Meet the members of the 2020-2021 Board of Directors
Amnesty International Canada's Board of Directors is made up of 10 elected members who volunteer their time to oversee our strategic direction and financial management, maintain strong links with the international movement of Amnesty International, and provide leadership and guidance in advancing our human rights work.
Members of the Board are happy to respond to questions about the governance of Amnesty Canada. Please contact us here.
Lana Verran, Chair
Based in Vancouver BC, Lana has been a volunteer with Amnesty International Canada (English) for over 15 years. Having served in a variety of capacities ranging from film festival organizing to AI Canada’s highest ranking volunteer position in her current role as President of the Board. Lana sits on numerous committees and participates in working groups aimed at strengthening AI’s policies worldwide.
Lana began her involvement with Amnesty International in 2003 while living in Halifax. She first served as a Director of the Board from 2009-2013 and was subsequently elected as the member delegate to Amnesty’s 2015 International Council Meeting before rejoining the Board in 2015.
Having led national delegations at both the 2017 and 2018 international assembly meetings of 60 plus sections and structures has allowed for close, collaborative work alongside Amnesty volunteers and staff from across the Globe. This had led to a deeper understanding of the challenges facing rights holders and the larger human rights movement.
Lana brings over 25 years of professional experience in the areas of organizational development, Human Resources, delegation, problem solving communication and leadership.
Lana remains committed to increasing the awareness of social injustice, wherever it occurs
Sarah Damberger, Vice Chair
Sarah has been involved with Amnesty in Calgary, Alberta since 2009 in a number of different roles. After reviving and leading the University of Calgary chapter for four years, she was hired by Amnesty Canada to the position of Southern Alberta Organizer, where she assessed activism in the area and identified opportunities for improving communication and engagement. Sarah then moved into the role of Local Organizer and joined the Fieldworker program before being elected to the board in 2016. During her time on the board, Sarah has been involved in a number of different initiatives, including the 2017 Calgary AGM Planning Committee and AGM Evaluation working group.
Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Communications Studies from the University of Calgary. Her honours research focused on online activism campaigns and their effectiveness in supporting activist movements. While she is interested in a wide variety of human rights issues, she is most passionate about women's rights and indigenous rights in Canada.
Tara Vicckies, Treasurer
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.
Lee Seymour, Director
Lee lives in Halifax with her husband and dog, a black lab. She has worked with charitable organizations all her life, primarily as a fundraiser, first with Oxfam Canada and, most recently, as Co-Director of Development with Amnesty International in Ottawa, until 2010. After six years of fundraising consulting, Lee is now finally retired and enjoying being a grandmother, gardening and volunteering. She has served on many Board as both Director and Chairperson. She was most recently Chairperson of the Halifax Refugee Welcome group, which brought five Syrians to Canada over a year ago.
Lee has also served on the Board of the Halifax based environmental group, The Ecology Action Centre and was Chairperson of the Nova Scotia Citizens Health Coalition for five years. She is looking forward to working again with Amnesty International Canada, in the capacity of Board Chair.
Mante Molepo, Director
Mante Molepo is a lawyer and human rights advocate, and has worked on issues around immigration and refugee protection, women’s rights, and anti-racism. For several years, Mante practiced international trade law, including the negotiations of free trade agreements. She has worked on international issues related to public health, environmental protection, forced labour, business and human rights, and food security.
Mante also consults with companies and organizations to address diversity, equity and inclusion, with a focus on unconscious bias.
Mante is a founding member of Parents for Diversity, an organization committed to promoting equitable and inclusive education for students. She addresses issues related to anti-racism, intersectionality, gender and sexual rights.
Mante holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and a Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L) from McGill University.
Mohamed Fetaih, Director
Mohamed was born in Egypt and graduated from the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University, where he was an activist and a leader of the student movement from 1972 to 1977. During that time, he advocated for democratic changes to the one political party system and fought for the people’s right of assembly and peaceful demonstrations. He fought for social justice for the poor and marginalized and lead workshops to increase literacy in the slums of Cairo as well as in the poor villages surrounding it. He was a prisoner of conscience in 1972/73/75 and 1977 – spending a total of two years behind bars.
In 1992, Mohamed immigrated with his wife and 2 young children to Canada, working as a project procurement manager at Stone & Webster (Engineering, Procurement and Consulting company), Siemens Westinghouse turbine manufacturing, and Ontario Power Generation.
For the past 7 years, Mohamed has been an active member of, and a volunteer at Amnesty International Canada (AIC). Prior to this, he was elected to the Amnesty Toronto board of directors and continues to volunteer as a fieldworker. Beyond AIC, he was selected to the board of directors of John Howard Society in August 2020 and continued volunteering with the seniors committee for restorative justice. Mohamed is also the chair of the board of directors of the Arab Canadian Cultural Association, in addition to joining the Justice Circle at Human Rights Watch in March 2020.
Shantel Watson is a student, human rights activist, academic researcher and writer. As a member of Amnesty, Shantel is actively involved in the Business and Human Rights Specialized Team, the National Organizers Program, the National Youth Action and Advisory Committee as the Board Strategies Liaison and is currently serving as a member of the AIES Global Assembly Delegation. As an Amnesty Youth Activist Shantel has led events and initiatives related to the Open for Justice Campaign, Holding the Police Accountable for Anti-Black Racism and education initiatives for raising awareness on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQ identifying individuals. Committed to racial justice, she currently sits on the Trinity College Task Force on Anti-Black Racism and Inclusion at the University of Toronto. She is also a co-founder of the Trinity College Anti-Racism Collective, which led the creation of a scholarship fund for BIPOC students at Trinity College UofT.
For the past three years, Shantel has provided non-partisan counsel to her MP as a member of the Brampton North Constituency Youth Council, providing Shantel with opportunities to meet with federal MPs and Ministers to discuss pressing issues related to human rights. Her main focus as a Director is to eliminate any barriers to member engagement and to help set a precedent that youth can be and are leaders in activism and governance.
Shantel is currently in her third year at the University of Toronto, majoring in International Relations and minoring in German and French.
Abigail Greenidge, Director
Resigned effective October 16, 2020, to accept employment with the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Based in Montreal, Québec, Abigail Greenidge became a member of Amnesty International in 2019. Over the last 15 years, she has volunteered with several non-profit organizations, including Advocates Abroad (Greece), the United Nations Associations in Canada, Empire State Pride Agenda (United States), Covenant House New York, and Kids Help Phone (Canada). While she has focused on various issues through her volunteer work, Abigail is most interested in women's and children's rights, the rights of refugees, and indigenous rights. In 2012, she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her contributions to community projects.
Abigail holds a Masters degree in Human Rights and International Politics, obtained from the University of Glasgow, as well as a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science; International Development Studies) and a Graduate Diploma in Management from McGill University.
Abigail has worked for the federal government for the past 12 years, gaining most of her work experience in Human Resources as an advisor.
Mohamed Huque, Director
Mohamed is a Toronto-based consultant working globally with foundations and nonprofit funders to catalyze high-impact philanthropy. He advises some of the world’s leading private foundations and public agencies on their grantmaking strategy and digital transformation.
Throughout his career, Mohamed has always been in the pursuit of creating social impact and serving mission-driven organizations. A former nonprofit executive, he has led an advocacy organization to develop Canada’s first national reading strategy and a social service agency that supports low-income communities and newcomers. In his work, he has led campaigns on a range of issues from increased funding for libraries on First Nations reserves to affordable housing for refugees. At the heart of all his work has been a commitment to equity and ensuring that any solution to a problem centres those most directly affected.
In 2015, he was selected to be an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow at Cambridge University, specializing in social entrepreneurship.
Sarah Koch-Schulte, Director
Based in Toronto, Sarah began her involvement with Amnesty in New York City in 2007. She has served in a variety of capacities from a staff role as Senior Major Gift Officer participating on the team leading campaigns focused on prisoners of conscience, to her current volunteer role as a Board Director. Sarah has collaborated with Amnesty leaders and activists from 20 sections around the globe and organized Amnesty projects involving CNN, Kerry Kennedy, Stephen King, Lincoln Center, Politico, Sotheby’s, Gloria Steinem, Sting, and Cornel West. Sarah sits on numerous committees aimed at strengthening Amnesty’s policies and strategies in Canada (English). She believes that Amnesty’s 400,000 activists, members and supporters in Canada are key.
Sarah has two decades of experience in human rights research and fundraising. She co-authored the book "Can Anyone Hear Us? Voices from 47 Countries" (Oxford University Press). Raised on a family farm on Treaty 1 territory in Manitoba, Sarah strives to be a friend to the Indigenous community on Turtle Island. Sarah has designated Amnesty for a planned gift in her estate and encourages others to consider a current or planned gift.
Salahuddin Rafiquddin, Director
Salahuddin is an Ottawa based lawyer who has been an active member of Amnesty for over a decade. Throughout this time, he has fulfilled many roles including as a Fieldworker, Global Assembly member delegate, campus chapter president, and a youth intern. He is particularly interested in issues related to privacy, freedom of expression, climate change, and reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous peoples.
Outside Amnesty, he works in the communications industry working to get Canadians connected to the internet.
Salahuddin holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Ottawa, a Master of Arts in International Affairs from Carleton University, and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in International Relations and Peace, Conflict and Justice Studies from the University of Toronto.
Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General
Ketty Nivyabandi is a human rights defender and a passionate advocate for social justice. She was forced to flee her home as a result of her activism in May 2015, after she mobilized and successfully led women peaceful protests in her home country, Burundi.
As a refugee and human rights defender, she has testified before the Canadian House of Commons Sub-Committee on International Human Rights on ongoing human rights violations in her country, particularly against women. She regularly speaks on refugee issues, democracy and human rights –with a particular focus on women human rights defenders– and the effects of conflict on women’s intimate lives. She was a founding member of Burundi’s Women and Girls Movement for Peace and Security, a strong apolitical voice ensuring women have a front seat at the peacemaking table.
Ketty studied International Relations, is a former journalist and a published poet.
Alex Neve, Outgoing Secretary General
Alex Neve became Secretary General in January 2000. He shares the senior leadership with the Executive Director. Alex is the primary spokesperson for the Branch. Among his many other duties, he has participated in Amnesty International missions to South Sudan, Côte d’Ivoïre, Tanzania, Ghana, Mexico, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Guinea, Honduras, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Guantánamo Bay and Grassy Narrows, Ontario.
He has represented Amnesty International at international meetings such as the Summit of the Americas and the G8 Summit. He has appeared before numerous Canadian parliamentary committees as well as various UN and Inter-American human rights bodies. He appears and writes regularly in the media and speaks to audiences across the country on a range of human rights topics.
Alex is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Centre for International Justice and a member of the Board of Directors of Partnership Africa Canada and the Centre for Law and Democracy. He served as a Trudeau Foundation Mentor from 2008-2009.
Alex holds a Bachelor Laws from Dalhousie and an LL.M In International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex. In 2009 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the University of New Brunswick. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2007.
Jayne Stoyles, Executive Director
Jayne Stoyles joined as Executive Director in September 2016, sharing leadership of the organization with its Secretary General.
She is a lawyer and international human rights advocate who served as Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) until 2016, and continues her involvement with CCIJ as an Advisory Committee Member. She is also a current member of the Board of Directors of the International Institute for Criminal Investigations.
Jayne was the Founder & CEO of the Philippe Kirsch Institute and has previously served as the Program Director of the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court in New York, a global network of 2,000 NGOs that helped bring about the establishment of the Court. During her tenure, the Coalition was twice nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She has also been a Senior Adviser to the Institute for Global Policy in New York on issues of human security, UN reform and international justice, provided International Humanitarian Law training for the Red Cross, and taught international law at Carleton University in Canada.
Jayne was awarded a lifetime Ashoka Canada Fellowship in 2008, was the 2010 winner of the Walter S. Tarnopolsky Human Rights Award and of the 2010 Lord Reading Law Society Human Rights Award. She was named one of Ottawa’s Top 50 People by Ottawa Life Magazine, and has been featured in Canadian legal magazine The Precedent and in the on-line Charity Village Spotlight.
Jayne regularly speaks and writes about international justice issues, coalition-building, social enterprise and non-profit management. She holds a Bachelor of Law (L.L.B) and a Bachelor of Arts (Hon.) from Queen’s University.
Gordon Mair, Director of Finance and Administration
Gordon Mair has been the Branch’s Director of Finance and Administration since March 2008 after holding similar positions with Sierra Club Canada, CARE International in Zambia, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in New Caledonia, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture in Costa Rica. Previously he had worked for Forestry Canada and for the Office of the Auditor General.
Gordon has overall responsibility for the financial management of the Branch, including the preparation of financial statements, monitoring of revenue and expenses, risk management, health and safety, and liaison with auditors. He and his team carry out all of the financial functions for the Branch and the administrative functions related to the National Office.
He has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Carleton University and a CMA designation.
Rosemary Oliver, Director of Fundraising
Rosemary Oliver joined Amnesty International Canada as Director of Fundraising in August 1999, after seven years as the Fundraising Director for Greenpeace Canada and five years on fundraising staff at Oxfam. She manages Amnesty Canada’s Fundraising Team whose members carry out programs in monthly giving, legacy gifts, major donors, direct mail, digital, telemarketing and face-to-face fundraising.
In addition to her fundraising efforts for Amnesty Canada, Rosemary was an active member of Amnesty’s global Fundraising Management Team for six years until 2015 and worked briefly as the monthly giving coordinator for Amnesty USA.
Rosemary enjoys sharing her passion for fundraising with others in the sector, and has spoken frequently at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Congress and Fundraising Day in Toronto, the International AFP Conference in the US (most recently in Boston, 2016), and at the International Fundraising Congress in the Netherlands.
Rosemary graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Arts, holds a Certificate in Fund Raising Management from Humber College, and earned her professional CFRE designation (Certified Fundraising Executive) in 1991.
Ihsaan Gardee joined as the Director of Programs and Communications in November 2019. Prior to this, Ihsaan served for ten years as Executive Director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), an Ottawa-based national non-profit human rights and civil liberties advocacy organization. During his time there he worked on a number of high profile cases and files including in coalitions with partners such as Amnesty. Ihsaan has regularly appeared on local and national news media & programs on issues related to Canadian Muslims, Islam, and civil liberties and his writings have appeared in major Canadian dailies as well as international publications. He has also spoken at numerous Canadian and global forums and conferences on public policy matters. In his professional capacity, Ihsaan has provided expert testimony to several Parliamentary and Senate committees on how proposed legislation, including national security laws, could adversely impact civil liberties and diverse communities. Ihsaan has addressed diverse audiences including youth and the young-at-heart on topics such as tackling Islamophobia, media engagement & advocacy.
A graduate of the University of Windsor and the University of Western Ontario, Ihsaan currently serves as the Director of Programs & Communications Amnesty International Canada - English section (AICES). In this role, he works with both the Communications and Programs team to help set priorities, develop long-terms strategic goals, annual plans, and budgets for campaigning by the organization on a variety of international and domestic human rights issues. In addition to this, he leads on the organization’s strategies for growing its base of members and supporters.
Meet the members of the 2020-2022 National Youth Action and Advisory Committee
The National Youth Action and Advisory Committee (NYAAC) is a national youth body that takes action on youth mobilization in addition to advising Amnesty International Canada English-Speaking (AICES)’s members, leaders and staff on youth participation in various aspects of human rights work including governance, campaigns and activism.
Roshni Khemraj, Co-Chair
Roshni has completed her Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from York University and is currently a first year student at Osgoode Hall Law School. In addition to being the former President of her Amnesty International campus group and a member of the NYAAC, she is a member of Plan International Canada’s Youth Advisory Council where she was an inaugural participant in the Girls Belong Here initiative having taken over the role of Plan’s CEO on International Day of the Girl 2016, and she had the unique opportunity to be employed by Plan in 2018 as a Summer Associate of Youth Advocacy. In these roles, she enjoys researching and implementing new and creative ways to engage and work with young people in the areas of campaigning, activism and engagement.
Roshni hopes to channel her passion and experience with youth engagement, human rights, social justice and gender equality to her new chapter in legal advocacy.
When not engrossed in advocacy and leather-bound law books, Roshni can be found taking long walks in nature, pausing to pick up sticks and flourishing them in the hope of discovering that she is in fact a witch and her Hogwarts letter simply got lost in the mail.
Cassandra DeFreitas, Co-Chair
Cassandra is in her third year of Honours Critical Social Work with a minor in Human Rights and Equity Studies at York University in Toronto. Originally, however, she is from a small town further north of Toronto called Aurora. Currently, she is the President of Amnesty International’s chapter at York University where she has got to collaborate with the World University Service of Canada, UNICEF, the Redress Project and the Canadian Council for Refugees, to name a few. Cassandra is also the Co- Chair/ President for Amnesty International Toronto’s Action Network on Women’s Human Rights, along with being a member of the NYAAC.
Outside of Amnesty, Cassandra is a Youth Advocate for Women, Newborn, Maternal and Child Health Rights and Access with Plan International Canada, and is also a speaker for their Because I am a Girl campaign. Formerly, Cassandra mentored at risk youth and was a director on her faculty’s student council. During her summers, Cassandra has been employed with the provincial and municipal government at Ontario Works and Ontario Community Housing, aiding at-risk and marginalized communities by connecting them to services and programs in their area.
Within her activism and practice, Cassandra is extremely passionate about critically analyzing systematic issues through a trauma informed, anti- oppressive, feminist lens. Cassandra works to engage her community in current initiatives and activism as this niche of work was a taboo topic in her hometown. Cassandra hopes to take her skills and front line experience as a social worker and her passion for human rights, equity, and justice to the international scope by pursuing an internationally based Masters program within Social Work and Community Development & Empowerment. When not discussing human rights abuses or attending lectures and conferences, Cassandra can be found running in the trails as she hopes to run half a marathon by the time she is 22, baking, attending concerts, or visiting with friends and family.
Fatima is a second-year student at Dalhousie University on the un-ceded, un-surrendered Mi’kmaq territory of Halifax (K'jipuktuk), Nova Scotia, where she also hails from. She is currently pursuing a double major in Environment, Sustainability and Society and International Development Studies with a minor in French. She was first introduced to Amnesty International Canada in Grade 11 when she attended a workshop hosted in Halifax, where it was her first time learning about murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada by hearing the story of Loretta Saunders from her sibling Delilah. This experience was a tipping point that fully ignited a passion to learn more about the injustices around her and to use her privileges to make a difference where needed in addition to motivating those around her to get involved in doing so as well. Since that moment, she became a youth organizer and is currently the Co-president of the Amnesty Club at Dalhousie, in addition to being the only member from the Maritimes on NYAAC.
Aside from her involvement with Amnesty, Fatima is active in student politics on her campus, where she currently sits on the student union council as the Arts and Social Sciences Faculty Representative.
Furthermore, Fatima is involved with environmental and racial activism both on and off campus, where she works towards promoting sustainable practices as a steering committee member in the Sustainability Office, and advocates for more support and resources to students of different intersecting marginalized backgrounds as the Chair of Advocacy for the Black, Indigenous, People of Colour Caucus (BIPOCUS) at Dalhousie. When she is not attending meetings or cramming for last minutes assignments, Fatima enjoys watching international films (where her Cancer shines through in her sobbing moments) and eating as many desserts as she can in one sitting.
Aidan Sander is an eleventh-grade student who is currently attending Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific in British Columbia where he has enjoyed meeting many people from diverse cultural and social backgrounds. He joined the council with the hope of gaining more knowledge about Amnesty International and meaningfully contributing to the implementation of the National Youth Strategy. Aside from sitting on the NYAAC, Aidan enjoys reading, playing badminton and volleyball, kayaking, expedition sailing, and canoeing.
Anjali is a grade 11 student currently attending school in Calgary. She is excited to explore her passion of human rights and youth advocacy with Amnesty. Anjali strives to build a better community locally, nationally, and internationally. She volunteers with individuals of all ages through running a variety of programs at a senior home and coaching soccer for young kids. Anjali hopes to continue her education and further her knowledge on promoting human rights and social justice through law.