2022-2023 Board of Directors
Alain Mootoo is the Chief Operating Officer of the CAMH Foundation. Alain is responsible for governance, strategy, risk management, business performance, human resources, development research, prospect management, customer service, operations and administration of the Foundation. Alain has over 20 years of leadership experience in the non-profit and for-profit sectors with organizations like Lumenus Community Services, Surrey Place, March of Dimes, Corus Entertainment, Ernst and Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Alain has leveraged his lived experience as an immigrant to Canada, a foreign-trained professional and a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community to launch award-winning, innovative programs and events for marginalized populations in 140 communities across Canada. He has served as a Board Treasurer and a Board member with organizations like COTA, the Sherbourne Health Centre and Dancing Classrooms (Canada). Alain is a CPA, CGA, a Fellow of the Association of Certified Professional Accountants (ACCA) and holds a Master of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MMIE) from the Smith School of Business at Queens University. Based in Toronto, Alain has served on Dignity Network Canada’s Finance Committee since 2021 and is currently Finance Chair and Treasurer on the Board. (Term 2022-24)
Dr. Chamindra Weerawardhana is an intersectional feminist human rights defender, academic and political analyst. An alumna of Université de Tours, France, she completed her PhD (international politics) at Queen’s University Belfast. An experienced political lobbyist, Chamindra has developed extensive international dialogues on SOGIESC rights with political parties and leaders in the
UK/Ireland, Canada and Sri Lanka. She is the founder of the Consortium for Intersectional Justice, a human rights-focused political lobbying initiative. She is the Secretary to the Governance Board of the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network. She held a fellowship at the Chair in Transgender Studies at the University of Victoria in 2019-2020. As a Senior Consultant at ILGA World, Chamindra provides thought leadership to the Trans Rights and Sport and Human Rights portfolios. She has been a fundraiser to several trans-competent and feminist initiatives in Sri Lanka and abroad. An experienced grant writer and evaluator, Chamindra is a member of the Grant-Making Panel of the International Trans Fund. An active participant in the Francophonie, Chamindra began her academic career in France, notably at the Université Sorbonne Paris Nord, INALCO, and Lille, and continues to contribute to the Université Laval’s Université féministe d’été, the Société québécoise de science politique, and Women and Gender Studies/Recherches féministes. She is also a regular lecturer at numerous Canadian and Quebec universities. Also involved in the francophone human rights sector, she regularly collaborates with organizations such as Égides, the Réseau québécois en études féministes, and the Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale. Currently residing in Lekwungen Territory, Chamindra is the author of the monograph Decolonising Peacebuilding, and many peer-reviewed publications. (Term 2022-24)
Remie Abi-Farrage is a dedicated advocate in women’s rights and social justice. As a Senior Program Officer at the Equality Fund, she empowers women’s rights organizations, feminist movements, and LGBTQI+ communities, particularly in the Global South. With a strong commitment to feminist philanthropy, Remie’s involvement in global feminist and youth movements highlights her dedication to shifting power dynamics. She champions core funding for local groups while facilitating impactful work as donors. Beyond her role, Remie co-chairs Dignity Network Canada’s Advocacy and Government Relations Working Group and serves on the board of the Doria Feminist Fund. Her identity as a Queer Arab Feminist with strong Lebanese roots informs her work, emphasizing inclusivity and cultural bridging. As a child of immigrant parents, Remie draws upon her upbringing to infuse her work with inclusivity and commitment in centring the voices of under-resourced groups. Demonstrating her unwavering dedication to social justice and equality, her passion continues to shape her trajectory, making Remie an inspiring force for change on the global stage. Remie is nominated to the DNC Board by Egides.
Dani Gomez-Ortega is a trans inclusion advocate with a passion for empowering youth and community engagement. She is the current Manager, Student Experience at Ryerson University where she works closely with staff, faculty, and community partners to remove barriers to access for 6000+ students. As an MBA candidate at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Dani co-founded the Equity and Diversity Bootcamp, a program that educates and empowers future business leaders to increase inclusion in their organizations. Prior to her work at Ryerson, Dani served on the steering committee of PrideHouseTO, an organization that advocates for the global inclusion of 2SLGBTQ+ folks in sports, where she also led the development of a street festival that increased the profile of inclusion in sports during the 2015 Pan American Games. In other community leadership roles in organizations like Toronto PFLAG (2013-2015) and Out and Out Toronto (2015-2017), Dani has been a fierce advocate for the inclusion of young 2SLGBTQ+ folks, developing and executing strategies to connect with diverse younger demographics and increase visibility of their needs. As a result of her work, Dani has won a Bill 7 Award (2015), Student Leadership Award (2015), and Student Life Award (2014). Dani’s work and commitment to inclusion are shaped by her experience as a disabled Latinx, immigrant transgender woman.
Debbie Owusu-Akeeyah is a first-generation Ghanaian-Canadian cisgender queer woman who is dedicated to the liberation of all her communities. She is currently the Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity and based in Ottawa. Debbie has deep roots in program and project management, gender-based analysis, feminist foreign policy and international affairs. She completed her graduate school studies in International Affairs, specializing in International Development Policy at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (Carlton University). She has worked at Global Affairs Canada as a policy analyst responsible for strategic advice on child protection, gender equality and broader sexual and gender-based violence issues, with a particular focus on adolescent girls and the girl child. Prior to CCGSD, she was Campaign and Outreach Officer at Oxfam Canada, responsible for developing public engagement strategies. She has also been a Board member and Chair of several organizations, including the new Venus Envy Access Fund and Harmony House Women’s Shelter. Debbie is currently Co-Chair of Dignity Network Canada’s Advocacy and Government Relations Working Group and she is also involved in assisting coordination globally around opposition to the anti-LGBTIQ bill in the Ghanaian parliament. Debbie is nominated to the DNC Board by CCGSD.
Haran Vijayanathan has over 16 years of experience working in the non-profit sector. He has been working in the area of HIV sector in Community Health Centre settings and in social service organizations. He has lived and worked in many communities in Ontario and brings with him the cultural sensitivity on addressing issues around HIV, 2SLGBTQ+ issues and intersectional identities and diversity within these communities through work with Rainbow Health Ontario. He is the founder of My House: Rainbow Resources of York Region and the Executive Director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP). ASAAP is the only AIDS Service Organization serving the South Asian community in Ontario and in Canada. In his current leadership role, Haran has most recently been a critical thought leader in national media, addressing systemic racism, homophobia and classism as it relates to missing persons and families/friends of LGBTQ community impacted by the serial killings in Toronto. Haran was a Community Advisory Group member with the Independent Review of Missing Persons, Toronto Police Service and currently sits on the implementation committee of the 151 recommendations from the report. Haran was the 2018 Grand Marshal for Toronto Pride. He resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba and works at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as their Director, Equity and Strategic Initiatives.
Healy Thompson is the Senior Manager of Advocacy at the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) where she leads the organization’s strategic work within international development and philanthropic communities to advance support for community-led organizations addressing the impacts of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Over the last 8 years, Healy has worked in variety of positions at the SLF including as the Senior Development Officer for Foundation Giving, as the Manager of Community Campaigns and Strategic Initiatives, and as the Manager of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. Previous to joining the SLF, Healy did graduate studies in Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies at York University in Toronto and worked in global HIV and AIDS advocacy movements in the United States. Healy is non-binary, queer, a former competitive athlete, a community-builder, a baker, and a pun lover. She lives in Waterloo, Ontario with her partner and two kids.
Jane Thirikwa has extensive expertise and experience in social justice work including gender equality and women’s empowerment, women’s and LGBQ human rights, advocacy and fundraising for grassroots organizations. She has worked within Kenya’s civil society, in the U.S.A. and now in Canada. Jane is currently, the Global Partnerships Coordinator at KAIROS Canada, leading collaborative women, peace and security programs with partnering grassroots women’s organizations, women and women human rights defenders in the Global South. In Kenya, Jane worked in advocacy programs at the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), coordinating grassroots initiatives as well as building partnerships with the wider social justice movement in Kenya and east Africa. Jane also worked with and participated in the collaborative research projects that provided space in which to engage the LGBTQ community in Kenya, in particular, to challenge systems of power and structures of dominant representation of their stories and experiences. The documentation enabled the community to reflect on the knowledge produced about their contexts, and visibalize transformative actions. Jane is a Gender and Women’s Studies graduate from York University and is also an Atlas Corps and Human Rights Campaign Fellow (2014). She volunteers at Rainbow Connect, a LGBTQ+ newcomer support program at St. Stephen’s Community House, Toronto, helping newcomers to successfully settle into their new life in Canada.
Michael Arnaud comes from the humanitarian and international development sector. He is the current Executive Director of Égides, an international francophone alliance of civil society organizations and groups supporting and promoting LGBTQI+ rights globally. He is also Action Against Hunger’s Canada former Associate Director for gender equality and gender-based violence, providing strategic and technical direction at international level for the integration of gender issues and the prevention of gender-based violence in assistance programs. Determined promoter of a people and diversity centred approach, he has continuously advocated for a better awareness of power relations, oppression and the necessity to support the voices of the most marginalized in all the organizations he has worked for. With a Master’s degree in international humanitarian law, he has been working for the past 10 years on gender, equality, diversity and gender-based violence in various contexts, including in Burkina Faso, Haiti, Vietnam and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He also actively supports LGBTQI+ rights through various volunteer roles in the communities.
Nishin Nathwani is the Senior Advisor to Rainbow Railroad and advises the Executive Director on policy, strategy, and operations. He also advises on relations with the United Nations and governmental bodies. Mr. Nathwani joined Rainbow Railroad in the summer of 2021 in the wake of the Afghanistan response and has since played a key role supporting the organization’s strategic development. Mr. Nathwani also recently served as the Lead Technical Expert for a six-country research study commissioned by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on LGBTQI+ migrants. Previously, he worked for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Switzerland, Lebanon, and Greece on the protection of gender-based violence survivors and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) refugees. In 2015, he spearheaded UNHCR’s first global project to evaluate its efforts to protect LGBTI refugees covering 106 operations worldwide. His writings on refugee protection have been published by UNHCR, Oxford University Press, and International Peace Institute. Mr. Nathwani holds a B.A. degree from Harvard University and two graduate degrees in History (M.A.) and Political Science (M.Phil.) from Yale University, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in Political Science at Yale University specializing in international refugee and human rights law and climate-related displacement. Mr. Nathwani was recognized as a Global Changemaker by the British Council and was one of the six youngest delegates to the 2010 World Economic Forum in Davos. He was also recognized by Pacific Standard as one of the 2016 “Top 30 Thinkers Under 30” in economics, education, and political science. He was nominated to the DNC Board by Rainbow Railroad. (Term 2022-24)
Paula Tenaglia is Action Against Hunger Canada’s Director of Operations. She covers an international portfolio of programmes on gender equality and gender-based violence risk mitigation, safeguarding and nutrition. She engages in organizational policy work, institutional and corporate partnerships and advocacy and learning and development initiatives. Much of her work is currently focused on ensuring safe and accountable programming, advocating for and working on multisectoral gender transformative approaches at organizational and programmatic levels as well as the promotion of innovative approaches and technology for ending hunger. Paula has worked for the Action Against Hunger International Network for 13 years in East and West Africa, Central America, USA and Canada. Prior to that, she worked with the World Food Programme. Paula holds a Master’s in Migration and Refugee Studies from the University of Sussex and a B.A.(Hons) in International Development Studies from the University of Guelph. Proudly from Northern Ontario, Paula now lives with her wife and son in Toronto and the three are avid explorers of Canada’s amazing outdoors. Paula is a passionate and dedicated advocate for global and national migration and refugee issues and supports together with the support of family and friends the sponsorship of refugees to Canada. Paula is being nominated to the DNC Board by Action Against Hunger.
Sizwe Ishema Inkingi came to Canada in 2010 from Zimbabwe as an International Student. She graduated with a Bachelors in Strategic Public Opinion and Policy Analysis from The School of Public Affairs and Policy Management at Carleton University. Over the past five years, as OCASI’s full-time Bilingual Positive Spaces Coordinator, she has worked to lead a French and English public education campaign to inform service providers and the public at large about the urgent need for positive spaces and programming for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual+ (LGBTQIA+) migrants and communities. As the lead coordinator of this project, Sizwe has worked to build OCASI’s organizational and structural capacity to support LGBTQIA+ migrants, in particular through hosting roundtable discussions, developing educational resources and training modules, and facilitating sometimes fraught and difficult conversations with professionals in Ontario’s wide-ranging settlement sector. Sizwe’s work has primarily been focused on supporting the creation of national LGBTQIA+ guidelines that offer operational skills, tools, and resources to ensure that gender and sexually diverse immigrants, refugees and newcomers are accessing barrier-free settlement services. As a self-identified African Trans-Fem woman, Sizwe is committed to creating these resources and support LGBTQIA+ newcomers to flourish holistically in their communities. Since 2019, Sizwe has been OCASI’s representative to Dignity Network Canada, has been an active participant in DNC’s Community of Practice on international SOGIESC human rights work and is currently the Co-Chair of the Community of Practice. As a prospective board member, Sizwe is committed to bringing strategic foresight and innovation alongside research skills to leverage the values and mission of Dignity Network Canada.
Steve Bastien has a Bachelor’s degree in social work with training in theatre and anthropology, and has been working in the social services field for over twenty years. Based in Montréal, he has mainly worked at the college level in psycho-social support services and has extensive experience in the settlement and integration of newcomers, men’s health and LGBTQI issues. Steve has also worked in theatre, television and film. As a host and master of ceremonies, he has co-hosted two editions of the Quebec LGBT Council’s Arc-en-ciel Gala. In 2017, he was the moderator of the international Equality and Legal Conference on Gender Diversity. He facilitated the national conference and AGM of Pride Canada Pride in Ottawa in 2019. Steve has been an Ambassador for Fierté Canada Pride’s People of Colour Council since 2018. He is a former President of the Board of Directors of Arc-en-ciel d’Afrique, the first community organization in Quebec representing LGBTQI+ people from African-descendant communities. He is a frequent speaker on issues affecting racialized groups, youth, education and immigration and LGBTQI+ realities. Steve was the recipient of the Commitment Award during the 2010 edition of the City of Montreal’s Black History Month. His professional practice as well as his social involvement with 2SLGBTQI+ communities, racialized groups and youth, convince him that communication, compassion, awareness and art help us to go beyond our prejudices. Steve fundamentally believes that human beings are much more alike than different. Steve is being nominated to the DNC Board by Fierté Canada Pride.
Doug Kerr is originally from Edmonton, Alberta on Treaty 6 Territory and has made Toronto home since 1996. Doug has a BA from the University of Alberta in International Relations and Chinese Studies, and an MSW from the University of Toronto. He has a certificate from the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in International Law Program from Leiden University in The Hague. Doug was Chair of the Board of Directors of Community One Foundation for six years and is one of the founders of the LGBT Giving Network, dedicated to enhancing philanthropy for LGBTQ2S & HIV/AIDS causes in Canada. In 2014, he was Chair of the International Human Rights Program for Pride Toronto. In this role, Co-Chaired the WorldPride Human Rights Conference. Doug has also been a volunteer with InterPride, the global network of Pride organizations and was the lead on setting up its Solidarity Funding program between 2015 and 2018. In addition to running his own nonprofit management consulting practice, Doug has taught nonprofit strategy at the University of Toronto and international social justice at Centennial College. Doug served as Vice President of Fierté Canada Pride for two years. He was one of the founders of Dignity Network in 2015 and in this capacity, he was also a civil society representative on the Executive of the Equal Rights Coalition, an intergovernmental body dedicated to advancing LGBTI human rights globally. Due to his community work, he was a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the Steinart and Ferreiro Award in 2016. He and his husband Michael are co-owners of Glad Day Bookshop, the oldest LGBTQ2S bookstore in the world and are also very proud parents of nine-year-old Malaki. Doug speaks Mandarin Chinese and is always working on his French.
Director, Operations & Member Relations
Althea Branton (she/her/elle) has an Honours Bachelor of Science in Language from Laurentian University and a Certificate in Human Resource Management (Honours) from Sheridan College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning. Althea is bilingual in English & French. She is genuinely involved in intersectional womanism from a Black SOGIESC perspective. Althea has led successful talent acquisition, operations & organizational design initiatives for some of the world’s most recognizable brands. Althea has a proven track record of providing strategic & consultative support to senior management and C-suite roles. She has also worked in local grassroots organizations to understand the complex realities of equity-deserving groups & underestimated populations – specifically people of the global majority. As Fierté Canada Pride’s Projects Lead, Althea created the ‘Rural & Remote Pride Collective’ – a space where tangible opportunities for rural & remote Pride organizations exist to engage in conversation, connection, collaboration and advocacy. When Althea is not actively dismantling the kyriarchy, she loves to design skincare, play soccer with her child and eat all sorts of chocolate.
Althea Branton (she/her/elle) est titulaire d’un baccalauréat en sciences du langage de l’Université Laurentienne et d’un certificat en gestion des ressources humaines (avec mention) d’Institut de technologie et d’apprentissage avancé du Sheridan College. Althea est bilingue et peut facilement travailler en français et en anglais. Elle est véritablement impliquée dans le féminisme intersectionnel du point de vue de la SOGIESC noire. Althea a mené avec succès des initiatives d’acquisition de talents, d’opérations et de conception organisationnelle pour certaines des marques les plus connues au monde. Althea a fait ses preuves en matière de soutien stratégique et consultatif aux cadres supérieurs et aux dirigeants. Elle a également travaillé au sein d’organisations locales afin de comprendre les réalités complexes des groupes en quête d’équité et des populations sous-estimées – en particulier les personnes appartenant à la majorité mondiale. En tant que Chargée des projets de Fierté Canada Pride, Althea a créé le « Collectif des Fiertés rurales et éloignées » – un espace où les organisations Fiertés rurales et éloignées ont des occasions concrètes de s’engager dans la conversation, la connexion, la collaboration et la défense des droits. Quand Althea n’est pas en train de démanteler activement la kyriarchie, elle aime créer les soins de la peau, jouer au soccer avec son enfant et manger toutes sortes de chocolat.
Policy and Advocacy Officer
Emmett Mark hails from Vancouver, BC, and holds a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia; he is in the final stages of an MA from Carleton University. With a background in advocacy campaigns spanning all levels of government, Emmett worked for several federal parliamentarians in the House of Commons and Senate before entering the international development field. Notably, he focused on the diversity, inclusion and youth portfolio during the 43rd Canadian Parliament, actively promoting LGBTQ2S and youth inclusion in politics. Before joining Dignity Network Canada, Emmett served as Executive and Project Assistant at the Parliamentary Centre, Canada’s oldest non-governmental organization dedicated to strengthening inclusive democratic institutions. In this role, he played a pivotal part in facilitating parliamentary and diplomatic engagement through innovative event programming. Additionally, he advanced pro-democracy initiatives across various external partnerships and outreach projects. Emmett also serves as Vice President of the Canadian International Council’s Young Professionals Network and is on the board of his local community foundation. In his leisure time, he enjoys scrutinizing electoral boundary delimitation, reading Russian literature, and seeking new avenues for engagement in international development as a young professional.