Board of Directors
Sanga Achakzai – Chair
Graduated from York University with a Bilingual Specialized Honors in International Relations, Sanga is a champion for social justice and passionate about social equity and poverty reduction, Sanga brings with her over 10 years of experience in community development, project management, strategic planning, policy analysis, immigration and settlement, and fund development. Following her passion for gender equity, she took the role of research project manager with the Afghan Women’s Organization (AWO), to discover sustainable development opportunities for women in Afghanistan.
Sanga is currently the Executive Director of Maternity Today, where she thrives to improve midwifery profession and institutional delivery, Sexual and adolescent health rights, gender based violence, community mobilization and advocacy for Gender based Violence victims in the developing countries. She is steering committee member of Color of Poverty-Color of Change, East Toronto Local Immigration Partnership’s Employment and Health Action groups, where she has taken part in community-based strategic planning to enhance diversity and inclusiveness, as well settlement and employment experiences of immigrants in the community. Her professional experience also includes her association with Professional Immigration Networks (PINs) where she shares her expertise in supporting the development of immigrant professionals in their careers in Canada.
Sanga engages with policy makers and key politicians for recommendations and policy advocacy in matters that affect marginalized and racialized communities. Issues she has engaged on include the Poverty Reduction Strategy, Housing Strategy and Human Rights. Sanga is excited about her recent appointment as a Grant Review Member at Ontario Trillium Foundation where she hopes to contribute to building stronger and inclusive communities in Ontario.
Under her leadership, CASSA has twice been the recipient of Proclamation by the City of Toronto for “Diversity is our Strength”
Anjum Sultana – Vice Chair
Recently named the 2020 Global Woman of Distinction by the United Nations NGO Committee on the Status of Women, Anjum Sultana is an internationally-recognized advocate for progressive public policies to create a more just and equitable society.
Anjum serves on the boards of the Regent Park Community Health Centre, Toronto Environmental Alliance and the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians. Anjum is also a Founding Advisor of Progress Toronto, Strategic Advisor for KimboCare and served as Canadian Delegate at the 2019 G7 Youth Summit in Paris, France through Young Diplomats of Canada.Anjum is part of the Global Shaper Community, which is affiliated with the World Economic Forum and is a Global Shaper with the Toronto Hub. She is also part of the Ontario Council for International Cooperation’s Gender Equality and Youth Policy-Makers Hubs.
Sultana is an accomplished public speaker who has delivered keynote speeches, lectures, workshops and participated on panel discussions. Her media and policy commentary has been featured on networks and publications such as Apolitical, CBC, CityTv, CTV, First Policy Response, Healthy Debate, National Observer, New Canadian Media, Now Toronto, Public Policy Forum, The Walrus, Toronto Sun, and TVO.
Anjum holds a Masters of Public Health from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Anjum is also the founder of Millennial Womxn in Policy, a grassroots organization and community of practice that connects more than 3,000 young women and non-binary people working in policy across North America and Europe.
Tanzina Islam – Secretary
Tanzina Islam is a public health planner specializing in health promotion strategies within the community health sector. She is currently the Manager of Health Promotion & Community Relations at the East Mississauga Community Health Centre. In her role, she oversees health interventions targeting priority populations, supports strategic planning, and monitors population needs and advocates for the good health of the Mississauga community. She was a former Project Coordinator at CASSA for the CapaCITY Creators Project and is a current member of CASSA’s Health Equity Task Force.
Tanzina has worked in the areas of mental health, chronic health, gender-based violence, community engagement, social justice and health equity across institutions such as Humber College, Toronto Public Health, St Michael’s Hospital and the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH). Tanzina also leads two independent research projects focused on ‘understanding honour killing as a form of gender-based violence’ and ‘identifying risk factors for global sex trafficking’. She is a University of Toronto Alumni and holds a Master of Public Health degree. Her expertise lies in applying evidence-based knowledge when developing, implementing and evaluating health interventions. Central to her focus is integrating equity-focused frameworks when planning health services for marginalized populations. She hopes to be a part of initiatives that empower communities, strengthening community action, and challenge sociopolitical structures that contribute to poor health and health disparities.
Leanne Saldanha – Treasurer
Leanne Saldanha brings a strong background in arts and cultural heritage to the board. Leanne has graduated from the University of Toronto with an HBA and an MA in Art History. Delighted by the beauty and proliferation of art production in Renaissance Italy and the Netherlands, Leanne was initially drawn to the study of religious and philosophical themes in early Renaissance visual art with a highly Eurocentric focus. It was only later, as a graduate student, that Leanne realized the necessity of exploring and celebrating the complicated and searching works of post-modern and contemporary South Asian diaspora artists and collectives.
She is currently pursuing graduate research in Immigration and Settlement Studies at Ryerson University, with a focus on supplementary art practices that can ease the strain of immigration and integration processes for recent immigrants and refugees. Her research focuses on issues of integration and belonging and the complexity of these social asks in Western societies, especially for diaspora individuals and communities who are subject to experiencing social inequities and injustices here in Canada.
Over the years, Leanne has worked with several equity-seeking groups and not-for-profit organizations with a focus on refugee integration, environmental issues, capacity building, racial equity, community engagement, and social justice. Leanne is highly attuned to the difficulties of social inclusion and equity-seeking in urban contexts and is committed to tackling social concerns for South Asian communities through CASSA. She is also an avid policy and political campaigns enthusiast with a passion for fostering thoughtful and informed civic participation especially in South Asian communities.
Dr. Anita Singh – Board Member
Dr. Anita Singh is a political organizer, academic and policy lead in Toronto. Anita’s PhD research focused on the Indo Canadian community’s efforts to influence Canadian foreign policy towards India. Her research has been supported by SSHRC doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships, which she held at the Munk School of Global Affairs. In this area of expertise, Anita is a contributor to Canadian media outlets on Canada-India relations and has had her most recent work published in Canadian Foreign Policy Journal and Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies. During the last federal election, she worked on a piece with other CASSA Board of Director Anjum Sultana on the impact of brownface on Indo-Canadian communities.
Her passion is organizing political campaigns to ensure that we elect diverse representatives to better represent our society at all levels of government. She was a Regional Volunteer Coordinator for Toronto on Jagmeet Singh’s federal leadership campaign and has recently been elected for a two-year term as Ontario Women’s Representative on the NDP’s Federal Council. During the municipal election, Anita organized for progressive candidates in their bids for a more representative City Council. She has been active in a number of local campaigns during the provincial and federal election cycles.
She currently works in the Ontario Public Service. Anita is excited to start her new journey as a law student at Osgoode Law School in September 2020.
Jessica Singh – Board Member
Jessica is a change agent guided by empathic accuracy; internally driven to work for issues like gender equality, art therapy, access to quality education, and child protection. As a social development professional and research consultant, she offers strategic advice to social enterprises to enable meaningful contribution and provides tools to measure their impact effectively. She works with creativity, consideration and open-mindedness that allows seeing things from unconventional perspectives. She is an author @whenlovelivedalone and an interdisciplinary artist @blueskyandlemonpie.
Jessica is a social worker and also holds a specialized degree in evidence-based research from the University of Oxford. She has 10+ years of experience impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation, multi-stakeholder relationships, qualitative research methodologies, strategic partnerships, capacity building and grant-writing both internationally and in Canada. She is currently serving on the board of North York Arts and has had the opportunity to work with organizations like the World Bank, Plan UK, Credit Suisse, GIZ, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, US Department of State, Centre for Social Innovation, Tedx Toronto and Plan Canada.
Thanuya Mohanthas – Board Member
Thanuya is a Social Worker who has extensive experience in community and youth development. She attended York University for Human Rights & Equity Studies, Seneca College for Social Service Worker Diploma, and is currently pursuing a degree in Public Administration & Governance at Ryerson University. Thanuya is TESOL certified and teaches ESL. She has learned to combine her roots in Social Work with her passion for music, specifically the piano and teaches a unique curriculum to students through Ruby’s School of Music. Thanuya has extensive experience in grant writing, development and facilitation of workshops, community asset building, capacity building, strategic planning, and program evaluation.
Thanuya has shared spaces with vulnerable residents and has sought community partners and stakeholders to take a more collaborative and communal approach in the drafting and implementation of meaningful and impactful programs and services to better suit the needs of the communities they serve. Her desire to improve quality of life and to create better and more meaningful human relations, bring forth a sense of connection and belonging has been the driving force that has propelled her unwavering commitment to social justice and to CASSA.
Bharat Saini – Board Member
Bharat Saini is the Advisor, Human Rights, Equity & Diversity with the Centre for Human Rights, Equity & Diversity at Humber College. In this role, Bharat conducts early interventions and human rights investigations into allegations of discrimination and harassment; provides consultation on human rights related inquiries; works closely with the Director on Humber’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce; and is the lead on Humber’s Employment Equity Program.
Bharat has been working in the post-secondary sector for more than a decade in the areas of disability, accessibility, human rights and inclusion. He has completed his Bachelor of Science Honours, Bachelor of Education and Master of Education degrees from York University. Bharat is also an Ontario Certified Teacher.
Prior to joining Humber, Bharat held the position of Senior Disability Consultant & Program Supervisor with the Centre for Students with Disabilities at OCAD University. During his tenure, Bharat provided consultation and training in the areas of academic accommodations and human rights. Additionally, he participated in numerous committees covering teaching and learning, accessibility and AODA, academic accommodations, mental health, human rights, and employment equity. Bharat has a strong commitment to fostering an equitable, diverse and inclusive learning, working and living environment.