Samya has been working with the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians since 2015. Through her work at CASSA, Samya has served as an advisor to the Ministry of Health Sociodemographic Data Consultation Group, the Special Investigations Unit at the Ministry of the Solicitor General, Ontario Provincial Police Hate Crime Advisory Committee, United Way Centraide’s Equity and Inclusion Advisory, University of Toronto’s Publicly Engaged Scholarship & Innovation Advisory, and the National Coalition Against Anti-Asian Racism.
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.
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.
HUMAN RESOURCES GENERALIST
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
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT AND MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR
Qurat Al Ain is the Executive Assistant and Membership Coordinator. 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 database, Research and secure new memberships where possible. 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.
GBV PROJECT MANAGER
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 connecting to her roots.
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. She is currently 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.
RESEARCHER – TOXIC MASCULINITY PROJECT
Wardah is a graduate of the University of Cambridge where she completed her master’s thesis on citizenship and ethnic minority rights in Pakistan. Her research also explores diaspora experiences, the intersection of ethnicity & gender, and South Asia’s place in history-writing more broadly.
Invested in community-building, Wardah believes in empowering local activists to ensure sustainable social change. With past experience working for Toronto-based organizations, she is committed to encouraging dialogue and advocating for the interests of South Asians.
At CASSA, Wardah manages the “Understanding Toxic Masculinity in the South Asian Canadian Context,” a three-year long community based research project focused on redefining current attitudes and practices about gender.
PROJECT COORDINATOR – HATE CRIME REPORTING
Maiura is a recent graduate of the Life Sciences program from McMaster and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Health. She is passionate about addressing the impacts of the social determinants of health and enjoys fostering connections with community members. For her thesis, she will be examining the impact of racism on the health outcomes of South Asian individuals. At CASSA, Maiura is now the Hate Crime Reporting Project Coordinator where she is engaging with local communities to collect data and inform recommendations and training sessions to four police services in Ontario.
B.C OUTREACH COORDINATOR FOR GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE RESEARCH
Akhila graduated from the University of Toronto in 2021 with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is passionate about making mental health care accessible for marginalised populations and hopes to pursue an MEd in psychotherapy and counselling in the upcoming years. Akhila is committed to bringing an intersectional framework to advocacy work and counselling, in hope of inciting transformative changes to our relationships with ourselves and with others. Previously at CASSA, she was a key associate in creating the National Campaign for Combating Online Hate (#EradicateHate). Since moving home to Vancouver, Akhila currently serves as the B.C Outreach Coordinator for GBV research, and is passionate about making efforts towards addressing and combating gender-based violence in South Asian communities. Outside of her work for CASSA, she also volunteers at the Greater Distress Centers of Toronto as a crisis line responder.
PROJECT MANAGER – HEALTH PROMOTION & EQUITY
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.
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.
DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
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 social justice for people of color and understands and relates to the rich diversity of communities that CASSA serves. As an expert in fundraising, she is responsible for implementing the annual fundraising plan through direct marketing appeals and donor cultivation strategies to help raise funds for CASSA to continue building diverse and inclusive communities in Canada.
PROJECT MANAGER, COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & ADVOCACY
Passionate about community building and social justice, Sonia is working at CASSA as the Project Manager for Community Engagement & Advocacy. As the manager, she is conducting primary and secondary research, creating a public awareness campaign and doing media and legislative outreach against policies that perpetuate systemic racism. Sonia holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts in International Development and South Asian Studies from York University and a Masters in Immigration and Settlement Studies at Toronto Metropolitan University. She brings her lived experiences as an immigrant and 6+ years professional experience working in community organisations as a research assistant, organiser and educator to the project.
PROJECT MANAGER, COMBATING ONLINE HATE, CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Pirathajini (பிரதாயினி – she/her) is continually learning and taking part in community based social justice initiatives. As a project manager at CASSA, she is working collaboratively to adapt the #EradicateHate Toolkit specifically for children and youth in Ontario. When she is not at CASSA, she is undertaking a knowledge-shared project in pursuit to teach the next generation and to keep in touch with her roots. Pirathajini holds a degree in Justice Studies and diploma in Community and Justice Services.
PROJECT MANAGER, COMBATING ONLINE HATE, CHILDREN AND YOUTH
Noor Fadel (she/her) is an award-winning educator, spoken word poet, and public speaker. Noor examines the role of culture, trauma and mental health through youth and racialized women experiences in 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 while also working towards research and policy on the reality of racism, discrimination 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.
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT AND RECEPTIONIST
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.
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
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.
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 of 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 settings. From local community service providers to global corporations such as Shell Petroleum Global Solutions, Canadian Association of Montessori Teachers, and The Halton Resource Connection promoting dignity and respect for all. Lakhdeep Singh taught 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’s recent roles include Vice President of Equity Education with unlearn, Chief Diversity Officer at Milton Public Library, and more recently accepted the role of VP of Belonging at Pearlstreet Communications and Program Manager with CASSA council of agencies serving south asians, leading the anti-hate portfolio. Lakhdeep Singh is a soccer fan, player and coach that is dedicated to the game and is known to break barriers with his head and his feet!
COALITION OF RACIAL EQUITY IN EDUCATION INTERN
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.
TOXIC MASCULINITY PROJECT INTERN
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.
Habeeb, our Tech Intern from Northeastern University, is deeply invested in harnessing the rapid advancements in technology to enhance the quality of life. Armed with a Bachelor’s degree in IT Engineering and currently pursuing a Master’s in Information Systems , he brings in significant expertise in networking, web development, data science, and cloud computing. In addition to his technical prowess, Habeeb has a rich history of actively participating in various student organizations and consistently giving back to the community by sharing and application of his knowledge. Beyond his commitment to technology, he is eager to extend his support to our organization by actively engaging in community outreach and spreading our message. His overarching goal is to fortify CASSA’s IT infrastructure under the direct leadership of our Director of Operations, thereby strengthening our capacity to drive forward our mission of enacting positive social change.
HEALTH EQUITY SUMMIT INTERN
Riya is a fourth year student in the Urban and Regional Planning program at Toronto Metropolitan University. Prior to her studies at TMU, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Life Sciences at the University of Toronto. She is passionate about addressing inequities and systemic issues faced by marginalized communities. Riya has past experience in working with patients and health claims, which drives her passion for advocating for health equity and removing barriers to accessing proper healthcare. She enjoys working on community planning projects that provide services to underserved communities and addresses gaps in resources.
Vedant is pursuing an MSc in Project Management from Northeastern University, specializing in Agile Project Management. He holds CAPM Certification, showing his willingness to take on effective Project management and managerial roles. He has also worked as a Project Coordinator for several event management and marketing companies. His recent work experience was that of Business business process improvement analyst at Woodgreen Community Services. Apart from his professional career, he Is also a full-time musician and likes to keep fit and active.
POLICIES THAT PERPETUATE RACISM PROJECT INTERN
Asha Selvakumar is a 4th year student at Toronto Metropolitan University where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning. She is passionate about community planning and creating a safe and liveable environment. Through her work in CASSA, she would like to learn more about how she could help the members of our communities become safer and more comfortable in where they live, by making people more aware of ongoing issues that affect the community.