Samya has been working with the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians since 2015 in different capacities including as a Project Coordinator, Project Manager; and has been the Executive Director of CASSA since 2017.
Samya attained her Masters of Public Policy degree from the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance in June 2013. Prior to her Masters, Samya attained an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Political Science from the University of Toronto. She has written policy papers on transportation, immigration & race relations, child care, housing, international development, economic development & innovation, and health care.
Prior to her employment at CASSA, Samya worked at the Affordable Housing Office at the City of Toronto as a Research Associate and Policy Consultant. During her time at the Affordable Housing Office, she worked on various housing-related portfolios supporting low-income and marginalized communities including Toronto Community Housing, and Affordable Homeownership. As a Toronto Urban Fellow for the City of Toronto, Samya worked at the Municipal Licensing and Standards division, conducting by-law reviews of business industries in Toronto.
Employment Equity Coordinator
Cynthia Saxena is a graduate of the University of Toronto where she majored in Political Science and Equity Studies. Cynthia has worked as a Junior Professional Consultant at UNICEF’s Regional Office in Bangkok where she was part of the Education team and worked on the Girl’s Education Initiative to ensure every girl learns and thrives. She has also worked at UNESCO in New Delhi in the education team during the COVID-lockdown in India where she created a teacher training course to help them manage students’ mental health. She has also interned at an NGO in India, worked in Public Affairs at the Ontario Legislative Building, and in marketing outreach with a renowned Author. Having lived in Canada and India, worked and studied in Berlin, Brussels, and Bangkok, Cynthia has been exposed to different types of governance models, cultural influences, and on- ground realities, equipping her with a very nuanced understanding of the world and polishing her emotional intelligence.
Human Resources Generalist
Garima is a strategic human resources professional with experience in all facets of human resources inclusive of, but not limited to employee relations, recruitment, on-boarding, training and development, occupational health and safety, performance management, payroll, change management, compensation and benefits.
She is passionate about cultivating professional relationships with clients through strong rapport building to enhance the employee experience. She is a true business partner who advocates for a diverse, equitable and inclusive work culture. Through providing excellent client services, best HR practices and strategic and creative business solutions, she strives for increased employee retention and engagement.
Anika is completing an Hon. Bachelor of Science, majoring in neuroscience and mental health studies from the University of Toronto Scarborough. Her future goals include pursuing a Master of Social Work specializing in the health and mental health of marginalized communities. Anika is passionate about making women from marginalized communities feel comfortable seeking help. Anika has a variety of experiences in quantitative and qualitative research specifically in mental health and developmental psychology. She acquired valuable research experience from her research assistant positions at the memory clinic in St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto. Anika is a big foodie, loves trying new cuisines from around the world. Her hobbies include travelling and reading. During her free time, she also loves listening to podcasts.
Yomna Omar is the Project Coordinator for CASSA’s ‘Legal Education for Refugee Women’ project. She earned a Master of Science degree in Global Health from McMaster University and holds staff and volunteer positions at various nonprofits. She is currently the Senior Global Programs Associate at Millie’s Bookshelf, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring displaced people worldwide have access to adequate reading resources to promote literacy and health education. Yomna also works as an Emergency Responder with the Canadian Red Cross; taking part in the COVID response.
Prior to this, Yomna provided logistical coordination and interpretation services and delivered training on sexual and reproductive health and SGBV in Greek refugee settlements with The Unmentionables, a nonprofit that provided sexual and reproductive health education, protection, and access to resources to refugees around the world.
As a recent graduate of the Health Sciences program from McMaster, Sakshi is returning to pursue her Masters in Global Health with a specialization in Global Health management. Sakshi is passionate about promoting health equity for marginalized populations and is hoping to pursue a career in health management and promoting health equity.
Previously, Sakshi has gained plenty of research skills which she is utilizing to pursue a Master’s thesis on a mixed-methods study. She has greatly immersed herself in Global Health through leading a university CCGHR Chapter, serving as a member on the CCGHR Youth Committee and currently working as the Vice-Chair of the Global Health Students and Young Professionals Summit.
Currently, Sakshi is responsible for all things social media, promoting, marketing in her role as Communications Coordinator at CASSA and hopes to bring her creative skills to success when working towards CASSA’s goals.
Human Resources Generalist
Gurbinder is the Human Resource Generalist for CASSA. She is a result-oriented professional with enriched experience in HR operations and initiatives. She is skilled in encompassing diversity & inclusion, talent and culture strategies, performance management, employee engagement, consulting, talent acquisition forecast & planning; design and implementation of policy & procedures in consideration with provincial and federal legislation.
She has successful experience in working with complex business environments. She can swiftly align the organizational values to its structure, systems, and operational processes. Before CASSA, she was managing the Human Resources operations for Accor Plus and currently volunteering as a Human
Resource Consultant with Single Mothers in Progress.
Alissa Latiff is a third-year student at the University of Toronto completing a double major in Health Studies & Public Policy. She is interested in exploring the relationships between policy and healthcare. She aims to make positive changes in the policy realm and work with various communities to facilitate the creation of an equitable society. In the future Alissa hopes to further her education in a Masters of Public Health or Public Policy.
Currently at CASSA, Alissa is an outreach worker aiming to disseminate information and raise awareness about employment inequities that South Asian communities are facing. Alissa hopes to use her knowledge in public health and policy to create long lasting changes. In her spare time she enjoys reading, photography, and more recently bullet journaling.
Nikhita is the Project Coordinator at CASSA for the New Horizons for Seniors project and is also part of the Racialized Health Initiative.
She recently completed her Master’s in Public Health degree with a specialization in Preventative Medicine from St. George’s University. She has completed her Bachelor of Science from the University of British Columbia and her MD from St. George’s University. She worked with minority groups during her time in hospitals which got her interested in the field of public health. She is passionate about incorporating her experience from medicine and public health into promoting health equity and advocating for marginalized communities.
Before pursuing medicine and public health, she was involved in Multiple Sclerosis research as well as biotechnology. During her free time she loves to dance, find new coffee shops (pre-COVID), and delve into the world of fiction.
Farhat is the Finance Manager at CASSA. She has a Masters degree in Business Administration with specialization in Finance and over a decade of experience in accounting in corporate and non-profit sector. Farhat manages all aspects of financial record keeping including budgets, financial reports, payroll, bank reconciliations, cash flow analysis and more. She also assists with the annual audit and updates the management about the fund raising needs of the organization from time to time.
Muslim Community Outreach Coordinator
Anti-Hate Project Coordinator
Akhila is a student at the University of Toronto completing a Hon. Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is passionate about mental health care for marginalized populations and hopes to pursue a career as a therapist focusing on trauma healing for women of colour. Akhila wants to utilize anti-racist and anti-oppressive frameworks with a mental health lens to cultivate empathetic forms of communication between people and create radical systemic change. Currently at CASSA, Akhila is responsible for doing research on social justice issues affecting racialized communities and finding resources to build a social media toolkit for the Anti-Hate initiative. Akhila hopes to pursue an MEd in psychotherapy after she graduates this year. Outside of her work for CASSA, she volunteers at the Greater Distress Centers of Toronto and runs a mentorship program for the Psychological Health Society at UofT.