National Steering Committee, Project Staff and Consultants

National Steering Committee


Lisa Cirillo is the Executive Director of Downtown Legal Services (DLS), the University of Toronto Faculty of Law Legal Clinic. Lisa is a feminist lawyer and has practiced in the areas of human rights, education, housing and family law in a wide variety of social justice organizations including DLS, ARCH and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. In addition to her legal work, Lisa has extensive experience in public legal education and community outreach. Lisa a long-standing Board member and former President of ACCLE (Association for Canadian Clinical Legal Education).  She is a member of the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Community Advisory Board and Legal Aid Ontario’s Clinic Advisory Committee.  Lisa joined the NAWL National Steering Committee in 2011. 


Lorena Sekwan Fontaine (LL.B., LL.M., PhD) is Cree-Anishinabe from the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. She is an associate professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies at the University of Winnipeg. She has spoken nationally and internationally and has authored articles on residential school issues and Aboriginal language rights in Canada. Since 2003, Lorena has been an advocate for Aboriginal Residential School Survivors as well as Children of Residential School Survivors.  She was a task force member and contributor to the Assembly of First Nation's Report on Canada's Dispute Resolution Plan to compensate for abuses in Indian Residential Schools. Lorena also acted as a legal consultant to the Toronto law firm Thomson, Rogers for the plaintiffs and their counsel in the Baxter National Residential School Class Action as well as to Mother of Red Nations Women’s Council in Manitoba on cultural harm issues. Lorena is also a former panel member of the Court Challenges Program of Canada. 

Sasha Hart is a human rights lawyer and member of the Law Society of Ontario, with public interest litigation experience both in Canada and internationally. Her legal and academic interests lie in the area of violence against women (VAW) and access to justice for racialized communities. She earned her common and civil law degrees from McGill University, where she served as President of the McGill Law Women's Caucus, as well as Vice President of the Black Law Students' Association of McGill. Sasha also holds a Master's in International Human Rights Law from Oxford University, where she graduated with distinction.  After articling at the union-side labour law firm Goldblatt Partners LLP in Ottawa, Sasha worked as Legal Counsel for the Equality Effect and taught human rights law as a part-time professor in the Civil Law Faculty of the University of Ottawa. As counsel for the Equality Effect, Sasha worked with a team of international lawyers on VAW-related test case litigation before the High Courts of Kenya and Malawi.  Sasha's past experience also includes clerking at the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal and completing a fellowship at the McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy, where she conducted qualitative research on the empowerment strategies of a UN award-winning rural women's group in Cameroon. In addition to awards Sasha earned as a law student, she is also a 2011 recipient of the American Society of International Law Helton Fellowship Award.


Martha Jackman is a Professor of constitutional law at the University of Ottawa where she has taught in the French Common Law program since 1988. She publishes and lectures extensively on social and economic rights, equality and the Canadian Charter.  She is regularly involved in lobbying, continuing judicial and legal education, and litigation in these areas, including as counsel for the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues, LEAF, and other interveners in Charter test cases at the trial, appellate and Supreme Court levels.  She was a long-time editor of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law/Revue femmes et droit; a past member of LEAF’s National Legal Committee and Board of Directors; and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Health Coalition.  From 1999-2004 she sat on the Equality Rights Panel of the Court Challenges Program of Canada; from 2007-2011 she held the University of Ottawa’s Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession; and, from 2004-2015, she was the academic lead for two $1,000,000 SSHRC-funded Community-University Research Alliance projects aimed at improving socio-economic rights accountability.  In 1996, she was awarded CRIAW’s Marion Porter Prize; in 2007, she was granted the Law Society of Upper Canada Medal for her contributions to the legal profession; in 2015, she was the recipient of the Canadian Bar Association’s Touchstone Award in recognition of her efforts to advance equality, and; in 2017, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Martha has been on the National Steering Committee since 2012 and NSC co-chair since 2012. 


Anne Levesque is a human rights lawyer who has worked with a wide range of equality seeking groups, legal clinics and not-for-profit organisations on test case litigation, interventions, appeals and law reform initiatives. She is proud to be one of the lawyers representing the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada in its historic human rights complaint filed with the Assembly of First Nations against the Government of Canada for providing discriminatory child welfare services to over 165 000 First Nations children and for its failure to implement Jordan’s Principle. Anne is currently a fellow of the Broadbent institue, the Co-Chair of the National Association of Women and the Law and Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. She is also a board member of the Feminist Alliance for International Action and a founding member of the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program.  Anne has taught Equality Law, Social Justice and Constitutional Litigation as a part-time professor for the University of Ottawa’s French Common Law Program and, as a Ricard Foundation Scholar, completed a masters in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford. She graduated from the French Common Law Program in 2007 and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 2008. In 2015, Anne was admitted to the Common Law Honour Society of the University of Ottawa. She was twice nominated by Canadian Lawyers as one of Canada's most influential lawyers and recognised as one of the country's legal pioneers by the Canadian Bar Association's Futures Initiatives. In 2017, she received the President's Award from the Ontario Bar Association. Anne is from Falher, Alberta


Cheryl Milne , LL.B., M.S.W., is the Executive Director of the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.  She was called to the Ontario Bar in 1987 and completed her M.S.W. at University of Toronto in 1991.  She practised at the legal clinic Justice for Children and Youth from 1991 to 2008 where she appeared at all levels of court and various administrative tribunals on behalf of young people. There she also led the clinic’s Charter litigation including the challenge to the corporal punishment defence in the Criminal Code [Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (2004)], the striking down of the reverse onus sections of the Youth Criminal Justice Act for adult sentencing [R. v. D.B. (2008)], and an intervention involving the right of a capable adolescent to consent to her own medical treatment [A.C. v. Manitoba Child and Family Services (2009)]. More recently she has represented the Asper Centre at the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Conway and the jury vetting appeals [R v Emms, R v Davey, R v Yumnu (2012)], as well as in the Polygamy Reference case at the B.C. Supreme Court and Tanudjaja v Canada (Attorney General) at the Ontario Court of Appeal. She is the past Chair of the Ontario Bar Association, Constitutional, Civil Liberties and Human Rights Section and has served on the CBA National Constitutional and Human Rights law Section executive.  She currently chairs the Children’s Law Committee of the CBA and serves on the Steering Committee of the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL). She was recently cross- appointed to the Child and Family Services Review Board and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. She teaches a Constitutional Advocacy clinic at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.


Zahra Taseer is a family lawyer and an active member of the Law Society of Ontario, with background in human rights and women’s rights work both in Canada and internationally. She currently is on the executive of the Family Law Section of the Ontario Bar Association. Her interests lie in the area of violence against women (VAW) and access to justice. She earned her common law degree from University of Ottawa, where she was actively involved in the Women’s Division at the Community Legal Clinic. Zahra also holds a LL.M. from University of Toronto.  Prior to being called to the bar, Zahra worked for several years with women’s rights organizations including Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, advocating for women’s rights at the regional level and at the United Nations. At law school, Zahra received the Bertha Wilson scholarship for human rights.


NAWL Project Staff and Consultants


Suki Beavers is NAWL’s Executive Director.  A well known feminist in Canada and globally, Suki has worked with the United Nations, NGOs, in a community legal clinic, and she practiced union-side labour, employment and human rights law in Ottawa.  She has written, edited and/or contributed to 30+ publications including on; CEDAW, VAW/GBV, women’s participation and decision-making, sexual rights, LGBTI rights and inclusion, inclusive political processes, HIV and the law, access to justice, and good governance, and she has been a member of the Editorial Board of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law. After serving as Regional Human Rights Advisor in Fiji, Suki was appointed to a series of policy positions in UNDP Headquarters which included; co-leading the development of a global LGBTI Inclusion Index, serving as the first global Advisor on Inclusive Political Processes, and as the Gender Team’s Policy Advisor and Cluster Leader, shaped global approaches to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in relation to issues of Democratic Governance, Crisis Prevention and Recovery, and Gender Based Violence. Working in English, French and Tok Pisin, Suki has engaged extensively with parliamentarians, governments and other stakeholders in Canada, and in all regions of the world, and has partnered with civil society, particularly women’s rights and equality seeking movements, to advance gender equality, human rights, social justice and sustainable development.  Suki developed the human rights program at Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD), including the establishment of the Sexual Rights Initiative, and as the Director of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA), led the participation of 25+ Canadian equality seeking women’s groups in the Beijing + 5 process.  Suki has been a member of NAWL since 1989, and served on the NAWL National Steering Committee for two terms, including as the National Lobbyist and Treasurer. Suki is an alumni of the University of Ottawa (LL.M., LL.B., graduating Magna Cum Laude, and the recipient of the Bassel, Sullivan and Leak and County Carleton Law Association awards, B.A., Hons), and McGill University (B.A.).  


Rachel Kohut is NAWL’s Project Director. A law and public health graduate, Rachel brings almost a decade of experience working on feminist issues. This includes work on access to medicines and intellectual property in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; HIV testing and treatment in Canadian prisons; midwifery and maternal health care in northern Canada; Zika virus infection in Latin America; abortion access and STI outbreaks in Nunavut; and domestic violence and sexual assault in Nova Scotia. She has been fortunate to work with organizations such as the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York City, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network in Toronto, World Anti-Doping Agency in Montreal and UNDP’s HIV, Health and Development Team in Istanbul. Before beginning law school at McGill, and after having completed a Master of Public Health from Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, she also worked in public, environmental, global and indigenous health with Canada's Chief Public Health Office, IDRC’s Global Health Research Initiative, Assembly of First Nations’s Environmental Stewardship Unit and the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation. Most recently, Rachel co-researched and edited a series of four reports on Zika during her time at the Center for Reproductive Rights. These reports were published in collaboration with Harvard's Women & Health Initiative and Yale's Global Health Justice Partnership in September 2018.


Padmah Osman is NAWL’s Project Administrator (Bilingual). She holds a Maitrise Humanités et sciences sociales, spécialisation Information et Communication, from the Université Lumière, Lyon, France. Padmah is a new immigrant from Mauritius, and is currently enrolled at the University of Ottawa in the MA in Women’s Studies. She has worked as a Radio/TV journalist at the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation for 6 years, then started up and managed her family business of books and Publishing, where she acquired her experience in Finance and Administration during 8 years. She then joined the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mauritius, as government Adviser (Policy, Communications and Social Affairs). She has been fully involved in the enactment of two legislations in Mauritius, The Protection Against Domestic Violence Act and The Children’s Bill. She is passionate about social justice issues, women’s rights, family balance and child protection.