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Who we are

Board of Directors

Toby Mendel, President
Lee Cohen, Secretary
Alex Neve, Member
Dawn Russell, Member
Jim Cruickshank, Member

CLD Team

Toby Mendel, Executive Director
Portia Karegeya, Legal Officer
Chris Zulinov, Website Designer
Jillian Ramsay, Pro bono Researcher
Mark Saunders, Pro bono Researcher


Toby Mendel, Executive Director

Prior to founding the Centre for Law and Democracy in January 2010, Toby Mendel was for over 12 years Senior Director for Law at ARTICLE 19, a human rights NGO focusing on freedom of expression and the right to information. He has provided expertise on these rights to a wide range of actors including the World Bank, various UN and other intergovernmental bodies, and numerous governments and NGOs in countries all over the world. In these various roles, he has often played a leading role in drafting legislation in the areas of the right to information and media regulation. Before joining ARTICLE 19, he worked as a senior human rights consultant with Oxfam Canada and as a human rights policy analyst at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). He has published extensively on a range of freedom of expression, right to information, communication rights and refugee issues, including comparative legal and analytical studies on public service broadcasting, the right to information and broadcast policy. Toby has an Honours B.A. in mathematics from McGill University and an L.L.B. from Dalhousie University.

Lee Cohen, Board Member, Secretary

Lee Cohen is a practising lawyer in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a B.Ed. in 1977 and from Dalhousie University Law School in 1980.  He was granted his Q.C. in 2002. Lee’s practice is dedicated entirely to immigration, refugees and human rights. He established the Halifax Refugee Clinic, a non-profit, pro bono clinic that provides legal and settlement services for people claiming refugee status in Nova Scotia or requiring humanitarian immigration services, where he currently serves as Chair of the Board and as a volunteer counsel. Lee is a well-known authority on immigration, refugee and discrimination issues. He is a recipient of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Award, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the Democracy 250 award, and the Weldon Award from the Dalhousie Law School Alumni Association for unselfish public service. A believer in peaceful resolutions to complex issues, Mr. Cohen challenges listeners to take personal responsibility to confront injustice and bring social and legal change to our communities.

Alex Neve, Board Member

Alex Neve believes in a world in which the human rights of all people are protected.  He has served as Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada since 2000. In that role he has carried out numerous human rights research missions throughout Africa and Latin America as well as within Canada.  He speaks to audiences across the country about a wide range of human rights issues, appears regularly before parliamentary committees and is a frequent commentator in the media.  Alex is a lawyer, with a Masters Degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex.  He has served as a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board, taught at Osgoode Hall Law School, been affiliated with York University’s Centre for Refugee Studies, and worked as a refugee lawyer in private practice and in a community legal aid clinic.  Alex has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada and has received an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the University of New Brunswick.

Dawn Russell, Board Member

Professor Russell practised law in Halifax for five years with the leading Atlantic law firm of Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales before beginning her career as a law teacher in 1987. She has taught in the areas of International Law, Law of the Sea and Ocean Law and Policy. Her writings have focused on international and comparative oceans law and policy, particularly on topics such as domestic fisheries management, the role of international fisheries organizations, high seas fishing of straddling stocks, and maritime boundary delimitation. Professor Russell is on the Editorial Advisory Board of International Insights and of the Ocean Yearbook. She is a member of the Executive Board of the Canadian Council on International Law and of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Institute of Resources Law. She was Dean of Dalhousie Law School from 1996 to 2005 and Co-Chair of the Nova Scotia Law Reform Commission from 1995-2002.

Jim Cruickshank, Board Member

Jim was born in Truro, Nova Scotia, and is a partner at Stewart McKelvey in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Jim received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Acadia University in 1984, became a Chartered Accountant in 1986, and received a Bachelor of Laws degree from Dalhousie University in 1991.
Jim was admitted to the Nova Scotia bar in 1993, and practices income tax, estate planning and corporate commercial law from the Halifax office of Stewart McKelvey. Jim is a member of the Nova Scotia Bar Society, the Canadian Bar Association, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia, and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. Jim is a member of the Canadian Tax Foundation, is a past member of the Board of Governors of the Foundation, and is a past member of the Joint Committee on Taxation of the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. Jim has served as a part-time member of the Faculty of Law at Dalhousie University, and has presented papers and lectures to various professional organizations, including the Canadian Tax Foundation, the Atlantic Tax Conference, the Canadian Bar Association, the Financial Executives Institute, and the Halifax Estate Planning Council. Jim currently serves on the board of directors of The Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, the Centre for Law and Democracy, the Cobequid Health Centre Foundation and the Northwood Foundation. Jim is also the Chair of the Discipline Committee of Chartered Professional Accountants of Nova Scotia.

Portia Karegeya,  Legal Officer

Portia earned a Master of Laws from McGill University in 2013 and an LL.B. from the University of Cape Town in 2011, where she also graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Law. At UCLA, she earned an LL.M. degree with honors, received the UCLA-Sonke Health and Human Rights Fellowship, and worked with the Health and Human Rights Law Project. A lawyer born in Uganda, raised in Rwanda, and educated in South Africa, Canada, and the U.S., Portia’s research interests span the globe, and have focused on human rights, gender, global health, sexual violence, access to affordable medicines, and freedom of expression and information. While at UCLA, she earned a specialization in health and human rights in the LL.M. Program. She was also involved in working with the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project and the Environmental Rights in the Developing World practicum. Following her graduation from UCLA in 2015, she held appointments as a junior fellow at the United Nations University Office of the Rector in Tokyo, a legal researcher for the Global Freedom of Expression and Information at Columbia in New York, and judicial law clerk at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Portia also co-authored an article entitled “Human Rights, Gender, and Infectious Disease: From HIV/AIDS to Ebola” published in Human Rights Quarterly. She is currently a legal officer at The Centre for Law and Democracy in Halifax and is admitted to practice in New York.