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Be the change
VIRTUAL conference 2021

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Get to Know the Panelists and Guest Speakers

 

youth Panelists

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Rachel Lim (she/they) is a Chinese-Malaysian youth activist currently located in Brampton, Ontario, on the treaty lands and traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, the Mississaugas, the Anishinabewaki, the Attiwonderak (Neutral), the Haudenosaunee, and the Huron-Wendat. She is an Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences student at the University of Ottawa specializing in Conflict Studies and Human Rights and minoring in Indigenous Studies. Rachel is a member of the Amnesty International (AI) Canada specialized teams for Gender Rights, Climate Justice and Corporate Accountability, and Business and Human Rights + Indigenous Rights where she serves as the Chair. She is also the Co-President at Amnesty International uOttawa, Visual Arts Editor at AI Canada’s arts and literature magazine, The Matchstick and Staff Writer with Politically Invisible Asians. Their advocacy also extends across borders, as they are an AI representative in the Global Youth Advisory Board for a multimedia project on stories of young human rights educators, partnered with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Soka Gakkai International (SGI)

She uses her lived experiences to fuel this passion for positive social change, and recently it has become a defining part of their advocacy work. As a queer, Southeast Asian woman, they emphasize equity and justice through a decolonial, anti-oppression, and intersectional feminist lens. Rachel’s status as a youth activist comes first and foremost as they vow to use their privilege as a platform by amplifying the powerful voices of other advocates and grassroots organizations.

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Isabela Rittinger (pronouns she/her) is an 18 year-old majoring in Political Science at Queen’s University. She is an avid intersectional feminist, climate activist and public speaker who has been featured for this activism on publications including The Toronto Star, CBC and The Guardian. She is also an advocate for the survival of her heritage as a Macanese-Canadian. Her main passion lies in menstrual activism, through which she founded Bleed the North last march. Isabela firmly believes that all youth have the ability to make an impact and deserve to have their voice be heard. When she isn’t talking about tampons, she’s either making pottery or spending time with her dog, Henry.

Ella Young

Ella Young is an English climate youth activist who works on a national and international level of the Friday’s for Future movement movement to fight climate change since 2018. Young began skipping school on Fridays and protesting outside the Ontario Legislative building following the steps of Fridays for Future founder Greta Thunberg. Thanks to social media and connections within the movement, she now works alongside Thunberg as well as numerous other youth activists concerned for the climate and their futures. 

 

Since organizing with "Fridays For Future,"  Young has co-founded “Green Teens Toronto”, a branch of the movement dedicated specifically to high school students to provide a safe and supportive environment to start climate organizing. Alongside other concerned youths throughout the world, she continued to pressure leaders and lawmakers to act on climate change through strikes, actions, conferences, social media storms, and more. 

 

Young was named one of Canada’s most inspirational Climate leaders by the British Colombia Youth council in 2021 and has been actively fighting for climate justice with intersectionality as its heart since.

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Passionate about making a difference in her community, Charlene Rocha is a 17 year old intersectional rights activist and advocate. After single-handedly representing the 95,000+ residents of her city, she successfully appeared as a delegate to her mayor and city councillors to implement sustainability policies. Due to this involvement alongside many others, she starred in the CitizenKid docuseries where she taught viewers about the importance of youth leadership by demonstrating her own initiatives. As the leader of e-NABLE Toronto, a team which 3D prints prosthetic devices, Charlene looks forward to continuing to advocate for justice worldwide as she pursues software engineering.

Charlene Rocca

Guest SPeakers

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 Joseph Berra is the Human Rights in the Americas Project Director with the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law. His teaching and research interests include immigrant rights, international human rights, and the rights of Afro-descendant and Indigenous peoples in Central America. Berra coordinates projects with organizational partners in the U.S. and Latin America to engage students in human rights advocacy and the Inter-American system for human rights.  Current projects include collaboration with Indigenous organizations resisting extractivist industries in their territories, litigation at the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, and research on the human rights situation of Indigenous migrants in the U.S. immigration and immigration detention systems.  Before entering academia, he was a successful civil and human rights litigator.  He is the past Executive Director of the of the Caribbean Central American Research Council and currently serves on the CCARC Board.  In addition to his law degree, Berra holds an M.A. in Social Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.Div. from the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Julian Falconer holds degrees from the University of Alberta, McGill University, and the University of Toronto in addition to an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Guelph-Humber. He is a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada and an author, writing extensively on issues of race and civil liberties, and co-authoring the book, the Annotated Coroners Act. In the true tradition of a Barrister, Julian Falconer’s practice takes him to civil, administrative and criminal courts at both trial and appellate levels, including the Supreme Court. He is bilingual and has argued cases in both English and French.

 

More recently, with the firm’s expansion from Southern Ontario into the North, his work has expanded to focus on Indigenous-side representation on matters including child welfare, education, equitable service provision, and community governance, always focusing on the unique remedies required for reconciliation. Specifically, this work has included representation of the two largest First Nations police forces in negotiation of legislated standards of policing, representation on the Inquest into the deaths of Seven Youth in Thunder Bay, and as Counsel for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada over a five year period in respect of document collection litigation.

Robert Astroff is the president of Astroff Consultants Inc.  Dr. Astroff received a Bachelor of Arts with Great Distinction from McGill University, a Bachelor of Laws from Dalhousie University, a Master of Arts from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Astroff’s expertise covers a broad range of program areas, including applications to law, medical, dental and business schools, as well as graduate and undergraduate programs in Canada, the United States, and overseas. He has assisted thousands of applicants, in Canada and abroad, in achieving their post-secondary educational and professional goals.

Dr. Astroff has lectured on the admissions process at private schools and universities across Canada and has been featured in Maclean's, the Toronto Star, the National Post, as well as other radio and other media outlets.  

Prior to founding Astroff Consultants, Dr. Astroff worked as an educator at the University of Toronto and Carleton University and held positions with several governmental institutions and international organizations, including the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (now Global Affairs Canada) and the United Nations.

Dillon Mendes is an alumnus of the Top 35 under 35 global changemaker awards, the co-founder of the social enterprise, PickWaste (featured on CBC, CTV, and CityNews), and a TEDx & youth speaker. Over the past 2 years, Dillon has travelled across North America speaking to thousands of students about community impact and student leadership. He has previously worked in advisory at Deloitte and growth at DarwinAI. Professional life aside, Dillon enjoys playing carrom, strength training, and eating sushi.

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Wade Formo has over 4,000 hours of tutoring and teaching experience and currently serves as the head of the tutoring team for The LSAT Nerds. Wade graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 2016. After law school, Wade clerked for a Federal Judge. Since then, Wade has spent his time performing legal research, writing legal scholarship, developing software for use in the practice of law, and creating The LSAT Nerds. In his spare time, Wade is a die-hard NBA basketball fan.

lawyer panel

Nicholas (Nick) Bala is a leading Canadian expert on legal issues related to children, youth and families in the justice system. He also teaches and writes about Contract Law. 

Nick has law degrees from Queen’s University (J.D. 1977) and Harvard (LL.M. 1980).  He has been on the Faculty of Law at Queen’s since 1980, and he has been a visiting professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, McGill and Duke Law School. 

His research has focused on issues related to children and families in the justice system, including: parental rights and responsibilities after divorce; high conflict separations and children resisting contact with a parent after separation (alienation); spousal abuse and its effects on children; the child’s voice in family proceedings, including judicial interviews with children and legal representation of children; same-sex marriage, unmarried cohabitation and polygamy; the role of experts in the family justice process; witnesses in the criminal courts; and child abuse; the Charter of Rights and the family;  the Hague Convention on Child Abduction; child welfare law, including issues related to indigenous and racialized children and youth; youth justice and young offenders; and access to family justice.  Much of his research work is interdisciplinary.  

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 Adam is an experienced criminal defence attorney who has defended clients in criminal matters across the province. In addition to criminal law, Adam has developed a niche practice assisting clients facing allegations of academic dishonesty. Adam is also trained in mediation and dispute resolution and has experience before the Licence Appeals Tribunal and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Adam is a founder of Destination CPD (Continuing Professional Development), a company that plans and hosts legal education programs and conferences in exotic locations such as Las Vegas.

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Rishi is an associate in the litigation practice of an international law firm. Based out of Singapore, his current practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, internal investigations, and regulatory compliance for clients with a nexus to Asia. Rishi has experience advising clients including government entities on anti-corruption/compliance issues under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), as well as anti-money laundering, fraud, and U.S. sanctions issues. Having learned Mandarin while growing up in Singapore, Rishi has conducted multiple internal investigations and compliance reviews for clients operating in the Greater China Region. He has also advised companies operating in Southeast Asia and India. Rishi has led compliance training for local APAC employees in English and Mandarin, in addition to assisting clients with formulating compliance policies and procedures. His work cuts across multiple industries including healthcare, energy, technology, and industrials. While at Columbia Law School, Rishi served as a judicial extern to Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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Lucian Wang is an incoming associate in the Manhattan office of Vinson & Elkins LLP, a full-service, "BigLaw" firm with over 700 lawyers worldwide, with his practice focused on corporate finance and bankruptcy law. He graduated with a J.D. from NYU School of Law, immediately after completing a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto studying an unusual combination of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology and Political Science. His first job in law began in Grade 11 when he worked as a law clerk for a small criminal defense firm as part of his school's co-op program and was hired immediately afterward in a paid role that continued throughout his undergraduate studies. During his time at the University of Toronto, Lucian won the championships of the Capital Cup and the McGill Moot Court, later co-founding the inaugural UofT Cup as part of his role as Mooting Director of the UofT Pre-Law Society. He also spent a fair amount of time in the rooftop greenhouses, managing research projects on fish, plants, and other study organisms.

 

He took his LSAT at the beginning of his third year, scoring a 174 (99.4th percentile) on his first and only attempt, and began working professionally in LSAT prep soon afterward. He taught the LSAT for nearly 5 years as a classroom instructor and private tutor and regularly speaks on LSAT and admissions matters. He has former students attending most of the Ontario law schools - Windsor, Ottawa, Western, Queens, Osgoode, and UofT.

 

His lifelong interest in law is fueled by an appreciation for its coherent and logical nature in analyzing and solving problems, and his own drive to improve personally and professionally.