Alyssa Brierley, Executive Director and General Counsel
Alyssa is a lawyer and public policy professional who brings over a decade of experience in public policy, legal service, research and academia to the position of Executive Director. Prior to joining CERA, Alyssa served as the health, social, justice and labour policy advisor to the President of the Treasury Board of Ontario and as the Director of Policy to the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. Prior to her work in government, Alyssa worked as a legal research and communications advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, as a lawyer and policy analyst at the Ontario College of Teachers, Ontario’s regulator for the teaching profession, and as an articling student at Torys LLP, one of Canada’s largest corporate/commercial law firms. Alyssa holds a B.A. from the University of Waterloo, an M.A. in Political Science from York University, a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall Law School and is completing a Ph.D. in Political Science at York University, in which she is investigating the use of strategic litigation in India and its impact on food policy.
Rozeta Aleksov, Program Manager – Youth Housing Rights
Rozeta started her social engagement as a peace builder, youth and women’s rights activist in Serbia. Wanting to maximize the impact of her actions, in 2006 she joined the National Association of Local Authorities, where she was advocating for gender equity and a human rights-based approach in a broad range of policies and services. At the same time, she facilitated networking and collaboration on the national and European level. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration, Local Governance and Public Policies, from the University of Belgrade. She is passionate about achieving social justice through transforming mindsets and organizations, and navigating systemic change while empowering people, especially equity seeking groups.
Afrah Berhan, Human Rights and Housing Program Assistant
Afrah provides case management, communications, research, and program support at CERA. She serves on the Board of Directors of Red Door Family Shelter and is Executive Director and Founder of Eritrean Youth Retreat, a grass roots organization that works towards bridging the gap between first generation and newcomer refugee Eritrean youth by equipping them with leadership skills and access to opportunities to even the playing field. EYR strives to implement leadership building through experiential learning and team building exercises to encourage our youth to become future leaders. Afrah holds a BA in Human Rights and Equity Studies at York University with a concentration in diplomacy and conflict resolution.
Carly Bowie, Project Coordinator
Carly received her Bachelor of Social Work degree and is pursuing a Certificate in Project Management from Ryerson University. Her focus is on bringing an anti-oppression lens to the housing sector to support tenants. She coordinates responsive community projects at CERA as well as provides assistance for direct client services and community education. She is passionate about advocating for stronger social policies around affordable housing that increase social inclusion.
Janice Campbell, Program Manager – Women’s Housing Rights
Janice supports CERA’s ongoing and dynamic work regarding Women’s Housing Rights. She brings education, communities of practice, business optimization, a thorough understanding of contemporary housing systems, subject matter expertise from a social housing delivery perspective, as well as experience working with local, provincial and federal governments, Indigenous peoples and First Nations partners. Janice enjoys working with diverse community stakeholders and looks forward to continuing her work in the housing sector, as informed by her LGBTQ2 lived experience and from her social-justice seeking feminist lens, by contributing to CERA’s mission and working towards a community-driven, government-supported, human rights-based platform of equality while offering innovative and “about time” solutions to some of our most complex social challenges that will improve housing outcomes for all.
Annie Hodgins, Project Manager
Annie manages CERA’s Housing Access, Stabilization and Eviction Prevention program funded by the City of Toronto. In this role, Annie has effectively overseen the delivery of direct services to thousands of marginalized tenants in Toronto, and facilitated hundreds of workshops across Ontario for diverse populations. She is a Ryerson and University of Toronto field instructor, Community Co-Chair for the City of Toronto’s Housing Help Services Network and sits on the Rent Bank Steering Committee and the Board of Directors of All Saints Church and Community Centre. Annie has a background in non-profit administration and grant development, holds a Master of Arts degree from York University, and is currently pursuing a certificate in Non-Profit Leadership at the University of Toronto. Annie is passionate about ensuring that legislation, policy, and services are responsive to the needs of vulnerable populations.
Mel Logan, Lead Case Worker and Project Coordinator
Mel Logan is a Social Service Worker with 25 years’ experience. He has worked in Drop-In Centres, Homeless Shelters, and has worked in the Housing Sector for 15 years. He has been a Supportive Housing Worker at Mainstay Housing, the largest supportive housing organization in Ontario. He has also worked as a Caseworker for Agincourt Community Services Association’s Eviction Prevention in the Community (EPIC) Program and worked as a Landlord Recruitment Specialist. He is certified as a RentSmart Ontario Educator.
Anekie Nembhard, Project Coordinator
Anekie is a Human Resource Project Management Professional and George Brown College Graduate. Anekie is an advocate in her community, volunteering her time with various organizations that represent and support Visible Minorities, Women, At Risk Youth, the LGTBQS2+ Community and Immigrants. Anekie’s has been a volunteer with CERA for over 2 years and her passion for social justice and human rights in housing has pushed her to strive for change. Anekie supports CERA’s Youth Program initiatives and hopes to educate and bring awareness on housing issues affecting our youth.
Paul Omondi, Outreach and Communications Assistant
Paul is a Social Anthropologist with a focus in social development, gender and research. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology and an M.A. in Social and Development Anthropology from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. He is also trained in Human Rights, GBV Programming, Policy Advocacy, HIV and AIDS Management and a believer in social participation as an approach to working with communities to end gender and social inequalities. His intellectual horizon has been broadened by his flair for reading, in addition to participation in conferences and workshops. Paul’s multicultural awareness has been enhanced by his experience working with various communities in the fields of Democracy and Governance, Policy Advocacy, Public Health, Human Rights, Gender and Development and Research. Paul’s current interests extend to concepts of identity construction, home and belonging and the intersectionality of vulnerability.
Teja Rachamalla, Policy and Strategy Advisor
Teja is a lawyer and former physician with a long-standing commitment to law in the public interest and international human rights. She has served as counsel to public inquiries, and independent commissions and reviews, addressing matters of law and policy reform, and in commercial litigation. She has also provided legal and strategic advice as counsel in the broader public sector and the provincial government, with a focus on Aboriginal law and reconciliation matters. She is thrilled to be joining the dynamic group at CERA, supporting its work on the right to housing.
Khaldah Salih, Human Rights and Housing Caseworker and Project Coordinator
Khaldah comes from a background of humanitarian and international development work, she holds a Master’s degree from the University of British Columbia in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, and a Bachelor’s degree from McGill University in Political Science and International Development Studies. She has worked as a caseworker with refugees in Sudan, and in various development and social justice projects in her hometown of Khartoum, and focused her graduate research at UBC on the dynamics of NGOs and activism. Khaldah is passionate about all things social justice and human rights across borders and continents, and is excited to be contributing to CERA’s work on housing rights in Ontario
Ruth Abebe is a fourth-year student at Ryerson University currently pursuing her Bachelor of Social Work degree. She is passionate about tackling issues regarding housing and homelessness, specifically from an anti-oppression, anti-racism and anti-colonialism lens. She is an active participant in mentoring programs within her community and volunteers at community drop-in centres. She has a strong interest in advocating for housing that is affordable, inclusive, and that aligns and upholds everyone’s human rights.
Sofia D’Amico is currently studying at York University and completing her undergraduate degree in Social Work. She is an active member in human rights organizations at York, including Amnesty International. She is passionate about advocating for human rights in Canada, particularly women and refugee rights.
Gianluca De Gasperi Delpino is a third-year student in the Juris Doctor programme at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Before joining CERA as an extern, he spent his second-year summer working in employment, labor, and commercial real estate litigation in the private sector. He also has prior experience in poverty law as a caseworker for Downtown Legal Services, where he represented low-income University of Toronto Students in a variety of academic tribunals dealing with academic offences and appeals. In addition to being passionate about Human Rights law, Gianluca is interested in promoting social justice in the mass media and education sectors, and has volunteered as a student facilitator at Artists Legal Services, assisting duty counsel in providing summary advice to independent authors, musicians, filmmakers, students and other content creators in matters related to contracts and intellectual property management. Prior to law school, Gianluca had a brief tenure as a public high-school teacher in American Samoa, where he taught biology and coached the local debate team. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in International Studies and Classical Civilization.
Samantha Howden (She/Her) is entering her third year of the Bachelor of Social Work program at Ryerson University. Her Social Work majors emphasize both policy-making and human rights. She is currently the VP of operations for the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) Ryerson chapter and has been an active member of Ryerson’s Social Work Student Union from 2017-2019, serving as a first year student representative and treasurer. She plans to pursue her Masters in Social Work within the policy-making field and has a particular interest in Critical Disability, Queer Theory, Anti-Racism and how they intersect within the subject matter of housing and homelessness.
Rachelle Moyal is currently in her fourth year studying in the School of Social Work at Ryerson University, obtaining an undergraduate degree. She has been actively involved in her community working with adults with developmental disabilities at Developing and Nurturing Independence (DANI). Upon graduating, she hopes to obtain a Masters degree. Her interests include working with youth in addictions and mental health, as well as advocating for youth through the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Genesis Shaw-Ottey is currently in her 4th and final year at Ryerson University completing a Social Work undergrad degree. She is an active member in her community and dedicates a significant amount of her time being a youth mentor and advocate for ending gun violence. She has a strong passion to dismantle the deeply rooted structural inequalities that are continuing to harm those in marginalized communities. Her passion and interest continues to grow for advocating adequate housing as a human right rather than a commodity. She plans to further her social work career by accomplishing her Masters and practicing from an Anti-black racism and feminist perspective.
M.C. Cruz is a child of Chilean immigrants who has always had a love for creating and storytelling. They have drawn cartoons in Chile, studied film in Vancouver, facilitated film workshops in Toronto, screened a documentary in Spain and painted murals in Morocco. Creating artwork in multiple mediums and languages is what they live for. “Root Causes” is the most recent animated short film they have created at TAIS and it will be screened at Rendezvous with Madness film festival. They look forward to creating many more short films and a couple of epic features too, while they are at it!
Justin Roque is engaged with CERA as an artist with a firm understanding of how to effectively engage with youth. He has worked as a Philanthropy Assistant at The Yonge Street Mission, where he mastered donor correspondence for marginalized families and individuals of all ages and provided wrap-around care. This included housing services and the at-risk youth services at Evergreen. During his time at the Canadian Centre for Men and Families as an Administrator, he transcribed client interviews and their struggles with housing, legal education, and homelessness prevention. He also worked at Epilepsy Toronto as a Receptionist where he occasionally did presentations at schools to creatively engage youth with issues regarding epilepsy. Justin studied at Ty Templeton’s Comic Book Bootcamp and learned writing and drawing comics, as well as anatomy.