March 21, 2022

Meet our Team



In March 2022, the UN Commission on the Status of Women asks: 

“How do YOU #BreakTheBias?” 

Answer: The new team at DAWN Canada! 


It’s the DAWN of a new era!  

As promised this year for the UN Commission on the Status of Women, we are announcing some recent changes and additions to our hard-working and accomplished team at DAWN Canada.  

DAWN Canada celebrated 35 years of service in June 2020. Later that year, we launched our award-winning new logo, and to top it off the Hummingbird awards and various events culminated in the release of our Ten Year Vision in the fall of 2021 alongside dozens of partners from our network. That vision is built upon four pillars: Research, Education, Policy, and Advocacy. This is our dream team! 

Research is the first pillar at DAWN, and our research team can barely keep up with demand. Sonia Alimi, one of our two Senior Research Associates, is a rising star in intersectional feminist research and has helped us build a reputation for breaking new ground through publishing, teaching and collaboration. Jihan Abbas continues to build a body of research with us, including the release of our recommendations for the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence just two weeks ago.   

Earlier this year, Kanitha Nhek moved into the role of Director of Outreach and Partnerships and has quickly become a leader. We’re not sure how she does it, as she seems to have enough arms to put around all of us and our partners too!  Read more about Kanitha, how she’s been breaking biases throughout her career, and how she landed at DAWN Canada.

Our Director of Youth Initiatives, Nelly Bassily is currently on maternity leave and has the support of Yasemin Tuncer, our Coordinator of Youth Initiatives. We keep Yasemin busy! Girls without Barriers is a big focus of hers, Beijing+25 is quickly becoming a global youth movement, and Youth the Future for women with our partners at the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW) continues to grow. Looking ahead, there are at least two ground-breaking leadership projects coming up with our partners at Live Work Well Research Centre at the University of Guelph and ENGAGE at Carlton University, which will be announced soon. Learn more about Yasemin what she does to #BreakTheBias every day. 

Sarah McLeod is our Human Rights Officer and perhaps the most important harbinger of where DAWN Canada is headed, and she’s got both the head and the heart for the work. A brilliant communicator and a fierce feminist, Sarah’s secret weapon is the rigour and discipline she applies to everything. 

When it comes down to breaking biases, we know that some women, girls and non-binary people face intersectional discrimination every day. Black and Indigenous women with disabilities need to lead this work. Earlier this month we were pleased to appoint Tamara Medford-Williams as our Director of Black Community Initiatives. Tamara has served in multiple roles at DAWN for over six years while pursuing her post-secondary education and developing her own activist voice in the Black community in Montreal. In her new role, Tamara is going to focus on building capacity and leadership in the community and centring the voices of Black women with disabilities in our work. 

Plus, stay tuned for an announcement about our Director of Indigenous Initiatives, coming soon.  

On March 1, 2022, Bonnie Brayton accepted a new appointment as DAWN Canada’s Chief Executive Officer. Having served the organization as the National Executive Director since 2008, Bonnie has grown our organization to the point where she outgrew her title! DAWN has been called to an international leadership role on many occasions, and we are now partners in a seven-year Social Sciences and Humanities research grant focused on gender, disability and international development, which Bonnie is leading. In her new role, Bonnie will be focused on bringing DAWN’s Ten Year Vision for Change initiative, launched September 2021, to reality. 

On March 15, 2022, we warmly welcomed Samantha Walsh to the DAWN team into her brand new role as National Director. Samantha has a passion for disability justice, and she holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto-OISE with a focus on disability and social inclusion. Samantha is excited to join DAWN and looks forward to to applying her personal and professional experience to help fulfill the organization’s strategic goals. In case you missed it, please check out Sam’s very first DAWN blog post. It will give you something to think about when it comes to #BreakTheBias. 

At the beginning of 2021 we hired our Finance Coordinator, Christine Nirere who—like so many people who love numbers—is often the ‘unsung’ hero. Christine has been quietly taking care of business down to the penny! Additionally, the lovely Isabelle Morin joined us in January 2022 as our Administrative Coordinator. She rounds out our operations team and keeps us running and us singing their praises. 

These changes will enable DAWN to continue to build on our unique legacy. As we look to the future, our small but mighty team of leaders, thinkers and change-makers will help DAWN to grow and evolve as an organization through focusing on what matters most: amplifying and representing the voices of women with disabilities and Deaf women nationally and internationally. 

Join us in celebrating our new team! Take a look at our staff profiles to read about our exceptional crew.