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Fiona Sampson is the President/CEO of the equality effect.  Fiona is a human rights lawyer with a PhD in women’s equality law who has dedicated her 20+ year career to seeking justice for society’s disadvantaged: First Nations, refugees, disabled persons, and victims of violence. Fiona founded the equality effect in 2008. As CEO of the equality effect, Fiona led her team to the 2013 landmark victory in Kenya in which the country’s High Court found the state’s failure to protect girls from rape was unconstitutional and violated their human rights. Fiona has been called one of the world’s “women revolutionaries” alongside notables that include Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, and Isobel Coleman.

An experienced litigation lawyer, Fiona has appeared repeatedly before the Supreme Court of Canada representing various women’s NGOs in equality rights cases. Fiona has received many awards and much recognition for her human rights work; Fiona was appointed an Ashoka Fellow, named one of the 25 top most influential lawyers in Canada, top 5 on the World Stage, by Canadian Lawyer magazine 2014, and named one of 50 “Global Heroes” working to end violence against children, along with Queen Noor and Hillary Clinton, among others. In 2015 Fiona was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada, the highest honour a Canadian civilian can be awarded. Fiona has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from Trent University and Queen’s University, in recognition of her contribution to human rights law.

Cassandra Schwarz is the VP Fund Development and Operations of the equality effect. Cassandra has a passion for human rights, obtaining an MSc in Human Rights and International Politics from the University of Glasgow. Her research background centered on the rights of women to healthcare in Ghana and development in South Africa. Cassandra has over 10 years experience in non profit leadership, fund development and communications.  She has experience in healthcare philanthropy and social services, supporting organizations to develop and grow fundraising programs to increase overall organizational capacity.

As the former Executive Director of the Kamloops and District Elizabeth Fry Society and Board Member of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Cassandra worked to increase access to justice for women at the local, provincial and national level through advocacy and direct program delivery. In her free time, she can be found rowing and spending time hiking and camping with her partner and two dogs.

Maura was raised in a rural Irish town with her parents and four siblings. She moved to Dublin where she completed her studies culminating in the Chartered Institute of Management Accounts designation. After living and working in the UK for 10 years she moved with her husband Mike to Toronto, Ontario covered by Treaty 13 where they still live with their two children. Maura initially worked in various finance roles within the IT consulting sector but then decided a change was needed in her working life. She took on a finance director role in a small charity which allowed her to use her skills in a socially conscious environment. She now provides accounting and financial support to four amazing organizations who are truly making a difference including the equality effect.

Kula is the National Coordinator for the 160 Girls Project in Kenya. Kula is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, and a graduate of the Catholic University of Kenya and Kenya School of Law. Kula is the founder of CHAGI, a Community Based Organization (CBO) whose vision is to educate residents of Marsabit County on matters relating to HIV/AIDS and equality rights. Kula has experience working as a legal consultant and a human rights trainer with different human rights organizations including the Concern Worldwide (an International NGO) and the Anglican Development Services (a local NGO based in Marsabit County, Kenya). Kula was the Legal officer at HAKI Africa where her duties included giving legal advice relating to defilement, domestic violence, land related issues, child support, and she worked to ensure justice was served appropriately. Kula has volunteered and worked in several community projects including the Adopt a School mentorship programme, where she mentors approximately two hundred students. Kula has most recently worked as an advocate with International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH) – Kenya, and she has had the lead staff role on e²’s 160 Girls measurement team. Kula’s passion is to protect and promote human rights. Kula is also an avid reader, keen football player, and loves to cook.

Patricia Nelima Simiyu is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya with advanced experience in implementing human rights programs. Prior to joining the equality effect, Patricia worked with Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) as an Assistant Attorney, specifically providing support to a team of prosecutors drawn from Kenya and Tanzania, in an International Mock Trial Competitions meant to enhance their prosecutorial skills. She has similarly served as a Project Officer and Consultant for Community Education and Empowerment Centre (CEEC), implementing projects around gender and human rights, positive masculinity, as well as leadership and governance. Patricia is experienced in media engagement, processing human rights complaints, project design and implementation, women land and property rights as well as sexual and reproductive rights. She has previously worked as an intern at the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN) and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR). Patricia has previously volunteered at the Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA) under the Organization’s Access to Justice Program. She is passionate about women and child rights. In her free time, she loves watching movies, documentaries and athletics, touring new places and spending quality time with family and friends.

Yvonne is a dedicated psychologist with seven years of experience advocating for justice and empowerment. Specializing in youth justice, mental health, and social services, Yvonne has played pivotal roles at Youth Connections Inc and Lumallas Achieng’ & Kavere Advocates. Her contributions as a facilitator at Living Dreams Poly Centre and an intern at Equality Effect (2017) have shaped her professional journey. Currently pursuing a postgraduate certificate in Data Analytics, Yvonne aims to apply data-driven insights to enhance social services. Inspired by her engagement with Equality Effect in the measurement and evaluation team and her role as a Youth Advocate at Durham Youth Services, she is committed to supporting homeless youth in the Durham region. In her leisure time, Yvonne enjoys making scented candles, a skill she acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic, a period when she sought to learn something new and delightful.