South Africa, Kalpana’s work in education for the past 24 years was informed by her early childhood memories of segregation and discrimination. She has worked as a teacher, special education and guidance specialist and elementary school Vice-Principal for the TDSB. She worked with parents and teachers from diverse communities to ensure student success and achievement.
Since 2006 Kalpana has worked as a senior staff at the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) in the Equity & Women’s Services department. Through her position, Kalpana has brought support to teachers from designated groups in their personal and professional development as leaders in their professional and personal communities. Kalpana has also developed comprehensive curriculum and teaching resources to bring awareness and currency to issues of equity and social justice to classrooms across the country.
Kalpana’s career has maintained a focus on lifting the voices of educators and students from marginalized communities, helping them to develop as individuals of potential and elevating their voices in a diverse future.
Brittany Andrew-Amofah is the Research and Policy Manager at the Broadbent Institute, public affairs commentator and advocate for diverse representation in our political system. Brittany’s work focuses on bridging the world of politics, policy, and social justice with a specific emphasis on race, gender, and class. She has a Master’s in Political Management from Carleton University.
Mohammed is a senior organizer for Toronto’s Labour movement and active leader in Muslim community advocacy. A graduate of the University of Toronto, he has been involved with many of the campaigns that have promoted equity and pushed back against Islamophobia. His work with the York and Peel District School Boards helped shape a greater understanding of Islamophobia and deepened commitments to strive for greater equity.
Mohammed’s commitment strengthening democracy and inclusion led to hosting the first Iftar at Toronto City Council Chambers.
He also helped create the first fellowship for Muslim youth to deepen their commitment of public service by building bridges for access to working at Toronto City Hall. His work in politics and labour has been well recognized and he has played leading roles in many campaigns that protect public services and help get progressive city builders elected.
A resident of Toronto, Cynthia Levine-Rasky is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology at Queen’s University in Kingston. She has taught courses on social problems, research methods, health, and race/racialization. She published a book on the Roma in Canada entitled, Writing the Roma: Histories, Policies, and Communities in Canada (Fernwood 2016), and a second book on critical whiteness called, Whiteness Fractured (Ashgate 2012). She has co-written, edited, and co-edited a few other books, and of these, she is most proud of We Resist: Defending the Public Good in Hostile Times (co-edited with Lisa Kowalchuck; McGill–Queen’s University Press, for 2019). We Resist is a collection of essays on communities, institutions, policies, and activism by writers such as Pat Armstrong, Matthew Behrens, Carolyn Egan, Amira Elghawaby, Bernie Farber, Yasmin Jiwani, El-Farouk Khaki, Tim McCaskell, Alex Neve, Pam Palmater, Barb Perry, Keith Stewart, Vanessa Watts, and Lesley Wood.
Cynthia likes to think of herself as a writer by occupation. She particularly enjoys opportunities to contribute to magazines and newspapers such as The Conversation, Canadian Dimension, National Observer, NOW, Canada’s History, and the Globe and Mail. Her articles often focus on racism from a critical whiteness perspective, while her knowledge of social policy has led to a few stories on the refugee determination system and the health care system.
For Cynthia, activism is a source of great satisfaction and meaningfulness. In her collaboration with individuals and organizations from a range of identity groups and political commitments, she has had the privilege of participating in real solidarity against the rise of white nationalism in the city.
Cynthia’s engagement with community organizations began in 2011 at the Toronto Roma Community Centre (RCC) where she worked as a volunteer assisting refugee claimants, applying for grants, organizing events, assisting the Executive Directors, and many other tasks. She will always treasure the personal relationships that she developed with many RCC members.
With Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui, Cynthia co-founded the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom (SOSS)–Toronto, the first Canadian chapter of the New Jersey-based organization whose national chapters number about 125. SOSS’s mandate is to encourage the development of interfaith relationships and to challenge acts of discrimination and hatred against both groups. SOSS Toronto has been building community in its five local chapters since January 2017.
Apart from her community work, Cynthia is a trainee in the Toronto Master Gardener’s Association, and thoroughly enjoys the lifelong learning required to earn her Master Gardener designation. An aspiring creative writer, Cynthia enjoys her regular meetings with her small circle of mature women writers who are kind enough to indulge her hope of publishing her creative nonfiction one day. Cynthia has two beloved adult sons.