Organizing Committee

Glen Brown heads a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, organizational development, communications, and policy development for the not-for-profit sector. Prior to that he served as the senior manager at Canada’s largest AIDS organization, the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE). He has been as a leader and board member in many organizations including AIDS Action Now, the Canadian AIDS Society, the 519 Church Street Community Centre, the Wellesley Institute, and currently in Greenpeace Canada. In recent years he has served as Interim Executive Director for the AIDS Committee of Toronto, Pride Toronto and Street Health.

Allison Burgess is the Sexual & Gender Diversity Officer at the University of Toronto.  She holds a PhD from the Department of Sociology & Equity Studies in Education and the Graduate Collaborative Program in Women & Gender Studies.

Michael Charles is a lawyer, consultant, and Principal of Change DeZign, a Firm providing workplace engagement, and diversity & inclusion services.  He has successfully worked with large organizations to leverage diversity strengths and create measurable value. Michael is a leader in community and international development, currently serving with Human Rights Watch (Canada), and previously serving as Executive Board Member of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (Canada).  He has also been a guest speaker on issues relating to law, diversity, and curriculum.  Michael holds a B.A. (Hons) from the University of Toronto, and a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School.

Carmen Cheung is the Acting Director of the International Human Rights Program, including its award-winning clinic, at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law. Carmen joins the Faculty from the BC Civil Liberties Association, where she served as Senior Counsel. She is a frequent presenter on issues relating to human rights, and previously taught a course on equality and social justice at the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law.

Chrystal Dean has over seven years experience in event production, marketing and coordination within the arts and cultural sector. During her time as Vice President of TasPride in Australia, she saw the organization through a transition from small community organization to presenter of major events on the national LGBTIQ calendar. She spent five years working for the Tasmanian Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts in Australia running signature recognition events and conferences for the sport and recreation, and screen (film, television and digital media) industries. Chrystal has a BA in Communication Studies, with majors in Public Relations and Media Production.

Jordi Díez is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Guelph. Professor Díez has taught at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) and the University of Toronto and has been a Visiting Professor at the El Colegio de México, the Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago de Chile, and the University of California, San Diego. A recipient of numerous research awards, from organizations including the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the International Development Research Council (IDRC), he has published extensively on gay and lesbian rights in Latin America.

Douglas Elliott has received numerous awards for his legal work and community service, including the Lawyer of the Year Award, presented by Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped, the Community Service Award of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, the Founders Award of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the SOGIC Hero Award of the Canadian Bar Association,the Distinguished Service Award of the Association of Lesbian and Gay Psychiatrists, the Salah Bachir Award for Community Service, the Leadership Award of the Canadian AIDS Society and The Lifetime Achievement Award from Pride Toronto.

Bob Gallagher has a long history as a queer activist, political strategist and academic. As co-founder of both the Campaign for Equal Families and Canadians for Equal Marriage, Bob has been centrally involved in the battle for equality for LGBTQ relationships and marriage. Out of a fundamental belief in the power of queer youth and queer art, Bob helped found the Gay Lesbian Bi Youth Line and for years was a director of Buddies In Bad Times theatre. For 16 years Bob played a number of roles in partisan politics and policy formation at the municipal and federal levels. In addition to managing many election campaigns, Bob was Executive Assistant to Olivia Chow and served federally as Chief of Staff for Jack Layton and the NDP. Bob’s graduate studies were in political economy, studying with C.B. Macpherson, Steven Lukes and Michel Foucault. He taught social theory and public policy at Trent University. Currently Bob is Director of Communications and Political Action for the United Steelworkers union.

Raymond Helkio graduated from the Ontario College of Art & Design University and works with the LGBTQ not-for-profit sector. He is an award winning film maker, author of The Great Meeting Room, curator for The Reading Salon and a Canadian Ambassador for the Moral Courage Project.

Alex Irwin is Director of Immigrant Education and the Redirection Through Education Program at George Brown College in Toronto.  He oversees programming at the college focused on Canadian newcomers, as well as programming for students with mental health and/or addictions challenges.  Before George Brown College, he worked for 11 years at the Open Society Institute/Soros Foundation in New York City as Deputy Director of the Network Scholarship Programs, where he managed grant programs for individuals from Central and Southeast Asia.  He has degrees from McGill University (BA), the University of Toronto (MA), and Columbia University (MSW), and has an extensive background in LGBTQ activism and community involvement in both Toronto and New York.

Kyle Kirkup is a lawyer, academic, and writer. He is a 2013 Trudeau Scholar and a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. His research explores the role of police, courts, and prison officials in maintaining, contesting, and transforming contemporary norms of gender identity and sexuality. Before joining the University of Toronto, Kyle completed graduate studies at Yale Law School and served as a law clerk to the Honourable Madam Justice Louise Charron at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Ken Meiklejohn is a Director of OutSport Toronto and Special Projects Officer for Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation at the University of Toronto.  After pursuing his doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, Ken worked in the private sector in a variety of roles specializing in strategy development and implementation.  In 2008, he was hired by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto to assist in the implementation of its strategic plan and has been at U of T ever since. As the former Vice-Chair of OutSport Toronto, Ken was responsible for portfolios relating to partnership development and LGBTQ sport advocacy, and he continues to assist the organization in those areas.

Lali Mohamed is an award-winning diversity and equity consultant who works in higher education. For the past decade, his activism has been complicating questions of race, sexuality, migration, class and dis/ability.

Momin Rahman is an Associate Professor at Trent University and also a Fellow of the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies.  His academic work has focused on questions of queer citizenship, most recently the issues that Muslim queer identities raise for both western queer and mainstream Muslim politics.

Ceta Ramkhalawansingh worked at Toronto City Hall for three decades prior to her retirement in 2010. She was responsible for pioneering many ground-breaking equity and human rights policies making Toronto a social justice leader. These policies included the anti-discrimination and human rights requirements for civic agencies, grant recipients and suppliers of goods and services.  In addition, she was involved with City of Toronto efforts to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to include sexual orientation and the expansion of health care and pension coverage for same-sex spouses of employees. During the 1970’s, Ceta was a co-founder and lecturer in Women’s Studies, University of Toronto and worked with school trustees at the Toronto school board to develop anti-racism and multicultural policies and programs. Currently, Ceta is the National Chair, The Word On The Street Canada and President, LEARNXS Foundation She is a board member of the Toronto Community Foundation and Friends of Fort York, a Community Heritage jury member for Heritage Toronto and is the Honorary President, Grange Community Association.  She also serves as a Principal’s Appointee, Innis College Council and is an Executive Committee member of the College of Electors, University of Toronto. Ceta has served on many community and government boards and committees, published many articles on social justice issues and has received several awards including the New Pioneers Award from Skills for Change, the Arbor Award from the University of Toronto and the Constance Hamilton Award from the City of Toronto. Her academic qualifications from the University of Toronto include a BA, MA, a graduate Diploma in Child Studies and residency requirement towards a PhD at OISE.

Scott Rayter is the Associate Director for the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto.  He currently teaches in both SDS and the Department of English. Most recently he co-edited Queerly Canadian: An Introductory Reader in Sexuality Studies.

Michel Savoie emerged from the wilds of Northern Ontario having studied Computer Engineering and quickly found his way into the emerging field of Social Media. Michel has been with RBC Royal Bank for 7 years, and true to the nature of his Gen Y peers, has held 5 different positions. Currently, Michel is Manager of Client Strategy for the 18 to 35 demographic where he regularly consults on digital communications strategy to business partners. In his spare time, Michel enjoys rock climbing, skiing, community service and activism. He also moonlights as a movie set photographer. Michel has spoken on the topics of corporate social media, innovation, and enterprise governance at conferences such as “Social Media for Government” and “Blogworld”. He is also actively engaged in LGBTQ advocacy, acting as a communications advisor to Pride Toronto’s Community Advisory Panel, and sitting on RBC’s PRIDE Employee Resource Group for LGBTQA employees.

Armen Shahnazarian is a Teaching and Learning Coach at the Secondary level with Model Schools for Inner Cities. Armen co-facilitates Gay Straight Alliance clubs at three Secondary schools, and is the current Chair of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation’s, District 12 GSA Committee.

Chris Tatham is a PhD Candidate in Sociology and Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. Chris’ research interests include sexuality, gender, law, health, qualitative methods and research ethics. His dissertation focuses on sexuality, human rights, health prevention and the criminalization of non-disclosure of HIV in Canada.

Barry Waite brings more than 20 years of progressive public relations and marketing communications experience to his role as the Program Coordinator of the Corporate Communications and Public Relations Program at Centennial College. He is well-versed in external and internal communications; social media; brand-building public relations; product marketing; event management; and issues and crisis management in multiple sectors, including retail, health care, financial services and technology. After graduating York University with an Honours B.A. in English and Political Science, Barry worked for the Government of Ontario at Expo 86. Following Expo, he joined one of Canada’s leading independent public relations firms, where he held a number of positions culminating in senior vice president. He led high profile, successful communications programs for clients including Interac Association, Marks & Spencer, Whole Foods Market and Canada’s generic drug industry. Most recently he was as a senior strategist with an Internet marketing firm where he specialized in developing impactful online and social media programs for clients. Barry was actively involved with the Corporate Communications & Public Relations Program prior to joining the College, through mentoring students, field placements and serving as Chair of the Program Advisory Committee for four years. He also has extensive volunteer experience including serving four years as president of a not-for-profit organization that organizes an annual charity run and four years on the Development Committee at Fife House. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Community One Foundation. 

Wade Wright is in the final stages of his doctorate in law (J.S.D.) degree at Columbia Law School, where, as an Associate in Law, he also taught from 2007 to 2010. Before Columbia, he was an associate lawyer at a major Toronto law firm, and was also a law clerk for Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin at the Supreme Court of Canada. He holds law degrees from Osgoode Hall Law School (LL.B.) and the University of Cambridge (LL.M.). He researches and publishes primarily in the area of Canadian and comparative constitutional law, including queer rights.