Ruth Goba, Executive Director
Ruth graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2000 and was called to the Bar in 2002. After law school, Ruth worked abroad for an international NGO that focused on economic and social rights and for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Housing. She later completed her articles of clerkship at ARCH Disability Law Centre. She worked in private practice as a human rights lawyer and then moved to the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, where she was Executive Director from 2007 to 2009.
Ruth was a Commissioner with the Ontario Human Rights Commission for 11 years, and in February 2015 was named Interim Chief Commissioner. In 2016, she was cross-appointed to the board of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, and in 2017 was appointed as a mediator and adjudicator with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Ruth has taught at Ryerson University, was on the legal committee of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), and the board of the National Association of Women and the Law. She was also appointed to the Provincial/Territorial Expert Panel on Physician-Assisted Dying. Her work has taken her to India, Kenya, and Geneva. She and her husband live in Toronto with their three young daughters.
Trynda Thomas, Office Manager
Trynda graduated from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science. Trynda attended Dalhousie Law School for one year, only to find herself later, working within the legal field. Trynda has worked most of her career as a Human Resources Professional providing strategic advice to both Canadian and US operational managers and executive staff directing the administrative functions of complex organizations in the professional services, chemical manufacturing and automotive industries. Trynda’s areas of expertise includes talent acquisition, international recruitment, HR compliance, employee relations, succession planning, developing company culture, and training and performance management.
Trynda is a proud, Black Nova Scotian born and raised in the Black community of East Preston, a product of parents active in human rights, community and economic development. Since early school days, Trynda has been involved in the fight for diversity and inclusion and is committed to the fight against racism in all its forms. Trynda lives in York Region with her daughter and actively serves on steering committees focused on combatting anti-Black racism within the educational system.
Nana Yanful, Staff Lawyer
Nana graduated from the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law in 2013 and completed her articles at the Superior Court of Justice as a Judicial Law Clerk. Nana was called to the Bar in 2014 and practiced criminal defence law at Simcoe Chambers in Toronto until 2017. Prior to law school, Nana worked as a diversity and equity educator across the Greater Toronto Area. Nana has also worked as a Human Rights & Health Equity Specialist at Sinai Health System, and as a Knowledge Translation Specialist with the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. Nana is on the board of Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre and lives in Toronto with her family.
Fareeda Adam, Staff Lawyer
Fareeda Adam is a graduate of McMaster University and The University of Ottawa Faculty of Law.
At McMaster University Fareeda completed her BA in Political Science and Women’s Studies, with a minor in Indigenous Studies. Fareeda was the President of the McMaster Debating Society, was the recipient of the The Borden Ladner Gervais LLP Scholarship and The Canadian Federation of University Women (Hamilton) Memorial Prize. During law school, Fareeda was involved with the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSAC) as Co-President and mentor. Fareeda along with her partner, competed and won the BLSAC Julius Isaac Alexander Diversity Moot and Fareeda was awarded best oralist.
After graduating from law school, Fareeda articled in criminal law and continued to work in this field after being called to the bar of Ontario. She has worked for Legal Aid in various capacities as a lawyer, dealing with low-income Ontarians in both the family and criminal law context. Fareeda has developed a particular interest in youth criminal justice and the intersections of child protection and criminal law.
Since beginning her legal career, Fareeda has learned of the importance of naming anti-Black racism and using a critical-race lens to understand the interactions Black people have with the legal system. Fareeda is proud to be part of the BLAC team and to embark on the journey of meaningfully engaging and challenging the legal system on behalf of her community.
Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Fareeda is the third of four children, born to Ghanaian parents. She is a proud middle child and lives by her mother’s mantra, “know your worth.”
Patricia Suleiman, Staff Lawyer
Patricia graduated from the University of Montana School of Law in 2014, and received her Juris Doctorate. Patricia also graduated from the University of Toronto Internationally Trained Lawyers Program in 2016. She received her National Committee of Accreditation Certificate of Qualification in 2016, and was called to the Ontario Bar in 2018. During her time in law school Patricia was a clinical student at the In House Criminal Defense Clinic, where she focused on providing representation to clients facing serious misdemeanor charges, and on occasion uncomplicated felonies. After law school she worked as an Associate at a general litigation firm focusing on criminal defense and estate planning. Upon her return to Canada, Patricia was a student intern with Legal Aid Ontario Duty Counsel at the John Sopinka Courthouse (criminal court). She later completed her articles of clerkship at South Etobicoke Community Legal Services. She later worked for a wealth management firm providing recommendations in the business process of compliance by drafting regulatory, and risk oriented policies and procedures. Patricia has experience in the following areas of law: disability, landlord and tenant, criminal defense, employment, estate planning, and risk and securities compliance.
On a different note, Patricia enjoys watching, coaching, and playing her favourite sport soccer.
Lesa Francis, Administrative Assistant and Intake Officer
Lesa has worked as a Law Clerk for personal injury and family law firms in Toronto and as a Program Coordinator and Administrator for multiple specialty legal clinics in Ontario.
Since 2009, she has also operated her own business as a Grant Writer, specializing in acquiring diverse funding for local and international artists, as well as organizations in the non-profit sector.
Working at BLAC fulfills Lesa’s combined passion of working with and within her community to develop access to justice and combat systemic anti-Black racism.