Zanana Akande currently serves as the Chair of BLAC. Zanana was the first Black woman elected to the Ontario Legislature, and the first Black woman to serve as a cabinet minister in Canada. A New Democratic MLA from 1990 to 1994, she represented the downtown Toronto riding of St. Andrew-St. Patrick and served as a cabinet minister in the government of Bob Rae.
After leaving politics, Zanana served as president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Canadian Alliance of Black Educators and Toronto Child Abuse Centre. She also worked with United Way of Greater Toronto, the Family Services Association and the Elizabeth Fry Society. She was the recipient of the African Canadian Achievement Award for Education and the Award of Distinction from the Congress of Black Women, selected one of the Women of Distinction by the YWCA, Toronto, and presented The Keys to the City by the mayor, John Tory, for her work in equity and social justice.
Aba Stevens serves as Secretary of BLAC’s Board of Directors. She is a New York and Ontario-called attorney with a long-established commitment to equity and human rights.
She has served in a voluntary capacity for numerous community organizations and initiatives, including as vice chairperson of The Black Secretariat. More recently, she organized a coalition of community organizations and equity-seeking individuals to respond to proposed diversity-related amendments to the Ontario Securities Commission’s corporate governance rule.
Aba’s legal practice has focused on securities, white collar criminal and constitutional law. As legal counsel to the Ontario Securities Commission and the Canadian Securities Transition Office, she has advised on wide ranging law reform initiatives relating to corporate governance, systemic risk, derivatives, market regulation, capital raising, data collection and emergency powers. Through her ongoing work to reform Canada’s securities regulatory framework including the proposed Cooperative Capital Markets Regulatory System, she specializes in modelling and advising through complex transitions.
Roy Williams is Professor Emeritus, Ryerson University School of Business. He has been an academic, business owner and a lifelong community advocate against racial discrimination, and for racial equity and social justice.
As the founding president of the Jamaican Canadian Association, he has been involved in a wide range of social and civil rights issues that has helped to change this country. These activities include anti-racist immigration, equal employment, employment equity, human rights, policing and justice issues.
Roy advocated for diversified membership of Agencies, Boards and Commissions in Ontario and was the first Black person appointed to the Toronto Police Services Board. There he advocated for promotion of “visible minority” and female officers. He was a member of the Race Relations and Policing Task Force (1989).
Roy has received many awards that include the Harry Jerome Community Award (1989), the Jamaican Canadian Association Trailblazer Award and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Okeima Lawrence is multidisciplinary with a history of youth social infrastructure advocacy, grantmaking, and community development work. He is active on a number of local and international projects and works with organizations to address systemic issues faced by racialized and low-income communities. He has also served as a Director on several provincial and international Boards and Associations.
Okeima has over 15 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector administering and managing complex programs and initiatives, including leadership roles at the Youth Challenge Fund and United Way Toronto. Currently, Okeima is the Creative Director of Creative Practices Institute, a client centered boutique coaching and organizational development practice, and he currently works with the City of Toronto.
Okeima graduated from York University’s Political Science and International Relations program, Spec. Hon. BA., and is a 2010 graduate of the Rotman School of Management’s Executive Program in Small Business Development.
Dr. Wesley Crichlow
Dr. Crichlow was the first Associate Dean of Equity, Chair President’s Equity Taskforce and Director for Engagement and Recruitment for Youth in Care. He currently sit as an expert EDI member on government advisory committees including, Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada which is a tri-agency pilot program administered collaboratively by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC); Director, Equity and Diversity – Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences; Chair, UOIT Presidential Equity Taskforce; Director for Engagement and Recruitment for Youth in Care; City of Toronto Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit: Partnership and Accountability Circle and The Promoting Health Equity: Mental Health of Black Canadians Fund. Social Determinants of Health Division / Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Equity Public Health Agency of Canada / Government of Canada.