Pro Bono Students Canada

National Office Staff

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Nikki Gershbain, National Director *on leave until January 2018nikki

Nikki Gershbain is the National Director of Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC). Since her appointment in 2010, Nikki has focused on growing PBSC, deepening the organization’s access to justice programming, and developing new community partnerships across Canada. Prior to joining PBSC, Nikki served as Executive Director of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, where she developed Canada’s first law and justice high school program for marginalized youth (the LAWS program), launched the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, and led a research and teaching project on access to the civil legal justice system for lower- and middle-income Canadians. Nikki earned her LL.B. from U of T in 2000 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 2002. She clerked at the Ontario Court of Appeal and then practiced family law at Epstein Cole LLP in Toronto, where she worked on cases at all court levels including the Supreme Court of Canada. Prior to law school, Nikki earned an M.A. in Feminist Theory from the New School for Social Research, where she was a Fulbright Fellow. In 2013 and again in 2015, Nikki was nominated as one of Canadian Lawyer Magazine’s top 25 lawyers in the category “Changemakers”. Nikki is a regular speaker and commentator on a range of topics including law student pro bono, and is a Huffington Post blogger. You can follow Nikki on Twitter at @NikkiGershbain.

Alison Symington, Acting National Directoralison-glamour-shot

Alison joined Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) in February 2016 as Program Manager.  She holds an LL.B. from the University of Toronto (class of 2000) and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from New York University (class of 2002).  Her social justice and human rights work has taken her to venues as diverse as the Supreme Court of Canada, the World Social Forum in Brazil, a WTO Ministerial in Mexico, and UN meetings in Geneva — to name but a few examples.  Previously, she was the Co-Director of Research and Advocacy at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.  In this role she represented the Legal Network as Secretariat of UNAIDS’ Human Rights Reference Group, lead the development of a handbook for judges on HIV and the law, and pioneered feminist analysis of the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure, including producing two documentaries.  Prior to that, she was Manager of the Women’s Rights and Economic Change program of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID).  Alison serves on the Board of Directors of the Teresa Group and is Co-Principal Investigator on the CIHR funded study Women, Art and the Criminalization of HIV (WATCH).

Daniel Simonian, Bilingual Program Manager

Daniel Website

Daniel joined Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) in November 2015 as bilingual Program Manager. Originally from Montreal, Daniel obtained his civil law degree at the Université de Montréal before completing his common law training at the University of Toronto. He holds a master’s in constitutional law (LL.M.) from Osgoode Hall, where he completed a dissertation on refugee law policy. After graduating, Daniel clerked for the chief judge of the Quebec Administrative Tribunal where he worked predominantly on immigration cases. Since being called to the Quebec and Ontario Bars, Daniel has worked in private practice as well as for several legal clinics, providing legal assistance to low-income Ontario residents. He currently teaches immigration and refugee law courses and sits on the Executive of the Ontario Bar Association. Daniel also volunteers at the 519 Legal Clinic where he provides individuals with free summary legal advice on immigration and refugee matters and conducts PLE workshops.

 Sherry McGratten, Program Manager

Sherry joined Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) as the Program Manager in January 2017. Sherry has more than ten years of experience managing programs within academic institutions and non-profit organizations. She also has legal experience within community legal clinics and a duty counsel office. Sherry recently completed her articles with Legal Aid Ontario where she worked in a Duty Counsel setting within criminal and family court. Sherry’s previous program management experience includes work as the Course Manager of the Trial Advocacy Course at Osgoode Hall Law School and Manager of Events and Special Programs at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Sherry earned her JD from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2015 and was recognized for her commitment to social justice during her studies with the Ian Scott Fellowship for Public Interest Work.  During her legal studies Sherry completed an intensive internship in the Social Assistance, Violence and Health Division of Parkdale Community Legal Services and worked with Niagara North Community Legal Services. She also holds a B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Toronto. Sherry volunteers as the Chair of the Niagara Migrant Workers Interest Group Festival Committee and as an education volunteer with young mothers through various organizations.

 Tali H. Golombek, Program Officer img_0030

Tali H. Golombek joined PBSC in May 2014 and is currently serving as Program Officer. Before coming to PBSC, Tali articled and worked as an associate at WeirFoulds, a leading Toronto law firm, and then served as Managing Editor at Irwin Law, a highly regarded publisher of Canadian legal materials. Tali has volunteered extensively in various social justice causes, most recently in the fields of disability rights and health care advocacy. Tali co-chaired the Family Advisory Committee at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Canada’s largest children’s rehabilitation hospital, in promoting client and family-centred care. Tali won numerous academic awards at Osgoode Hall Law School, where she completed her LL.B, and also served as senior editor on the Osgoode Hall Law Journal. She also holds a Masters degree in Environmental Studies from York University and a B.A.(Hons.) from McGill University.

 Stephanie Nowak, Bilingual Program Officerimg_9881

Stephanie Nowak joined our team as the Program Administrative Assistant in August of 2015 and moved into the Bilingual Program Officer role in May 2016. Prior to joining PBSC, Steph earned a degree in translation (from French to English) and a minor in Mandarin & Chinese Cultural Studies from Concordia University. She has spent many years working in law, including at McGill University in the Career Development Office, as well as the Student Affairs Office as the Student Affairs Consultant. Most recently, Steph worked at a Bay St. law firm as the Recruitment & Diversity Specialist. Steph is fluently bilingual and volunteers her time teaching French classes.

Jeanne Arbez, Program Administrative Assistant

Jeanne Arbez has joined our team as the Program Administrative Assistant. Jeanne recently obtained a Social Service Worker: Immigrants and Refugees diploma from Seneca College.She also has a degree in Sociology from the University of Manitoba. Most recently, Jeanne was working as the office administrator for Habitat for Humanity Canada.