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Samya Hasan


Samya has been working with the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians since 2015 and has been the Executive Director since 2017. Through her role at CASSA, Samya sits on various advisory bodies including the Coalition Against Anti-Asian Racism Canada, Ontario Provincial Police Hate Crime Advisory, Peel Provincial Police Hate Crime Advisory, Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change Steering Committee, Toronto Non-Profit Network Steering Committee, and various academic and research advisory groups.
Samya received recognition from the Toronto Metropolitan University in 2020 for her work on civic engagement as their “Democracy Superhero”. Samya was also selected as CivicAction’s “DiverCity Fellow” for 2020-2021.
Prior to her employment at CASSA, Samya worked at the Affordable Housing Office at the City of Toronto as a Research Associate and Policy Consultant. During her time at the Affordable Housing Office, she worked on various housing-related portfolios supporting low-income and marginalized communities including Toronto Community Housing, and Affordable Homeownership. As a Toronto Urban Fellow for the City of Toronto, Samya worked at the Municipal Licensing and Standards division, conducting by-law reviews of business industries in Toronto.
Samya attained her Master of Public Policy degree and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Political Science from the University of Toronto. She is currently enrolled in a second Masters program in Islamic Studies.

Farhat Hasan


Farhat is the Finance Manager at CASSA. She has a Masters degree in Farhat is the Finance Manager at CASSA. She has a Masters degree in Business Administration with specialization in Finance and over a decade of experience in accounting in the corporate and non-profit sector. Farhat manages all aspects of financial record keeping including budgets, financial reports, payroll, bank reconciliations, cash flow analysis and more. She also assists with the annual audit and updates the management about the fundraising needs of the organization from time to time.

Picture of Gurbinder Jaspal, the Human Resources Generalist at CASSA

Gurbinder Jaspal


Gurbinder is the Human Resource Generalist for CASSA. She is a result-oriented professional with plenty of experience in HR operations. She is skilled in encompassing diversity & inclusion, talent and culture strategies, performance management, employee engagement, consulting, talent acquisition forecast, and planning; design and implementation of policy and procedures in consideration of provincial and federal legislation. She has successful experience in working with complex business environments. She can swiftly align organizational values to its structure, systems, and operational processes. Before CASSA, she was managing the Human Resources operations for Accor Plus and currently also working as a Business Partner, People and Culture with The MRG Group.

Qurat Al Ain


Qurat Al Ain has been working with the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians since 2022. She is the Executive Assistant and Membership Coordinator at CASSA. She has done Diploma in Accounting and Business, Certification in Audit and Taxation (UK) (ACCA).

Qurat Al Ain creates and coordinates engagement activities for staff. Maintain membership documents and databases. Research and secure new memberships where possible and answer membership inquiries. Support the HR Generalist and Executive Director with recruitment, hiring, and team-building activities. Scheduling meetings and taking minutes. Assist with meeting preparation with the Executive and Board of Directors. Liaise with external stakeholders. Arrange informative sessions based on the requirements of the members. She is also an Administrative Assistant of the Toronto Non-profit Network.

Picture of Dinoba Kirupa, the GBV Project Manager

Dinoba Kirupa


As a political activist and community organizer, Dinoba has worked extensively in the field of gender equity at the intersection of race. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and later obtained a Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs degree from the University of British Columbia. Dinoba’s passion for addressing gender and racial inequity influenced her work at the United Nations Children’s Fund at the Regional Office of South Asia in Nepal. There she was placed in the Education Section where she was instrumental in writing country profiles on the barriers to education faced by South Asian girls in rural communities. Dinoba’s work in South Asia was furthered through her involvement in the Canadian Tamils’ Humanitarian Association where she visited rural Batticaloa, Sri Lanka to help coordinate efforts to build a community center serving nearby villages. More recently, she has co-published a policy report on the Rome Statute’s understanding of conflict-related sexual violence. Outside of the office, Dinoba is a classically-trained Bharathanatyam dancer who completed her arangetram. She speaks fluent Tamil and loves all things connected to her roots.


Picture of Yomna Omar, the Legal Education for Refugee Women Project Coordinator

Yomna Omar


Yomna Omar has been working with CASSA since 2020, initially as the Project Coordinator for CASSA’s ‘Legal Education for Refugee Women’ project, and since January 2021 as a Projects Manager. She earned a Master of Science degree in Global Health from McMaster University and holds staff and volunteer positions at various nonprofits. Most recently, Yomna worked as a Resettlement Senior Legal Officer at St. Andrews Refugee Services (StARS), a refugee service provider in Egypt that works to enhance the quality of life for refugees and vulnerable migrants through four broad program areas: education, psychosocial, legal, and community outreach. Prior to this, Yomna served as the Senior Global Programs Associate at Millie’s Bookshelf, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring displaced people worldwide have access to adequate reading resources to promote literacy and health education, and as an Emergency Responder with the Canadian Red Cross, taking part in the COVID response. She further provided logistical coordination and interpretation services and delivered training on sexual and reproductive health and SGBV in Greek refugee settlements with The Unmentionables, a nonprofit that provided sexual and reproductive health education, protection, and access to resources to refugees around the world.

Picture of Akhila Appadurai, the B.C Outreach Coordinator for Gender-Based Violence Research

Akhila Appadurai


Akhila is passionate about making mental health care and counseling accessible for marginalized populations, and is committed to bringing an intersectional framework to advocacy work in hope of inciting transformative changes to our relationships with ourselves and with others. Akhila has received her BSc in Psychology at University of Toronto Scarborough, and is currently pursuing a M.Ed in Psychotherapy and Counseling in OISE at University of Toronto. Previously at CASSA, she was a key associate in creating the National Campaign for Combating Online Hate (#EradicateHate), as well served as the B.C. lead for the Gender-Based Violence Research Project focussing on South Asian women experiencing violence during the pandemic. Akhila also served as a Mental Health Workshop Facilitator for SAVEC members, by creating a monthly safe space for psychoeducation around mental health and supportive environment for open dialogue. Currently, Akhila is a Training & Outreach Coordinator at CASSA, assisting with the Spatial Justice Project and with #EradicateHate2.0 workshops.

Mahdiba Chowdhury


Mahdiba Chowdhury graduated from the University of Toronto, specializing in Mental Health Studies.
Currently, Mahdiba is a Project Manager for Health Promotion & Equity at CASSA, where she is dedicated to ensuring equitable access to culturally and linguistically appropriate healthcare services and resources for South Asian communities. This includes facilitating vaccination programs through SAVEC, as well as leading cancer and mental health screening initiatives. Since 2020, Mahdiba has taken the lead in coordinating CASSA’s Annual Health Equity Summit and producing comprehensive reports based on the outcomes of the summit.
Previously, she contributed her expertise to the Coalition for Racial Equity in Education project at CASSA, where she coordinated events aimed at increasing public awareness about racial inequities and facilitated discussions around potential solutions.
Prior to joining CASSA, Mahdiba worked as a Qualitative Research Analyst at the University Health Network. She worked with an interdisciplinary team to investigate psycho-social, ethno-cultural, and religious barriers to accessing living donor kidney transplant in the South Asian community. She also collaborated closely with community partners in the development of ethnocultural education and promotional materials.
Alongside her professional commitments, Mahdiba also utilizes her skills as a freelance graphic designer and web developer. Her noteworthy projects include collaborations with CASSA, Mindfully Muslim, and Safe Mind, Safe Body.

Picture of Samahar Kureshi, the Communications Coordinator

Samaha Kureshi


As a recent graduate from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a minor in Health and Society, Samaha is passionate about research in immigration in Canada, specifically the struggles immigrants face based on their ethnicity, religion, gender, and education, as well as the education of girls in South Asian nations. As a member of CASSA’s communication team, Samaha is responsible for the newsletter, podcast, and blog posts. Aside from her communications role, she is also the project coordinator for the Coalition for Racial Equality in Education at CASSA. Outside of CASSA, for the past three years, she runs a small business with her sister.

Ridah Asghar


Ridah Asghar joined the CASSA team in June 2022. After graduating from Ryerson University with a Bachelors in Policy and Governance, Ridah began her fundraising career working at Islamic Relief and the Scarborough Health Network Foundation where she gained a wealth of experience in fundraising, event planning, donor relations and direct marketing. She is passionate about driving social change for the rich diversity of communities that CASSA serves. As the Director of Development, she is dedicated to advancing the organization’s mission by implementing the annual fundraising plan to help secure funds for CASSA to continue building diverse and inclusive communities in Canada.

Noor Fadel


Noor Fadel (she/her) is an award-winning educator, spoken word poet, and public speaker. Noor examines the role of race, trauma and mental health through youth and racialized women experiences in Canada to better understand the increase of violence towards women globally, as well as the increase in violence and racism towards visible minority groups across Canada.

Currently completing her studies in Peace and Conflict Noor has also worked on national campaigns in Canada to combat online hate and violence towards women, youth, and children. Noor has also completed research for projects focused on eliminating racism, discrimination, violence online and hate crimes in Canada. An impassioned and dynamic speaker, she incorporates creative elements into her work such as spoken word poetry and audience collaboration.

Fahrina Junaid


As an Administrative Assistant in the nonprofit sector, I would like to bring a unique blend of skills and passions to my work. With a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and experience working in Human Resource Management and Business Development, I’m dedicated to supporting organizations in their missions for positive change. My experience in HR allows me to streamline processes, nurture talent, and foster a culture of growth and collaboration.Beyond my professional life, I;m a certified yoga instructor. I firmly believe in the power of yoga to promote physical and mental well-being. Whether it’s leading yoga sessions for colleagues or sharing mindfulness practices, I’m passionate about fostering positivity and balance. I have a strong background in teaching and mentoring kids and youth. Working closely with young minds has taught me the importance of patience, empathy, and effective communication. I’ve had the privilege of guiding and inspiring the next generation, helping them develop valuable life skills and a love for learning.
Feel free to reach out to me for collaboration, discussions, or simply a chat about how we can make a meaningful impact in our community. Let’s work together to make the world a better place! one mindful step at a time.

Suhail Mubeen


It’s my sincere belief that relationships are what fosters productive workplaces and bolstering team environments. I would love to extend my expertise to create a dynamic and wonderful workplace here at CASSA, and I try to bring that kind of spirit to any connections we make for our colleagues and community. I look forward to our continued cooperation as always, and I pray for all our success. I come from a mixed background of ethnicity from two different countries which makes me more open towards a mixed community. I have achieved two masters, one bachelor and one engineering degree. I am a certified Numerologist and a healer. I have worked with the United Nations, Red Cross and UNICEF. My last work with WHO and Save the Children has given me the honor of achieving the Good Conduct Medal from the United States Marine Corp. Looking forward to working with you all.

Lakhdeep Singh


Upon completion of a Master’s Degree in Education, Lakhdeep Singh went on to become certified as an International Language Instructor and he has held various positions in academia such as Elementary School Teacher, Language Assessment Officer, ESL Teacher, College Instructor, and IELTS Invigilator.
In 2011, Lakhdeep Singh wrote a proposal to the community capital fund of the Ontario Trillium Foundation where 60 submissions saw only 21 awarded. The result was the largest in Ontario history and the Trillium Foundation’s half million-dollar grant became the catalyst for building construction of Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Cambridge, Ontario.
Lakhdeep Singh has a passion and purpose for front line leadership in the field DEI focusing on Anti-Racism, Human Rights, Equity & Inclusion. He has worked with school boards across North America during New Teacher Induction Programs in both public and private schools. From local community service providers such as the YMCA to global corporations such as Shell Petroleum Global Solutions, Oregon Institute of Technology, and Crown Indigenous Relations Northern Affairs Canada promoting dignity and respect for all. Lakhdeep Singh was an instructor at Conestoga College for 6 years in the School of Community Services across numerous programs including early childhood education, social service worker, and criminal justice.
Lakhdeep Singh’s recent roles in the field of DEI include Vice President of Equity Education with unlearn, Program Facilitator with The Mosaic Institute, Chief Diversity Officer at Milton Public Library, and more recently he accepted the role of Inclusion Facilitator at Pearl Street Communications. Lakhdeep is also the Manager of Programs with CASSA council of agencies serving south asians. He is a soccer fan, player and coach that is dedicated to the game and is known to score goals with his head and his feet!

Ria Arora


Meet Ria Arora (BSW, MSW, RSW), a dynamic individual with a passion for social change and community empowerment.

Driven by a deep sense of purpose, Ria founded and currently serves as the Executive Director of the non-profit organization, ‘The South Asian Yard.’ Under her visionary leadership, this organization has been making a significant impact on the South Asian community and beyond, focusing on Brown Girl Trauma.
Currently, she is on a mission to drive CASSA to a national scale, promising to bring their unwavering dedication, fresh perspective, and innovative strategies to create positive change on a broader scale.

Tanzina Tahereen


Tanzina is a Post Doctoral Researcher (part-time) at CASSA. She is currently leading a project on the experiences of South Asian International Students in Ontarian Post Secondary Institutions, supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Buckner, University of Toronto, which is jointly funded by CASSA and Mitacs. She completed her BA in English and MA in Applied Linguistics and ELT from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She also earned an MA in Advanced Linguistics (Comparative perspectives) with Great Distinction from Ghent University, Belgium. Then, she completed her PhD in cultural studies from Queen’s University, which focused on the politics of the standardized testing system in Bangladesh. Tanzina is currently the Associate Director of Faculty Curriculum at the Office of the Dean, Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University. In this role, she oversees and engages in the overall curriculum development process in undergraduate and graduate level in the Faculty. Prior to joining York, Tanzina taught for 7 years as a tenured faculty member at a renowned University in Bangladesh. Here in Canada, she has also taught in various contract positions. She published in peer reviewed journals and presented in multiple national and international conferences. Her research interest lies in social justice education, inclusive curriculum, internationalization, educational policies, anti-racist and anti-oppressive pedagogies, politics of education, South Asian studies, and postcolonial studies.


Ozair Asmal


Hello, I am a second-year Social Service Worker for immigrants and refugees at Seneca College. I am working as a student intern for CASSA. I am excited to work alongside a great team for the Coalition of Racial Equity in Education project. In my free time, I enjoy fishing and going on hikes. I also enjoy learning about social issues & reading the news! I love working with immigrants as I am a minority myself in Canada & can connect with them personally, as I am also South Asian & My parents are immigrants. I look forward to working and making an impact on fellow South Asians.

Charito Grafilo


Chari is a Research Intern at CASSA. She is also a Social Service Worker student at Centennial College, highlighting her detail oriented, empathetic and caring personality who seeks to change the lives of others. She has a Masters Degree in Development Communication from the University of the Philippines. She was an Assistant Professor / Program Coordinator for Communication in a local university in the Philippines that helped in the education needs of students from low-income families. With past experiences in communication research, she served as the editor-in-chief for the department’s research journal. In 2021, Chari participated and joined the worldwide campaign of the United Nations Development Program – Movers on Climate Action. In the midst of the pandemic, she was a volunteer facilitator that raised awareness on the Sustainable Development Goal on Climate Action, climate change.