2022–2023 Board of Directors*
Y.Y. Chen (he/him)
Y.Y. Brandon Chen joined the Legal Network’s board of directors in 2021.
Y.Y. is a professor at University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, Common Law Section. Trained as a lawyer and a social worker, his expertise lies in the areas of public and constitutional law, health law, and immigration and refugee law. His research leverages socio-legal studies and action research to critically examine health inequities facing noncitizens and racialized minorities, including those living with HIV.
Before embarking on a legal career, Y.Y. worked as a research coordinator at the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment (CAAT), a coalition of organizations aiming to improve treatment and service access for marginalized people living with HIV. He was formerly a member of the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS, the co-chair of CAAT, and a board member of Canadian Centre on Statelessness. He currently also sits on the governance committee of the Ontario HIV Treatment Network Cohort Study.
Y.Y. worked at the Legal Network as a summer student while attending law school. He is thrilled to be a part of the Legal Network again.
Juanita Graham (she/her)
Juanita Graham is a member of Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan. Currently, she is the Director of Health, and her current role is responsible for eleven different programs. and they include the following: Maternal child Health, Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program; Children’s Oral Health Initiative, Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, Injury Prevention, Harm Reduction; NNADAP; Mental Health; Youth Sports & Rec, Drinking Water Safety Program, Home and Community Care and daycare. She also has secured a new Nurse Practitioner (NP) which is a new initiative in Thunderchild First Nation. In addition, she was appointed the primary lead for the COVID response to the Pandemic for the last two years from start to finish. In this role responsible for all prevention measures to include testing, screening, Pandemic roll-out procedures, dissemination of information to the community, as well as complete service delivery to Thunderchild First Nation community while overseeing security throughout the pandemic. Her ongoing commitment with Elders and a vision of a cultural room at health which has materialized. In addition, meeting with Health elders monthly for direction, community program ideas and areas to address. Juanita currently holds her Master of Social Work with specialization in Leadership in the Human Services. As part of her ongoing commitment t to professional development she recently enrolled in the First Nations Health Manager Training and will graduate October 2022. In addition, she is involved with working with researchers with University of Saskatchewan, with Oral Health, Palliative care. A co-author with a publication in Oral Health and a book that will be used as prevention for promoting good oral health. Other various committee work she does as well involve the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), Suicide Prevention; Embracing Life, and the RCMP in which monthly meetings are held. Juanita remains committed and passionate about remaining committed to improve Indigenous health in all capacities. As a result of growing up and having lived these experiences and living on and off reserve she deeply and completely and intimately understands challenges that Indigenous people face every day.
Leegay Jagoe (she/her, Chair)
Leegay is a registered nurse of 23 years. Her areas of focus have been sexual and mental health, and harm reduction. Much of her work has been with Indigenous communities.
She currently works at Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch in Saskatoon, but travels throughout Saskatchewan to First Nations communities, supporting their HIV/STBBI and harm reduction programming.
Her board work has included professional support for a group for people who use drugs in Alberta, AAWEAR (Alberta Addicts Who Educate and Advocate Responsibly), and the Calgary-based group Grateful or Dead. She has served on the board of the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association first as Western Regional Director then as President.
Leegay has also worked in the field of tuberculosis, which found her living in the remote First Nation community of Bella Bella in British Columbia. She has taught at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Nursing for several years.
Leegay has a B.A. in psychology and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (with distinction) from the University of Saskatchewan, and a Master of Nursing from the University of Calgary. In 2010, Leegay received the CANAC (Canadian Association of Nurses in HIV/AIDS Care) Jill Sullivan Award for Excellence in Clinical Practice.
Karim Ladak (he/him)
Remembering Karim Ladak
The HIV Legal Network mourns the untimely loss of our Board member and friend, the incomparable Karim Ladak. There are few words that come close to capturing the magic in Karim’s smile, the twinkle in his eye, or the warmth of his unwavering support. We will try our best.
Karim was a long-time supporter of the HIV Legal Network and a champion of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, in Canada and around the world. He was a truly global citizen, having traveled extensively and lived in many countries and places. He had a zest for life that was unmatched, and his emails almost always included more than few exclamation points – he wasn’t afraid to demonstrate his passion!
Karim was generous and giving. He always had a kind word, a helpful suggestion, and a listening ear. He was also principled and expressed his well-considered opinions firmly and with eloquence. He was a leader in every sense of the word, and he moved through business and non-profit spaces with ease and authenticity. Karim was sincere and humble, and everyone in his presence always felt lucky to be there.
Karim was characterized by his giving nature, but we know that he had so much more to do and give. His loss is profound, and our hearts are with his family and loved ones the world over; we grieve with you and for you in this time of sadness. The world was a better place with Karim in it.
Rest in power, dear friend. You will never be forgotten.
Meenakshi Mannoe (she/her)
Meenakshi Mannoe is a settler living on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples since 2006. Her parents are immigrants to Canada, and she was born and raised on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples, on land protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum agreement and territory included in the Upper Canada Treaties, colonially known as small town Ontario. Meenakshi currently works at Pivot Legal Society as the Criminalization & Policing Campaigner, where her advocacy centres the realities of police violence and murder, advocacy to defund police budgets, and community-led responses to harm and inequality. Prior to her work at Pivot, Meenakshi worked in frontline HIV services, including in/outreach to prisoners living with HIV and Hep C in provincial and federal prisons. She is a member of the Vancouver Prison Justice Day Committee and Defund 604 Network. She is inspired by freedom fighters like Synthia Kavanagh, Peter Collins, and all folks who work towards a world free of prisons, police, and criminalization.
Tiffany O’Donnell (she/her)
Dr. Tiffany O’Donnell, MD, CCFP, is a family physician in Halifax/Kjipuktuk, Nova Scotia. She currently practices out of the Sipekne’katik Health Centre in Sipekne’katik First Nation and Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH) in Halifax. She is certified in Addiction Medicine through the International Society of Addiction Medicine and is a consultant in Addiction Medicine for Nova Scotia Health. A previous board member of the East Coast Prison Justice Society, she has a special interest in prison health, and has been working on the development of a collaborative throughcare program with MOSH and community stakeholders such as the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, Coverdale Courtwork Society, and the John Howard Society.
Tiffany is a co-founder and co-chair of Doctors for Decriminalization, a national coalition of physicians who recognize the enormous harm caused by the criminalization of people who use substances, and advocates for evidence-informed drug policy. An assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Dalhousie University, Tiffany focuses her clinical teaching around trauma informed care, clinical advocacy, and harm reduction. She provides mentorship to colleagues through the Atlantic Mentorship Network for Pain and Addictions.
Shakir Rahim (he/him)
Shakir Rahim is Director of the Criminal Justice program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. He has served on the boards of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP), Prisoners with HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN), AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), and HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO). Shakir is also a member of the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization and the Canadian Bar Association Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Executive. He has worked more broadly with under-served communities at the Community and Legal Aid Services Programme, a legal clinic in the Jane & Finch community, and Fair Change Community Services, which serves persons who are housing insecure.
Rai Reece (she/her, Vice Chair)
Julie Shugarman (Secretary)
Julie is a strategy consultant for non-profit organizations that are law reform and social justice mandated. With nearly two decades of experience in Canada’s non-profit and charitable sector, she provides facilitation services in conflict management, governance, and strategic planning. She has provided services to a number of Canada’s leading legal organizations, including legal clinics, professional associations, and law faculties.
Julie is passionate about the critical work civil society organizations do to advance basic human rights and systemic change. Her experience in the sector also includes assisting those who fund this work, both public and private, to incorporate more equality-affirming, transparent approaches into their operations.
A lawyer by training, Julie has practiced in the areas of human rights law, labour and employment law, and Charter litigation. In addition to her consulting practice, Julie is a part-time professor of law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Common Law, where she teaches Dispute Resolution.
Julie credits much of her trajectory and understanding of human rights to the sex workers and people who use drugs in the Downtown Eastside from whom she had the privilege of learning when she lived in Vancouver and volunteered with Pivot Legal Society’s Sex Work Law Reform Committee in the early 2000’s. She is a proud ex-Legal Network intern and feels extraordinarily lucky to now sit on their Board. Julie is also a Past-President of Auberge Shalom pour femmes, a Montreal-based women’s shelter, and a former Executive Director of the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL), where she was deeply involved in the work to see national women’s advocacy organizations refunded by the federal government.
Emily van der Meulen (she/her, Treasurer)
Emily van der Meulen joined the Legal Network’s board of directors in 2020. She is a professor in the Department of Criminology at Toronto Metropolitan University, where she conducts participatory research on drug policy, harm reduction, prison health, sex work, and surveillance. She has published extensively in these areas, and has twice won TMU Faculty of Arts research awards.
Among her current projects is a study on the ways in which anti-trafficking policy is made and shaped through narratives of white saviourhood and fantasises of ‘rescue’, and another that traces how biometric technologies can reinforce existing embodied inequities, especially with regard to race, gender, and disability.
Emily is a long-time supporter of the Legal Network, and has worked with the organization on research related to prison-based needle and syringe programs and the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act.
She also has over 20 years of experience on various boards of directors, steering committees, and activist groups in the areas of sex work, HIV, prisoner justice, reproductive justice, and more.
Barhet Woldemariam currently serves as the Director of Programs for HIV Edmonton. Her previous work includes working with the Canadian Red Cross with the Safety and Wellbeing team supporting the recovery operation after the wildfires in Fort McMurray and B.C. She brings experience from both the business world, working with TD Canada Trust and community organizations. Her roles have allowed her to work closely with community partners to help address the needs of individuals, families, and the community. Her academic background in sociocultural anthropology along with her personal experience and community work provide her with the acumen to deeply understand the importance of equity and advocacy.
The Legal Network has a 12-member board of directors. Two positions are reserved for people living with HIV and AIDS and one position is reserved for a member from each of the five following provincial/territorial groupings:
- Atlantic (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador)
- Ontario and Nunavut
- Prairies (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta) and Northwest Territories
- British Columbia and Yukon
Additionally, efforts are made to recruit board members from populations particularly affected by the HIV pandemic, including people who use drugs and Indigenous people.