About BLAC

Our Staff

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Lesa Francis

Interim Executive Director

Lesa Francis is the Interim Executive Director at BLAC responsible for day-to-day management. She is committed to leading and working with dynamic staff, students and volunteers to carry out BLAC’s mandate to combat anti-Black racism in Ontario. 

Over the past 20 years, Lesa has worked as a Law Clerk for personal injury, family law and estate law firms in Toronto and as a Provincial Program Coordinator and Administrator for multiple specialty legal clinics in Ontario. As an Entrepreneur, Lesa also operates a Grant Writing Consulting company specializing in acquiring diverse funding for local and international artists, as well as grassroots, medium sized and national non-profit organizations. As an author, Lesa has also published literature on topics related to the Black Feminist Theory, Critical Race Theory, Black motherhood and families, and Anti-Black Racism.

Lesa holds a Law Clerk Diploma from Centennial College and a Diploma (Hons.) in Business Administration from the Toronto School of Business.

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Fareeda Adam

Staff Lawyer

Fareeda Adam is a Staff Lawyer at the Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC). She is a graduate of McMaster University and the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.

After graduating law school, Fareeda articled at a criminal defence law firm. Fareeda continued to work in this field after being called to the bar of Ontario in 2015. She has worked for Legal Aid Ontario in various capacities, dealing with low-income Ontarians in both the family and criminal law context. Fareeda has developed a particular interest in the intersections of youth criminal justice and child protection law, human rights and police accountability.

Since beginning her legal career, Fareeda has learned of the importance of naming anti-Black racism and using a critical race framework to meaningfully understand the interactions Black people have with legal institutions.

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Piera Savage

Staff Lawyer

Piera Savage is a staff lawyer at BLAC. She is committed to working towards racial equity by advocating for our clients and breaking down systemic barriers to equality. She began working in the clinic system prior to her call to the bar in 2016, starting at Parkdale Community Legal Services in the Social Assistance Violence and Health division, and then expanding her practice to housing, immigration and employment law as an articling student. Piera then worked at West Scarborough Community Legal Services for four years with a focus on Housing, Social Assistance, and Immigration law. 

At BLAC, Piera continues her work by representing individuals at the Landlord and Tenant Board, Human Rights Tribunal, and Social Benefits Tribunal. She approaches her work from an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and trauma-informed lens. 

Piera is a graduate of Concordia University and Osgoode Hall Law School. Outside of work, Piera loves to sing, cook, and write. 

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Mewded Mengesha

Research Staff Lawyer

Mewded originally joined BLAC in April 2020 as a Research and Policy Coordinator. Since his call to the Ontario Bar in August 2020, he has served in his current position as Research Staff Lawyer. Prior to joining BLAC, Mewded was an articling student at a Toronto based Immigration Law Office where he assisted clients with all aspects of Canadian immigration and refugee law matters. 

Born and raised in Ethiopia, Mewded speaks three different languages, including Amharic. Mewded is passionate about work related to anti-Black racism, human rights, and refugee rights.

Mewded holds Master’s of Law Degrees from Osgoode Hall Law School and Lund University, Sweden, where he studied International Human Rights Law. He also received a Bachelor’s of Law Degree and worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for a few years in Ethiopia.

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Melissa Azore

Intake Coordinator

Melissa is proud to work for BLAC, where her lens on social justice can be put to good use. She is deeply passionate about all facets of promoting equity and challenging the intricate web of oppression faced by many around her, particularly as they relate to misogynoir. 

Melissa has worked for nearly two decades providing administrative support to high-functioning teams in organizations and multiple sectors in Toronto. For the past several years, she has worked in disability justice and is excited to bring this experience to BLAC. She has also explored her many other interests over the years, including working in Brazil for a period of time teaching English. In addition to her work with BLAC, she devotes some of her time to using her training as a doula to support Black birthers and performing as a talented vocalist. 

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Ajani Anderson

Research & Policy Coordinator

Ajani Anderson is a legally trained professional who has been admitted to practice law in the British Virgin Islands and Jamaica. He is a formally trained Legislative Drafter and Certified Anti Money Laundering specialist (CAMS certified).

Ajani holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (BA-Specialist), a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B), a Masters of Laws in Legislative Drafting (LL.M), a Legal Education Certificate (LEC), certification in Financial Services Compliance Administration and a certificate in Regulatory Compliance & Legal Risk Management for Financial Institutions having completed studies at the University of Toronto, the University of the West Indies, Osgoode Hall Law School, the Norman Manley Law School and Seneca College. 

Ajani has significant experience in providing advice on legislative and constitutional matters, legal interpretation, policy and procedure development, compliance, contract review and work in civil and corporate law with experience in private practice, start-ups, non-profit and as counsel in the government service.

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Khaldah Salih

Community Legal Worker

Khaldah Salih is a Community Legal Worker, she works to ensure members of the Black community across Ontario have access to BLAC’s services and to legal information related to anti-Black racism. Khaldah facilitates BLAC’s community outreach and partnerships, conducts Public Legal Education sessions and coordinates BLAC’s communications. Khaldah is motivated to combat anti-Black racism within Ontario and across borders, while centering the experiences and needs of Black communities.

As an independent researcher, Khaldah has explored issues of surveillance and state violence as related to activism. She has worked in several humanitarian and development organizations in Khartoum, Sudan, including as a Protection Assistant at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) where she was a caseworker with refugees and asylum seekers. Most recently, Khaldah was a Project Coordinator at the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA), working on housing rights policy and coordinating youth programming.

Khaldah Salih holds a Bachelor’s degree from McGill University in Political Science and International Development, and a Master’s degree from the University of British Columbia in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice.

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Jody Yaa Dunn

Provincial Anti-Black Racism & Justice Programs Manager

As the School-to-Prison Pipeline Project Manager, Jody is responsible for leading a team focused on combating anti-Black racism within the education and justice systems. Jody is motivated to address these disparities due to the visible inequities that Black youth continue to face. She believes that policy reform and culturally responsive engagement can shift educational outcomes for students across Ontario and beyond.

With a wealth of experience in team management and developing culturally relevant program models, Jody has held positions within youth justice, and educational environments. Prior to her current position at BLAC, Jody was the Justice Program Manager at Peacebuilders Canada.

Jody obtained a diploma in Early Childhood Education and then went on to pursue a BA degree in Psychology at Trent University with a Minor in Women’s Studies. Jody has specialized training in Afrocentric program design and Restorative Justice practices, facilitates international training sessions and mentors others in the field of youth justice.

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Tiffany Taylor

Provincial Anti-Black Racism Community Engagement Coordinator

Tiffany Taylor is a passionate advocate for social justice and advancing the rights of vulnerable people in communities. She is committed to advocating for change in our justice and education systems for Black youth and families. Tiffany is thrilled to work with BLAC as the Provincial Anti-Black Racism Community Engagement Coordinator for the school-to-prison pipeline initiative. From her frontline experience in the field, she recognizes the importance of engaging with, and supporting Black families, educators, and justice stakeholders in making systems better for individuals to navigate.

Tiffany has a double BA (Hons.) in Law and Society and Human Rights and Equity Studies from York University, along with a graduate certificate in Youth Justice and Interventions from Durham College. She has worked with Children and Family Support Services, Associated Youth Services of Peel, Youth at Risk Development Program with John Howard Society of Hamilton, and more recently, Peacebuilders Canada.

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Kenneth H. Aliu

Provincial Anti-Black Racism Project Researcher

Kenneth H. Aliu is a dedicated scholar who works as a Researcher for BLAC’s Anti-Black Racism Project, focusing on the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Ontario. Kenneth has a passion for human rights, law and research and is deeply committed to amplifying the voices of individuals and communities that have been marginalized by oppressive institutions.

He has held positions in several organizations such as Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), Institute of African Studies Association, Carleton University Nigeria Student Association, OUR TURN, Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Center, and Carleton Law and Debate Society. He has also worked for Federal Government as a Junior Policy Analyst with the Drug Policy Division at Public Safety Canada. 

Kenneth H. Aliu graduated from Carleton University with a Combined Honors in Law and African Studies, concentrating in Transnational Law and Human Rights with Distinction. In his spare time, he enjoys spending quality time with his twin brother.

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Lydia Etich

Ryerson Law Practice Program Student

Lydia Etich is the newest addition to the BLAC team. With a B.A. (Hons.) degree in Legal Studies and Sociology from the University of Waterloo and Juris Doctor degree from the University of Manitoba, she is currently in pursuit of becoming a licensed lawyer.

Her passion for advocating for justice has fueled her drive to enter the legal field. As a client-focused advocate, she tackles every matter with empathy, responsiveness, and a strong attention to detail.

Outside of her passion for law, she enjoys spending time with family, oil painting and being an adventurous foodie. She is actively involved in her community and currently sits on the Board of Directors of Monica Place in Kitchener-Waterloo.

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Toni-Ann Honeywell

Masters of Social Work Student

Toni-Ann is currently a MSW placement student from Ryerson University. She is currently working on various areas within the organization, such as updating the resource database, research, and creating new content for the organization just to name few of her roles and responsibilities. She is really passionate and excited about the work that BLAC does, BLAC’s focus on Anti-Black Racism marries well with her research which looks at the Black community’s encounter with racism within Canada. 

Toni-Ann has a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica and a diploma from Sheridan College, Ontario. She is employed at two shelters, one that serves families and the other which serves women and children fleeing abuse. 

Toni-Ann is motivated that social change/justice for the Black community will come and desires to help push for that change for equality and the removal of systematic barriers for her community.