About Action Canada

Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights is a progressive, pro-choice charitable organization committed to advancing and upholding sexual and reproductive health and rights in Canada and globally

Action Canada works within Canada and globally to promote health, wellbeing, and rights related to sexuality and reproduction. Building on the strong histories of our three predecessor organizations, we cover a broad spectrum that includes directly providing support, referrals, and information; working with other groups and organizations on a range of campaigns using a collaborative, movement-building approach; and policy advocacy related to sexual and reproductive rights (including abortion), gender, LGBTQ rights, comprehensive sexuality education, and more.

From partnerships with health care providers and activists on the ground to engaging decision-makers in Canada and around the world, movement building is at the core of everything we do.

Action Canada’s History

Following decades of activism, three of Canada’s leading sexual and reproductive health and rights organizations saw an opportunity for a strengthened voice in policy, health promotion, and access to information and a way to engage others across Canada and around the world in the sexual and reproductive health and rights movement.

The 2014 amalgamation allowed each of the three organizations to build on one another’s histories, strengths and shared vision. Canadians for Choice (formerly CARAL) and the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (formerly Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada) would benefit from the policy expertise of Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD) and the organization’s international partnerships, while ACPD would profit from frontline knowledge and experience in Canada. A newly bridged gap between the national and global context was made and our shared history has set the stage for an organization that works in collaboration across all levels.

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Our Staff

Our team is made up of individuals with a diversity of experience working on sexual health and rights at the national and international levels.

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    Sandeep Prasad Executive Director

    Sandeep Prasad is an Ottawa-based lawyer and activist. Before co-leading the Action Canada amalgamation, he served as Executive Director ACPD for 4 years. From 2006-2011, he held the position of Director of International Human Rights Advocacy with ACPD, where he was principally responsible for advocacy activities within the UN human rights system. In this role, Sandeep established himself as a leader in efforts to advance sexual and reproductive rights within the work of key UN bodies and mechanisms.

    Since 2006, he has worked to ensure that sexual and reproductive rights issues receive greater attention from the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, including the universal periodic review. This work has included his active participation in the Sexual Rights Initiative, a small South-North coalition of organizations working together to advance human rights related to sexuality at the United Nations. Among other achievements, his advocacy was instrumental in prompting the UN Human Rights Council to include maternal mortality and morbidity as a human rights issue in a landmark 2009 resolution. Since September 2012, Sandeep has served as a Member of the High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development, a task force comprised of experienced and eminent leaders and activists, which aims to galvanize political support for sexual and reproductive health and rights, and to ensure that international development efforts prioritize these issues, including within post-2015 development frameworks. Sandeep has also sat on the board of directors of Canadians for Choice, where he served three terms as its vice-president. He is currently on the Boards of Directors of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation and the Asia-Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights as well as the Steering Committee of the International Initiative on Maternal Mortality and Human Rights.

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    Rosario Castro Office Coordinator & Fundraising Assistant

    Rosario is responsible for daily office functions and structure, along with donor relations and database management. Rosario previously worked at 25One Community and Youth Coalition for Sexual Health and Rights.

     

     

     

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    Ani Colekessian Director of Communications

    Ani is responsible for the development and implementation of achievable communications plans and strategies that take into consideration Action Canada’s programmatic goals, fundraising objectives, and organizational capacity. Before joining Action Canada, Ani was the Program and Communications Officer for the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, assuming a

    wide range of communications tasks including strategy development, publications, design, writing/editing, social media, website development and branding. From 2010-2013, she supported a handful of teams at the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), from fundraising and governance to communications, and in early 2010, was part of the UN-INSTRAW (now UN Women) Gender, Peace and Security team, researching under the frameworks of UNSCR 1325 and security sector reform. Among other things, Ani is a freelance translator and passionate writer having written for Women’s eNews, Elevate Difference, Education for Change, the UPeace Monitor, the YFA Wire, and the AWID Friday Files. She was awarded the 2011 prize for best paper from the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS) and holds an MA in Gender and Peace Building from the UN mandated University for Peace and a BAh from Queen’s University, where she studied Politics and English Literature with a strong gender/feminist focus.

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    Sarah Kennell Director of Government Relations

    Sarah oversees Action Canada’s engagement with government bodies and officials and supports the work of the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, for which Action Canada’s is the Secretariat. Prior to joining Action Canada, Sarah worked as the Programme Officer with the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights.

    She has held positions with the Canadian International Development Agency as a Jr. Gender Equality Specialist, and with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Sarah is actively engaged in global, regional and national conversations related to the Post-2015 development framework. Nationally, Sarah works in coalition with Canadian non-governmental organizations to hold the Government accountable to meeting its international human rights obligations, domestically and internationally, as they relate to women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Sarah is a member of Forum for Young Canadians and the Women’s Peace and Security Network-Canada. Sarah holds a Masters’ degree in International Development, Globalization and Women’s Studies.

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    Brittany Neron Health Promotion Officer

    Brittany Neron is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Access Line, Action Canada’s 24-7 toll-free sexual health information line. Brittany is also responsible for the development of health information products and campaigns, maintaining Action Canada’s health information directories, and liaising with local, national and grassroots organizations. Brittany holds a degree in Political Science and a Master’s degree in

    Gender Studies from the University of Ottawa.

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    Lorna Mungur Communications Officer

    Lorna is responsible for implementing Action Canada’s communications strategies and promoting its domestic and global campaigns and programming. She is also in charge of maintaining and developing the organization’s social media presence. Prior to joining Action Canada, Lorna has worked in Communications and Fundraising. She holds a degree in History

    and International Development and a Masters degree in History from McGill University with a focus on the East African slave trade. Lorna is also currently the Communications Manager, a volunteer position, for SafePet Ottawa.

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    Sarah Hedges-Chou Development Policy Officer

    Sarah supports Action Canada’s campaign and global policy work related to sexual and reproductive health and rights. In her role, she contributes to and leads on the development of policy tools, materials, and analysis, and engages with stakeholders on files related to Canada’s official development assistance and foreign policy. Previously, Sarah worked as the Interim Executive Coordinator and 

    Program and Communications Officer with the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights , an international youth-led organization committed to promoting adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights at the national, regional and international levels. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Toronto and obtained her Master of Arts degree from Carleton University, specializing in Gender Studies. Sarah got her start in the women’s rights movement working with organizations including the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, and Women’s Shelters Canada. She’s passionate about intersectional feminism, meaningful youth inclusion, and diverse representation.

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    Tara Henderson Director of Fundraising & Operations

    Tara Henderson is an experienced fundraising and community development professional committed to resourcing and advancing the work of activists and civil society organizations doing their utmost to press for positive behavioural and social change. As Director of Fundraising and Operations, Tara is responsible for building on the incredible support of the legacy organizations that form Action Canada and increasing resources to advance sexual health and rights in Canada and globally through individual and

    grant fundraising, overseeing smooth operations, and helping donors see their investment advance sexual health and rights through the work of Action Canada. Tara helps donors and our communities connect with the important ways each of our programs are making ground on an often silenced issue that affects us all – sexual health and rights.

    Over 15 years in the field, Tara is committed to the values of the sector and good non-profit governance. Her experience has been significant with individual and institutional resource development, systems design and process management, training and public education, and communications aimed at community building. Tara brings her experience with environmental advocacy, international development, and grassroots feminist non-profits to this role. She has passion for connecting individuals and organizations with social justice and human rights work which makes for more equitable and fair communities on individual and policy levels. She is a longstanding member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

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    Frédérique Chabot Director of Health Promotion

    Frédérique is responsible for the development of information products and resources, including public awareness tools, as well as identifying research, policy development and engagement opportunities in the domestic context. She also acts as a liaison with local, national and grassroots organizations in Canada. Prior to joining Action Canada, Frédérique worked at the AIDS Committee of Ottawa as the Women’s

    Outreach worker and, subsequently, as the Women’s Community Development Coordinator where she focused on advocating for structural change and facilitating a proactive community response to women’s HIV prevention needs. She also sat on the board of HALCO (HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario) to offer a youth perspective and analysis on court interventions and organizational strategic planning. As a community activist, Frédérique co-founded and was active with the Mother and Child Coalition for Justice, a group of local parents advocating for prison justice and maternal health and rights for incarcerated mothers. She has also been active for the past six years with POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa – Work Educate and Resist), a community group advocating for the human and labour rights of people in the sex industry in Ottawa, Canada and globally. Over the years, she has served as a board member, as POWER’s coordinator, and as a community organizer. She had the opportunity to contribute to resource development, policy engagement, political advocacy, as well as public education. She is currently POWER’s Sex Work Advocacy Coordinator, working in collaboration with sex workers, academics and legal professionals to create accessible documents for both the public and for parliamentarians on the topic of sex work law reform.

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    Meghan Doherty Director of Global Policy & Advocacy

    Meghan has over a decade of experience advocating for sexual and reproductive rights in Ireland, Canada and international fora.  As Action Canada’s Policy & Advocacy Officer (Global), Meghan is responsible for a variety of research and policy engagement activities designed to advance sexual and reproductive rights in Canada and globally, with a particular focus on the UN Human Rights

    Council and its mechanisms. Throughout her career, Meghan has worked with activists, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, UN agencies and government officials to build support for a range of initiatives related to women’s human rights. Prior to joining Action Canada, Meghan served as Policy & Advocacy Officer with the Irish Family Planning Association from 2007-2011 where she concentrated on the human rights violations connected to the criminalization of abortion in Ireland, adolescents’ rights to comprehensive and confidential sexual health care services, cervical cancer prevention, access to emergency contraception and the integration of SRHR into Ireland’s overseas development aid policies.  Upon returning to Canada in 2011, Meghan joined ACPD as Advocacy & Communications Officer.  In this role, she worked in partnership with the Sexual Rights Initiative to advance a variety of issues at the UN Human Rights Council through resolutions, special procedures and the Universal Periodic Review. From 2013-2015, Meghan served as Communications Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia where she developed innovative strategies to expand the reach of the Office to diverse and historically under-recognized communities.

    Meghan holds a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies from University College Cork, Ireland and a Bachelor’s degree in History from Queen’s University.  Meghan is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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    Makeda Zook Health Promotion and Education Officer

    Makeda is responsible for the development of sexual health resources and information products in the domestic context. Specifically, she is responsible for overseeing the completion of Beyond the Basics, Action Canada’s sexual health education resource for teachers and community educators. She also collaborates with other team members to research and develop health promotion programs including public

    awareness campaigns. Prior to joining Action Canada, Makeda had experience as a community-based researcher in the areas of social movements and community resilience, anti-racism policies, and LGBTQ+ youth engagement. Over the years, she has volunteered with both Planned Parenthood Ottawa and Planned Parenthood Toronto as a community educator.

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    Darrah Teitel Campaigns Officer

    Darrah Teitel is currently the campaigns officer for Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights. Previously, Darrah worked on Parliament Hill as a legislative assistant for the official opposition critics for the Status of Women and Indigenous Affairs. Later, she worked as the Director of Advocacy for the Canadian Artists Representation.  Darrah is a lifelong socialist feminist and activist,

    a member of the International Socialist Organization, Independent Jewish Voices and a founding member of the Courage Coalition.  Darrah is also a playwright, whose work has been produced across Canada and is coming theatre near you!

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    Kathryn Carruthers Web & IT Coordinator
Our Board of Directors

Our Board is made up of individuals with a diversity of experience on sexual health and rights at the national and international levels.

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    Cathy Steven Board Chair

    Cathy is the executive director of Health in Common, a not for profit organization that provides planning and evaluation services. In addition to planning and evaluation, Cathy has expertise in organizational effectiveness, making effective presentations and creating healthy organizations. She has worked at the local, provincial and federal level and held the position of associate director of the Sexuality

    Education Resource Centre in Manitoba for 12 years, serving as the executive director representative on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (CFSH) and Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada as it was formerly known. Cathy was instrumental as Chair of the Action Canada transitional Board and has sat on the Brandon University Board of Governors, the Manitoba Law Foundation Board of Directors and the AIDS Brandon Board of Directors.

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    Katherine McDonald Board Secretary

    Katherine McDonald, LL.B, LL.M, was the first Executive Director of Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD, now part of Action Canada) from 1997 until her retirement in 2010. ACPD’s recent amalgamation with the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health and Canadians for Choice into Action Canada is a remarkable achievement and Katherine is delighted to have played a role in the merger as a board member of all

    three organizations. For more than forty years,since becoming a single mother in her teens, Katherine has been an advocate in the reproductive and sexual health and rights field and an activist in the area of women’s rights. Before joining ACPD, Katherine practiced law for ten years, going on to become the Executive Director of the Public Legal Education Society of Nova Scotia, and the President of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. She is a Past President of Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada, and a former member of the regional and international governing bodies of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), including acting as the Rapporteur of the IPPF Governance Task Force during its landmark transition to incorporate youth participation within the federation’s governance structure. Katherine is particularly proud of ACPD’s subsequent role in helping in the formation and development of the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights. Katherine holds a law degree from Dalhousie University (1981) and Masters of Law from the University of Ottawa (2007).

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    Shiv Khare Board Member

    Shiv Khare, Former Executive Director of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population & Development (AFPPD), has been associated with ACPD (now part of Action Canada) since its inception and helped to form the Canadian Association of Parliamentarians on Population & Development (CAPPD). Shiv worked with the CAPPD to organize the International Parliamentarian Conference on Population & Development (IPCPD) in Ottawa and worked to develop a regional and global parliamentarian’s movement on Population & Development,

    including the International Medical Parliamentarians Organization (IMPO). Shiv served as Secretary General to the World Assembly of Youth (WAY) and was at that time invited for consultation by H.E. Jeanne Sauve, Governor General of Canada, in establishing the Jeaane Sauve Foundation. In 2011, Shiv became a member of the ACPD Board of Directors. He also served on the Global NGO Advisory Committee of UNFPA and was a Member of the Steering Committee of Asia-Pacific Leadership Forum of UNAIDS; advisor to the Committee on Population, Senate of Thailand; and treasurer of the AIDS Society for Asia Pacific (ASAP). Shiv has also been associated with the organization of the Parliamentarians’ events at the International Conference on AIDS in Asia-Pacific (ICAAP) and Asia-Pacific Reproductive Health Conference (APRHC). Shiv currently serves on the board of the World Youth Foundation (WYF) and the Advisory Committee of the Population Media Center. He is a member of the International AIDS Society (IAS), the Asian Population Association (APA), the Indian Committee of Youth Organizations (ICYO), and the Youth & Family Planning Programme Council (YFPPC). He has received the Life-time achievement Award from the European Forum of Parliamentarians on Population & Development (EPF) presented by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde; the Certificate of Commendation from the Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) presented by Hon. Fakuda, Former Prime Minister of Japan; the appreciation award for 20 years of contribution for the development of Parliamentarians’ movements by AFPPD presented by Ms Nobuko Horibe, Regional Director, Asia-Pacific, UNFPA; and the AHM (Germany) award for creative social work for leprosy, Munich 1992, as Secretary General of WAY. Shiv currently works as CEO of the Foundation for Leadership Initiatives (FLI) and serves as UNESCAP representative of Partners in Population & Development (PPD).

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    Dr Pierre M. LaRamée Board Vice-Chair

    Dr Pierre M. LaRamée, Executive Director of Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC), has more than 30 years experience in NGO programming and administration with overlapping expertise in academic research, policy analysis/advocacy, strategic communications/publishing and resource development. In his non-profit career, Dr LaRamée has also developed strong

    geographical expertise on Latin American and Caribbean political and social issues. Prior to joining MEDICC, he co-founded Re:Generation Consulting, building on his career at International Planned Parenthood Federation – Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF-WHR), where he oversaw communications, media and fundraising activities while directing emerging cutting-edge advocacy programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. He came to IPPF-WHR in 2004 from the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, a Latino civil rights organization, where he served as Director of Development and Executive Vice-President. He previously served as Executive Director of the North American Congress on Latin America, a research and publishing organization specializing in US-Latin American Relations, and as Assistant Professor of Sociology and Latin American Studies at St. Lawrence University. He is fluent in French and Spanish and has authored and co-authored numerous articles, book chapters, and reviews. Dr LaRamée holds a Masters in Political Science from McGill University and a PhD in Sociology of International Development from Cornell University.

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    Prof. Jennie Abell Board Treasurer

    Jennie Abell is a lawyer, an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Common Law, and former Director of the Institute of Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa. Her research and work are engaged with questions of social justice and equity, including strategies for gendering international human rights and critical feminist analysis of criminal law and procedure. She teaches in the areas of criminal law, poverty law and women’s studies. She also works closely with

    a number of social justice organizations representing and advocating women’s interests. She has been on the Board of ACPD (now part of Action Canada) as Treasurer since 2011. She has been active in her union (APUO) as Chair of the Equity Committee (and formerly the Status of Women Committee) and as Equity Officer on the APUO Executive. In that capacity, she has been part of initiatives to research and improve the situation of women professors at the University of Ottawa.

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Our Partners

As part of a national and global movement, Action Canada strives to learn from and exchange knowledge with its partners.

Fraud Alert

Fraudulent use of Action Canada name

Action Canada has been informed that someone fraudulently claiming to be working for Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights and/or ACPD has been inviting people to an international conference in Canada.

Action Canada is absolutely NOT involved in the organization of any such conference.

Any correspondence regarding Action Canada-related events sent by people other than the staff members of Action Canada should be regarded as suspicious.

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Contact us

251 Bank Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 1X3

613-241-4474[email protected]

Donor Inquiries

613-241-4474×8[email protected]

charity number: 10784-8319-RR0001

Media Inquiries

613-241-4474×7 [email protected]