About BLAC

Board of Directors

Image of Okeima Lawrence

Theresa Donkor

Director-at-Large

Theresa Donkor is a criminal defence lawyer at Rudnicki & Company, with a focus on appeals against conviction and sentence at all court levels. Racial justice is at the core of her practice. She has advocated for lower sentences to account for systemic anti-Black racism, the need to account for the disproportionately harsh jail conditions faced by racialized prisoners, and the importance of cultural competence when representing Black defendants.

Theresa earned her law degree from the University of Toronto, where she was a student leader, an academic prize-winner, and a finalist in provincial and national moot and trial competitions centred on racial justice and criminal law. Prior to pursuing criminal law, Theresa provided specialized legal and strategic advice to emerging and high growth companies at a prominent Bay Street firm.

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BENITO PALOMINO

Director-at-Large

Benito Palomino is a lawyer and a member of the Board of Directors of the Jamaican Canadian Association.

Benito has been practicing law for over 31 years. His practice areas include sale and purchase of residential and commercial properties; refinancing and mortgages; corporate/commercial law; investment law; estate planning and estate administration; wills; and powers of attorney. Benito has a Master’s Degree in Accounting and is a licensed mortgage agent.  

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Valarie Steele

Director-at-Large

Valarie Steele is a veteran community activist and community leader. She was a Vice President and President of the Jamaican Canadian Association for several terms, and was the president of the Jamaican Diaspora Canada Foundation.  She has also served in numerous other, capacities and boards and committees and organizations throughout Toronto’s Black community and as one of two Canadian representatives/Directors on the Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board, which advises the Jamaican government, through its Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, on matters of import to the diaspora and in particular to Jamaicans residing in Canada. Valarie is the vice president of Black Action Defense Committee Inc. 

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Aba Stevens

Director-at-Large

Aba Stevens is a founding member of BLAC. Having received her Juris Doctor from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in 2009, she is a New York and Ontario-called attorney with a long-established commitment to equity and human rights.

She has served in a voluntary capacity for numerous community organizations and initiatives, including the Black Secretariat and the Markham African Caribbean Canadian Association. She has bridged her community advocacy with her capital markets expertise by organizing a coalition of community organizations and equity-seeking individuals to respond to proposed diversity-related amendments by the Ontario Securities Commission. 

Aba’s legal practice has focused on securities, white collar criminal, constitutional, and employment law. As legal counsel to the Ontario Securities Commission and the Canadian Securities Transition Office, she has advised on wide ranging law reform initiatives relating to corporate governance, systemic risk, derivatives, market regulation, capital raising, data collection and emergency powers. Her employment law practice at Livelihood Legal fulfills her need for a practice area that is people-centred and progressive.

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Roy Williams

Chair

Roy Williams is Professor Emeritus, Ryerson University School of Business.  He has been an academic, business owner and a lifelong community advocate against racial discrimination, and for racial equity and social justice. 

As the founding president of the Jamaican Canadian Association, he has been involved in a wide range of social and civil rights issues that has helped to change this country. These activities include anti-racist immigration, equal employment, employment equity, human rights, policing and justice issues.

Roy advocated for diversified membership of Agencies, Boards and Commissions in Ontario and was the first Black person appointed to the Toronto Police Services Board. There he advocated for promotion of “visible minority” and female officers.  He was a member of the Race Relations and Policing Task Force (1989).

Roy has received many awards that include the Harry Jerome Community Award (1989), the Jamaican Canadian Association Trailblazer Award and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.