Who We Are

AAMS Executive Team

Karlee Anne Sapoznik
Co-Founder/President/CEO

Present Position: PhD (ABD), Graduate History Department, Harriet Tubman Institute, York University

Education/Training: PhD ABD (History); MA (History), York University; BA (Honours) Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface / University of Manitoba

Contact Information: karlee [@] allianceagainstmodernslavery.org

Languages: English, French, Spanish, basic Portuguese

Travel: Canada, Cuba, England, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Mali, Poland, Peru, Sierra Leone

Professional Background: Karlee Sapoznik, BAH, MA, PhD (ABD) Harriet Tubman Institute, York University, Toronto, is the President and Co-Founder of the Alliance Against Modern Slavery. She works with survivors, researches and publishes works on slavery in all of its forms, social justice and peace, human trafficking, human rights and development, transnational history, genocide and memory, women’s and gender history, the Holocaust and forced marriage. She has represented Canada academically and as part of anti-slavery, anti-trafficking and genocide research projects abroad in Sierra Leone, Mali, Italy, England, Spain, Ukraine, Israel and the United States. She has contributed to various journals and online blogs. Her book The Letters and Other Writings of Gustavus Vassa (alias Olaudah Equiano, the African): Documenting Abolition of the Slave Trade was published this fall by Markus Wiener Publishers, Princeton. Sapoznik speaks across Canada about slavery and the Holocaust, and leads anti-slavery initiatives in Canada, Mali and Peru.

Jeffrey Gunn
Co-Founder/Music Outreach

Present Position: PhD Candidate in African History, York University; Elementary School Teacher

Previous Positions: Musician; Writer (Muzik Etc. / Verge Travel Magazine / Fashionstudio7); Graduate Recruiter - University of Glasgow

Education/Training: PhD Candidate (African History-ongoing) York University; MLitt (Colonial and Postcolonial Studies) University of Glasgow; BED York University; BFA (Honours Music/English) York University

Contact Information: jeff [@] allianceagainstmodernslavery [.] org

Languages: English, Thai, basic French

Travel: Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America

Professional Background: Jeff Gunn, BFA, BEd, MA, PhD (Candidate) is a full-time writer, musician and educator. He has traveled the world extensively visiting all seven continents in various capacities. He has contributed to various academic journals throughout the globe including The University of Hawai’i’s The Journal of World History, and eSharp Journal. He has held the position of “guitar tips” and “music travel” columnist for Canadian music magazine Muzik Etc, and The Guitar Magazine (In Thailand), and has contributed to Verge Travel Magazine, Canadian Musician, Fashion Studio 7 Magazine, YYZ Living fashion magazine and Thai Classic Guitar Magazine. Jeff is the touring guitarist with former child soldier Emmanuel Jal (author of ‘Warchild’ and ‘Blood Diamond’ soundtrack), has recorded and/or performed with a variety of artists including Emmanuel Jal, DMC (RUN DMC), Dwayne Britton (LML Music), Kae Sun, Shad, Serena Ryder and Celeste Siam (DJ). He recently appeared on the TV series “Guitar Picks” narrated by Kim Mitchell, appeared on TED Talks in September 2011, and has had the chance to open for K’naan and Peter Gabriel.

Mekhala Gunaratne
Co-Founder/Director of AAMS Blog and Social Media

Education: Mekhala graduated from the University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She also completed a Masters of Arts degree in journalism at Western University.

Contact Information: mekhala [@] allianceagainstmodernslavery [.] org

Languages: English, Basic Sinhalese

Travel: Asia, Canada, United States

Professional Background:  While completing her undergraduate education, Mekhala acted as President of the University of Toronto Free the Slaves Chapter. In the past, Mekhala has held research assistant positions at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, St. Michael’s Hospital, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. She currently works as a Research Co-ordinator in the Psychosocial Medicine Lab at Ryerson University. Mekhala is also a part-time Toronto-based freelance journalist. Her pieces in print, radio and television have been featured in The Huffington PostThe London Free PressThe VarsityRogers TV’s London Under 30CHRW RadioRabble.ca and The Tyee.

Vanessa Dos Santos Oliveira
Secretary

Present Position: PhD Candidate in History, Harriet Tubman Institute, York University

Education/Training: MA (Social Sciences) Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Brazil; BA (History) Universidade Federal de Sergipe.

Contact Information: vanessa [@] allianceagainstmodernslavery [.] org

Languages: Portuguese, Spanish, English

Travel: Canada, South America, Africa

Professional Background: Vanessa S. Oliveira is presently a third year PhD Candidate in History, at York University. She did her previous education in Brazil with a focus on resistance to slavery through the participation of Africans in black brotherhoods. Her research fields include History of Africa, African Diaspora, and Women and Gender in historical perspective.

Angela Cruz
Newsletter Director / Digital Media Consultant

Present Position: Interactive Media Co-ordinator, Sandbox Communications, Toronto

Education/Training: BA (Honours) International Development Studies Specialist, Political Science Major, University of Toronto

Contact Information: angela [@] allianceagainstmodernslavery [.] org

Languages: English, intermediate Spanish, basic French

Travel: Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, East Asia

Professional Background: As former president of the International Development Studies Students' Association at the University of Toronto Scarborough, Angela brought Fair Trade, the conflict in northern Uganda and other development issues to the attention of students and staff. Fundraising and awareness raising, she exposed students to issues they often missed in the classroom. After graduation, she traveled East Asia, witnessing daily tragedies but also inspiring cooperation and strength. Entering the working world, she now produces and coordinates email deployments and digital marketing for the private sector. At AAMS, she is taking the skills she uses in her daily profession to continue to fight for social justice and educate people in the North about issues that, directly or indirectly, affect us all.

Shoshawnah (Ross) Lautenschlager
Local Projects / Research Assistant

Present Position: MA Candidate in History, Harriet Tubman Institute, York University

Education/Training: Honours BA in History, York University.
Languages: English

Travel: Canada, U.S., Africa, Middle East, U.K., Mexico, Dominican Republic

Professional Background: Shoshawnah (Ross) Lautenschlager is presently a Masters student at York University. She was the MA Co-Chair for New Frontiers; a graduate conference held at York University and is now lending her assistance to the forthcoming conference in Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone Past and Present 2012. Her research fields include History of crime and criminality in Africa and the African Diaspora.

Hassanatou Samake
Mali Project Director / Subject Matter Consultant

Education/Training: BA in Arts (major in Political Science, minor in Business Administration) Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface/University of Manitoba.

Contact information: hassanatou [@] allianceagainstmodernslavery [.] org 

Languages: Bambara, French, English

Travel: Canada, France, Morocco, Mali, US.

Professional Background: Assistant Manager in a non-profit organization (French coalition for youth) in Winnipeg. Hassanatou strongly believes in social justice. She has several years of volunteer experience with various organizations and committees. One of her future goals is to continue her studies in social work in order to work with organizations/communities for a better world!

Kaylee Sapoznik
Peru Project / Manitoba Education / Spanish Language Needs

Present Position: Kaylee Sapoznik is a high school language teacher. She works at Centre Scolaire Leo-Remillard, a francophone high school in Winnipeg Manitoba

Education/Training: Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Arts

Languages: Spanish, English, French

Professional Background: Kaylee aims to expose her students to the importance of social justice, fair trade and human rights. She has spent time in Mexico and in Peru. She takes an active role in partnerships and projects involving Central and South America.

Katherine Hennig
Lawyer/Legal Analyst

Education/Training: Juris Doctor - Osgoode Hall Law School; Bachelor of Arts in Criminology with Distinction - University of Alberta

Languages: English

Travel: Canada

Professional Background: Katherine is a lawyer who practices in Edmonton, Alberta. She deals with issues of liberty, security, and dignity of the person through her criminal defence practice. She has volunteer and practicum experience with the RCMP, Leduc Regional Extrajudicial Measures Program, the Edmonton Institution for Women, and the Innocence Project at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Steven Ayer
Expert on Business in the Non-Profit Sector

Professional Background: Steven Ayer is the President of Common Good Strategies. He has experience as a Senior Research Associate at Imagine Canada. He is a co-author of the report "Corporate Community Investment Practices, Motivations and Challenges: Findings from the Canada Survey of Business Contributions to Community," believed to be the most comprehensive study of corporate contributions to non-profit and charitable organizations ever conducted in North America.

Milko Strbac
Director of Security and Internal Communications

Education/Training: Honours Bachelor of Arts – Criminology, at the University of Toronto. Milko has also minored and received a language citation in Russian language

Contact Information: milko [@] allianceagainstmodernslavery [.] org

Languages: English, Croatian, Serbian, Russian

Travel: Serbia, Croatia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, United States

Professional Background: Milko is currently preparing applications for a dual law and business (JD/MBA) program. Milko has co-authored and published an article with the Centre for Criminology and Socio-legal Studies (University of Toronto) discussing the use of interpersonal violence by political regimes. He has held research assistant positions which included working on a policy proposal with the former director of the Centre for Criminology and Socio-legal Studies to be submitted to Ontario Public Health. He also has experience working in politics and has participated in a number of election campaigns. Milko was a member of the University of Toronto Free the Slaves Chapter. Upon entry into the JD/MBA program, Milko plans to practice in the area of securities/corporate law with a focus on financial regulation.

Alfredo Lopez Saenz
Website / Technology Support

Education/Training: BASc - Mechanical Engineering, University of Toronto

Contact Information: alfredo [@] allianceagainstmodernslavery [.] org

Languages: English, Spanish

Travel: Canada, Mexico, United States, Cuba, Philippines

Isaac Choi
Website Consultant / Advisor

Present Position: Business systems analyst, LG Electronics Canada Inc.

Education/Training: BS(Computer Science with Honours), York University; Computer Engineering, Dankook University in Korea

Languages: Korean, English

Travel: Canada, Asia, South America
 

Amina Juma

Social Media Content Writer & Research Analyst

 
Positino: JD Candidate
 
Education/Training: B.A. Political Science (University of Waterloo); Masters in Public Administration
(Queen’s University).
 
Language: English, Somali, basic Arabic
 
Professional Background: Amina is currently pursuing a law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School. She 
has held research positions in various private and public institutions, working on diverse issues ranging 
from public health to First Nation land claims. While volunteering with Amnesty International (Waterloo 
Chapter), she organized a symposium about conflict diamonds in Sierra Leone and participated in 
awareness campaigns to stop discrimination on campus. She is passionate about human rights and social 
justice and aims to pursue a legal career in these fields.

Bernadette Laplaine

Educational Outreach Coordinator

Education/Training: B.A. Honours (Double major English/Humanities); BEd (Intermadiate/Senior 
Division), York University; OCT.
 
Contact info: TBA
 
Languages: English
 
Travel: Canada, UK
 
Professional background: Bernadette is a graduate from York University’s concurrent Education 
program, and a certified member of the Ontario College of Teachers. Her goal is to create partnerships 
in preventing and ending modern slavery with students, educators, and school boards in Ontario through 
active engagement, curriculum based learning and volunteer opportunities.
 

Sheena Swierenga

Present Position: Resource Coordinator, Foundation of Resources for Teens (FORT)
 
Education/Training: BA (Honours) & BEd Brock University
 
Contact info: volunteer [@] allianceagainstmodernslavery.org
 
Languages: English
 
Travel: Canada, United States of America, Belize, Australia, South Africa, Eastern Europe, United 
Kingdom, Ireland, Western Europe
 
Professional background: Professional Background: Sheena Swierenga has worked extensively in program and resource development in the non-profit and municipal sectors. Most recently with the South Africa YMCA in Durban, where she created policy and procedure manuals for nationwide Health and Wellness Program, completed a needs assessment for the Youth Justice Program and participated in strategic planning. Currently she works for young people at a grassroots youth centre in the Niagara Region. She is enthusiastic about advocating for and empowering young people.
 

Elaine Williams

Research and Subject Matter Expert

Present Position: US Business Immigration Law Clerk
 
Education/Training: Education/Training: MSc Sociology (Migration and Ethnic Studies), University of Amsterdam; B.A. Honours (Labour Studies and Political Science), McMaster University; College Diploma (Career and Work Counselling), Fleming College.
 
Languages: English, Basic Spanish, and Basic French
 
Travel: Costa Rica, The Netherlands, France, UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Greece, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Czech Republic, Belgium, Luxemburg, Cuba, Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and USA.
 
Professional background: Professional Background: Elaine graduated from the University of Amsterdam in 2011 with a Master’s Degree in Sociology, focusing on Migration and Ethnic Studies, in which her thesis focused on how Dutch labour unions could successfully organize domestic workers during a time of heightened nationalism. She also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Labour Studies and Political Science. She currently works as an immigration law clerk at Egan LLP. She holds extensive knowledge of labour trafficking issues and possesses a strong passion to research so that the newly gained knowledge can be applied in order to combat modern day slavery. Elaine is passionate about achieving social justice and equal human rights in Canada, as well as globally.
 
 

Monica Dogra
Social Media & Communications Specialist

Professional Background: Monica is a familiar voice and face when advocating social issues for the vulnerable through media to raise awareness. A Television Reporter with over ten years of broadcasting experience, she has worked for National TV stations such as Omni News/CFMT Television and Global Television Network. Monica covered everything from elections to entertainment, community and crime. Even while covering events and breaking news, she has been passionate to highlight the challenges faced by newcomers, refugees and minority populations. Pushing the envelope as a journalist by delving into issues such as racial profiling, forced marriage, domestic violence and other human rights violations. She also produced and hosted "Diversity In the Workplace" a business television series revealing how inclusion makes good business sense. Monica is particularly passionate about working with AAMS to help create more awareness about modern slavery by elevating communication through strategic planning and implementation of various projects. Utilizing social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, she hopes to move people to take action and make a positive and lasting change. As a communications expert, she is used to pushing important issues and realizes the power of the pen, always aiming to be short, sweet and concise.

 

AAMS Board

Martin Klein
Board Member

Present Position: Professor Emeritus of African History at the University of Toronto

Previous Position: President of the African Studies Association (US) and the Canadian Association of African Studies

Professional Background: Martin Klein is a Professor Emeritus from the University of Toronto, where he taught African history for 29 years. He is an ex-president of the African Studies Association (US) and the Canadian Association of African Studies. He has written extensively on slavery and the slave trade in Africa, focusing on the Western Sudan. His book, Slavery and Colonial Rule in French West Africa (Cambridge, 1998), was an honourable mention in the competition for the ASA's Herskovits Prize, and in 2002, he was given the ASA's Distinguished Africanist Award. He is the editor, among other works, of Women and Slavery in Africa (with Claire Robertson, Wisconsin 1983), of Breaking the Chains: Slavery, Bondage and Emancipation is Modern Asia and Africa (Wisconsin, 1993), and of Colonial Rule in Africa (with Suzanne Miers, Cass, 1999). He has also been a long-time political activist concerned largely with peace and human rights issues.

Karlee Anne Sapoznik
Co-Founder/President/CEO

Present Position: PhD (ABD), Graduate History Department, Harriet Tubman Institute, York University

Education/Training: PhD ABD (History); MA (History), York University; BA (Honours) Université de Saint-Boniface / University of Manitoba

Contact Information: karlee [@] allianceagainstmodernslavery [.] org

Languages: English, French, Spanish, basic Portuguese

Travel: Canada, Cuba, England, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Mali, Poland, Peru, Sierra Leone

Professional Background: Karlee Sapoznik, BAH, MA, PhD (ABD) Harriet Tubman Institute, York University, Toronto, is the President and Co-Founder of the Alliance Against Modern Slavery. She works with survivors, researches and publishes works on slavery in all of its forms, social justice and peace, human trafficking, human rights and development, transnational history, genocide and memory, women’s and gender history, the Holocaust and forced marriage. She has represented Canada academically and as part of anti-slavery, anti-trafficking and genocide research projects abroad in Sierra Leone, Mali, Italy, England, Spain, Ukraine, Israel and the United States. She has contributed to various journals and online blogs. Her book The Letters and Other Writings of Gustavus Vassa (alias Olaudah Equiano, the African): Documenting Abolition of the Slave Trade was published this fall by Markus Wiener Publishers, Princeton. Sapoznik speaks across Canada about slavery and the Holocaust, and leads anti-slavery initiatives in Canada, Mali and Peru.

Mekhala Gunaratne
Co-Founder

Education: Mekhala is currently completing her Masters of Arts in Journalism at Western University. She intends to use her passion for investigative journalism to raise awareness of contemporary slavery, an underpublicized human rights crisis. She has written numerous science and news articles for The Varsity, Canada’s largest student newspaper.

Contact Information: mekhala [@] allianceagainstmodernslavery [.] org

Languages: English, Sinhalese

Travel: Asia, Canada, United States

Professional Background: Mekhala has co-authored publications on mental illness and is presently Managing Editor of the AAMS Blog. Mekhala graduated from the University of Toronto with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology. While completing her undergraduate education, Mekhala acted as President of the University of Toronto Free the Slaves Chapter and as the University of Toronto Undergraduate Campus Representative for the Canadian Psychological Association. In the past, Mekhala has held research assistant positions at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, St. Michael’s Hospital, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Upon completion of her Master of Arts degree, she intends to pursue doctoral studies in clinical psychology with an emphasis on trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as resilience, wellbeing, and mental health.

Nesta Williams
Treasurer

Past Board Members

Many thanks to past board members. Valerie Hébert and Kevin Bales both served on our founding board of directors, and played a fundamental role in launching AAMS.
 

Dr. Valerie Hebert

is an assistant professor in interdisciplinary studies and history, world history, 20th Century European history, and the history of the Holocaust at Lakehead University’s Orillia campus. Her research focuses on transitional justice processes: the trials, tribunals, and truth commissions that help foster the transition from war and violence to peace and stability for countries traumatized by genocide and mass crime. Her book Hitler's Generals on Trial: The Last War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg was published by University Press of Kansas in 2010. Her postdoctoral research examined the Gacaca tribunals of Rwanda. Currently, Dr. Hebert is developing a project comparing the Israeli Eichmann trial with South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Kevin Bales

Kevin Bales had been an academic sociologist for nearly 20 years when he learned that slavery still existed. After examining modern-day slavery, he published Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (1999), an eye-opening, often undercover, investigation into slave-based businesses in five countries, now published in ten other languages. Seeking to reawaken awareness of slavery and reinvigorate a commitment to ending it globally, in 2000, Kevin co-founded Free the Slaves, a non-profit organization that frees slaves, helps former slaves stay free, advocates to governments and corporations for policy change, and carries out research. In his 2007 book Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves, Kevin outlines a 25-year plan to stop slavery and human trafficking, identifying what governments, the UN, businesses, communities, and individuals can do to end bondage. Kevin is also the author of The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today (with Ron Soodalter), Understanding Global Slavery, and the coauthor of four other books. Kevin is Emeritus Professor at Roehampton University in London and visiting professor at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, U. of Hull. He holds an MSc in economic history and PhD in social sciences from the London School of Economics. In 2008, the Association of British Universities named his work one of ‘100 World-Changing Discoveries’. In 2010 his work won the $100,000 Grawemeyer Award for ‘ideas that promote world order.’ He is currently writing a book on the relationship of slavery and environmental destruction.

Navdip Kaur Singh

Navdip Kaur Singh is a Sikh Canadian feminist lawyer. She received her law degree from the University of Toronto, attended the Cornell Law School-Universite de Paris I (Pantheon-Sorbonne) Summer Institute of International & Comparative Law in Paris, and focused on comparative ethnic & religious studies while at McGill University. She is fluent in English, Punjabi, French and Hindi, and can converse in Urdu. She is well-travelled in Asia, Europe and North America. She has a strong interest in human rights, social justice and health and is involved in addressing these issues in her community.

Eran Derandonyan-Asombang

Present Position: Accounting Assistant, YMCA of Greater Toronto

Previous Position: Bookkeeper, Quantex Technologies Inc.

Education/Training: Master of Science in International Business Management, University of Magdeburg, Germany; Bachelor of Science in Economics and Management, University of Magdeburg, Germany

Certificates: CGA 3rd level

Languages: English, Bulgarian, German, Armenian, and basic Russian

Travel: Canada, United States, England, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Cameroon

Professional Background: Eran has a M.Sc. in International Business Management and is currently working towards her CGA designation. She has worked for several years as a Bookkeeper, and has experience with various organizations such as the YMCA of Greater Toronto, Quantex Technologies, and Deutsche Post (Germany). Eran is working towards a future career in the non-profit sector. She is very excited to put her skills to work as treasurer of the Alliance Against Modern Slavery.